Archive for the ‘Transubstantiation’ Category

Henry Newcome on Ignatius and Transubstantiation

May 18, 2017

Henry Newcome, in 1705, tackled the question of Ignatius and Transubstantiation, in response to a Roman Catholic priest identified as T.B.:

He begins with Ignatius, concerning some Heretics, (Ignatius’ Epistle to the Smyrneans) that received not Eucharist or Oblations, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the Flesh of Christ. (T. B. Section 1)

The Heretics he means, were the Followers of Simon and Menander, who denied the reality of Christ’s Flesh, and for that Reason admitted not the Eucharist. And what is this to Transubstantiation, that some Heretics, because they did not believe that Christ was really Incarnate, would not admit the Eucharist, the Symbols whereof represented and supposed a real Incarnation? Heresy is prolific of Heresy, and their Disbelief of the Incarnation made them reject the Eucharist, lest they would be forced to confess the Flesh of Christ. For if they allowed the Symbols of a true Body, they would be obliged to grant a true Body, since a mere Phantom can have no Sign or Symbol. Thus your Cardinal Bellarmine answers for us (Bellarmine On the Eucharist, book 1, chapter 1, p. 400), Lest the Calvinists (says he) should Glory of the Antiquity of their Opinion, it is to be observed, that those ancient Heretics did not so much oppose the Eucharist as the Mystery of the Incarnation. For therefore (as Ignatius shows in the same place) they denied the Eucharist to be the Flesh of the Lord, because they denied the Lord to have Flesh. If then in the Judgment of your Cardinal these Heretics were no Calvinists, Ignatius in condemning them, neither condemns Calvinists, nor countenances Transubstantiators: What we teach, that the Elements are Sacramental Signs of Christ’s Body, is as inconsistent with the Sentiments of those Heretics as Transubstantiation, since such Figures of a Body (as Tertullian argues against the Marcionites) prove the Reality of Christ’s Flesh, and that it was no Phantom, which can have no Figure. I may add, That Theodoret, out of whose third Dialogue this Passage of Ignatius is restored (which was not to be found in former Editions of Ignatius) hath plainly declared against the Eutychians (as I have formerly observed) that the Symbols after Consecration recede not from their own Nature, but remain in their former Substance. And he must have a very mean Opinion of Theodoret’s Judgment, who can think he imagined this Passage of Ignatius inconsistent with his own Opinion; which would have been to have helped the Heretics instead of confuting them. To conclude, examine this Testimony by the latter part of my fifth Rule, and show us where Ignatius says a Word of the changing of the Substance of the Bread into the Substance of Christ’s Body: Which is the Doctrine of the Trent Council, and what T. B. was to prove.

(Part 1, “An Answer to Some Testimonies produced by T. B. from the Fathers of the Six First Centuries, for Transubstantiation,” pp. 49-50 – spellings modernized)

Theodoret’s Dialogue 3 “The Impasible” (mentioned by Bellarmine)

I should caution that I believe Bellarmine may, on some other occasion, have attempted to use Ignatius against a symbolic understanding of the Eucharist. In any event, however, Bellarmine (as alleged by Newcome) is correct in stating that the objection of the heretics to the Eucharist was a denial of Christ’s true humanity – not a denial of a change of the elements.


Dr Joe Mizzi on Ignatius and Transubstantiation

May 17, 2017

Dr Joe Mizzi has an interesting article (link to article) on the church fathers and transubstantiation, which includes the following:


Ignatius argued against the Gnostic Docetists. They denied the true physical existence of our Lord; thus they also denied his death and resurrection. Ignatius wrote:

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, Flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His goodness, raised up again.

The problem with the Gnostics concerned the person of Christ and not the nature of the Eucharist. The heretics did not participate in the Eucharist because they did not believe in what the Eucharist represents, namely the true, physical flesh of Jesus, who actually and really suffered on the cross, and who was really resurrected from the dead.

We do not have to take the phrase “the Eucharist is the flesh” in a literalistic manner. As in everyday speech, as well as in the Bible, it could simply mean that the Eucharist represents the flesh of Christ. To illustrate, take a similar argument by Tertullian. He is also using the Eucharist to combat Docetism:

Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body (Against Marcion, Bk 4).

Tertullian is even more emphatic than Ignatius. He says that Jesus made the bread his own body. But unlike Ignatius, Tertullian goes on to clarify what he meant. Rather than saying that the bread ceases to exist, he calls it the “the figure” of the body of Christ and maintains a clear distinction between the figure and what it represents, namely the “veritable body” of our Lord.

Mizzi is right. Ignatius was arguing against the Docetists, who denied that Jesus had flesh, who denied that he suffered, and denied that he was raised to life (because they denied he died). They said he only “seemed” to be a man. This explains, therefore, why they abstain from the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is a memorial specifically of Jesus body and blood.


David and His Son Use Similar Metaphor (or is it proto-transubstantiation?)

July 28, 2014

Roman Catholics tend to think it is highly significant that Jesus said that the cup (meaning its contents – they never seem to misunderstand that use of non-literal language) is “my blood.”  Recall that Jesus said:

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Mark 14:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
1 Corinthians 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

Instead of understanding this according to its most obvious metaphorical meaning, Roman Catholics try to insist that we should interpret it in some kind of quasi-literal sense.  But Jesus, the Son of David, is using metaphor in much the same way that his father David used it:

2 Samuel 23:13-17And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
And David longed, and said, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!”
And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord.
And he said, “Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives?” therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.

For David, the water represented the potential death of his men.  For the Son of David, who turned water into wine, the wine represented his own death, which we should remember, as often as we drink it.  Unless you think David was saying that the water was transubstantiated into blood — but who would be so dull-witted as to think that?


Never Thirst – Taking Jesus "Literally" can be Fatal

July 17, 2014

Roman Catholics like to try to claim that they are just taking Jesus “literally” when they interpret “this is my body” to mean that what was in Jesus’ hands was not bread but his physical body [FN1]. Three passages in John help to illustrate the problem with that approach: John 4, John 6, and John 7.  In the first, Jesus refers metaphorically to living water, in the second Jesus refers to himself as food and drink, and in the third Jesus offers drink to those who thirst.

In John 4, Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  He asks her for water, she objects because he’s Jewish, and he responds that she should be asking him for water, because the water he offers is better than the water from Jacob’s well. She misunderstands him as speaking physically, even after some further explanation.  She wants to stop the labor of drawing water and misunderstands Jesus’ comments about “never thirst.”

John 4:6-15
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

In John 6, Jesus interacts with a number of “disciples” who want Jesus to repeat the miracle of the loaves that’s reported at the beginning of the chapter.  Jesus explains that the person who believes on him will never thirst and whoever comes to him will never hunger, calling himself the “bread of life” that “came down from heaven.” Jesus insists that the bread he offers is better than the manna that the people ate in the wilderness.  Jesus talks about them eating his flesh and drinking his blood, but they take him physically and go away in disgust.  Jesus explains that the words he speaks are spirit and life.  Jesus asks the twelve if they will go away too, but Peter (speaking for the group) says that they will stay with him because they believe and know that his words are the words of eternal life.

John 6:26-71
Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. 

In John 7, Jesus interacts with those at the temple for the feast.  Jesus offers the thirsty people water.  John explains to us that Jesus is speaking about the Spirit as the “rivers of flowing water.”

John 7:37-39 
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

These passages illustrate Jesus’ fondness for using food as a metaphor for trust in him.  We approach the Lord’s table by faith, coming to Him as represented by the bread and cup.  We gain a benefit from this if we do so by faith, but not if we do so any other way.  It is not the physical elements that provide the benefit we receive, it is the Spirit.

Remember what Jesus said about clean/unclean foods:

Matthew 15:17 Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?

Unfortunately, it seems our Roman Catholic friends and relatives fail to understand this.  Christ is our spiritual food and drink, not our physical nourishment.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:
Psalm 105:41 He opened the rock, and the waters gushed out; they ran in the dry places like a river.
Isaiah 48:21 And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
Psalm 78:20 Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?
1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The blessings we receive in Christ are primarily spiritual blessings.  We drink the spiritual drink from the spiritual Rock, and that Rock is Christ.  He is our Rock, we trust in Him.

To the glory of his grace!


Footnote 1: I should add that the Roman Catholic position is particularly absurd in that it takes “this is my body” as implying that the bread ceases to be bread and becomes the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.  Likewise, it is claimed that “this is … my blood” implies exactly the same thing about the contents of the cup.  That’s quite far from taking the words literally, in which the bread would just be the body, and the contents of the cup would just be the blood.

Transubstantiation: Historical Development as Described by Garry Wills

June 10, 2014

Garry Wills (author of “Why I am a Catholic”), in “Why Priests,” describes the development of Eucharistic theology in the Middle Ages (p. 43):

William of Ockham (c. 1288–c. 1346), also known as Occam, wrote a long treatise on the Sacrament of the Altar. There he admitted (because the dogma of the Resurrection demanded it) that the glorified body of Christ in heaven was material. But the sacramental body of Christ was non-material, therefore non-spatial, like that of an angel. It could be present in a punctum, a point. The Scholastic theologians are often derided for debating how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. That is not a thing they would ever discuss, since their angels are non-spatial and pins are spatial, so never the two could meet.

Wills explains that the position of Thomas Aquinas won out over views like that of Occam.  Thomas used an Aristotelean distinction between accidents and substance.  However, as Wills explains, Thomas took Aristotle in a way Aristotle never imagined (p. 45):

Though Aristotle distinguished substance from accident, he did not (could not) separate them. A dog cannot exist without accidents like size. And there cannot be “a large” or “a white” standing alone without a substance. It has to be a large or a white something. An accident “comes along with” (symbainei) the thing that is its essence. Thomas admitted this natural truth: “An accident assumes what it is from its substance” (ST 3.77 a1r). But for the Eucharist, he posited a miraculous disruption of the natural order. He took the radical step of claiming that a substance can exist without its proper accidents, and accidents can exist without their proper substance, though only by a special action performed by God every time the priest says the words of consecration.

Wills further explains that there was an opposition to the position that Aquinas inherited and adopted (p. 49):

Thomas was forced to go to such lengths in caring for damaged Hosts because alternatives to transubstantiation were condemned by the church. One such alternative was offered in the ninth century by Ratramnus of Corbie, who said that Jesus was present in the Eucharist only symbolically (in figura), not physically. Ratramnus was rebuked by his superior, Paschasius Radbertus, who insisted on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist–which made Ratramnus’s student Gottschalk of Orbais claim Paschasius was advocating cannibalism. The view of Paschasius was the dominating one for the next two centuries.
But then, in the eleventh century, the charismatic and ascetical Berengar of Tours renewed in a more sophisticated way what Ratramnus had argued for, that the Eucharist is Christ in figura (in symbol). Relying on Augustine’s philosophy of the sign, Berengar said that the sign does not stand alone. It has to have a signifier and recipient of the sign. The whole system cannot function without this transaction. For him, the Eucharist was a dynamic system, in which the riches of salvation were offered to those with the faith to receive it.

There was also a liturgical aspect to this development.  Wills explains (p. 51):

Even when the Host was not exposed in a monstrance, it was felt to be present within the altar tabernacle, its divinity signaled by a vigil lamp–not a sheltered matter of bread and wine but an abiding divine person to whom one “paid visits,” worshiping, genuflecting, and praying to it. Alexander Nagel points out that, increasingly, from the fourteen to the sixteenth century, the tabernacle became larger and more central to churches.

In other words, the position adopted by Aquinas and calcified by Trent was a mutation, not an ancient tradition that was first disputed by the Reformers.


Garry Wills on Augustine and the Real Presence

May 27, 2014

Garry Wills is the author of “Why I am a Catholic,” but also of “Why Priests?” and “Papal Sins: Structures of Deceit.”  His “Lincoln at Gettysburg” won a Pulitzer Prize.  He also wrote a biography of Augustine, St. Augustine (a Penguin Lives Biography).  So, it might be good for folks to pay attention when he says (Why Priests, p. 16):

Indeed, Eucharist (“Thanksgiving”) in its later sense, of sharing bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ, is never used in the New Testament, not even in the Letter to Hebrews, which alone calls Jesus a priest. Even when the term “Eucharist” came in, as with the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, it was still, as in Paul, simply a celebration of the people’s oneness at the “one altar.” That meaning for the “body of Christ” would persist as late as the fourth and fifth centuries, in Augustine’s denial of the real presence of Jesus in the elements of the meal.
What you see passes away, but what is invisibly symbolized does not pass away. It perdures. The visible is received, eaten, and digested. But can the body of Christ be digested? Can the church of Christ be digested? Can Christ’s limbs be digested? Of course not. [[Augustine, Sermon 227]]
If you want to know what is the body of Christ, hear what the Apostle [Paul] tells believers: “You are Christ’s body, and his limbs” [1 Cor 12.27]. If, then, you are Christ’s body and his limbs, it is your symbol that lies on the Lord’s altar–what you receive is a symbol of yourselves. When you say “Amen,” and you must be the body of Christ to make that “Amen” take effect. And why are you bread? Hear again the Apostle, speaking of this very symbol: “We are one bread, one body, many as we are” [1 Cor 10.17].[[Augustine, Sermon 272]]
Believers recognize the body of Christ when they take care to be the body of Christ. They should be the body of Christ if they want to draw life from the spirit of Christ. No life comes to the body of Christ but from the spirit of Christ.[[Augustine, In Joannem Tractatus 26.13]]
There are more quotations that could be added to the above, but those are certainly three of the key quotations that establish Wills point.

Response to Jason Reed’s Apostasy Story

October 7, 2013

Jason Reed recently joined Rome’s communion. Because he’s served as a seminary professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, his apostasy to Rome’s communion has made waves in certain circles. Mike Schulte was kind enough to post a 56 minute video that includes a recent talk given by Jason, in which he explains his move.

No summary of Reed’s story will be fully fair to all its nuances, but it appears Reed never could explain why Roman Catholicism is contrary to Scripture and enjoyed Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica when introduced to it as seminary student. Thus, when he was surrounded by Roman Catholic professors, intellectual Roman Catholic peers in grad school, and Roman Catholic family, he found justifications for making a move to Rome.

In more detail (all time stamps are approximate):

0 – 4:30 The video starts with a montage of images purporting to be of Christ with a musical background
4:30 – 11:00 Introductions by others.
11:00 – 12:00 A prayer to Mary by a Roman Catholic priest.
Reed then begins his presentation, starting with an icebreaker about being nervous because God is just down the hall in the chapel. Reed talks about his Methodist upbringing, his profession of faith as a teen, his subsequent descent into hedonism in college, and his claimed conversion to Christianity in college. Reed subsequently went to seminary, where he fell in love with Aquinas and his Summa. After seminary, Reed says Norman Geisler encouraged him to go on for further education. Reed selected St. Louis University for graduate studies in philosophy, because of the presence of Eleonore Stump, a professor whose work on Aquinas’ Summa is very well received. (this portion ends around 25:00)

Reed explains that in grad school he encountered educated Roman Catholics who (his words) “schooled him” when he got into theological debates with them. He also describes listening to EWTN and not having any rebuttal to a Roman Catholic priest’s argument that Roman Catholics are Christians, because the confess that Jesus Christ is the son of God. Still, at this time Jason felt he couldn’t be a Roman Catholic because he didn’t agree with devotion to Mary, the papacy, and transubstantiation. (this portion ends around 28:30)

Here’s our first chance to interact with Reed’s comments and thought process. The definition of Christian as “anyone who confesses that Jesus is the Son of God” is problematic. The definition may be a useful sociological definition to distinguish “Christian” from “Muslim” or “Buddhist” etc. On the other hand, such a definition fails to distinguish authentic, apostolic Christianity (as defined by the Scriptures) from a variety of heretical views – not just those of the communion of Rome, but even those of more radical groups like Mormons.

Reed continues by describing how he returned to his seminary, this time to teach. However, when he was asked to instruct the students in how to defend the Evangelical faith, he could not. He states:

I could get to God’s existence, objective morality, even Jesus Christ is the son of God, but when it came to doctrine, when it came to formulating doctrine, I didn’t know how to do that.

He states that this led him to have “intellectual doubts,” but that he was not considering Catholicism at that time. (this portion ends around 30:00)

It’s a little difficult to respond to this kind of vague statement. Was Reed simply unaware of Sola Scriptura? Was he unaware that we formulate doctrines by reading and studying God’s self-revelation in his Word? I suspect that what Reed is suggesting is that he had already begun to adopt the kind of radical skepticism/post-modernism we have seen from another St. Louis University philosophy student, Bryan Cross, who treats Scripture as though it cannot itself communicate doctrine clearly to us. This radical skepticism stands at odds with Scripture’s own characterizations of itself as lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and as sufficient to thoroughly furnish the man of God.

Reed mentions that his wife began going “to church,” and that when his in-laws came to town he and his wife joined them in going to mass to honor them. Reed mentions that he liked the mass, particularly in terms of its resemblance to one of the Lord of the Rings movies. He thought that the form of liturgy in which a priest is to the side was better than a form of liturgy in which the preacher stands at the center. Reed also liked that in the Roman church, the people ignored him, as opposed to in evangelical churches, where visitors got lots of attention. In general, Reed liked that idea that king is up front. (this section ends around 33:00)

In fact, though, bodily Jesus is absent from us. Of course, spiritually Jesus is with us, but there is a real bodily absence:

2 Corinthians 5:6
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

John 14:28
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Jesus is not bodily present at the front of the room. He’s bodily present in heaven.

Reed mentions that his wife told him she was going to start going to mass. He says that he did not have any theological objection to that. He says he couldn’t tell you what evangelical theology is – he could just tell you the spectrum. He then offers a number of points on which he claims there is disagreement in Protestantism. Ironically, he picked some like “creation vs. evolution,” on which there is diversity within the Roman communion. He says he remembers thinking, “There’s no way to answer this.” (this section ends around 35:00)

Let’s start with the easy points:
1) The Bible does not guarantee that all of our questions will be answered.
2) Even if the Bible answers our questions, not every answer it gives is as clear as all the others. For example, it is very clear that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again from the dead. On the other hand, many other things are less clear.
3) The fact that something may be hard to figure out does not mean that “there’s no way to answer this.”
4) The fact that we may not be able to get universal consensus in this life about something does not mean “there’s no way to answer this.”
5) Sometimes the answer may be that we need to wait until heaven in order to find out the answer (and the Bible does not promise all our questions will be answered even then).
6) There is a tremendous amount of diversity within the Roman communion on a lot of issues, including some of the issues that Reed mentions, like evolution (already mentioned above).
7) The way to answer these questions is to go look for answers in God’s revelation of himself – in His Word.

Reed continued (about 35:10): “The question I asked myself was, ‘Given all of these differences, what is Christianity?’ Didn’t know.”

The answer is that Christianity is defined by what Christ taught. Christ’s teachings have been faithfully preserved for us and handed down to us in the New Testament Scriptures. Christianity is defined by the Gospel that Christ taught the apostles – the gospel that Paul preached. Anything else is another gospel.

Reed says that honest people were thinking to go “back to the ancient church.” He said that this argument seemed persuasive to him. He said he thought that the Reformers of the 16th century were seeking to restore the church of “Augustine and all those individuals.” But when Reed went back and looked, he did not find the doctrines that he had been taught, and he could not believe what he found. He says he almost felt that he had been lied to and deceived. He says that in the ancient church he found “apostolic succession” as un-debated thing, he found “baptism as how you enter into the church,” “the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist” and “belief in a visible church.” Thus, to him the ancient church “smells Catholic.” (this section ends around 36:30)

Some responses:
1) The Reformers, especially Calvin, definitely did appreciate the work of Augustine and other patristic and medieval authors.
2) The Reformers, however, were trying to reform back to the teachings of Jesus and his apostles, as recorded in Scripture.
3) The idea that “apostolic succession” was an un-debated thing is just false. About a century after Christ’s resurrection, Irenaeus debated the topic with the Gnostics (see the discussion here). Moreover, Augustine debated the topic with the Donatists hundreds of years after that.
4) Even pinning down what “apostolic succession” refers to, can be rather fluid. One thing is certain, the bishop of Rome has not always been appointed the way he is now, with the college of cardinals, etc.
5) Indeed, the idea of “apostolic succession” raises all sorts of questions, like the curious case of John XX (see link) or in general Rome’s meaningless claim to have an “unbroken succession” (see link).
6) The idea of “baptism as how you enter the church” does not seem very controversial in its own right. It is a visible manifestation of a person’s desire to have their sins forgiven through faith in Christ. What is odd about Tridentine Roman Catholicism, is that Trent teaches that Baptism actually infuses a person with faith (see this link). But where is that among the patristic authors? Reed, of course, does not tell his listeners.
7) Yes, there is some reference to “real presence” in the Eucharist – although when this is explained by people like Augustine, it is explained spiritually (see the discussion here). What is missing from the fathers before about the 9th or 10th century is the Roman Catholic distinctive doctrine of transubstantiation.
8) Yes, there is a visible church. That visible church is made up of numerous visible churches. What is missing from the early era is a papacy.
9) One cannot really argue with a person’s sense of smell, but what smells “Catholic” to Reed smells quite non-Tridentine to me.

Reed continued: “And then, as I started reading the reformers, they’re Catholic! Luther believed in the devotion to Mary. Calvin did not believe that you could just interpret the Bible any way you wanted. The faith that I had been given is basically 200 years old.” (section ends around 36:50)

I will let James Swan, who is expert at tracking down Luther’s views, tackle this comment about Luther and devotion to Mary. Suffice to say that Luther’s views on lots of issues evolved and matured over time, particularly as he spent time considering them and comparing them to Scripture.

Calvin’s view of Scripture should not have been a surprise to Reed. The Scriptures have to be interpreted according to what their author, God, intended. They cannot just be arbitrarily interpreted. Surely only the most post-modern “Protestants” think that Biblical interpretation can be totally arbitrary.

I’m not sure what exactly Reed viewed as being “200 years old.” John Wesley, one of the founding Methodists, died a little over 200 years ago. Perhaps that is what Reed had in mind. But whether or not Methodism as a distinctive body is only 200 years old seems a little irrelevant.

Reed continues by stating that he still was not ready to become Roman Catholic. So, he continued teaching at SES part time. But when students asked about devotion to Mary, he would tell them, “Actually, Marian devotion is the historical norm – not worshiping Mary, but having personal devotion to her – is basically standard practice throughout most of the Christian world historically.” He says that is what made him want to join Rome. (section ends around 38:30).

1) Devotion to Mary was not the historic norm before the council of Nicaea (A.D. 325). Devotion to Mary did come to be pretty widespread, but it was not the practice of the apostles or the earliest centuries of the churches.

2) Thomas Aquinas, Reed’s hero, while he did not believe in the immaculate conception of Mary, did not shun to categorize devotion to Mary as one kind of worship, even while distinguishing it from that offered to God. Indeed, in the Summa, Thomas Aquinas writes:

Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of “latria” is not due to her, but only that of “dulia”: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but “hyperdulia.”

Summa, 3rd Part, Question 25, Article 5.

Next, Reed turns to John 6. He walks through the text, suggesting that he thinks the Father was drawing him at that time. Eventually he bursts out, “Jesus was not Protestant, because he says ‘… unless you eat the flesh … and drink his blood, you have no life in you’.” Reed points out that Jesus repeats this “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood” several times. Reed emphasizes that when the disciples object, he doesn’t say “this is just a parable” or “this is just symbolic.” Reed says that he felt like the passage was teaching “the Catholic understanding” and he was compelled to accept it, because Jesus is God. (section ends around 44:00)

Yes, Jesus does not say “this is a parable,” But Jesus does say “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) I’m not sure how much more clear Jesus could have been in saying that emphasis was spiritual, not carnal.

Reed continued by saying that he still had doubts about the whole Mary thing. Nevertheless, he felt like God was telling him that he would just have to drop his objections on that point, so he contacted a priest to join Rome. He’s been with Rome for a year now. He said he’s heard about bad priests, but he says they are rare. He has found lots of faithful, God-loving Roman Catholics. (section ends around 48:00)

There are plenty of sincere Roman Catholics – there even sincere priests. The bad priests are not the main reason to avoid Rome – the main reason to avoid Rome is that it has a false gospel.

Reed concludes by stating that his reason for joining Rome is that “I believe in the Scriptures, I believe in the Bible, and I believe that the Church gave us the Scripture, and that it has the teaching authority to preserve that Gospel – why Jesus died on the cross – Jesus Christ gave us this [Roman] Catholic church to combat error … and I believe Jesus taught us to believe in the Eucharist – he taught us to believe to eat his flesh and drink his blood, and the church is it.” And he went on to talk about how Rome is unrivaled in terms of thinkers, beauty, and so on. (sections ends at 49:45)

Reed’s fundamental reasons for associating himself with Rome are wrong. Rome did not give us the Bible. Indeed, not even “the church” gave us the Bible. Rather, Scripture itself tells us:

2 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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.

God inspired men to write the Scriptures. It was not the church that inspired those men, nor were those men working on behalf of the church, but on behalf of the Holy Spirit himself.

Additionally, the Bible nowhere teaches us that Rome has any “teaching authority to preserve the gospel.” While we do drink Christ’s flesh and blood in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist), we do so spiritually. It would be worthless for us to become flesh-eating zombies or blood-drinking vampires. What profits is the Word and Spirit.

The remainder of the video is just applause, song, and some closing remarks from the lady who was apparently in charge of the event.


Hoffer – Real Presence and Transubstantiation

June 12, 2012

Paul Hoffer had posted some responses in our on-going dialog regarding Augustine and transubstantiation, which included the following kind of comment:

Before we begin addressing errors and omissions specific to Turretinfan’s commentary on Sermon 272, I would refer the reader to Part I where I have already addressed Mr. Fan’s apparent confusion between the term of “Real Presence” and the term “transubstantiation” in my commentary on his thoughts about Letter 36.


It was gratifying, therefore, to read the following from Fr. Dwight Longenecker:

The problem with this is that “the Real Presence” is a term that is also used by non-Catholics to refer to their beliefs about the Eucharist. I’ve heard Anglicans, Methodists and even a Baptist talk about “the Real Presence” at Holy Communion. They all mean something different by the same term.

This reflects a major problem in all theological and ecumenical discussion: people use the same terminology to describe totally different beliefs. The Catholic uses the term (or should) to refer to transubstantiation. The Anglican says he believes in “the Real Presence” and may be referring to consubstantiation (the belief that Christ is “with” or “beside” the consecrated bread and wine) or receptionism (Christ is received by the individual as he receives the bread and wine by faith) The term “Real Presence” used by a Baptist or Methodist may simply mean, “I feel close to Jesus when I go to communion.”

(source – emphasis added)

He links to a further entry, in which he provides a more detailed explanation:

So–like Ridley and Latimer before him– he used the term ‘real presence’ to sound as close to Catholicism as possible while in fact rejecting Catholic doctrine. Pusey believed the ‘real presence’ of Christ in the sacrament was only a spiritual and sacramental presence. In this way the Victorian Anglo-Catholic actually agreed with the reformer Ridley who wrote, “The blood of Christ is in the chalice… but by grace and in a sacrament…This presence of Christ is wholly spiritual.”

So why does it matter if the presence is only spiritual and sacramental? It matters because the whole work of Christ is more than spiritual. It is physical.

So likewise the church has always insisted–despite the difficulties– that the presence of Christ in the blessed sacrament is not simply spiritual and subjective. It is objective and corporeal. In some way it is physical. At the Fourth Lateran Council that explained that belief with the term transubstantiation. As the Oxford Dominican, Fr.Herbert McCabe has said, “Transubstantiation is not a complete explanation of the mystery, but it is the best description of what we believe happens at the consecration.”

So what should Catholics do when confronted with this confusing term ‘real presence’? First of all Catholics should realise that it is not a Catholic term at all. It’s history is mostly Anglican, and as such it was always used as a way to adroitly sidestep the troublesome doctrine of transubstantiation; and as such it is not an accurate term to describe true Catholic Eucharistic doctrine.

So as Catholics, we must use clear language about the sacrament. We can affirm the ‘real’ presence of Christ which non-Catholics affirm in the fellowship of the church, in the preaching of the gospel and in the celebration of the Eucharist, but we must also affirm that the fullest sense of the ‘real presence’ is that which we worship in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

Although Paul VI used the term ‘real presence’ in Mysterium Fidei the whole thrust of the encyclical is to support and recommend the continued use of the term ‘transubstantiation’ as the Catholic terminology. With this in mind I suggest Catholics should avoid the ambiguous term ‘real presence’ and speak boldly of transubstantiation. Instead of ‘real presence’ we should also use the terminology used in the twelfth century when the doctrine of transubstantiation was being hammered out. Then there was no talk of a vaguely spiritual ‘real presence’, instead they referred to the ‘real body and real blood of Christ.’

Mr. Hoffer has a lot more to say in the post which the first snippet referenced. In that much larger segment, Hoffer provides some discussion regarding “real presence” and “transubstantiation.”  But, at most, the distinction between the two within modern Roman theology is that “transubstantiation” describes the change as a change, whereas “real presence” in modern Roman theology describes the result of that change. We might add that transubstantiation implies not only the “real presence” of the body, blood, soul, and divinity after the consecration but also the “real absence” of bread at that time – but some would say that the modern Roman “real presence” view includes that aspect as well.

As it relates to our discussion of Augustine, Mr. Hoffer’s nuance is one that is interesting.  It seems that Mr. Hoffer is not willing to defend the idea that Augustine held to transubstantiation, even under a different name.  Thus, he seems to have conceded the major point we have consistently alleged.

On the other hand, it seems that Mr. Hoffer believes that Augustine held to the modern Roman concept of “real presence,” which would require Augustine to believe that the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ are all “really” present under each species (both under the species that has the appearance of bread, and under the species that has the appearance of wine diluted with water).

Augustine, we contend, held to a divine, spiritual and sacramental (in the Augustinian sense, not the modern Roman sense) presence.  That kind of presence is real, yet it is not the modern Roman conception of “real presence,” but rather more like one of the Reformation conceptions of real presence, as Longenecker explains above.

So, at least a minor point of disagreement remains between us, namely whether Augustine held to a full-blown conception of modern Roman “real presence,” or whether Augustine merely held to something like the Reformation view of a divine, spiritual, and sacramental (in the Augustinian sense) presence. 


Rome Doesn’t Teach the Physical Presence?

March 10, 2012

Justin Taylor has re-posted an unhelpful portion of Chris Castaldo’s “Three Misnomers to Avoid.” Technically, I don’t think that the three items that Mr. Castaldo identifies would meet the definition of “misnomers,” just alleged mistakes. What are those mistakes?

1. “Catholics teach that Christ is “physically present” in the Mass.”

Incidentally, there is a misnomer in that sentence, namely the misnomer of referring those in the Roman communion as “Catholics.” The Roman church is not the universal (that’s what “Catholic” means) church of Christ. But that’s not what Mr. Castaldo has in mind. Mr. Castaldo actually tries to argue that Christ not physically present “in the Mass.”

There is not a teaching that Christ is present physically at the start of the Mass, but it is accurate to say that “physical presence” is the Roman teaching (though it is not the whole of the teaching). For example:

A third element, that has an increasingly natural and central place in World Youth Days and in the spirituality that arises from them, is adoration. I still look back to that unforgettable moment during my visit to the United Kingdom, when tens of thousands of predominantly young people in Hyde Park responded in eloquent silence to the Lord’s sacramental presence, in adoration. The same thing happened again on a smaller scale in Zagreb and then again in Madrid, after the thunderstorm which almost ruined the whole night vigil through the failure of the microphones. God is indeed ever-present. But again, the physical presence of the risen Christ is something different, something new. The risen Lord enters into our midst. And then we can do no other than say, with Saint Thomas: my Lord and my God! Adoration is primarily an act of faith – the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him. In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God’s tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life. Only thus can I celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive the body of the Lord rightly.

Christmas Greetings to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2011 (linkvideo link)(emphasis added)

Notice that Benedict XVI (who is not just the current pope, but also a theologian within his church) treats the sacramental presence as a physical presence, and therefore distinguishable from the spiritual omnipresence of God.

Moreover, Benedict XVI’s view is not a mistake (or a “misnomer” if you prefer).  As CCC 1373 explains: “he is present . . . most especially in the Eucharistic species.”  CCC 1374 goes into more detail (emphasis added):

The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as “the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.” In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.” “This presence is called ‘real’ – by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be ‘real’ too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

Moreover, this presence is unique because it is bodily (i.e. physical) presence: “It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ’s body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament.” (CCC 1375)  The presence of Christ is not a visible presence: “Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence.” (CCC 1380)

Mr. Castaldo makes an argument:

When describing Jesus Christ as the Eucharist, Catholics will say that the Lord is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” or “substantially” present, but not “physically.” To state the Jesus is “physically” present is to suggest that he is present “locally” (as he is now in heaven at the right hand of the Father). The Eucharistic presence of Christ, although understood as no less real, is sacramentally present in the transubstantiated host. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1413 By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651).

The positive aspects of his comments are of course right: Rome teaches that Jesus is “really,” “truly,” “wholly,” “continuously,” and “substantially” present. But Mr. Castaldo wrongly reasons from the fact that “physical” is not used, to suppose that “physical presence” is denied. We have observed Benedict XVI using such an expression – but consider further: before the consecration, there is just bread and wine. After the consecration, there is no more bread and wine. What appears to be bread and wine according to all of science and reason is, Rome claims, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

Moreover, that presence is “local” in the sense of being contained. As CCC 1367 explains: “in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained … .” That’s why the storage container for the consecrated hosts is called a “tabernacle.” It is because it provides a housing for what Rome falsely claims is Jesus himself.

Mr. Castaldo’s denial of the physical and local presence of Christ seems to run contrary to the teachings of Pope Paul VI:

This presence is called “real” not to exclude the idea that the others are “real” too, but rather to indicate presence par excellence, because it is substantial and through it Christ becomes present whole and entire, God and man. And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of presence by dreaming up a so-called “pneumatic” nature of the glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign “of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful, the members of His Mystical Body.”

(Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei, 3 September 1965, section 39)

But I suspect that Mr. Castaldo’s argument comes (directly or indirectly) from Thomas Aquinas who himself took the position that Christ is not present “locally.”  But by that he did not deny that Christ’s presence is physical, as you can see:

… Christ’s body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance, that is to say, in that way in which substance is contained by dimensions; because the substance of Christ’s body succeeds the substance of bread in this sacrament: hence as the substance of bread was not locally under its dimensions, but after the manner of substance, so neither is the substance of Christ’s body. Nevertheless the substance of Christ’s body is not the subject of those dimensions, as was the substance of the bread: and therefore the substance of the bread was there locally by reason of its dimensions, because it was compared with that place through the medium of its own dimensions; but the substance of Christ’s body is compared with that place through the medium of foreign dimensions, so that, on the contrary, the proper dimensions of Christ’s body are compared with that place through the medium of substance; which is contrary to the notion of a located body.

Hence in no way is Christ’s body locally in this sacrament.

Reply to Objection 1. Christ’s body is not in this sacrament definitively, because then it would be only on the particular altar where this sacrament is performed: whereas it is in heaven under its own species, and on many other altars under the sacramental species. Likewise it is evident that it is not in this sacrament circumscriptively, because it is not there according to the commensuration of its own quantity, as stated above. But that it is not outside the superficies of the sacrament, nor on any other part of the altar, is due not to its being there definitively or circumscriptively, but to its being there by consecration and conversion of the bread and wine, as stated above (1; 15, 2, sqq.).

Reply to Objection 2. The place in which Christ’s body is, is not empty; nor yet is it properly filled with the substance of Christ’s body, which is not there locally, as stated above; but it is filled with the sacramental species, which have to fill the place either because of the nature of dimensions, or at least miraculously, as they also subsist miraculously after the fashion of substance.

Reply to Objection 3. As stated above (Article 4), the accidents of Christ’s body are in this sacrament by real concomitance. And therefore those accidents of Christ’s body which are intrinsic to it are in this sacrament. But to be in a place is an accident when compared with the extrinsic container. And therefore it is not necessary for Christ to be in this sacrament as in a place.

(Summa Theologica, 3a, 76, 6)

Of course, Thomas’ views on this (see the rest of them) are not de fide for those in the Roman Catholics, but certainly are influential.  It’s not clear to me that Mr. Castaldo understands what Aquinas is saying about the body of Christ not being locally present, but to deny that the body is not physically present is not only inconsistent with Benedict XVI (as mentioned above) and rationally with the de fide pronouncements of Trent but also inconsistent with Aquinas himself:

Objection 2. Further, the form of Christ’s body is His soul: for it is said in De Anima ii, that the soul “is the act of a physical body which has life in potentiality”. But it cannot be said that the substantial form of the bread is changed into the soul. Therefore it appears that it remains after the consecration.

Reply to Objection 2. The soul is the form of the body, giving it the whole order of perfect being, i.e. being, corporeal being, and animated being, and so on. Therefore the form of the bread is changed into the form of Christ’s body, according as the latter gives corporeal being, but not according as it bestows animated being.

(Summa Theologica, 3a, 75, 6)

2. Re-Sacrifice?

The next alleged error is that “[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ is re-sacrificed at the Mass.” That accurately reflects the bizarre contemporary teaching that there is only one sacrifice and yet every mass is a sacrifice. But in the discussion of Purgatory, the Council of Trent did not hesitate to speak of the “sacrifices of the masses” (“missarum … sacrificia”) as being of assistance to those in Purgatory.

But whether or not Rome today maintains Trent or contradicts it, we may still object that the Mass amounts to a new sacrifice, inasmuch as the Mass purports to “re-present” (not represent) and perpetuate the sacrifice that took place on Calvary.

3. Multiple Deaths?
The final alleged mistake was: “[Roman] Catholics teach that Christ dies at the Mass.” It certainly is not (to my knowledge) de fide that Christ dies at each mass. However, that in itself is problematic for the person in the Roman communion. How can there be a sacrifice of the victim without the death of the victim? But that’s part of the objection, not part of the teaching to which we are responding, technically.


Response to Roman Apologetic Comment …

August 18, 2011

This comes from the comment box of Mark Shea’s post regarding Augustine, Scripture, and Nicaea. It’s not him commenting (as far as I know), but another member of his religion. Here’s the quotation:

The Catholic (i.e. Universal) Church has Taught, and never wavered from [its] teaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist for over two thousand years. That’s four hundred years before the canon of scripture, fifteen hundred years before Luther. Two thousand years before us.

Mary and I have never met, I live in [America], and she lives in Kenya. Don’t you think it’s odd that we could be saying the EXACT same thing.

Jesus Christ the God-man who walked the streets of Nazareth is on earth!

Last things first:

Mark 13:20-22

And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.

You may reply, “But that passage is talking about people pretending to be Jesus, people like Vissarion, José Luis de Jesús Miranda, or Sun Myung Moon – human beings pretending to be Christ.” Yet notice that (a) this passage speaks primarily about people announcing Christ, not about people calling themselves Christ; and (b) are there not many alleged eucharistic miracles that are brought forward in an attempt to show that Christ is present (Santarem, Sienna, Erding, and Cascia, for example). What signs and wonders are foolish blasphemers like Vissarion doing that compare with the bold claims of miracles amongst those of the Roman communion? The elect will reject all these false Christs.

Going back to the beginning of the comment, his mathematics skills reflect poorly on America. The last supper was less than 2000 years ago. Moreover, the doctrine of the real presence (in the transubstantial sense it is given by Rome today) was not the ancient teaching of the churches – even if a real spiritual presence was taught by some of the fathers.

Rome didn’t formally define the canon of Scripture until after Luther died and the Reformation was already well under way. On the other hand, the apostles clearly recognized the Old Testament books as canon, and recognized the New Testament books as canon, as they were being written. For example, Paul refers to Luke’s gospel (or perhaps Matthew’s gospel) as Scripture:

1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

Matthew 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

Moreover, Peter refers to Paul’s epistles as Scripture:

2 Peter 3:15-16

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Likewise, Luther wasn’t the first to oppose Rome’s dogma of transubstantiation. Wycliffe opposed the dogma of transubstantiation in the 1300’s – and considering that the term “transubstantiation” was first used by an “ecumenical” council in the 1200’s, the idea that this dogma was some long-standing or apostolic tradition that Luther was the first to question (something only implied, not stated, by our Roman friend here) – is not credible.

I’m sure that the two folks in the Roman communion have the same views. My Reformed brethren around the globe have the same views I do, if geographical dispersion is important. But ultimately, the question is not geographical distribution but Scriptural authenticity. And to be blunt: one cannot legitimately derive transubstantiation from Scripture.


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