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John Calvin

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Chapter Summary

The central claim in John Calvin's theology of the Eucharist is that, in the Eucharist, Christ's offering of his body and blood is both signified and effected, and the recipients' partaking of those is likewise both signified and effected. Christ is present in the sacrament in these two modes. Calvin's understanding of the Eucharist might be called a performative understanding. The bread does indeed signify the body of Christ and the wine does indeed signify his blood; but they play this signifying role within the context of the presider performing the actions of offering the bread and the wine and the recipients performing the actions of eating the bread and drinking the wine. Those actions are the fundamental signifying phenomena. The signified phenomena are then likewise actions. Calvin describes his teaching on the sacraments as having three main components: the signification, the matter, and the effects or benefits.

Keywords: Christ's blood; Christ's body; Eucharist; John Calvin



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