Prerequisite: Theses 52-56
(Painting: "Allegory of the Eucharist," Alexander Coosemans, 17th cent., oil on canvas)
57.) The Eucharist and Sacramentalism - Since God—and Christ—is immanent in all creation and gives his grace at all times and in all ways, whenever we are open to receive it, it is not necessary to posit that the Eucharist is a place where Christ is “more present” than anywhere else, nor that partaking of it somehow magically endows one with more of the grace of God. Grace is not a substance that can be accumulated in greater or lesser quantities; it is simply the active outplaying of God’s love, always and everywhere available because of Christ. Encountering grace, the ever-flowing favor of God’s wellspring of love, is rather like being submerged in a continually-flowing river—one cannot say that, based on the spot one chooses, that one has been immersed in “more” of the river, nor can we say that the grace of God is “more” present in the Eucharist, simply because grace is not a substance to be accumulated—it is a continual aspect of our reality. Because the Eucharist is so symbolically rich with the truths of God and redemption, however, it is a rite which we need to enter as our spiritual home, the lens through which we see the world, so that we learn from the Eucharist to experience union with Christ through everything around us, material as well as “spiritual” means. Though this interpretation of the Eucharist fits with the Baptist theology I represent, a future thesis (on the Ascension) will argue that far from being anti-sacramental in our understanding of material things, we ought to consider the entire created order as a "universal sacrament," united with Christ, and that this representation is shown most fully in the Eucharist.