Onwuakpa’s expose of The Eucharistic Healing in the Anglican Church
Eucharistic Healing: Exploring Healing Potentials of Holy Communion (Mature Leadership and Discipleship Academy, Lagos; 2017) is an exposition on healing by Venerable Emeka Jonathan Onwuakpa, a priest of the Church of Nigeria, the Anglican Communion. This is a book exploring healing in the Eucharist, commonly referred to as the Holy Communion by the Protestant Churches. The Eucharist and Baptism are the two church sacraments recognised by the Anglican Church since they are those directly instituted by Jesus the Christ as the means of receiving Grace.
Healing of the Eucharist is an avenue of receiving Grace. Many Christians believe healing comes only through medicine and prayer. They do not realise that by taking the body and blood of Jesus as sacraments by faith, healing is actualised. Generally, healing is effected through four routes, namely: science and skill, sacraments, spiritual prayer, and spiritual gifts. Through his book: The Eucharistic Healing, Onwuakpa is able to establish Eucharistic healing as entrenched in the Bible, in liturgy, catechism and the hymns.
Testimonials of people healed at Holy Communion services authenticate Eucharistic healing as exemplified in this book. In this volume, Onwuakpa also undertakes a comprehensive review of the Eucharist as a worship service topic of the Anglican Communion. He highlights the appropriate approach expected of both the clergy and the laity in order to achieve the benefits of healing. In a convincing way, this theologian contends that healing is available to any communicant attending the communion table with faith and thanksgiving.
In the book’s preface, the author elucidates the beliefs of Catholics as against those of the Protestants. The Anglicans recognise two sacraments only, namely baptism and the Eucharist. For the Roman Catholics, however, recognition is given to seven: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy order, and matrimony. The reason why Anglicans recognise only two sacraments is that they are the ones directly instituted by Jesus the Christ. To the Anglicans the others are ordinances or religious rites that come up during the course of worship in the church.
However, Jesus instituted baptism and the Eucharist with a command to His followers to carry on with the same pattern as stated in Matthew 28:19 and Luke 22:10- 20. Sacrament is the visible sign of spiritual grace given to the church as a means of receiving God’s grace. In part two covering chapters three to five, Onwuakpa convinces us that healing is available to any communicant that seeks it in the church. In the symbolism of bread and wine, the author avers that grace is conferred in the Eucharist through eating and drinking. The believer is strengthened and fed, receiving sustenance and life. Thus, grace is received by faith.
Bread, as the body of Christ, nourishes, protects and sustains the body. The wine, like the blood of Jesus, fosters, refreshes and strengthens our lives. The properties of bread and wine are appropriated in the Communion as the body of Christ and His blood shed on the cross. According to Howard Marshall in his book: Last Supper and Lord’s Supper, the proclamation of the gospel in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup of wine makes the saving event real for all generations. When the Lord’s Supper is celebrated by the followers of Christ, beginning with the original disciples, it confers continual attachment to Jesus Christ, despite His physical absence.
It is the same way for the Jews. As they participate in the Passover, they are reminded of the redemption from slavery in Egypt. By participating in the Eucharist, the followers of Christ affirm the universality of the offer of forgiveness through the death of Christ, which the Eucharist clearly proclaims. In defining healing, Onwuakpa refers to the World Health Organization, which defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Healing is the process of maintaining good health. Christian healing is using Christian processes in restoring a person from his state of breakdown and deterioration to a new state of adjustment.
This could equally be termed divine healing, signifying God’s intervention in the illness and turning it over to a pleasant one. Christianity isn’t the only religion in the world concerned with healing. The difference is that in Christian healing there is an appeal to Christ as the transcendent source of healing. Christian healing is a scriptural, spiritual and sacred practice involving actions such as prayer, pilgrimage, laying on of hands and participating in sacraments in which the Eucharist is one.
The author, Venerable Dr. Emeka Onwuakpa is an Anglican priest by calling and a Quantity Surveyor by profession. He is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, holds MBA in Human Resources Management. From diploma through master in theology, master in divinity, he obtained his PhD from Crowther Theological Seminary in Abeokuta, Ogun State. Since his ordination, Onwuakpa has been vicar at Church of the Messiah, Okota; St Michael’s Church, Coker, and Christ Church, Ebute Metta. He is presently the vicar, All Saints Church, Surulere. He is happily married and blessed with three children.