Saturday, January 21, 2006

Sacramental buffet

The recent debate over Christology and sacramentology has metastasized into a buffet, dishing up a wide variety of international cuisine.

Just run down the combox over at or

Lest we forget, this all began when Paul McCain dusted off the old charges of “Nestorianism” against Reformed Christology and sacramentology. McCain is never one who gets beyond bumper stickers and political slogans.

Then his fellow Lutheran, Bob Waters, weighed in. In my opinion, Waters made a weak entry. However, he has since shown himself to be far more sophisticated than McCain.

After that, Al Kimmel made a cameo appearance with a brief, but incisive comparison and contrast between Catholic and Lutheran views on Christology and sacramentology.

In addition, the Palamite position has been presented by a couple of its informal representatives in the blogosphere, provoking an exchange between Bob Waters and his Greek Orthodox interlocutors.

At this juncture I’d say the following:

1.Who speaks for Lutheranism? Bob Waters’ description of the issues at stake sounds very different from Paul McCain’s.

2.Likewise, there are dueling experts over the Nestorian controversy.

3.This debate occurs at the intersection of three different linguistic traditions: Greek, Latin, and English, each with its own philosophical and theological jargon and history of usage.

4.The reason we have three competing theories of the real presence is that we have so many theories chasing so little Scripture. Where revelation is silent, finely-spun distinctions are sustained by appeal to one’s philosophy of choice.

At this point, Calvinism is something of a spectator. Break out the popcorn and enjoy the show.


  1. At the Waters blog, Bob states:

    The blog to which Evan directs us is a very good example of such theological Hormel Spam, and the elaborate lengths to which it goes to make the point over and over again that Scripture doesn't really mean what it plainly says is the inevitable result of philosophy being used as a filter for divine revelation

    But Waters has not made a single effor to tell us what Scripture "plainly says." And Waters, stop pulling that etymological mush about Platonic philosophy. The only difference between "Ubiquitarianism" and "Multivolipresence" is linguistic nonsense, and an over-Philosophicalization of the Biblical texts.

  2. When you say "Break out the popcorn and enjoy the show" I imagine, being a creature of today, cell phones going off every minute and interrupting things!

  3. Steve,

    for what its worth, I am not Greek Orthodox. I am Orthodox. Same Church, different jurisdiction.

  4. 1.Nestorians: One person, two hypostases, two natures.
    2.orthodox Christianity: One person, one hypostasis, two natures.
    3.Monophysites: One person, one hypostasis, one nature.

    Which of the above does Calvinism affirm? That should totally elucidate things for Lutherans and such.

  5. Calvin stated, “For we affirm His divinity so joined and united with his humanity that each retains its distinctive nature unimpaired, and yet those two natures constitute one Christ.”

    We have one person, one hypostasis, two natures.

  6. Evan,

    And what is a hypostasis?