Sunday, June 24, 2012

Book Review: The Meal Jesus Gave Us

The Meal Jesus Gave Us: Understanding Holy Communion, by Tom Wright

Ugh, how do I review this book?  Because, on the one hand, it was good.  So, so good.  It employs a great use of metaphor to help describe the Lord's Supper, it engages the history surrounding the Scriptural accounts of the Institution of Holy Communion (and its forerunner, Passover), it digs into Paul's discussions, it even takes up the relevant Greek in a couple places. 

I'd maybe even recommend it as a good "textbook" for confirmation or an adult study.

But it falls short in one key category: theology.  I am a good Lutheran (with strong RC leanings, no less), and the wishy-washy-ness of the Anglican confession sets off my warning bells. "...we have food in the present that acts as a symbol of God's future feeding..."  (pg. 62 - emphasis mine)  First-generation Reformers argued that "to treat the bread and wine as Jesus' body and blood was idolatry" (pg. 42).  Ack.  ACK. 

As I said before, I'm a good Lutheran.  I'm not willing to go so far as transsubstantiation, which is mostly to say that I don't know, I don't care, and I don't want to speculate on the precise metaphysical nature by which the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Our Lord. What I need to know is that "this is my body" and "this is my blood."  But Wright hedges on this issue.  What's more important to him is that "this food, through the Spirit's mysterious work, is a true anticipation in the present of the food that will sustain us in the age to come.  And the name of that food is Jesus."  (pg. 63)

No.  No, no, no.  This food is what sustains us in the present, and yes, the name of that food is Jesus. 

I normally ♥ N.T. Wright.  He's fantastic.  But on this, we must disagree. 


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My Comments Policy: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23