Does Calvin teach that the Church ceased to exist on account of the Eucharist?

Mar 10th, 2009 | By | Category: Blog Posts

Calvin’s high view of the church doesn’t allow him to make the claim that the true Church of Christ ceased to exist between the time of the Apostles and the 16th century. However, I recently came across something in the Institutes that throws a wrench into Calvin’s consistency.

In Institutes IV, 18, 7 Calvin writes:

I come now to the crowning point, viz., that the sacred Supper, on which the Lord left the memorial of his passion formed and engraved, was taken away, hidden and destroyed when the mass was erected.

Here’s the problem. According to Calvin, there are necessary conditions which must be met in order for a body to be reckoned as a “church”. Check out what he writes in Institutes IV, 1, 9:

With regard to the general body we must feel differently; if they have the ministry of the word, and honour the administration of the sacraments, they are undoubtedly entitled to be ranked with the Church, because it is certain that these things are not without a beneficial result. Thus we both maintain the Church universal in its unity, which malignant minds have always been eager to dissever, and deny not due authority to lawful assemblies distributed as circumstances require.

So here’s Calvin’s problem. As long as the Holy Mass was being celebrated, it “hid and destroyed” the Lord’s Supper. Consequently, that body (i.e. the Catholic Church) celebrating the Holy Mass could not be a “Church” according to Calvin’s definition since his definition includes “the administration of the sacraments”. Since the Holy Mass has been celebrated nearly without change since at least the days of Saint Gregory the Great (arguably before), then we have “no Church” from about A.D. 600 till the 16th century.

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  1. Taylor,

    Excellent point demonstrating the perplexity of Calvin. Sometimes I read Calvin and wonder “did he really understand what he was rejecting?” And other times it seems that he very well knew what he was rejecting.

  2. >Since the Holy Mass has been celebrated nearly without change since at least the days of Saint Gregory the Great (arguably before), then we have “no Church” from about A.D. 600 till the 16th century.

    As I recall transubstantiation wasn’t dogmatized until the late medieval period, quite a ways from AD 600. And while that was dogmatized Trinitarian baptism never ceased bringing members into the covenant, noting that Calvin (or any other magisterial reformer) never required rebaptism. Indeed he had no problem with his own baptism.

  3. Here’s maybe a possible option for Calvin: he might want to argue that the true Church needs to maintain word and sacrament to a sufficient degree, and that ‘sufficiency’ here means that at least some (but perhaps not all) of the Sacraments need to have been administered perpetually. We already know he was eager to defend the validity of baptism from the Apostles’ days to his, so perhaps he could rely on that sacrament alone. But I dunno; this seems implausible on several counts, not least among them the vaunted position of the Eucharist vis-a-vis the other sacraments. So maybe he’d do what he does with respect to the ‘articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae’ and hold that there were always at least some hidden pockets of Christians throughout history who didn’t really celebrate the Mass, despite the fact that we’ve got no evidence for this and much against it.

    Actually, as I think this over, it seemingly leads to the result that the nonexistence of the Church prior to the Reformation is overdetermined, at least potentially, by both the Eucharist/Mass issue and the justification issue. (On Luther and Calvin’s response to the question of how the pre-sola-fide-Church could exist qua Church see here.) And this is troubling, because what Calvin says in response to the latter (as above) really does seem a lot less plausible with respect to the former. I’ll have to think about this some more.

  4. Oh, I see that David has anticipated one of my suggested solutions while I was writing that.

    David, do you think Calvin would be content with the result that no valid Eucharist was celebrated, either from 600 onward or (if you like) for at least a few hundred years before Calvin? It seems to me that Calvin’s conservatism would make him pretty hesitant to make a claim like this.

  5. >David, do you think Calvin would be content with the result that no valid Eucharist was celebrated, either from 600 onward or (if you like) for at least a few hundred years before Calvin? It seems to me that Calvin’s conservatism would make him pretty hesitant to make a claim like this.

    I’m not the ultimate Calvin scholar but I think you’re probably right about that. Keith Mathison’s book on Calvin’s understanding of the Lord’s Supper is a good overview both of Calvin and what the Reformed world has done since his time re: the Lord’s Supper.

  6. Just because the idea wasn’t dogmatized during the medieval times does not mean it wasn’t a belief until that point. It just had no need to be specifically dogmatized because no one was creating controversy over it to the degree that the lay faithful would be confused as to the truth.

  7. Dear David,

    You responded to the assertion that, “the Holy Mass has been celebrated nearly without change since at least the days of Saint Gregory the Great,” by noting that, “transubstantiation wasn’t dogmatized until the late medieval period, quite a ways from AD 600.”

    I think this is your implied syllogism: (1) a doctrine does not exist until it is dogmatized, and (2) transubstantiation was not yet dogma in AD 600, therefore (3) the assertion that the doctrine of transubstantiation existed in AD 600 is invalid. If so, how do you respond to the challenge to your major premise, that a dogmatic proclamation does not bring a doctrine into existence, but merely makes it dogmatic? For instance, Trinitarian doctrine existed long before it was dogmatic — we might agree that, at least in its fundamental form, it existed (in the sense that was known) from the time of Christ’s resurrection. We would not disagree that Christianity has preserved Trinitarian doctrine even though it was not dogmatized until much later.

    I hope this doesn’t seem terribly picky; my experience has been that great care and precision are necessary when these types of claims or observations are made.

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  8. >Just because the idea wasn’t dogmatized during the medieval times does not mean it wasn’t a belief until that point.

    According to Mathison it was not a consensus belief anywhere near 600 AD. What I’ve read in the Fathers certainly does not reflect a consensus on transubstantiation (although I haven’t yet read nearly as much as I aspire to).

  9. >I hope this doesn’t seem terribly picky; my experience has been that great care and precision are necessary when these types of claims or observations are made.

    No, that’s entirely fair, thanks.

  10. On Transubstantiation not being a consensus in the early fathers, this requires a bit of qualification. Transubstantiation is a technical term dogmatized at Trent but in use well before then (in fact, its use by theologians pre-dates the re-introduction of Aristotle to the West lest anyone accuse Rome of canonizing his philosophy in support of Transubstantiation).

    Above and beyond this, though this particular term is not used in the early fathers, the doctrine is clearly there. The fathers are unanimous that:

    1. That the consecrated elements are the Body & Blood without qualification.
    2. That the consecrated elements are consecrated by the bishop or priest by delegation.
    A. Hence they were not always the Body & Blood (so a real change took place)
    B. They are not ‘Body & Blood’ by mere virtue of the assembly or the communal act of reception.
    3. The Host is treated reverently. Especially from the 4th century onwards (which is where the majority of our evidence is anyhow), we know that adoration aspects are present in the liturgy – especially Eastern. This makes sense only given a theology of the Eucharist similar to Transubstantiation.

    We will certainly have some in depth discussions about Transubstantiation here in the future.

  11. For an in-depth defense of the doctrine of “Transubstantiation” using the primary writings of the patristic fathers themselves and thoroughly interacting with the best secondary literature see James T. O’Connor, The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist. (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2005). For a Protestant / Anglican survey of the fathers (that they believed in the real presence) see the patristic scholar J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines. (New York: Harper Collins, 1978).

    In my opinion to deny the idea of Transubstantiation in the patristic fathers is a blatant distortion of the evidence that is available to us.

    ____________

    R. E. Aguirre
    Regulafide.blogspot.com

  12. Did the Fathers use the term metaousia to the describe the change? I have heard this claim, and if it is tru, then the Fathers indeed used a term which is the equivalent of Transubstantiation.

  13. Augustine said, “only the blessed bread becomes Christ’s body.”

    That is pretty compelling. Augustine was not blind. He knew the bread still looked like bread yet he says that after its blessed it ‘becomes Christ’s body.’

    “They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ’s body. ” (Sermons 234:2)

  14. Dear David,

    Thank you for the reply.

    “What I’ve read in the Fathers certainly does not reflect a consensus on transubstantiation (although I haven’t yet read nearly as much as I aspire to).”

    I think this is fair too. Handling the fathers also (maybe more so) demands care and precision, and I take claims that ‘the fathers all believed X’ with something like skepticism. I expect to see variation in (pre-dogmatic) belief, but we might agree that it can be hard to know how to interpret such variation.

    I wonder, though, whether setting “consensus” as the measure makes some big ecclesial presuppositions. Is consensus in the early church shown by more overseers/bishops for a proposition than against? (What if the beliefs of only a fraction were reduced to writing?) Do we really demand to see ‘wide consensus’ before being willing to believe that the early church believed something? Who gets a ‘vote’ in forming consensus? I simply mean to say that the ‘consensus’ argument begs the question about how early church authority, and leaves other difficult questions unanswered.

    I might pick up this Mathison book you have referred to. I know with his work on sola Scriptura, I was very excited while reading it, but then quite disappointed when I dug up the primary sources he discussed (though he generally discussed secondary sources who themselves handled the primary sources).

    Peace in Christ,
    Tom

  15. Perhaps we should steer the conversation back on track. In the context of the passage that I cited, Calvin is discussing how “the Mass” destroys the Lord’s Supper. He’s focusing on priests, altars, sacrifice, etc. and not so much on transubstantiation. For Calvin, the Mass means much more than the dogma of transubstantiation. This is what makes it so much more difficult for Calvin to straighten out his argument.

  16. Taylor, I admit I’ve only been reading the comments and just now getting around to reading the actual blog post. I have to say that the ‘mass’ in its primitive form was celebrated well before Gregory the Great. I don’t see any room for debate regarding the fact that the Christian liturgy was a sacrificial offering of the people of God from the earliest days of the Church. St. Cyprian speaks of the sacrificial liturgical action of the priest in the most explicit language conceivable around 250 AD and this is no innovation – only a more detailed theological account of what Christians had always believed they were doing at the Eucharistic celebration.

    I think your date of 600 is extremely generous. Even the Didache speaks of the Eucharist as a sacrifice.

  17. I think your date of 600 is extremely generous.

    He is being generous. But thats ok. The point still stands.

  18. Taylor, I’m glad you’ve redirected attention to the main thing, which is the sacrificial nature of the Mass and not transubstantiation as such. (Cf Luther, who reacted equally against the Mass but not against transubstantiation, unless you want to make a big deal about ‘tran-‘ and ‘con-‘.) Whatever variation with respect to expression/terminological formulation or even metaphysical understanding we find regarding the Eucharist in the early Fathers, it’s still true that they believed in the Real Presence and Tim’s right that the liturgical language is overwhelmingly sacrificial. It’s not without reason that Ignatius and Polycarp spoke Eucharistically about their own impending martyrdoms, for example, and it’s not accidental that Augustine sees the Body as offering itself, sacrificially, through the Eucharist in the Mass. It’s this larger framework, rather than the particular formulations of ‘transubstantiation’ or patristic ‘prooftexts’ that is so striking and so difficult to square with the idea that the Mass as sacrifice was a late medieval corruption. And it’s the sacrificial nature of the Mass and not transubstantiation per se that Calvin’s reacting against.

  19. Taylor,
    For Calvin, as you point out, so much hinged on obscuring Christ, which is the charge he leveled against the Church. The Mass with its incense, vestments, altars, priests, all obscured or hid Christ from the people therefore they needed to be expunged from the Liturgy and replaced with much simpler Rites. Of course, Calvin’s impulse is right; whatever obscures Christ should be rejected. The question is though, was Calvin right? Did (does) the Mass hide Christ?

    Calvin is, at times, hard to pin down (especially on the Sacraments). If I remember correctly he tells Cardinal Sadoleto, “I do not deny there is a Church among you.” Yet, as you demonstrate, he suggests that the Church is not a Church.

    Has anyone read Matthew Levering’s “Sacrifice and Communion”. He deals with Luther and Calvin in the work and the reasons for their rejection of the Mass.

  20. “Calvin is discussing how “the Mass” destroys the Lord’s Supper. He’s focusing on priests, altars, sacrifice, etc.”

    I am relatively new to Catholicism – I have been seriously studying it for a little over a year now. Last Lenten season I read through a few of the early church fathers and am doing so again. WIth regards to the “priests, altars, sacrifice, etc” and I’ll add in liturgy, it seems that at least in a few of the early churches these things were present.

    From the Didache (purported as one of the earliest apostolic documents if I am correct): “In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience.” To me this shows order, Liturgy. A Eucharistic prayer (though I do give room for translation, because undoubtedly these were are translated by Catholics so perhaps terminology is different): Before the Eucharist: “…Even as this bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom…But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said ‘Give not that which is holy to the dogs.'” After the Eucharist: “Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name’s sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through thy servant.” Concerning assembly on the Lord’s Day: “But every Lord’s Day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanks after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.”

    Probably the greatest impact in my faith in the Mass comes from St. Ignatius of Antioch (Antioch is where the first church was, where Christians first got their name) . He is thought to be a disciple of St. John (so I read, anyway, again, I’m new to all this). His various Epistles to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, and Smyrnaeans (I am sure there are more, these are just the ones contained in the Lent readings). Every single one of those epistles, except the Romans, has a section on adherence to the bishop and as a unified body, and I’ll quote a few:
    “Is is therefore befitting that..by a unanimous obedience ye may be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement, and may all speak the same thing concerning the same thing, and that, being subject to the bishop and the presbytery, ye may in all respects be sanctified.” (to the Ephesians)
    “As therefore the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and presbyters.” (to the Magnesians)
    “Take ye heed then to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to show forth the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, and with the presbytery and deacons…” (to the Philadelphians)

    What got me last year, and still gets me, is the COMMAND to do NOTHING without the church leaders. How far we have come. I can just dangle about in my own little beliefs and have no authority to look up to. But here, this man facing the beasts of Rome, is writing telling Christians to do NOTHING without the Bishop. It sounds more Papal to me than anything else I’ve come across.

    There are a lot more things that Ignatius says on the Eucharist, too, as being the flesh of Christ, but that’s not the direction Taylor is wanting the conversation. I only add that in because reading Ignatius severely softened my heart both to Papal authority and the Presence in the Eucharist.

    And if you want to read a BEAUTIFUL book on the Mass, read “The Lord’s Supper” by Scott Hahn. It’s easy to be distracted by things (altars, incense, etc) if the significance is not understood. It takes practice and, well, understanding.

    One last tidbit that actually ties into the discussion about the Mass hiding Christ. I would have to disagree. My little niece, more or less raised baptist, likes going to Mass because it’s visual – she can interact. Written texts weren’t available to the typical lay person – all was oral/aural/visual. To me, when I go to church, I see myself in Heaven – after all it is still the royal Kingdom of David, is it not?. Would all of those things have been like Heaven as well to illiterate, poor, hardworking Christians? Isn’t it just a little ironic that with the development of the printing press came the greatest schism in church history? (And I don’t mean that to be a slippery slope, I know the one did not cause the other, but rather that it greatly assisted). Yes the Catholic church was seriously abusing her power, and things did need reform, but not schisms.

    I hope this isn’t too convoluted. I digress. :)

  21. Hello Michelle. I share your enthusiasm for the early Church Fathers. I too am a novice in these matters, but one of the things that strikes me is how much “Catholic stuff” (bishops, primacy of the Roman bishop, Real Presence, sacrifice) is taken for granted by these great saints. Since becoming Catholic, I feel as though I can freely and fully live in that same life by which they lived, by means of the same graces which created and sustained that life in them. This is a wonderful mystery, the life of the Body of Christ.

    To me, when I go to church, I see myself in Heaven…, which is precisely where we are taken in the Divine Liturgy (Mass)–to the Heavenly Throne Room, and in the midst there is a Lamb, standing as though it had been slain, incense rising, angels looking on amazed, the Israel of God offering a perfect sacrifice to the Father, not the blood of bulls and goats. The unfathomable victory of God proclaimed, remembered, really present, every time and beyond time, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

  22. >What got me last year, and still gets me, is the COMMAND to do NOTHING without the church leaders.

    Of course this would put Athanasius outside the fold, would it not?

  23. David – Athanasius was a bishop and so had a particular privilege of his own.

  24. Hi, David.

    Tim’s right of course that Athanasius had these episcopal prerogatives, but the larger point you’re making is still an interesting and important one. There was a time (so the history books say), during the Arian crisis, when lots of bishops appeared to have been persuaded by Arius and that ilk. This was of course before a council set things straight (aided considerably by the efforts of the guy who stood contra mundum). But, as many have pointed out, the Christian faithful, the laity, were by and large not convinced. They couldn’t match Arius and his followers in terms of exegetical and argumentative prowess, but their collective Spidey-sense sure was tingling. (For a brief and very accessible recounting see Mark Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, Baker [2nd ed 2001]).

    However, I myself was surprised to learn that this isn’t an embarrassment for Catholics, but that Catholic theology not only has a place for this kind of thing but actually insists on it. That is, on the one hand, the Catholic Church says we need a shepherd (cf John 21:15-17) and an apostolate, a group of persons with conferred teaching and disciplinary authority over the kingdom Christ “covenanted” to them (cf. Luke 22:28-30). Sheep without a shepherd either scatter to the four winds or wander off en mass, and we’ve seen this occur in Church history time and again. This is however most emphatically not to say that what Catholic theology calls the sensus fidelium, or the overall “sense” of the Christian faithful regarding true doctrine and morals, is just a fiction or is simply irrelevant to what the Church lays down in her official decrees. (Indeed, as you point out, the providential influence of exactly this sensus fidelium during the Arian crisis shouldn’t be downplayed.) It is rather to say that the Body of Christ cannot make do with this alone, and that neither Scripture nor history supports the suggestion that it can. (If you like, it’s necessary, it’s a gratuitous gift, but it isn’t sufficient for all things Christ commands — unity and truth maintained together, for instance. For that we do need a valid episcopacy with an authority that must derive from Christ because it cannot be sui generis and cannot come from humans themselves.)

  25. David,

    only Eastern Orthodox and the Protestant Reformation have had real legs in terms of a continual, conscious visible presence.

    This is true and there is certainly something there. This demonstrates beyond refute that the Holy Spirit is active in these communities.

    Calvin certainly quotes liberally from the fathers and views them as an authority. But I fear that modern Protestantism has departed far enough from its own roots as to have little hope of returning.

  26. It is interesting to me taking a historical angle on the question of continuity that neither Luther nor Calvin viewed themselves as starting something new. Calvin viewed both the Church Fathers as well as medieval churchmen such as Bernard of Clairvaux as a a source of authority. (anyone else read “John Calvin Student of the Church Fathers: Student of the Church Fathers” by A. N. S. Lane (Author) A confessional Presbyterian or Lutheran can understand themselves to have a historic continuity with the early and medieval church (understanding that you disagree). Broad street evangelicalism/premillenial dispensationalism as found in places like the CMA, Brethren, Baptists, etc cannot claim that with any coherence and there almost never is any concern to do so in any case. Both the Reformed and Lutheran hold to the Real Presence in the Lord’s Supper (insert appropriate caveat for disagreement) and maintain the historic practice of giving their infants the sign of the covenant in baptism.

    It is interesting that of all the schisms and heresies that the Church has dealt with, from a Roman standpoint, that only Eastern Orthodox and the Protestant Reformation have had real legs in terms of a continual, conscious visible presence. Haven’t heard much from the Cathars or Albigenses lately. One might argue that Arianism, Gnosticism, and Pelagianism reappear in various guises but for institutional continuity those two are the only ones that have persisted.

  27. >But I fear that modern Protestantism has departed far enough from its own roots as to have little hope of returning.

    And I’m hoping you’re wrong but I’m afraid you may be right. Time will tell and as someone who aspires to be a good Calvinist I can remind myself that God is sovereign.

    There are stirrings though even on issues once thought to be purely RC such as the evils of contraception. There are an increasing number of families who are reminded that Luther and Calvin both described contraception as an abomination and that children actually ARE a blessing from God (it was there in the Word the whole time, you’d have thought we would have noticed faster). In fact Pastor Tim Bayly recently had an excellent essay on his blog entitled “Dead babies who don’t count: The Pill’s bloody future…”.

    As much of evangelicalism heads towards the precipice a remnant is eager to rediscover what the magisterial reformers taught which in turn leads them to the medieval church and Church Fathers. Growing up as a broad street evangelical we were taught the apostles were good, things went bad quickly and then the Reformers were good. But we never really examined what the Reformers believed very closely as it would have prompted some very embarrassing questions. Way too close to the Mormon narrative for my tastes. But there is some change, we’ll see where the Holy Spirit leads…

  28. When one makes the effort to find out what the Fathers actually believed about the so-called change of the elements, it turns out that by far the majority of them denied and refuted a literal identification of the bread and wine with the body of Christ. That is a simple fact. The Reformers published lists of the Fathers, with quotes, that showed that the Medieval Roman doctrine was an innovation. Just look them up. The Reformers were educated men, not Lone Rangers with a bee in their bonnets.

  29. Roger,

    Which fathers denied and refuted the literal identification of the bread and wine with the Body of Christ?

  30. Roger,

    I second Sean’s request. I’ve read nearly every ante-Nicene Christian text available and far from finding a majority which “denied and refuted the literal identification”, I haven’t found a single one. So you can’t make an unsubstantiated claim which is extremely controversial (most Christians now and through history disagree with you) and claim it is a “simple fact”.

    No one denies that the Reformers were well educated. Muslim scholars are well educated as well. But being well educated and being right are two different things.

  31. >I haven’t found a single one.

    In my much more limited reading I’ve not seen one that “denied and refuted.” But what I did find were much less technical discussions which could be just as easily be identified with the Calvinist concept of the Real Presence as the Roman Catholic, in some cases more so (not claiming objectivity of course). What is clearly incompatible with a reading of the Fathers (in my limited survey) is the memorialist/Zwinglian concept.

  32. I’d also like to know where to find the lists that the Reformers (which ones?) published of patristic fathers who refusted the literal presence of Jesus’ Body and Blood in the consecrated elements.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith makes no such appeal to the patristic but it does appeal to ‘commen sense.’

    This is the second time I’ve seen somebody make this claim. The first were Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie in “Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences.”

    The quote from that text is:

    “….appeal to the church fathers to support the Trentian dogma of transubstantiation is poorly grounded for many reasons. First, as even Catholic scholars admit, the Fathers were by no means unanimous in their interpretation, and yet Trent speaks of the ‘unanimous consent of the Fathers’ as the means of determining true apostolic tradition. But some Fathers clearly opposed the idea of taking literally the phrase ‘this is my body.’ (Roman Catholics and Evangelicals by Geisler/MacKenzie, page 263, emphasis added)

    However, Geisler and MacKenzie do not tell us or cite these apparently unknown fathers who clearly opposed the literal view. No citations. No quotations. Not even any names. Odd isn’t it?

    In terms of the Calvinistic sense being read into the Patristic evidence. I suppose its possible but it takes some creative thinking. When Augustine says, “Only the blessed bread becomes Christ’s body” it is hard to argue that he is rejecting the literal interpretation.

  33. I’d be pleased to see that as well, albeit possibly with different motive. The WCF provides scriptural context for its assertions but not patristic ones (at least that I’ve seen, I’ve not read every footnote in the versions that include the proofs).

  34. David,

    The Catechism provides scriptural context too.

  35. The Fathers reject the Capharnaite heresy, according to which Jesus cuts off parts of His body and gives them to us. Some people don’t see the middle position between mere “spiritual presence” on the one hand, and Capharnaitism on the other hand, and hence in rejecting Capharnaitism conclude that mere spiritual presence must be correct. But the middle position is the Catholic position. A few years ago I collected some quotations from the Fathers on the subject of the Eucharist here.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  36. Roger,

    That’s a bold claim!

    I too would love to see this “Patristic list of quotes from the Fathers”.

    Here’s another Catholic list of quotes for the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist:

    http://www.scripturecatholic.com/the_eucharist.html#tradition-I

  37. I too would love to see this patristic list. I have read all the primary writings of the fathers as well as the secondary scientific literature on this subject. No patristic scholar, Catholic / Orthodox / Classical Protestant would make this claim. We would love to see this list of “quotations” but not of course ripped from their contexts and spun to fit a pretext.

    _________

    R. E. Aguirre
    Regulafide.blogspot.com

  38. Hello Tim,

    I just recently ‘discovered’ this new site, and as such, this thread. This topic is of keen interest to me—back in the mid 90’s I delivered a lecture on, “THE APOSTASY – A HISTORICAL & BIBLICAL VIEW”, and included Calvin’s view/s.

    Now, with that introduction of sorts, I would like to briefly comment on the of the quote you provided in you opening post:

    “I come now to the crowning point, viz., that the sacred Supper, on which the Lord left the memorial of his passion formed and engraved, was taken away, hidden and destroyed when the mass was erected.”

    Something just did not seem right, so I did a bit of research and found that you used Beveridge’s translation (a translation I did not own, but was able to find online). I am going to provide three other English translations (and a Latin version), and would like to see it you (and anyone else) can pinpoint the somewhat important difference:

    Now I come to the end: namely, that the Sacred Supper (in which the Lord had left graven and inscribed the remembrance of his Passion) has been taken away, destroyed, and abolished by the raising up of the Mass. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.18.7, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Westminster Press ed., p. 1435.)

    I come now to the concluding observation; that the sacred supper, in which our Lord had left us the memorial of his passion impressed and engraven, has, by the erection of the mass, been removed, abolished, and destroyed. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.18.7, trans. John Allen, 7th American ed., 2.719.)

    …is by the fetting [setting] up the Maffe [Mass], taken away, defaced, and deftroyed [destroyed]. (John Calvin, Institution of the Christian Religion, 4.18.7, trans. Thomas Norton, 1634 ed., p. 707.)

    Ad coronidem nunc nunc venio, nempe sacram Coenam, in qua Dominus passionis suae memoriam insculptam formatamque reliquerat, erecta Missa e medio sublatum, inductam et deperditam…(Ioannis Calvini, INSTITUTIO CHRISTIANAE RELIGIONIS, 1834 ed., p. 446.)

    Grace and peace,

    David

  39. Ooops…I meant hello Taylor…

  40. Hi

  41. Hello All,

    My name is Jeremy Tate, I am currently a student at RTS in D.C. I think I am in the process of being convinced of the Catholic Church in general, but especially on this point. I am more of a historian than a theologian (I currently teach high school history) and I was shocked to discover that my Reformed position did not line up with the teachings of the Church Father. The Catholic position is still a little crazy for me, but it seems to match up with Scripture and Church History far more than anything we’ve produced in Protestantland. Cheers, Jeremy

  42. Welcome Jeremy. Please stick around and comment often.

  43. Hi, David:

    Just noticed that your question was left hanging.

    I should probably go back and review the entire context, but from the Latin and the various translations I don’t see that the translation Taylor provided is inadmissible, or that it necessarily involves an equivocation of meaning. Looking these over (again, without reference to context) the only thing that occurs to me right now is that there might be a possible way of reading the other translations as if they contained an implicit conditional, like so: “whenever the Mass is erected, in that instance, the sacred supper upon which Christ left the imprint of His passion is taken away.” I guess this would be consistent with the claim that the Mass hasn’t necessarily been erected everywhere (or, at any rate, erected in an imprint-defacing way everywhere), so that the celebration of Eucharist has properly continued throughout the history of the Church, even though it is very frequently obscured in places where the Mass is erected? In other words, whereas Taylor’s translation looks to imply that there was some date in the past at which the sacred supper was destroyed and the Mass was set up in its place, the other translations allow for more nuance, merely claiming that the Mass has destroyed the sacred supper at some times and in some places. Is that the idea?

    Neal

  44. David,

    Just saw your post on this. Okay, so Beveridge inserts “hidden.” From the sound of it, that only means that Taylor’s translation weakens his point, because the other translations would just strengthen the claim that the true Eucharist wasn’t just hidden away in pockets (as my silly conditionalized reading suggests!) but that it was just out and out destroyed, removed. Or am I completely off the mark here?

    Neal

  45. As a former Roman Catholic, educated by Jesuit priests at Canisius High School and Canisius College both of Buffalo New York, it greatly disturbs me that the defenders of the RC Church turn a blind eye to the Bible’s prohibition against eating blood. Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:10 are two cases of this prohibition. To argue that these verses refer only to animal blood fails violates the text. The Lord Jesus was a Jew, speaking to Jews, when He said in John 6:53 “In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (NJB). He would not tell Jews to violate the Torah. He was speaking symbolically not literally. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as practiced by the RC Church is a Lie. Christ cannot be sacrificed again and again. Read Hebrews 9:26, “As it is, he has made his appearance once and for all, at the end of the last age, to do away with sin by sacrificing himself. “(NJB)

  46. J Roach,

    Thank you for visiting and thank you for your comment.

    First, the Holy Church doesn’t teach that Christ is “sacrificed again and again”. Given that Jesuit educational institutions have been rather liberal and lax in the last several decades, maybe you were taught wrongly or poorly. This view of “re-sacrifice” was condemned by the Council of Trent. Christ offered Himself once on cross. This same sacrifice is made present (not repeated!) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    Getting back to your main point. The Old Testament forbids the consumption of blood because “the life is in the blood” (cf. Gen 9:4). Sit back and think about this. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Humanity needs life.

    Humans were not to receive blood in anticipation of *the* blood that gives life. Christ refers to this when he proclaimed in John 6:53 (the verse you quoted!) “In all truth I tell you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, **you have no life in you**.”

    Moreover, Christ offers the cup of his Blood as “the cup of the Blood of the New Covenant”. Thus, this is the great and fundamental shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (of Christ’s Blood).

  47. J Roach,

    I believe that this is also the passage that Jehovah’s Witnesses use for their prohibition against blood transfusions.

  48. J Roach,

    If I may piggy-back on Taylor’s reply, Jesus clearly said in Mark 7:15 “Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.” Using your test, Jesus must have been speaking figuratively since the opposite was unambiguously understood from the Torah; i.e. there are things outside a man which can make him unclean; namely, blood and unclean food. But a symbolic interpretation in Mark 7:15 is simply unintelligible and would be completely irrelevant given the context of Jesus giving His disciples permission to eat with unwashed hands. In short, He obviously is speaking literally here and it is solely on these grounds that we have authority now to eat unkosher food. Jews in recent times had been tortured to death rather than eat pork. This is no small claim Jesus is making.

    Now, the Jewish Christians did not originally understand this as a license to eat blood and unclean meats (see Peter’s dream in Acts) and even at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, the prohibition against eating blood is judged by the Church to stand. But Mark’s gospel, which is almost certainly written after the Jerusalem council, goes on to say in verse 19, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.”

    Also, as Taylor pointed out, it does no good to point to your qualified education and then grossly misrepresent Catholic doctrine.

  49. I know she has some theological issues, but as my favorite American author, I can’t but quote the wisdom of Flannery O’Conner here, “Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mary McCarthy said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one.”I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defence I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the centre of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.” I enjoy the conversation.

    In Christ, Jeremy

  50. Thank you Taylor, Sean, and Tim, for your civil replies. I am still thinking and praying about them. And I am praying for you. There were (and still are) many kindnesses that my former Jesuit teachers showed to me and I still respect them. If there is any good in this world, it comes ultimately from a loving God who sent His Son to die for sinners like me. I think on this and other bases, we have common ground. However, I stake my life on the Scripture as God-breathed (inspired) and inerrant in its original manuscripts. The delusion of the Roman Catholic church is that of misinterpretation of, and at times outright denial of, the meaning and importance of Scripture. I expect you to strongly differ but I am just being forthright with the hope that you will give me a hearing. To God be the glory, if there be any.

    Taylor, in what sense can you say that “same sacrifice is made present (not repeated!) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” To make a sacrifice present, is it not to make the sacrifice real? If then, it is a “real sacrifice” , is it not a rendition of the first sacrifice? If it is not a rendition, then in what sense exactly is the “Holy Sacrifice” a true sacrifice? I am not trying to play a word game, but merely trying to clarify the meaning of your speech.

    Sean, I am not a Jehovah’s Witness. I believe in the Deity of Christ and am not against blood transfusions. I will not try to stereotype you, so I ask the same favor of you.

    Tim, your point is interesting and I need more time to fully digest it. Here is what I think so far. Looking at Mark 7:15, the Lord said, “Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean.” (NJB)
    Nothing in this verse abrogates the prohibition against eating blood (Leviticus 17:10). Yet you evidently want to use it in defense of a literal interpretation of John 6:53. My point is that the Lord Jesus Christ was not urging us to eat His literal flesh and drink His literal blood. Jews of His day did not all understand that point and began to leave Him. What I am claiming is that Jesus is the Manna come down from Heaven in the sense that we must draw our spiritual nourishment from Him alone. How do we do that? Through taking in (eating, in the symbolic sense) His very words. His words have a life in them that is not in an ordinary word or speech. And His words will not pass away, try as man will to diminish them or obliterate them. “Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. “(Luk 21:33) All my quotations are from the New Jerusalem Bible, Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

  51. J Roach, I don’t want to triple-team you here, that’s a bit unfair. Thanks for taking the time to digest my points. I’ll let the others respond to your other points and offer a few corrections:

    Nothing in this verse abrogates the prohibition against eating blood (Leviticus 17:10).

    If there is any confusion from verse 15, verse 19 abrogates it explicitly as I pointed out above.

    you evidently want to use it in defense of a literal interpretation of John 6:53

    Yes but only indirectly. I have a bad habit of assuming my point is clearer than it really is. Here it is:

    Your argument (I take) is:

    1. OT prohibits blood
    2. Jesus cannot contradict OT
    3. Jesus said “Drink My Blood”
    4. Therefore, Jesus is speaking figuratively

    I think it’s false because the following parallel argument is clearly false:

    1. OT prohibits blood & unclean meat
    2. Jesus cannot contradict OT
    3. Mark explains that Jesus declares all food clean in 7:19
    4. Therefore, Jesus was speaking figuratively & Mark misunderstood

    This is false because a) it is incredibly obvious that Mark 7 is literal b) it would disprove the inerrancy of Mark.

    Also, the Catholic reception of the Eucharist does not amount to a violation of Torah anyhow. We can talk more on that later though.

  52. Hi, J:

    I’m glad you’ve got some fond memories of your teachers; I wonder, though, whether they didn’t leave something to be desired with respect to some of their instruction. You say that the Catholic Church denies the importance of Holy Scripture. Perhaps you just mean that the Church “denies” it on a practical level or something, because you don’t think Scripture occupies the central place it should in the life of Catholics. And perhaps there is some truth in that allegation. But if you mean that the Church denies the importance of the Bible in some literal sense, I guess I’d be interested in seeing where you believe the Church does this, and would also be interested in seeing why you don’t view documents like Dei Verbum or the recent Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church (for just two examples) as repeatedly stressing the importance and centrality of sacred Scripture. What I see, in reading these, is something I think you would agree with: a clear insistence on the inerrency and importance of Scripture, on which we as a people stake our claims.

    Your other objections really come down to one: the Catholic Church misinterprets “and denies the meaning” of certain Biblical texts, you say. But if the Church denies “the meaning” of the Bible, that’s just to say the Church is misinterpreting it. I understand this position – I used to take it too – but this, I think, is the sort of claim that needs to be argued for and thought through carefully. So far as I can see, your argument against the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence relies fundamentally on the following general principle: if Christian teaching on a particular point is in conflict with something the Torah says, then the Christian teaching on this point is wrong. But, whatever exactly we want to say about the continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants, you surely do not want to accept this principle in its full generality. You would not, for instance, want to say that St Paul and the Acts 15 Council were wrong to deny the necessity of circumcision for covenant membership/salvation, or that the Church is wrong to assemble on the Lord’s Day as opposed to the Sabbath; yet both of these flagrantly ‘violate’ what the Torah specifically says God demands of His people. Since you don’t (I’m assuming) think there is anything wrong with the Church’s teaching on circumcision or assembling on the Lord’s Day, it follows that you do not accept the general principle upon which your previous argument relies.

    So, in order to run an argument from the “no blood laws,” etc., what we’re going to need is a principled reason to think that, in this particular case, the principle must hold, and we’re going to need to show why that is true in a way that lets us avoid unprincipled or inconsistent applications of the prooftexting method you are using here.

    To be clear: I think the question you are raising really is a good question that deserves a good answer. But, so far forth, it’s just a question; it does not (so far as I can see) amount to a successful ‘prooftext’ or ‘Bible verse’ refutation of a doctrine that has quite an impressive historical pedigree behind it, to say nothing of its Scriptural grounding.

    Peace in Christ,

    Neal

  53. J Roach,

    I wasn’t inferring that you were JW. I am just saying that there is even another interpretation of those passages. At the end of the day how do you know that your interpretation of those passages is correct while the JWs are wrong?

    The delusion of the Roman Catholic church is that of misinterpretation of, and at times outright denial of, the meaning and importance of Scripture.

    How do you know that your interpretation of scripture is correct and the Catholic interpretation wrong?

  54. To Tim Troutman,

    Your argument is specious. James, in the Jerusalem council, has the last word with his statement that converted Gentiles should refrain from eating blood. ” It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to impose on you any burden beyond these essentials: you are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from illicit marriages. Avoid these, and you will do what is right. Farewell.’ (Act 15:28 – 29 NJB) If blood were perfectly fine to drink, James would surely disagree. It is interesting that you chose to focus on foods that are forbidden to eat. The Roman Catholic church declared it a sin to eat meat on Friday when I was young. What serious student of the Scripture would be able to find a basis for such a command in the Bible? It was “only” a venial sin, true, but we still had to confess it. Today, Roman Catholics can eat meat on Friday, no problem. Did God change the rule about this being sin? It would seem so, to the Catholic. But hear Saint Paul, “The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times some will desert the faith and pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils, seduced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are branded as though with a red-hot iron: they forbid marriage and prohibit foods which God created to be accepted with thanksgiving by all who believe and who know the truth (1Ti 4:1-3 NJB) Here not only do we touch upon the subject of food, but on the subject of celibacy. That’s a subject for another day!

    Neal,
    Thank you for your thoughtful response. Christ was a Jew, speaking mostly to Jewish people. He was not received because they were not looking for that kind of a Messiah. Since God wrote both OT and NT, and Jesus is God (Isaiah 9:6) , how did He view the OT/NT connection? “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. (Mat 5:17 NJB) “In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Luk 21:31-33 NJB) As I just mentioned to Tim Troutman above, the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem did not believe that the Mosaic sacrificial system should be imposed upon Gentile converts. But, James said in Acts 15, these converts should abstain from blood. Was James intending to exempt the eating of Christ’s blood? The NT does not support that interpretation.

    Sean,
    Your question is well taken. You say, How do you know that your interpretation of scripture is correct and the Catholic interpretation wrong? My answer is to “pore over the scriptures, believing that in them you can find eternal life; it is these scriptures that testify to me” (Joh 5:39 NJB) Let us assume that God wrote the scripture and that He wants us to understand it. Then there is such a thing as misunderstanding the scripture in the sense that I may think it says one thing in one place, but my thinking appears to contradict the teaching of scripture in another place. Now, of course there is the postmodernist approach which views communication as essentially suspect and even perhaps unknowable. I don’t think you are taking that viewpoint, are you? If a person really wants to understand the teaching of the Bible, then the Lord had this to say to him: “My teaching is not from myself: it comes from the one who sent me; anyone who is prepared to do his will, will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own account.” (Joh 7:16 -17 NJB) So, Sean, if you or I really want to know, we can know. If your interpretation or my interpretation is wrong, then Scripture will contradict us both. So, the JWs are wrong because they contradict, among many things, Isaiah 9:6. As far as the Roman Catholic church, it is wrong because it fails, among many things, to agree with Scripture: “He answered, ‘And why do you break away from the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? (Mat 15:3 NJB) Don’t drink blood, Sean. What did Peter have to say about the blood of Christ? Speaking to Christians, he wrote “For you know that the price of your ransom from the futile way of life handed down from your ancestors was paid, not in anything perishable like silver or gold, but in precious blood as of a blameless and spotless lamb, Christ. (1Pe 1:18 -19 NJB) Peter is telling us that the blood of Christ did not perish, it was not lost. Therefore it must physically exist somewhere. I believe it is in heaven with His glorious Body. It cannot be recreated on earth to form part of a ritual, a tradition.

  55. Hi, J:

    Thanks for your response.

    I think maybe I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. My worry simply concerned the structure of your argument. I am aware that Jesus was a Jew, and I believe in the unity of the Two Testaments, both penned by the same Divine author, to be interpreted with reference to the covenantal economy that unifies them. So I think we’re cool about that. What I was objecting to was the prooftext reference to the OT to establish the falsity of the doctrine of the Real Presence, and noting that you do not (I’m assuming) accept such arguments when it comes to things like circumcision or Sunday worship.

    I’ll let Tim et al. deal with your most recent concerns; for my part, I’m simply trying to get us all to explicitly recognize the forms of argument we are using, and trying to be sure that we are all being consistent and principled as we think through these issues together. My worry is that the argument form you are using is precarious and cannot be accepted without explaining precisely why, in this case, the argument form should hold up. Pointing out that Jesus is a Jew does not amount to a defense of your argument, for the reason that Jesus’ being a Jew (and speaking with Jews) could also be used by a person to prove that St Paul was wrong about circumcision, etc. Does that make sense?

    You now seem to be structuring your case around the prohibitions in Acts 15, which changes the argument (and makes it better!). Again, I’ll let the others deal with this, if you can agree that we must be sure that we are arguing in a consistent fashion, rather than selectively finding OT verses to disprove some things, and then passing over other OT verses when we want to believe other things that conflict with them.

    Neal

  56. J Roach,

    You said that my argument was specious but then went on to destroy an argument that I never made. This is called a straw-man fallacy. If you’ll re-read my argument, you’ll see that it does not have anything to do with the Jerusalem council. I mentioned it in my first reply but only as a side note. Notice that I explicitly stated there, “at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, the prohibition against eating blood is judged by the Church to stand” so its apparent that agreeing with me there will not refute my argument or prove it specious.

    So first, let’s leave the Jerusalem council out because it has nothing to do with my argument. Can you re-read my second reply and tell me if you disagree with my argument? If you do, then please explain why.

    As for the Jerusalem council, many people don’t understand this pronouncement because they don’t understand Jewish dietary laws. The Jews understood (and understand) the prohibition against blood to be against blood in meat first and foremost. It wasn’t a prohibition against blood smoothies. Notice the text, it says “eat blood” not “drink blood”. Now it would have included a prohibition against taking a glass of blood and drinking it, but that’s not what they’re talking about in Leviticus or in Acts 15 because well, no one was planning on doing that. The prohibition against blood in meat is the reason behind the particular laws on the manner in which animals had to be slaughtered.

    So Jesus says ““Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean.” Can drinking blood make you unclean or not?

    The prohibition against eating meat on Fridays during Lent is a disciplinary instruction – a corporate fast (for the whole Church). The sin is not that you’ve done something which is objectively in and of itself a sin, (eat meat on a Friday) but that you have disobeyed the instruction of the Church. The strict discipline has been lifted although we are still expected to fast in some way on Fridays during Lent. This is an ancient custom in the Church. The 2nd century Church fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.

    On marriage, the Catholic Church does not forbid marriage so that verse clearly doesn’t refute the Catholic Church’s position. But the irony here, as Jaroslav Pelikan has pointed out, is that while the Catholic Church, like Christ and Paul, does indeed hold celibacy in a higher honor than matrimony, it was matrimony, not celibacy that was esteemed a sacrament.

  57. That is a problem. Calvin does seem to be inconsistent at this point. He was not an Anabaptist, so he did believe the baptism remained valid through all those centuries.

    This will be interesting to look in to some more.

    In Christ,
    Kenith

  58. J Roach,

    So, Sean, if you or I really want to know, we can know. If your interpretation or my interpretation is wrong, then Scripture will contradict us both.

    And you don’t think that anybody could find any apparent contradictions from scripture in your interpretations?

    We’ll be getting into sola scriptura in detail soon and I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and derail this thread but basically your position is, “I know my interpretation is right because I don’t think there are any contradictions. ” My basic response is, “That is your private opinion. I see many contradictions in your position including the fact that you say John 6 is only symbolic when Jesus says in plain words that it is his flesh ‘indeed.'”

    The very fact that you believe truth is derived from scripture alone is a contradiction because scripture itself does not claim this and scripture says that the pillar and foundation of truth is the church. (1 Tim 3:15) Scripture also says that we should obey the traditions which we received from the apostles whether by letter or oral teaching.

    So, clearly, individuals trying to divide the word and come up with the fewest contradictions is not the best way in determining which interpretation is true.

  59. J Roach, I have demonstrated that “Real Presence” does not violate Torah here.

  60. In addition, the reason one shouldn’t eat blood is that it contains life, and life is the property of God — and that would say that one took that life as one’s own. But in Christ we receive His blood, without Him dying, and we receive His life and His salvation.

    J Roach, you write:

    Taylor, in what sense can you say that “same sacrifice is made present (not repeated!) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” To make a sacrifice present, is it not to make the sacrifice real? If then, it is a “real sacrifice” , is it not a rendition of the first sacrifice? If it is not a rendition, then in what sense exactly is the “Holy Sacrifice” a true sacrifice? I am not trying to play a word game, but merely trying to clarify the meaning of your speech.

    Yes, the Eucharist is a “real sacrifice.” But not a new sacrifice. It’s the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the Cross. But I believe that your problem with it, is that you might be seeing it as a sacrifice as something that happened in the past, but in Hebrews the sacrifice is seen as everlasting. Therefore, if we receive it, we receive the same sacrifice. You should also think about the fact that the Paschal lamb had to be consumed.

  61. J. Roach,

    I assume that you believe that when you were justified by God that you were “washed in the blood of the Lamb.” Yet does this recent washing in the blood (I’m assuming you were justified at least in the last several decades) imply that Jesus died “again” in that moment and that His blood was offered again to the Father and applied to you at the moment of your justification?

    Of course not.

    The one and single sacrifice of Christ was made present in you (by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood) but that does it mean that this sacrifice was “repeated”. A fortiori the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is called a sacrifice as early as the Didache and arguably in Paul and in the anonymous Hebrews.

    I hope that helps.

    Taylor

  62. Taylor,

    I agree with Tim (in #16) that you were being generous, and that the implications of your argument are more severe for Calvin than you claim. In addition to the Didache, Tim has collected a helpful list of patristic quotations affirming the sacrificial character of the Eucharist — see the section titled “Proof of the Sacrificial Priesthood” in his “Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood” article. The notion of the Eucharist as sacrifice among Christians presupposes that the Eucharist is Christ, and that the Eucharist is a participation in Christ’s one sacrifice on Calvary. It wouldn’t make sense to go from offering the sacrifices of bulls and lambs prior to Christ’s death, to offering as sacrifices mere bread and wine after Christ’s death. Offering mere symbols as sacrifices wouldn’t make sense, nor is that how the Church Fathers speak of the Eucharistic sacrifice. So it does not matter that the term ‘transubstantiation’ was not used at the time; the early Church understanding and practice of the Eucharist as sacrifice is the mass, and was there not just from AD 600, but at least from the second century, and thus presumably in the first as well, as, for example, St. Ignatius speaks of the Eucharist similarly at the end of the first century in his epistle to the Smyrnaeans.

    Scott Hahn explained recently that for the Christians of the first two centuries, the Eucharist was the New Testament. See the video clip below:

    But if the Eucharist were not the sacrifice of Christ, it would not be the New Testament; it would be only a representation of the New Testament. So given this evidence I think the conclusion of your argument is even more severe for Calvin’s position than you have stated.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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