Lift up your guts: A liturgical anthropology in conversation with Schmemann and Calvin
Does the Church’s traditional teaching on the Eucharist require that humans have a metaphysically distinct soul? This thesis tests the validity of theological anthropologies that reject ontological dualism and emphasise the physical dimension of human existence. Physicalism will be tested by assessing its compatibility with traditional sacramental theology. Following the structure and argument of Alexander Schmemann’s The Eucharist, each dimension of the sacrament is analysed for anthropological significance. The thinking of John Calvin is then engaged to expand and deepen the understanding of the Eucharist in these areas. Anthropological perspectives that emphasise the physical are brought into conversation with these aspects of traditional sacramental theology. A conclusion about their ability to answer each explanatory challenge is offered. Physicalism is generally found to be entirely adequate to provide a description of human nature that is compatible with the Eucharist. There is no need to posit a soul that is distinguishable from the body in any way other than conceptually to meet the challenge of traditional sacramental theology. Further, in some specific dimensions, physicalism is found to offer a more compatible anthropological perspective than some dualist understandings. This is primarily seen in the radical dependence on God that the liturgy expresses. A soul that has eternal life as an essential property seems incompatible with the Eucharist. The liturgical anthropology that emerges from this study is a challenge to commonly held Western understandings of human nature and this is summarised in a final section. The exhortation to lift up our hearts to God is answered meaningfully by the human participants in the Eucharist with their material bodies.
Advisor: Holmes, Christopher
Degree Name: Master of Theology
Degree Discipline: Theology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: theological anthropology; Alexander Schmemann; John Calvin; liturgy; Eucharist; human nature; physicalism; materialism; emergentism; sacramental theology
Research Type: Thesis