Eating and drinking judgment

In the title link, a well-considered piece of Yoder-Hauerwas active pacifism, Stanley says,
Constituted by the body and blood of Christ we participate in God's Kingdom so that the world may know that we, the church of Jesus Christ, are the end of sacrifice.

This is why, if Christians leave the Eucharistic table ready to kill one another, we not only eat and drink judgment on ourselves, but we rob the world of the witness necessary for the world to know there is an alternative to the sacrifices of war.
This may be the finest interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:29 I've seen, at least lately. It certainly doesn't serve the immediate context of 1 Cor. 11, but I think it strikes at the heart.

For the sake of having the text in front of us, 1 Corinthians 11:16-34:
[concerning the aforementioned division of male and female:] Now, if anyone is inclined to dispute it, neither we nor the assemblies of God have any such ethos among ourselves. But I do not praise you with this declaration -- because you gather not for the better, but for the worse!

First of all, when you gather yourselves in assembly, I hear that there are divisions among you -- and in a certain sense I trust that it is so. For there must be (a range of) choices among you, so that those manifestations that are demonstrably good should come into being among you.

Then, when you gather yourselves in the same place, is it not to eat the Lord's supper?

Indeed, each one of you goes ahead with their own supper in your (common) eating, and some are hungry and some are drunk! Is this because you do not have houses for eating and drinking? Or because you have something against the assembly of God, and want to humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you?

I do not commend you for this, because I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you: that on the night when he was handed over, the Lord Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and said, "This bread is my body, for your sake. Do this for my remembrance." Likewise also he took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new contract, (written) in my blood. Do this, as often as you shall drink, for my remembrance."

Indeed, as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the cup, you declare the death of your Lord, until he arrives. So therefore whoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord without counting its value and cost is liable for the body and the blood of the Lord. So let each person discern herself, and in this way eat from the (common) bread and drink from the (common) cup.

Those who eat and drink, eat and drink judgment against themselves, should they not discern the body. Because of this, many among you are weak, and sick, and apt to die. Now, if we were discerning ourselves, we would not be judged -- but being judged by the Lord, we are being instructed so that we will not be condemned with the world. So therefore, my siblings, expect and receive one another when you gather together for your (common) eating. If anyone is hungry, eat at home, so that you do not gather for judgment. And I will set the rest in order when I arrive.
You see, the world rips and tears and destroys its own. The world sets factions against one another in self-serving contempt and hatred. The world says "You are worthy; you are not." "You are friend; you are enemy." The world tells you that you are not one body in Christ, but many competing bodies -- and because we do not discern our unity in Christ, many among us are weak and sick and apt to die because you and I have gone out and taken what we wanted without expecting and receiving and considering our sisters and brothers who have nothing. However nice our charity work may be, we have for all intents and purposes excluded the majority of the world from their rightful, equitable share in our common body. Homo homini lupus est, and life is accordingly nasty, brutish and short.

And the Eucharistic meal is the direct and polar antithesis of all of this. The last and eternal supper of Jesus our Lord is a remembrance, a memorial, a tangible monument of practice against the world's practice of some-and-not-others. He is the binding instrument of our new contract, just as he is the agent of our new creation. Our common meal is the representation -- the performative re-presencing -- of the life and death and life of Jesus Christ among us in this new contract with the whole of creation. In this meal the body and blood of our Lord are truly present among us, and we become the living body of our Lord.

That said, it is important that there be differences of opinion, differences of practice, choices among schools of ideas, in this body. How else will we discover what is worth doing, and what isn't, except by doing everything, somewhere in the body? Paul trusts that this stuff will work itself out -- as long as we are one in our Lord, and continually practice the presence of our Lord in that instrument of God's new contract that renews the whole creation. As long as we partake of the grace that alone constitutes our unity as creatures before the Creator, and then go forth and act like it.


  1. I much prefer the criticism of conventional religiosity given in this interpretation of Matthew 23.

    Plus this radical critique of applied Christian politics

  2. I'm sorry, friend, but if you have no thoughts I can't get from Bubba Free John, I'm not posting any more of your link comments. I posted this one solely in order to say so.


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