Monday, October 3, 2011

1500 years of universal Gospel-compromising heresy & idolatry...or not

The Last Supper
In the early 16th century, Protestant Huldrych Zwingli began to publicly deny the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Most modern evangelicals follow him in that same denial, instead holding that the Lord's Supper is only symbolic.

The Eucharistic faith of Catholics, on the other hand, came from Christ Himself through His Apostles in the 1st century. Since then, in unbroken succession, every generation has passed on belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and thus also the absolute centrality of the Eucharist to any truly Christian life. The evangelical belief that the Lord's Supper is only symbolic, with no sacramental aspect whatsoever, would have been decried by all generations of Christians from the very beginning as heresy.

If one holds the common evangelical position on the Lord's Supper (or, for that matter, the evangelical positions regarding apostolic succession, the nature and order of Christian worship, baptismal regeneration, etc), and that the evangelical position was the original doctrine taught by Christ and His Apostles, then that person must also hold that:

- the entire Church, following the deaths of the Apostles, immediately and publicly fell into universal heresy and idolatry at the center of their beliefs and practices

- this occurred in such a way so as to leave behind no evidence at all that any orthodox Christian had believed the true teaching of the Apostles immediately following their deaths in the most fundamental matters of doctrine and practice (unless you count gnostic heretics, and I don't think evangelicals would)

- this universal heresy persisted for a millennium and a half, such that virtually no would-be Christian lived their faith without centering it around idolatry; every would-be saint of the first 1500 years of the faith - St Irenaeus, St Augustine, St Francis of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, etc - was actually an idolater

- the very same people who were so deluded into Eucharistic idolatry managed to hold true faith regarding the Trinity, dual-nature of Christ, etc, even amidst widespread, violent, centuries-long opposition and persecution

- this persisted until the 16th century Protestant Huldrych Zwingli finally broke free from 1500 years of deceit and got it right that there is no real presence in the Eucharist - and even then, amidst the opposition of fellow Protestant Martin Luther who still held to the real presence (albeit not transubstantiation)

- all of this occurred despite the fact that Jesus himself promised to be "with [us] always, to the very end of the age," (Mt 28.20) as well as that, since He would build His Church on the rock, "the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Mt 16.18)

- Christ's meaning in the above verses should be interpreted in a way that doesn't preclude the entire Church persisting in grave heresy and idolatry that fundamentally undermines the Gospel for the first millennium and a half following Christ

- finally, whatever forces that so successfully deceived the Church immediately following the Apostles and kept the entire Church in grave error and idolatry for the first 1500 years of the faith has been unable to seduce the evangelical community regarding the Eucharist again

I find all of the logical conclusions of the evangelical position listed above to be absurd.

But so what? So what if evangelicals are wrong on the Eucharist? They still put their faith in Jesus. Isn't that all that matters? Why does the Eucharist matter so much? Two short answers:
1) If the Eucharist truly is Jesus, then the Eucharist truly is Jesus, the God-man and source of all life. To reject the Eucharist, then, is a rejection of Jesus and the most profound way that He communes with His people. In John 6.53, Jesus states emphatically: "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."
2) If the doctrine of the real presence did come from Jesus, then it came from Jesus. It cannot be set aside or ignored. To do so would be to disregard the teachings of God Himself, something no true follower of Christ can do.

I've first listed a few of the most important relevant verses from Sacred Scripture, verses that have always been the basis for the Church's Eucharistic faith. Following those, I've listed in chronological order selected short quotes from throughout the history of the Church to show that the Catholic beliefs regarding the Eucharist have always been the faith of the Church. It is my hope that evangelicals, many of whom do indeed have a sincere faith in Jesus, will eventually come to see that they are following something novel, something of man, and that they will, with God's grace, return to the true faith of the Church of the last two millennia.

For what exactly the Church today teaches regarding the Eucharist in Her own words, turn to paragraphs 1322ff in the Catechist of the Catholic Church.
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Christ distributing the Eucharist at the
Last Supper
Sacred Scripture
Matthew 26.26-28 (see also Mark 14.22-24Luke 22.17-20, & 1 Cor 11.23-26)
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

John 6.51-56
[Jesus said,] "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him."

1 Corinthians 10.16-17
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

1 Corinthians 11.27-29
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
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Christian Witness
St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop of Antioch, martyr
Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 6-7, ~A.D. 110:
Let no man deceive himself. ...[I]f they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. [...] But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. [...] They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes.

St Justin the Martyr, philosopher, martyr
First Apology, 66, ~A.D. 150:
And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

St Irenaeus
St Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon, France), martyr
Against Heresies, ~A.D. 180:
But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity. (IV.18.5)

When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? (V.2.3)

St Cyprian of Carthage, bishop of Carthage, martyr
On the Lapsed, 25, 3rd century:
Learn what occurred when I myself was present and a witness some parents who by chance were escaping [persecution], being little careful on account of their terror, left a little daughter under the care of a wet-nurse. The nurse gave up the forsaken child to the magistrates. They gave it, in the presence of an idol whither the people flocked (because it was not yet able to eat flesh on account of its years), bread mingled with wine, which however itself was the remainder of what had been used in the immolation of those that had perished. Subsequently the mother recovered her child. But the girl was no more able to speak, or to indicate the crime that had been committed, than she had before been able to understand or to prevent it. Therefore it happened unawares in their ignorance, that when we were sacrificing, the mother brought it in with her. Moreover, the girl mingled with the saints, became impatient of our prayer and supplications, and was at one moment shaken with weeping, and at another tossed about like a wave of the sea by the violent excitement of her mind; as if by the compulsion of a torturer the soul of that still tender child confessed a consciousness of the fact with such signs as it could. When, however, the solemnities were finished, and the deacon began to offer the cup to those present, and when, as the rest received it, its turn approached, the little child, by the instinct of the divine majesty, turned away its face, compressed its mouth with resisting lips, and refused the cup. Still the deacon persisted, and, although against her efforts, forced on her some of the sacrament of the cup. Then there followed a sobbing and vomiting. In a profane body and mouth the Eucharist could not remain; the draught sanctified in the blood of the Lord burst forth from the polluted stomach. So great is the Lord's power, so great is His majesty. The secrets of darkness were disclosed under His light, and not even hidden crimes deceived God's priest.

St Hippolytus of Rome, martyr
Apostolic Tradition, 37-38, 3rd century:
Having blessed the cup in the Name of God, you received it as the antitype of the Blood of Christ. Therefore do not spill from it, for some foreign spirit to lick it up because you despised it. You will become as one who scorns the Blood, the price with which you have been bought.

St Cyril of Jerusalem, bishop of Jerusalem, doctor of the Church, confessor
Catechetical Lecture 22, 1-2, 6, 4th century:
Since then [Jesus] Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood? [...] Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you.

St Augustine of Hippo
St Augustine, bishop of Hippo, doctor of the Church, confessor
Sermons 272, 4th-5th century:
What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the body of Christ and the chalice is the blood of Christ. This has been said very briefly, which may perhaps be sufficient for faith; yet faith does not desire instruction

Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431
Third Letter of Cyril to Nestorius:
Proclaiming the death according to the flesh of the only begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, and professing his return to life from the dead and his ascension into heaven, we offer the unbloody worship in the churches and so proceed to the mystical thanksgivings and are sanctified having partaken of the holy flesh and precious blood of Christ, the saviour of us all. This we receive not as ordinary flesh, heaven forbid, nor as that of a man who has been made holy and joined to the Word by union of honour, or who had a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and real flesh of the Word. For being life by nature as God, when he became one with his own flesh, he made it also to be life-giving, as also he said to us: "Amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood". For we must not think that it is the flesh of a man like us (for how can the flesh of man be life-giving by its own nature?), but as being made the true flesh of the one who for our sake became the son of man and was called so.

Pope St Gregory VII
Required confession of faith (as quoted in Mysterium Fidei, 52), 11th century:
I believe in my heart and openly profess that the bread and wine that are placed on the altar are, through the mystery of the sacred prayer and the words of the Redeemer, substantially changed into the true and proper and lifegiving flesh and blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that after the consecration they are the true body of Christ—which was born of the Virgin and which hung on the Cross as an offering for the salvation of the world—and the true blood of Christ—which flowed from His side—and not just as a sign and by reason of the power of the sacrament, but in the very truth and reality of their substance and in what is proper to their nature.

4th Lateran Council, 1215
Confession of Faith:
[Jesus'] body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed in substance, by God's power, into his body and blood, so that in order to achieve this mystery of unity we receive from God what he received from us. Nobody can effect this sacrament except a priest who has been properly ordained according to the church's keys, which Jesus Christ himself gave to the apostles and their successors.

St Francis of Assisi, confessor, founder of the Order of Friars Minor
Letter to All the Friars, early 13th century:
Let the entire man be seized with fear; let the whole world tremble; let heaven exult when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest. O admirable height and stupendous condescension! O humble sublimity! O sublime humility! that the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under a morsel of bread.

St Thomas Aquinas, priest, Dominican monk, doctor of the Church
attributed to him, 13th century:
The Sacrament of the Body of the Lord puts the demons to flight, defends us against the incentives to vice and to concupiscence, cleanses the soul from sin, quiets the anger of God, enlightens the understanding to know God, inflames the will and the affections with the love of God, fills the memory with spiritual sweetness, confirms the entire man in good, frees us from eternal death, multiplies the merits of a good life, leads us to our everlasting home, and re-animates the body to eternal life.

St Catherine of Siena, of whom it is said
that she lived 19 years with no food but
the Eucharist
St Catherine of Siena, doctor of the church, virgin
a prayer attributed to her, 14th century:
O inestimable charity! Even as You, true God and true Man, gave Yourself entirely to us, so also You left Yourself entirely for us, to be our food, so that during our earthly pilgrimage we would not faint with weariness, but would be strengthened by You, our celestial Bread. O man, what has your God left you? He has left you Himself, wholly God and wholly Man, concealed under the whiteness of bread. O fire of love! Was it not enough for You to have created us to Your image and likeness, and to have recreated us in grace through the Blood of Your Son, without giving Yourself wholly to us as our Food, O God, Divine Essence? What impelled You to do this? Your charity alone. It was not enough for You to send Your Word to us for our redemption; neither were You content to give Him us as our Food, but in the excess of Your love for Your creature, You gave to man the whole divine essence.

Council of Trent, 1545-1563
Session 13, Ch 1, 1551:
In the first place, the holy Synod teaches, and openly and simply professes, that, in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things. ...[F]or thus all our forefathers, as many as were in the true Church of Christ, who have treated of this most holy Sacrament, have most openly professed, that our Redeemer instituted this so admirable a sacrament at the last supper, when, after the blessing of the bread and wine, He testified, in express and clear words, that He gave them His own very Body, and His own Blood...

St Francis de Sales, bishop of Geneva, doctor of the Church, confessor
Introduction to the Devout Life, XIV.1, early 17th century:
[T]he Sun of all spiritual exercises, even the most holy, sacred and Sovereign Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist, [is] the very centre point of our Christian religion, the heart of all devotion, the soul of piety;—that Ineffable Mystery which embraces the whole depth of Divine Love, by which God, giving Himself really to us, conveys all His Graces and favours to men with royal magnificence.

1st Vatican Council, 1870
Profession of Faith:
Pope Bl John Paul II
I profess that in the mass there is offered to God a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our lord Jesus Christ; and that there takes place the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into his body, and of the whole substance of the wine into his blood, and this conversion the catholic church calls transubstantiation.

Pope Bl John Paul II
We Adore God Present Among Us, 1993:
United with the angels and saints of the heavenly Church, let us adore the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Prostrate, we adore this great mystery that contains God's new and definitive covenant with humankind in Christ.

42 comments:

  1. Blogs like yours and research into the church councils is what got me going in the Catholic direction. Prior to that I was operating on the wrong paradigm, that is, which church or doctrine best fits my interpretation of scripture?

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  2. Hey Andre,
    "Prior to that I was operating on the wrong paradigm, that is, which church or doctrine best fits my interpretation of scripture?"
    I was somewhat stuck in that as well. And once I got out of it, I was obviously also led to the Church. I guess I often write blog posts that I think I would have found helpful when I was searching.

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  3. Brantly,

    I meet with my Protestant Pastor this Friday to formally tell him that I'm separating from his congregation. The main thrust of my argument will be what you've written above. Why would Jesus leave the church in the dark for 1500 years, suddenly to be recovered by one lone monk? And then the adherents thereafter cannot even agree with each other to the point where they form their own churches...

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  4. Great post, Brantly- thorough and informative. If I were Catholic, I'd use it as a reference point.

    One small criticism- throughout your post, you seem to have assumed that non-RP Protestants must automatically gravitate toward three primary conclusions: The CC is in grave error, Catholic belief in transubstantiation is heretical, and the Catholic belief in transubstantiation is idolatrous. To my mind, these three assessments are progressively less prevalent among Protestants. Do we see it as error? Yes, I suppose we must, though we don't use the "grave" adjective all that often. The second one, "heretical"- do we necessarily come to this conclusion? This one's a little more iffy- some will use the term heresy, others will believe this in effect if not in those specific words, and some will be more uncertain about what they should term "heresy." There is something to it- quite a bit, actually- but it's not as clear-cut. Lastly, though, the idolatry accusation is quite rare. It certainly exists, but most non-Catholics will disagree with that assessment and prefer to avoid calling Eucharistic activities idolatrous. Not just as a matter of courtesy, either, but because most of us don't believe it's idolatrous in the general sense of the term. This is partly motivated by a present-time assessment of the fact that the Eucharist isn't something that causes a Catholic to stop worshiping God (as with examples like power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. that are given in the Catechism) and out of an awareness of how most Christians have operated when assembling themselves for most of Christian history.

    So, long story short...I don't think the average Protestant believes the average Eucharistic rite is idolatrous. You must have some idea of this from your time at Wheaton, and I'd be more than a little surprised if you came away from there thinking that all (or nearly all) Wheaties are being inexorably pulled toward the conclusion that Catholics are guilty of idolatry. Again, this sentiment certainly exists, but I don't think it's prevalent anywhere- and even less so among those who are more reasonable and better-informed.

    You might be wondering why I don't believe in transubstantiation, in spite of the impressive array of sources and references. If you're interested, here's the quick summary:

    It has to do with substance theory. Philosophers and scientists have asked (and attempted to answer) many, many different questions about substance. What is it? Does it exist? How does it relate to form or appearance, esp. when it changes? Is it particulate or non-particulate? These are important questions...and from what I understand, enough of them have been answered definitively that we can rule out transubstantiation as something that really happens.

    My primary focus is on the question of whether or not substance is particulate. My understanding of science and philosophy leads me to the conclusion that we now know- with absolute certitude- that substance is particulate. Once this is established, we can check on whether or not the substance of the bread or wine changes. Once this is done, we can conclude that the substance of the bread and the wine does not change. So...transubstantiation isn't something that takes place. There is no particulate change, and like I said before, substance is particulate. Ergo, no change in substance.

    So that's why I don't believe in transubstantiation. But I'm not most people, and I'm quite sure that most non-Catholics who read this will see something that pertains more directly to their reasons for believing as I do.

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  5. Praise the Lord! That's great. I'll say a prayer for you. Are you in RCIA? When will you be received into full communion with the Catholic Church?

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  6. Here is another...

    If the Church was in heresy from the death of the apostles and the fathers of the Church, then Holy Bible which came about several years later is also a heretical document compounded by heretics! Thereby concluding, very foundation for the sola-scriptura evangelicals is erroneous

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  7. Good post, great selection of resources. Just one small criticism, which I hope you'll find to be valid- I don't think the average Protestant sees the average Eucharistic rite as an exercise in idolatry. The sentiment certainly does exist, but I don't think it's very common, and it become less common as people become better-informed. If you saw something different during your time at Wheaton, I suppose you saw what you saw. But I would be surprised.

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  8. RSF,
    Great point.

    Mike,
    Catholics worship the Eucharist because it is Jesus. E.g. Catholics put the hosts in monstrances, parade them around, and have 24 hr prayer before them in Perpetual Adoration chapels. If it's not Jesus, and only bread, then it certainly is idolatry. Most evangelicals who don't think of it as idolatry probably are unaware of how Catholics think about and treat the Eucharist.

    I know for myself, before I became Catholic and when I was at a Catholic high school, I refused to kneel before the Eucharist or participate at all in Eucharistic adoration for the very reason that it's idolatry if there is no real presence, and I didn't believe in the real presence.

    Saying that anything is God that isn't God is idolatry. From the very beginning, Christians believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which includes his divinity. If they're wrong, it's idolatry.

    But yes, I think you are right that most evangelicals aren't thinking that Catholics are idolaters because of the Eucharist, but they do think we're idolaters because of things related to Mary and the saints. lol which is ironic since we actually do worship the Eucharist, but not Mary or any of the saints

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  9. "2) If the doctrine of the real presence did come from Jesus, then it came from Jesus. It cannot be set aside or ignored. To do so would be to disregard the teachings of God Himself, something no true follower of Christ can do." --Ouch! The Bible is as serious as it sounds. This is something that has been bothering me a lot lately. Why is it that I can come to believe in the Eucharist, that I've been given that grace to do so and others haven't? Or maybe they have and are rejecting it, but nonetheless it's particularly sad to me personally.

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  10. With regard to idolatry, I would think even well-informed Protestants who know as much about Catholic doctrine as you do would not be inclined to call you an idolater. When I think of Protestants who would call you an idolater, I think of semi-informed Protestants who know barely anything. When I think of well-informed Protestants (who don't believe the doctrine and understandably abstain from adoration of a piece of bread), I actually tend to think they won't call you an idolater in spite of the disagreement.

    You said "If they're wrong, it's idolatry" as if the conclusion is inescapable for the well-informed Protestant. My observation, however, is that well-informed Protestants are better escape artists than this would imply. Take Mark Noll, for example. He's working at Notre Dame- you know this. He's extremely well informed on all things Catholic. I don't know if you ever talked to him about it- I think he left at the end of your sophomore year.

    Anyway, I can scarcely imagine that he says or believes that his students and colleagues are idolaters. Either publicly or privately. And in spite of the fact that they disagree with one another about this.

    He's just one example, but he's the kind of person I'm talking about. Someone who's signed on with ECT. Someone who would be more than willing to help you, as a student, make your way from Evangelical to Evangelical Catholic and not call you an idolater once you get there. Someone who knows how to foster fruitful ecumenism. That kind of person.

    I did bring this up as a criticism of your post, and there is a reason for it that starts as fact-based analysis but goes well beyond it too. I know you're the kind of person who wants to foster meaningful ecumenism between Evangelicals and Catholics. But when a post generally having to do with the Eucharist strongly implies that sufficiently-informed disagreement on this point should inevitably lead to accusations of idolatry being leveled at you and all of Western Christianity prior to the Reformation, that particular post seems to be opposed to that goal rather than in favor of it.

    On a different subject...you're right to point out how many Protestants see prayers to Mary (and hyperdulia) as idolatry while they don't typically see Eucharistic adoration as idolatry. It is rather curious. I think it has to do with the expectation that the one you pray to will give you something or do something for you. When you "pray to Jesus through Mary," I suppose we see that as a situation where you're asking Mary to do something when you should be asking Jesus. But when you kneel before the Host, we might think you're not really asking it to do anything- or if you are, you're probably asking God to use it as a vessel of grace in order to do something that's fairly indecipherable to the Protestant mind. In any case, I suppose we don't perceive Eucharistic adoration as a clear-cut interaction that should be exclusive to you and God whereas we do view requests for heavenly comfort or aid as something that should be exclusive to the you-God relationship.

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  11. Quick addendum- it might also have something to do with the fact that the Host is an inanimate piece of food, whereas Mary is a person. A person you might run into at some point beyond this life- and while I don't believe she can hear you right now, I know there's a lot of Catholics who prayed to her and have since passed on. Can you imagine meeting her and finding out she couldn't hear you that whole time? What would she think of you?

    On the other hand....imagine if I met her in heaven and she definitively told me she was able to hear me that whole time. And that whole time, I was praying to her Son, who is God? Seriously? No, actually, I don't feel silly about that. At worst, it's a small misunderstanding, and if Mary is any kind of good person, she won't be someone who Demands prayer to/through her simply because it's possible.

    From the perspective of probability theory...well, it's something to consider, especially if you're the least bit agnostic as to whether or not Mary can hear you. It's like a reverse Pascale's Wager. That's how I think about it, anyway.

    Sorry, that was an addendum plus a tangent. Getting back to the addendum....if the Host is really just a piece of bread (and it is), there's zero chance that you'll meet up with it in heaven and have an awkward conversation. If it's some kind of misunderstanding (and it is), it's an impersonal one- between you and the wafer, at any rate. With Mary, it is personal.

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  12. That last one was supposed to be an addendum to something else I tried to post...it didn't go through, but it was kind of long. Are there character limits?

    I'll try it one more time in shorter form. I know you're pro-ecumenism, I know you favor friendship between Evangelicals and Catholics. Part of the reason that I raised that criticism was just fact-based. I think well-informed Protestants who know all about Eucharistic doctrine are less likely to call you an idolater than someone who's badly informed. I also think a post that strongly implies an inescapable link between well-informed disagreement and accusations of idolatry is not in the spirit of ecumenism and friendship. I rather tend to think it is opposed to that.

    Getting back to the fact-based portion of disagreement, take a look at Mark Noll (or anyone like him). He works at Notre Dame, so he's a particularly good example. He understands Eucharistic doctrine and church history at least as well as you, but I sincerely doubt he believe his students and colleagues are idolaters. I also think he's the kind of prof who would have been supportive of your studies that led you from Evangelical to Evangelical Catholic. I think he would have helped you along the way if he'd been there at Wheaton during your last two years there, and I very much doubt he would have called you an idolater by the time you got there.

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  13. Hey Mike,

    I wasn't very clear with you in my response, and I think was a little sidetracked from what your point really was anyway.

    Yes, I agree with you that the vast majority of evangelicals today would not be thinking of the Eucharist if they think that Catholics are idolaters.

    With that said, I'll repeat the principle I said in my last comment: regarding anything as God that isn't God is idolatry. I think that's pretty much a standard definition. If the Eucharist isn't God, then it's idolatry to regard it as God. Now, a well informed evangelical today might be more sympathetic to Catholics since they know that Catholics worship the Eucharist only insofar as they believe it to be Jesus. But idolatry is idolatry.

    "I also think a post that strongly implies an inescapable link between well-informed disagreement and accusations of idolatry is not in the spirit of ecumenism and friendship. I rather tend to think it is opposed to that."
    Perhaps to a certain extent, depending on the circumstances. But I'm just being honest about my Catholic beliefs. The Eucharist really is a make or break thing: either it's just bread and so worshiping it is idolatry, or its Jesus and we have to center our entire life around it.

    Regarding your thoughts about Mary and the Eucharist:
    Interesting thoughts about Mary. I see what you're saying. But what you're really advocating for is some sort of spiritual minimalism. I, on the hand, want the fullness and richness of the faith. Mary and the saints, and their prayers, really are a gift, and we lose out when we reject it. I do know though that Mary and all of the saints can hear our prayers because the Church teaches us so. I have no need to doubt the Church.


    "if the Host is really just a piece of bread (and it is), there's zero chance that you'll meet up with it in heaven and have an awkward conversation. If it's some kind of misunderstanding (and it is), it's an impersonal one- between you and the wafer, at any rate. With Mary, it is personal."
    Actually it would be a major major misunderstanding with Jesus, since you were worshiping a piece of bread instead of him. As I've said before, that's called idolatry and its a very serious sin.

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  14. "...I'm just being honest about my Catholic beliefs. The Eucharist really is a make or break thing: either it's just bread and so worshiping it is idolatry, or its Jesus and we have to center our entire life around it."
    You are being honest about your Catholic beliefs, and I don't want you to stop doing that. You are doing something else, though, and it has something to do with me. Effectively, you're telling me I should regard you as an idolater because of this disagreement. I understand the disagreement, it is a crucial disagreement whose importance I fully recognize, and I can certainly see why someone like me Might regard someone like you as an idolater. But that's not what's best for building any kind of relationship between Evangelicals and Catholics. Consequently, I conclude that I Should Not regard you as an idolater.

    I'm not entirely sure if we are in agreement on this. We both know it might happen. I hope we can agree that it should not. And that it's best if I do not.

    "Interesting thoughts about Mary. I see what you're saying. But what you're really advocating for is some sort of spiritual minimalism. I, on the hand, want the fullness and richness of the faith."
    I appreciate the kind words, but with respect, I don't think you saw what I was saying. I'm advocating a POV in which communication with the dead is not possible, and from that standpoint, you can hardly call it minimalism if you decline to do the impossible. But that's not the important part, because I do take your POV into account as well. The proposition that is central to the entire "Reverse Pascale's Wager" thought process is the idea that even if you're right and dead people (Mary and all the saints) can hear my prayers, I don't really miss out on anything. IOW, I don't accept the proposition that you have the fullness while I am lacking. Even if you are right about this.

    "it would be a major major misunderstanding with Jesus, since you were worshiping a piece of bread instead of him. As I've said before, that's called idolatry and its a very serious sin."
    My turn! I see what you're saying.

    But there's also something I don't see yet. Together, we recognize that there's reasons why I Might regard you as an idolater. But do you think I should? Or anyone else like me- like, for example, classmates or profs from Wheaton? Or acquaintances and pastors/teachers from the different churches you attended before converting?

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  15. Mike,
    I understand that you might not consider it ecumenical to say that people worshiping what you believe to be a piece of bread is idolatry. I can understand your reasons for that, and it's your choice. But let's consider whether or not it would be idolatry objectively speaking, whether or not it is expedient to call it that. Like I've said several times now, idolatry is regarding something as God that isn't God. If the Eucharistic host is not God, then to regard it as such, let alone actively worship it, is idolatry.

    "I'm advocating a POV in which communication with the dead is not possible"
    Is it not possible that God allows the saints in heaven to hear our requests for prayers? I don't see any reason why not. And the Tradition and the Church obviously support it. And the Bible doesn't say anything to the contrary. So I take the position that the saints can indeed hear our requests for prayers.

    " The proposition that is central to the entire "Reverse Pascale's Wager" thought process is the idea that even if you're right and dead people (Mary and all the saints) can hear my prayers, I don't really miss out on anything. IOW, I don't accept the proposition that you have the fullness while I am lacking. Even if you are right about this."
    If I am right that the saints can hear our request for prayers, which has been a part of the Tradition since the early Church, then to ignore it is to lose out on their prayers, as well as a major expression of the unity of the Body of Christ, whether it is here on earth or in heaven (remember, all Christians are a part of the one Body of Christ, and since there is only one, those in heaven are in the same Body of Christ as us here on earth)

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  16. "let's consider whether or not it would be idolatry objectively speaking, whether or not it is expedient to call it that."
    This isn't the first time I've had this kind of conversation, and I prefer not to call you idolatrous because I don't think it's factually accurate or an accurate representation of what you're doing. (FWIW, I think most Evangelicals are with me on this one- and this is good. The more the better). As much as I'm able to, I do this from a position of minimal ignorance. I try to be as well informed about what you're doing as you are.

    I'm getting the impression that you reach a different conclusion, but I'd prefer to see you lay it out explicitly. For yourself. I don't want to have that impression if you didn't intend to put it there.

    "Is it not possible that God allows the saints in heaven to hear our requests for prayers?"
    Is it not possible that God allows you to hear what the saints have to say?

    If you concede that it's possible, surely this means you are always able to hear every single thing that dead people say and do.

    "If I am right that the saints can hear our request for prayers, which has been a part of the Tradition since the early Church, then to ignore it is to lose out on their prayers, as well as a major expression of the unity of the Body of Christ, whether it is here on earth or in heaven"
    Consider the following.

    To be united to the Body of Christ is to guarantee that you will suffer. Suffering is a big part of being a Christian. This is Biblical, and Catholicism admittedly places a more appropriate amount of emphasis on it than Evangelicalism. Let's not get into redemptive suffering; this is just part one of a three-part proposition.

    Resolved, then; suffering is a huge part of being a Christian. Part two, then: All Christians are united in one Body, the Body of Christ. Yes, this includes dead saints and living saints alike. Although- although, as I will demonstrate in a moment- the living and the dead may be united in different ways, and they don't necessarily share in all the same things.

    Part three, and maybe you already saw this coming: There is no suffering in heaven. Zero. Zip. Nada. God promised. It isn't happening. To be in the presence of God is to suffer no more.

    Does this mean dead saints are somehow cut off from the Body? I should say not! Here's an interesting hypothetical- suppose dead saints did suffer while in the presence of God. In a certain sense, that would make us all alike in our Christ-Body membership. We are supposed to welcome suffering when it is for the sake of Christ. Why aren't they doing it too?

    Ok, here's the point I'm making. If dead Christians suffer, that makes them more like living Christians. But this slightly absurd hypothetical is clearly not any more "full" than the situation we now have. Likewise, dead Christians can't get to know living Christians the way living Christians can get to know living Christians, and dead folks can't communicate with living folks the way living folks can. Does this mean they're cut off in some way? No more than they are cut off for not suffering like we do. Are they any less united to Christ's Body? No more than they are less united for failing to suffer as we do.

    You say ignoring it means I lose out on an expression of unity. I can't ignore it if it's not happening, and the fact that it's not happening isn't cause for regret or complaint. Dead people are different from us in some ways. They don't suffer (we're no less united to them) and we can't have personal interaction with them (again, no harm to the unity).

    That's why I say this description is not any more "full," even if I am ignoring something that's feasible. Which it's not, and I'm therefore not ignoring it- I'm correctly assessing it for what it is.

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  17. Mike,

    I've already laid out explicitly regarding the idolatry. But I'll try to make it more so.
    1) Idolatry is regarding something as God that isn't God
    2) Evangelicals hold that the Eucharist does not substantively change into Jesus at Mass, but remains only bread and wine
    3) Catholics worship the Eucharist as God himself
    4) From the Evangelical perspective, Catholics worship something that is not God
    5) Combine point 1 and 4, Catholics practice idolatry

    Now of course, since I believe in the real presence, I don't think it's idolatry. But my point is that its a serious question. Either it's Jesus, and you have to center your whole life around it, or its not and to do so would be idolatry.

    In your response to my defense of asking the saints for their prayers, you only quoted and responded to the first line of my argument, not my full argument. Your point that just because something is possible it doesn't mean that it's true is obviously right, but that wasn't my full argument. Your engaging an obvious straw man. Here is what I wrote:
    "Is it not possible that God allows the saints in heaven to hear our requests for prayers? I don't see any reason why not. And the Tradition and the Church obviously support it. And the Bible doesn't say anything to the contrary. So I take the position that the saints can indeed hear our requests for prayers."

    Put more clearly:
    1) There's no reason to think that it's impossible for the saints to hear our requests for prayers (God can make that happen)
    2) The Tradition supports the practice
    3) The Church supports the practice
    4) The Bible doesn't say anything to the contrary

    continues...

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  18. Continued from above

    You're right that no one in heaven is suffering. But there's no connection between that and God allowing saints to hear our requests for prayers. You've simply pointed out that the saints in heaven are different from us, and then tried to say that therefore they can't hear our requests for prayers:

    "Likewise, dead Christians can't get to know living Christians the way living Christians can get to know living Christians, and dead folks can't communicate with living folks the way living folks can. "
    This is of course true, but again, I don't see how this relates to whether or not God allows saints to hear our requests for their prayers.

    "You say ignoring it means I lose out on an expression of unity. I can't ignore it if it's not happening, and the fact that it's not happening isn't cause for regret or complaint. Dead people are different from us in some ways. They don't suffer (we're no less united to them) and we can't have personal interaction with them (again, no harm to the unity)."
    The question we were talking about, started from your pascal's wager question, was whether a person misses out on anything if IT'S TRUE that God does allow saints to hear our requests for their prayers, not whether we are missing out on it if God isn't making it happened. I offered two answers to that question. But your response is to say that you don't miss out on it if it's not true because you can't miss out on something that isn't happening. You've missed the point.
    And again, yes it's true that the saints in heaven are different from us in some ways, such as they don't suffer as you've pointed out. But you haven't given any reason why God doesn't allow them to hear our prayers. You've merely stated that they don't, trying to draw some unknown connection between that and the fact that they don't suffer.

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  19. "I've already laid out explicitly regarding the idolatry. But I'll try to make it more so....Now of course, since I believe in the real presence, I don't think it's idolatry. But my point is that its a serious question."
    It's not a serious question. It's a false dichotomy that's formulated with the purpose of encouraging conversion from Evangelicalism to Catholicism by demonstrating that Evangelicals must either call you an idolater or convert to Catholicism. So far, you have done this without explicit or implicit acknowledgment of the "third way" that is most commonly chosen by Evangelicals, and you unnecessarily burn some ecumenical bridges.

    I respect the fact that you feel compelled to convert people, even if you are trying to convert other Christians. Nonetheless, you do have to approach Christians differently than you do non-Christians. You do continue to acknowledge a certain level of imperfect unity between us, and you need to keep in mind that most Evangelicals won't ever be like you- most of us won't convert to Catholicism. You're going to have to work out how that's going to work between us.

    Ultimatums along the lines of "Convert or call me an idolater" are not in anyone's best interest. Doing what's clearly best for the sake of ecumenism is reason enough. From your standpoint, it should be clear that the "third option" is the only one that's acceptable for the vast majority of Evangelicals- that is, the ones who don't convert but also don't hate Catholics. Here's what you should not be doing: Denying the existence of a third option and defending a position that is opposed to ecumenism. Here's what you should do: Explicitly acknowledge the third way, aka the ecumenical way, and outline your idea of what that should look like and how that can make sense. If you like, you can take a look at some of the ways it shows up among prominent Evangelicals, some of whom you've already met.

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  20. To your post:

    "Praise the Lord! That's great. I'll say a prayer for you. Are you in RCIA? When will you be received into full communion with the Catholic Church?"

    RCIA for me will begin in 2012 and my due date to be received is April 8 at the Easter Vigil. I am excited. Also, I've posted a recap of my meeting with my Protestant pastor.

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  21. Hey Mike,
    You didn't respond to any of my arguments. You've simply asserted there is a third way, seemingly because you don't like the choices that my argument has set up. You can't just ignore the facts, you must actually explain why there is a third way, not just that you wish there was a third way. This seems similar to non-Christians who say they like Jesus, but ignore his claims to be the Son of God (see CS Lewis' Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument). I didn't say that you have to hate Catholics, but only that you should take our beliefs seriously.

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  22. Brantly, you're arguing for the wrong side. Not the wrong side like the Catholic side and the Evangelical side, but the wrong side like what's good for Christianity as a whole and what's bad for Christianity as a whole.

    I do take your new beliefs seriously. And I also want what's best for Christianity as a whole. That entails a situation where we figure out a situation where we understand each other and disagree with each other, but I refrain from calling you an idolater.

    Get on the right side of this thing. You don't really want to live in a world where non-Catholics spurn you as an idolater, do you? Come up with something that works. Because right now, you're arguing in such a way that you're trying to prove this ecumenism thing can't work.

    Is that what you've decided on? Because if you have gotten to that point, it's not on me to make you change your mind. Ecumenical dialogue requires honest participation on both sides, not just mine. If you can't get on the right side of this thing, you kill the whole process.

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  23. For full disclosure here, I asked one of my Catholic theology professors whose also very involved in official ecumenical dialogue about this yesterday night after class. He thought that, if Catholics are wrong about the real presence, that what Catholics do/believe would not be idolatry, but more properly called blasphemy or sacrilege (or something else, he couldn't think of the term he was looking for on the spot). I wasn't entirely convinced by his reasoning at the time (it was some good points, I'll need to think about it more). But it would be a serious sin nonetheless.

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  24. Hey,

    What a fantastic post! This is something I have been thinking about for a while, in fact I had planned on blogging about eventually. But I would never have the time to go through the scripture and church fathers to this detail in order to make the point.

    In my journal I had referred to this as the "Evangelical Fallacy of Church History"; the idea that somehow Christianity went straight off the rails as soon as the New Testament was finished, and if it wasn't for the reformers we would have had 2000 years of heretical teaching and nothing else! (apart from a holy Remnant that somehow has remained faithful to Jesus but gone unnoticed all that time)

    This is the first time I have come across your blog (was directed here from Crossed the Tiber Blog). Will definitely putting a link to this on my blog: http://unorthodoxcatholic.blogspot.com/

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  25. Awesome post Brantly. Great comments from both you and Mike too.

    Mike - on your point about ecumenism and Christians / non-Christians... I see the point, but while we are all sincere Christians, one side or the other is in error. The hope of conversion is one of charity. That hope specifically is to lead our brothers and sisters out of error and into full communion.

    God bless you both. Keep the dialog alive (privately or publicly).

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  26. Hey Mike,

    I just noticed that two previous comments you had made had for some reason been marked as spam by Blogger. lol I think you mentioned something about a comment not being posted or something, so I think that's what happened. I moved them from spam and had them posted now

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  27. Believing that Christ is literally present in the Eucharist has some serious problems. For one, it would mean that Christ has 2 more natures i.e. bread and wine and for another it would mean an inanimate object is God.

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  28. Hey Anon,
    Transubstantiation says that the substance of the bread and wine change to Jesus, while the accidents remain. In other words, the "bread" and "wine" are no longer bread and wine, they are Jesus. It is not required that Jesus have more natures. Also, what you call an inanimate object is no longer an inanimate object, it is Jesus.

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  29. Brantly,
    What evidence is there that the bread is Jesus? If the bread is truly Jesus then it must have the characteristics of Jesus that we see in the gospels. What we see in the gospels is a man who can talk and do things. Does the bread communicate for example?
    If you say the bread is Jesus then that would mean the bread is deity. Would you agree?

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  30. Hey Anon,
    The evidence is from Scripture and the beliefs of the early Christians. Christians from the very beginning understood that Jesus and the Apostles had taught the doctrine of the real presence in the Eucharist, as his post demonstrates.

    "If the bread is truly Jesus then it must have the characteristics of Jesus that we see in the gospels. What we see in the gospels is a man who can talk and do things. Does the bread communicate for example?"
    You again misunderstand the Catholic position which I just explained. What used to be bread is changed into Jesus substantially, although its accidents (appearance) remain the same. So in appearance, what was bread and wine remain looking like bread and wine. What was bread and wine substantially becomes Jesus substantially.

    "If you say the bread is Jesus then that would mean the bread is deity. Would you agree?"
    Once the bread and wine are consecrated they are no longer bread and wine, they are Jesus. Bread is not God. Jesus is God. What appears to be bread is actually Jesus. When we worship the Eucharist we are worshipping Jesus.

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  31. Brantly,
    If the consecrated bread is Jesus then you are worshiping bread which is an inanimate object. There is no indication from the writings of Paul that the church would require Greek philosophy to understand the Lord's supper. No one in the NT understood it this way of "accidents" i.e. appearance. Also the disciples at the table did not take a literal view that the wine became blood. If they thought it did they would not have drunk it since the drinking of blood was forbidden by the law of Moses.
    This is why understanding Jesus to be speaking in metaphorical-symbolic language as He did in much of His teachings. When understood in this sense it avoids the problems that the RCC literal view.

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  32. Anon,
    Your first statement doesn't make sense. If it's Jesus then it's not bread, and I'm worshipping Jesus.

    Greek philosophy is not required to believe in the real presence, though the tools of Greek philosophy can help us to explain the doctrine with more precision.

    I'm not sure how you could know what the disciples were thinking at the Last Supper.

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  33. Brantly,
    If the bread is Jesus, then you are worshiping bread. When people worshiped the Lord Jesus in the gospels, were they not also worshiping Jesus the man also? Yes. They worshiped Jesus the God-man. They were worshiping both natures.
    The gospels tell us a lot what the disciples were thinking. Just read their reactions to the various situations we find them in. In regards to the last supper and the drinking the wine as if it were literally blood would have been forbidden by the law of Moses if they understood Jesus in a literal way. If they understood Jesus in that way they would have protested against Him because it was forbidden by the law of Moses. The fact that they did not, shows they did not understand what Jesus was saying in that way.

    This quote from Vatican 1 is problematic because Hebrews 10:11-14 tells us that Jesus made only one sacrifice for sin. It is never to be repeated as the mass claims to have happened thousands of times a day in the RCC.

    Do you think the apostles knew anything about transubstantiation? Do we have any examples in the NT of an apostle saying mass or anything like that?

    "1st Vatican Council, 1870
    Profession of Faith:
    Pope Bl John Paul II
    I profess that in the mass there is offered to God a true, proper and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our lord Jesus Christ; and that there takes place the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into his body, and of the whole substance of the wine into his blood, and this conversion the catholic church calls transubstantiation."

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  34. Anon,
    I think you might be a bit confused here. I don't think one worships a nature. One worships a person. We worship the person Jesus who has two natures.

    When we worship the Eucharist, we are worshiping Jesus. The bread is gone - though it continues to appear to be bread. After consecration, there is no bread left to worship. Only Jesus is there.

    You misunderstand/misrepresent the Catholic understanding of the sacrifice of the Mass. The one sacrifice of Jesus is re-presented at the Mass. It is not the Catholic belief that we are offering a new sacrifice of Jesus each time. We are offering the one sacrifice of Jesus 2000 years ago. In other words, Jesus' one-time sacrifice is made present at each Mass. (For more, see the Catechism paragraphs 1362-1372, particularly paragraphs 1366-1367)

    Regarding whether the apostles knew anything about transubstantiation: they probably knew as much about transubstantiation as they knew about the Trinity. If we had asked them what transubstantiation was, they wouldn't know what we were talking about. Transubstantiation is a later theological development that makes what the Church believed more explicit, clear, and precise, similar to the case of the doctrine of the Trinity. Though I don't know what the apostles understood at the last supper (they didn't understand a lot about Jesus before his resurrection), I certainly believe that they believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist after his resurrection/ascension.

    Regarding how the early Christians worshipped, the NT doesn't give explicit details, though we certainly know that they celebrated the Lord's supper (1 Cor 11), which remains the core of the Mass. We also have verses like Acts 2.42: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." Since revelation wasn't completed until all of the Apostles died, it's possible that the worship evolved over time and that by the time the apostles died, they were doing something much similar to the Mass.

    Really, the first detailed description of the worship of early Christians isn't until around A.D. 150 from St Justin the Martyr (partially quoted in the post, for more, see my post "How the Early Christians Worshipped" http://youngevangelicalandcatholic.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-early-christians-worshiped.html)

    Regarding your charge of the Eucharist violating the mosaic law: I could be wrong about this, so don't quote me on it, but the Eucharist is Jesus substantially by not materially. You are not taking into your mouth molecules of flesh and blood, though what appears to be bread has been changed substantively into Jesus.

    Really, much of this discussion so far has missed the point of the post, which was to show the historical/theological problems that those who reject the real presence as you do run into.

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  35. Here's a link to the section in the Catechism on the Eucharist as a sacrifice: http://old.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt2sect2chpt1art3.shtml#1362

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  36. I'm sorry I keep adding extra comments here! I forgot to mention, in response to your question about whether we have indication in the NT of the doctrine of the real presence, that the verses quoted in the post certainly seem to the indicate it.

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  37. Brantly,
    There is no way to say that the apostles taught transubstantiation nor that the Lord's supper was some kind of sacrament from the NT. Since they didn't, it points to the idea that Jesus was speaking about His supper in a metaphorical-symbolic sense. This would explain why the apostles did have to create a new office of priests to administer the supper as some kind of sacrament because they understood it the same way the OT Jews understood the passover. The OT passover was not a sacrament either.

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  38. Anon,
    The verses quoted in the post certainly seem to teach the doctrine of the real presence, including Jesus' words himself, "This is my body". And the earliest Christians of which we have records certainly understood the Christian teaching to be the real presence, as is demonstrated in the post as well, and they often pointed to those very Scriptures as proof of the real presence. The vast majority of Christians in history have believed in the real presence, even some of the Protestant Reformers. What you take to be obviously not the case (that the Scriptures don't teach the real presence) the earliest Christians and most Christians in history took to be the case (that the Scriptures do teach the real presence)

    I don't think I understand the last part of your comment, so you'll have to explain further.

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  39. Brantly,
    Not all Christians believed in the real presence. Take these couple of examples from Augustine:
    "The Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body” (Augustine, Against Adimant).

    He [Christ] committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood” (Augustine, on Psalm 3). "
    There was still controversy about what the nature of the bread and wine was up until the 12th century. Ratranmus, was monk at the monastery of Corbie and he wrote: "The bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ in a figurative sense" (De corpore et sanguine Christi)."
    Keep in mind that Christ explicitly promised His presence when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name. Matthew 18:20. The context for Matt 18 has nothing to do with the Lord's supper.
    My point about the OT passover was that when it was observed by the Jews it was not considered some kind of sacrament that imparted grace.

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  40. Your quotes from Augustine don't go against the real presence. The Eucharist certainly is a symbol, and Catholics believe that today. But it is not only a symbol. For Augustine believing in the real presence, see the quote above in the post.

    Yes, there was controversy (there's controversy still today), but as far as I understand the real presence has been the majoriy view by far, and was there from the very beginning (see the quotes in the post)

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  41. Hi Brantly, I just watched you on the Journey Home. Thank you for your faithful witness. It helps cradle Catholics like me want to know more about our faith and really live it. May God continue to bless you, guide you and use you powerfully to evangelise to Catholics, protestants and non-believers alike. Off topic, as per your discussion with Mike, I totally agree with you about praying for intercession and all your points including why you use the word idolatry if it is not Christ. Re intercessory prayers, I'm not sure if this is correct but believe the bible references the saints as "A cloud of witnesses" in Hebrews 12:1, and rather than speaking with the dead as Mike puts it, those witnesses cheer us on to our finish the race. No doubt, they would be praying for us to make it home with them. They are still a part of the church, and as we would ask for others to pray for us, why not ask our perfected older brothers and sisters. :)

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    Replies
    1. Chino,

      I'm honored you saw my interview and wanted to reach out to me. Thanks for the encouragement. God bless!

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