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Orthodoxy, St.Cyprian, & Anglican claims that only the worthy eat Jesus' body

rakovsky

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One of the main differences between the Orthodox view of the Eucharist and a common Anglican and Reformed Protestant view is that the Orthodox believe that Christ is objectively in the meal on the table, such that both the worthy faithful and the unworthy unfaithful swallow and eat it. A common Anglican and Reformed Protestant view is that only the faithful eat it, the underlying logic likely being that Christ's presence is only His Grace, effectual, symbolic, etc. Sometimes the two sides have expressed their opposite positions in terms of whether the unfaithful Judas merely ate bread or also swallowed Christ's body at the Last Supper. This is because Luke 22 says Judas was at the Last Supper's Words of Institution:
20. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.
The view that both the worthy and unworthy consume it

1 Corinthians 11 says:
...whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. ... For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
This seems to suggest that even the unworthy consume the Lord's body, because it is the unworthy consumption that is harmful. If the unworthy don't swallow and eat the Lord's body, then this harm would not make much sense. If the Lord's body is directly in "this bread", it makes more sense that, as the writer says, the person consuming it in an unworthy way could be guilty of it.

St. Cyprian of Carthage writes:
“He [Paul] threatens, moreover, the stubborn and forward, and denounces them, saying, ‘Whosoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily, is guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27].

All these warnings being scorned and contemned—[lapsed Christians will often take Communion] before their sin is expiated, before confession has been made of their crime, before their conscience has been purged by sacrifice and by the hand of the priest, before the offense of an angry and threatening Lord has been appeased, [and so] violence is done to his body and blood; and they sin now against their Lord more with their hand and mouth than when they denied their Lord” (The Lapsed 15–16 [A.D. 251]).
That is, taking the communion in sin does violence "to his body and blood". This makes much more sense if one presumes that his "body and blood" is actually present than if one is only consuming a symbolic presence, because "violence" suggests actual, direct harm. It seems awkward to interpret these terms above in a purely non-physical sense: "violence", "eat", and "body and blood", especially because it speaks of sinning with the "hand and mouth", which are physical. Otherwise, we are left with sinners committing spiritual "violence" to the Lord's "Body".

One of the Orthodox post-communion prayers says:
I thank thee, O Lord my God, that thou hast not rejected me, a sinner, but hast accounted me worthy to become a communicant of thy holy Mysteries. I thank thee that thou hast accounted me, the unworthy, worthy to partake of thine immaculate and heavenly gifts.
That is, we are sinners and unworthy, but the Lord accounts us worthy to partake, and we must do so in a worthy manner.

In the Orthodox view, if one consumes the body unworthily, one may lose participation in the union with God:
Following Saint Paul’s words, we must also be conscious that this union with God is not automatic or guaranteed. Moreover, if we receive Holy Communion unworthily, we find ourselves separated from God.

http://stjohnthebaptistberkeley.org/stjohn/Articles_files/Concerning%20Holy%20Communion.pdf
Similarly St Cyprian of Carthage says that those who partake with sin could lose their partaking of the "heavenly bread" (Christ's divine heavenly body), by which I think he speaks of losing their spiritual union with Christ. In his discussion of the phrase "our heavenly bread" in the Lord's Prayer, he writes:
we ask that... we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation,  may not, by the interposition of some heinous sin, by being prevented,  as withheld and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread, be separated from Christ's body.
De dominica oratione, Treatise 4.18,
One Lutheran writer takes this in a more literal sense: Cyprian is saying that the faithful pray not to have the Eucharist withheld from them over some sin, thus losing participation in the heavenly bread. (http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/MayesTheLord%27sSupperinCyprianstheology74-3,4.pdf)

St Cyprian wrote that Novations, whose sect he recognized as heretical and outside the church, could be "united to the bread of the Lord" when taking the Sacrament in an orthodox Church (Epistle 75:6).
"If Novatian is united to this bread of the Lord, if he also is mingled with this cup of Christ, he may also seem to be able to have the grace of the one baptism of the Church, if it  be manifest that he holds the unity of the Church."
Arguments made that only the worthy or faithful can swallow or consume the Lord's body

Article 29 of the Anglican Articles of Religion claims:
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.

The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
Here the Anglicans say that the unworthy physically eat the "sign", ie. pressing the "Sacrament of the Body" (ritual) with their teeth, but that they don't "eat Christ's Body". This must mean that there is no way ("in no wise") in which the unworthy partake of Christ's body: they don't put its literal presence into their mouths, nor do they partake spiritually with faith.

This issue came up as part of a debate in the Anglican church over whether "the Lord's Body" on the table was only a "sign" and "sacrament" or was it also the Lord's Body itself. Those who argued that the Lord's Body itself was directly on the table said that both the faithful and unfaithful swallowed and ate it, whereas those who argued against the literal understanding said that only the faithful "ate" the Lord's Body itself, because they said that the "eating" was purely spiritual and meant having faith.

(Note: St. Augustine's full quote that the Anglican Articles point to does not deny the real, objective presence in the food.)

One Anglican pointed out to me that the Church Father Cyprian of Carthage told the following story:
There was a woman too who with impure hands tried to open the locket in which she was keeping Our Lord's holy body, but fire flared up from it and she was too terrified to touch it. And a man who, in spite of his sin, also presumed secretly to join the rest in receiving sacrifice offered by the bishop, was unable to eat or even handle Our Lord's sacred body; when he opened his hands, he found he was holding nothing but ashes. By this one example it was made manifest that Our Lord removes Himself from one who denies Him, and that what is received brings no blessing to the unworthy, since the Holy One has fled and the saving grace is turned to ashes.

-"The Lapsed" Ch. 26
Does this suggest that the Lord has fled out of the meal given to the unworthy, so that they don't eat it?
 

Porter ODoran

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The wicked devour the Lord daily, in a whole other sense, as He is the creator and sustainer of all things. Christ taught, "He maketh his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Eventually the divine power meets the rebellious soul as (what is commonly called) hell.

The Liturgy could not be clearer that the partaking of the Gifts is a dangerous encounter with Christ God himself.

To the Protestant perspective, born among a budding materialism and humanism, none of this is very creditable, and their doubts of the Eucharist are therefore understandable. Imagination then fills the gaps doubt has rent. Further, I find it pointedly convenient that a church so full of unbelief teaches approaching the Gifts in unbelief neutralizes their power.
 

Volnutt

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rakovsky said:
Does this suggest that the Lord has fled out of the meal given to the unworthy, so that they don't eat it?
Seems to me more like a teaching moment to bring those people to repentance. But it might be six of one half-dozen of the other.

Porter ODoran said:
The wicked devour the Lord daily, in a whole other sense, as He is the creator and sustainer of all things. Christ taught, "He maketh his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Eventually the divine power meets the rebellious soul as (what is commonly called) hell.
I wonder if anybody has looked into the connection between memorialism and the idea that Hell can be an absence of the presence of God. Seems like there's a connection there.
 

rakovsky

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You are making a good point here, Porter, especially what's in bold:
Porter ODoran said:
To the Protestant perspective, born among a budding materialism and humanism, none of this is very creditable, and their doubts of the Eucharist are therefore understandable. Imagination then fills the gaps doubt has rent. Further, I find it pointedly convenient that a church so full of unbelief teaches approaching the Gifts in unbelief neutralizes their power.
The early church did not record an open debate on whether Jesus' body was on the communion table. They just repeatedly asserted this using many different expressions, like saying indeed you must truly eat his body. There was no one recorded as saying "It's a symbol only, and not truly or 'actually' his body".

In the last quote above by St. Cyprian, the saint says that the Holy One flees from the unworthy eater, so that what he eats does not help him. And he gives an example where the Eucharist food burned up before someone ate it. But the saint is not clear that the Holy One flees out of the unworthy eater's food so that the unhelpful material that he eats lacks the Holy One. Maybe what usually happens instead is that the unworthy person eats the material that is unhelpful for him, and then the Holy One immediately exits the unworthy eater and flees from him. All St. Cyprian seems to specify is that at some point the Holy One flees from the unworthy eater, and that in one instance this fleeing caused the Eucharist to burn up before the unworthy eater even swallowed it.

What do you think about the passage?
 

Volnutt

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I think that if St. Cyprian was meaning to lay out some general principle that God never lets the unworthy partake of Him, then St. Cyprian was clearly wrong given the weight of all the other Scriptural and Patristic evidence that the unworthy partake all the time, right?
 

Porter ODoran

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rakovsky said:
You are making a good point here, Porter, especially what's in bold:
Porter ODoran said:
To the Protestant perspective, born among a budding materialism and humanism, none of this is very creditable, and their doubts of the Eucharist are therefore understandable. Imagination then fills the gaps doubt has rent. Further, I find it pointedly convenient that a church so full of unbelief teaches approaching the Gifts in unbelief neutralizes their power.
The early church did not record an open debate on whether Jesus' body was on the communion table. They just repeatedly asserted this using many different expressions, like saying indeed you must truly eat his body. There was no one recorded as saying "It's a symbol only, and not truly or 'actually' his body".

In the last quote above by St. Cyprian, the saint says that the Holy One flees from the unworthy eater, so that what he eats does not help him. And he gives an example where the Eucharist food burned up before someone ate it. But the saint is not clear that the Holy One flees out of the unworthy eater's food so that the unhelpful material that he eats lacks the Holy One. Maybe what usually happens instead is that the unworthy person eats the material that is unhelpful for him, and then the Holy One immediately exits the unworthy eater and flees from him. All St. Cyprian seems to specify is that at some point the Holy One flees from the unworthy eater, and that in one instance this fleeing caused the Eucharist to burn up before the unworthy eater even swallowed it.

What do you think about the passage?
I think I read it the first time.
 

Porter ODoran

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Volnutt said:
I wonder if anybody has looked into the connection between memorialism and the idea that Hell can be an absence of the presence of God. Seems like there's a connection there.
Ah.
 
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