Do this, don't do that.... ah, the irony.

This is a kind of postscript to my recent series on Salvation Army Sacramental Theology (which starts here). I want to provide a selection of quotes about Christ's words of institution - "Do this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:24). These are taken from a particular commentary (which will be revealed shortly) because I find them… well… ironic. Not because of what they say, but simply because of where they have been printed. More on that in a moment. For, now, here are the quotes...

“In remembrance of Me.” Some might say, ‘We need no memorial of the Redeemer’s sacrifice; it is graven on our hearts as on the rocks, for ever.’ The Son of Man knew our nature far too well to trust to such a pledge, even if it could have been given. He knew that the remembrance of it would fade without perpetual repetition, and without an appeal to the senses; therefore by touch, by taste, by sight, we are reminded in the Sacrament that Christianity is not a thing of mere feeling, but a real historical actuality. It sets forth Jesus Christ evidently crucified among us. Let us draw something practical from this. Memory depends on two things—on repetition, and on the impression being a sensible one, that is, one of which the senses take cognisance. Does any man wish to forget God? Does any man wish to live in sin without being disturbed by the painful thought of judgment? We can tell him how he may ensure that—for a time at least. Let him attempt to be wise than his Maker: let him say, I can read my Bible at home, and worship God in the open beauties of nature, as well as in a church; let him give up private prayer, and never attend the Lord’s table, giving up all that is symbolical in religion. Let him do this, and we will ensure him most terrible success; for so judgment to come will be to him only a hypothesis, and God’s own existence merely a perhaps.
If Meyer be right in supposing that the word here used is never employed except in the sense of oral proclamation…, we have here strong grounds for affirming that the words of institution formed part of the form of celebrating the Sacrament, even in apostolic times… since this Sacrament was instituted as a memorial of Christ’s death upon the cross… as long as the Christian Church shall last, this Sacrament will continue to be celebrated for the object for which it was instituted. However widely divided on other points, Christians have agreed in carrying out this prediction for more than eighteen hundred years.
S. Paul regarded the Lord’s Supper as a rite to be often celebrated, and that in all future time, until the Lord himself should come to judge the world. The perpetual obligation of this ordinance cannot, therefore, be reasonably disputed.
These quotes are taken directly from The New Testament Commentary – Salvation Army Edition (London: Salvationist Publishing and Supplies, n.d.)

I find it so fascinating that we printed (or more than likely badged and reprinted) a commentary under the name of The Salvation Army, with a foreword by General William Booth, no less, and actually retained these quotes which quite clearly and quite bluntly contradict out position in regards to the Eucharist.

It’s something that is more than mildly amusing to me.

But that might just be me.

Comments

  1. I'm new to this debate, so not sure exactly all the arguments that have gone before. But this is my experience.

    When I was an Officer, every year, leading up to Easter, I would celebrate with my congregation, and often other congregations in the community, a traditional Jewish Passover. I had researched, with the help of a number of Jews, including a few Rabbis, the traditional passover - and even managed to buy Jewish articles used in the Passover to add to the authenticity of the event.

    My reason for doing this is that the Eucharist (The Lord's supper) is situated within the Passover. Celebrating the Passover like that puts the Eucharist into a much deeper context. I was amazed at how many clergy from other denominations - including many 'learned' Priests - came up to me after the event and commented that they had no idea of the deeper significance of the Eucharist, or its' context as experienced as part of the Passover. They would say that even though they have been partaking in and even administering the Eucharist for (in some instances) many decades, that they would never see it again in the same light - it had changed their faith and understanding forever, and gave them a deeper understanding of Judaism, and how we can come together in God.

    My point here is that over the years, I believe that the Sacraments have in fact caused us to forget God - not remember Him. The interesting thing about memory and repetition is that whilst repetition is required for memory, constant repetition has the effect of causing us to forget the original context/intention etc, and just remember an action/form. In not practicing the Eucharist, we are forced to remember the whole. In experiencing it in context, we are given a deeper understanding and memory.

    When Christ said 'do this in memory of me', he wasn't talking about a tiny part of the Passover - but the whole passover. It was this that the early church practiced (they called it the fellowship meal). This bridged their faith as Jews to the new understanding of Christ.

    Perhaps we should instigate a weekly 'Passover Celebration' (Fellowship meal) into The 'Army, so that we can remember in context, and deepen our faith, rather than just having the Eucharist as part of the service.

    Just my thoughts.

    Yours in Christ,
    Graeme Randall

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  2. For all practical purposes if we are to repeat exactly what Christ did at the Lord supper then we can't say we should do this or that in Latin or even English should we?

    However I've been taught to remember Christ at every meal....The Salvation Army practical form of Christianity in every practical action.....that's how it works for me and mine.

    As for repetitive meaningless religious practices:

    I don't see that as consistent with what Christ taught.

    Nevertheless for many they do see those symbolic and religious observances.

    For example those such as remembering Christ in those repetitive ways that, as much as we may not admit it, do in fact ingrain themselves in us.

    So the bottom line? Does it matter so long as Christ is the central reminder and not the purpose of the practice or worship but in doing so we remember all things for the Glory of God. Not the Son and not the traditions.

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