Book review: The Eucharist
by Robert D. Cornwall
Too bloody short! This is one of Energion Publications’ Topical Line Drives booklets, meant to introduce a topic directly by zeroing in on the necessities, but this time the abbreviated coverage left me wanting much more. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Known as the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, or the Holy Communion, Cornwall traces the evolution of its practice and meaning through the centuries as this ritual evolved from an agape feast to a sporadic nibble of bread and sip of wine. Along the way, ideas such as “real presence” (Christ’s presence, of course) and transubstantiation developed. The reformation brought further debates about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, and in modern developments a focal point has developed over thanksgiving (hence the word Eucharist). But what are we thankful for, and how much sacrificial imagery is appropriate? The idea of substitutional atonement can be dreary and uncomfortable for many Christians, so what is the sip and nibble supposed to mean to us?
Cornwall doesn’t insist on any interpretations, but his own opinion is that we should be able to share communion between denominations, and when we gather together at the table, we should learn from one another’s theology. For those who have fallen into a rote practice, there is value in recognizing what Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologians say about sacrifice, and ideas of “real presence” can enrich the ritual.
A good little introduction. Here’s hoping Robert Cornwall publishes more on the topic.
Energion Publications, © 2014, 34 pages