Jan 14, 2011

Half-baked sacrament or breaking bread?

As early as the late 1st century, and well into the 2nd, we begin to see a form of gatekeeping or table-fencing creeping into the meetings of Christians. If grace is a means received when one partakes of the Lord's Table, eating the bread or drinking the cup, then Christ really is only partly sufficient as a sacrifice no? Then the result would require an administration of the element of grace to those who are seen as worthy would it not? Interesting and yet perplexing thought here if you think about it.
"The Church had come a long way since the Last Supper, and much of it had involved a journey away from, and even against, it's original Jewish recipe. The result was half-baked sacramental theology with too many foreign flavors overwhelming the main ingredient."

-Ben Witherington III, Making a Meal of It: Rethinking the Theology of the Lord's Supper
Now, if the means of grace must be administered properly, then an effective system must be adhered to. Why not implement priests, altars, and appropriate delegates to serve the means of grace as it should be. If the sacrifice is being re-initiated, then the priesthood and temple shall be also. I wonder if this would look anything like the modern evangelical landscape, or would it look like the breaking of bread seen in the assembly of Christians?

Ben Witherington goes on to make another interesting point in Making a Meal of It,

"One wonders what Jesus, dining with sinners and tax collectors and then eating his modified Passover meal with disciples whom he knew were going to deny, desert, and betray him, would say about all this. There needs to be a balance between proper teaching so the sacrament is partaken of in a worthy manner and overly zealous policing of the table or clerical control of it."

What do you think? Is the Lord's Supper really something that has so much liberty of interpretation that we can do it in this way or that way? Or is it really so simple that a plain reading of scripture reveals the manner in which the disciples, and ourselves, should take it?

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