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John Calvin is a well-known theologian who is linked to several beliefs, including the Lord's Supper and the authority of God. The Catholic faith and the Protestant spirituality were very different. In contrast to the Protestant religion, which was verbal and excluded all spiritual visual dimensions, Catholicism used more visual aspects of spirituality. Reformers like Ulrich Zwingli, on the other hand, rejected transubstantiation. Calvin presents a more extreme interpretation of communion. This paper explores the Calvinist doctrine of Eucharist, how it reflects Calvinists view of the spiritual authority of the laity and whether or not a more radical view of communion meant a more radical view of Christian society.
Calvin defined a sacrament as a symbol of a sacred thing. According to him, the sacrament was completely inseparable from the word since it sealed the promises found in it. Calvin claimed that the Lord’s Supper’s main purpose was to fulfill the promise that those who partake it in faith truly acquire the body and blood of Christ. He viewed the sacraments as signs but rejects the notion that these are transformed into whatever they signify when one partakes them. Calvin also agreed that the body of Christ was actually existing in heaven but precluded the notion that it descends for believers to genuinely partake it since the Holy Spirit impacts communion. Calvin indicates a connection between the Holy Spirit and the believer’s union of Christ. The minister’s actions on earth are accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
He also argued that eating the sacramental body of Christ is not equivalent to faith; these actions are a result of faith. Spiritual eating is the term that he used to the action of consuming the blood and body of Christ by faith and through the inherent power of the Holy Spirit who gives them the life of Christ. He believed that despite the fact that these elements are offered to everyone, only those who believe in Christ receive it.
Calvin’s Eucharist doctrine asserts that the laity, even though they are individuals of good will, cannot be said to genuinely obtain the illuminating grace. This is because the successful achievement of this is dependent on voluntary submission and intense faith in Christ. Calvin argues that the laity has implicit faith. Calvin claims that the scriptures sometimes compare this intense willingness to learn as faith whereas in the real sense it falls short of this aspect. This implicit faith is as a result for the respect the laity has for the church. Calvin argues that God obscures the Holy Scripture so as to make people humble.
He dwells on Isaiah’s threatened punishment against non-believers. He claims that the Lord’s work shall be a sealed book to this person, in which the Lord will humble them. People should, therefore, wait patiently for that time to come and not reject the word. Calvin insists that the laity can fail to embrace scriptures obscurity. The Lord, in his own special way, forces a misunderstanding, so as to inculcate humbleness and compliance. The spiritual authority of the laity is undermined when the individual’s faith is implicit and is influenced by the respect for the church. Spiritual authority should be given to those with an intense understanding and faith in the word of God.
The radical view of communion was highly symbolic of the Christian society. This is because the communion brought people collectively in the festivity of a symbolic ceremony. The Eucharist, for instance, brought together strong believers and implicit ones who had intense respect for the church. The church considers the sacrament highly sacred. Those who partake the sacrament consume it partake the body and blood of Christ. This only occurs in those who have strong faith. The situation is contrary to non-believers since it bears no meaning. The Christian society believes that taking the sacrament is not an act of faith but a result of faith itself. The Christian society believe that those who have intense faith in God receive the body and blood of Christ when they take the sacrament, the holy spirit gives these individuals the life of Christ due to their faith while those who do not believe consume the sacrament as any ordinary food since it symbolizes nothing due to their lack of faith.
Cross, Richard. "Catholic, Calvinist, and Lutheran Doctrines of Eucharistic Presence:
A Brief Note towards a Rapprochement." International Journal of Systematic Theology 4, no. 3 (2002): 301-318.
Farrow, Douglas. "Between the Rock and a Hard Place: In Support of (something like) a View of the Eucharist." International Journal of Systematic Theology 3, no. 2 (2001): 167-186.
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