Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"This is the Lamb of God"

Mrs Lloyd and I attended an Anglican mass (or, celebration of the Lord’s Supper) in which the celebrant held up a wafer and said, “This is the Lamb of God”. I was tempted to shout out, “Oh, no it isn’t!”, but I didn’t. We remained in our seats but did not participate in the Supper. This was especially embarrassing as I’d gone to be supportive and encouraging and interested in my Anglo-Catholic brethren and was wearing a clerical collar.

Does everyone agree those words imply that the wafer is Jesus? If that is meant, it must be the most appauling idolatry, mustn’t it: calling the created the Creator?

I guess one might defend such language by appeal to Jesus’ own words, “This is my body”. In this case, “this is” might be taken to mean this represents or signifies or something. Of course, when Jesus spoke these words, he was literally present so it was very unlikely that anyone would think that the bread literally was his physical body. There is no hint that Jesus rang a bell or knelt down to the bread or anything like that. To say of the wafer, “this is the Lamb of God” seems to me at best grossly misleading.

What do others think? Any light from John Bradford’s The Hurt of Hearing The Mass or from Dr Williams’ lectures thereon? What should our response to such an acclamation be?

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