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October 18, 2010


Simon Jones

I enjoyed the evening. I'd have liked more of Stanley, though.

I thought Milbank's answer to the person who asked about his quaker wife - that she needed to go to mass to be a Christian - revealed his curious take on being Christian: apparently nothing to do with faith and everything to do with a single practice.

I also found it ironic that both guys - Milbank quite stridently - argued that ecumenism would eventually inevitably lead to a world church united under the Pope in council in Rome; ironic because both are married to women ministers!

It was a highly stimulating evening, however. And I am enjoying Hannah's Child

Andy Goodliff

I too thought it was interesting and like your facebook comment, I wish there had been more conversation on the big society. Did you see F&U news that the Joint Public Issues team are running a day with Will Hutton in Birmingham in January?

At least both Milbank and Hauerwas realised they would both be dead before ecumenism reached that end.

I guess Milbank's point about mass, is that the mass is church, it is more than just a practice, but Milbank is a curious Christian.


It was indeed an enjoyable evening.

I think the emphasis on the Eucharist is quite right. I think Baptism signifies a commitment to the body of Christ - you could see it as a decision of faith, both in the sense of assent and in the sense of having faith and hope. It is also, crucially, the Church having faith in you back, and welcoming you in, allowing you to change the community life and be changed by it. (Despite being an Anglican, I do not particularly favour infant baptism for this reason, but I think confirmation largely serves this role for some of us and Roman Catholics).

The Eucharist, in contrast, is what forms us into (constitutes us as) persons of character and as a community of character. It is where the faithful hopes expressed in Baptism begin to be realised in reality, in our lives singularly and together. It is an ongoing process that takes longer than our lifetime.

On a purely practical level, I think it's fair to assume Baptism in the context Milbank did, as it is a prerequisite of participating in the Eucharist in most churches.

Andy Goodliff

i take your point, but the NT always looks to baptism as that which makes the church and that which consitutes people of character, see especially Paul's letter. I think O'Donovan's point and what I also want to make is the overemphasis on the eucharist and the absence of baptism as that which makes the church.

Scott Bullard

Love the blog, Andy. Philip Thompson directed me here. A couple of thoughts:

I wonder if Milbank was invoking Henri de Lubac when he said that "the eucharist forms the church"? A couple of his books have large sections on this Jesuit (Theology and Social Theory comes to mind, but there is another, too) ...

To the poster who commented on baptism as formative of the church, I tend to agree (Peter in Acts and 1 Peter are huge here), but de Lubac and Gregory Dix both read 1 Cor 10:16-17 in terms of the eucharist "making," or "producing," the church (de Lubac adds in his book Catholicism that baptism "makes the church," too, but in his Corpus Mysticum he goes so far as to say that the eucharist ALONE makes the church [just one instance of this, though]).

Dix claimed that in the patristic lit., "there is a curious reversability" among the interpretations of this text from St. Paul. Some emphasize that the church is generated by the eucharist, some say the eucharist is generated by the church. I'm paraphrasing most of this, but in the end, he says that both are true. Paul McPartlan has posited something very similar.

On another note, I've just finished Hannah's Child, and I had a hard time putting it down (perhaps only because I spent a couple of years in Durham, years in which Hauerwas' first wife died, September 11th "happened"). I've tried to distance myself from Hauerwas' theology in recent years, but I'm back, for now.

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