Leavened or Unleavend Bread?

Recently, someone visited our church, and was distressed over our use of leavened bread for the Lord’s Supper.  They felt so strongly about it, that they could not partake of the Supper.  Questions were asked, and here is my shooting-from-the-hip response.  If anyone finds a hole in my arguments, or has additional points to add, I’d be most grateful!


Here is my brief explanation of why we use leavened bread.  First, I’m glad that someone cared so much about what we are doing in church!  Too often, we don’t realize the importance of what we are doing.  We need to think, study, and pray about every detail of our worship service!  Second, we need to ask what our pattern for NT worship is.  Why would we assume that we should use unleavened bread? Continue reading

Society for the Study of Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism

As a follow-up to the last post, I just learned that The Society for the Study of Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism is starting up again.  Anyone interested in being on the mailing list should contact Brock Bingaman at Loyola University Chicago: BBINGAM@LUC.EDU


King’s Meadow Endurance Team

This Christmas, consider supporting the King’s Meadow Endurance Team.  George Grant is an advocate for substantive, classical Reformed liturgy, and they have exciting plans to expand into a full liberal arts college! 

Read a more detailed letter here.

Call for Editors & Writers

Although this site continues to get steady traffic, I find myself too busy in my family and my studies to develop it as it could be.  If anyone out there would like to contribute, either as a writer or an editor, let me know.  The original vision was for this site to be a resource, and the more heads involved, the merrier!  E-mail me at gsoderberg@nc.rr.com

Academic Mission Opportunity

I came across an exciting mission opportunity for academics.  This organization sends Christian teachers into other countries, finding positions for them in secular universities.  A quote on their home-page says it all: 

“The university is a clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. Change the university and you change the world,”
declared Dr. Charles Malik, former president of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Should the Pastor Commune First?

Earlier, I was wondering why priests in older rites face the altar, rather than the people.  Now, consider the question of when he should eat.  Should he eat first, or should he wait for the rest of the congregation to be served?  The main argument I’ve heard for waiting is a slim appeal to 1 Cor. 11:33. 

Graham Redding argues against this from historical and theological grounds, “Calvin retains the primitive and Catholic custom of the celebrant serving himself and the elements before their distribution to the congregation … The custom of the celebrant receiving the elements first is consistent with the doctrine of the priesthood of Christ.  For, by virtue of his eternal priesthood, Christ alone is the true Host at the Table, not the officiating minister, who stands in Christ’s place merely as his ‘ambassador’.  Because Christ is both Priest and Host, the celebrant must first receive what the Host offers before he can serve others; and because the celebrant is Christ’s ambassador at the Table, he must serve himself.  As Maxwell observes, this practice has the advantage of the minister setting an ‘example to Christ’s flock of faithful people, first partaking of the sacred Eelements himself, then giving of them to the people'” (Prayer and the Priesthood of Christ in the Reformed Tradition , 235).

Things That Make You Go, “Hmmmm”

Question 2: did Calvin want to reinstate episcopacy?

Prompted by: “Later, when he [Calvin] had come to realize the fact that the episcopate made its appearance in the Church as a stable authority to succeed that of the apostles after their departure, there is no doubt that he wished to reconstitute in his churches a kind of episcopate set over the councils of presbyters.  But this remained no more than a wish,” (Louis Bouyer, The Word, Church, and Sacraments: In Protestantism and Catholicism, 43).

Why Face the Altar?

I’m trying to limit the time I spend blogging, but I thought I’d use this forum to pose questions raised by my studies. 

Question 1 – what historical or theological reasons are there for the priest/presbyter to face the altar during the Eucharist? 

Prompted by William D. Maxwell: “In the primitive Church, as in the Reformed churches (as distinct from the Lutheran and Anglican), the Minister stands behind the Communion Table, facing the people, when celebrating.  This position is known as the basilican posture.  It is still used by the Pope at Rome, and is being widely restored by the Benedictines on the Continent,” (Concerning Worship, 98).

So, if the primitive Church did it, and the Pope does it (and even some Benedictines) why don’t other catholic churches do it?

Reply to Wilson on Theosis

Here an Orthodox lawyer responds  to Doug Wilson’s short critique of Eastern Orthodoxy.  I really don’t want to appear to join the throng of frothing-at-the-mouth Wilson-bashers, especially since he was my pastor and teacher for 4 years.  However, in the interests of pure historical research, and of understanding our Eastern brothers (however much we may disagree), I thought it would be good to hear their side of the story.

It was, after all, St. Athanasius who said, “God became man so that man could become God.”Was this an instance of an Eastern lapse of logic?  Additionally, I wonder how we can say that the Orthodox can’t argue if it was all those Orthodox fathers who successfully argued against Arianism (Athanasius, Chrysostom, Basil, the two Gregorys)?  Why was Chrysostom the father Calvin (that lawyer!) quoted most, second only to Augustine? 

I suppose Wilson could be distinguishing between patristic Orthodoxy and modern Orthodoxy.  In that case, it would have been helpful to make that more explicit. 

Ditch Dix?

A few months ago, there was a discussion here about the merits of Dom Gregory Dix’s The Shape of the Liturgy.  I haven’t read Dix (I intend to, someday, out of a sense of duty), but there is a steady stream of search terms leading here (yes, we can see what you’re searching for) having to do with Dix and his influential work. 

I thought I’d add this to the Dix mix, from another liturgical scholar writing at the same time as Dix.  William D. Maxwell, coming from the liturgical Scotch-Reformed tradition (no, that’s not an oxymoron, though Southern Presbyterians may be ignorant of their own heritage) evaluated Dix’s work as, “an interesting and scholarly work displaying an intricate knowlege of detail and imaginative skill.  The deductions are not always as reliable as the facts, and subtelty is apt to predominate over logic.  The emphasis upon Hippolytus as evidence is excessive.  Are we seriously to believe that Cranmer was a Zwinglian?  This large volume is primarily a pamphlet, and must be read with critical discrimination as well as with gratitude” (Concerning Worship, 17). 

So far, Maxwell’s little book it a delight.  Looks like there’s only one left on Amazon!  This is why we need a Reformed Catholic Press (wink, wink, nudge, nudge to Kevin Johnson :-).