Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category

Eastern Orthodoxy and Transubstantiation – Informal Debate

January 28, 2009

Informal Debate on Eastern Orthodoxy and Transubstantiation

The following is an informal debate that took place between Mr. Bellisario and myself on the issue of Eastern Orthodoxy and Transubstantiation. I’ve taken the liberty of cleaning it up a bit. Those who want the raw combox flow may find it in the combox of the linked post (link to post).

The debate focused on the fact that, contrary to Mr. Bellisario’s position, the Eastern Orthodox have never believed in transubstantiation. This explains a number of differences between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism, particularly the absence of the elevation of the “host” from the EO liturgy and the absence of “tabernacles” in which the elements are housed to be worshiped.

The debate was sparked by Mr. Daniel Montoro’s reference to certain videos that Mr. Bellisario had prepared, and my response to that comment. Mr. Montoro also chimed in on the discussion at a few points (as did one other commenter), but the bulk of the argument was presented by Bellisario.

The following documents Mr. Bellisario’s attempts to prove his position, and how each attempt was shown to be lacking. Each claim that Mr. Bellisario made was shown either to be misleading, to be false, or to be a matter of Mr. Bellisario’s opinion versus that of Eastern Orthodox theologians.

The conclusion of the debate? Eastern Orthodoxy does not accept “transubstantiation.” It is a doctrinal innovation that came about after the Great schism, and has never been accepted in Eastern Orthodox theology, although some Eastern Orthodox (EO) theologians sometimes use the term.

For those that are interested … the following is the documentation of the exchange, which will be added to the index of my interactions with Bellisario shortly.

-TurretinFan

*** Begin of Informal Debate ***

Daniel Montoro said…

I noticed that James White hops in to make a ridiculous comment and then *poof* never to return after he had been taken to task. Why is that? I also noticed that Belisario challenged him in some videos a while back and I can’t find any response from James White. Doesn’t he do this apologetics thing full time? Why can’t he find the time to respond to those people who do a great job defeating his arguments?

Turretinfan said…

Montoro wrote: “James White hops in to make a ridiculous comment and then *poof* never to return after he had been taken to task. Why is that?”

Taken to task? LOL! I would be surprised if Dr. White even bothered to check if someone replied to his humorous comment regarding this post. He’s fairly busy with other things. It’s not normally his style to get into combox wars.

“I also noticed that Belisario challenged him in some videos a while back and I can’t find any response from James White.”

I think Dr. White may have mentioned Bellisario on his Dividing Line program once or twice … I wouldn’t be surprised if he pretty much ignored him.

“Doesn’t he do this apologetics thing full time?”

It’s a major part of his job, certainly.

“Why can’t he find the time to respond to those people who do a great job defeating his arguments?”

Dr. White responds to his critics all the time. Bellisario’s attempts, however, don’t really deserve the label “great job.”

When Bellisario recently stated that he wasn’t going to use his blog to interact with Dr. White and myself any more, I went ahead and created an index of my own interactions with Mr. Bellisario (link).

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

My videos speak for themselves and ultimately defeat the particular arguments White attempted to use in his attack against the Eucharist.

1. He tried in a miserable fashion to use the elevation of the host as a proof of why no one before that time believed the Eucharist to be substantial. He completely made a fool of himself by forgetting the whole Eastern Church which never elevated the host like the Latin Rite later did, and yet amazingly they still believe the same Eucharistic teaching.

2. White made a fool of himself again by assuming that there were no tabernacles before the 12 century. But he forgot that there were other containers used for the same purpose just named something else. Of course he will not respond to those facts, because in reality White has no humility to admit when he makes a mistake. Much like someone else I know, for example when redefining contraception and making a mistake when trying to tell everyone that the Catholic Church advocated the “pullout” method. When he and his friend were proven wrong they cried that they were misinterpreted. Yet well see what they wrote in public.

That is why I choose not to engage with such people, because quite frankly, when someone thinks they are right all of the time even when show to have made a mistake, I have no further reason to discuss anything with them. You can make any index that you want TF. I could care less. I have better things to do, such as put out good information for those who are actually seeking the truth and not inventing their own truth.

Turretinfan said…

“My videos speak for themselves and ultimately defeat the particular arguments White attempted to use in his attack against the Eucharist.”

Actually, Mr. Bellisario’s videos demonstrate that he does not understand Dr. White’s arguments against transubstantiation.

“1. He tried in a miserable fashion to use the elevation of the host as a proof of why no one before that time believed the Eucharist to be substantial. He completely made a fool of himself by forgetting the whole Eastern Church which never elevated the host like the Latin Rite later did, and yet amazingly they still believe the same Eucharistic teaching.”

Transubstantiation is not a doctrine of Eastern Orthodoxy. To suggest that it is, is the work of either a knave (someone who knows it is not true, but tries to tell people it is) or a fool (someone who doesn’t understand the EO view of the mysteries, but decides to claim things about them anyway).

“2. White made a fool of himself again by assuming that there were no tabernacles before the 12 century.”

Actually, the fact that there were no tabernacles before the 12th century wasn’t an assumption, it was presented with documentation from an unbiased source. Furthermore, it was confirmed by the very sources Bellisario tried to use. A more complete discussion can be found among the informal debates section of the index I linked-to above.

“But he forgot that there were other containers used for the same purpose just named something else.”

a) It’s a lie to claim that the only difference between tabernacles and previous “receptacles” was a name change.

b) The reason for a “tabernacle” was brought about by the innovation of transubstantiation.

c) Dr. White in his original presentation made passing reference to previous receptacles. So, it is not true to say that Dr. White “forgot” about them.

“Of course he will not respond to those facts, because in reality White has no humility to admit when he makes a mistake.”

Bellisario’s own errors have been demonstrated on a variety of occasions, in some cases (like the tabernacle one) conclusively (see the index I provided for some examples). If Bellisario has admitted his mistakes on his blog, I haven’t seen them. Perhaps I’ve just overlooked them. (I exclude Bellisario’s sarcastic/rhetorical claim that it was a mistake for him to engage in debate.)

Before Bellisario starts slandering Dr. White’s character, perhaps he should try to actually prove that Dr. White made a mistake, rather than simply asserting it and refusing to be shown that he himself (i.e. Bellisario) is the one who made the mistake.

“Much like someone else I know, for example when redefining contraception and making a mistake when trying to tell everyone that the Catholic Church advocated the “pullout” method.”

See the index for a link to the lengthy discussion on this issue. The comments Mr. Bellisario mentions are those by Gene Bridges on the topic of contraception.

“When he and his friend were proven wrong they cried that they were misinterpreted. Yet well see what they wrote in public.”

See what they wrote, versus what Bellisario says they wrote … it’s very illuminating.

“That is why I choose not to engage with such people, because quite frankly, when someone thinks they are right all of the time even when show to have made a mistake, I have no further reason to discuss anything with them.”

Bellisario has used this slander before. For a demonstration that it is slander, see the end of the Affirmative Rebuttal essay in the Sola Scriptura debate we did.

What Bellisario should say, is that he can’t deal with people disagreeing with him, after he has claimed to have proved his point. For whatever reason, he feels the need to claim this is the problem of the other people, rather than his own problem.

“I have better things to do, such as put out good information for those who are actually seeking the truth and not inventing their own truth.”

“Inventing their own truth” is a very ironic charge from a papist. His church invents their own doctrines, like papal infallibility, and then their lay, self-appointed apologists make claims like the ones above.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said…

My index provides handy links for people to check for themselves. I am not worried to let people look at the debate and come to their own conclusions (index).

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

This is the greatest absurdity ever made!. Turretin Fan once again you make a complete ass of yourself in public.

You say, “Transubstantiation is not a doctrine of Eastern Orthodoxy. To suggest that it is, is the work of either a knave (someone who knows it is not true, but tries to tell people it is) or a fool (someone who doesn’t understand the EO view of the mysteries, but decides to claim things about them anyway).”

Go ask any Eastern Orthodox priest if the substance is changed and he will tell you that it is, no matter whether the term Transubstantiation is used. Once again you and White are so arrogant that you cant see straight. You are the damned fool of the internet by proclaiming these asinine comments as fact. I was an Eastern Orthodox deacon you boob.I Understand better than you ever will of what the Eastern Orthodox teach, so don’t ever get on here on make such a foolish claim about Orthodoxy again. I know what they believe and I know what their Liturgy proclaims as true.

Once again you will probably attempt to use your sophistry to sidestep the fact that you’ve once again made a complete incorrect statement. It amazes me to see you make such a complete fool out of yourself over and over on the internet yet you keep coming back for more. You have no understanding of Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Here are the facts form the mouth of the Orthodox themselves…Oh I know they don’t know what they believe either….

Fact from the Greek Orthodox..
“In this sacrament, the bread and wine offered to God become the Most Holy Precious and Life-Giving Body and Blood of Christ. This is known as transubstantiation. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox recognize each other as “Sister-Apostolic” churches.”

How about this from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
“The Eucharistic gifts of bread and wine become for us His Body and His Blood. “

How about this mystery being explained by the Russian Orthodox…..

“According to St. Nicholas Cabasilas, a medieval Orthodox teacher, the Church’s understanding of the Eucharist is, as follows: “In the first place, the sacrifice is not only an enactment or a symbol, but a real sacrifice. In the second, that which is sacrificed is not bread, but the very Body of Christ. In the third place, the Lamb of God was immolated only once and for all times. According to the Orthodox Church, then, the Eucharist is not just a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice or of its enactment, but it is a real sacrifice. On the other hand, however, it is not a new sacrifice, nor a repetition of the Sacrifice of the Cross upon Golgotha. The events of Christ’s Sacrifice – the Incarnation, the Institution of the Eucharist, the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, are not repeated during the Eucharist, yet they become a present reality. As one Orthodox theologian has said, “During the Liturgy we are projected in time to that place where eternity and time intersect, and then we become the contemporaries of these events that we are calling to mind” [P. N. Evdokimov, L’Orthodoxie, p. 241]. Thus the Eucharist and all the Holy Liturgy is, in structure, a sacrificial service.
How all this takes place is a mystery. As Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow wrote in his Longer Catechism, concerning the changing of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, “this none can understand but God; but only this much is signified, that the bread truly, really and substantially becomes the very true Body of the Lord, and the wine the very Blood of the Lord.”

I have never, ever seen anyone make the claim you have made. Let me copy this for keepsake, because I am never, ever going to let you forget this foolish statement. Oh you poor bishops and priests of the Orthodox Church, Turretin Fan, wants to tell you all that you really do not believe that the mystery of the Eucharist becomes the real, substantial Body and Blood Of Christ during the consecration. All of you must be mistaken! All bow to Turretin Fan. Now he is going to tell us all what the Orthodox believe! You are one arrogant, ignorant, yet laughable character.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario,

You claimed: “He completely made a fool of himself by forgetting the whole Eastern Church which never elevated the host like the Latin Rite later did, and yet amazingly they still believe the same Eucharistic teaching.”

Now, an honest person in your place would acknowledge that you mispoke – and that the EOs just have a similar teaching, not the same teaching. In fact, if you were really a deacon in an EO church, you ought to know that the EO church doesn’t explain the mysteries by reference to the innovation of transubstantiation.

If you know that and you keep trying to make it sound like the EO and the RC views are the same, then you are a lying scoundrel, who all honest papists should abhor.

-TurretinFan

P.S. I was about to post just the part above, and trust in conscience to force Bellisario to post a reaction, but from what I’ve seen, he’s so full of hate, he would struggle to hit the delete button to simply remove his error from the net.

So, I thought I’d provide the explanation given by the John Breck: “Then again, Orthodox Eucharistic theology does not explain the change of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ as a result of “transubstantiation,” the teaching that the “accidents” (visible properties) of the elements remain unaltered, while their “substance” or inner essence becomes the actual Body and Blood. Orthodox tradition speaks of “change” or “transformation,” (metamorphôsis; in the Eucharistic Divine Liturgy metabalôn, “making the change”) but always with a concern to preserve the mystery from the probings of human reason.” (source)

And since Bellisario is making his claims dependent on the fact that Bellisario is an ex-deacon of the EO, here is John Breck’s bio — I’m guessing his qualifications trump that of an apostate deacon (link).

Daniel Montoro said…

Turretinfan, you need to look at the obvious, that the EOs believe in an equivalent to transubstantiation and not the heretical [stuff] you espouse. The catholic church of the roman rite goes further in detail, but they in no way contradict each other. It is substantively the same thing. Jesus is what is physically present, and the bread and wine are no more. Go ahead and obfuscate this fact like you do everything else. Only someone who is a liar or someone who refuses to step outside their enslaving bias would make the claims you do.

Turretinfan said…

Montoro: “It is substantively the same thing.”

You say that it is substantively the same thing, but that’s not quite the way Breck puts it, is it?

No, of course it is not.

More importantly, the question is specifically Transubstantiation – and the fact that this doctrine of Rome is an innovation, not any other aspect of the view of the Eucharist held by Rome.

The fact that the doctrine of transubstantiation is an innovation that came about sometime after the turn of the millenium is just an unavoidable historical fact.

Likewise, the fact that the bread and wine are still physically bread and wine after consecreation is confirmed by the physical sciences.

History and science – two great enemies of Catholicism.

You have two ways out:

– piously call it a mystery; or

– piously understand it analogically and symbolically.

Both of those views have some historical precedent.

– TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

TF, what does Transubstantiation mean? It means change of substance you fool! The Orthodox teaching is the same. So now the whole Greek Archdiocese is wrong and Turretin is right. You are an arrogant fool, who always tries to use sophistry to make yourself look like you know something. You are in fact as I said before a laughable character who has made yes, another false statement that will go on record as showing you for the bastardized apologist that you are. Yes, you have gotten a reaction from me, for I cannot stand any more your foolishness. I apologize to those who run this blog for flying off the handle, but I would hope that even James, as well as others can see that Turretin is just plain wrong in this instance. You TF see yourself as the end to all of this debating. You think you are slick for trying to use clever wording to make yourself out to be some sort all-knowing sage. Yet you will not debate your way in heaven by using your serpentine tongued sophistry.

Transubstantiation means simply the substance is changed. This is exactly the same definition the Orthodox use. Read you arrogant ass…..definition..”is the change of the substance of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Read the Orthodox definition from the Orthodox Research Institute you ass….

“What Christ did is once and for all, and thus the change of the Bread and the Wine into the True Body and the True Blood of Christ is not submitted to time, but to eternity, i.e., ever changing into His True Body and True Blood through the Liturgy. God cannot be held to time. Thus the Orthodox Church in consecrating climbs to this point when all gifts are transformed to the True Body and Blood.”

The words transformed are used along with His Body And Blood. This means the substance is changed by the Orthodox definition. You can finally have a chance to act humbly and admit your mistake, but I doubt we will see that will we? Once again forgive me for my patience has worn thin for these types of games .

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario:

I don’t make claims for myself. I point to John Breck’s clear statement. So, cast mud on him if you are not ashamed.

You claim “The Orthodox teaching is the same.” That’s simply not true, whether you want it to be true, or not. After all, Breck is pretty clear that “transubstantiation” is not the Orthodox teaching.

In case it is not clear, though, consider John Meyendorff’s comment: “They [Byzantine theologians] would consider a term like “transubstantiation” (metousiosis) improper to designate the Eucharistic mystery, and generally use the concept of metabole, found in the canon of John Chrysostom, or such dynamic terms as “trans-elementation” (metastoicheiosis) or “re-ordination” (metarrythmisis). Transubstantiation (metousiosis) appears only in the writings of the Latinophrones of the thirteenth century, and is nothing but a straight translation from the Latin. The first Orthodox author to use it is Gennadios Scholarios; but, in his case as well, direct Latin influence is obvious.” (Byzantine Theology, pp. 203-04)

Again, since Bellisario has made this about credentials, check out this guy’s credentials (link) (second link)

Should that not sate your appetite, Bulgakov has a reasonable essay in “The Holy Grail and the Eucharist,” explaining the matter.

Again, since Bellisario has made this personal, you can check out this guy’s credentials (link).

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

I guess it is also foolish to point out all of the joint declarations by The Catholic and Orthodox Churches that also state that the all of the sacraments are agreed upon, as well apostolic succession and the like. I mean who are the Orthodox Patriarchs, and the Pope to decide that they both believe that, “The Spirit transforms the sacred gifts into the body and blood of Christ”. (Taken from the JOINT COMMISSION FOR THEOLOGICAL DIALOGUE) Who are these guys in comparison to the all-knowing Turretin who sits at his computer blogging all day pontificating from his basement? They can’t possibly know what they believe as to sign and agree to such documents. What fools they must be.

Matthew Bellisario said…

Guess what Turretin, you are quoting individuals. I am quoting the Church documents themselves written by these Orthodox churches. Yes it is personal when you get on a blog an make statements that are not true and then try and twist your way out of them by pure sophistry. The Greek Orthodox Church disagrees with you, so do the Russians, the Copts and the Syrians. They have all signed joint declarations as to their agreement on the Eucharist with the Catholic Church. That makes you wrong! Quote any individual and credentials that you like. That is the difference between me and you. I go to the Church themselves and not to some individual who seems to line up with what I think.

Turretinfan said…

“I am quoting the Church documents themselves written by these Orthodox churches.”

Let me guess – you think your interpretation of those documents is better than the interpretation of prominent Orthodox theologians, right?

After all, they are just individuals, right?

But you, having found the true way to do Orthodox theology, can correct their learned opinions by reference to certain documents that you imagine suit your purposes, although they don’t actually use the word “transubstantiation.”

The question is not whether Orthodoxy has a similar view, or whether Orthodoxy has a large amount of overlap with Catholicism on this issue. If it were, those joint commission documents would be of interest – assuming that the Orthodox churches viewed them as validly representative of their views (we don’t have to explore that dimension because they don’t actually address transubstantiation, as such).

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Oh no you don’t. These are documents signed by the Orthodox Patriarchs and the Pope agreeing to this belief. Who are you to decide that they are wrong? You are really a mindless wonder. There are numerous documents supporting my belief by the Patriarchs and the Popes themselves yet you are going to Pontificate above them? They are all found on the Vatican Website my friend. They are all there for anyone to see.

The Orthodox churches as well as most of the Oriental Orthodox Churches all agree that the substance is changed. You are proven wrong once again. I would suggest studying some more before you come out of your closet to Pontificate over the Catholic, and now the Orthodox Churches.

The one directly below is the Oriental Orthodox document. Below that is a link to the many documents signed by the other Orthodox Churches.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/anc-orient-ch-docs/rc_pc_christuni_doc_20050129_report-ii-meeting_en.html

“with regard to the Eucharist, we believe that it is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ;”

Singed by…
Coptic Orthodox Church : H.E. Amba Bishoy (co-chair), Metropolitan of Damiette, General Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church; Rev. Fr. Dr. Shenouda Maher Ishak (Rochester, U.S.A) ;

Syrian Orthodox Church : H.E. Mor Theophilus George Saliba, Archbishop of Mount Lebanon, Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Syrian Orthodox Church; H.G. Dr. Kuriakose Theophilose, M.S.O.T. Seminary, Vettickal, India;

Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of all Armenians): H.E. Dr. Mesrob K. Krikorian, Archbishop of Vienna; H.E. Khajag Barsamian, Archbishop of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America;

Armenian Apostolic Church (Catholicosate of Cilicia): H.E. Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy in the U.S.A.; H.G. Bishop Nareg Alemezian, Ecumenical Officer of the Catholicosate of Cilicia;

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church: Rev. Megabe Biluy Seife Selassie Yohannes, Member of the Scholar Council of the Patriarchate; Lique Hiruyan Getachew Guadie; Head of Department of Foreign Relations;

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church: H.E. Philipos Mar Eusebios, Metropolitan of Pathanamthitta; Rev. Dr. John Mathews (co-secretary), Secretary of the Committee on Inter-Church Relations;

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahido Church: Rev. Fr. Kaleab Gebreselassie, Co-ordinator for Foreign Affairs; H.G. Bishop Abuna Shenouda Zeamanuel (Rome), substitute for Mr. Yoftahe Dimetrios, General Director of the Eritrean Orthodox Church (prevented).

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/index.htm

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario:

Try to read carefully: we don’t have to decide whether your interesting view regarding the effect of having patriarchs sign a statement is right, because (a) they don’t deal with the issue directly, and (b) orthodox theologians clearly say you’re wrong about “transubstantiation.”

So, it is not the Orthodox theologians against your creative view of the joint commission, but you and your opinion of your own ability to do Orthodox theology against prominent Orthodox theologians and their ability to do Orthodox theology.

Picking between Breck and Bellisario, I pick Breck. I have more confidence in Breck’s mental abilities and knowledge of what constituteds Orthodoxy.

-TurretinFan

P.S. And dude – this statement “with regard to the Eucharist, we believe that it is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ;” could easily be signed by Lutherans – and I hope you’re not going to be so bull-headed as to insist that Lutherans accept transubstantiation.

Matthew Bellisario said…

I pick the Orthodox Patriarchs and the Pope who signed agreements that they agree with the Catholic teaching of the Eucharist. That makes you once again wrong. You are amazing in the fact that you are going to go against almost every Orthodox Patriarch in their agreement with the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist. Who can reason with someone that possesses your almighty wisdom which surpasses that of even the heads of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. You know more. And people ask why I changed my blog format to avoid foolish debates like this one. Now you all know why. You TF simply have no idea what your talking about. Add that to your index.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario:

If those guys mentioned “transubstantiation” – you’d have a point, and all those Orthodox theologians would have to explain how it is that their patriarchs are wrong (something that would be possible, since Orthodox theologians don’t have a doctrine of “patriarchal infallibility”).

But they don’t mention “transubstantiation” – so despite your attempt to dispute Breck’s position, his position slides past unscathed.

But let’s explore your theory that if the pope (or patriarch) signs something it means his whole church believes it, shall we? Do you real think your own church’s theology works that way? No?

But when it suits your deceptive campaign to make Orthodox views sound identical on the issue of “transubstantiation” to papist views, you attribute that kind of thing to Orthodoxy? I see.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Again what does Transubstantiation mean? Answer the question. It means change of substance. So, if the Orthodox Archdioceses and their Patriarchs say that the substance is changed then the beliefs coincide. What don’t you get? The fact is you overstepped your bounds once again and you have no place to go accept to invent another argument that is not there. They all agree on the Eucharistic doctrine along with the Catholic Church. You are the one that cannot seem to grasp this simple concept. Of course if you accepted this you would find your position of being Protestant greatly weakened by the universal testimony of the Church which again disagrees with you.

Matthew Bellisario said…

I guess Turretin knows more than the whole Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America too…..This is like shooting fish in a barrel. Go away. You are not going to do yourself any favors trying to hold on and justify the false statement you made.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese says, But whatever were the various forms of the Divine Liturgy of the primitive Church, as well as of the Church of the final formation of the Divine Liturgy, the meaning given to it by both the celebrants and the communicants was one and the same; that is, the belief of the awesomechange of the sacred Species of the Bread and Wine into the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Lord.”

Uhmm, in case you can’t read they said change of the sacred species. This means the substance is changed. That also means transubstantiation in case you need help understanding that.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario,

The Tridentine definition of transubstantiation is more precise than your own simplification. I refer to you both Chapter IV and Canon II of Session XIII of the Council of Trent for the precise definition.

Bottom line, though, is that there is a very good reason that the “joint commission” doesn’t use the term “transubstantiation.” There’s a great reason that the GOA doesn’t use “transubstantiation” in stating its views. It isn’t the teaching of EO.

That’s why from the GOA’s own web site, one finds Anthony Stratis contrasting the Orthodox view with the Romanist view: “Our Orthodox Church also believes in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In other words, we believe (unlike the Protestant view) that Holy Communion, offered and received each Divine Liturgy, really is His Body and Blood, not merely symbols. Yet (unlike the Roman Catholic view), we do not attempt to describe Christ’s presence in terms of “substance,” venturing beyond the very mystery of the change that occurs during the Epiklesis of the Liturgy.”

Oh, and in case Bellisario wants to claim that Stratis doesn’t know what he’s talking about, I guess I have to point out that Stratis is the presiding priest of an Orthodox cathedral in Baton Rouge, LA.

But – you know – he’s “just an individual” etc. etc.

Such nonsense. A thousand wise men can give instruction to Bellisario, and he will persist in his opinion. He’s the perfect example of the “every man for himself” approach that Romanists think Protestants follow.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Once again you don’t have the slightest clue as to what your talking about. The bottom line is the whole Orthodox Church, in all of her Patriarchs agree with the doctrine of the Catholic church on the Eucharist. Jesus Christ could come down and tell you and would still stomp your feet and act like a child and come up with some word-puzzle for Him. You are so blinded by your hatred for the Catholic Church that you will not even acknowledge the definition of Transubstantiation as meaning the substance is changed, which the Orthodox say over and over and over on their websites and in their agreements with the Pope. You are not worth the time I have spent on this that is for sure. Hopefully someone reading this will take the time to investigate these Orthodox and Catholic sources for themselves. I would recommend that you quit now, I hate to keep kicking a guy on the ground.

Turretinfan said…

Breck (Orthodox theologian) and Stratis (Orthodox priest)

vs.

Bellisario (former Orthodox deacon)

And it is TurretinFan who doesn’t have a clue? It is TurretinFan stomping his feet?

Let the reader beware.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Turretin Fan vs the all of the Orthodox Patriarchs. He knows more than all of them put together! What fools they are to sign such agreements with the Catholic Church! Ohh, I forgot, Turretin needs the last post to feel like he won the argument. Go ahead, and put a great insult in their too while your at it to make it look like you really cleaned up.

Turretinfan said…

“Turretin Fan vs the all of the Orthodox Patriarchs”

Nope. They didn’t mention “transubstantiation.” I’ve pointed this out a few times already. I guess it hasn’t sunk in yet. There’s a great reason for that. It’s not a point of agreement between Rome and Constantinople.

But Breck and Stratis did – and they would explain to those who don’t close their ears to listen.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Yes it is you against almost every Orthodox Patriarch the world over since they repeat over and over, that the substance is changed! Wow you really will not get a clue will you? The term doesn’t have to used to define the same thing. Substance changed means substance changed! Substance by the way is something you might want to add to your next argument. It works much better than using word games.

I will leave you to your imaginary world of artificial reality where everything you want to be true is. There is one thing I would like to know. How does it feel to be so far above the human race? You must surely be part of the Godhead since you can dismiss church documents and agreements where whole Churches and their leaders agree with on doctrines. And we all remember your track record where you tried to tell us all that the Catholic Church advocated the “pullout” method don’t we? More of the same..blah blah blah….zzzzzzzz

Agellius said…

“Transsubstantiation” is not a teaching, it’s an explanation. If the EO differ from the RC, it’s only in that they don’t choose to explain the Eucharist using this precise term. That does not make theirs a different belief.

Now really, could we please just tone it the heck down? Why can’t we simply explain our respective positions and leave it at that? Why the hostility and name-calling? It’s scandalous!! God forbid a non-Christian truth-seeker should happen upon this thread.

I’m sure each will say that the other side started it, or that they’re worse than we are, whatever. But I thought we were supposed to be Christians here, willing to accept abuse without returning it.

Why don’t we have a contest to see who can act the most like a Christian?

Matthew Bellisario said…

Ohh I won’t blame my lack of self control on anyone else. I sometimes get carried away. TF has that effect on me lately. The fact being that he will never acknowledge when he states something falsely. Then he won’t own up to it, and then resorts to creating a false argument with word games where there is no conflict. My apologies to all on the blog.

Turretinfan said…

Agellius wrote: “‘Transsubstantiation’ is not a teaching, it’s an explanation.”

Just because something is an explanation doesn’t mean it is not a teaching.

Session XIII of Trent puts the matter this way: The sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent,-lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legate, and nuncios of the Apostolic See presiding therein, although the end for which It assembled, not without the special guidance and governance of the Holy Ghost, was, that It might set forth the true and ancient doctrine touching faith and the sacraments, and might apply a remedy to all the heresies, and the other most grievous troubles with which the Church of God is now miserably agitated, and rent into many and various parts; yet, even from the outset, this especially has been the object of Its desires, that It might pluck up by the roots those tares of execrable errors and schisms, with which the enemy hath, in these our calamitous times, oversown the doctrine of the faith, in the use and worship of the sacred and holy Eucharist, which our Saviour, notwithstanding, left in His Church as a symbol of that unity and charity, with which He would fain have all Christians be mentally joined and united together. Wherefore, this sacred and holy Synod delivering here, on this venerable and divine sacrament of the Eucharist, that sound and genuine doctrine, which the Catholic Church,-instructed by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and by His apostles, and taught by the Holy Ghost, who day by day brings to her mind all truth, has always retained, and will preserve even to the end of the world, forbids all the faithful of Christ, to presume to believe, teach, or preach henceforth concerning the holy Eucharist, otherwise than as is explained and defined in this present decree.

It sounds like Trent views this as a dogmatic definition – a teaching that cannot be taught against, and not merely one of many acceptable explanations.

Bellisario: Breck and Stratis rebuke you, but you won’t hear them or me. Let me give it another try, in the hope of enlightening your mind on this issue:

1) Breck and Stratis are explicit that the EO don’t accept “transubstantiation.”

2) The Orthodox Patriarchs you mentioned signed something that you think is “the same” as transubstantiation.

3) Thus, there are several possibilities:

a) B&S are right, and the Orthodox patriarchs in reality do not conflict with them.

b) B&S are right, and the Orthodox patriarchs in reality do conflict with them.

c) B&S are wrong, and the Orthodox patriarchs in reality do conflict with them.

I think (a) is probably the best explanation of the data. Apparently you think either that (b) or (c) is the best explanation. I say “apparently” because you refuse even to admit that prominent Orthodox scholars disagree with your position.

I throw (b) into the mix because in Eastern Orthodoxy, just because a patriarch says something doesn’t automatically make that the teaching of his church. Your failure to address this point in your last few remarks leads me to conclude that you acknowledge it.

I have explained why I think (a) is right. I think it would have been easy for the joint commission to use the word “transubstantiation” if that’s what they meant. Since that is a defined theological term (defined by Trent, not by Bellisario), using it would eliminate ambiguity.

Now, Bellisario, you want to interpret what the Orthodox patriarchs signed. Your interpretation is based on simplifying Trent’s definition and assuming that if the patriarchs used some similar words to “substance” and “change” then it means that they have the same view as Trent.

Assuming you are referring to the 1982 statement (you don’t bother to give a precise citation), what I view as really dishonest is when you quote “The Spirit transforms the sacred gifts into the body and blood of Christ” without giving the explanatory parenthetical “(metabole).” (source)

If you had given that detail, it would have been obvious to the educated reader that, as Meyendorff explained, it is possible to embrace metabole while viewing metousiosis (transubstantiation) as improper.

So, contrary to your claims, no – the Patriarchs were just embracing metabole, which is different from metousiosis, as Meyendorff explained.

The problem is in your interpretation, not in the clear statements of Breck and Stratis.

-TurretinFan

Daniel Montoro said…

Turetinfan you are assuming that you are an educated reader.

There is another possibility pal, and that is 4 the orthodox don’t want to limit the mystery to human intellect and terminology.

Facts for the simpleminded
1 the EO beleives that the bread and wine are Jesus, not symbols, not the heretical spiritually present, but they are Jesus
2 the EO believes that the Mass is a sacrifice, not some goofy feel good party that protestants believe
3 the catholic church beleives the same thing

So that everyone will remember, turetinfan said that
“Likewise, the fact that the bread and wine are still physically bread and wine after consecreation is confirmed by the physical sciences.”

ANYONE who understood philosophy would know better than to make that statement. I understood better than to say this when I was seven years old. That is the problem when people don’t get a catholic school education, they end up saying things like turetinfan.

turetinfan, do you know what the term accidents means? Maybe I was just blessed to have gone to school with the Jesuits, or maybe I am intellectually superior, I don’t know but I can accept the second.

Let me break it down for those of you who might be a little slow to grasp the differences here. As the Jesuits used to ask us, is knowlede a priori or a posteriori? It might not be your fault. So in humility I will admit that I might just know more than you because of God’s blessings upon me in my life, but be that as it may, a substance can change, but its accidents stay the same. So, it will appear to be bread, taste like bread, smell like bread, feel like bread, and if you drop it on the ground, yes it will sound like bread. I hope this helps you turetinfan.

Turretinfan said…

At the risk of heading down a rabbit trail, let me dissect what Mr. Montoro said.

Montoro: “Turetinfan you are assuming that you are an educated reader.”

No, I am assuming that there are educated folks here who can understand that difference between metabole and metousiosis.

Montoro: “There is another possibility pal, and that is 4 the orthodox don’t want to limit the mystery to human intellect and terminology.”

That’s an ill-formed alternative (in the sense that it lacks logical exclusivity), since it can co-exist with at least one of the other alternatives. That doesn’t mean it is wrong. In fact, it may well be the explanation for why the EO accept metabole without accepting metousiosis – why they can sign on to the “joint commission” statements without agreeing to transubstantiation.

Montoro: “Facts for the simpleminded”

No comment, as tempting as it is.

Montoro: “1 the EO beleives that the bread and wine are Jesus, not symbols, not the heretical spiritually present, but they are Jesus”

They are mystically Jesus in EO theology. Explaining the mystery is potentially dangerous in EO theology. Generally, though, it is fair to say that modern EO tend to reject a bare symbolism. Whether they view the presence as spiritual or physical is less clear – they prefer to say it is “mystical” without specifying “physical.”

Nevertheless, and this is key to the discussion, they don’t accept the view of “transubstantiation,” which goes beyond simply saying that the bread and wine are Jesus.

Montoro: “2 the EO believes that the Mass is a sacrifice, not some goofy feel good party that protestants believe”

The Eucharist is the focus of the Mass, but the two are not the same thing. The concept of the “Mass” is a distinctly Latin concept – in fact it derives from a Latin word.

Whether or not the EO view the Eucharist as a sacrifice is not really germane to the issue of whether they accept transubstantiation – or at least, even if we just say that they do view it as a sacrifice, that still doesn’t mean that they accept transubstantiation.

Montoro wrote: “3 the catholic church beleives the same thing”

The Vatican goes beyond what the EO teaches, in a way that both is problematic for the EO, and in a way that explains why the idolatrous innovations of the elevation of the host and the introduction of “tabernacles” came into Latin Christianity in the middle ages.

Montoro: “So that everyone will remember, turetinfan said that
“Likewise, the fact that the bread and wine are still physically bread and wine after consecreation is confirmed by the physical sciences.””

Accurately quoted.

Montoro wrote: “ANYONE who understood philosophy would know better than to make that statement.”

That’s just not true. What would be true is that no one who accepts Aristotelian Physics (specially his natural philosophy with respect to matter) as modified by medieval scholasticism would frame the issue that way. Of course, I think that Aristotle’s natural philosophy is inaccurate and outdated, particularly as modified by medieval scholasticism. So does virtually all of the scientific community, beginning with folks like Galileo.

Montoro wrote: “I understood better than to say this when I was seven years old.”

Children of seven are surprisingly wise in their own eyes.

Montoro wrote: “That is the problem when people don’t get a catholic school education, they end up saying things like turetinfan.”

I seriously doubt that any reasonable person would accept the idea that every student in every papal school of elementary education is propagandized with scholastically modified Aristotelean philosophy that they can never escape its grip.

Perhaps few seven year olds would be capable of recognizing that there are better philosophical systems than Aristotle’s (especially as modified by the medieval scholastics), particularly if they hadn’t been shown them, but most 67 year olds are probably capable of recognizing that there exists something more than Aristotle as twiseted by medieval scholasticism in the halls of philosophical inquiry.

Montoro: “turetinfan, do you know what the term accidents means?”

Yes. It corresponds exactly with “species” (used in some English translations) in Trent’s “Canon II” I referenced earlier. Trent was trying to use Aristotelean categories to teach (or “explain” if you prefer that term – it makes no difference which of those two you apply to it) what happens in the Eucharist.

These days, perhaps as in those days, it’s fundamentally an excuse for the fact that physically the bread is still bread and the wine is still wine. We can do DNA tests today to confirm that it isn’t human flesh that just looks rather like bread, but that it still is physically bread.

It superficially sounds very lovely to dress up the claim in Aristotelean philosophical categories of accidents and substance/essence. On further investigation, though, the appeal to those categories (at least in this instance) just amounts to a denial of the knowability of the physical world through the physical sciences (something that Aristotle himself never seems to have endorsed).

Furthermore, it is not really a valid application of Aristotelean thought, since Aristotle meant to distinguish between things like the fact that though Benedict XVI and Obama have many dissimilarities in appearance, they are both men – and though my chair may be made from stone, and yours from plastic, they are both chairs.

Montoro: “Maybe I was just blessed to have gone to school with the Jesuits, or maybe I am intellectually superior, I don’t know but I can accept the second.”

No comment.

Montoro: “Let me break it down for those of you who might be a little slow to grasp the differences here.”

No comment.

Montoro: “As the Jesuits used to ask us, is knowlede a priori or a posteriori?”

That particular question is the topic of quite a lot of philosophical debate. Probably seven year olds are unaware of this. Plato (for example) gave an excellent argument for the a priori position, but perhaps the best answer is that the question is a false dichotomy – some human knowledge is of each kind.

Montoro: “It might not be your fault.”

Indeed.

Montoro: “So in humility I will admit that I might just know more than you because of God’s blessings upon me in my life,”

No comment.

Montoro: “but be that as it may, a substance can change, but its accidents stay the same.”

This may be true within strict Aristotelean thought. For example, by putting a water stain on a window to the use of an idol of Mary, its substance is changed from stain to icon, while the accidents of the object remain unchanged. But this is not a physical change. In fact, one should note that in such a condition, the stain doesn’t cease to be a stain, it just becomes both a stain and an idol.

Likewise, the opposite can be true within Aristotelean thought: something can undergo a change of accidents, without undergoing a change of essence or substance. That is to say, if I lose my leg, I am still a man – though my accidents have been altered.

But it requires torture of Aristotelean thought and an abandonment of rationality to assert that a physical change is involved when no accidents are affected, and that a complete replacement of substance can occur without any change of accidents. Put another way, it’s just a superstitious blunder to claim that the host is transubstantiated – it has no connection with the physical reality of the matter, even if someone told you differently when you were seven.

Montoro: “So, it will appear to be bread, taste like bread, smell like bread, feel like bread, and if you drop it on the ground, yes it will sound like bread.”

Someone once said, “If it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” It’s not philosophically nuanced – it doesn’t require special Jesuit elementary school teachers – but it does ring true to people who know ducks.

Same thing goes for people who know bread. Physically, it is bread that has the accidents and essence of bread. Symbolically it is the body of Christ, but physically it is still just bread. The question of humanity is not a bare question of accidents, even in Aristotelean thought, but to argue that something is physically a human body, when it shares no accidents with other human bodies is simply to spit in the wind.

Montoro: “I hope this helps you turetinfan.”

I think it confirms that there is no rational basis for denying my comment that Science and History are two great enemies of Catholicism, particularly on this issue, in which, as I had said, “the fact that the bread and wine are still physically bread and wine after consecreation is confirmed by the physical sciences.”

Physical investigations are the realm of the physical sciences. This is the lesson that the Vatican learned the hard way with respect to Galileo.

-TurretinFan

Daniel Montoro said…

Turetinfan, I will accept Aquinas’ teachings on Aristotle long before I accept yours, whoever you may be. You have just assumed to alter philosophical discourse on this matter with your Cartesian satan worshiping modernism which is a repudiation of even the things you believe. As far as the church and science goes, read Dr. Woods book. He is a graduate of Ivy league schools, as far as I know you might not even have a GED. So tell me, mr. turt, if you can understand philosophy, then you would undertand that the Incarnation itself blows your Cartesian philosophy up in smoke (which, like all those who are ignorant, you probably didn’t know that). Geewhiz, Jesus can’t be both God and man, he looks like a man, talks like a man, and walks like a man, he must be a man.

God is the cause of the change of substance which isn’t part of the natural order. So your duck anology turns you into a quack. Maybe those words are too difficult for you.

Matthew Bellisario said…

Spoken like a pure rationalist! When you can’t see it, don’t believe it. That’s what Turretin Fan says. Yet Turretin Fan cut and pasted a whole declaration of Trent on Transubstantiation that said nothing different than what I have said. It merely gives the background to the what was going on during the Council and declared what was to believed, and nothing different from what I have said. Another classic move from the pinhead who does everything he can to divert attention from himself. What is so complicated here? You are so far out in left field trying to create a false dichotomy.

The term Transubstantiation means simply the substance has been changed. The Catholic Church offers a philosophical view to try and explain the mystery, that the consecrated elements have indeed become Jesus himself substantially. The Catholic Church and the Orthodox both believe in the same result, the Orthodox just do not go into detail on the philosophical side to try and explain it. But they both believe the substance has changed and the both agree as what it is they are receiving in the Eucharist that is why they both signed declarations with a majority of the Patriarchs and the Pope as to agreeing to the doctrine of the substance being changed, which is the same doctrine as transubstantiation….Do you get it???? You are a real fool if you think that because they do not elevate the host they do not believe that the substance changed.

Guess what genius! The Eastern Catholics don’t elevate the host either, and they rarely if ever use the term transubstantiation to describe what happens, but they still believe the substance is changed. I guess once again the all-knowing sage Turretin is going to tell the Pope that he doesn’t understand it either, since he wholly endorses Catholics going to communion in Orthodox Churches under certain circumstances. In fact the Catholic Church and the Orthodox church have always had this unity of belief in the Eucharist. The poor pitiful Popes of the ages, they are so foolish as to think that the Orthodox share this belief on the Eucharist.

I think by now after this posting war we know who the pitiful one is, and it isn’t the Pope, the Patriarchs or myself. It is someone who loves to make false statements and then try and slither out by putting up a smokescreen.

Facts are facts. The Orthodox do not merely believe as Turretin Fan says, and I quote another false statement, “Nevertheless, and this is key to the discussion, they don’t accept the view of “transubstantiation,” which goes beyond simply saying that the bread and wine are Jesus.”

We know that is not true because they say the substance is Jesus, and that the elements are substantially changed.
Here again for Turretin, from the Greek Orthodox, which he chose to ignore because it completely flies in the face of his idiotic statement…..read it….how foolish can you be??

Fact from the Greek Orthodox..
“In this sacrament, the bread and wine offered to God become the Most Holy Precious and Life-Giving Body and Blood of Christ. This is known as transubstantiation. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox recognize each other as “Sister-Apostolic” churches.”

Do you see the word Transubstantiation there????? It means they believe the substance is changed! You are a hopeless wonder TF, you have been put to shame here, you have embarrassed yourself, and quite frankly I think you should retire from your apologetic trip, because you just can’t reason like a rational person.

Here’s one for the road from the Greek Archdiocese of Austrailia, which again disagrees with the all-knowing sage Turretin….All of these archdiocese just don’t have this all-possessing knowledge that he does…..

“While Orthodoxy has always insisted on the reality of the change- the bread and the wine become in very truth the Body and Blood of Christ, it has never however attempted to explain the manner of the change. It is true that sometimes Orthodox theologians will make use of what came out of Latin scholasticism, the term “transubstantiation” (in Greek μετουσίωσης).”

That means they believe the same thing in case you can’t understand. They just don’t attempt to explain the change philosophically. I guess the Orthodox theologians here the Archdiocese is referring to isn’t on Turretin’s select list of theologians.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario claims that the Greek Archdiocese of Australia disagrees with me.

Let’s see what they actually said, in context:

While Orthodoxy has always insisted on the reality of the change- the bread and the wine become in very truth the Body and Blood of Christ, it has never however attempted to explain the manner of the change. It is true that sometimes Orthodox theologians will make use of what came out of Latin scholasticism, the term “transubstantiation” (in Greek μετουσίωσης). Orthodox however generally emphasize that the manner of change is a mystery and must always remain incomprehensible. St John of Damascus put it as follows:

“If you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it is through the Holy Spirit…. We know nothing more than this, that the word of God is true, active, and omnipotent, but in its manner of operation unsearchable.”

(source)

That sounds to me more or less the same as what I already reported. Eastern Orthodoxy does not teach “transubstantiation” even if “sometimes Orthodox theologians” make use of the word – and that the true position of EO is summed up in the “know nothing more” that John Damascene stated.

In context, Dimitri Kokkinos, a Greek Orthodox priest from Kogarah, in New South Wales, is actually distinguishing the Orthodox position from the papist position – not equating them.

Does the truth matter to Bellisario?

We report. You decide.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

That’s it keep dodging the bullets as they hurl at you….

Fact from the Greek Orthodox..
“In this sacrament, the bread and wine offered to God become the Most Holy Precious and Life-Giving Body and Blood of Christ. This is known as transubstantiation. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox recognize each other as “Sister-Apostolic” churches.”

“”While Orthodoxy has always insisted on the reality of the change- the bread and the wine become in very truth the Body and Blood of Christ,”

When will you go away and admit that you are delusional?

Turretinfan said…

As for Bellisario’s quotation that he says is “from the Greek Orthodox” … the one that states: “In this sacrament, the bread and wine offered to God become the Most Holy Precious and Life-Giving Body and Blood of Christ. This is known as transubstantiation. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox recognize each other as “Sister-Apostolic” churches.

The actual source is a cursory, anonymous statement from the web page of a particular Greek Orthodox Church in Pocatello, ID – which doesn’t appear to have been updated since JP2 was in power. (source)

What can I say?

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said…

So, to summarize, if Breck and Stratis say one thing and some anonymous guy who is obviously in the minority plus Bellisario say another thing about what EO teaches – who should we believe?

-TurretinFan

Daniel Montoro said…

Turetinfan, go ahead and make this about me being a Sippo, whatever that means.

Your understanding of the issues is flawed, like the example Mr. Bellisario gave us about the contraception issue.

The EO so not limit the mystery of the Eucharist to human terminology, thats all, and that is a far cry from the absurdity you are asserting. Deal with that issue pal. Bellisario is right, you are making this a word game. Everybody here knows better. Everybody in history knows better. I challenge you to find one document from any Orthodox chuch which would state that the substance is not Christ. That the bread is just bread, and only spiritually Christ. What is being sacrificed but Jesus. His flesh is true food.

Matthew Bellisario said…

Here is yet another example, which Turretin is again obviously ignorant of, we have the Confession of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1672 who says the following, but he is an idiot too according to our great scholar….so far above these Orthodox authorities….I can keep dealing out these sources from the Church themselves over and over, and yet TF will just not admit that he is…well….wrong.

Decree 17

We believe the All-holy Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist, which we have enumerated above, fourth in order, to be that which our Lord delivered in the night in which He gave Himself up for the life of the world. For taking bread, and blessing, He gave to His Holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: “Take, eat; This is My Body.” {Matthew 26:26} And taking the chalice, and giving thanks, He said: “Drink you all of It; This is My Blood, which for you is being poured out, for the remission of sins.” {Matthew 26:28} In the celebration of this we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present. He is not present typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation, so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically, as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose. But [he is present] truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin, was baptized in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sits at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world. {John 6:51}

Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remains the substance of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and form of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread.”

In case you missed it, here it is again in slow motion for you………..”the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord…..”

“and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord,”

Please be kind to to yourself. This could be the blog posts that end your apologetic career. Who can ever take you seriously again?

Turretinfan said…

Montoro: “Your understanding of the issues is flawed, like the example Mr. Bellisario gave us about the contraception issue.”

Go to my index, and check out the dialog for yourself. I trust an unbiased reader would find Bellisario’s description misleading at best.

Montoro: “The EO so not limit the mystery of the Eucharist to human terminology, thats all, and that is a far cry from the absurdity you are asserting.”

Oh, I see. And what is the absurdity you think I am asserting exactly? Please be precise.

Montoro: “I challenge you to find one document from any Orthodox chuch which would state that the substance is not Christ.”

This challenge has – underlying it – the fallacy of the denial of the antecedent. Just because EO’s are not Protestants doesn’t make them papists.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

No one ever said they were “Papists” you moron. That is obvious, just like the the obvious fact they agree with that the substance is changed as the term transubstantiation means. Again divert the pressure off of yourself by creating another argument.

Daniel Montoro said…

“Oh, I see. And what is the absurdity you think I am asserting exactly? Please be precise.”

How are they different other than the terminology used turt?

“This challenge has – underlying it – the fallacy of the denial of the antecedent. Just because EO’s are not Protestants doesn’t make them papists.”

Did I say this turt? You have failed the challenge.

I have developed a precise description of your type over on my blog.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario,

Your latest source, per you, is “Confession of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1672.”

This does exemplify the teaching that you need to show is the teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy.

-TurretinFan

Daniel Montoro said…

“This does exemplify the teaching that you need to show is the teaching of Eastern Orthodoxy.”

What in the world does this mean? Can you explain what you are trying to say in human language?

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario: “No one ever said they were “Papists” you moron.”

No, indeed. No one said they were Protestants either. Nor did anyone say they agree with Protestants on the issue of the Eucharist.

Bellisario: “That is obvious, just like the the obvious fact they agree with that the substance is changed as the term transubstantiation means.”

They agree with the papists on the issue of transubstantiation? That’s not what Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos think.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said…

“Did I say this turt? You have failed the challenge.”

I wasn’t the least bit interested in taking on the challenge of trying to prove that modern EO’s are Protestants on the issue of the Eucharist, though apparently Bellisario has taken it on himself to prove that they are papists on the issue of the Eucharist.

Where papists = people who accept Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II.

-TurretinFan

Daniel Montoro said…

Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos oh my!

So what turt? Why do you hold their understanding a being infallible for the EO, but whaterver the popes and magisterium says about the true church of Our Lord to be false?

That is the problem with heretics. As I said in my blog, you deceive yourself.

Daniel Montoro said…

turt, you assume that there is a difference between the “modern EOs” and the EOs, but you utterly fail at proving this. Why should I believe you, my heretical opponent?

Matthew Bellisario said…

Read…..can you read? Did you read the confession of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem 1672? It completely buries any argument you have. You have lost. Do I need to run the text by you again from the formal confession??????

“so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord”

“Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remains the substance of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and form of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread.”

“Further, that in every part, or the smallest division of the transmuted bread and wine there is not a part of the Body and Blood of the Lord — for to say so were blasphemous and wicked — but the entire whole Lord Christ substantially”

“Further, that the Body Itself of the Lord and the Blood That are in the Mystery of the Eucharist ought to be honored in the highest manner, and adored with latria [Gk: adoration or worship*]”

You have Turretin have put yourself so far in the hole that the only way you’ll get out is to ask for help. What don’t you understand? It is all here by the highest authority and proclamation at the time in the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem.

Turretinfan said…

Montoro:

You wrote: “So what turt? Why do you hold their understanding a being infallible for the EO, but whaterver the popes and magisterium says about the true church of Our Lord to be false?”

I don’t hold any of them to be infallible and I don’t reject what any of them say simply because of who they are. Why would I?

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said…

Montoro: “turt, you assume that there is a difference between the “modern EOs” and the EOs, but you utterly fail at proving this. Why should I believe you, my heretical opponent?”

Around the 8th century there arose a division between the EOs that was settled by first one way then the other way by two successive councils. As discussed in Meyendorff’s work (see my link above), the iconoclasts are thought to have been EOs with a “symbolic” understanding. Unfortunately for history, the second council ordered the works of the iconoclasts to be destroyed, and so we don’t have much historical data on what they believed.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

By the way TF since you are probably completely ignorant of the this confession I thought I would share with you some facts on the confession that our other readers may also not know. The confession organized by the Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem was not confined to that Patriarchate. In fact over 80 bishops signed the document including the Russian Orthodox. This council is regarded by scholars as, “the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church”. The Council was also called specifically to refute the Protestant heretics Luther and Calvin. There you have it folks. The Orthodox Church herself proclaiming…

“the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord…..”

“and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord,”

..as formal doctrine, thus agreeing with what I have said all along, and thus disagreeing with what the great scholar Turretin Fan proclaimed.

Bellisario wrote: “Read…..can you read? Did you read the confession of the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem 1672? It completely buries any argument you have. You have lost.”

Yes, I can read. Can you? (see my previous comment, above)

That is an Eastern Orthodox patriarch affirming transubstantiation (along with a litany of other things).

But you say it buries my argument, and that I have lost. Really? I’m curious. How does it “bury” the argument from the authority of Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos?

How does this, the first quotation you have provided where a person with Orthodox credentials embraces “transubstatiation” overcome the denials provided by Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos?

Or is the standard just, if you can find even one Orthodox scholar who used “transubstantiation” (although I already, via Meyendorff acknowledged that there are a few Orthodox people who use the term) – then you win?

-TurretinFanDaniel Montoro said…

Mr. Bellisario, for all reasonable people the case is closed. Thank you for the information.

Turretinfan said…

All reasonable people right now are stuck choosing between Bellisario’s claim that the 1672 confession is the teaching of Orthodoxy and the view of Orthodox theologians like Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos.

It looks closed to me too.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Turretin, It is obvious the whole Orthodox church disagrees with you. A couple of Orthodox theologians does not constitute the doctrine of the whole Church. It is obvious the heads of these Churches agree with the Catholic Church and oppose you and your statement.

I provided formal declarations by the Churches themselves attesting to transubstantiation. The question is, are you going to go by the testimony of formal written declarations signed by their Patriarchs and bishops or a couple of theologians who you selectively quote? Yes, you lose, because I choose to look at the Church documents themselves, where again you turn a blind eye. It is obvious this document, “The Synod of Jerusalem and the Confession of Dositheus, A.D. 1672” goes against everything you have said, and it is as I have shown, “the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church”. You will also be glad to know that the Ethereal Library goes one step further and says, “and may be compared to the Council of Trent.”

You are fading away fast. Admit that you misspoke, and made a false statement on a topic which you were ill-equipped to deal with, and we can end your beating.

Turretinfan said…

Bellisario et alia,

I have more to say, but in the interest of suspense, I’m going to wait a day to respond.

This will give you some time consider whether the testimony of BS&K (which differentiate the Orthodox position from the Roman position) or that of the 1672 statement you identified (which agrees with the Roman position) is more to be trusted as representing the true position of Eastern Orthodoxy.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said…

Ohh the suspense is killing us! Get lost. You have set yourself in opposition to the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches. Why don’t you just go away instead of inflicting more injury to yourself.

Turretinfan said…

I have no delusions that any amount of Orthodox scholarship will ever persuade Bellisario to accept the fact that the EO does not accept the Romish innovation of “transubstantiation.” Nevertheless, in view of the reference to the 1672 document that Bellisario referenced (and which is referenced occasionally by other Romanist apologists of varying familiarity with Orthodoxy), one final response is worthwhile.

You may recall that I had demonstrated from Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos that modern EO scholars agree with me that the Romanist innovation of “transubstantiation” is not the doctrine of Eastern Orthodoxy. Bellisario has pointed to a document from 1672 that clearly sets forth the Roman position, and which was (says Bellisario) affirmed not only by the Patriarch of Jerusalem but by 80 bishops of Eastern Orthodoxy, including those of the Russian Orthodox Church.

How then can this be? Is Bellisario right and Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos are wrong? Has Bellisario stumbled upon something that Orthodox theologians were unaware of in their own traditions?

Of course, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Meyendorff, who I cited earlier, has an answer to Bellisario’s criticism of Breck, Stratis, and Kokkinos. After all, the 1672 document (later incorporated into other Orthodox confessions of faith) does have not only the word “transubstantiation” but the whole doctrine of the papists with respect to the definition of the manner of change. Protestants have historically explained this by attributing Jesuit influence to the drafting of the confession of 1672. After all, the 1672 confession was specifically formulated to contradict and contest an earlier confession made by a patriarch of Constantinople, which expressed many Protestant positions with respect to various doctrinal issues – and was produced upon the prompting of the French (read “Romanist”) ambassador and the theologians that accompanied him.

Meyendorff (who is no Calvinist – nor a friend of Calvinists), in “The Orthodox Church,” p. 64, states: Orthodox teaching always has emphasized the reality of the sacramental change (metabole) in the Eucharist by which the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. However, neither the liturgy or the Fathers nor any authentic Orthodox text prior to the sixteenth century uses the term “transubstantiation” (Greek metousiosis) to describe this mystery. This term is employed in later Orthodox confessions of faith intended to define the teaching of the Church with respect to Protestant opinions on this matter, but here is always the reservation that the term is only one of several that could be employed and does nor imply that the Church intends to adopt the Aristotelian philosophical theory of form and matter. (source)

Now this is not very clear – or perhaps just not clear enough to silence belligerent antagonists who look for any possible loophole into which to force the Roman definitions down the Byzantine throats. Perhaps Bellisario will think that this is just Meyendorff waving his hands to try to ignore an obvious truth. After all, the 1672 document is pretty clear right? Look at all those very Latin teachings regarding the Eucharist! And it is signed onto by lots of Orthodox bishops, according to Bellisario (Bellisario wrote: “In fact over 80 bishops signed the document including the Russian Orthodox. This council is regarded by scholars as, “the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church”.”).

So, to make things perfectly clear, I provide some further clarification, from another book:
“Transubstantiation” This word appears both in the Orthodox Confession, and in the eighteen articles of the Synod of Jerusalem held under Dositheus A.D. 1672, which followed therein the Orthodox Confession; and in these two documents it is not only the word, but the whole Roman definition of the manner of the change by substance and accidents which is asserted. However, by a strange and providential inconsistency, the Greeks, whose only object was to assert the real presence and to reject Calvinism, and who suspected no new difference between their own Church and the Latin, beyond the old and well known historical differences, coupled their admission of the Roman definition of the manner of the change, with a declaration, that by using the word “transubstantiation” they by no means intended to define, nor to allow any attempt to define, the manner of the change. This declaration passed from the Orthodox Confession into the eighteen articles of Dositheus, and has ever since stood side by side in both documents with the Roman definition of the manner, the incautious admission of which it in fact neutralizes and condemns. Within the few last years the Russian synod has published a catechism based upon the Orthodox Confession and stamped with all the authority of their Church, in which the word “transubstantiation” is retained and allowed with the explanation that it is by no means to be taken to imply any definition of the manner; and for this reference is made to the Orthodox Confession, while the definition of the manner by substance and accidents, which appeared also, though inconsistently, in the Orthodox Confession, is entirely omitted. Words perfectly analogous to transubstantiation, such as transmutation and transelementation, having been always in use in the Church, it is evident, as divines of our own Church have shown, that the mere word transubstantiation may very well be used and taken in the same sense. (source)

This comes from “A History of the Church of Russia,” by Andrew Nicholaevich Mouravieff (also not a Calvinist or Calvinist hanger-on), note 5 for Chapter IV (p. 252 of the book), in the notes section at p. 401 of the book. It is a defense of the use of the term “transubstantiation” at p. 252 of the book. Note that the defense, both in this book, and in the disclaimer mentioned in the book, is to say (in effect) “even if we say “transubstantiation” we don’t accept the definition of Rome with respect to the accidents/substance distinction.”

This scholarly discussion explains that even if Orthodox theologians occasionally use the term “transubstantiation” they don’t mean by it what the Romanists mean by it – because the Romanists (who follow Trent) specifically teach that the change is defined in terms of accidents and substance. Contrary to suggestions some folks here have expressed, in Romanism one is not free to treat this as just an explanation – in fact if one denies the accidents/substance distinction, one is under Trent’s anathemas per Canon II of Session XIII of Trent.

I think there may still be a question mark in some people’s minds. “Come on,” they say, “Jesuit influence? It sounds so conspiratorial.” Well, the influence of Rome is hard to deny. In fact, from the same source, at note 9 (p. 406 of the book), the author explains:

However it must be confessed that the Patriarch Dositheus in his zeal to condemn Calvinism and to oblige M. de Nointel, though by no means (as the Calvinists pretended of all who gave similar testimony against them) a dishonest or Latinizing Greek, but a man of no small merit, and sincerely attached to his own communion, still did his work rather too “effectually” and went somewhat beyond the strict limits of the doctrine of his own Church. For not to mention the word and definition of transubstantiation in which he followed the Orthodox Confession of Mogila, or rather (and especially with respect to that very point) of Meletius Syriga, he gave also the Tridentine enumeration of the books of the canon of Holy Scripture and reproached St. Cyrill with being either a fool or a knave for calling the others Apocrypha, and in answer to the question, Whether all the faithful are to be allowed to read the Holy Scriptures? he made his synod to answer roundly “No!” On the subject of purgatory also he goes so far in order to symbolize with the Latins that he leaves no more than a verbal difference. But these inaccuracies, which were not made matter of examination or discussion at the time, and on which neither Dositheus nor Parthenius before him had any notion of making new determinations in the name of their Church, can never derive any authority from the reception and approbation given to the documents themselves, in which they were contained. Those documents both the Orthodox Confession and the eighteen articles of the synod of Bethlehem have been reasonably approved as answering the end for which they were designed, and embodying in substance the doctrine of the Eastern Catholic Church; but any accidental Latinisms which may have been adopted without reflection, in speaking at the instance of the French ambassador, and through the mouth of the divines of the Port Royal, to bear testimony to the common doctrine of both the Greek and Latin Churches against the Calvinists, on points on which the Greeks were least of all then likely to suspect or look for any differences, besides those which were of historical notoriety; — any such incautious admissions, I say, of Roman phraseology or opinions (which many causes would concur in making probable) are of no sort of authority to establish any new decision in the name of the Church, but may as easily be omitted or corrected as mere errors of grammar or typography, as soon as ever they are perceived to contain any thing contrary to the traditionary standard of Orthodoxy. (I have used bold face where the original had italics, since I have used italics for the whole quotation)

This explains (hopefully) for those still unsure whether to accept BK&S or Bellisario, that, in essence:

a) These definitions slipped in accidentally in the first place;

b) And anyway, this document could not change (and it would be a change) Orthodox theology on these points;

c) Including both the term “transubstantion” and its definition.

That should be sufficient to demonstrate that Bellisario’s claim regarding Orthodox theology is (at best) wishful thinking on his part.

Dr. White’s original claim regarding the teachings of Eastern Orthodoxy having been vindicated against Bellisario’s contrary assertions at the mouths of at least 5 credentialed Orthodox folks, I hope the reader will see why Dr. White does not have time to deal with every guy who posts videos.

-TurretinFan

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Three Part Series on Reformed Theology

December 17, 2008

I recently came across this three-part series on Reformed Theology, specifically focusing on Sola Scriptura. I believe the speaker is R. C. Sproul. Unfortunately, the sound is not well synchronized with the video, or wasn’t when I watched it.

Part 1

While I didn’t catch any glaring errors in the presentation, I wouldn’t suggest listening to these presentations uncritically. Hat Tip to Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen for bringing this to my attention (link).

-TurretinFan

Ventriloquist Theology

October 19, 2008

Some anonymous commenter has repeatedly tried to post the following comment on various posts on this blog. He seems to be taking the approach of the widow to the unjust judge – forcing me to face his criticism by relentlessly pursuing his cause. Since it wearies me so to keep hitting the “reject,” and thereby avoid the crushing force of his criticism, I guess I’ll have to face it head on.

He writes, “There is no mediator between a dummy and his ventriloquist.”

This appears to be a variation on the objections we already addressed in detail in this earlier post (link). Along similar lines, we respond here:

a) So what? Dummies are not moral agents – they do not need to be reconciled to their ventriloquists. Humans are moral agents, and by sin they are separated from God. That’s why they need an agent.

b) Of course, God is even more in control of his creation than a ventriloquist is in control of his dummy. As the Psalms tell us:

Psalm 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

In fact, in ventriloquism a human merely manipulates a mindless dummy – but God is able to manipulate thinking human beings:

Psalm 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.

Though God does not normally treat us like a ventriloquist treats his dummy, we should take it as enormous privilege if he were to do so:

Exodus 4:15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Ezekiel 33:22 Now the hand of the LORD was upon me in the evening, afore he that was escaped came; and had opened my mouth, until he came to me in the morning; and my mouth was opened, and I was no more dumb.

For it is God who made the mouth and can both give and take away the power of speech:

Exodus 4:11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

Luke 1:20 And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.

c) But probably someone will complain that analogizing a human to a mere dummy is degrading to man. Do you think so? Scripture takes things a step further and compares men to mere pottery:

Psalm 2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Isaiah 30:14 And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters’ vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

Jeremiah 18:6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

Isaiah 64:8 But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

d) In fact, God even refers to men as his axe, sword, or other hand instruments – even a cup, sometines:

Jeremiah 51:20 Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms;

Isaiah 10:15 Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood.

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.

Psalm 17:13-14
13Arise, O LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword: 14From men which are thy hand, O LORD, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.

e) Thus, Job rightly attributed all the calamaties that came upon himself (including being robbed by wicked men) as being wrought by God’s hand:

Job 12:9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?

f) And the truly wise will acknowledge that although a ventriloquist can only move the body of his dummy, the LORD can move the very heart of man:

Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

2 Chronicles 18:31 And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.

1 Kings 18:37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

Psalm 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants.

Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Jeremiah 31:18 I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.

Lamentations 5:21 Turn thou us unto thee, O LORD, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old.

g) God can even harden the heart of man:

Exodus 4:21 And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.

Exodus 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 7:13 And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Exodus 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.

Exodus 10:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:

Exodus 10:20 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go.

Exodus 10:27 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.

Exodus 11:10 And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.

Exodus 14:8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.

Exodus 14:17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.

Deuteronomy 2:30 But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.

Joshua 11:20 For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Isaiah 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

John 12:40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

g) Therefore, let us aspire not to be as human-like as dummies, but merely jewelry:

Isaiah 62:3 Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

-TurretinFan

Jonathan Edwards – Birthday and Works

October 5, 2008

Jonathan Edwards was born 305 years ago today. Arguably, he is the greatest genius in American philosophy and theology to date. He was also a very instrumental preacher. Perhaps today he is most well known for his work on Freedom of the Will (in theology and philosophy) and his sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” His works, in 73 volumes, are now available on-line here (link).

Image by Matthew Lankford, (C) 2008, used by permission and with appreciation.

-TurretinFan

Archibald Alexander on the Study of Theology

August 17, 2008

Joshua Lim at Reformed Blogging has provided some useful thoughts of Archibald Alexander on the study of theology. (link)

Enjoy!

-TurretinFan

Justice and Mercy Compared

June 18, 2008

It is sometimes stated that permitting a criminal to go unpunished is wrong, and is actually worse than the crime the criminal did.

I distinguish.

a) It is worse when done by a judge.
b) It is not worse when done by a victim.

We can see this by considering that it is mercy not to drag everyone who has wronged us before a judge. On the other hand, it is injustice for a judge to fail to apply the law to the guilty.

We can also see this in the work of God. Christ shows us mercy. The Father shows Christ justice. Thus, God as victim shows mercy, while God as judge shows justice.
Furthermore, God as king shows mercy by permitting a substitute, but that mercy in no way diminishes justice, because he still demands satisfaction.

-Turretinfan

Shorter Catechism Explained – 1

January 12, 2008

Q. What is the chief end of man?

By “chief end” we refer to the highest goal or purpose. When we speak of “man,” of course, we speak of human beings generally.

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Two answers are provided, one objective and one subjective. Objectively man’s principle goal is to glorify God. Man will do this. Man will achieve this end, whether man so intends and designs, or not. God sees to it that He himself is glorified. This is the same chief end of all of creation: to glorify God.

But there is something that sets man apart from the lower creation, and that is the subjective goal of man: namely to enjoy God forever. That is the best end for a man, to enjoy God forever. Unlike the objective purpose of man, this subjective purpose is not achieved by all men. No all men will enjoy God forever, even though all will glorify God one way or another.

Before we leave this question, we should note that subjectively as well as objectively, man ought first to seek the glorify of God, even without regard to the end of enjoying God forever. In other words, man ought consciously to seek the glory of God. The glory of God should be behind what we do.

Keeping the glory of God in mind as our principle objective (our “mission statement” to borrow from modern management terminology) can help steer us away from sin. Before we act we ought to think whether our action will glorify God. It’s easy to say (or to write) such instructions, but it is much harder to live them.

God is Great, let us worship Him, forever and ever,

-Turretinfan

Who is Harmed When We Sin?

October 20, 2007

In a combox of a Catholic blog, from a user purporting to be a high profile Catholic (who I will abbreviate FB), I heard this:

“profaning the Lord is just a wrong against God, but God, who is perfect, cannot be diminished by this harm”

It reminded me of almost the same remark by Shabir Ally, a Muslim apologist:

“It doesn’t hurt God in any way if you or I sin. It does not take anything away from his greatness. It does not reduce his power in any way if we sin. When we sin we hurt ourselves. And this is why we are taught to pray: ‘Our Lord, we have wronged our souls, and if You do not forgive us, have mercy on us, then surely we are the losers.'”

Shabir’s comments are actually an interesting paraphrase:

Proverbs 8:36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.

But both Shabir and FB see only part of the equation. There is another side though:

Malachi 3:8-9
8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Yes, when we sin we harm ourselves, but consequently not directly. We harm ourselves, because our sins cause us to be guilty.

But when we sin, we also wrong God. No one can take away from God’s power and greatness, as Shabir correctly noted, and we cannot diminish the perfection of God (in fact, God is glorified when we sin), but sin is still an offense against God.

God cannot tolerate sin, for holiness is an essential attribute of God:

Isaiah 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

That is why we pray not with the words of Proverbs 8:36, but with the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 14:20-22
20 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. 21Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us. 22Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? art not thou he, O LORD our God? therefore we will wait upon thee: for thou hast made all these things.

Micah 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Jeremiah 3:12 Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger for ever.

Isaiah 64:9 Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.

Isaiah 57:16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made.

For indeed:

Psalm 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.

Psalm 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Psalm 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

But there is a difference between the elect and the reprobate:

Psalm 37:28 For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.

And again:
Hebrews 10:30-31
30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

And God’s Justice must be satisfied:

Jeremiah 3:5 Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest.

So then, let us pray, to the one true God, to this God:

Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.

To the Just God and Saviour,

-Turretinfan

What does it mean to "Propitiate"?

September 27, 2007

Let’s start by reviewing the verses where that English word is used:

Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Paul (in Romans) uses the noun ιλαστηριον, and John uses the noun (in two different declensions) ιλασμος (1 John 2:2) and ιλασμον (1 John 4:10). They are all related Greek words, and both are ordinarily translated by some form of the verb propitiate.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines propitiate:

PROPITIATE, v.t. [L. propitio; pio. Eng. pity.]
To conciliate; to appease one offended and render him favorable; to make propitious.
Let fierce Achilles, dreadful in his rage,
The god propitiate and the pest assuage.

Now, let’s go back to the verses. In the verses, John and Paul are saying that Jesus is the one who appeases the offense that our sins cause to God and render us favorable in God’s sight.

Now, in the verse Romans 3, I don’t think anyone is going to have heartburn about what the verse says: it says that the Father put the Son in the role of being an appeaser of wrath by means of his blood to all those who believe: namely by a declaration of Christ’s righteousness to remit the previous state of sinfulness, and, of course, through God’s forbearance.

1 John 4:10 similarly does not cause heartburn, because John is writing from the apostles to believers, so whether “our” means the apostles or “our” means the apostles and the believers to whom he is writing, it is Jesus who assuaged God’s wrath against us on account of our sins.

I John 2:2 is the verse that may cause Arminians some chest pains. It says that Jesus is not just the propitiation for “our” sins but for the sins of the “whole world.” The problem for some Arminians is that they have adopted an exhaustive, universalistic sense (instead of a generic, expansive sense) to the term “world” in other passages, and feel obliged to understand the word similarly here, especially when accompanied by the word “whole.”

Thus, Arminians are faced either with universal propitiation (and consequently universal salvation), or universal hypothetical propitiation. The problem with the former interpretation is that it is abundantly clear from Scripture that some will not be saved. The problem with latter interpretation is that there is nothing in the context to suggest that John or Paul believes that the propitiation of our sins is hypothetical or potential, as opposed to actual. Another option would be to suggest that the propitiation does not save, i.e. that propitiation is just an intermediate position between lost and saved. This, however, is clearly inconsistent with Paul’s use, and there is – again – no reason in context to suggest this alternative.

There is, however, another solution to the dilemma:

The phrase translated “whole world” could be used in the generic, expansive sense – such that John is contrasting himself together with the apostles and/or his readers (“our”) with other people generally. There is some support for this sense, because John uses the phrase in 1 John 5:19:

1 John 5:18-19
18We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

Of course, here the “whole world” cannot be used in an exhaustive, universalistic sense – for John has just contrasted the “we” with it.

Furthermore, there are other passages where the term is used simply to convey a large amount (e.g. Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25) or a broad expansive geographic area (Matthew 26: 13, Mark 14:9, Romans 1:8). In fact, in terms of Scriptural usage, those are all of the other (i.e. except for the two uses in 1 John) uses of the phrase. In other words, the phrase never in Scripture clearly conveys the sense of “each and every person who has or will live on the planet Earth,” as Arminians are prone to think.

If we view John’s comment as magnifying the greatness of the scope of God’s love (i.e. that he propitiated for the sins not just of first century believers, but for the huge multitude of the elect), then the dilemma evaporates. There is no longer any need to eisegetically invent a hypothetical propitiation or a non-saving assuagement of wrath as one of the works of Christ.

And do you know what is really interesting?

The same Greek word ιλαστηριον is used by Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) to refer to the mercy seat, the cover of the ark of the testimony, the place where God communed with Moses, the places where God appeared in a cloud to Moses, and the place where blood was offered to God. It is the place where blood was offered to obtain mercy, and the author of Hebrews indicates that this blood sacrifice pictured the blood sacrifice of Christ.

May God who is Love, cause us to be thankful for the propitiation accomplished by our High Priest,

Turretinfan

The Scriptural Epistemology of Dogmatism

June 12, 2007
The Scriptural Epistemology of Dogmatism
A response to quasi-rationalism


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10). This simple, thrice-repeated truth is the foundation of Scriptural Dogmatism. Throughout Scripture we seem the same epistemology of dogmatism. You can find the phrase “Thus saith the Lord” in over 400 verses in the Old Testament in the Authorized Version. Even in the garden, the question was “hath God said?”

Our epistemology is, consequently, dogmatic and revelational, not quasi-rational. We know the truth because it has been revealed to us by God, and that revelation from God is not open to debate.

When people mocked the resurrection of the dead, and others wanted to debate the issue, what did Paul do? Paul departed from among them (Acts 17:33).

There are legitimate debates, and there debates that can be taken on for the purpose of preaching the gospel. When a Reformed apologist debates a Muslim on the reality of the crucifixion, for example, the Reformed apologist is not leaving the question open. The Bible says Jesus Christ was crucified, and that settles it. Perhaps the Muslim will respond that the Koran says that Jesus (whom I suppose no consistent Muslim would acknowledge as Christ) was not crucified.

Why accept the dogmatic view of Christianity over that of Islam? Why believe the Bible rather than the Koran? Why is God God and not the “allah” of the Koran?

The response is that no one will believe the word of God, nor trust in the Son of God, without God revealing Himself to that person. As Jesus said: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44)

It seems that the followers of Van Til stumble at this point in their epistemology stumble. They appear to be unsatisfied with the following epistemology, “I know the truth, because God has revealed it to me.”

They appear to want to be able to “prove” God’s existence and attributes to an unbeliever. They (at least usually) recognize the futility of appealing to evidence, but appear to believe that they can appeal to reason and the implanted awareness of God that exists in the minds of unbelievers. This is why their position has been referred to above as quasi-rationalism.

But let’s stop the critique here, for a moment. There a few a readers out there who are of a Van-Tillian mindset. Let’s just ask them:

What is wrong with an epistemology that begins with presuppositions.

God has revealed to me that He is, that He is True, and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

Consequently I know that God is, that what God says is true, and that Scripture is an embodiment of that truth.

Based on Scripture, I know the validity and limits of the natural sciences, social sciences, and the like. I have a standard of absolute truth. I may think that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, but I KNOW that Christ has gone to prepare a place for me in His presence for all eternity. I think that the official just botched his first-down assessment, but I know that Solomon was the son of David. I think that all the dinosaurs are dead, but I know that all things were created by God in the space of six days and very good.

If all the world’s scientists were on one side disputing the Resurrection of Christ, the reversal of the sun in Hezekiah’s day, the calling down of fire from heaven by the prophet, the Great Flood, and/or the Creation, and I’ll I had on the other side was the Word of God, I would believe God rather than all the most learned men in the world.

Now, tell me, Van-Tillian, what is wrong with that dogmatism? Why instead of starting from the point raised above, does Van Til assert that He believes in God because if He did not, all would be chaos? Why do the followers of Van Til appear to believe that we can argue people into accepting that the God who created all things and rules all things by His right arm exists and has the attributes that He has?

Is there any answer? Is there any alternative for Dogmatism? Is quasi-rationalism Scripturally valid?

-Turretinfan


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