Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Participation in Christ’s body and his blood during celebration of Holy Communion as illuminated by the meaningful lenses of cognition and recognition

Ferdi P. Kruger
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 2 | a4767 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i2.4767 | © 2018 Ferdi P. Kruger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 August 2017 | Published: 28 May 2018

About the author(s)

Ferdi P. Kruger, Unit for Reformational Theology and Development of the South African Society, North-West University, South Africa


In this article, the author focusses on the importance and possible value of the concepts of cognition and recognition for reflection on what should actually happen during celebration of Holy Communion. The point of departure is that celebration, in essence, means that it should be a meaningful experience. The meaningfulness consists of the intriguing fact that participants are participating in Christ’s body and in his blood while celebrating Holy Communion. In celebrating Holy Communion, people are engaging in a ritual that involves interaction with a variety of symbols. The author offers perspectives based on a qualitative empirical study in which people expressed their views on what they actually experience when celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion. The article adheres to Browning’s methodological insights. He describes research activity as ranging from description, to systemising (exploring practical wisdom and understanding), to strategising (practising strategic practical theology). The research problem is as follows: ‘Could cognisance of the lenses of cognition and recognition of the deeper message of Holy Communion enrich the conscious appropriation of salvation while celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion?’ The research problem is addressed from the vantage point of understanding sacraments from a Reformed perspective. The concepts of cognition and recognition are highlighted in a brief historical description of what a sacrament is, taking into account the insights from social psychology regarding the essence of the concepts of cognition and recognition. The author further elaborates on the functioning of the concepts of cognition (phronesis) and recognition (anamnesis). In the last section of the article, the author utilises a hermeneutical interaction between descriptive and systemising perspectives to formulate strategies for how people’s experiences of participation in Holy Communion can be enriched through the meaningful lenses of cognition and recognition.


Participation; celebration; Holy Communion; cognition; recognition


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