The Uncommon Bread of the Caroline Divines

This is a guest post by Peter Escalante:

At the request of my friend Steven Wedgeworth, I am making this little essay available. It was originally published on the now retired Reformed Catholicism forum, and was composed quickly in order to provide some initial rebuttals of untenable claims made by Mr Steel and Mr Douglas, and to begin a public discussion. Mr Steel withdrew. But even recently, on the Auburn Avenue blog, he claimed that his “evidence” was not addressed. I believe this to be far from the truth; but readers can decide. The basic points of contention have been handled very ably by Pastor Wedgeworth in discussion at the Bucer site. What I might add is that Steel had originally claimed that the use of material metaphors such as “artery” showed that Andrewes had a non-Reformed view of the Eucharist; but I gave passages, in the essay below, to show that Andrewes used exactly the same language of prayer. Steel gave quotes from John Johnson, as representative of Andrewes’ school of thought; I gave a quote to show that Johnson was a typical epikletic virtualist, as most of the Nonjurors were; this Eucharistic theology is well known to be a direct development of Calvin’s teaching (much to the distress of Eastern Orthodox examining possible points of agreement between themselves and the English tradition). I concluded with something of a rhetorical trick, using a quote from Andrewes which mocks and abhors as unholy the natural liturgical consequences of Roman doctrine: and that means the substance of the doctrine, not simply a speculative exposition of its metaphysics (transubstantiation). I also gave quotes from Andrewes showing that Andrewes held that the body of Christ is in heaven and not here, and even one place where explicitly distinguishes English church doctrine from that of Rome on this point; this of course is the extra Calvinisticum, a term which makes more sense relative to Lutheran theology, but can serve to indicate the consensus Calvinist teaching on this point. Mr Steel chose not to continue his part in the discussion; and I think it fair to say that I consider myself the one whose evidence- and this essay was just meant to be the beginning of a discussion- was not answered.

Why does any of this matter? Sacramental theology is important, for involved in it are some of the chief principles of the relation between God and man. Unreformed theologies of the Eucharist are bound up with deformed doctrines of the church, which make religious fetishes of the sacred symbols, and thereby subject the people of God to the control of the class thought to have the spiritual mark enabling them to create and dispose these reified means of alienated “grace”.

What also matters is the memory of the old English church. My initial debate with Steel began when he criticized the work of the eminent liturgical historian Dr Bryan Spinks, which I had earlier in that conversation recommended, as biased toward a Reformed reading of the Carolines. Dr Spinks’ excellent work speaks for itself; but I would point out here that Dr Spinks is known and respected for his work on early Syrian liturgy, so it is certainly not as though his intellectual horizons are narrowly 16th century. The early English church, despite all the misconstruals of it by Anglo-Catholics, was Protestant and Reformed. The history of the 19th Anglo-Catholic attempt to deny this is a painful one for those who prize integrity of inquiry. The work of Peter Nockles and the more recent, and excellent, work of Jean-Louis Quantin, have shown how wrongheaded that 19th century orgy of wishful thinking really was. But this was proved back in the 19th c itself by Nathaniel Dimock, regarding sacramental theology, and regarding ecclesiology, by the American Bishop Charles McIlwaine, in his Roman, Oxford, and Anglican Divinity Compared.

The English Church of Elizabeth, James, and Charles is, in some ways, a model of importance for own time. Reformed churches, their common mind constricted by familiarity only with Scots and English Presbyterianism, miss the riches of Reformed thought available in Richard Hooker, or Richard Field, or Lancelot Andrewes (just as they miss the riches available in the thought of German and French Reformed). Anglo-Catholic attempts to prove that the established church was somehow not really Protestant are attempts to deprive modern Protestants of useful heritage. Upon closer examination, many of the things which look less like the Protestantism Americans are used to, can clearly be seen as consistently evangelical appropriations of catholic- and by catholic I mean catholic, which excludes the distinctives of the unreformed- tradition. And too, part of the problem is a narrowly insular focus: just as the Episcopalian settlement of England is seen as less unique when compared to its Swedish parallel (or the teaching of the German Protestant Joachim Stephani), so too Andrewes’ Eucharistic doctrine, for example, looks less unique when compared to that of David Pareus (and other reformers ; the work of Nick Thompson is very helpful here).

At issue in the Andrewes debate particularly is the matter of the ancient church. Those who would read Andrewes as unreformed make much of his “patristic” and “Eastern” inclinations; but although, as Jean-Louis Quantin has shown, the 17th century royalist divines did make much of patristics in the service of forging a distinctly national-confession identity, this does not necessarily imply a departure from Reformed distinctives (Quantin is an excellent remedy to the sort of thing one finds in works such as Canon Middleton’s on the English interest in the old Fathers). As one of the quotes from Bishop Joseph Hall in the essay below shows, the English could easily read the Fathers as basically consonant with Reformed Eucharistic doctrine; and the 18th c Waterland, a great patristics man, engaged in close and extensive patristic exposition, and yet his doctrine on this point is entirely Reformed.

I have removed a single sentence from the beginning of the essay as irrelevant, and ask the reader to remember that it was written quickly as an informal contribution to the beginning of a discussion.

….. I have dealt with this matter elsewhere, and do not wish to resurrect an acrimonious debate. It seemed to me that my interlocutors never answered my thorough analyses of the quotes they kept offering as supposedly conclusive evidence, nor did they address the genuinely Caroline distinctions I drew regarding the true locus of the real presence being the believer, and the figurative locus being the bread and wine in use. So I dropped the conversation. But Kevin has encouraged discussion on these recent quote, and I very much agree that it is worth discussing.

Rather than address the fundamental confusion of the quote in the comments thread of the post, I thought it worth while to submit a lengthier consideration.

Steel asks, what is missing in the Caroline view that separates it from that of Rome?

What is missing is the notion that Christ’s body becomes really present under the bread and wine, able to be sacrificed and worshipped. “Transelementation”, “transmutation”, and “transsignification” of the elements in use were taken by the Carolines in a legal-covenantal and “tropical” sense, not a “real” one; the locus of the real presence is, as Hooker said clearly, the believers. And they explicitly made this sharp distinction themselves. Only by blurring that distinction, can one make the doctrine of Rome and the English Reformed appear to coincide.

I look forward to the conversation. But here is a little catena of some other quotes from writers of that time: and I will end with Andrewes.

John Johnson, supposedly the highest of the later writers, whom Steel has said is a true heir of Andrewes:

“…by the inward invisible power of the Spirit….the Sacramental Body and Blood are made as powerful and effectual for the ends of religion, as the natural Body Itself could be if It were present…Though bread and wine in themselves can be no more than figures, yet when the Holy Ghost has blessed and sanctified them, they are in Power and effect to us the same as the archetypes would be.”

The same as the archetypes would be If the natural body itself were present. And that is strong enough to make the point.

This next is from Archbishop Laud, friend of Andrewes and associated with his thought:

First, I think no man doubts but that there is, and ought to be, offered up to God at the consecration and reception of this Sacrament, sacrificium laudis, the sacrifice of praise; and that this ought to be expressed in the Liturgy, for the instruction of the people. And these words “we entirely desire thy father goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice….” are both in the Book of England, and in that which was prepared for Scotland. And if ‘Bellarmin do call the oblation of the body and blood of Christ, a sacrificium of praise,’ sure he doth well in it; if Bellarmin mean no more, by the oblation of the body and blood of Christ, than a commemoration and representation of that great sacrifice offered up by Christ himself: as Bishop Jewel very learnedly and fully acknowledges. But if Bellarmin go further than this, and by the ‘oblation of the body and blood of Christ,” mean, that the priest offers up that, which Christ Himself did, and not a commemoration of it only; he is erroneous in that and can never make it good. ”

Here is Bishop Jeremy Taylor, one of the greatest Carolines, echoing Calvin on the place of Christ’s natural body:

It will be an infinite impossible contradiction which follows the being of a body in two places at once, upon this account: for it will infer that the same body is in the same time, in the same respect, in order of the same place, both actually and potentially, that is possessed and not possessed of it, and may got to that that place where it is already.”

And now something especially pertinent and acute from Taylor, on the use of sacramental as a category to blur the distinctions between real and tropical/figurative presence, a passage particularly relevant to considering the use of this category in the claims of Steel and other Anglo-Catholics about what the Carolines meant:

‘But now a fourth word must be invented, and that is, sacramentaliter. Christ’s body is sacramentally in more places than one; which is very true, that is, the sacrament of Christ’s body is; and so is His Body figuratively, tropically, representatively in being, and really in effect and blessing; but this is not a natural, real being in a place, but a relation to a person. ‘

Note the sharp distinction between sacramentum and res. There is no getting around this: Christ is only tropically, figuratively present in the elements. One must look elsewhere for the res.

And elsewhere on the same topic:

Aquinas hath another device to make all whole, saying that one body cannot be in divers places localiter, but sacramentaliter, not locally, but sacramentally. But first I wish the words were sense, and that i could tell the meaning of being in place locally and not locally, unless a thing can be in a place and not in a place, that is, so be in that it is also out; but so long a distinction is this it is no matter, it will amuse and make way to escape, if it will do nothing else. But if by sacramentally is in many places is meant figuratively, (as before I explicated it), then I grant Aquinas’ affirmative: Christ’s Body is in many places sacramentally, that is, it is represented upon all the holy tables or altars in the Christian Church. But if by sacramentally he means naturally and properly, then he contradicts himself, for that is what he must mean by localiter if he means anything at all. But it matters not what he means, for it is sufficient to me that he only says it and proves it not; and that it is not sense; and lastly, that Bellarmine confutes it as not being home enough to his purpose, but a direct destruction of the fancy of transubstantiation.

One can find the Bishop using even stronger language in his treatise on the Real Presence: to which I refer the interested reader.

Here is Herbert Thorndike, another great Caroline and one cited by Steel in the quote recently posted. In one representative place, he explains the meaning of transsignification, one of those neo-patristic usages common to the Carolines which have confused so many later readers:

Let me suppose in the first place that the elements, by being deputed to become this Sacrament, are not abolished for their substance, nor cease to be what they were, but yet begin to be what they were not, that is, visible signs, not only to figure the sacrifice of Christ’s cross-which being so used they are apt to do of themselves, (even)setting the institution of Christ aside- but also to tender and exhibit the invisible grace which they represent to them that receive.

Begin to be what they were not and that is…the natural body of Christ? No; they begin to be visible signs. And that is quite a difference.

And another:

For the elements may be said to become the body and blood of Christ without addition, in the same true sense in which they are so called in the Scriptures. But when they are said the become the body and blood of Christ unto them that communicate (Ut nobis corpus fiat dilectissimi Filii Tui…), that true sense is so well signified and expressed, that the words cannot well be understood otherwise than to import not the corporal substance, but the spiritual use of them. In the Greek form prayer is made that the elements may be made, or become, or be changed, or translated into the body and blood of Christ. That also among our writers of controversy is acknowledged to be verified, though we suppose them not to cease to be what they were, but to become what they were not, that is, visible signs exhibiting the invisible grace which they figure.

The true sense is so well conveyed by the old liturgical language, according to Thorndike, that it can only be understood as *not* indicating the presence of the natural body in the elements. Transelementation, transsignification, et c, indicates am official, binding change in the legal and semiotic use or character of the elements. It is in no way a synonym for transsubstantiation or the “fond imagination”of which “transsubstantiation” is a pseudo-philosophical explanation.


To which meaning that which always follows in that form directs us, when prayer is made that the elements may become the body and blood of Christ, so that they which receive them may be fulfilled with the blessings of His grace; which is to say, that they may become that which they are called- to wit, the body and blood of Christ- not in respect of the corporal substance and kind, whereof they consist, but in respect to they spiritual communion which they exhibit. And indeed, when St Ambrose saith that after consecration the body of the Lord and His blood only is named, and signified, and expressed, this also seems to import a great abatement of the proper signification of the body and blood of Christ (PE: he means, Ambrose’s words seem to weaken the Protestant argument, but Thorndike vindicates it by going on to say )…so called and named and signified to us, not because the substance of their nature and kind is abolished, but because it comes no more into consideration, as not concerning the spiritual benefit of tham that communicate. Which seemeth to be the true reason why Churchwriters continually call the elements by the names of that which they exhibit, without such addition as might import that abatement whereof we now speak; who nevertheless stick not to acknowledge that that the species of the elements- that is, in their sense (of the word), not the outward appearance of the accidents, as those of the Church of Rome disguise the true meaning of the Latin word, but the inward nature and substance of their kind- doth remain as it was.

Thorndike is clear in this and other places, that the patristic language of trans (elementation, signification, etc) is received as indicating a new convenantal use, the way gold becomes legally and politically transsignificant when it is wrought into a crown and used in a legitimate coronation ceremony, or when it is wrought into a ring and used in a legitimate wedding. But to think that the marriage itself, much less the groom, are somehow really squeezed into the ring, is absurd. This explanation of “trans-” language, and the denial of real presence in the elements, is precisely the reading which Daniel Waterland gives of the matter, in his definitive Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, following Bernard of Clairvaux (a reading favored by Calvin, and disliked by Aquinas); and it is generally understood that Waterland represents the mainstream tradition of Eucharistic thought in the Church of England.

Here is an especially clear passage from the saintly spiritual writer Bishop Joseph Hall, showing that the Carolines rejected not only a certain name or account of a doctrine of presence which they supposedly held in common with Rome, but rather, that they rejected the thing itself and the cultus which followed from it:

..Would that the exploded opinion of Transsubstantiation, and, which is the root of it, the Multi-presence of Christ’s Body, did not utterly overthrow the truth of his Humanity.

Good God! Is it possible, as Averroes jested of old, that Christians should make of themselves a God of Bread? That any reasonable man can believe, that Christ carried his own body in one of his hands: that he reached it forth to be eaten by those holy guests of his, which saw him present with them, and heard him speaking to them; both while they were eating him, and when they eaten the sacred morsel? that the self-same Son of Man should, at once, both devour his whole self, and should sit whole and entire at the table with them? that the glorious body of Christ should be carried through the unclean passages of our maws: and either there be turned into the substance of our body: or, contrary to that the Spirit said of old, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption: Ps xvi 10, should be subject to putrefaction, or vanish to nothing, and return into that heaven wherein it was, ere it returned, while it returned…

What monsters of follies are these! How mad, yea, how impious is this obstinacy of foolish men, that they will overturn the very principles of nature, the order of things, the Humanity of their Saviour, the truth of the Sacrament, the constant judgement of Scripture, and lastly, the very foundations of all Divinity; and confusedly jumble heaven and earth together, rather than they will, where necessity requires, admit but a tropical kind of speech in our Saviour’s consecration: while, in the mean time, the whole reverend senate of the Fathers cries out, and redoubles the names of symbols, signs, representation, similitude, figures, and whatever word may import a borrowed sense…

…That the true body of Christ is truly offered and truly received in the Sacrament, which of us hath not ever constantly taught and defended? But, how is this? not by any bodily touch, as Cyril and Ambrose say well: but, by our faith. That is should be corporally, carnally, orally present; and torn in pieces with out teeth, as good Pope Nicholas caused Berengarius to say, and our Allen hath followed him unbidden; hath ever seemed impious to us….

…this prodigious conceit of transsubstantiation, which alone contains in it as many absurd errors, as there have been minutes of time, from the first forming of it, that is from the Lateran Council to this hour, can look to be entertained no otherwise at our hand, than as such a devilish fancy deserveth, with hatred and execration.

…but this sleeveless tale of transsubstantiation was surely brought both into the world and upon the stage, by that other fable of the Multi-presence of Christ’s Body. Neither know I, whether I should prefer, for madness and sophistical cozenage.

Note that: “…the whole reverend senate of the Fathers cries out, and redoubles the names of symbols, signs, representation, similitude, figures, and whatever word may import a borrowed sense.”  A borrowed sense; meaning that body and blood are said metaphorically of the elements. This is as clear an exposition of the matter as could be written. It is worth noting that Hall was a bishop under Laud, and Laud policed him very closely, and demanded several revisions in Hall’s works on the topic of episcopacy. Never, to my knowledge, did Laud fault Bp Hall for publicly teaching on the Eucharist as he does above.

And now, on to Bishop Lancelot Andrewes himself, on sacraments:

And that He now doth; For when we turn ourselves every way, we find not, in the office of the Church, what this seal should be but the Sacrament; or what the print of it, but the grace there received, a means to make us, and a pledge or “earnest” that we are His.

The outward seal should be a thing visible, to be shewed; and the sacrament is the only visible part of religion, and nothing subject to the sense but it….This then is the seal. i add further, that it may be rightly called the seal of our redemption, as whereby the means of our redemption is applied unto us; the body and the blood, one broken, the other shed, of Him Whom God “sealed” to the end, even to redeem us.

And with and by these, there is grace imparted to us; which grace is the very breath of this Holy Spirit, the true and express character of His seal, to the renewing in us of the image of God, whereunto we are created. And with grace, which serveth properly pro tota substantia, to and for the whole substance of the soul, the two streams of it, one into the understanding part, the other into the seat of the affections. Into the understanding part, the assurance of faith and hope; into the part affective, the renewing of charity, the ostensive part of this seal in quo cognoscent omnes, “by which all men may know”…..

Another place:

“This is sure: where his flesh and blood are, they are not exanimes, “spiritless” they are not or without life, His Spirit is with them. Therefore it was ordained in those very elements, which have both of them a comfortable operation in the heart of man, One of them, bread, serving to strengthen it, or make it strong; and comfort cometh of confortare, which is “to make strong”. And the other, wine, to make it cheerful or “glad”, and is therefore willed to be ministered to them that mourn, and are oppressed with grief. And all this to shew that the same effect is wrought in the inward man by the holy mysteries, that is in the outward by the elements; and there heart is “established by grace,” and our soul endued with strength….”

Note the clear distinction: inward and outward. To get a deeper sense of his doctrine of sacramental signification, here is Andrewess peaking of cloven tongues of fire alighting on the Apostles as a manifestation of the descent of the Spirit:

Now we all know what this amounts to, what is the signatum or ‘thing signified’ of both these signs: what was wrought in them (the Apostles) by inward concurrence with this outward resemblance.

Again, inward and outward: but the inward is the not physical or metaphysical inward of the physical sign, it is most clearly here the inward of the believer, and takes place, by covenantal guarantee, concurrently with the outward resemblance. Here is the Bishop further on the same topic:

The types He (the Holy Ghost) came in being bodily, serve to teach us we are not to seek after means purely spiritual for attaining it, but trust, as He here visited these, so will He us, and that by per signa corporea, saith Chrysostom. For had we been spirit, and nothing else, God could and would have immediately inspired us that way; but consisting of bodies also as we do, it hath seemed to His wisdom most agreeable, to make bodily signs the means of conveying the graces of His Spirit into us. And that, now the rather, ever since the Holy One Himself and fountain of all holiness, Christ, the Son of God, partaketh both of body and Spirit, is both Word and flesh.

And he goes on to speak of sacramentum as visibile verbum, a favorite phrase of Calvin. But note: on the Anglo-Catholic account, the Holy Spirit would have to be “really present” in the tongues of flame, because what Andrewes says here of them is exactly the same sort of thing he says of the elements in use. But we have seen above where the signatum is to be found- in the spirits of the Apostles.

Much has been made of the objective character of Andrewes calling the elements in use an artery of the Spirit, and that this distinguishes his doctrine from that of Calvin, who is said to reduce the Sacraments to the Word. But here is Andrewes on the matter:

Howsoever it be, if these three, 1. Prayer, 2. the Word, 3. the Sacraments, be every one of them an artery to convey the Spirit to us, we may well may we hope, if we use them all three, we shall be in a good way to speed of our desires.

What has happened here to the notion that the notions of “conduit” or “artery” clearly distinguish the Andrewes from Calvin? Andrewes calls the Sacraments as conduits of grace, and some think this makes him very different from Calvin: but here, prayer and the Words are also arteries, and yet prayer and the Word are not visible, physical things.

Following the eminent liturgical scholar Bryan Spinks, I have argued that Andrewes’ liturgical theology is Reformed. One test of this is the so-called extra-Calvinisticum. Did Andrewes dissent from Calvin’s teaching here? Did Andrewes think, against Calvin, that Christ’s body is removed from Heaven to indwell bread and wine, or is magically extended throughout the world, to unite with bread and wine as though these signs enjoyed a greater union with Christ than His own members? Read on:

“For where is all this? Here upon earth. All our above is above one another here, and is ambitious above, and farther it mounteth not. But this is not the Apostle’s, not the “above” nor “right hand” he meaneth. No: not Christ’s right hand upon earth, but that right hand He sits at Himself in heaven. The Apostle saw clearly we would err this very error; therefore, to take away as he goes all mistaking, he explains his “above” two ways. 2. Privative non quae supra terram, hear you, “not upon earth”; His “above” is not here upon earth. This is where not. Then positive: to clear it from all doubt where,, he points us to the place itself, “above,” there “above” where Christ is, that is, “not on earth”. Earth is the place whence He is risen. The Angels tell us, non est hic: seek Him not here now, but in the place whither He is gone, there seek Him in Heaven…..and if nature would have us no moles, grace would have us eagles, to mount “where the body is.”

This is as Calvin-like or Melanchthonian as one might wish. And here is Andrewes further, speakingof Christ’s command of noli me tangere as a lesson to the Magdaleneto wean herself from bodily touch, and learn the true touch, the touch of faith:

As much to say, Care not to touch me here, stand not upon it, touch Me not till I be ascended; stay till then, and then do. That is the true touch, that is it will do you all the good.

And there is reason for this sense. For the touch of His body which she so much desired, that could but last forty days in all, while He in His body were among them. And what should we all since, and we now, have been the better? He was to take her out a lesson, and to teach her another touch, that might serve for all to the world’s end; that might serve when the body and bodily touch were taken from us…

…It was her error this, she was all for the corporal presence, for the touch with the fingers. So were His Disciples, all of them, too much addicted to it. From which they were now to be weaned, that if they had before known Christ, or touched Him after the flesh, yet now from henceforth they were to do so no more, but learn a new touch; to touch Him being now ascended. Such a touching there, or else His reason hold not; and best touching Him so, better far than this of hers she was so eager on.

Do but ask the Church of Rome: even with them it is not the bodily touch in the Sacrament, that doth the good. Wicked men, very reprobates, have that touch, and remain reprobates as before. Nay, I will go farther: it is not that that toucheth Christ as all…

Now, if faith be to touch, that will touch Him no less in Heaven than here; one that is in Heaven may be touched so….Faith will elevate itself, so that ascending in spirit we shall touch Him, and take hold of Him.

Here Andrewes distinguishes his position nicely from Rome. His argument presupposes that Rome teaches that Christ is bodily in the elements, and that his own church does not; otherwise there would be no comparison. He is saying that even though the Romans notoriously believe that Christ is bodily in the elements, even they do not hold that the touch of this presence alone makes for holiness. Now Anglo-Catholics may say that they are not claiming that Andrewes is teaching that Christ is bodily in the elements, but rather that he is asserting a vague haunting of the elements by an undefined “nature of Christ” undefinably present; but Andrewes is saying quite clearly here that Christ is in Heaven, not here on earth, and that He is touched in Heaven by spirits who have ascended there and touch Him by faith.

But perhaps none of this is sufficient to persuade. So let me end with a quote from a sermon of Calvin, translated from the Latin. The preacher has just explicitly condemned, in a list, a number of Roman beliefs and practices: he has denounced Rome’s practice of invoking saints; denounced their prayers in a sacral language as “without mind or fruit;” denounced their “mutilation of the Eucharist” by their withholding of the cup; denounced their practice of venerating images– all as things “not of Sion.” And then to cap it, he says:

They worship their shy little god-presence, made by a baker, hiding there under the appearance of bread: Sion flees in horror from it.

Strong words, from that terrible firebrand Calvin; surely the moderate Carolines would never go so far.

But I confess that I have played a small trick on the readers. The sermon was, in fact, preached by Lancelot Andrewes before Frederick, Count Palatine.

This basic confusion, whereby “inward” is taken as referring to the inward of the elements, instead of the communicant, is the prime error which makes it then impossible to see the consistent position of the Carolines. But once the distinctions of these writers are understood, there is no more confusion or inconsistency, or plaints that they “sound Catholic” here, but then distressingly “sound Calvinist” there. Theirs was a consistent doctrine wherein the real presence is sited in the believer, and the covenantal signification is sited in the rite. Everything hangs for them on the objective speech-act of the sacrament, which effectually conveys what it signifies, due to the covenant promise of God. They constitute a school of Reformed, patristic-minded theologians whose doctrine of the Eucharist is ancient and catholic, because it is Reformed. And it is, indeed,at odds with Roman doctrine, then and now. What is missing? Any devout Roman Catholic could tell you: the real, substantial presence of Jesus under the species of bread and wine, such that it can be manipulated, sacrificed, worshipped. Reformed Catholics hold to a real participation of the believers in Jesus the Lord really present to us in the rite (as He is present to us always; but in a special way in the rite). But none of our old writers held to anything remotely like the “jumbling together of heaven and earth, the overthrowing of sacrament which is transsubstantiation. And neither should we.

I could have extended the quotes at greater length, and included other writers, but it seems to me that this will suffice to assist the discussion.

This entry was posted in eucharist, Lancelot Andrewes by Steven Wedgeworth. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steven Wedgeworth

Steven Wedgeworth is the associate pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Institute.

26 thoughts on “The Uncommon Bread of the Caroline Divines

  1. Unreformed theologies of the Eucharist are bound up with deformed doctrines of the church, which make religious fetishes of the sacred symbols, and thereby subject the people of God to the control of the class thought to have the spiritual mark enabling them to create and dispose these reified means of alienated “grace”.

    There is a lot of good things here, but this particular quote is really too much. That criticism may apply to Rome, and in my opinion it often does, but I have a real hard time seeing that as a legitimate criticism of the Lutherans or the Orthodox. At the very least, the hostile phrasing is uncalled for. (Only “often” because with the Noveau Theologique and the Byzantine Catholics it’s hard to say what the Catholic Church teaches officially. It is a legitimate criticism of much Catholic theology, but I’m not convinced it is a valid criticism of Catholic Doctrine. Time will tell.)

  2. I don’t know much about these disputes beyond the basics, but wouldn’t Lutherans and Orthodox hold in common with the RCC a closed-communion practice? That goes some way towards the description given…

  3. Jeffrey,

    Apparently you have deleted all your comments at the Auburn blog: if you can’t write anything you are willing to stand by, perhaps you shouldn’t write anything at all.


    I would not include the Lutherans among the unreformed: note that I used a small “r”. And when Rome’s apologists stop using direct language, or when their bishops start restraining them from using it, perhaps I will be a little sweeter as well. Until then, I’ll do my job as it has to be done. I should note that there are RC theologians who very quietly say the same thing I am here; I wish them well. Regarding the Orthodox: I would be happy to explain why my remarks apply to them too. But you might start by looking at Bissera Pentcheva’s work on the functions of icons in Byzantium.


  4. Peter, I was encouraged to pull them over publication issues and the reputations you and Mr. Wedgeworth have on the internet which I am not aware of other than mine and your discussions a few years ago. Both you and Mr. Wedgeworth have read my final post here and can mull over it yourselves and ask me anything in a private email you wish. If you disagree with my views, fine. But to the scholars who know Andrewes better than me and those who know the history and issues better than me believe that I have made my solid case in my writing and research and they are the ones who matter. You both seem unable to admit a simple complete contrary position from Andrewes and Calvin for instance when I provide the contrary quotation. That is the frustrating point that those who wrote me privately said about you. ‘Jeff, you’ll never get anywhere.’ So, I have given you some goods to specifically answer, two of which were in the beginning of this post of mine which you simply would not address. There is no point in academic discussions if you can’t concede a thing when proven. At least not in UK universities.

  5. Jeffrey,

    Think what you will. You haven’t proven a thing; you have simply offered your particular reading of one set of Calvin-Andrewes passages, a reading which seem obvious to you, but is not; I have indeed addressed this, but you remained stubbornly attached to what to my mind is an uninformed and hasty reading. And remember, this whole thing began some time ago with you criticizing an eminent liturgical historian (and a product of a British university, I might add, since that seems to awe you so much) who most certainly does not support your reading of Andrewes; so what is evident here is that your case is not nearly as evident as you think.

    The fact is that you have now retreated to a position of having to say that Andrewes is something like unique even among the Carolines, and on this controverted point very unlike even those writers with whom he is usually associated: Taylor, Hooker, et alia. It is also a fact that I specifically countered a number of your claims with quotes from Andrewes, and you have entirely failed to deal with them. Let me review them: you had made claims based on the use of material conveyance language,”artery”, which I showed did not stand since he uses it of prayer as well; I showed Andrewes speaking of Christ’s body in Heaven in a way which RC and even Lutherans could not possibly assent to; showed Andrewes’ use of sign and inner/outer distinctions; showed that even Andrewes’ closest heir was an epikletic virtualist; and so so on. You addressed none of these, Jeffrey. Not a one.

    As for frustration, well, we all have allies; and many people have written me saying exactly the same thing of you, that I will get nowhere with someone such as yourself. The fact is that you have twice now retreated from public debate with me, and have both times sniffed that this is because such debate is somehow beneath you as an academic. To me, and I think to most people following this little debate who are not emotionally invested in your own position, this looks like an excuse not to have a discussion in public; but as you wish.


  6. Mr. Steel, upon what basis do you speak to my friends as beneath your academic perspective and knowledge? They both have two degrees each in recognized institutions, and Peter has done PhD work at another. This conversation is another example of how converts like you (as well as the e-cliques prowling about seeking converts) just don’t know how to deal with Protestants smarter than you who don’t see what you see. Wake up, man! It is possible to be smart, yes, smarter than you, and still remain Protestant! To make up for your intellectual deficiencies you appeal to your academic supervisors, but Peter has already shown that he can point to other recognized, British scholars who see otherwise, and no doubt he can point to more.

    If you read my comments as coming out of frustration, then you do so rightly. I simply cannot believe that you would treat other academically honored Christians the way that you have simply because they happen to be able to go “toe-to-toe” with you. Do this: go tell the clique that informed you of Peter and Steven’s reputation for being able to hang with Roman Catholic e-pologists and evangelists, that they had better get used to it. Their days of stealing Protestant sheep who are ignorant of church history are over.


  7. Frank,

    I think believe I am the one who supplied quotation after quotation proving my arguments and didnt’ simply use broad reformed categories of memorial , commemoration, extra calvinisticum to paint in a broad stroke someone as unique as Andrewes who can be referred to as someone as a catalyst for ecumenism with Rome because of his Catholic-minded beliefs about the Eucharist. I concur with you that Mr. Escalante is one bright individual about the particular history in which we have written but I do believe he has a limited scope of sacramental realism and what it meant for a mind like Andrewes who, though denying transubstantiation, does not deny an objective presence in the elements and their real conversion so as that what is there by nature is converted by the power of consecration that is greater than nature. Andrewes says such things and points specifically to Ambrose and Cyril of Jerusalem NEVER Luther, Calvin, Cranmer et al.

  8. Rev. Escalante,

    As an aside, for years I have appreciated your writing, at the old Reformed Catholicism and Evangelical Catholicity sites. Do you have a place you regularly blog at? If not, can you post more here?

    Thanks, Tim

  9. Jeff,

    I’m afraid that the jig is up with you. If you want to continue posting, then you’ll have to change your rhetorical posture. You cannot both be the authoritative voice and the one who removes all of his posts. You cannot both issue bold challenges and retract them. It is one or the other. Peter probably didn’t see your comment here, as it was only up for a few hours (hours which would have been midday for his time zone).

    I’m sorry if my speaking direct offends certain sensibilities. But some of those sensibilities are themselves offensive, as Frank’s comment illustrates.

    1st) It was a common feature of the “High” churchmen of Andrewes’ day to assert English primacy. There would be no need to bow to Calvin, and you can see this in Hooker’s Laws, particulary the preface, as well as the writings of John Davenant.

    It was a Puritan move to assume that “Reformed” or “authentically Protestant” meant Genevan, though of course there were all sorts of ties between England and Geneva (Bucer, Vermigil, Calvin and Edward VI, the writings of Beza to Elizabeth).

    To say that an individual doesn’t cite Calvin as an authority, particularly when the individual is engaged in international debates about catholicity and antiquity, is not particularly surprising or interesting. Again, the church under James made a point to proclaim itself as the best and most respected of all the Reformed or Evangelical groups. They believed that it was the others who ought to be citing them.

    2) The Reformers all claimed the patristics on their side, even Ambrose and Cyril of Jerusalem (Just look here, and here. This little paper also shows how Calvin could name those fathers.). In fact, Cyril of Jerusalem and Ambrose regularly and routinely come up among the Reformed writers (probably bc they were thought to be most contested). This is why I simply reply that you need to read the Reformers. Particularly of interest would be Vermigli’s eucharistic writings, Bucer’s works (and Nic Thompson’s work on Bucer), Bishop Jewel, Ridley, Zanchius, Ursinus, Du Moulin (who worked closely with King James), and even Daniel Waterland and Nathaniel Dimmock. These last two men write centuries later, but persist in naming the patristics as supporters of the Reformed view.

    Is it really so stubborn of me to reply to your claims and to say that Andrewes’ methodology does not appear unique when cast in the light of the English moderates?

    3) Also, consecration is an idea that continues to appear in some form even in the Westminster Confession. The mere fact that a writer says that the elements are “changed” does not prove that the writer believes the res to be found in the elements. Many Reformed writers will say that the elements are “changed” from their ordinary nature into “sacraments.” These sacraments, however, still have two parts, earthly and heavenly. The res is always to be found in the heavenly, which requires an ascension by faith in the Holy Spirit. That is a common expression of a broadly Reformed view.

    And so from my own perspective, it seems that it is you who has the limited scope of sacramental language. You are the one who got exasperated and left when I pointed this out, and so I see no reason why my reputation is the problem here.

    Peter has provided sufficient quotes from Andrewes, as well as Andrewes’ closest contemporaries, which show how the “realistic” language consistently works with the Reformed qualifications. This is a legitimate way to establish a point about historical identification.

    The reality of this exchange is that your view is the one which relies on quick and dismissive quotations. You find Andrewes quotes which seem inconsistent with Calvin and believe the case has been made. Peter explains why they are not inconsistent, explaining the mechanics of Eucharistic presence among the Caroline divines. The shenanigans afoot are not coming from his approach.

  10. Then what particularly is it you think causes that problem? Not the doctrine of the Local Presence, for that is a Lutheran Doctrine. Is it the doctrine that the Bread isn’t really bead, the Wine isn’t really wine? But that isn’t an Orthodox doctrine. Or is it more the doctrine of ordination than of the Eucharist? Or something else?

  11. Matthew,

    FWIW, the Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, VII, quotes with approval the Wittenberg Concord (1536), which states in relevant part, that the body and blood of Christ are not “included in the bread localiter, that is, locally.” Likewise, Luther confessed at Marburg in 1529 that Jesus’ body and blood are present and distributed “substantive et essentialiter, non autem qualitative vel quantitative vel localiter.”

    “Veni, Domine Iesu.”


  12. Pingback: Sensus Divinitatis News - The Uncommon Bread of the Caroline Divines

  13. Jordan,

    I’m using “local presence” as a synonym for what the Solid Declaration calls “bodily presence.” The problem [here] with “bodily presence” is that the Calvinists here confess the bodily presence, and object if I said they didn’t.

    Now they only believe in the bodily presence in the following way:

    They understand and declare it in no other way than spiritually [only of a spiritual presence], that is, of partaking through faith of His power, efficacy, and benefits, because [they say] through the Spirit of Christ, who is everywhere, our bodies, in which the Spirit of Christ dwells here upon earth, are united with the body of Christ, which is in heaven.

    and thus some other term is necessary for the doctrine which “not only the Romish, but also the Greek Church has taught.” Hence “local presence.”

    Moreover, it the Solid Declaration doesn’t exactly quote the Wittenburg concord with favor. It is quoted as a failed compromise, superceeded by the Smalcald Articles, which clearly and unambigiously state “the Bread is the Body of Christ.”

    But yes, not Christ’s presence isn’t strictly in a location, for it isn’t true that Christ is at any location, even according to the Ubiquity of the Body, but rather every location is in Christ.

  14. Matt,

    That’s a fair statement of the Lutheran view, and a good clarification of your earlier usage. Of course to my mind, the Lutheran doctrine is nonsense- sophisticated, mystical, sexy, mythopoeitically grand nonsense, but nonsense nonetheless. But you are right that the denial of locale means more a denial of presence by way of containment, and not a denial of physical “hereness”. Of course the doctors and Luther himself make it very clear that neither is Christ is the place of every place, like Newton’s space, and you might have that wrong if you take the doctrine that way.

    A note on the Greek Church: as you know, the Reformed always thought they could give a perfectly good account of the patristic view as consonant with their own, and as indeed more consonant with their own by far than with Lutheran or unreformed doctrines; see Waterland, or Dimock on the patristic language; or any of the Anglican divines cited in my essay here.


  15. I didn’t say it was quoted with “favor” but with “approval.”

    “Veni, Domine Iesu.”

  16. Pingback: From Bishop to Baptist, the Eucharistic Doctrine « Cogito, Credo, Petam

  17. Cosin too, in a discussion of the differences between England and the continent-imitating Puritans (a quotation found on Marianne Dorman’s site):

    ‘[First], they make the accidents only to be signs, while we regard the substance of bread and wine as the signs in accordance with the nature of Sacraments and the teaching of Scripture. [Second], we do not say that the only merits of the death of Christ are signified by the consecrated symbols, but that the real body itself which was crucified for us, and the real blood itself which was shed for us, are both represented and offered, so that our minds may enjoy Christ not less certainly and really than we see and receive and eat and drink the bodily and visible signs themselves. [Third], since the thing signified is offered and presented (exhibetur) to us as really as the signs themselves, in this way we recognize the union of the signs with the body and blood of the Lord, and we say that the elements are changed into a different use from that which they had before. [Fourth], we do not say that in this holy Supper we are partakers only of the fruit of the death and passion of Christ, but we join the ground with the fruits which come to us from Him, declaring with the Apostle, “the bread which we break is a Communion of the body of Christ, and the cup a Communion of His blood,” yea, in that substance which He took in the womb of the Virgin and which He raised on high to heaven.’

  18. Pingback: In Defence of Reformed Eucharistic Doctrine | Cogito, Credo, Petam

  19. Since these discussions make reference to the doctrine of the Orthodox Church on the Eucharist, as an Orthodox Priest, I feel compelled to make a few observations. The problem with these controversies is that you are trying to understand a mystery that cannot be comprehended by the human mind. Chemically the bread and wine remain bread and wine, but in a mysterious way that we cannot define, the bread and wine are not ordinary bread and wine but are changed into the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ by the Holy Spirit. It is a mistake to go beyond the words of St. Paul, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” I Corinthians 10:16.

  20. Pingback: Christ’s Human Presence Does Not Amount to Eutychianism | Cogito, Credo, Petam

  21. Pingback: Augustine's Doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice in City of God - The Calvinist InternationalThe Calvinist International

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