One of the respondents to my recent First Things piece on communion acknowledged that the undivided table is intolerable, but qualified that with the statement, “If you assert that an undivided table is more important than defending the table’s main purpose, a means of salvation whereby we receive the true body and blood of our Savior, I would disagree.”
But I learned long ago from de Lubac’s Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man that one ought not put “salvation” and “church” in opposition to one another, and from de Lubac’s Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages (ND Faith in Reason) that the Eucharist makes the church. One of de Lubac’s central arguments is that salvation is not a private experience that expresses itself in public, corporate fashion. Rather, salvation itself has a social form, which is the church, formed by common participation in the Eucharist. Yes, the main purpose of the table is for Jesus to gives His body and blood to His people through His Spirit. Its purpose is for us to receive the body and blood of our Savior together.
Put in Pauline terms, Jesus’ death, which is effectively represented at the table, is not only the source of my personal peace with God. It’s the source of my peace with men, for in the cross Jesus breaks down the dividing wall and forms one new man (Ephesians 2:11-22).
Following de Lubac who follows Paul, I ask, How one can defend the table as a means of salvation without insisting that the table manifest the corporate reality of salvation, the unity of the new humanity in Christ?
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 3:34 am
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