Wednesday, November 7, 2007 3:00-4:00

“Go Ye Therefore” and “This Do”: Towards a Revitalization of Evangelical Eucharistic Praxis
by Sean E. O’Leary, ThD (Emmanuel College)

Jesus Christ, at the close of Matthew’s gospel, is recorded as having charged his followers to “Go ye therefore into all the world and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:18). Together with Mark’s “Go and preach the good news to every creature” (Mk. 16:15) the “Great Commission” is the primary tenet upon which the modern evangelical movement is founded, attested to by evangelicalism’s emphasis on tangible conversion experiences, frequently utilizing worship as a means to this end. However, the resulting discipleship and spirituality of such pragmatism are often disconnected from many of the riches of the historic Christian faith and its liturgical rites—specifically, in the context of this lecture, a theologically, biblically, and historically informed eucharistic praxis. What is one to make of the diminishing significance of the traditional sacraments in general, and the eucharist in particular, in evangelical worship? What is the status of Reformed eucharistic theology and praxis in contemporary evangelicalism? Does evangelicalism live up to its own criteria of the centrality of scripture on this question (i.e., the import of biblical texts traditionally associated with the institution of the eucharist and the praxis of table fellowship)? Evangelicalism’s own biblical hermeneutics and liturgical traditions demand a closer scrutiny of its eucharistic praxis.