Symbolic Parallelism

A little further explanation:

“When the bread is eaten outwardly, there is a ‘at the same time’ an inward feeding on Christ’s body. God is offering that which is signified by the elements, just as in the preaching the offer of the gospel is given. This view is found in Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Confession (1566; see BC 5.183; 5.203). This emphasizes the ‘present tense’ – indicating what is happening as believers participate in the Lord’s Supper. Gerrish notes: ‘This, of course, does take us beyond Zwingli, whose characteristic tense is the past, not the present. In Zwingli’s view, the elements call to mind something that has happened: Christ’s body was broken, we have turned to him in faith. And yet Bullinger’s parallelism is not Calvin’s position either, for it lacks the use of instrumental expressions; the outward event does not convey or cause or give rise to the inward event, but merely indicates that it is going on.’ See Gerrish, ‘Sign and Reality,’ 124. Gerrish notes that ‘where Calvin and Bullinger never agreed was over Calvin’s belief that God performs the inward through the outward,’ Grace and Gratitude, 167 n.29. For Calvin, God in sacraments ‘does not feed our eyes with a mere appearance only, but leads us to the present reality and effectively performs what it symbolizes.’ See Inst. IV.15.14 and IV.17.3.”

Introducing the Reformed Faith: Biblical Revelation, Christian Tradition By Donald K. McKim

A post I made a while back on the same subject here.


14 thoughts on “Symbolic Parallelism

  1. I have BA Gerrish’s book: Grace and Gratitude, The Eucharistic Theology of John Calvin, (Fortress Press, 1993). Now I believe it is printed by WIPF and Stock. It is a good major study of Calvin’s Eucharistic Doctrine and Theology.

    Note, I am basically closer to Luther on the Eucharist, however. I have been doing a “Luther/Lutheran” type Eucharist for several years now. Though I must confess I am closer now to Lutheranism, I like very much their Lutheran Confessions, and places of their Lutheran Orthodoxy! Check out their depth in the Ordo Salutis… they “sort out” almost everything! 😉

    • If I wasn’t able to attend a Calvinistic church I would attend a Lutheran (WELS or LCMS). Maybe a Brethren assembly after that. Luther was awesome!

      • Yes, I have spoken at a Open Brethren conference a few times, of course as an Anglican presbyter. This was in England years back. I have met here in the US a few Lutheran pastor friends. I have preached several times at both a LCMS, and a few times at the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Yes, Luther is THE Man! I love the guy certainly. Note I did my D. Phil. on Luther’s Ontology of the Cross. In many ways I am closer to Luther personally, than Calvin. But, I do consider myself as a Neo-Calvinist, as both Frame and even Poythress call themselves now. But Luther’s Doctrine of the Cross (“theologia crucis”) will always be part of me! 🙂

  2. Did the Passover in the OT ever make those who partook experience the grace of God? Of course it didn’t because it was only a type and picture of Him who was to come. The same way that eating the bread and drinking the wine doesn’t convey grace in any way nor do we inwardly feed as though actually partaking of the body and blood of Christ. It is a symbol in physical form of what has already taken place. Christ is not offered to us in the Lord’s Supper He is brought to memory in our hearts as to what He has done and how we are united to Him by faith. I am reminded of His death for my sin and I am reminded of how I am united to Him by faith making Him to be my soul’s health and strength. The small piece of bread and the little cup of wine are no real nourishment to my body and they are no nourishment to my soul either. The bread and the cup are nothing, that which is symbolized and pictured is. It is a reminder that by faith I am united as one with the death of Christ.

    • Brother Ron, I agree with everything you posted…but the parallel element remains. We remember and partake of Christ spiritually, we are spiritually built up, by faith in what He has done. It is a beautiful, biblical doctrine that has somehow been forgotten by a majority of Christians. Good thing my faith isn’t built on what the current trend is but on Christ!

      • How are we spiritually built up? Is there some sort of grace imparted to us that strengthens us? No, We are reminded of Him and are pointed to Him as our only hope but we are not made more than what we already are by it. Is our worship somehow enhanced by it? Of course not. It is an element of worship just as singing, prayer and the preaching of the Gospel is.

        The Idea posited smacks of sacramentalism.

      • We are built up in the faith with every rememberance of Him which includes the preaching of the Gospel, the Lords Supper and the baptism of professed believers. This is scriptural. Spiritually we partake of Christ by faith. A sacrament is a physical element by which we receive grace and I’ve said nothing of the sort. The Gospel is preached in the scriptural practice of the Lords Supper and baptism, this is what scripture teaches and what I believe.

    • The present tense of what is happening during the Lord’s Supper isn’t a super spiritual experience but a simple remembrance of Him in His death for us. It is a simple illustration of Gospel truth. We take Him by faith and are made one with Him in His death.

  3. Don’t forget the Text of 1 Cor. 10: 16-17-18, etc. Indeed “Koinonia”, is a participation, a literal sharing in the realization of the effects of the Blood (i.e. Death) of Christ, a true and real “fellowship”, set forth over the emblems in the Holy Supper! It is also a time of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit!

    And if this isn’t “a super spiritual experience”, even in simplicity, it is nothing! But it IS quite something, i.e. Christ present! 🙂 At least for us who believe HE is there! Indeed the “present tense’.

    • I was not seeking to really “argue” per se, I know you guys are more toward Zwingli’s views on the so-called Eucharist, but even todays Zwinglianism , is not really “Zwingli” himself. See btw W.P. Stephens fine book (he is himself an English Methodist), ‘The Theology Of Huldrych Zwingli’, (Oxford, 1986 / Reprinted in paperback 2001). Chapter 11. The Eucharist, and pages 218 thru 259, are simply historical, and includes Zwingli’s controversy with Luther. Just great reading here! Even Donald McKim wrote on the back of the book, and gave it high marks historically! “Will surely become the standard source for understanding Zwingli’s thought.” (McKim)

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