Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why should we not believe in transubstantiation?

Elena asked,
Why cannot it be understood as literally Christ giving his body to eat?

She was referring to this quote she gave from Ambrose:
It is wonderful that God rained manna on our fathers and they were fed with daily food from heaven. And so it is written: Man ate the bread of angels. Yet those who ate that bread all died in the desert. But the food that you receive, that living bread which came down from heaven, supplies the very substance of eternal life, and whoever will eat it will never die, for it is the body of Christ. Ambrose of Milan, treatise On the Mysteries was originally spoken to newly baptized Christians around the year 370 AD.
This quote is apparently referring to John 6. I would like to give a few scriptures to show why Jesus in John 6 is not referring to Christ literally giving us His body and blood to eat, and that the bread is not literally the 'body, soul, and divinity of Christ' or the whole Christ.
Matthew 24:23 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
26 “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

This passage says that if anyone tells you that Christ is here or there on earth DO NOT BELIEVE IT and DO NOT GO OUT to look for Him, because His coming will be 'as the lightning come from the east and flashes to the west'. Jesus is telling His disciples that He will NOT be present physically on earth until He comes again in the sky, and not to believe anyone who says He is, even though you see signs and wonders to prove that it is He.
John 19:30 He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Hebrews 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.

Jesus finished His propitiatory work on the cross and for those who believe in Him, their sins are forgiven and there is no more need for an offering for sin.
Hebrews 9:25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another— 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
This passage says that He appeared once to put away sin by His sacrifice of Himself, not often, and that He will appear for those who eagerly await Him a SECOND TIME, APART FROM SIN, for salvation. He will appear a second time when He comes back to earth, 'just as He ascended' the first time. He will appear 'apart from sin' that is, not as a sacrifice for sin. He does not come back as a physical perpetual sacrifice. Every word of Hebrews denies this doctrine. He sat down at the right hand of the Father in victory over sin and death and having finished His suffering, He intercedes for us against our accuser the devil.

UPDATE:
Elena has a post up about this too: http://mdcalexatestblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/hebrews-matthew-and-john-6.html

17 comments:

Sue Bee said...

Ok. Very quickly...

The term for Christ presence in Holy Communion is Sacramental Presence. It isn't the second coming.

Christ commands: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

And He promises: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:17-20

May God bless your day!

Elena said...

I handled this over at VTC here.

EFC comments are open again as well.

Jennie said...

Sue Bee,
The term for Christ presence in Holy Communion is Sacramental Presence. It isn't the second coming.

Christ commands: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

And He promises: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:17-20


That's the whole point, that the second coming IS the second coming, and there is no other physical coming of Christ until then.

Jesus commanded us to 'Do this in remembrance of Me.'

He promised to be with us by sending the Holy Spirit because He would be going away to the Father.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I think what Sue Bee is saying is that Christ is with us physically during the communion feast. I see nothing wrong with that, because the communion feast is a time when we fellowship with our Creator in an intimate way. That is why it is called communion. The difficulty arises in how we interpret Christ's physical presence. Is He there bodily, or is He there in Spirit?

I don't have to look no further than the book of Revelation to get my answer. About 60 years after the resurrection of Christ, John experienced the Real Presence of Christ on the isle of Patmos. Christ made a personal visit to John in a supernatural, glorified body, in a VISION. Read John's discourse, in Revelation 1:10-13, NKJV, bold-face supplied:

"10I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

12And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle."

One should note that this was NOT a physical, bodily coming of Jesus. This was a vision where John interacted with the real Jesus on a spiritual level. God is omnipresent, and is everywhere in the world all at the same time. Through spiritual visions, God can visit each and every one of us in a personal way. God is truly supernatural. It baffles our finite minds how He can be in us and with us, and in all the universe, all at the same time.

Peace and blessings to all.

Paul said...

Augustine on Jn.6:
Augustine (354-430): If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,” says Christ, “and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. NPNF1: Vol. II, On Christian Doctrine, Book III, Chapter 16.

Paul said...

Augustine (354-430): But the Lord insisted: It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life (Jn 6:54). “Understand what I have told you in a spiritual way. You are not asked to eat this body that you can see, nor to drink the blood that will be shed by those who will crucify me. What I have revealed to you is something mysterious, something which when understood spiritually will mean life for you. Although it is to be celebrated in a visible manner, you must understand it in a way that transcends bodily sight.” Exalt the Lord our God, and worship his footstool, because he is holy. John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms, Part 3, Vol. 18, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Psalm 98, §9 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 2002), p. 475.

Moonshadow said...

I'm looking for the right place to put this ...

Michael Spencer ... now, please don't get excited ... posted a reply from Dr. Timothy George ... you all know him, right? A senior editor of Christianity Today, among other things ... on how to reply to Catholics and Orthodox who question Baptists on the Lord's Supper.

Read George's reply.

And read George's piece in September's CT on Calvin and Baptists, too.

I like George. I wish he was Catholic but I like him. He's a good Baptist.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Great article Teresa. I have added that site to my favorites.:-)

I am going to have communion today (preceded by foot washing). I am looking forward to communion today - a time when heaven and earth meets in sweet and holy fellowship.

Peace.

Jennie said...

Teresa,
thanks for the links; I read both articles.
I'm not familiar with Timothy George, but I don't read Christianity Today, unless I happen to run across a link to an article online that I'm interested in. It's too 'mere Christianity' for my taste.
I agreed with much of what Dr. George said, and I disagreed with some things.
I'll have to reply more fully later on, but I'll say that I agree with the following, and it's what I've been trying to stress myself:
the Reformed tradition picked up Augustine’s distinction and emphasized the cruciality of faith for the proper reception of the beneficium of grace in the Supper. This same theology they found echoed in other pre-reformation figures including Ratramnus, Wycliffe, and Hus. What they rejected, in keeping with Luther, was an understanding of the sacrifice of the mass as an expression of works-righteousness, a theology which seemed to them to undermine the all-sufficiency of Jesus’s once-and-for-all death on the cross—where, as Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer put it, he offered “a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world.”
This statement I don't quite get:
Yet important, church-dividing differences still remain and I think the Church of Rome is right to resist the kind of easy-going ecumenism that would ignore such differences in order to achieve a false unity.
I don't get why he's saying the Church of Rome is the one resisting ecumenism, when my impression is she's the one who's offering and encouraging it, with the understanding that unity must come with acceptance of her authority. I think the Bible Christians are the ones resisting ecumenism that ignores important differences, recognizing that unity must be in truth.

Ketann said...

Jennie,
I came across your blog today and I feel so blessed! Thank you for this blog. Blessings to you and your family.

Jennie said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ketann. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. God bless you and yours too :)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Jennie,

I just want to relate my experience this past communion of the Real Presence of Jesus.

I must say the experience was real incredible. While I cannot say that I felt or saw His presence in the church building, I must relate that I did feel a double presence of His Spirit within me. I could feel my heart burn within me, and a welling up within me that was more than normal. In faith, I believed that the double portion was none other than the Holy Spirit and Christ Himself communing within me in the spirit.

It was a wonderful experience that left me feeling refreshed, energized, and at peace.

Have a blessed day.:-)

Jennie said...

Hillary,
Thanks for sharing about communion. I think the idea of the real presence is very valid, because Jesus said He would be with us always, and that where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst of them.
I believe, as we've talked about before, that it is a spiritual presence, not confined to the bread and wine.
The doctrine of transubstantiation makes it into a physical (bodily) presence, in which the Catholics believe the bread and wine actually are His body and blood, as you know; and they say it is a sacrifice for sin. This goes way too far and is outside of scriptural bounds.
I think there is much we can learn from each other and the Church fathers as long as we are careful to compare everything to scripture, as the Fathers themselves warned. Though they were not inspired and do not teach perfect truth themselves. They were not in agreement on all things as the teachings of scripture are.

Jennie said...

Hillary,
It seems to me that Baptists as a whole have a shallow understanding and practice of the Lord's supper. I think it is because Baptists have fallen into shallowness in their understanding of God's word, and also have lost the historical connection to past understanding and practice. I don't advocate Roman Catholic understanding of the Lord's supper at all because I think they have gone into a different error.
We also do not just want to seek an experience or a feeling. We should always be seeking Him in His word and true prayer, as He taught us. In my experience, the Baptists have largely lost the depth of abiding in Him that He calls for.

Sue Bee said...

Paul wrote: Augustine on Jn.6:
Augustine (354-430): If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative.


But what about Abraham & Isaac? God wasn't asking Abraham to "figuratively" sacrifice his son.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi Sue Bee, welcome back! :-) Hope your trip went well. I saw your post as I was busy on my blog.

Jennie,

Thanks for the encouragement and validation :-).

In the last few days I have been busy posting and debunking some very popular end time myths on my blog. If you are interested, please see below for the links.

myth #1

myth #2


myth #3


Peace and blessings.

Paul said...

Sue Bee wrote:
"But what about Abraham & Isaac? God wasn't asking Abraham to "figuratively" sacrifice his son."
----------------
Sue Bee,
The point of my posting the quotes from Augustine was to demonstrate that there was not a "monolithic" view on what the ECF's believed about the Eucharist. This is at odds with what Trent claims was "ever" and "always". I'm not intending to defend Augustine's consistency. I know that he does address the sacrifice of Isaac in his Confessions.