An Increased Union with Christ

A common speculation regarding the Lord’s Supper is that there is no special partaking of Christ for the believing subject in the event of eating and drinking the elements.  If the sacrament is a means of grace (WCF 27) and grace only comes through union with Christ then what more should one expect from the sacraments? Are they not redundant?  Peter Martyr Vermigli states,

… I cannot admit or acknowledge a real or substantial or corporeal presence of Christ’s body, whether in the signs or in the communicants themselves.  Yet I do not doubt but insist rather that there is a spiritual communion and participation in his body and blood given to the communicants.  Although this is enjoyed even before the eating of the sacrament, it is increased by an exercise of faith in eating the mystery. (Peter Martyr Reader, 161.).  

Here is an unabashed statement that the spiritual communion which believers share with Christ is increased through faith in the eating and drinking of the elements.  Of course this union is a mystery since the matter being discussed involves the incomprehensible nature of the Triune God.  However, one should speculate that there is a sense in which, as the faith of the body grows through the symbolic meal, believers become more united in mind and spirit with the risen Christ.  As believers become more united in faith and practice there is a definite increase of union and communion among the persons who make up the body of Christ. Therefore as the body becomes more united and edified the head comes intimately closer as well.  This reminds me of something Richard Pratt said recently, “to be theocentric is to be anthropocentric.”  This is all dangerously close to theopoesis – exactly where it should be in my opinion.  Union with Christ is not something confined to the ordo solutis but is manifest in the believing community as they come together to worship and participate in the ritual of the Eucharist.

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