The Beatific Vision and the Eucharist in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas

Dr. Lawrence Feingold brings us a Catholic’s perspective on Thomas Aquinas and the important connection between his doctrines of the Eucharist and the Beatific Vision. Dr. Feingold is Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. He is the author of The Eucharist: Mystery of Presence, Sacrifice, and Communion and The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and His Interpreters.

Dr. Feingold expresses the deep congruence between Thomas’s metaphysic and doctrines of the Beatific Vision and Eucharist. Rather than treating different loci of his theology and philosophy as disparate elements, it is much better and more appropriate to embrace Thomas as a monumental thinker developing an organic whole.

While we have deep differences with the Roman Catholic tradition, we found this conversation to be utterly stimulating and instructive. Our understanding of Thomas and Catholicism was sharpened, and we trust listeners and viewers will benefit from careful consideration of Dr. Feingold’s teaching.

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Effectual Calling and Regeneration

Theologians often speak of regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit to bring someone to the new birth. But the Westminster Standards speak of effectual calling as the work of the Spirit to give people new hearts, enlightening their minds and renewing their wills. Are effectual calling and regeneration the same thing? If not, how do they relate? In this episode, we discuss the relationship between these two aspects of the ordo salutis.

Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 10: Of Effectual Calling

1. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

2. This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.


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Genesis 17:9–14 — The Sign of the Abrahamic Covenant

Here we seek to answer three questions: First, “What is the meaning of circumcision?” Second, “What is the purpose of circumcision? and third, “To whom is circumcision to be applied” We conclude that the sign of faith is to be applied to believers and their children.

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1 Corinthians 1:10–17 — Divisions in the Church

Paul appeals to the believers at Corinth to be united, and admonishes them to abandon their factionalism. Paul reminds them that he did not do anything among them that would draw attention to himself, but rather he pointed them entirely away from himself and directed their attention and affection to Christ alone.

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The Purposes of the Lord’s Supper

The first paragraph of chapter twenty-nine in the Westminster Confession of Faith sets forth the institution of Lord’s Supper and the uses and ends for which it is designed:

Our Lord Jesus, in the night wherein he was betrayed, instituted the sacrament of his body and blood, called the Lord’s Supper, to be observed in his church, unto the end of the world, for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death; the sealing all benefits thereof unto true believers, their spiritual nourishment and growth in him, their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him; and, to be a bond and pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

In this episode, we discuss the five purposes of the Lord’s Supper detailed in the confession:

  1. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper as a commemorative ordinance for the perpetual remembrance of the sacrifice of himself in his death.
  2. The Lord’s Supper is a confirmatory sign (cf. Rom. 4:11) for the purpose of sealing all the benefits procured by Christ’s death unto true believers.
  3. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for the spiritual nourishment and growth of believers in him.
  4. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper for believers for their further engagement in and to all duties which they owe unto him.
  5. Finally, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper to be a bond and pledge of believers’ communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body.

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The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine

We speak with Dr. Stephen G. Myers about Ebenezer Erskine and the important events of Presbyterian history with which he was involved.Dr. Myers is Professor of Historical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In his book, Scottish Federalism and Covenantalism in Transition: The Theology of Ebenezer Erskine, he touches upon many significant issues, including the Marrow Controversy, the relationship of law and grace, covenant theology, and church-state relations. In learning about this era of Presbyterian history, we come to understand how Erskine also serves to refine modern understandings of still controversial theological issues.

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