n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Vier visies op Christus se teenwoordigheid by die nagmaal : 'n analise van hulle filosofiese grondslae : navorsings- en oorsigartikels

Volume 55, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0041-4751



Various Christian groups during the sixteenth century could not reach agreement on how Christ's presence at the Eucharist and the Lord's Supper should be understood - a controversy that persists even to the present. This was the case in spite of the fact that all of them claimed that their convictions about this sacrament were founded on Scripture. What really occurred was that they read various current philosophical presuppositions into the Scriptures (eisegesis) and - divinely sanctioned - read the same ideas out of the Bible again (exegesis).
This historical investigation therefore traces and analyses some of the philosophical foundations underlying four theological viewpoints regarding this sacrament during the sixteenth century: the Catholic, Lutheran, Zwinglian and Calvinistic perspectives.
The first main section provides an overview of the basic solutions offered by the four viewpoints on Christ's presence at the sacrament and also indicates their most prominent differences. According to the Catholic viewpoint (earlier represented by Thomas Aquinas and during the sixteenth century by e.g. John Eck), Christ becomes bodily present at the Eucharist since, after consecration, the bread and wine is changed (transubstantiated) into Christ's mystical body. In Luther's theory of consubstantiation Christ, in his divine omnipresence, accompanies the elements of the sacrament. Zwingli regarded "this is My body ... this is My blood" as merely signifying Christ's flesh. Although he also acknowledged the presence of the Holy Spirit, he emphasised from the human side the believer's remembrance of Christ's sacrificial death, made possible by means of the rational faculty of the human soul. The Calvinist perspective reveals some similarity to Zwingli's viewpoint. From God's side Calvin also stressed the presence of the Holy Spirit in the human, believing soul or spirit, but he disagreed with Zwingli about the human response. In the case of Calvin, it is not the rational or intellectual faculty of the soul (the head) but the emotional (or heart) which is regarded as the responding factor. From all four cases it therefore becomes clear that it is not possible to answer the how (Christ could be present) without saying who He is and what it means to be human - both requiring philosophical answers.
The second main section of the contribution, therefore, traces the major philosophical currents which revived during the Renaissance and the Reformation and their possible impact on how the divine and human sides of this sacrament were conceived. Catholicism mainly continued along the lines of classical Medieval Scholasticism (the via antiqua). Luther, on the other hand, wasstrongly influenced by followers of Ockham's via modern a or nominalism, as well as the Neo-Platonism of the Augustinian Order. Zwingli's philosophical background reveals a blend of revived Christianised Stoicism and Neo-Platonism. Also, Calvin was initially interested in the Stoic philosophy of Seneca for example, but added to it was a heavy dosage of (Neo-)Platonism and therefore semi-mysticism.
It is finally concluded that different forms of semi-mysticism can be detected in all four viewpoints which are discussed. Mysticism is based on the philosophical idea of the supposed possibility of partial human participation in the divine and even the partial deification of the human being. Since the human soul is regarded as semi-divine, the biblical, radical difference between Creator and creation is not fully acknowledged and honoured - with serious implications for how the Eucharist or the Lord's Supper is to be understood.

Gedurende die sestiende eeu - en tot vandag - kon vier verskillende visies op Christus se teenwoordigheid by die mis en die nagmaal, ten spyte daarvan dat almal hulle op die Skrif beroep het, geen eenstemmigheid bereik nie. Hierdie studie stap terug in die geskiedenis om vas te stel watter filosofiese strominge destyds geheers het en hoe die wysgerige grondslae gelyk het wat hierdie teologiese verskille en geskille veroorsaak het. So 'n benadering verklaar die transsubstansialistiese Katolieke visie, Luther se konsubstansialisme, Zwingli se herinnering deur die verstand en Calvyn se gevoelservaring van die hart by hierdie sakrament. Hoe die ontmoeting tussen God en mens daarby plaasvind, is by almal tot 'n mate verduister deur Bybels-vreemde denke oor sowel Christus as die mens. Die rede is dat die vraag Christus by die nagmaal teenwoordig is nie werklik beantwoord kan word sonder om 'n denker se beskouinge oor God is en die mens is ter sprake te bring nie. In al vier gevalle was daar ook een of ander vorm van semi-mistiek ter sprake, wat nie die Bybelse radikale onderskeid tussen Skepper en skepping gehonoreer het nie.

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