Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving: Rene Girard and the Eucharist
AuthorMurray, William Seldon
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This paper reviews mimetic theory described by Rene Girard. The mimetic cycle of mimetic desire, mimetic rivalry, mimetic conflict, the scapegoat mechanism, and generative violence craft a portrait of human society as founded on conflict and violence. Girard’s non-violent view of atonement as understood through the gospels presents an alternative to penal substitutionary atonement theory. Jesus’ death was intended to free humanity from the traps of mimetic theory and the scapegoat mechanism. This paper provides a brief survey and review of Anglican Eucharistic Theology, especially the concept of sacrifice and in the context of Jesus’ meal ministry. Since Jesus knew that he was to be betrayed and denied, the author comes to the conclusion that the Last Supper is consonant with Christ’s meal ministry of restoration. Therefore, communion is an attempt to craft a positive mimesis wherein Jesus teaches reconciliation even as the scapegoat mechanism begins to close in around him. Sacrifice in this context is not the prescribed death of Jesus but the peaceful offering of love and reconciliation before the forces of evil and death. In Girardian language, Jesus chose to present a role model to mimic in order to provide a positive mimesis that could stop the scapegoat mechanism and prevent the violence that has long plagued humanity. The Eucharist was and is and should be a powerful symbol of that positive mimesis of forgiveness and reconciliation.