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Re-Membering the Body: The Lord's Supper and Ecclesial Unity in the Free Church Traditions

Re-Membering the Body: The Lord's Supper and Ecclesial Unity in the Free Church Traditions

by Scott W. Bullard


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For centuries, Baptists have regarded the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, as "merely symbolic" rather than as sacramental. Historically speaking, Baptists have also participated in the practice of the Supper less frequently than other Christian groups, all the while lodging complaints about a lack of ecclesial unity. In response to these trends, this book argues for a sacramental understanding of the Eucharist and focuses on the way in which the Eucharist conveys grace by drawing the church together as the body of Christ. It focuses especially on the theology of James Wm. McClendon Jr., who was Baptist but nonetheless illustrated that through the Eucharist God "re-members" the church as the body of Christ. Together with Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson and Catholic theologian Cardinal Henri de Lubac, McClendon's work has had an enormous impact on contemporary free church discussions about the Supper and ecclesial unity. In a final chapter, therefore, the study examines a number of contemporary Baptists dubbed the "new Baptist sacramentalists." These men and women are influenced by McClendon, Jenson, and de Lubac, and they offer a fresh approach to the ongoing puzzle of the church's disunity through the Eucharist.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620320174
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 11/01/2013
Series: FCCT / Free Church, Catholic Tradition , #2
Pages: 188
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Scott W. Bullard is vice president and academic dean at Judson College in Marion, Alabama.

Table of Contents

Series Preface ix

Acknowledgments xi

1 Reconsidering Communion from a Free Church Perspective 1

2 James McClendon: The Supper as a Re-membering Sign in baptist Theology 13

3 Henri de Lubac: The Eucharist Makes the Church 59

4 Robert Jenson and the Gathered Body of Christ 98

5 The Eucharist Makes the (Free) Church: The New Baptist Sacramentalists and Ecclesial Unity 125

Bibliography 163

Index 173

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Bullard's fresh imagining of how free church observances of the Lord's Supper are means by which God makes the church visibly one invites his readers to 'go further' on the eucharistic path toward the ecumenical future than the Baptist tradition's most creative systematician may have envisioned possible, yet in ways fully consistent with the tradition's distinctive insights . . . a must-read for anyone who dares dream the fulfillment of Christ's prayer for the unity of his church."

—Steven R. Harmon

Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity

"This book recounts and appropriates serious theological reflection among a number of Baptist theologians aimed at retrieving a sacramental understanding of their tradition and of the Christian life. Scott Bullard's focus on the Eucharist and Christian unity adds to this discussion in a significant way. A book to be welcomed, read, and applied!"

—Timothy George

Beeson Divinity School of Samford University

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