The Understanding of God Implicit in the Eucharist
In the final Kantzer lecture of the series, Nicholas Wolterstorff turns to conclude his exploration by unpacking the theological implications of the Eucharist for his project. Noting that this is not the place to adjudicate between competing understandings of the act, Wolterstorff selects one account—that of John Calvin—and examines the understanding of God implicit in it. Wolterstorff notes that traditional uses treat the “this is my body” and “this is my blood,” whereas Calvin includes “for you,” and this plays a crucial role in his account. He goes on to explore the force of the copula is, and argues that the concepts of partaking and sealing are central to Calvin’s account. Wolterstorff concludes that the understanding of God implicit in the Eucharist is a uniquely intimate compared with the other areas already explored. It is that “The God of unsurpassable excellence not only stoops down to listen, hear, and speak to us: he stoops down to dwell and work within us in the person of Jesus Christ. In listening and speaking, there is a certain distance between the interlocutors: in communion in the Eucharist, this distance is removed.”
Nicholas Wolterstorff taught at Yale since 1989 until he retired in 2002. Previously, he taught at Calvin College, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the University of Notre Dame and has been visiting professor at several institutions. He is past President of the American Philosophical Association (Central Division) and serves on its publication and executive committees. In addition to numerous articles, he has written the following books: Religion and the Schools; On Universals; Reason within the Bounds of Religion; Art in Action; Works and Worlds of Art; Education for Responsible Action; Until Justice and Peace Embrace; Faith and Rationality (co-author); Rationality in the Calvinian Tradition (co-author); Lament for a Son; and Keeping Faith: Talks for New Faculty. In upcoming years, he will be the Wilde Lecturer at Oxford University and the Gifford Lecturer at St. Andrew’s University.