UNDERSTANDING OF THE EUCHARIST AMONG ANGLICANS, BAPTISTS AND CATHOLICS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
The problem in focus for this study is ―Understanding the Eucharist among Anglicans, Baptists and Catholics,: Implication for Christian unity‖, was set against the background of certain constraints on the emphasis by Anglican, Baptist and Catholic Churches of those considered as worthy participants in the Eucharist this implies that not all Christians are illegible to participate. In carrying out this study four objectives were formulated. They are: find out if there is common understanding of Eucharist among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist Clergy. Find out the understanding of Eucharist among Catholics, Anglican and Baptist members, to determine the implications of Eucharist for Christian unity among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist clergy, and to ascertain if Eucharist is a factor for Christian unity among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist members. Four research questions and null hypotheses respectively were set and tested at 0.05 levels of significance. A survey research method was adopted in this study and the population for the study comprised of 2,359,481 Anglicans, Baptists and Catholics with interest on only communicants from these denominations. A proportional random sampling technique was used to obtain the number of respondents from the sample size of 600 from three senatorial zones of Kaduna State. A structured questionnaire which was divided into two parts was divided into two parts the first part seeks to identify the understanding of the Eucharist, and the second part was to identify the implication of the Eucharist on Christian unity. Six hundred copies of the questionnaire were distributed to the respondents. Five hundred and five were dully filled and returned. Descriptive data analysis was adopted using simple percentage, mean, and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). A significant difference was observed on the understanding of Eucharist
among the clergy and members of the three denominations. While there was no significance observed on the implications for the Eucharist among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist clergy. However, there was significant difference on the implications of the Eucharist among members of the three denominations. Based on the findings from this study, the following conclusions were made: The level of understanding of Anglican clergy on the Eucharist is similar to that of Catholics but slightly differ from Baptist. The emphasis on worthiness of communicants of the Eucharist is to prevent a host of risks of bringing condemnation but some members feel marginalized by the act. Catholic members have understanding of their church teaching on the Eucharist. Anglican and Baptist members feel marginalized by Catholics refusal to let them partake in the Catholic Eucharist. Based on the findings the following recommendations were made. The Anglican clergy should revisit their common prayer book for proper understanding of the Eucharist, because their level of understanding differs with their church teaching. Catholics, Anglican and Baptist clergy should an initiate inter-denominational dialogue on who is worthy to partake in the Eucharist, and define the yardstick for measuring a person‘s worthiness or unworthiness. Catholic members should be encouraged to explain to Anglican and Baptist members that are interested in their Eucharist why it is restricted to them, and how they will go about it if they want to partake in it. Anglican and Baptist members should not feel bad if Catholics do not allow them to partake in their Eucharist because every church has its own teachings on the Eucharist, but that of Catholics differ with theirs. Unity in diversity should be welcome by all Christians.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
The Eucharist is a sacrament which Christ instituted at the Last Supper with his twelve disciples. Price (2009) asserts that the Eucharist forms the central rite of the Christian religion, in which the bread and wine are consecrated by an ordained minister and consumed by members of church, in obedience to Jesus‘ command at the last supper. Historically, the Eucharist has been celebrated in the Catholic Church all over the world for many centuries. For many centuries to the present time is been celebrated. Most of Catholics attend the Eucharistic Celebration on Sundays because it is the day the Church celebrates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, it is obligatory for all Church members together to have congregational worship. On the other hand, some members of the Catholic Church make it a practice to attend this celebration on a daily basis. The Eucharist is also celebrated daily as a Church custom because it is viewed as an important Sacrament in the life of the Church.
However, broadly speaking, history reveals that there are two outstanding divisions among the followers of Christ, namely, the separation between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches which began on 16 July, 1054 (Anthony, 2008). Anthony further explains that there is a Reformation that brought about the permanent division of Christians in 1517. While the separation between the East, (with its headquarters in Constantinople), and the West, (with its headquarters in Rome), was mainly doctrinal, followed by the issue of Clergy marry and the disagreement on whether to use leavened or unleavened bread for the Eucharist, the Reformation was more serious than these issues of disagreement. Whatever might have been responsible for the division, it is sad to note that since, the sixteenth century, the Church of Christ has remained divided and its members sometimes consider themselves enemies. Christianity in Kaduna state has not been spared from this enmity that exists among Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Protestants. This is as a result of some announcements that pose challenges to Christians. For example In Catholic churches that often announced if non- Catholics worship with them that ―the Eucharist is mainly for Catholics who are in the state of grace or are worthy. While Baptists emphases that ―the Lord Supper is for those who are rightly baptized by immersion‖ Anglicans emphases ―on those who are worthy‖. The question here is, what are the parameters that qualify a person either as worthy or unworthy Christian such that he/she could partake in the Eucharist (if found worthy) or abstain (if found unworthy). Is the worthiness or unworthiness of a person viewed from God perspective or man? Who defines another person worthiness God or man? The manner and time that Anglicans, Baptists and Catholic celebrate Eucharist differ because of these divisions that have eaten deep into the blood cells of Anglicans Baptists and Catholics; therefore it has not been possible for them to celebrate the Eucharist together. In the eleventh century, the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was challenged by Berengarius of Tours, a Roman Catholic deacon in France, an early anti-transubstantiation theologian and a precursor of Protestantism .His views in regard to the nature of the Lord‘s Supper according to Jim (2014:1) are as follows:
Christ is present in the Eucharist only as a mere sign and symbol and after consecration ‗‘bread must remain as bread‖. That, which is consecrated i.e. the bread is not able to cease existing materially‖. there is a change of the bread and wine into the body of Christ in the sense that those who receive them are transformed by grace into higher powers and influence into the true, the intellectual or spiritual body of Christ .The unbelieving receive the eternal sign or sacramental but the believing receive in addition, although invisibly the reality represent by the sign. Rejects the notion that the sacrament at altar is constantly renewed sacrifice and held it to be merely a commemoration of the one sacrifice of Christ. The transubstantiation doctrine seems full of evil because of the tendency to lead men to over value what is sensuous and transitory. Rejects with indignation the miraculous stories told to confirm the doctrine of transubstantiation. Reason and Scripture seems the only ground on which a true doctrine of the Lord‘s Supper could be rested This enable the doctrine of transubstantiation to be given much attention in the 12th and 13th centuries (Vega, 1998).Through the middle ages the Eucharist underwent series of modification about the idea of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In Roman Catholic Church there sprang, along with the doctrine of Transubstantiation a belief that the miraculous change is affected by the statement often made by priest saying ‗This is my body‘ and ‗This is my blood‘. Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, during the Renaissance, there was a division in western Christianity among Catholics as a result of immorality in the church and external changes in the society which ignited the flame that brought about the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther. Luther, who founded the Lutheran church, propounded the doctrine that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is with, in and under the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist. His contemporaries such as John Calvin of the Reformed church believe that the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is by the power of the Holy Spirit and only for people who have faith. Ulrich Zwingli viewed the Eucharistic element as mere symbolic.
In England, the Eucharist was almost the central question during the reformation, possibly not quite as vital as the authority of the monarch or the Pope, but very nearly so. In the publication of Cranmer‘s great works on the Eucharist in 1550 and 1551, he denied the idea of transubstantiation and affirmed that in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ is received by faith- that is by worthy recipients (Buchana, Lloyd and Miller, 1980). The major problem between Catholics and the Protestants on the Eucharist is the Protestants rejection of the Transubstantiation teaching on the Eucharist which the Catholics strongly uphold. The Baptists in Kaduna State just as the Reformer in the past, celebrates the Eucharist in obedience to Jesus‘ command at the last supper. That is why Clark (1958) says that the chief value and principle of the Lords Supper and reasons for observing it is to remember Christ. Most often it is observed once a month on a Sunday a day set aside for most Christians to worship Christ. And most often Eucharist is observed after Sunday service for all Baptized members to partake.
The manner and time the Eucharist is celebrated between Protestants and Catholic seems different because of these divisions that have eaten deep into the blood cells of both Catholics and Baptists, it has not been possible for them to celebrate the Eucharist together. It is from this background that Hardelin (1968) concludes: ―The Eucharist during the nineteenth century was not the sacramentum unitatis, but rather a point of division, separating not only church from church, but also different groups within the same church from one another. This division is contrary to the real intention of Christ which challenges Christians to be united. Fernandez (2001:119) observes: ―The liturgy
of the Eucharist challenges us to effectively unite ourselves to others, not only as we present our gifts, but also as we pray that these gifts be transformed into Christ.‖ It is certain that the divisions among Christians have adverse effects on Christianity. The Eucharist is one primary practice that is capable of uniting Christians because, by its nature, it is a sacrament of unity and not of division. According to Ratzinger (2003:114), the Eucharist is instrumental in the process by which Christ builds himself a body and makes us into, one single bread, one Body. The content of the Eucharist, what happens in it, is the unity of Christians, bringing them from their state of separation into the unity of the one Bread and the one Body. But the announcement on worthiness by Anglicans, Baptists and Catholics pose great challenge to Christians in which this prompt the researcher to carry out this research if a solution will be found.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Eucharist is a divine injunction given by the Lord for Christians to partake in when He took the bread and said take this all of you and eat from it, this is my body. And when he took the wine and said take this and drink do this in memorial of me. Hence, that explains why most Catholic Churches celebrates it on Sundays while some, celebrate it on daily basis. The Anglican Church observes this important injunction every Sunday. But some Baptist church partakes in it once a month, quarterly others yearly.
However, the announcement in Catholic Church whenever Baptists and Anglicans worship with them stating that ―the Eucharist is mainly for Catholics who are worthy to receive it‖ poses a great challenge to Christians in other denominations. On the other hand, Anglicans announce that ―the holy Communion is for those who are worthy‖.
While Baptists emphasize that the Lord Supper is mainly for those who are rightly Baptized by immersion, this seems to create problem and division among Christians. It regets the unity Jesus prayed to establish by instituting it. The question is, who is worthy or not worthy as a Christian to partake in the Eucharist? Who measures the worthiness of a Christian who should partake in the Eucharist? Christ knew that Judas Iscariot will betray him yet he allowed him to partake at the Last Supper. It is a very important question for all church members to ask what Jesus will do as some Christians are considered worthy and some unworthy. The different denominational practices and emphasis on the Eucharist as observed by the researcher prompt this researcher.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This study intends to achieve the following objectives:
1. Examine the doctrinal belief of Eucharist among Anglicans, Baptists and Catholics Clergy.
2. Find out the level of understanding of Eucharist among Anglican, Baptist and Catholic, members.
3. Determine the implications of the Eucharist on Christian unity among Anglicans, Baptists and Catholics Clergy.
4. Ascertain the implications of the Eucharist on Christian unity among Anglican, Baptist and Catholic, members.
1.4 Research Questions
This research intends to find answers to the following questions in order to achieve its objectives. The research questions are:
1. What is the doctrinal understanding of Eucharist among Anglican, Baptist and Catholic Clergy?
2. What is the level understanding of the Eucharist among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist members?
3. What is the implication of the Eucharist on Christian unity among the Clergy of Anglican Baptist and Catholic?
4. What is the implication of the Eucharist on Christian unity among Anglican Baptist and Catholic members?
1.5 Research Hypotheses:
The null hypotheses formulated for the study are: H01.There is no significant difference on the level of doctrinal understanding of Eucharist among, Anglican Baptist and Catholic Clergy. H02.There is no significant difference on the level of understanding of Eucharist among Anglican Baptist Catholic, and members. H03. There is no significant difference on the implications of Eucharist for Christian Unity among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist Clergy. H04.There is no significant difference on the implications of Eucharist for Christian Unity among Catholic, Anglican and Baptist members.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is significant in the following ways: It will furnish Clergy from both denominations with information that will revitalize their knowledge on the Eucharist which provides a forum of dialogue between the Catholics and Protestants on the Eucharist. The outcome of the dialogue will be channeled down to their adherents for proper understanding. It will help Catholic and Baptist members on the point of their agreements and disagreements on the Eucharist, by organizing symposia, debates and quizzes which will bring about clarity, truth and love which will build unity among Christians in diversity. This will be a source of material for students of theological seminaries who would want to undertake a study on the Eucharist,. 1.7 Scope of the Study This study covers Catholics and Baptist denominations in Kaduna state. Because of proximity and the adequate number of population that will be used for the study, which can be apply in any part of the country. It focuses on all the Catholic Anglican and Baptist Clergy men and members.
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