Baptists, Eucharist, and History 18 – St. Cyprian to the Church of Thibaris

Posted: August 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Church History, Eucharist | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This letter to the Church of Thibaris was also written to help prepare them for persecution, so it’s similar in context to the last one. And we see a similar theme and place for the Eucharist.

A severer and a fiercer fight is now threatening, for which the soldiers of Christ ought to prepare themselves with uncorrupted faith and robust courage, considering that they drink the cup of Christ’s blood daily, for the reason that they themselves also may be able to shed their blood for Christ.

Drink Christ’s blood daily so you will be able to shed your blood for Christ. It’s the same visceral connection. And it is interesting that a practice of daily Eucharist is mentioned.

Later in the letter, as St. Cyprian is writing about the full armor metaphor from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he certainly interprets the sword in a way I don’t think I’ve ever heard in a Protestant church.

that our mouth may be fortified, that the conquering tongue may confess Christ its Lord: let us also arm the right hand with the sword of the Spirit, that it may bravely reject the deadly sacrifices; that, mindful of the Eucharist, the hand which has received the Lord’s body may embrace the Lord Himself, hereafter to receive from the Lord the reward of heavenly crowns.

The right hand is armed with the Lord’s body in the Eucharist. It is consumed through our mouths and thus fortifies it and gives us a conquering tongue.

Normative baptist practice, at least in most SBC churches that I’ve heard about, is to hold the “Lord’s Supper” quarterly and every time stress that it is just a memorial remembrance and symbol and that nothing whatsoever is actually happening. The only reason we’re doing it at all is because for some obscure reason Jesus told us to engage in this ritual. So we’re going to do it even though we don’t believe it actually accomplishes anything whatsoever other than spur a moment of personal, private reflection and perhaps stir an internal emotional response.


2 Comments on “Baptists, Eucharist, and History 18 – St. Cyprian to the Church of Thibaris”

  1. 1 Alyosha said at 6:33 pm on August 3rd, 2009:

    (I’m enjoying your blog, btw) The early Church approached the Scriptures (the O.T.) in a very different way than Protestants do, as you are apparently discovering. I’ve been an Orthodox Christian (came out of a Bible church) for several years now and still don’t know how to do it “right”. Maybe there is no Biblically defensible right method, other than to hold fast to what was handed down. After all it was primarily the apostolic preaching, and not the writing, that was preserved and taught (2 Tim 2:2). Paul himself stayed and taught for two long years at Ephesus, a year and a half at Corinth and a year at Antioch. What was he saying all that time? *Exactly* the same thing as in his letters? His letters actually exhibit a lot of variety. Take only two epistles away, Galatians and Romans, and almost everything we’d know about “justification” would be gone. And of course the other 12 spent years preaching, and not just St. Paul. I still wonder which things Peter was speaking of when he said there were some things said by Paul that were difficult to understand: the things I find it hard to understand, or some of the things I find easy to understand. “It is not safe to swim in one’s clothes, nor should a slave of passion touch theology.” — St. John Climacus

  2. 2 Scott said at 9:01 pm on August 3rd, 2009:

    Thanks, Alyosha. And welcome! My background and formation is a bit too complex to summarize in a sentence or two, but “pluralistic” is one word that fits. As I entered Christianity, I tended to read Scripture through the lens of John, 1 John, Hebrews, and Acts first of all. I think people need to better understand Torah and what it meant in first century Judaism and still largely means in Judaism today before Romans and Galatians can be read fruitfully. The problem is not really with those letters, but with reading them through the lens of modern philosophical ideas about Natural Law rather than Torah. It’s really weird when people start talking about Jesus’ commands as though they are also “Law” as referred to in Romans.

    I think Peter is referencing much that Paul wrote. In addition to some convoluted and deep thoughts, he also gets excited and starts combining multiple ideas and metaphors at times. I think Paul is both rich and deep, but I also think there are good reasons the Church calls St. John “the Theologian” rather than St. Paul.

    Good thoughts.