I call this the “Eucharist Challenge” because, as a Protestant raised Baptist, eventually turning Presbyterian, I never did get to hear of the meaning of the Eucharist from other perspectives.
But as I’ve been improving my knowledge of philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, Aristotle eventually comes into view. And there is no denying that Aristotle is an important figure in the development of Christian theology. It is often stated how Aquinas attempted to combine Aristotle and Christ into a single theology, a combination that results in failure.
But, the Roman Catholic Church continues to rely on Aristotle’s metaphysics and ontology as the basis for its view of the Eucharist. In this view, the bread and the wine ‘become’ the blood and body of Jesus Christ.
For many Protestants such as myself, this view is illogical, to say the least. Attend a Mass and you do not see any visible change in the elements of the Eucharist. And the reason we do not ‘see’ the change is because we do not understand Aristotle.
The weekend of May 23-24 around the world marks a significant occasion for Christians and Jews. The date is 50 days after Passover for the Jews, or 50 days after Easter Sunday for the Christians. The primary events are similar in significance, and so too are the follow-up arrangements.
When God imposed the final plague on Egypt, it was on the night of the vernal equinox, so tradition holds. It was this event, hundreds of years later, when Christ became the sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the world. And so the same equinox is important for both Christians and Jews. For more on the dating of Passover and Easter, see Torah and the Dating of Passover.
For the Jews, Shavuot is the celebration of the giving of the Ten Commandments, 50 days after they had fled Egypt. For the Christians, Pentecost occurs 50 days after the resurrection as a celebration of the visitation of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s followers. Thus Pentecost Sunday, also known as Whitsunday or White Sunday, has been a tradition in the majority of the Christian community for 2,000+ years. The White Sunday comes from the fact that baptism was often held on this day because of the warmer northern climate (rather than Easter) at this time of year, and the baptismal candidates dressed in white.
It is here, however, the similarities end and the differences begin to occur. Christianity has no celebration concerning the giving of the Ten Commandments and Judaism has no celebration for the descent of the Holy Spirit. Both, however, are trying to emphasize a special event in the life of the community. The Jews base their Shavuot on the Torah itself, while the Christians use tradition, or sacred tradition (is there a difference?) as a way of justifying their event. Both groups, however, recognize that Torah sets the date of the event — 50 days after Passover/Easter.
One might ask why Christianity has no ‘celebration’ of the giving of the Decalogue. Is it because Christians don’t think the commandments are important? Put the question that way to many Christians and you will get a mixed answer.
Written on Ash Wednesday
Evil triumphs. And you ask why.
Some people wring their hands in desperation, pray like crazy, talk about it with their friends, condemn the evil perpetrators. But nothing changes. Why?
Is it that God has made us automatons, without a mind and will of our own, that we might not do something about evil? History is littered with the names of evil. Robespierre, Amin, Castro, Stalin, Krushchev, and Mugabe wreaked havoc on the lives of millions. How did they get to those positions?
When you speak of Christian culture, what do you mean? What do you understand by the idea of Christian culture?
There is a tendency by many to think of Christian culture in terms of things: movies, art, music, business, money, economy, property rights, and so forth.
In the past, however, when Christianity did influence the culture, it had an advantage. The key elements of Christianity were constantly a reminder to the people, not just through the implementation of music, art, literature, and law, but through a series of events that spread throughout the calendar year.
I’m referring to the Christian calendar. This created what Robert Webber calls “Christian-year spirituality”. According to Webber,
Through Christian-year spirituality we are enabled to experience the biblical mandate of conforming to Christ. The Christian year orders our formation with Christ incarnate in his ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and coming again through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. In Christian-year spirituality we are spiritually formed by recalling and entering into his great saving events (Ancient-Future Time, p. 22).
Now when was the last time you had a Christian-year calendar that recalled the major events of God’s saving work through Christ, and participation in that and his future as King of kings, and Lord of lords?