19 Jan The Lord’s Table and Ecumenical Learning
“What side do you take on communion?” That’s the question some have asked after hearing about my forthcoming book on the Lord’s Supper and the gospel. The question is understandable. All too often, this sacrament to celebrate unity in Christ has been the occasion for polemics, squabbling, and dissension.
And yet, I didn’t enter into the decade-long journey of writing this book as an assault on the various approaches to the Lord’s Table with which I disagree. Nor did I attempt to wave a magic “scholarly wand” that would fix all ecumenical problems related to the Table. What I did, instead, was return to the narrative of scripture and seek to inhabit my own (Reformed) tradition in a generous way that can benefit Christians of many different traditions. In the process, I found that Reformed Christians today have much to learn from others, even in the process of rediscovering the Reformed tradition itself.
From the book:
“Reformed and Presbyterian churches often miss key aspects of their tradition. For example, many churches in the Reformed tradition follow Zwingli’s standard of celebrating the Supper only quarterly (even though their confessions are not simply Zwinglian). Yet, if the Lord’s Supper is nourishment, and if it provides a foretaste of the sweetness of our spousal communion with Christ, then celebrating quarterly seems utterly inadequate. Do you want to eat dinner quarterly? Or receive a kiss from your betrothed once every three months?
As a Reformed Christian, my friendships with Pentecostal and charismatic Christians have often helped me to rediscover aspects of the Reformed tradition that others had missed, such as the key role of religious affections in the holy fairs.
In a different way, my friendships with Lutheran and Anglican Christians have helped me to rediscover the power of Calvin’s imperatives for frequent communion.
The ‘retrieval’ of the Reformed tradition in this book actually opens doors for deepening ecumenical learning and friendship.”
Endorsements for Remembrance, Communion, and Hope:
“Todd Billings has done it again. In the clear and heartfelt prose we have come to expect, he presents a constructive theological project in the ‘catholic-Reformed tradition’ that attends in equal measure to the importance of disciplined human action and to the sovereign and gracious activity of the triune God. Here he calls the church to renewal through deep engagement with the Lord’s Supper as the ‘true icon’ of the good news of Jesus Christ, the form of the gospel that we can taste and see. Take this book and savor it. It will do you good.”
— Columbia Theological Seminary
“Todd Billings is one of our leading interpreters of John Calvin. He has given us here a superb study of Eucharistic theology in the Reformed tradition. A call to think deeply about what it means to encounter Jesus Christ in Word and sacrament.”
— Beeson Divinity School, Samford University