Monday, July 24, 2017

Faith is not a Faculty, or The Error of Reformational Transubstantiation

Here's a great post on the Biblical form of a doctrine of Imputation: here

The point of the brief review article of an article is that imputation is fundamentally separated from the act of sin. Hence, there is a crime done and a following act of assigning blame, the two do not magically happen together. Hence, why the imputation of sin to Christ may have ontological dimensions, but it also follows the Torah's logic of sin and guilt. In this way, while the Incarnation may be a stunning miracle, imputation is not (though it's a wonderful gift).

However, the main point of my article is to highlight one thing written:

"The regenerated heart of the believer has been infused with a new faculty, faith. This account is gnostic to the core. It locates salvation in the human heart. It drives a wedge between faith and faithfulness. It distorts the sacraments into rituals of individualistic gnosis, so that Presbyterians hunch over and ponder during the Lord’s Supper, as though by their thinking they could confect God."
As I've stated elsewhere, this is the problem with many varieties of Reformed theology about the Lord's Supper, which reflected ideas of the Taborites in the Hussite reformation. This is the idea that faith draws down Christ into the sacrament (though, usually understood in a non-material way; it is less about eating than participation). This is nothing but a gnostic form of transubstantiation, that depends upon the same logic, but jettisoning physical experience. Though, it should be said that transubstantiation is no valorization of the material, since it involves the eradication of material substance (hence bread is voided as bread, and becomes the Body).

Almost all Reformational figures attacked the idea of private masses because they rejected the idea that the priest, with his ordained assistants, was the worshiper, which lay people flocked in order to gain the benefits of the Church. However, most also assaulted the individualized nature of the Supper, as the benefit happened in an individualized, interior, locus. It's not that the benefits of the Lord's Supper don't touch on an individual level (one, and one alone, eats or drinks to salvation or damnation). Rather, it's that the Supper is something that happens with the whole community. I'm not saying Calvin's idea about the congregation being moved up to the Heavenlies is right, that seems to be a forced reading of the text based on a metaphysics of space and distance. However, he is right to see that the whole act is grounded in words of promise to all, than to an almost magical sense that an ordained person makes it so. Christ shows up in the bread and the wine because He promised His disciples that's where He'll be, in a totally Realist sense.

This is part and parcel to see a conjoining, not a divorce, of the Word and metaphysics. We don't need categories of substance to figure out what happens in the Supper. Instead, there's something Real, in an almost superficial way, about Jesus' words. When we gather with bread and wine, in His Name, something special is occurring.  Faith is thus not a substance or an ability, something we use to effect a new state of things. Rather, the Word makes it so, and we can either see through trusting and obeying our Lord, or blind ourselves through distrust and disobedience. But it is still so, nonetheless, whether to our salvation or to our judgement.

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