Professor Thomas O'Loughlin on a Theology of the Eucharist for the Future

July 11, 2018
2:00pm ET
A Theology of the Eucharist for the Future
Prof. Thomas O'Loughlin

Thomas O'Loughlin is Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Nottingham, UK.  In this presentation, O'Loughlin shares his insights about the origins and contemporary understandings of Eucharist and what that means for the future of the Church today.    He contends that Christianity is a religion of memory.  "We look to the future – indeed to beyond the future – and so we live today in such a way as to build that future, but we do so while recalling our past. Our past is significant because it identifies us, affirms that we are a community in a covenant with God, and provides us with a key to what is significant in that relationship. The journey we are on is always looking forward, but we understand it by looking at where we have come from."

For O'Loughlin, every religion asks where the divine is to be encountered. Usually the answer is in a place apart – be it a sacred temple, a place that is tapu, or in some distant lonely place. And in each of us this idea still resonates as can be seen in the preference for a language of ‘otherness’ that has inspired the 2011 translation. But this instinct comes into conflict with our encounter with Jesus in the wonder of the incarnation. Where was Jesus encountered as the one who established the presence of God? The affirmation of the first disciples was clear: in their meals and banquets and so they told the stories of his meals, his feedings, his breaking down of barriers that kept people apart. Salvation came to the house of Zacchaeus when there, at that man’s table, the Lord sat and ate for he too was now to be recognised as a son of the covenant (Lk 19:9). The table is the place of our encounter as a community. . .