Corresponding with James McCarthy

by SDG

in Uncategorized

SDG here, belatedly responding to a number of requests I received a few months back when Jimmy mentioned on the air that I had once corresponded with anti-Catholic apologist James McCarthy.

Here’s the background: In 1992, James McCarthy’s video “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith” was first coming out under the banner of a group called Lumen Productions (read a short critique of the video from Catholic Answers).

In November 1992 I contacted McCarthy to express my objections to this project. (This was only a few months after I was received into the Church, though I had been researching and reading about the Faith for years, and had just begun my graduate work at St. Charles Borromeo.)

McCarthy sent me a free official transcript pamphlet based on the video, and we subsequently exchanged a series of letters. During the course of this exchange McCarthy sent me his pamphlet “The Mass: From Mystery to Meaning” as well as manuscript drafts from The Gospel According to Rome, which he asked me to critique from a Catholic perspective. (Just last night Jimmy mentioned to me that he had recently run across a text I wrote in those days in which I critiqued The Gospel According to Rome. I had forgotten all about writing that critique, so I’ll be looking over that in the (hopefully near) future, and perhaps posting here any points worth making public.)

In my first letter, I quoted the words of Martin Luther: “One thing I ask, that neither truth nor error be condemned unheard and unrefuted.” I wrote that I appreciated the research that went into the project, and commended them for turning to good Catholic apologetical and catechetical works as well as ecumenical councils as sources. On the other hand, I added, “precisely because your sources were so good, I fail to understand how this pamphlet could contain some of the simple factual errors that it does.” After pointing out numerous instances of misstatements and distortions of Catholic teaching in Lumen’s video project “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith,” I concluded in my closing paragraph:

In short, the video appears to be aimed at Catholics whose faith is shallow, ill-informed, and unstable, who will not realize that there is anything more to the issues than you have presented here. It seems to seek to make a case that will appear unanswerable and unarguable to those who have never heard the arguments and answers. It looks like its purpose is to prey on the weak and sick of the flock … with promises of greener pastures: but it seems unwilling to admit to its prey that their flock may have healthier sheep (not to mention shepherds) who might withstand the attack; or that there may be greener pastures within the very fold which they have never known.

McCarthy’s reply was courteous and irenic. He thanked me for the “loving tone” and reasonable approach of my letter (which he contrasted favorably with the “enraged” tone of a Lutheran woman who had also written that week to take exception of the film). In subsequent correspondence he expressed appreciation for my “good writing style and patient reasoning.” (Alas, looking back at those early letters, I cringe at some of my stylistic quirks in those days.)

The following is a summary of salient points of our exchange, organized topically and generally moving from shorter and less consequential exchanges to longer and more substantial ones.

A few notes: I have made minor typographical corrections and such both to McCarthy’s letters and to mine. At times I have expanded upon comments from my original emails with additional analysis (it should be fairly clear where this has been done). Third, while I believe I have the complete correspondence before me, and while I’ve tried to be as complete as possible, I can’t be sure I haven’t lost or missed something. Finally, this exchange took place over fifteen years ago; I expect that neither McCarthy nor I would necessarily approach all of the issues below exactly as we did at the time. That said, I offer the following highlights of our exchange for whatever light it may shed on works that are still offered by McCarthy.

  1. In some cases, “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith” includes accurate characterizations of Catholic teaching, especially from interviews with Catholics, but then goes on to offer canards aimed at a caricature of the true teaching. For example, “Catholicism: Crisis” features an ex-priest correctly stating that the Immaculate Conception means that “Mary was saved already … at the point of conception” (pp. 19-20; page numbers from transcript booklet), but shortly afterward attempts to refute the doctrine by appealing to Mary’s line in the Magnificat, “My spirit rejoices in God my savior,” adding, “Mary herself said that she needed a savior.” What does this prove? The video itself has just admitted that the Catholic doctrine doesn’t say otherwise.

    I can find no response to this in any of McCarthy’s letters to me.

  2. “Catholicism: Crisis” claims that “Catholic tradition confuses [Mary's] position with that of Christ” (pp 22-23). Evidence of this charge? “Catholicism: Crisis” cites the apparitions at Fatima, in which the Blessed Virgin says, e.g., “My immaculate heart will be your refuge and the way to lead you to God.”

    If nothing else, I pointed out, Fatima is a private revelation, not a matter of “Catholic tradition.” Responding, McCarthy acknowledged that Fatima was not part of public revelation, but said, “The point we were seeking to make is that the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church have so confused the role of Mary and Jesus that heretical concepts can easily find a place in Catholicism. The claims of Fatima concerning Mary’s heart should have been condemned by the Church. They were not condemned because Tradition had made room for them.”

    This reply does not address the central issue that Fatima is treated is if it were Catholic Tradition. Furthermore, I argued that the statements from Fatima that “Catholicism: Crisis” attacked were compatible with sound Christian teaching. For example, the description of Mary’s heart as a “refuge” does not usurp a role belonging to Christ alone; servants of God also can be “refuges,” as Isaiah 32:1 illustrates: “Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.”

    I can find no further discussion on this point.

  3. “Catholicism: Crisis” claims that during the “hundred years preceding the Second Vatican Council … the Catholic Church developed many new doctrines concerning Mary” (p. 19). Concerning the Assumption, “Catholicism: Crisis” states, “Everyone wanted to know [whether Mary had been bodily assumed into Heaven], but both the Scriptures and Catholic tradition were silent” (p. 21).

    This is plain historical falsehood. The Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary (the two doctrines McCarthy had in mind; “many” is an exaggeration) were not dogmatically defined until the century preceding Vatican II, but the claim that these were “new doctrines” “developed” by the Church during this period, and that tradition was “silent” about Mary’s Assumption, is manifestly false.

    To this McCarthy responded, “Did Marian doctrines develop or were they simply defined? We did use the term develop. I have before me a tract by Catholic Answers of San Diego titled ‘Can Dogma Develop?’ They answer, yes. They quote Vatican II as saying, ‘The tradition which comes from the Apostles develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.’” McCarthy also acknowledged that “many” was “a regrettable overstatement.”

    It should be noted that this response equivocates on the term “develop.” To say that the Church “developed new doctrines” during the century in question does not suggest that the doctrines underwent “development” in the Catholic sense of ongoing clarification and increased understanding of existing beliefs. Rather, it suggests that the doctrines were novelties materially unconnected with the prior faith of the Church. Moreover, the proposed time-frame for the development of these novelties, implying that the beliefs did not exist prior to the century preceding Vatican II, is unambiguously historically false. One can mount a challenge to the claim that the Immaculate Conception and Assuption go back to the earliest days of the Church, but there is no question that both were believed, in essentially the same form that they were eventually defined, centuries and centuries prior to Vatican II.

    In my reply, I wrote, “I am not aware that the Immaculate Conception did any developing after Duns Scotus, or that the Assumption did much developing at all. And it is unequivocally incorrect to refer to the doctrines as ‘new’” (i.e., novelties of the century prior to Vatican II). In reponse, McCarthy contended that the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception did indeed “develop” the doctrine further, which is probably a justifiable claim, but does not justify the original claim that the Church “developed new doctrines” during this time-frame.

    I also pointed out that “Catholicism: Crisis” takes a similar approach in its section on Tradition to other doctrines (transubstantiation, purgatory, papal infallibility, the Assumption etc.), misleadingly mentioning the dates when various dogmas were defined with no indication that the beliefs themselves existed long before they were defined. As I wrote, “The reader or viewer is left with the impression that these dates represent the invention of these doctrines; and no slightest obstacle is placed in his way.”

    I can find no further discussion on this point.

  4. “Catholicism: Crisis” quotes statements from a number of anti-Catholics on justification and the Gospel that distort the Church’s teaching. E.g., quoting Bart Brewer: “The Catholic Gospel, the Roman Catholic Gospel, is absolutely a gospel of works” (p. 31). Again, quoting a couple of ex-nuns: “Someone has once mentioned that God has done 99% and we have 1% left to finish”; “I came to recognize that it’s not … sincerity that’s going to get us to heaven.”

    In response, I pointed out that the Council of Trent declared that justification is accomplished by God alone, by means of His own righteousness alone, merited by the superabundant satisfaction made by Christ alone (cf. the “causes” of justification in chapter VII of Trent’s Decree on Justification). Regarding the comments from the ex-nuns, I noted, “Viewers will reasonably assume that these women, as former nuns, are accurately characterizing Catholic theology, which nowhere teaches the ’1 percent’ theory or the ‘sincerity’ theory.” I also pointed out that this was the only major subject covered in the video which did not quote one of the two priests interviewed for the video — as if for their presentation on this subject it was important not to have an actual Catholic point of view represented.

    To this McCarthy responded that the issue turned on Protestants having “a different definition of justification than you do.” I answered that by justification I understood “a positive act of God whereby, unto his own glory and our salvation, for the merits of Christ, and by means of his own righteousness or justice, through faith and baptism, He not only forgives our sins but creates us anew, raising us up to the spiritual life of grace, making us his children.” I added, “Except for two words (‘and baptism’), I should be rather surprised to learn that your understanding of the term is radically different from this.”

    I further pointed out that the Bible speaks of “salvation” in different ways, sometimes in the past tense (e.g., Eph 2:8), but also in the future tense (e.g., Acts 15:11).

    McCarthy asked me whether we could agree that “if anyone says that justification involves the meritorious works of men, he is preaching a false gospel”. I responded that I agreed if by “justification” McCarthy meant “the act of reconciling a sinner to God” and if by “meritorious works of men” he meant “any deeds a sinner might do to merit or acquire God’s favor.” In that sense, I said, “meritorious works of men” are nonexistent; the unjustified man can do nothing meritorious before God. But I added that Catholic theology also spoke of ongoing justification (where Protestant theology tends to speak of sanctification), and that “meritorious works of men” could also mean the just man’s grace-filled deeds which show forth Christ’s transforming power, and which God deigns to reward.

    I can find no further discussion on this point.

  5. “Catholicism: Crisis” claims that the Church teaches that “the priest actually transforms the bread into the body of Christ” (p. 11). Again, “Catholics are taught that the priest must change the bread” (p. 12). This is misleading, since it is God, not the priest, who transforms the elements into the body and blood of Christ at the words of consecration. The priest is authorized to say the words of consecration in persona Christi, but the power is God’s.

    To this, McCarthy responded, “Our intention was not to imply that priests have power in themselves. They do claim to be the agents of God in the act of transubstantiation. … Often we say a man does something, but mean he is the agent.”

    I replied that while I was sure McCarthy understood Catholic teaching well enough to know that the miracle is not attributed to the person of the priest, many in his audience probably weren’t, and the language in “Catholicism: Crisis” would cause confusion and misunderstanding of Catholic teaching.

    I can find no further discussion on this point.

  6. “Catholicism: Crisis” claims that “Transubstantiation is the foundation upon which the Mass rests” (p. 12). This, I wrote, is like saying “Hypostatic Union is the foundation upon which the birth of Jesus rests.” Terms like “Transubstantiation” and “Hypostatic Union” are philosophical formulations of divinely revealed truths, human attempts to speak truly about God’s actions by means of human categories. The object of faith, though, is the divinely revealed truths, not the philosophical formulations or categories.

    The Church’s faith, defined by Trent, is that “by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.” Trent goes on to say: “This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” Lumen’s characterization of transubstantiation as the “foundation” of the Mass, rather than a “fitting and proper” description of the miraculous change upon which the Mass is founded, distorts the issue.

    McCarthy’s initial response was that “Catholicism: Crisis” uses the word Transubstantiation “to mean bread transformed into the real presence. The narration was not seeking to state that Transubstatiation is the theological origin of the Mass. Rather, that Transubstantiation is necessary for there to be a sacrifice.”

    I’m not sure McCarthy entirely got the point that I was trying to make. In any case, I replied that “If by that you mean that the reality described by the word ‘Transubstantiation’ is necessary, then I agree. But I think you mean that the technical concepts of form, substance and accidents are necessary, which is not true. Transubstantiation is simply a way of describing the miracle of the Real Presence in philosophical terms. The description is not necessary for the miracle.” See also the next item for more on the vocabulary of transubstantiation.

  7. “Catholicism: Crisis” claims that the idea of “substance” and “accidents” has “long since been discarded by modern science.” The intended inference here, of course, is that since transubstantiation (which presupposes the categories of substance and accidents) is supposedly “the foundation of the Mass,” and science has “discarded” these categories, science has undermined the Mass itself.

    In reality, science has not and cannot discard the categories of substance and accidents, which, I wrote, “are metaphysical [categories] rather than physical, philosophical rather than scientific, and are not subject to scrutiny under a microscope. Which scientific discipline has proven them unreal or inadequate? How? By means of what experiment?”

    McCarthy’s reply sidestepped the question and followed up a non sequitur with a non-answer: “When asked for an explanation why the bread and the wine look like bread and wine after the consecration, the Roman Catholic Church answers ‘Transubstantiation.’ … You say [the categories] are metaphysical or philosophical terms rather than scientific. I am aware that the Roman Catholic Church discourages attempts to really understand the change and considers it a mystery. If the Church wishes to stay in the realm of the mystical, there is nothing anyone can say for or against the doctrine. But when the Church uses Transubstantiation to explain what is perceived (or not perceived) by the senses at the consecration, it is giving an explanation of physical realities. At that point, it becomes subject to scientific scrutiny.” McCarthy continued, “I cannot give you the history of the use or disuse of terms ‘substance’ and ‘accidents,’ but I am confident that no modern scientist would resort to ‘accidents’ or ‘substance’ to explain anything, much less that the substance can change while the accidents remain the same.”

    To this I replied: “Forgive me, but this response makes me think you didn’t understand my statement. ‘Metaphysical’ does not mean that it is a mystery which we are discouraged from attempting to understand; nor does it mean ‘mystical’ (although the Eucharist is in fact a mystery). It simply means that the terms belong to a given philosophical way of describing things. Metaphysical categories, as such, cannot be proved or disproved, because they are not statements or assertions: they can only be found more useful or less useful than other categories.”

    Remarkably, despite this, McCarthy agreed that “The issue here is not could God miraculously change bread into Christ’s body but did he … God is capable of making inward changes without outward manifestation.” Pressed further, he added: “I can agree with you that ‘some realities’ are ‘inconceivable.’ I can also state my confidence that God can do anything, even change bread into Christ’s body and still have it look like bread. If Scripture clearly taught that, I hope that I would be willing to close my mind to the contrary evidence [?] and believe God no matter how absurd it seemed. However, I firmly believe that Scripture does not teach the Roman Catholic doctrine of the real presence. Therefore, I feel free to use the physical evidence that presents itself to support my case. I trust you agree that the physical evidence is on my side.”

    In other words, McCarthy essentially admitted that what Catholics call “transubstantiation” is something that God could do if he wanted to. To this I responded, “as long as you agree that thing itself is objectively possible, there’s no point quibbling about the way the thing is described. … You can deny transubstantiation if you like — you can say that it is false, that the thing does not happen, that it is utterly devoid of any scriptural justification … and whatever else you want to say — but as long as the thing itself is within God’s power, what are you trying to prove by fussing about substance and accidents?”

    I continued: “You say, ‘When asked for an explanation why the bread and the wine look like bread and wine after the consecration, the Roman Catholic Church answers “Transubstantiation.”‘ No. Transubstantiation is a description of what, not an explanation of why or how. It is simply another way of saying what you just said: that the bread and the wine look like bread and wine even though they are the body and blood of Christ” — which (again) we agree is objectively possible. It is not intended to be an explanation; indeed, none is possible (except perhaps ‘Because God in his sovereignty has so chosen’). This is precisely the same sort of thing I objected to in the ‘foundation of the Mass’ remark.”

    Responding to his comment about “no modern scientists” would the categories of substance and accidents, I wrote, “This sounds like something I once heard from an atheist who remarked in my hearing that ‘modrn science’ had disproven miracles. I asked him the same question I asked you — ‘Which science? When? By means of what experiment?’ His response was, ‘Oh I don’t know any specifics like that; but face it, scientists today just don’t believe in miracles.’ There are two things wrong with this answer. First, what modern scientists may or may not believe in has nothing to do with what ‘modern science’ has or has not established. Secondly, the statement is false; scientists who are Christians certainly do believe in miracles. And scientists who are Catholics, such as Fr. Stanley Jaki, the priest-physicist with doctorates in physics and theology, certainly do appeal to ‘accidents’ and ‘substance’, precisely to explain the Eucharist. (In fact, I’ve heard that Albert Einstein, in his efforts to understand the nature of matter, once questioned a Catholic priest at length about the language of transubstantiation!” (Account here.)

    I continued: “However, the real problem with your answer is that, as I have noted, Aristotelian categories are not scientific but philosophical or metaphysical: and there are plenty of modern philosophers who use them. … What was the point of your remark about ‘modern science’ (and the similar remarks in your new MS)? That transubstatiation does not make sense? That it is nonsense to describe God substantially changing the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ without destroying the physical appearances of bread and wine? That, in fact, even God’s power could not accomplish such a thing? But you agree that it could. Therefore I ask you again: What are you trying to say?”

    I can find no further discussion on this point.

  8. After quoting a Catholic source correctly stating that the Eucharist “is not a different sacrifice from the one Jesus made on Calvary. It is the same sacrifice” (p. 13), “Catholicism: Crisis” goes on to argue, “It only took one offering to save us from sin … the scripture is very clear about the fact that there is only one propitiatory sacrifice (pp 14-15) — as if the Eucharist were conceived as a separate or additional sacrifice. This is another example of “Catholicism: Crisis” correctly stating a Catholic teaching and then going on to offer a canard aimed at refuting a misstatement of Catholic teaching.

    McCarthy’s response to this was to mail me a copy of his pamphlet “The Mass: From Mystery to Meaning” as a fuller discussion of the issues. Of course that doesn’t change the misleading nature of the original claim. Later he sent me part of a manuscript he was working on for a book. In fact, as I pointed out in our ongoing correspondence, “The Mass: From Mystery to Meaning” does not improve upon the problematic presentation of “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith,” but merely perpetuates the problem.

    The central charge of “The Mass: From Mystery to Meaning” is that “We find in the Mass … a man re-sacrificing Christ” (p. 17). Citing Hebrews, McCarthy writes, “The Scriptures tell us that a sacrifice which must be constantly repeated reveals itself to be weak” (p. 19). Again, citing 1 Peter 3:18 (“For Christ died for sins once for all”), McCarthy writes, “Now there is something worth commemorating! What a joy to take bread and wine and remember what he did for us rather than attempt to repeat it” (20). Again, “Is the Eucharist a symbol or a sacrifice? Your answer will depend on a far more important question which each must ask himself: am I relying on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross alone as sufficient payment for my sins?” (p. 20).

    Despite the admission in “Catholicism: Crisis of Faith” that the Eucharist “is not a different sacrifice from the one Jesus made on Calvary” but “the same sacrifice,” McCarthy’s critique of the Mass again and again assumes that the Mass attempts to repeat or add to the sacrifice of the Cross. In order to critique the Catholic teaching, McCarthy must first distort and falsify it.

    Among other things, I wrote in response to all this that the “need to return again and again to the one Sacrifice is not a specially Catholic thing; Protestants express the same thing when [they] sing ‘Lead Me to Calvary’ and ‘Near the Cross.’ Wouldn’t our local Baptists be nonplused if I suggested to them that if they really believed in the efficacy of the Cross they shouldn’t need to be constantly led back to it or kept near it?” Protestants, I argued, return spiritually again and again to the Cross, “through singing,” while in the Mass Catholics return “both spiritually and physically, through eating and drinking. But it’s the same sort of thing.”

    Referring to Hebrews 9:22 (“Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins”), McCarthy writes that “a bloodless sacrifice is a powerless sacrifice” (p. 19). My reply: “Terminology trouble. The point of the ‘bloody oblation / “unbloody oblation’ language is not that there is now a new and more pleasant way to sacrifice Christ again and again without causing Him all the inconvenience of the first time. The point is simply that the efficacy of the Eucharist stems from Christ’s one shedding of blood on the Cross, not from a new shedding of blood on the altar.” In other words, “there is only one oblation — in which blood was indeed shed — which is now offered or presented in such a way as not to repeat it (ie. shed blood again).”

    McCarthy claims, “Every Mass declares that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough” (p. 19). My reply: “On the contrary, every Mass depends upon precisely the fact that Christ’s death on the cross was enough. There is nothing on the altar which was not on the cross. If there were any defect in the cross, the same defect would extend to the Table. If there is any excellence in the Table, it derives directly from the Cross.”

    Citing Hebrews 10:10,18 (“We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all … Now where there is forgiveness of these sins, there is no longer any offering for sin”), McCarthy argues that since there is “no longer any offering for sin,” Jesus’ sacrifice is solely in the past. Turning this argument on its head, I pointed out that “the passage speaks not only of the offering in the past tense as an accomplished fact, but also of our sanctification (“We have been sanctified…”). And indeed, objectively speaking, Christ’s work on the cross accomplished all the sanctification that is ever going to occur. In that sense, sanctification is an accomplished fact. But I hope no one would argue ‘And so therefore don’t seek to experience any sanctification here and now. It’s already accomplished. You can’t repeat or add to what Christ has already done.’ For of course Christians experience subjective [i.e., experiential] sanctification every day. And this is itself the work of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross — objectively finished, but subjectively [experientially] experienced on a daily, ongoing basis. The only difference between us is, again, that I participate physically, not just spiritually.”

    Here is McCarthy’s response to all of this: “You must understand that I reject as double-talk the Catholic explanations of the Mass as a continuation or perpetuation of Calvary. If Sunday’s Mass is propitious and produces the sacramental effects ex opere operato, from the work done, then you simply cannot say it is simply the continuation of Calvary.” Responding to my statement that I have always believed in Christ’s completed work of atonement and still do, he wrote, “I ask, then why do you give your time defending a practice which does not witness to the finished work of Christ but to the unbiblical Catholic concept of the continuation or perpetuation of Calvary? Every Sunday you are witnessing to an ongoing sacrifice not the finished sacrifice.”

    McCarthy even went on to ask rhetorically whether 1 Peter 3:18 states “Christ died for sins once for all…” or “For Christ is dying for sins…,” adding, “Do you indeed witness at the Mass to 1 Peter 3:18 (past tense), or to the Catholic concept of Christ, the immaculate victim of the Mass, dying (present tense)? There is a substantive difference here. Christ ask us to proclaim his death, not his dying.”

    As this indicates, McCarthy is (or was) committed to his distortion of Catholic teaching on this point. He must have known that the Church does not teach, and no knowledgeable Catholic believes, that Jesus is “dying (present tense)” in the Mass. He makes free to impute this notion to Catholicism, though, by dismissing Catholic explanations of its own teaching as “double-talk,” and then attacking what he claims Catholic dogma “really” entails but officially denies.

    This, of course, is exactly like a Jew or a Muslim quoting biblical injunctions against idolatry as a rebuttal of the Trinity or the Incarnation, and then dismissing as “double-talk” Christian explanations of why the Trinity and the Incarnation don’t entail idolatry. Again and again I asked McCarthy to explain why he regarded the Catholic view as double-talk. Without such an explanation, I pointed out, “your calling it ‘double-talk’ only means ‘I don’t get it,’ which is (you must admit) hardly compelling logic. Jews and Muslims don’t get the Trinity or the Incarnation; that doesn’t make Monarchianists and Arians out of us.”

    Again, I wrote, “It would be one thing to argue that the Church’s teaching, while it does not amount to claiming to have an additional sacrifice, is still false and unscriptural. Then we could dismiss the red herring of Heb 7 et al and turn to the real disputed grounds, 1 Cor 10:16 ff, Mal 1, etc. However, you have not wished to take this path, and so you have dismissed this explanation, not simply as untrue, but as ‘double-talk. … Therefore I ask you again: What is your reason for believing the Catholic position to be incoherent? Wherein lies the logical absurdity, and how do you know that it is an absurdity?”

    Although I put this question to McCarthy again and again, I cannot find any attempt to answer it in any letter or work that I have from him.

  9. Similar issues cropped up in discussing the Real Presence. McCarthy spends part of “The Mass: From Mystery to Meaning” making a preemptive strike for “Sound Reason,” noting that “God is rational” and that faith must make sense. While that’s true as far as it goes, combined with the pamphlet’s subtitle (“From Mystery to Meaning”) McCarthy seems to be suggesting an antithesis between “reasonable” or “meaningful” faith and “mysterious” doctrines that transcend human reason or comprehension. As I pointed out, McCarthy’s title strikes me “rather the way a Unitarian tract titled “The Trinity and Incarnation: From Mystery to Meaning” would strike you. The mystery is very meaningful.”

    McCarthy notes that Jesus’ body was visibly present to the apostles at the Last Supper, and contends that even now is physically located in one place, Heaven (pp 13,14). He also contends, rightly, that the attributes of Christ’s two natures are distinct and not communicable, e.g., Christ’s divinity does not comprise flesh and bones, and in the same way Christ’s humanity is not omnipresent. How then, he asks, can His flesh and blood be present at all the Eucharists in the world? He even implies the Catholic view requires Christ’s body to be located “everywhere” at once, or at least in many different places.

    The answer to this, as I noted, has to do with the one way that Christ is not present in the Eucharist: He is not present “locally” or “spatially,” or, in the words of St. Thomas, “present as in a place.” The Real Presence does not involve a bodily extension in space; there is no spatial distribution of head, torso and limbs, etc. Christ’s body is located only in heaven, but the miracle of the Eucharist makes it, so to speak, present to earthly places, not present in them. It is not that Christ comes down to earth, or bilocates, or any such thing, but that heaven and earth touch in the Blessed Sacrament. As analogies, I pointed to Lewis’ The Last Battle, where the stable door becomes a frontier between old Narnia and New Narnia, and Madeleline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, in which time/space is conceived as a fabric that can be “folded” or warped to bring together two points far apart on the surface of the cloth.

    McCarthy’s response: “Only Stephen Hawking could follow your arguments here. Let’s put ourselves in the place of the apostles for a moment following the Last Supper. Before they depart for the Garden, Christ introduces you to the eleven. Lest they interpret his words wrong, he wants you, Steven D. Greydanus, to make the record clear. You read them your reply as in the letter space warps and all. Now, what would they think? Seriously, doesn’t such a complicated explanation make you question if you are on the right track? I have found it a help in interpreting the Bible to remember that Christ was generally speaking to humble, working-class people.”

    My reply: “Well, for that matter, how would you like to have the honor of walking onto the scene at Caesarea Philippi just after Peter’s confession and explaning about the Hypostatic Union? On one level, [these matters are] really simple (‘You are the Son of the living God’; ‘This is My body’), but once someone starts asking ‘Yeah, but how does it work?’ all of us end up over our heads. But the complicated explanations don’t put us off, because they aren’t the object of our faith, Jesus is. Just as you didn’t spend this Christmas thinking about Athanasian theology, I don’t spend Mass thinking about Thomism and space warps. We think about Him.”

    I can find no further discussion of this point.

A closing observation: A common thread running through McCarthy’s apologetic on the Eucharist, from his efforts to debunk the categories of “substance” and “accidents” to his characterization of the theology of the sacrifice of the Mass as “double-talk” and his pitting Christ’s heavenly locality against the Eucharistic real presence, is his efforts to represent Catholic teaching as incoherent or impossible.

On at least one angle, transubstantiation, I seem to have elicited an admission that God could do it if he wanted to. Whether McCarthy would ultimately have made similar concessions, had our correspondence continued, to the effect that if he wanted to, God could cause the once-for-all sacrifice of the cross to be made present again and again, could make Christ who is present on earth (or to earth) without bringing him down from heaven, I can’t say, but I can’t see from his arguments how he would have resisted this line of thought.

On this latter point, I’ve always appreciated (though obviously not totally agreed with) the approach of the founder of the tradition in which I was raised, John Calvin, who wrote in the Institutes:

I am not satisfied with the view of those who, while acknowledging that we have some kind of communion with Christ, only make us partakers of the Spirit, omitting all mention of flesh and blood. As if it were said to no purpose at all, that his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed; that we have no life unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood; and so forth … No, the very flesh in which he resides he makes vivifying to us, that by partaking it we may feed for immortality … But though it seems an incredible thing that the flesh of Christ, while at such a distance from us in respect of place, should be food to us, let us remember how far the secret virtue of the Holy Spirit surpasses all our conceptions, and how foolish it is to wish to measure its immensity by our feeble capacity. Therefore, what our mind does not comprehend let faith conceive, viz., that the Spirit truly unites things separated by space.

Whether McCarthy would resist this as “double-talk,” and if so whether or how he might seek to defend his charge, I can’t say with finality. Based on what he did say, I can’t think anything he might have said in this direction would have seemed at all persuasive.

Our correspondence covered other subjects as well (mostly from my side), but the above suffices to give a good sense of our back-and-forth. Hopefully I’ll be back before too long with points from my old critique of The Gospel According to Rome.

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{ 130 comments }

Lucien Syme November 13, 2009 at 6:57 am

Thanks for these apologetics SDG and I look forward to the critique of “The Gospel According to Rome”.
I was hoping from the title of the thread that Mr. McCarthy had become or was becoming a revert.

The Pachyderminator November 13, 2009 at 7:08 am

Darn it, Lucien, you beat me to making the first comment.
The point about the Eucharistic sacrifice being the same sort of thing all Christians do, just that it’s physical (or at least sacramental) as well as spiritual, is really interesting. I haven’t heard that one before. I’d be wary of pushing it too far, though. There’s a big difference between just recalling something (as in a hymn) and actually making it present. Calling them “the same sort of thing” is a huge exaggeration.
By the way, what happened to the Petrine Fact?

SDG November 13, 2009 at 7:40 am

“The point about the Eucharistic sacrifice being the same sort of thing all Christians do, just that it’s physical (or at least sacramental) as well as spiritual, is really interesting. I haven’t heard that one before. I’d be wary of pushing it too far, though. There’s a big difference between just recalling something (as in a hymn) and actually making it present. Calling them ‘the same sort of thing’ is a huge exaggeration.”

I agree that the point mustn’t be pushed too far, but I wouldn’t say that “the same sort of thing” is an “exaggeration” — though it does dare to compare very different things insofar as they both contrast with a sensibility that regards one’s encounter with the Cross as a “once-for-all” thing.
Bear in mind that the phrase “the same sort of thing” can embrace analogical relationships across vast scopes of reality. A child’s scribblings and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel can be said to be “the same sort of thing,” i.e., expressions of human creativity. The attraction between electrons and protons is in a way “the same sort of thing” as the attraction between a man and a woman, and both are in a way “the same sort of thing” as the infinite love of the Trinity.
Incidentally, that “same sort of thing” line of reasoning wasn’t just an apologetical conceit for me. It was really the way that my own mind was opened as a Protestant to the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. I heard other Protestants objecting to the Eucharist on grounds similar to McCarthy’s arguments (saying things like “Why would God want us to keep going back to Jesus’ sacrifice again and again when Jesus already did it all?”), and as I thought about it I found myself asking, “Well, but wait a minute, don’t we do the same sort of thing…?”

“By the way, what happened to the Petrine Fact?”

It’s coming back. I’ve had a lot of deadlines. Thanks for your interest!

Rob November 13, 2009 at 8:42 am

Oh man. When my wife and poped a few years back, her in-laws purchased this video to get a feel for what we were doing. I remember reading the transcript back then, and banging my head in frustration. I also tried to read some book where McCarthy and some priest went back-and-forth regarding various issues of dispute. Same thing: I wanted to kill myself while reading it, so I quit. As I recall, the priest was just as bad as McCarthy. And reading this, the same frustrations arise. The near-complete indifference to accurately characterizing your opponents’ position is…frustrating.

The Masked Chicken November 13, 2009 at 3:36 pm

“Catholicism: Crisis” claims that the idea of “substance” and “accidents” has “long since been discarded by modern science.”
Rubbish. Science is concerned about what can be measured and accidents are precisely those things that can be measured. What science can’t approach is the question of substance (at least not in its totality). That is a philosophical question. Now, there could be some interesting work done ( which I would do if I had a neuroscience lab to do the work) to see when the mind/brain perceives the substance as having become realized in merely material objects. For instance, take something like a coffee pot. If you present just the bottom, many objects can supervene, so it might be anything from a tire rim to a wedding ring, but as more and more of the object becomes realized, at some point, the mind/brain says, “Yes, that is a coffee pot.” Just when this happens probably varies from person to person and probably varies from what data one supposes to give, but at some point, the accidents of a coffee pot will lead one to think that one actually has a coffee pot.
Where this fails with the Eucharist and why this cannot be tested by science, is that the mind/brain does not perceive the substance of the Eucharist, only the accidents. The accidents for the Eucharist are connected to a metaphysical reality beyond the senses, whereas the accidents for the coffee pot are only connected with material reality. It is the soul, enlightened by grace which recognized the substance of the Eucharist.
Substance is the ultimate reality of something. If that something is merely material, the substance of it will be recognized both materially and metaphysically; if it is supernatural, the substance can only be recognized supernaturally and metaphysically. While we have a connection to the material, both the metaphysical and the supernatural are beyond our ability to measure.
McCarthy is confused. He goes on to state:
But when the Church uses Transubstantiation to explain what is perceived (or not perceived) by the senses at the consecration, it is giving an explanation of physical realities. At that point, it becomes subject to scientific scrutiny.” McCarthy continued, “I cannot give you the history of the use or disuse of terms ‘substance’ and ‘accidents,’ but I am confident that no modern scientist would resort to ‘accidents’ or ‘substance’ to explain anything, much less that the substance can change while the accidents remain the same.”
Of course, the substance can change while the accidents do not. A classic example is, here in the middle of the page. In fact, a whole page can be found, here. Optical illusions present the exact same accidents, but cause the brain to interpret them as two or more entirely different substances. If the drawing of a rabbit or a duck?
I suppose one could say the reality of an optical illusion requires that the reality is something other than either of what is presented, but the point is that for the length of time that one perceives one or the other state of an illusion, one has fixated on a substance.
Even worse, one can have the accidents change but the substance remain the same. A classic example is the double slit experiment. On one side of the double slit, light behaves as a wave, on the other side, as a particle and, yet, light has not changed its essential substance.
I really think it is because he does not understand accident and substance that McCarthy errs.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken November 13, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Since I don’t know what McCarthy knows or doesn’t know about accident and substance, let me change my statements above about McCarthy’s confusion and his not understanding accident and substance to say that, as SDG points out, he his talking about physical reality, whereas the Church is talking about metaphysical reality. It is that difference that seems to me to be at the heart of the misunderstanding of what Catholics believe.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken November 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm

My change in the post, above was made because I do not want to rashly judge McCarthy’s knowledge of accident and substance.
The Chicken

SDG November 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Thanks, Chicken. I don’t find the optical illusion analogy helpful, but I absolutely think you are bang on with the wave/particle business (and in fact I used that analogy in my original correspondence with McCarthy).

awlms November 13, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I think all Christians need to remember that “…one is your teacher, Christ”, and that “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.” (Mark 13)
Therefore, for Christians, we need not rely too heavily on physical proofs and logical reasonings to support supernatural faith, because the words and promises of Christ are sufficient by themselves.
And what do some of these sacred words of Christ say regarding His many forms of presence– both near us and also within us?
” Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live. 20 In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” -John 14:19
” .. and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” -Matt. 28:20
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. -Matt. 18:20
” And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” John 3:13
” For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. ” John 6:56
So I guess if we’re looking for metaphysical arguments for or against the “Real Presence”, we will have a lot to chew on with these and many other examples found in the words and teachings of Christ. But one thing is certain, worldly logic will never be able to comprehend the great mysteries of God without the words of Christ. For as the same Gosples proclaim:
“… I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.” Matt. 13:35

bill912 November 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Point?

awlms November 13, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Point?….I guess it is a good starting point for purposes of apologetics to use the words and examples of Christ Himself as the most important proofs we need to defend our Catholic theological positions.
In this debate between SDG and James McCarthy, the arguments of SDG were excellent from a Catholic philosophical, logical and doctrinal perspective. But it seems that what was left out by both parties were the numerous other references of the way that Christ is present amongst us, that could shed light on the subject of the Real Presence in the Eucharist and other topics discussed between them.
These quotes I presented were just a few, but enough to give the idea that the Lord very frequently speaks of His presence in a highly metaphysical manner, such as would make particular details difficult to formulate. One example is when the Lord mentions, in the example quoted in my post above..”..The Son of Man who is in Heaven”. This teaching has enormous implications. On earth, yet also in Heaven. His references of “…living in us”, as He is in the Father and the Father in Him.. all can inform us about some mysteries of the nature and place of Heaven, and also the mystery and presence of Christ and God among us; the which can also further shed light on the reality of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.
And please don’t take my commentary in any way as anything against SDG because I very much enjoy his highly intelligent exegesis and apologetics. I am really a great admirer of his many writings. Rather, I just wanted to give another perspective coming from other references that Christ mentions about his true presence among us.

BobCatholic November 14, 2009 at 12:32 am

>”Catholicism: Crisis” claims that the idea of “substance” and “accidents” has “long since been discarded by modern science.”
Modern science has discarded ethics such as “thou shalt not kill” when you see abortionists appealing to modern science in defense of what they are doing. Heck, modern science can’t even tell us why Dr. Mengele was out of line – he did everything according to the scientific method.
Let science speak about natural stuff. Calling science into a discussion about supernatural stuff is illogical, for the natural sciences are out of their jurisdiction and competency when dealing with the supernatural.

SDG November 14, 2009 at 5:13 am

“Therefore, for Christians, we need not rely too heavily on physical proofs and logical reasonings to support supernatural faith, because the words and promises of Christ are sufficient by themselves … one thing is certain, worldly logic will never be able to comprehend the great mysteries of God without the words of Christ.”

FWIW, our dialogue did involve some exegetical work on John 6 and the institution accounts. I didn’t include that above in part because the point of this post is not to lay out an apologetic for the Faith, but to illuminate issues with McCarthy’s critique of the Faith.
The Eucharist, like the Trinity, is a mystery of faith that cannot be attained by reason, but only by the response of faith to the revelation of God. But our formulation of that mystery can be critiqued by reason — and that critique can be answered by reason. That is what is happening in the dialogue above.
McCarthy’s arguments are essentially roadblocks: obstacles to even considering the possibility of the Catholic understanding of God’s word on these points. The counter-arguments given above are aimed more at clearing away those roadblocks than at establishing the truth of the Catholic understanding of God’s word.
At the end of #8 above you can see me angling toward 1 Corinthians 10:16 and Malachi 1, “etc.” (e.g., John 6 and the institution accounts, including 1 Corinthians 11). First, though, I’m answering rational objections that can prevent one from even considering the possibility of an interpretation that is compelling in itself if the text is allowed to speak without obstruction from objections based not on sound reason but on preconceptions that can and should be rationally dismantled.

The Masked Chicken November 14, 2009 at 5:55 am

In this debate between SDG and James McCarthy, the arguments of SDG were excellent from a Catholic philosophical, logical and doctrinal perspective. But it seems that what was left out by both parties were the numerous other references of the way that Christ is present amongst us, that could shed light on the subject of the Real Presence in the Eucharist and other topics discussed between them.
I absolutely agree that one should be able to use Scripture to discuss topics in apologetics or to critique another’s position, but often, it happens that Scripture quotations become either a source of proof-texting, which gets no one anywhere, or misinterpretation, which may get one to a place other than where they really wanted to go.
Unfortunately, most Protestants, if not all, hold to the principle of Private Interpretation of Scripture and Catholics hold to the teachings of the Magisterium where it has defined an interpretation of Scripture, or tradition, the Church fathers, etc. Also, in the making of interpretations that are not defined, Catholics have to be careful that whatever interpretation they do come up with does not break the pre-existing defined interpretations. Thus, the conversation where these two different modes of interpretation are involved quickly devolves into who is best qualified to interpret a Scripture passage and the actual point gets lost in the shuffle.
This does not always happen, but it is a danger when Scripture quotations are used too early or too frequently in doing apologetics with people outside of the Church (and sometimes, with people within).
The Chicken

Nicholas Jagneaux November 14, 2009 at 6:27 am

Chicken,
I really appreciate your frequent comments on Jimmy’s blog. (In fact, nearly all of the commentators teach me something.)
But, I want to especially thank you for your pointing out the double-slit experiment. I had heard of the experiment before; I’d even had a friend try to explain it to me.
When you mentioned it in connection with the Eucharist, I decided to look a little more closely. I found (what I think) is a really cool introductory video explaining the phenomenon. I encourage anyone who hasn’t heard of it before to check out the video.

Tim J. November 14, 2009 at 9:44 am

“McCarthy’s arguments are essentially roadblocks: obstacles to even considering the possibility of the Catholic understanding of God’s word on these points. The counter-arguments given above are aimed more at clearing away those roadblocks than at establishing the truth of the Catholic understanding of God’s word.”
I think that is true of most good apologetics. It is more a matter of clearing up difficulties or correcting faulty reasoning than it is a matter of trying to absolutely prove the truths of the faith.
At least that was true in my case. It made a big difference for me just to see the logical contradictions of the anti-Christian and anti-God arguments exposed. This process simultaneously helped to clarify the unity, reasonableness and internal harmony of the Christian creed.

Gecko November 16, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Dear Roman Catholic. . . .
We are sorry that you are held captive to the concept of “Transubstantiation” and the alleged “Real Presence” of Christ in the Communion wafer. We are persuaded that the theological framework of the Bible conveys a persistent and uncompromising voice in opposition to the entire fiasco regarding this doctrine. God’s word tells us to, “study to show yourself approved” {2 Tim 2:15} and we have indeed done so.
What about you? Considering we will be judged by the Word of God {John 12:48} it would seem a sense of urgency is in order to make sure your beliefs can be validated under the searchlight of the Bible. We invite you to consider the illuminating critique below—more than worth your 15 minutes since we give you well over 100 reasons why the Bible builds an impenatrable wall against Transubstantiation. All sober-minded comments sent to this address will receive a response. However, you must interact with the facts presented. Unfortunately, the typical Catholic reply is to exhibit a shallow triumphalism, declaring themselves to be the victor without ever dirtying their hands with any of the details! Most often we are subject to the stirring up of the emotions (as in, How dare you even suggest there is no case for transubstantiation)—or, how did you get my e-mail address; or whoever it was in the church that harmed you, please get over it and come home to Rome; or the demand that we be more kind—(as if Jesus walked around Nazareth with a feather duster and a rose in His mouth)— or the most popular, “you do not understand Catholicism”—all without furnishing one quote from Holy Writ to make their point.
Now that you know what we don’t want to hear, you should respond accordingly. So let the showcase of evidence begin:
THE EUCHARIST
To begin with, the word, “eucharist” is simply a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”. It more than likely came into use by Jesus breaking the bread and “giving thanks”.
“The first thing to be noticed is that the word has been transferred from the Greek into an express name, and we may say the chief title, of the Lord’s Supper” {C. Hebert, “The Lord’s Supper: Uninspired Teaching, vol 1, p. 28}. While the current catechism is correct (#1328) in stating that the word eucharistein used at the Supper, recalls the Jewish blessings that proclaim– especially during a meal– God’s work of creation, redemption and sanctification; Catholicism has gone outside biblical boundaries to now teach that consuming the Eucharist results in redemption and sanctification—something we will prove the Scriptures absolutely do not support. Henceforth we shall refer to the Roman Catholic Church as the “RCC”.
The RCC teaches that a priest has the power to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, and through the miracle of Transubstantiation, the communion wafer and the wine are both suddenly changed into His actual body and blood, even though there appears to be no change in the elements under close scientific examination {Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376}. Consequently, we are informed that ingesting the wafer via the mouth throughout one’s lifetime is necessary for salvation {CCC #1129, Council of Trent, “Concerning Communion”, ch. 1}—-and that it is the “center, source and summit of the Christian life” {CCC #1324 & 1343}. We would agree that if this is true, then the whole world ought to become Roman Catholic. On the other hand, if it is not, then this teaching must be ranked as unimaginably deceptive and false. Our burden here is to safeguard the gospel {Jude 1:3}. If a religious system claiming to be Christian is going to demand that something be done as a prerequisite for entering heaven’s gate, we should recall that, “the honor of a king is to search out a matter” {Proverbs 25:2}. So we shall do so here.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with disputing the facts. The Scriptures conclusively prove that the act of disputing encompassed much of the life of the apostle Paul who was accused of turning the world upside down {Acts 9:22,17:2, 17:6, 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8-10; 19:26, 20:31,24:25, 28:23}. He challenged the status quo and was unconcerned about ruffling feathers, saying, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth? {Galatians 4:16}.
THE TRANSUBSTANTIATION OF HIS “NO REPUTATION”
The only transubstantiation the Bible speaks about is Christ “having made Himself of no reputation, taking upon Himself the form of a servant and being made in the likeness of men” {Phil 2:6}. He was previously in the form of God, having created the universe which outwardly expresses the inward glory that is naturally His. However, through the incarnation, He now takes on the form of a servant. The word, “form” has reference to the outward expression of an inward quality or character. And this is precisely what “being made in the likeness of men” demonstrates: the outward expression of an inward quality of servitude. In light of the Holy Spirit giving us an an “outward/inward” incarnation theology in Philippians 2:6, it is unreasonable to believe He could be so neglectful to give us a “Eucharistic theology” within the sacred text regarding the inward essence of the elements changing, but the outward appearance remaining that of ordinary bread and wine. Therefore, this is a tradition of men which has no place in the plan of salvation.
THE GOSPEL
The good news of Jesus Christ is primarily an act of the intellect that is received by what unbelievers would call, “the foolishness of preaching” {1 Cor 1:18-21}—-but what Christians know to be “the power of God unto salvation” {Rms 1:16}. It is not meant to satisfy our physical appetite except in metaphorical ways {Psalm 34:8, Jeremiah 2:13, Isa 55:1, Rev 2:16; 22:17}. The gospel hinges on what He has done for us—not what we can do for him {2 Cor 4:6}. When we then join His ranks, we are told to put on the whole armor of God, which includes “the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit” {Eph 6:13-17}. Directly after these verses, the apostle Paul indeed says he wanted to open his mouth—but not in order to swallow the Eucharist. Notice— In Scripture, life is described as a battle. If there was anything even remotely nourishing in swallowing the communion wafer as the RCC claims {CCC #1003, “Ecclesia de Eucharista”, by John Paul II, #16-17) it would have been highlighted here as the ultimate “vitamin pill” to sustain “soldiers of Jesus Christ” in the wars ahead {1 Tim 1:18, 2 Tim 2:3}. The Pope says the Eucharist is, “our food for the journey” {Ecclesia, #61}. But the apostle did not include this food in the soldier’s battle plan, but only asks the Ephesians to pray that he would boldly open his mouth to proclaim the mystery of the gospel . . . period. In stark contrast to God’s marching orders as to what constitutes a soldier’s armor, the RCC again ventures outside the inscripturated Word and hundreds of years later expects us to believe we must add to our weaponry and be “invisibly equipped” with the Eucharist! {Consitution on the Sacred Liturgy, para 2}.
However, as we will show below, the Lord has already promised the “invisible equipment” of the Holy Spirit—by whom we are promised to be “strengthened with might in the inner man” {Eph 3:16}. Thus, we are convinced that the RCC Eucharist does not belong in our artillery, let alone it being necessary for salvation. “Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men ” {Colossians 2:8}.
Keep in mind that when the early church responded to those who would reduce Christianity to rites, rules and regulations, the apostle Paul would not stand for it, “No, not for an hour” {Galatians 2:5}. Later, when actual believers rose up and asserted that, “except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” —the council at Jerusalem rejected this addition also {Acts 15:1-11}. We see then that the mindset of the early pioneers was not one of religious toleration when it appeared the gospel was about to be compromised. They were rigidly inflexible when anything extra was looking to be added to the gospel equation. Scripture says we must “rest” our salvation on nothing more, nothing less and nothing ELSE than Jesus Christ crucified {1 Cor 1:23; 2:2, Heb 4:10}. The RCC view is that salvation is a product of faith plus the ritualisitic consumption of Christ at Mass, which the Catholic would consider a work of righteousness. However, the Bible is adamant that our righteous acts do not save us (Titus 3:5). Salvation is conceptualized in Scripture as a free gift, plain and simple (Eph 2:8-9, 2 Cor 9:15).
GOING AWAY
With regard to the “Real Presence” — Scripture declares that the physical presence of Jesus was going away!
“I go to prepare a place for you” . . . “Yet a little while and the world seeth me no more.” . . . “I go away” . . . “But now I go my way to Him that sent me.” . . . “I leave the world and go unto the Father” . . .. “I go to my Father and ye see me no more.” . . . “For the poor ye have with you always; but me ye have not always.” . . . “Ye shall seek me and shall not find me; and where I am, thither ye cannot come.” . .. . “And now, I am no more in the world.” . . . {John 14:2, 14:19, 14:28, 16:5, 16:29, 16:10, 12:8, 7:34, 17:11}. And Paul confirmed that, “though we have known Christ in the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more ” {2 Cor 5:16}. Notice— He makes no exception that we be consoled with either Christ’s presence in–or eating His flesh as a result of, the Eucharist. Naturally then, a doctrine such as Transubstantiation which bids us to believe in the actual bodily presence of our Lord is at war with the Bible from the get-go.
Furthermore, Jesus emphatically states that prior to the time of His second coming, “if any man shall say to you, lo, here is Christ; or lo, He is there; believe it not ” {Mk 13:21}.
Is not the RCC bidding us to believe Christ is “over there” in a dispensary called a “monstrance”, and picked out by the hands of the priest distributing Him in “physical form” at Communion? Yes they are, and this should rightly disturb you. But the Bible declares that Jesus does not dwell in temples {or any holy places} made with hands . . .but has entered into Heaven itself” where He will remain until He appears “a second time” {Acts 7:48; Hebrews 9:24;28}. No mention is made of a “sacramental presence” to sustain us in the meantime. Thus, the RCC vessel called a “monstrance” {or a “ciborium” or “tabernacle”} is nothing other than an alleged holy place made with hands, but Scripture states that Christ is not there!
We also note another warning in Matthew 24:26: “Therefore, if they shall say to you, Behold He is in the desert; go not forth: {or} Behold, He is in the secret chambers {King James Version} believe it not. ” The New King James Version renders “secret chambers” as “inner rooms”. . . or even, “inner chambers” {American Standard Version}. What does this mean? In order that there would be no need to speculate, Jesus provided exact locations where these false appearances would occur. With reference to Strong’s Concordance, the actual meaning of the Greek word “TAMEION” that is translated as “inner rooms” is, “a dispensory; i.e. a chamber on the ground floor or interior of an Oriental house {generally used for storage or privacy; a spot for retirement}.” In other words, the original Greek actually refers to some kind of storage space , dispensary or private place. The backbone of Roman Catholicism is its star prop—the monstrance, which is a vessel / dispensary/ private dwelling—-wherein they insist Jesus Christ “retires” in physical form until taken out by the hands of the priest, to be dispensed to the people via the mouth. However, our Lord says to REJECT any future sightings of His physical presence in any “secret chamber” by preceeding his warning with, “See, I have told you beforehand.” {Matt 24:25-26}. And He most certainly did. No where but in Catholicism do the words of Christ find their fulfillment with such stark clarity.
BLOODY COMMUNION WAFERS?
Roman Catholics around the world have been duped into believing that on many occasions the blood of Christ has dripped out of a wafer, and they claim this phenomena constitutes proof for “The Real Presence”. What most people are unaware of is the history of red bacteria called Serratia marcesens . In the 6th century B.C., Pythagoras reported on a substance that was said to look like blood which sometimes appeared on food. Then in 332 B.C., soldiers of the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great, found that from time to time, their bread appeared to have blood on it also. Later in the Middle Ages, it was regularly observed to grow on communion wafers. This led multitudes to think that this was the blood of Christ, hence a miracle. In the dark, damp churches of medieval times, wafers used in Holy Communion often became contaminated with S. marcescens. In 1264, Pope Urban instituted the feast of Corpus Christi {“Body of Christ”} to honor another one of these sightings and there stands today a “Corpus Christi” church in practically every state in the U.S. named after this fake miracle centuries ago. It was 400 years later when Anton van Leeuwenhoek would observe the red bacteria under the microscope. But even today, ignorance prevails and many are deceived {“The Genesis of Germs” by A. Gillen, p. 15}.
NOT VIA THE MOUTH, BUT
”HAVE YE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT .. .. . BY THE HEARING OF FAITH?”
(Galatians 3:2).
Without an iota of proof, the RCC would have us believe that, “it is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present in this unique way. Since He was about to take His departure in His visible form, He wanted to give us His sacramental presence {in the Eucharist—-CCC # 1380}.
Reader, that is a boldfaced lie. Before Christ made His departure He said absolutely nothing about “this unique way of remaining mysteriously in our midst through His sacramental presence in the Eucharist” {ibid}. Instead, He promised to be with us by
*** The presence of the Holy Spirit! This is the birthright of every born again Christian; “God has made known to us the riches of the glory of this mystery, [namely] “Christ in you, the hope of glory” {Colossians 1:27}.
*** “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him…” and “manifest myself to him” {Rev 3:20, John 14:21-23}.
*** After you believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the downpayment of our inheritence” {Eph 1:13}
*** “Nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” {Galatians 2:20}.
*** The Spirit of God will “abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive…but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” {John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13}.
*** The believer has the promise of being, “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” —not by transubstantiation {Eph 3:16-17}. Again, God has sent forth the Spirit into our hearts by faith, and not via the mouth and into the stomach—as Catholicism falsely teaches. He has come to reinhabit our redeemed humanity so that our bodies might become the temple of the living God {1 Cor 6:19, 2 Cor 13:5}. Each believer is called a “living stone” that is being “fitly framed together” with the others, being built into a “spiritual house for the habitation of God through the Spirit” {1 Peter 2:5, Eph 2:21-22}.
*** Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” {1 Cor 3:16}.
*** In Isaiah 57:15, the Lord says that He is the high and lofty one that inhabits eternity, and “I dwell also with him that is of a contrite and humble spirit.” Thus, it simply staggers the imagination to realize that the God of all creation and eternity dwells with each and every one of His people, just as He knows the name of each and every star in the universe {Psalm 147:4}. “For ye are the temple of the living God; as He has said: I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people” {2 Cor 6:16, Rms 8:11}.
*** “And because ye are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts…” {Galatians 4:6}
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” {Matt 28:20}.
EXCUSES
The RCC may be likened to King Saul in First Samuel 15:13 and following. After being accused of not doing what he was told to do, he kept making excuses that he had indeed obeyed God, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. Saul was full of nothing but hot air. In similar manner, while every Roman Catholic will not argue with the Scriptural references detailing Christ’s physical exit out of this world, the fact remains they simply don’t like it! Tiptoeing around the fact that Jesus has bid us farewell, damage control experts offer weak explanations seeking to justify His physical presence in the Eucharist that are in abject defiance of the Word of God. Let the reader judge:
“This presence is called “real” —-by which it is not intended to exclude all other types of presence as if they could not be “real” too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense. It is a substantial presence by which Christ, the God-man, is wholly and entirely present” {CCC #1374}.
” Certainly, non-Eucharistic Christians have a valid relationship with Him {but} the Eucharist. . . is the most concentrated manifestation of what {Catholics} experience. . . . . . . our souls cannot feed on mere abstract omnipresence; we hunger for a touch” {M. Shea, “This is My Body”, p. 35}.
“Christ’s presence in the Eucharist in the tabernacle of every Catholic church is a way in which God dwells among His people with special closeness. This is why our churches are open daily and why people often drop in for a visit to share their joys and sorrows with Him, or just to talk things over” {A. Wilhelm, “Christ Among Us” p. 252}.
Reader—the above is nothing but deceptive, religious-sounding cotton candy. The RCC is simply dissatisfied to “walk by faith and not by sight” {2 Cor 5:7} and impatient for the day when “we shall see Him as He is” {1 John 3:2}. Roman Catholics who “hunger for a touch of the concentrated manifestation of his substantial presence in the fullest sense” are guilty of “great swelling words” {2 Pet 2:18} and “fair speeches that deceive the hearts of the simple” {Rom 16:18}. They just “cannot endure that which is commanded” {Heb 12:20}— so through “philosophy and vain deceit” {Col 2:8} they scramble to support their worthless traditions received from their fathers {1 Pet 1:18} and in the process, nullify the word of God {Mk 7:9}.
Knowing that her detractors are irate with the thought of the Creator of the universe shrunk to the size of a half-dollar, the RCC presses hard to convince us that His presence in the wafer is by, “a manner of existing which, though we can scarcely express it in words. . . ought most firmly to be believed” {Trent, “On the Real Presence”. . .ch.1}. And a popular Catholic website reports that, “the body of Christ, with its head, trunk and members, has assumed a mode of existence independent of space; within the diminutive limits of the Host. . . which neither experience, nor any system of philosophy, physics or mechanics has the least inkling” {NewAdvent.org). Moreover, the Pope has said, “[We] must firmly maintain that in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist. . .[This] mystery indeed taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us.” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by Pope John Paul II, #15 & 58}. We must forthrightly object to all these grandiose claims! These unwarrantable conjectures must be passed over as gratuitously as they were advanced. Christ’s response to Thomas after inviting him to touch Him because of His unbelief was an exception. Future blessed generations, He said, would be “those who have not seen, and yet have believed” {Jn 20:29}. Roman Catholics, however, insist that Christ left us a “visible” demonstration of His presence, “such as the nature of man requires” {CCC # 1366}—but exactly how it takes place, “we must not curiously inquire” {Catechism of the Council of Trent, by McHugh, p. 239}. Man requires it, but must not inquire into it? Foolishness! Scripture makes no such demands to believe something, “regardless of how repugnant it may appear to the senses” {ibid, p.228}. Rather, we are to look foward to, “the appearing of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though ye see Him not, yet believeing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable” {1 Peter 1:7-8}. Again, the eternal, immortal King is invisible {1 Tim 1:17}—thus it is a delusion to imagine it would be His will to leave us a “visible demonstration”. We are not to place Him in a monstrance because, “Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool; what house will ye build me?” {Acts 7:49}. We are called to, “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen” {2 Cor 4:18}. The RCC has “exchanged the glory of the incorruptible, invisible God for an image. . .” —a wafer God that may be likened to a counterfeit bill that cannot be redeemed. And neither can a soul be redeemed by the counterfeit “offering” of the Eucharistic false christ in the Mass because there is now “no more offering for sin.” {Romans 1:23; 2 Cor 11:4, Heb 10:18}.
OBJECTION: “We believe that as a result of consuming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we are granted the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For as John Paul II has said, “Through our communion in His body and blood, Christ also grants us His Spirit” (and) “the joint and inseparable activity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . is at work in the Eucharist” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #17 & 23}.
ANSWER: The biblical evidence will not permit the Roman Catholic to have it both ways because the gift of the Spirit has been promised outside of the Communion ceremony by faith as Scripture clearly teaches! Because the RCC cannot pinpoint any direct biblical link as to what advantage might result from actually swallowing the physical body of Jesus, she cleverly solves this problem by co-joining the presence of the Holy Spirit as a benefit, so that everything said about the Holy Spirit, may equally be said about the Eucharist. Thus she deceitfully transfers all the attributes of the Spirt’s presence which are found in the Bible in abundance, and then unwarrantedly transfers them over to the Eucharist, which are not stated anywhere. Swallowing the body of Christ, literally or not, is a biblically proven separate action that does not give any promise equal to what the Holy Spirit has already been appointed for. The Catechism readily admits that the Spirit will “teach us everything”, helps in understanding the Word of God, renews us into the image of Christ, sanctifies the church, and produces in us “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control” according to Galatians 5:22 {CCC # 729, 1101, 1109, 747, 736}. Furthermore, they agree that He has been sent . .. . “to lead us into all truth” — “to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” —- “to shine in our hearts to give us light” — “to give us wisdom” — “to quicken us to spiritual life” — “to help our infirmaties, to help us pray, to intercede for us” — “to confirm within our hearts that we are children of God” —and “to be the seal of our inheritence” { John 16:13, 1 Cor 6:20, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 1:17, John 6:63, Romans 8:16; 26, Eph 1:13}.
We have as yet to hear of any benefit of the RCC Eucharist that has not already been defined as one of the Holy Spirit’s assigned duties. That being the case, ingesting the actual body of Christ does not serve any purpose, so our thesis will show He must have been speaking metaphorically in those places where He bids us to “eat Him”. The Holy Spirit which inspired the Scripture, singlehandedly multi-tasks all the benefits Christ promised when He emphatically stated His physical presence was going away and the Comforter sent to fill in the void. Moreover, the catechism as quoted above {#1374} which states that the Eucharist materializes the “real presence” in the fullest sense, is a lie. Galatians 3:26 says that when “we receive the promise of the Spirit by faith” —- we are filled with that Spirit and with all the fullness of God {Luke 1:41; 67, 4:1, Acts 2:4; 4:8; 31; 6:3; 5, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9; 52, Eph 3:17-19; 5:18, }. The RCC says the Eucharist brings “fullness” —but the Holy Spirit says HE does! Both cannot be true since you cannot fill a vessel that is already full with something else! Yet the RCC presses even further by supposing that, “in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the Church prays that the Father of Mercies will grant His children the fullness of the Holy Spirit . . . ” {Ecclesia de Eucharista, #43}. Let the RCC pray all she wishes. The Bible will not support this “dual presence in the fullest sense”, and therefore, she has neither one.
In addition, as they looked skyward to see Him leave this world, the angel said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.” {Acts 1:11}. Since He left in His resurrected body, He will return in “like manner” and in no other manner—including disguising Himself under the form of bread and wine. Notice— if the RCC position were true, the angel should have reminded them in similar fashion as He did at the empty tomb. .. . “He is risen. . . just as He said unto you.” {Mk 16:7} And then we would read, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? {You have the reality of His bodily presence when He hides Himself in the bread and wine, just as He said unto you}. But the angel offered no such reminder. Hence, the ascension of Christ and consequent sending of the Spirit for our comfort explicitly denies the necessity for transubstantiation, and thus the case for Jesus speaking symbolically in John 6 and the Last Supper, rings true.
Furthermore, when we take God’s character into consideration, we note that the overwhelming evidence indicates that when He wishes to demonstrate His power by miracles, they must be seen! No where in the Bible are we ever told of a miracle taking place where all the evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. Transubstantiation is an allegedly “invisible” miracle that cannot be seen. We object. The wafer looks, tastes, smells and feels like a wafer— and that is exactly what it is. How can we forget water changing into wine, a rod being changed into a serpent, the sea being split down the middle, the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and even dry bones are changed into an army of men, all to the amazement of the onlookers {Ezekiel 37:5-10}. And John the Baptist said that God could of these very stones, raise up children to Abraham {Matt 3:9}. But if He did, they would no longer retain the appearance of stones! Moreover, lest we forget that Jesus turned water into wine, we are reminded that the guests did not say, “Why are you serving us water?”. Neither did Jesus respond, “It may look and taste like water, but it is actually wine under the appearance of water.” No, in fact the guests considered the wine to be the finest served that night” (John 2:1-10). Consequently, we must conclude that invisible miracles such as disguising Himself “under the form of bread and wine” is saying something about God which is incorrect {Job 42:8}.
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Under no circumstances whatsoever does the Bible indicate the “transforming power” of the Spirit to change the emblems of bread and wine into God Almighty—as the RCC would have us believe {CCC #737, #1104}. Rather, we are told that He transforms us from one degree of glory into another as we mature {2 Cor 3:17-18, Rom 8:4, Titus 3:5}. While the RCC admits that the Holy Spirit has the power to transform our lives into the image of Christ {CCC #1109} —-they systematically proceed to duplicate and transfer every last one of the Spirit’s virtues and place them all on the head of the Eucharist— all without a shred of scriptural support.
Additionally, NO WHERE are we told that the Holy Spirit needs to be “BEGGED” out from heaven by a priest to transform a wafer into Diety {CCC #1105} and as one popular priest has written: “When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into the heavens, brings down Christ from His throne, and places Him upon our altars to be offered again as the victim for the sins of men” {Fr. John O’Brien, “The Faith of Millions”– p. 255-6}. As a matter of fact, Romans 10:6 emphatically condemns these wild ideas: “who shall ascend into heaven to bring down Christ from above?” The apostle is teaching that the language of faith does not ask a man to climb to heaven to bring Christ down again since that is impossible as well as unnecessary because Jesus has already come to earth in His incarnation, “nor yet that He should offer Himself often” {e.g. in the Mass} because, “there is now no more offering for sin” {Hebrews 9:25; 10:18}.
Therefore, since it is an established fact we have the promise of new life by the residing power and presence of the Holy Spirit within us BY FAITH —without the necessity of ingesting the body of Christ “under the form of bread and wine” {Galatians 3:2} —- Jesus had to be speaking figuratively when He told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have new life because the sending of the Spirit for comfort logically refutes the oral fixation of Roman Catholicism. “I will not leave you as orphans” . . . “Ye shall receive power and the Holy Ghost will come upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me….” {John 14:18; 20:22, Act 1:8}. Consequently, the claim that the substantial presence of Christ in, and consequent ingestion of, the Roman Catholic wafer is necessary for salvation {CCC #1129, 1374; Trent, “Concerning Communion” , ch. 1} is tragically unbiblical. Rather, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ —he is none of His” {Romans 8:9}. And again, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God {not who eat Him} they are the Sons of God” {Rms 8:14}.
DENIAL OF THE INCARNATION
The doctrine of the “Real Presence” is an intrusion upon the doctrine of the incarnation. Jesus will forever be both God and man. “For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” {Col 2:9, John 1:14}. This is the incarnation. Thus, to retain the attributes of humanity, our Lord must be localized in one place at one time since that is the nature of being human. The deity of Christ is omnipresent only in Spirit. This is in perfect harmony with the biblical testimony that the physical presence of Christ was going away; then sending the Holy Spirit to comfort us in His absence; and thereafter being physically taken up into heaven and sitting down at the right hand of God until He returns {Acts 1:11; Hebrews 10:12}. However, the RCC position is that the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ which is everywhere present at every Mass on planet earth! This cannot be so as it violates the doctrine of the incarnation. “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore all things” {Acts 3:19-21}.
OBJECTION: But the Catholic Church already agrees that, “Christ’s body is present in one place only, namely in Heaven. In its sacramental state, however {under the form of bread and wine} it has multi-presence” {Ludwig Ott, author of “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, in “Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews”}.
ANSWER: Roman Catholicism leaves the impression that the Creator of the universe was lax in His ability to convey exactly what we need to know via the Scripture and that He’s appointed RCC personnel to expound with more exactitude. We deny this. Consider the lesson given to us in 1 Kings 13:1, where a lesson is to be learned {Rms 15:4}. God tells a man to take a journey with strict instructions. Someone comes along claiming to speak for God, but he lies to him, saying plans have been changed! You can read for yourself the dire consequences that were suffered after being enticed by this falsehood. We learn from this story that God’s marching orders are crystal clear regarding His presence on earth via the Holy Spirit. He has emphatically told us to reject any physical sightings of Him in any shape or form, and that would include “sacramentally” since He has given us no exception to the rule . The RCC comes along claiming to speak for God and tells us plans have been “expanded” (i.e., the human nature of Christ in its “sacramental form” may also contain the attribute of omnipresence). NO WAY. Christians must be unalterably opposed to these pious excuses because we are warned not to add to the Word of God, lest we are found to be a liar {Deut 4:2, Prov 30:6, Rev 22:18}.
THE REAL ABSENCE
Jesus said that, “if I go not away, the Comforter —which is the Holy Spirit, will not come; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” {John 16:7}.
Any physical presence therefore, of Christ in the Lord’s Supper, other than by His indwelling Spirit is a denial of His real human nature which must be localized in one place. In actuality, the Lord’s Supper is a witness to his real absence — for “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.” {1 Cor 11:26}. The physical act of eating the emblems at Communion has value only in pointing to the spiritual truth which they represent. More on this later.
If the bodily presence of Christ were indeed contained in the RCC Eucharist, then the words, “Do this in remembrance of me” would be meaningless. A memorial service is not held for someone in attendance, but for someone who has departed.
Thus, transubstantiation is like an extra jigsaw puzzle piece we noticed in the box after completing the framework of Christian theology. It simply does not belong.
JOHN 6:53
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you”
Are these words of Jesus to be taken figuratively or literally? The RCC insists they are to be taken literally, while most other churches demand the figurative sense. The difference is crucial and we are convinced the biblical data supports the fact that the RCC wars against Scripture, common sense and reason. To begin with, the bare assertion that we are to take these words literally, but at the same time are expected to believe that the literal body and blood of Christ are hidden, veiled to the senses and only appear as bread and wine, is a nonsensical definition of the word “literal”, unsupported by any grammatical or historical context of the word itself. Second, the Bible is a treasure chest of metaphorical, symbolic and parabolic expressions, none of which is to be taken literally, but rather as illustrative in order to startle and lead us into spiritual reality. What is important to remember is that we stand on a firm foundation when we declare
God’s word endorses the concept of eating and drinking as an act of the intellect!
For example, we cannot “eat and drink righteousness”. Yet Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled {Matt 5:6}. Notice— right from the start of His ministry, He begins to utilize eating and drinking in a symbolic sense. Long before Catholicism came on the scene, the Psalmist demonstrates a desire to “eat” God also. “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” {34:8}. However, he most certainly was not desiring to physically ingest his Creator into his stomach, but rather a deepening appreciation of who He was and what He had accomplished. A little later we read of His desire to “drink” of the Lord also. “My soul thirsteth for God” {42:2}. Was he looking for some “holy water” that He offers? No, but for a similar reason as before. “Whether we be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, we have been all made to drink into one Spirit” {1 Cor 12:13}. And when Paul spoke to those who were “babes in Christ”, he said he had to {figuratively} “feed” them with milk {the elementary truths of the faith} and not with meat {the more advanced teachings . . .1 Cor 3:1-2}. In conjunction with these ideas, it is not surprising to find the Lord describing Himself as, “the fountain of living waters” and to “everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters” {Jeremiah 2:13; Isaiah 55:1}. In the last two chapters of the Bible, God promises to quench our spiritual thirst by “giving unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” {Rev 21:6; 22:17}.
THE FAITH OF THE CANAAITE WOMAN
She sought Jesus for the healing of her daughter. He responded that He was not sent except to the house of Israel and it would not be good to take the children’s bread {Israel} and throw it to the little dogs first. Her response was incisive: “Truth, Lord; but even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from the master’s table.”
“Oh woman”, she was told, “great is thy faith. Let it be done unto you as you desire. And her daughter was healed from that very hour” {Matt 15:21}. This is a striking example where Jesus equated the act of believing —as being synonymous with “eating the words from the master’s table”. This is precisely how the Lord wishes us to understand Him in John 6 and at the Lord’s Supper, and the Old Testament prepares us for this interpretation:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” {Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4}. And, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” {Job 23:12}. “Thy words were found and I did EAT them, and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” {Jer 15:16}
With these thoughts as our foundation, now let us explore what comes before John 6 to see if we are on scriptural ground when we arrive at our conclusion that Jesus did not intend for us to eat Him in the crude, literal fashion the RCC suggests. Notice the consistent pattern where His audience gets confused because they take Him literally and focus on the physical aspect:
CHAPTER 1 THEY MISUNDERSTAND!
Jesus is described as the “light of men” {1:5}. Was He a lightbulb? NO. He is also described as “the Lamb of God” {1:29}. Was He a barn animal? NO. Elsewhere in the book of John, He is described as a “door”, “a sheperd”, “the way”, and “the vine”. All of these are figurative expressions, but when we get to His saying, “This is my body” and calling Himself “the bread of life”, the RCC takes this literally and thinks we ought to eat Him! But He was no more a loaf of bread to be consumed than actual believers are meant to be consumed when the apostle called the church, “we being many are one bread.” {1 Cor 10:17}.
OBJECTION: There is no logical parallel between the words, “This is my body” and the statements, “I am the vine” or “I am the door”. Yes, Christ is like a vine because all the sap of my spiritual life comes from Him, and He is like a door because I go to heaven through Him. But since there is no one to one corrolation between a piece of bread and His flesh, “This is my body” could not be symbolic. {“Catholicism & Fundamentalism”, by Keating, p. 236}.
ANSWER: Completely untrue. Jesus was looking back to millenia of symbolism and identifying Himself in it. The bread they were eating was unleavened bread because leaven represents sin…of which He had no part. Go to any supermarket and buy a box of matzot. You will note that the matzot has a particular appearance. It is both striped and pierced throughout. Thus, the direct corrolation here is that He is like a piece of unleavened bread because, “By His stripes we are healed . . .(and) He was pierced for our iniquity” {Isa 53}. The Lord even compares Himself to a “grain of wheat” —from which bread is made— which falls into the ground and dies (John 12:24). These things being so, there is indeed direct association between bread and His flesh to validate Christ was speaking symbolically when He said, “This is my body.” Further evidence for symbolism at the Last Supper will follow shortly.
CHAPTER 2 THEY MISUNDERSTAND!
At the temple, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign of His authority. He answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews took Christ literally, saying the temple took 46 years to build and would be impossible to reconstruct in three days. They misunderstood the true spiritual meaning of His words. The next passage reads, “But He spoke of the temple of His body” —referring to the forthcoming destruction of His body and consequent resurrection three days later {2:21}.
CHAPTER 3 HE MISUNDERSTANDS!
Jesus told Nicodemus that He had to be born again. Nicodemus wonders how he could enter a second time into his mother’s womb {3:4}. He misunderstood that Jesus was contrasting physical birth with spiritual birth.
CHAPTER 4 SHE MISUNDERSTANDS!
Jesus purposely situates Himself in a setting where the topic of drinking was sure to come up {4:5}. He goes to a place called “Jacob’s well” — waiting for His divine appointment with a woman looking to draw water. He told her that He had “living water” to give her. But she noticed that He had nothing to draw water with and wondered how He was going to retrieve the water in a well that was so deep. She misunderstood! The spiritual water He was offering her was no more H20 than the offer to eat His flesh and drink His blood was an invitation to cannabilism. Jesus responded that, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” {13:14}. She misunderstands again! She is bent on thinking on the physical level and wants to know where this water is so she wouldn’t have to make the journey to the well ever again. But He was not offering to satisfy her physical thirst from Jacob’s well. He wanted her to drink from “Christ’s well” —-whose water {the Holy Spirit} would become a well that bubbles up and assures her of everlasting life. As the Psalmist said, “My cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” {23:5-6}. This interpretation is confirmed in chapter 7, “if any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive. .. ..” {7:38-39}. There is no escaping the fact that the word of God is making clear that spiritual eating and drinking is through believing iin Him and that as a result of the gift of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, that person becomes a river, or a channel of blessing of eternal life to others. This is verified in Isaiah 44:3: “I will pour out my Spirit upon thy offspring and they shall spring up among the grass as willows by the water.”
The impossibility of the physical manifestation of Christ in the RCC Eucharist is also implied in this conversation. The woman said that “our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus responded that the hour was coming when she would neither worship in this mountain or in Jerusalem—{“for the Holy Ghost had not yet been given” John 7:39}—for God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit {not in the material} and in truth” {4:21-24}. Two separate commands are implied here and the RCC flunks the test in both. First, worship under the New Covenant would not be characterized by locality and materiality— but is rather an action of the heart. Yet, the RCC is infamous for confining her worship in a sacred vessel, on an altar and distributing a material object, “to exercise the work of salvation . . .by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves” {Vatican 2, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, para 6}. So whether it be at Mass or making an appointment at a Eucharistic devotion, or when the community carries the monstrance in a parade through town, these desires for physical manifestations are out of sync with John 4.
Second, “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign. . .of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer” {Catechism of the RCC, # 1325, #1380}.
Note here the claim of sanctification through worship of the Eucharist! This directly contradicts the Bible which says that we are sanctified by the operation of the Holy Spirit who dwells within {1 Cor 6:11} . Sanctification is a lifelong process wherein we are “conformed to the image of His Son” {Romans 8:29} and Jesus prayed that we would be “sanctified through thy truth; thy word is truth ” {Jn 17:17}. That being the case, the process of advancing along on the road of holiness can only come about through “eating” the Word of God because, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste; yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth ……and “How then shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to thy word” {Ps 119:103 . . .Ps 119:9}.
In direct opposition to this, the RCC says it is by the ingestion and worship of the Eucharistic wafer! “There is nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness {than} conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament” {“Mysterium Fidei” by JPII}. “Growth in the Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion” {CCC #1392}.
All the good things the RCC may say of the Holy Spirit are drowned out and nullified by falsely asserting that Christ left us a “visible” demonstration of His presence, “such as the nature of man demands” {CCC # 1366}. True, obstinate men may indeed require a sign, but Jesus’ general tenor was that an “evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, but there shall no sign be given. . . ” {Matt 12:39}. The RCC’s infatuation with the physical by #1. . .. centering her worship in religious spectacle; #2. . . gaining access to Christ’s substantial presence contingent upon the magic of Transubstantiation, and #3. . .. becoming sanctified by worshipping, then swallowing a material object, is diametrically opposed to the undenialable spiritual applications set forth by Jesus everywhere in the Gospel of John.
Someone has correctly observed: “The interaction in John 4 bears remarkable similarity with John 6. In J-4, Jesus picks up on the woman’s interest in water. In J-6, He picks up on the crowd’s interest in bread. In both cases, eternal life is in view. In both cases, a metaphor of consumption is used to illustrate belief in Jesus. Since He is speaking of eternal life in both passages, the question must be asked: If the RCC insists on viewing J-6 literally, in that we must actually eat bread to gain eternal life, why does that same RCC not teach that we must drink physical water to obtain eternal life per J-4? If the RCC understands J-4 symbolically, (and she does) then she has no basis for rejecting the symbolic understanding of J-6.” {“Evangelical Answers”, by E. Svendsen, p. 246}. The parallel is clear: if drinking literal water does not produce eternal life, then neither does eating actual bread.
CHAPTER 5 THEY MISUNDERSTAND!
Jesus was claiming to be equal with God and this very thought was revolting to the Jews, whose vociferous hostility was to the point of seeking to slay Him {5:16}. Christ responded that, “he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life.” Here we notice eternal life is offered simply by faith—-with no requirement of eating and drinking anything.
CHAPTER 6 THEY MISUNDERSTAND!
In light of the many erroneous conclusions people made preceeding John 6—as well as after {7:36, 8:22, 10:6, 11:12, 16:18}— it should now come as no surprise that subsequent to Jesus announcing that we should eat His flesh and drink His blood, “the Jews strove among themselves, saying ‘How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” {6:52}.
We are practically set up to expect that once again, people were about to be confounded by the words of the Messiah. We insist on the strongest of evidence that just as before, they have failed to follow the spiritual tapestry underlying the symbol of His words and the result is similar to what comes later in 10:6: “But they understood not what things they were which He spake unto them”. Amazingly, it is right here that the RCC interferes with the symmetry of Scripture and would have us believe for no good reason that the Jews were following His train of thought perfectly. They unconvincingly argue that although the Jews were confused, they were correct to understand Christ literally; that He was actually bidding us to eat His physical body so the RCC view of transubstantiation may be vindicated. But this absolutely cannot be true no matter how many popes, priests, prelates or paupers have promoted it! It was the intentional will of God to withhold the mysteries of the kingdom to many for His own good reasons and this is yet another pristine example {Isa 6:9, Matt 11:25, Mk 4:11-12, Luke 8:10, John 9:39-41, Rms 11:8}.
Simple logic also wins out in this case. If the Jews did not believe Jesus descended from heaven to begin with (John 6:41-2), it is inconceivable He would add to their disbelief with an even more astounding miracle—that being the alleged consumption of His physical body. The teacher who has a class of elementary Algebra students who are not comprehending well, would never imagine moving on to Calculus to resolve their confusion. And neither did Jesus move on to a higher plain of spirituality, even if Transubstantiation were true, without them first accepting His divine origin. The entire theme of the gospel of John that is reiterated over and over again is believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that is exactly what “eating” His body and blood on the “metaphorical menu” was meant to convey. Again, if the Jews did not believe in His divine origin from the start—which is a truth set forth in the very first verse of this gospel, it is illogical to suppose that Jesus would take them on to more advanced learning. By describing Himself as the “Bread of Life” in verse 35, the RCC admits that up to verse 47, “the teaching and the meaning, at least up to this point, is purely symbolic” (Not By Bread Alone, by R. Sungenis, p. 172). Hence, the RCC bids us to believe that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He says He was the bread that came down from heaven, but then spoke literally when He told them to eat it! This is pure nonsense. Jesus used this “oral oratory” in John 6 to set the table—but not for Him being the main course! It was to convey the idea of believing in Him, period. “He that cometh to me [not he who eats me] shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst” (6:35).
THE BLOOD OF ATONEMENT WAS NOT A BEVERAGE
When John 6:53 is interpreted literally, it is in disharmony with the rest of the Bible. It opposes scores of verses that declare salvation is by faith in Christ without any indication of the need to consume Him in bodily form. Jesus was using the metaphor of drinking to teach that the basis for eternal life was by accepting His flesh and blood sacrifice {1 John 4:2-3}. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood are separate realities signifying we are reconciled to God by BOTH His life of perfect obedience, and the blood He poured out, dying in our place {Romans 5:10 & 19}. These sacred sentiments can be summed up by—- ” having faith in His blood” {Romans 3:25}——not drinking it.
Cannibalism was condemned in Genesis 9:4, and abstaining from the universal revulsion of drinking literal blood is confirmed in Acts 15:20, 29 & 21:25 after Christ ascended back to heaven. Notice– if there was some exception to this rule—-such as literally drinking His blood in Communion, which the RCC says is “the source and summit of the Christian life” {CCC #1324}— the book of Acts would have included this exception, but it does not—-which means the concept of Transubstantiation had never even entered their minds.
Eating and drinking are metaphors for believing in Him—-count on it. To believe is to accept something in the mind and absorb it in the soul. That’s eactly what eating does. Our bodies accept the food through the mouth, and it gets absorbed through digestion.
Read it again. How do we get new life?
“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” {John 6:53}
WHAT DID HE WISH TO CONVEY? THE ANSWER IS FOUND LATER IN JOHN 20:31 . . .
IT IS BY
believing that Jesus is the Christ, that we have life.
In 1 Cor 10:4 we are metaphorically told that in the Old Testament, those wandering in the wilderness “drank” from their spiritual Rock, who was Christ. The water that flowed from an actual rock was indeed literal water so they would not die of thirst, but the language of Scripture which turns Christ into a beverage, as it were, was not meant to be taken literally as even all Catholics will agree (See any Bible Commentary of your choice on this verse). Thus, since the idea of “drinking” Christ in a figurative sense was introduced in the Old Testament, all rational reasoning demands we keep the same typology when we come to the New Testament (1 Cor 2:13).
THE PLEDGE
OBJECTION: But the Catechism tells us that being nourished with the Eucharist brings a foretaste of the transfiguration of our bodies, confirming with a PLEDGE that we belong to the body of Christ {CCC #1000, 1003} insisting that no surer PLEDGE or clearer sign could be given of this great hope in the new heavens and new earth {CCC #1402, 1405} .
ANSWER: The Catechism is dead wrong to say there is “no surer pledge” that has been given. It is not having ingested the Eucharist that confirms our sonship, but God has ordained the indwelling Holy Spirit to be the “seal of our inheritance” . . .period {Eph 1:13-14, 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5}. Or, as the Amplified Bible phrases it, “the security deposit and guarantee of the fulfillment of His promise”. Or as another has said, “The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is said to be an “earnest” —that is, a pledge or deposit on an ultimate fulfillment of a magnified promise” (“Days of Praise” devotional, 5/25/07 entry). Or still yet another, “the Spirit is given to us as a downpayment in PLEDGE that the entire inheritance will follow because we are joint-heirs with Christ” {Believer’s Bible Commentary, by McDonald}. All of these comments are vindicated by the fact that the word translated “earnest” (Greek, arrhabon) is essentially a transliteration of its Hebrew equivalent (arabown), translated “pledge” in the O.T. (see Genesis 38:17-20). Count on it! The Holy Spirit is our pledge and not ingestion of the Eucharist!
The other claim in the objection above regarding the Eucharist being a foretaste of our heavenly bodies, is also erroneous. “Now He that has wrought us [fashioned and prepared us] for the selfsame thing [this very thing] is God, who also has given us the earnest of the Spirit” {2 Cor 5:5). What is this “very thing” God has prepared us for by sealing us with His Spirit? The answer is found in 2 Cor 5:1-2; which advances the argument that being sealed with the Spirit is in fact that “foretaste” of the immortal body which we will receive when we go to be with the Lord. And so the claim of the Eucharist being a foretaste of our resurrected bodies, has once again been demolished by the Word of God which is sharper than any two-edged sword {Hebrews 4:12}.
OBJECTION: We are also told that the Eucharist has the “power of resurrection ” that will raise us from the dead and bring us to heaven {CCC #1524}. The Pope claims that, “in the Eucharist, we receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #18}.
ANSWER: We repeat, these statements are in complete contradiction to Romans 8:11, Eph 1:13-14, 2 Cor 1:22 & 5:5 which assert that the Spirit has been given to us as the seal (or pledge) of our inheritance and it is this power that will result in resurrection: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwells in you.” Hence, the Holy Spirit is the present possession of all who have received Jesus as Savior, and God’s pledge of a glorious future consisting of a perfect body, a great inheritance, and the certain fulfillment of all His gracious promises. Roman Catholics must face the fact that their church has inexcusably transubstantiated all the attributes of the Holy Spirit and turned them into the alleged benefits to be received by swallowing the Eucharist. This is rank heresy!
”I HAVE SPOKEN UNTO YOU IN FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE”
It must be underscored that all too often Jesus used the most provocative and compelling expressions to drive His point home and John 6 is no exception. For example,
“If thy right hand causes you to sin, cut it off” {Matt 5:30} –and “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother. . .and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” {Luke 14:26}.
He was not speaking in the literal sense in these places, and neither was He speaking literally when He told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood! Just as one eats and drinks in order to have physical life, so too must one eat {believe} in Christ to have eternal life. The RCC is blinded to the fact that just as we do not literally “eat God” when we are asked to, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” {Psalms 34:8}. . . neither do we actually consume His physique when we are asked to eat His flesh and drink His blood. Witness John 16:25: “These things have I spoken unto you in figurative language; but an hour is coming when I shall no more speak unto you in figurative language, but I shall show you plainly. . .” {NKJ version}. When we consider that the events of John 6 took place before Jesus’s “hour to speak plainly”, then we may rightfully expect Him to be speaking more often in figurative language! As a matter of fact, even after the discourse in John 6, the Jews came right out and said, “How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, TELL US PLAINLY ” {John 10:24}.
TWO WAYS OF SAYING THE SAME THING
It must be a fact therefore, that “eating and drinking” are synonymous with simply “believing in Christ” because they both produce the same result —eternal life!
In John 5:24, 6:35, 6:40, 6:47 we read that believing in Him results in everlasting life. Compare them with verse 54 and we learn that eating His flesh and drinking His blood also brings eternal life. To eat His flesh and drink His blood is analogous to believing in Him. . . period.
STATED IN PLAIN LANGUAGE . . . {John 6:40}
” . . .everyone which seeth the Son and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
STATED IN FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE . . .{John 6:54}
“whoso eateth my flesh and drinks my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”
Again—”Lazarus sleepeth, but I go to awake him out of sleep”. The disciples said not to bother, let him enjoy his rest. Jesus then said, “Lazarus is dead” {John11:11}. Two ways of saying the same thing—- and still yet another example in the book of John where someone has misunderstood.
THE MEAT OF THE MATTER
What then of, “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”? Notice that a few chapters earlier in John 4:33, Christ spoke figuratively regarding eating when answering the question, “Has any man brought Him something to eat?” He replied that, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” . . . “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.” Without a doubt, the word “meat” is used in a figurative sense here, signifying that the “food” which gave Christ His spiritual nourishment, was the will of God in finishing the work set before Him. The RCC continues to erroneously think on physical terms, making the same mistake as those characters cited above. Thus, it is conclusive that if eating meat was figurative in John 4, then “My flesh is meat indeed” in John 6 must be figurative as well. After stating that He was the living bread which came down from Heaven, He categorically defines that bread as “my flesh which I will give for the life of the world” {6:51}. He is referring to His sacrificial death on the cross, and not that He will turn into a wafer for public consumption at Communion! “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son , that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” {John 3:16}.
CONFESS IT WITH YOUR MOUTH — DON’T EAT IT
Jesus contrasted Himself as the “living bread” which came down from heaven, with the manna that rained down on their fathers and sustained them on their journey. But now, it would be a different kind of eating, “NOT as your fathers did eat the manna and are dead {6:49}. By eating this bread, we are told, we would not die. What bread?
The RCC asserts that this “new”, different kind of eating is the ingestion of Jesus Christ into the stomach through the Eucharist. Not a chance. Every Roman Catholic who has ever lived and swallowed the Eucharist are just as dead as those referred to above. And every Roman Catholic who hears the Bread of Life saying that by coming to Him, you will never again hunger or thirst {6:35},—–always ends up with hunger pains one hour after swallowing the Eucharist.
The “different kind” of eating He had to be referring to was the eating = believing kind. This is the same “bread” that the woman seeking healing for her daughter “ate” as previously noted—and which Jesus categorized as faith {Matt 15:26-27}. One’s spiritual hunger and thirst will be satisfied only when one realizes that salvation is a free gift that is received by faith—–not something we do by ingesting Him into the stomach. This metaphorical way of speaking is consistent with how salvation was likewise offered in the Old Testament:
“Everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come—buy {priceless, spiritual} wine and milk without money and without price. Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness {the profuseness of spiritual joy— Isaiah 55:1, Amplified Bible}
Romans 10:9 agrees: “If you {eat with your mouth? NO} —-CONFESS with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”
OBJECTION: We were taught that we need to both believe and to eat the Eucharist to be saved.
ANSWER: Once again, Roman Catholics wish to have their eucharistic cake and eat it too. However, the evidence has shown that having only one thought in mind, and expressing it in two ways is indeed biblical. Lazarus was either asleep or he was dead, not both. Jesus wants us to either eat His flesh or to believe in Him, not both.
We would remind you that Moses put the likeness of a deadly serpent on a pole and invited the dying to merely LOOK upon it and live. How strange this must have seemed. The poison was inside the people as a result of being bitten by snakes. How could looking at something completely outside of themselves do any good? {Numbers 21:18}. Similarly, the Roman Catholic Eucharist is inside the stomach—and is just as worthless for salvation as snake venom was to the people’s health. This is an eloquent picture of being justified by faith alone and not faith plus the Eucharist. We must look outside of ourselves to be saved {Isa 53:5}. Jesus bids us to compare the two incidents of LOOKING to the serpent alone for healing, and LOOKING to Him alone for salvation in John 3:14 {See also Isa 45:22}.
THE FLESH PROFITS NOTHING
In response to the people asking, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” the Lord responded, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life” {John 6:63}. The words and ideas they expressed were not meant to be taken in a crudely literal sense! Truth is spiritual, and the words which communicate it, “are spirit and are life” —–the very “word of life” which Paul said it is the duty of Christians to keep “holding forth” {Phil 2:16}. Language, by its very nature is non-physical. Concepts such as justice and truth are beyond the reach of the five senses. Man is a non-physical and eternal being inhabiting a temporary “shell” to complete our earthly sojourn.

Lucien Syme November 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Wow I have a comment…
But first allow me to copy and paste the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church and post it in a message at your listed email address.
Please correct all of the doctrines you feel are in error and get back with me, because quite frankly if all those Church Fathers, creeds and liturgies were in error regarding the Real Presence – I won’t trust them regarding the Trinity, the canon of Scripture or Jesus being true God and true man.
By logical extension I won’t bother listening to the current teaching regarding contraception and can get back to living like a pagan again. Thanks for the help Gecko!

Maureen November 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

My comment is that it’s rude to hijack Jimmy’s comment box by pasting in a zillion page paper, particularly one that is off-topic. The polite thing to do is to say, “I have some comments over on my webpage” and link to it.
Of course, if you are James McCarthy, Gecko, you are still rude but not off-topic. But I don’t think that’s who you are.

SDG November 16, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Gecko,
While your comment is prohibitively long and rather tendentious, and would normally be removed, I’m inclined to let it stand, at least temporarily.
I see that some of your comments are copied and pasted from a comment at another Catholic site, but as far as I can tell the majority of what you’ve posted does not appear to be cross-posted to other sites. (If anyone can document that Gecko is cutting and pasting the bulk of his content, please let me know.)
Here is a test. Are you a human being and will you interact with others? Please reply if you are interested in dialogue. Otherwise your comment will presently be removed.

TMJS November 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

I have a comment: no one read that.

The Masked Chicken November 16, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I don’t know. What Gecko has written is about ten shades of bad theology. I can’t begin to comment on all of the twisting and misunderstanding of even basic theological concepts, such as the Trinity, which is in his comments. God forgive me, but there are sometimes I wish the Bible had been written in a language no one could understand and would not be translated until the Last Day. If we had to be content to live as Christians solely based on Community memory, perhaps we would be less arrogant, but perhaps more. In any case, without establishing that the Bible is the sole rule of faith as his first proof, one can safely ignore everything that follows. His entire comment is without foundation. I vote, remove it.
The Chicken

M. L. Martin November 16, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Lucien–Well, the paper does appeal to the Albigensians as witnesses against the belief in the Real Presence, and they’d be down on you for not using contraception . . . ;)

BobCatholic November 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm

Interesting how Gecko does not appeal to the Apostolic interpretation of scripture but only to his own interpretation of scripture.
Sola Mirrora at its best.
Posting a huge long treatise does not prove anything if it is based on man-made traditions.
I have a simple question for Gecko: How did the Apostle John interpret John Chapter 6? After all, he WROTE the Gospel of John, so how did he interpret it? He knew what he was writing.
The answer is: He doesn’t know. He has to ask the person who wrote that huge spam just to see if John actually did have an interpretation of scripture.

Tim J. November 16, 2009 at 5:27 pm

I vote to flush.

SDG November 16, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Here is a question for Gecko … and for any other students who want to play.
Take a look at the very first sentence in Gecko’s post in which he attempts to characterize Catholic teaching, and gives a CCC reference in support of his characterization.
See if you can find the two falsehoods in Gecko’s statement not contained in the CCC reference Gecko gives.
Then review my original post and see if you can find where I already refuted those same two errors.
Raise your hand if you need help.

M. L. Martin November 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Actually, SDG, I think that’s the second Catechism reference in his outpouring, although it’s the first one labeled as coming from the Catechism. But the points you made in Items 5 and 6 of the original post stand.

Gecko November 16, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Hey guys…it’s me Mr. Gecko.
No, I am not Mr. McCarthy as someone asked. But I must say, I was very disappointed with all your comments. All bones, but no meat! Not one person could interact with even one thing we said. You must be feeling quite overwhelmed that Scripture has so much against this belief. Take your time. I understand that old habits do indeed die hard.
Maureen said it was rude to post the paper, however she did not point to any internet etiqette rule I failed to follow, so I’m not going on any guilt trips for speaking about the gospel. She also said what I wrote was “off-topic”. Excuse me, but I read all the above hoopla about the video (which I own) and that show DOES mention transubstantiation, so it is unfair to say I am off-topic.
It took my partner and I 6 months to put together all those reasons, and all SDG wants to do is find evidence of plagerism! As a matter of fact, we did read other people’s comments, and if we took a sentence here and there that said it better than we ever could, then so be it. For the most part, we were too busy making sure we quoted your sources accurately and rightly dividing the word of God to demonstrate that transubstantiation is UNSUBSTANTIATED! SDG asks if I am a real person and am I willing to interact? This question just proves that he didn’t even read what we wrote because we specifically invited the reader to write to us at both the beginning and the end of the “epistle”. Furthermore, kindly ask your question outright instead of asking people to raise their hands if anyone is having a problem seeing the allegedly erroneous “characterization” we are guilty of—without mentioning it.
To Mr. Chicken, I say that’s exactly what you are. Apparently not having anything relevant to say and afraid to deal with even ONE point we brought up, you and Tim J vote to flush our epistle down the tank. My, my….do you think for one minute you intimidate us? You’re only showing how shocked you were to find out that God’s word has so much in favor of the figurative position, you end up like those who gnashed their teeth at Jesus and wanted to throw Him over the cliff! He was not afraid of them, and neither are we afraid of you. There is a war going on for the souls of men, and since we are concerned you be not sent off to the “eternal chicken coop”, we wrote the essay.
And to Bob the Catholic, I just had to laugh at your question. You wanted to know how the apostle John, who wrote the book of John, interpreted John 6???
I’m afraid this is a non-question because when people write, they don’t normally “interpret” their writings within the context of their own very writings! If you have anything negative to say to that, do remember that when the pope has spoken, normally you need to refer to another interpreter who has to interpret the infallible interpreter, which is why, for example, so many Catholics disagree on what was said and accomplished at Vatican 2, not the least of which is, “was that an infallible council or not?”
Now let’s cut to the quick: Jesus instructed us to search the scriptures and that’s exactly what we’ve done. It should go without saying that when He told us to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He knew VERY well He was going to be misunderstood and people were either going to take Him literally or figuratively. There is simply no escaping the fact that by virtue of this startling form of speech, the sovereignty of God demands that He has appointed a group of people to believe a lie, holding to a complete falsehood right up to the end of time…. for His own good reasons. Roman Catholicism concludes one thing, and Protestants say another. We are completely convinced however, the infallible word of God has given us all the evidence we need to understand that Jesus Christ was speaking FIGURATIVELY….and we stand behind that 100% without any doubts or fears.
Now. We established the fact that your church teaches that “jesus” LEAVES after no more than 5 minutes in the stomach after being “defeated” by stomach acids. What in the world do you think He has accomplished in just a few minutes before He packs his bags? What benefit do you think you have received? Be careful not to answer with any attribute that the word of God has ALREADY ascribed to the Holy Spirit—which we confronted in one of our objections. Kindly read that before making a reply.

BobCatholic November 17, 2009 at 12:26 am

>You must be feeling quite overwhelmed that Scripture has so much against this belief.
No, we are underwhelmed that your INTERPRETATION of scripture has so much against this belief.
So, which should we accept? Your interpretation? Or that of the 12 Apostles?
Hint: Galatians 1:9
>I’m afraid this is a non-question because when people write, they don’t normally “interpret” their writings within the context of their own very writings!
Actually it is a very important question.
You failed to answer it. Why?
Are you saying that John the Apostle had no idea what Jesus meant in John 6? John just wrote it down and didn’t bother understanding what he wrote?
That’s John’s interpretation of John 6. Tell me what it is.
Here’s a hint: You won’t. You will tell us your interpretation again :)
Sola mirrora strikes again.

The Sarge November 17, 2009 at 4:12 am

SDG: “…as far as I can tell, the majority of what you’ve posted does not appear to be cross-posted to other sites.”
Gecko: “…all SDG wants to do is find evidence of plagerism(sic).”
It looks to me as though SDG was DEFENDING Gecko AGAINST charges of plagiarism.
Gecko: “Not one person could interact with even one thing we said.”
Since that is not true, what are we to make of Gecko’s reading comprehension level?

Tim J. November 17, 2009 at 5:30 am

“Not one person could interact with even one thing we said.”
Couldn’t, or wouldn’t?
If you had bothered to read Da Rulz for posting on Jimmy’s blog, you might have received more response to your nonsense, though I myself have more important things to do at the moment than to respond point-by-point to your private delusions.
FYI, Da Rulz state;
“3. Also because of the format restrictions, everyone must be concise. Don’t go on at length about things. Pasting large amounts of text into the combox also counts as going on at length. Going on at length constitutes rudeness.
4. Comments violating the first three rules will be deleted.”

SDG November 17, 2009 at 5:33 am

In case anyone is wondering, Gecko is not McCarthy. Not a chance. I will refrain from explicit comparisons, but suffice to say they would favor one of the two over the other in a number of respects.
Gecko: You are mistaken on a number of points.
My point about cross-posting was not about plagiarism, or at least not solely about plagiarism. My first concern was that since you posted a mountain-load of material obviously not written in response to my original post, before wasting time rebutting your points I wanted to know if you were just a hit-and-run cross-poster or if there was a human being who would respond to cross-examination here on this blog. Since you are now responding to actual things other people have said, that’s one question answered.
You are mistaken in supposing that my question on this point somehow indicates that I didn’t read your invitation to others to engage you off the blog. Whether you would respond to someone writing to you at your email address is a different question from whether you would ever come back to this combox or respond here after your initial data dump.
As I said, despite the fact that posting this much independent material is rude and against the rules, I’m inclined to let it stand for now, and perhaps to take some time engaging you and letting others engage you. After all, this is an apologetics blog, among other things, and answering arguments like yours is part of what it is all about.
However, there are rules. Please feel free to defend your views and to critique the Catholic view as strongly and clearly as possible. Please watch the sarcasm, personal attacks and judgments — and that goes for both sides, everyone. I hope that after all this time we can deal with someone like Gecko without stooping below the level of discussion that our host has tried to set for us over the years.
My initial challenge to you stands. You wrote: “The RCC teaches that a priest has the power to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, and through the miracle of Transubstantiation, the communion wafer and the wine are both suddenly changed into His actual body and blood, even though there appears to be no change in the elements under close scientific examination {Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376}.”
Do you believe that everything in that sentence is substantiated in CCC §1376? If not, can you defend everything in that sentence from anywhere in the CCC? Specifically, can you find the two claims in your sentence not set forth in the CCC §1376, or anywhere in the CCC? Let me know if you need help.
P.S. Good work, M. L. Martin!

Tim J. November 17, 2009 at 5:37 am

Also, don’t make the (very common) mistake of thinking that your arguments are unanswerable when the truth is they are incomprehensible.
It’s like trying to argue with people who insist we never went to the moon and have reams of arguments and “evidence” to support their position. Where does one begin to unravel such a knot of illogic? It’s about as productive as trying to nail a Jell-o salad to the wall.
No, thanks.

The Masked Chicken November 17, 2009 at 5:54 am

Not one person could interact with even one thing we said. You must be feeling quite overwhelmed that Scripture has so much against this belief…To Mr. Chicken, I say that’s exactly what you are. Apparently not having anything relevant to say and afraid to deal with even ONE point we brought up, you and Tim J vote to flush our epistle down the tank.
First of all, what I said was quite relevant: you have committed some pretty elementary theological errors and secondly, while I understand that you have spent a fair amount of time assembling your arguments, such as they are, what you have done is the equivalent of rediscovering phlogiston, the hypothetical substance that was thought to release fire when things burned. You have restated already known and defeased arguments. Should I waste my time doing it all over, again? Do you think we haven’t heard these arguments, before? Do your homework, proper homework, to understand the Catholic interpretation of the arguments you present. When you have done that, I will be happy to discuss the issues with you. Why should I engage an opponent who hasn’t read the literature? If you had, you would have already found your refutation in them.
While you are at it, you might want to ask yourself: who told you that Scripture was the sole rule of faith (yet another relevant comment I made in my post)? Until you can answer that, I do not feel that discussing issues with you will be fruitful, because you have taken an arguable point as an axiom. This is unwarranted and I am asking for justification. If you answer that Scripture says it is the sole rule of faith and basis for argument about God, you have committed a logical error and actually denied that Scripture is the sole rule of faith. A self-referential statement such as Scripture asserting that it is the sole rule of faith violates fairly strong theorems in logic and can be shown to be paradoxical and without truth content.
I am not afraid to respond to your points. I simply don’t want to waste time.
You (it appears that there are two of you) seem to be sincere and honestly think you have found serious problems with the Catholic interpretation of Christianity. As such, I respect that and hope that you find answers to the questions you have raised. Since the answers are already known, however, I would suggest you look for them. I do not mean to sound condescending or patronizing. I really want the best. I’m just a bit grumpy, today, and I don’t feel like getting into an extended discussion until I have more time (and patience), and you have understood the issues better. You are my brothers (and sisters?) in Christ, no matter what you may think and you deserve more charity from me in this post and the post, above, and for my lack, I apologize. Perhaps if you had posted smaller amounts and less of a manifesto, I would be less grumpy.
The Chicken

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 6:54 am

It looks like I have been given permission to answer some of your comments and I would be delighted to do so and will get to them as quickly as I am able. It’s true I didn’t read the rules to this site, but I think if you all are honest, even if I posted just one paragraph, I’m sure the general reaction would be the same: namely, “oh it’s that same old tired argument again”, as someone said on here. Excuse me, but I simply don’t agree with you that these srguments do not hold any validity. And you can’t possibly be serious that merely because some Catholic apologist has “defeated” the argument, that that, ipso facto, means it now belongs in the trash can. Since when does the fanclub of the RCC have the last word?
In any case, in regard to Bob’s statement referring to Galatians 1:9, insinuating that I am preaching a false gospel: Let me just say here that among other things, the RCC states at V-1 that from the beginning, it has always been the way of the church to offer good works to God for salvation, and it is by those very good works that the penitents had been “WASHED, CLEANSED and REDEEMED”. On the contrary, THAT is what is easily detectable as a false gosepl, for it is only by the doing and dying of Jesus Christ (Rms 5:10) that anyone can lay claim to the benefits the RCC claims can be had by the merit of good works.
To get back to Bob and his quest for what John may have “thought” Jesus meant by his chapter 6, as I quoted Mr. Svendsen above:
“The interaction in John 4 bears remarkable similarity with John 6. In J-4, Jesus picks up on the woman’s interest in water. In J-6, He picks up on the crowd’s interest in bread. In both cases, eternal life is in view. In both cases, a metaphor of consumption is used to illustrate BELIEF in Jesus. Since He is speaking of eternal life in both passages, the question must be asked: If the RCC insists on viewing J-6 literally, in that we must actually eat bread to gain eternal life, why does that same RCC not teach that we must drink physical water to obtain eternal life per J-4? If the RCC understands J-4 symbolically, (and she does) then she has no basis for rejecting the symbolic understanding of J-6.” {“Evangelical Answers”, by E. Svendsen, p. 246}. The parallel is clear: if drinking literal water does not produce eternal life, then neither does eating actual bread.”
Also note that the “interpretation” of John 6:53 which Bob so desperately seeks—that we (watch it now!) “have life” after eating the body and blood of Christ, is found a short time later in 20:31:
“It is by BELIEVING Jesus is the Christ that we have life.”

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 7:02 am

Sorry Sarge, it is you who does not have the ability to read a sentence. SDG was indeed trying to find evidence of plagiarism as he would most readily admit…and was, under no circumstances whatsoever, trying to compliment or defend me on the essay content. After doing so, he further instructs his readers to let him know if anyone else can find incrimminating instances of “rip-off” because at that point, he was only able to come up with a line or two.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 7:25 am

Gecko, your response to Sarge is not wholly correct. Your original claim was that “all SDG wants to do is find evidence of plagerism [sic].” That claim is false, as I thought I made clear. Nor is it correct that I could only find “a line or two” of cross-posted material. Finally, it is not correct that I asked readers for incriminating instances of “rip-off.” As I already said, my main concern was not whether you were a plagiarist, but whether you were a combox hit-and-run spammer. Your distortions on this point are not an encouraging early sign.
Mr. Svendsen’s argument regarding parallels between John 4 and John 6 (which are substantial, and more striking than perhaps even Mr. Svenden realizes) is a serious one and deserves a thoughtful response. Once the thoughtful response is given, it will be seen that Mr. Svendsen’s argument is wholly refuted. I have a very limited amount of time to offer that thoughtful response, but will see what I can do on my lunch break.
In the meantime, Gecko, I want to establish whether you is the sort of polemicist who willingly acknowledges an overstatement or an error, or the kind who doesn’t. So I pose my question a third time: Can you critique your own characterization of the Church’s teaching in CCC §1376? Please refer to my previous comments for more context. Thank you.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

SDG…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this site does not have the capability when responding to a comment, to have the comment one is responding to, included therein? Just as a suggestion, someone ought to change that. Also, it’s been happening that after I press “post” a message pops up saying, “sorry we cannot accept this data”. So I have to save the message, repost it and try again, as I’m doing now. Very frustrating.
You asked, can we validate what we said by quoting CCC #1376? Of course we can! First of all we quoted Fr. J. O’Brien on this very issue, and then we also included the following:
“Knowing that her detractors are irate with the thought of the Creator of the universe shrunk to the size of a half-dollar, the RCC presses hard to convince us that His presence in the wafer is by, “a manner of existing which, though we can scarcely express it in words. . . ought most firmly to be believed” {Trent, “On the Real Presence”. . .ch.1}. And a popular Catholic website reports that, “the body of Christ, with its head, trunk and members, has assumed a mode of existence independent of space; within the diminutive limits of the Host. . . which neither experience, nor any system of philosophy, physics or mechanics has the least inkling” {NewAdvent.org). Moreover, the Pope has said, “[We] must firmly maintain that in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist. . .[This] mystery indeed taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us.” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by Pope John Paul II, #15 & 58}.”
And I don’t know WHAT Luther means by SDG being right in points 5 &6 of the original post. Stop this game playing and SAY WHAT YOU MEAN so people know what you are referring to!

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 7:35 am

SDG wrote:
In case anyone is wondering, Gecko is not McCarthy. Not a chance. I will refrain from explicit comparisons
_____________________________________
In case anyone is wondering, SDG’s crystal ball and psychic abilities are in much need of repair.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 7:37 am

Gecko:

“You asked, can we validate what we said by quoting CCC #1376?”

That is not what I asked. I have already shown that you were wrong earlier to accuse me of not reading what you wrote (an error you ought to acknowledge at some point). Now it appears you have not read me carefully enough.
I will say it one more time.
You wrote earlier:

“The RCC teaches that a priest has the power to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, and through the miracle of Transubstantiation, the communion wafer and the wine are both suddenly changed into His actual body and blood, even though there appears to be no change in the elements under close scientific examination {Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376}.”

This sentence is incorrect on two counts. That’s to say: In the sentence above you claim two things as Catholic teaching that are neither correct Catholic teaching nor substantiated in CCC §1376.
Furthermore, both errors were already specifically rebutted by me in my original post above, as M. L. Martin has verified. He even gave you the numbers from my original post to review.
I am offering you an opportunity to check your work and show that you are capable of self-criticism. Can you rise to the challenge? Please let me know if you need help.

The Masked Chicken November 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

Dear Gecko,
Hi. Welcome to JA.org. Perhaps I should have said that, first, instead of reaching for my fly swatter. It’s partially a reflex. We do get some very passionate non-Catholic posters showing up from time to time. Some have been more polite and willing to discuss than others. I may have responded, in part from combox fatigue.
In any case, I hope the discussion, if it continues, will be fruitful.
The word I used was not defeated, it was defeased. This is a term from philosophical argumentation that means to defeat or annul or more properly to make undoable or show that the argument cannot be done.
The Chicken
P. S. My full name is the Masked Chicken. The Mask is as important as the beak.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 7:41 am

In referring to M.L. Martin, I erred by calling him “Luther”. This is why when replying to comments– should include the previous person’s one so mix-ups like this can be avoided.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 7:51 am

Tim J said:
Also, don’t make the (very common) mistake of thinking that your arguments are unanswerable when the truth is they are incomprehensible.
It’s like trying to argue with people who insist we never went to the moon and have reams of arguments and “evidence” to support their position. Where does one begin to unravel such a knot of illogic? It’s about as productive as trying to nail a Jell-o salad to the wall.
No, thanks.
________________________________________
The same accusation can EASILY be attributed to the whole system of Catholicism, so for all practical purposes, your comment is worthless. For example, with the greatest confidence and (I would submit, “pompousness”) the RCC states at V-1, that papal subordination is NECESSARY for salvation! As you yourself said, “Where does one begin to unravel such a knot of illogic?” Nothing could be further from the truth, as our salvation hinges upon, from start to finish, on the majestic, horizon-filling granduer of the work of Jesus Christ in our behalf, and does NOT in any way hinge upon trusting in a man wearing a religious costume, sitting on a throne in Italy!

SDG November 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

“The same accusation can EASILY be attributed to the whole system of Catholicism, so for all practical purposes, your comment is worthless.”

Your remarks suggest that you didn’t understand Tim J’s comment, since your comparison to Vatican I’s definition of the necessity of submission to the pope is a non sequitur. Neither a particular teaching nor a “whole system” is analogous in this respect to a particular attempt to defend or critique a teaching or system. Tim’s critique applies only to the last, not to either of the others.
Meanwhile, I am still waiting for your final answer to the question I keep putting to you. Can you answer it, or not?

SDG November 17, 2009 at 8:40 am

Actually, now that I check, I would have said that the relevant numbers from my original post were 6 and 9, not 6 and 7. M. L. Martin, see what I mean?

SDG November 17, 2009 at 9:14 am

Sorry, looks like my lunch break is going to be fuller than I’d like, and I’ve got a screening tonight. Mr. Svendsen will have to wait another day. Meantime we’ll see what Gecko has to say about his analysis of CCC §1376.

M. L. Martin November 17, 2009 at 9:27 am

SDG–Indeed. I thought you were making reference to the common error as to who is the primary agent and who is secondary in the Mass, which is why I pointed out Point 5.

The Sarge November 17, 2009 at 9:47 am

Gecko, @10:33PM: “No, I am not McCarthy as someone asked.”
SDG, @5:33AM: “In case anyone is wondering, Gecko is not McCarthy.”
Gecko, @7:35AM, quotes SDG’s above statement, then states: “In case anyone is wondering, SDG’s crystal ball and psychic abilities are in much need of repair.”
So, Gecko denied being McCarthy, SDG confirmed Gecko’s statement, then Gecko implied that SDG was incorrect. Interesting.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 9:54 am

“So, Gecko denied being McCarthy, SDG confirmed Gecko’s statement, then Gecko implied that SDG was incorrect. Interesting.”

Yes. My statement of 5:33AM stands, but it’s hard to see how to account for Gecko’s seemingly conflicting comments without inferring disingenuous intent.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 9:56 am

“SDG–Indeed. I thought you were making reference to the common error as to who is the primary agent and who is secondary in the Mass, which is why I pointed out Point 5.”

Argh. You’re right on 5, of course. I meant to propose 9 instead of 6, not 9 instead of 5. The other key point, besides agency, is locality. Sorry for the confusion.
Well, Gecko, you can’t say we haven’t given you a lot of clues (even if some of them have been unintentionally misleading!).

The Masked Chicken November 17, 2009 at 11:38 am

Gecko wrote:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but this site does not have the capability when responding to a comment, to have the comment one is responding to, included therein? Just as a suggestion, someone ought to change that. Also, it’s been happening that after I press “post” a message pops up saying, “sorry we cannot accept this data”. So I have to save the message, repost it and try again, as I’m doing now. Very frustrating.
Just a note: if you want to respond to a specific comment, one can cut and paste it, then use html mark-ups to change the font. If you are using Firefox, there is a cool extension that will make the mark-ups for you (I will find the name and post it if requested). Various common mark-ups include(replace the * with < and ** with >)
*i**YOUR TEXT */i** = italics
*b**YOUR TEXT */b** = bold
*blockquote**YOUR TEXT */blockquote** = blocked texted
The, “Sorry, we cannot accrpt this data,” comes from two things: 1) making more than one correction pass before pasting (two different gotchas) and 2)there may be a time-out (I don’t now about this). Try to do your editing in a text editor befor posting in the comment box.
The Chicken
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken November 17, 2009 at 11:42 am

Just a note: if you want to respond to a specific comment, one can cut and paste it, then use html mark-ups to change the font.
Boys and girls, can you spot the poor grammar in the above sentence?
The Pronoun-impaired Chicken

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 11:44 am

Mr. Chicken says
First of all, what I said was quite relevant: you have committed some pretty elementary theological errors
Answer: I realize you say “you don’t have time”, but if there is nothing that irks me more is someone making an accusation, such as I being guilty of elementary errors, and failing to substantiate regardless of their excuses of time restraints. The comment should not even be made in that case if the clock is ticking, as it is entirely worthless and accomplishes nothing. I too can play the same game; watch me.
Jesus did not then, nor did He ever, have the intention of making Peter a pope, and that’s that!
Mr. C says: “Do your homework, proper homework, to understand the Catholic interpretation of the arguments you present. When you have done that, I will be happy to discuss the issues with you. Why should I engage an opponent who hasn’t read the literature? If you had, you would have already found your refutation in them.”
Answer: When I was 25, I left Catholicism and haven’t looked backed since. That was 25 years ago, so now you know how old I am… ;-)
I am extremely familiar with your doctrines since I have been studying them off and on for just that long. Of course, no one is going to understand EVERYTHING, but I reject your implication that I don’t understand RC doctrine, by implication, “at ALL”. Excuse me, but can you name for me one Protestant on planet earth who DOES understand the RCC? If so, I will look into their writings if they have any, and if I agree with them, as I’m sure I will for the most part, then you cannot accuse me of “not understanding” the RCC! Protestants are more than happy to give you the liberty of understanding OUR point of view. But for you to submit we can’t understand YOURS, is foolish and unwarranted. The problem with you is that you simply can’t accept the fact that someone DOES understand your belief system, but at the same time, REJECTS it. Wake up. It happens.
Mr. C says: “While you’re at it, you might want to ask yourself: who told you that Scripture was the sole rule of faith? If you answer that Scripture says it is the sole rule of faith, you have committed a logical error and actually deny that Scripture is the sole rule of faith. A self-referential statement such as Scripture asserting that it is the sole rule of faith violates fairly strong theorems in logic and can be shown to be paradoxical and without truth content.
Answer: You can’t be serious. The Roman Catholic Church is the self-appointed, “self-referential” religious institution par excellance (among a few others) who have set themselves up as being the very fount and apex of truth! This violates, as you say, “strong theorems in logic” to say the least. And while “YOU’RE at it”, you may want to ask yourself this: How did a Jew 100 years before Christ know that the Scriptures are inspired before the Roman Catholic church came into existence? I’m sure we would all love to hear your answer.
Hint: V-2 already agrees that the Scriptures are inspired without their necessarily bestowing on them the crown of authenticity, as she says at V-2:
These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author…
Having established at least this much, that the Scriptures were inspired long before the RCC bestowed her “authority” on them, I may now refer to 2 Tim 3:15 where Paul says Tim knew the Scriptures from his childhood having been taught them by his mother and grandmother (2 Tim 1:5….again, before the RCC came on the scene) and they ALONE were able to make him “wise unto salvation”. We then are told that all Scripture is able to perfectly equip the man of God for “EVERY GOOD WORK”. If Scripture is not the sole rule of faith, then name for me ONE GOOD WORK that Scripture is not able to equip the man of God for as it relates to, “doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness”. If you can’t answer that question, your argument falls to the ground.
Mr. C says: “Do you think we haven’t heard these arguments, before? Do your homework, proper homework, to understand the Catholic interpretation of the arguments you present. When you have done that, I will be happy to discuss the issues with you. Why should I engage an opponent who hasn’t read the literature? If you had, you would have already found your refutation in them.”
Answer: Really? I’ve been looking through RC literature for 25 years waiting for the magisterium to name for me one good work Scripture is unable to equip the man of God for. They’ve already refuted this question with their brilliant answer??? TELL ME WHERE, thank you very much! Moreover, spare me the false accusations that I have not read Catholic literature–which is in fact something you have no right to judge me on. The essay should have been more than enough proof that I am able to interact with your official documents, especially when we INCLUDED typical RC objections—those very objections, BTW, being limp-wristed and contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture.
Mr. C says: “I am not afraid to respond to your points. I simply don’t want to waste time.”
Answer: Tell that to Jesus on Judgment Day. While it is true everything takes time, the Lord said that whatever we do for His glory, even if it is giving a cup of water away in His name, will never be forgotten….and is certainly not a waste of time. The RCC has only officially defined the number of verses that can be defined on one hand, which means she has officially left 98% of the Bible UNINTERPRETED, which by the way, makes this alleged use of “infallibility” for all practical purposes, useless. So whatever biblical arguments you would refer me to, would, for the most part, have no air of infallibility to them, and thus, be on the same level for being judged as my biblical responses to you. Furthermore, if there has been an “easy response” to something I wrote, why not just paste the response here? You can’t possibly think that everyone reading this, including myself, are walking encyclopedias of Catholic doctrine. We need to be reminded of what you are referring to so we can see the complaint afresh and either reconsider our position or remain unmoved.
Mr. C says: “I don’t feel like getting into an extended discussion until I have more time (and patience), and you have understood the issues better. You are my brothers (and sisters?) in Christ, no matter what you may think and you deserve more charity from me in this post and the post, above, and for my lack, I apologize. Perhaps if you had posted smaller amounts and less of a manifesto, I would be less grumpy.
Answer: You have not proved that I don’t “understand the issues”, so this complaint must be thrown out the window. Don’t be too hard on yourself about not being charitable as I never gave it a thought. As I said before, these are matters of eternal importance and there is bound to be heat (don’t you remember the debate between Elijah and the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18?). Now here’s something to turn up the oven. While it is nice you consider me your brother in Christ, I cannot return the same feeling. I am well aware that there are oodles of ecumenical Protestants out there willing to jump on the same bandwagon with Rome, but these alliances are futile, such as the Joint Declaration between P’s and C’s some years ago, which muddy the issues and are frankly, dishonest. The point is, as I mentioned above to someone else, as one example, your church says I must be in subjection to the pope, or it’s off to hell I go! V-1 says, “THIS is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and SALVATION.” That, Mr. Chicken, is a false gospel that will damn you, and therefore I cannot under any circumstances be considered your brother in Christ unless these ungodly additions to the gospel be thrown overboard and repented of.

c matt November 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm

First, Geck, switch to decaf.
Second, on the whole John 6 thing, Jesus would have to be a sadistic God indeed if He knew the misunderstanding of taking His words literally rather than metaphorically, and let almost all of His disciples leave to eternal damnation. Without nary the slightest explanation.
And then, he doesn’t turn to those who stayed and tell them “Dudes, they just don’t get it, I was like speaking metaphorically and stuff” as He did on other occassions when folks didn’t get it. No, instead He turns to them and asks them “are you ditching me too?” No explanation; no re-wording, no backing down – just take it or leave it.
Sorry, your interpretation makes no sense with how the event is recorded.

Daniel Stevens November 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I love this blog and am so thankful for the discussions that occur on it, all of which have been highly informative and entertaining. (SDG, your posts on the papacy are a particularly valuable addition.)
I’m chiming in for the first time here simply to ask Mr. Gecko a question:
Can you name the three books that you have read by Catholic authors that offer, in your estimation, the strongest defense of the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist?
Many thanks!

SDG November 17, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Gecko: You are way off topic, and continue to ignore my simple, exploratory challenge to check your work.
I’m willing to go off-road with you, within limits, one rabbit trail at a time. For example, I’d be happy to spend some time exegeting what 2 Timothy 3:16 does and doesn’t say.
Hit and run polemics, i.e., not taking responsibility for what you write, only spouting off but being unwilling to learn, is not going to fly. I’m continuing to give you leeway, but you’re running out.
While you’re at it, you can explain your seemingly contradictory comments on your (non) identity with McCarthy. You aren’t, but your “crystal ball” comment is sufficiently provocative that you should account for it.
P.S. Daniel Stevens, thanks very much! Gecko, Mr. Stevens asks an excellent question. I’d like to know the answer also.

- November 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

-

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm

SDG…
I have no problem whatever, nor have I ever denied, that the word transubstantiation is merely a philosophical term used to describe the alleged “miracle”. Also, I agree with the response given by McCarthy that we know very well that the priest himself doesn’t have the “power” to do a blessed thing and therefore whatever miraculous happenings ARE going on (IF they were going on) should reasonably be attributed to the power of God alone.
Nevertheless, if you take umbrage at
our statement that “The priest has the power, etc”….I would have no objection to insert into our essay, “by the power of God”. However, to be fair you must admit, Catholic literature in general, bypasses this addition you feel is so needful, almost as if it isn’t necessary, and at the end of this post, you will be shocked to find that even the Pope doesn’t agree with you. You say that, “it is not that Christ comes down to earth or bilocates or any such thing…”
But Fr. O says, “When the priest announces the tremendous words of consecration, he reaches up into heaven, brings down Christ from His throne, and places Him upon our altars, to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of men–not once, but a thousand times. The priest speaks and lo! Christ bows his head in humble obedience to the pries’s command” (“The Faith of Millions, p. 255-6). Not only was this published by Our Sunday Visitor, but it received the official “Nihil Ob”–nothing objectable” seal. The statement from Fr. O’Brien is rank heresay, pure and simple. As for your explanation, I reject it. Pray tell, where in your official documents may I find words that will support your contention that, “The Real Presence does not involve a bodily extention in space. His [actual] body is in heaven, but through the miracle of the Eucharist, so to speak, makes it present TO earth places, not present IN them”.
On the contrary, your church teaches, de facto in CCC #1376 that the WHOLE SUBSTANCE of the wine and the WHOLE substance of the bread are CHANGED INTO—(again, “CHANGED INTO”) the very substance of His body and blood. You’re simply kidding yourself if you expect me to believe your convoluted escape hatch does not infer bilocation because it certainly does! Mr. MCarthy was
rightly irrtated by your response also, and as a matter of fact, if the magisterium had their way, I feel they would ex-communicate you, to be perfectly blunt.
In addition, I submit that not one Catholic in a thousand would ever agree, not to mention, even KNOW what you are talking about.
You ended off in your #9 saying you wanted to talk about the “vocabulary” of the Eucharist. I think I’ll insert my essay comments about the “vocabulary” of the word
“re-presents” and how the RCC reinvents grammer to her own liking:
____________________________________
“Notice, we are not saying the word “represents”—–but rather,
“re-presents”. To this word, they have arrogantly appointed a new meaning! She says that a past event can now be—”made present” in real time! {CCC #1111, 1362-1364, 1366}. Does any dictionary in the world support the meaning that the RCC has assigned to this word? It most certainly does not! Let’s take this step by step:
A . . . One glance at Webster’s on-line dictionary reveals that it means “to present again”. No where will you find even a hint that a past event can be taken out of the past and re-presented in the future.
B . . . We then turn to the American Heritage Dictionary, as well as the on-line Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and discover that the words, “representaion” and to “represent” {where, to “re-present” is derived} comes via Old French, from the Latin, “repraesentatio” and “repraesentare”.
C. . . We then turn to the Oxford Latin Dictionary where these two words are given three possible meanings:
i . . . a payment in ready money.
ii . . . an act of bringing something before the mind.
iii . . . an image or a representaion in art.
For obvious reasons, we are mainly concerned with points ii and iii which involve representing something previously absent, now “made present” by either an oratorically vivid illustration, or in art form by some sort of artistic display.
D . . . The three sources listed above would agree that the orator and artist describe a situation or past event in either words or art, and tries to bring about in our imagination an inner picture, re-presenting the event for us in our minds.
E . . . We must conclude that Jesus Christ, the great Orator and artistic Creator of the Universe {John 1:1-3}—used both words and the symbols of bread and wine to represent both His life and death {Romans 5:10}—-resulting in the perfect fulfillment of ii above. It does not get any more complicated than that.
F . . . The RCC has now been found GUILTY of appointing an absolutely UNHEARD of definition to “re-present” and it’s Latin derivitives; namely, the supposedly “making present” of a past event, brought forth into “real time”. This is pure fantasy! The sources above, as well as the universal consensus of the simplicity in receiving a letter “making present” the voice and ideas of the writer, deny this new meaning that the RCC has pulled like a rabbit out of a hat. They admit as much by stating that, “in the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning . . .the sacrifice of Christ offered once for all on the cross, remains ever present” {CCC #1364} . “The Catholic Church’s contention is not that Christ is slain afresh, but that His past slaughter is re-presented afresh” {ibid, Sungenis, p. 91}. “For the priest has power over the very body of Jesus Christ (NOTE!!! THE POPE SAYS WITHOUT ANY CLARIFICATION THAT THE PRIEST HAS THE POWER) and makes it present upon our altars, offering Him a victim pleasing to the Divine Majesty” {Pius XI, “Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, 1935}.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm

“C Matt” is concerned over the typical Catholic concern (unjustified due to lack of reading the text I am sorry to say) wondering WHY DIDN’T JESUS CALL THEM BACK? I already answered this in the essay, but seems like no one wants to read that either. But because I’m so merciful…
ANSWER: He was under no obligation to! God said He would purposely, willfully and sovereignly BLIND the eyes of those whom He would for His own good reasons. When Jesus said He could build the temple in only 3 days—and his audience scoffed at Him, did the Lord say, HEY WAIT DUDES! THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT! No, He didn’t.
You are forgetting that it was the express and intended purpose for Christ to speak in parables, resulting in His choice to either open the eyes of the blind, or to have them remain SHUT (Jn 9:39). Also see 12:40: Christ would, “blind their eyes and harden their heart” according to the intention of His will.
And yes, I am proposing to you that is precisely the case in John 6.
So it is a given that Jesus did not always speak as PLAINLY as we might like, but this was for a reason! After the episode in John 6, eloquent evidence is furnished that Christ was speaking figuratively all along when they asked Him in 10:24, “If thou be the Christ, TELL US PLAINLY” Obviously then, Jesus DID NOT always speak plainly “because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is NOT given.” (Matt 13:11).
It was the intentional will of God to withhold the mysteries of the kingdom to many for His own good reasons and John 6 is yet another pristine example {Isa 6:9, Matt 11:25, Mk 4:11-12, Luke 8:10, John 9:39-41, Rms 11:8}.
And before you ask the question, “Why then did they leave?”
Verse 65 reads, “And He was saying, ‘Because of this I said unto you that no one is able to come to me except it is given to him by the Father”.
Coming to Christ is not something that is the result of persuasive speaking, even if it is Christ who is doing the speaking! Only God has the ability to open our eyes of understanding, as He did to Peter, telling Him that flesh and blood had not revealed to Him the truth of Christ’s identity, but the Father had. And obviously, Jesus was the greatest orator of all time, yet as we read in verse 66, many “went away from following Him and no longer walked with Him”. The operative factor of the Father was missing. In context, these people went away, not because of Jesus’ words about eating His flesh, but because He asserted that it is simply not possible for anyone to come to Him unless the Father enables him (John 6:44). What caused them to abandon ship was the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man. The text specifically says, “Because of THIS, many of His disciples went away…”

bill912 November 17, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Gecko’s posts have a familiar stylistic ring to them. Has he been here before under a different handle? Like, withing the last few months?

Tim J. November 17, 2009 at 1:44 pm

“What caused them to abandon ship was the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man.”
Yeah, because Jews could never accept anything so outlandish as the absolute sovereignty of God. Totally foreign concept, I’m sure.

bill912 November 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm

“withing”?
within
within
within
Proofread! (Sigh)!

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Mr. Stevens is interested in knowing what 3 books that I have read specifically on the Eucharist. I thought this was amusing because in my past conversations with Catholics, I’m always told they are not interested in what lay people say about official doctrine because they could be wrong and to please only refer to OFFICIAL documents. Now for the first time I asked to do the opposite!
I sense a skirting of the issues and instead, an attempt to find some fodder to discredit me. For example, the points I made in my essay are all being ignored so far, especially in my first post (namely, what good does the catholic “jesus” do you by staying only 5 minutes in the stomach before the acids kick Him out?). And the constant ploy of SDG to GET ME TO ADMIT that my statement about McCarthy was contradictory—anything to find some fault with is simply comical! I read his sentence as though it meant just that—that he was supposing that I was in fact McCarthy hiding under another name and there was “not a chance” to deny it. Oh my, looks like I might get sent to hell for thinking that. We’ll see if SDG has the same ability to admit HE was wrong when he assumed there was NOTHING in Catholic literature that said specifically that the PRIEST HAD THE POWER to do thus and such, and I have just submitted a quote of what the Pope said in contradistinction to his erroneous assertion.
Having said that, if you read my essay, you would have known that I listed 2 Catholic books which I referred to; namely, “Not By Bread Alone” by Sungenis, and “This is My Body” by Shea. Beyond that I have listened to 2 debates with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on this topic, but most importantly have read your catechism, which I should think would be quite enough, as the pope says in the beginning on p. 6 paperback edition, that this volume is “a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine…I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion…offered to those who want to know what the Catholic Church believes.”

Daniel Stevens November 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Thank you for you answer.
May I invite you to read part three of Stephen Ray’s book *i**Crossing the Tiber*/i** and respond to his citation and analysis of the writings of the early church fathers?
After all, one argument that Catholics make (and one that I don’t think you have mentioned) when they interpret the Eucharist and the Bible verses that support it would be the historical witness of the early church. Since you have read Robert Sungenis’s and Mark Shea’s work, I can only assume that you are intimately familiar with the historical record.
Would you be willing to flesh out your argument by giving your reaction to these historical sources. Please take into consideration folks like St. Ignatius of Antioch, who likely was able to speak with St. John about what the evangelist understood Jesus to mean in John 6.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 2:30 pm

The quotation from Pope Pius XI’s is a good counter-stroke, and I’ll respond to that later.
The quotation from The Faith of Millions is more easily answered: Obviously the priest does not literally “reach up into heaven,” nor is Jesus literally “brought down from his throne” (when we say in the Creed that he is “seated at the right hand of the Father,” we don’t mean “for the next 20 minutes or so”!). Obviously the priest does not literally “command” Christ to be present, i.e., address Christ in the second person imperative (e.g., “Jesus, I command you to become present in this bread and wine”); rather, he speaks in personal Christi, in the first person declarative (or performative): “This is My body, this is My blood.” Thus, no literal command.
The poetic, devotional language of The Faith of Millions, meant to stir the hearts of readers, is not meant to deny the consistent Church teaching that only in Heaven in Christ locally present, or present as in a place, and that he does not literally come down from heaven or become locally present in the Eucharist.
Thus Pope Paul VI wrote in Mysterium Fidei that in the Eucharist “Christ is present whole and entire in His physical ‘reality,’ corporeally present, although not in the manner in which bodies are in a place.”
Thomas Aquinas devoted two Articles of the Summa to this (you can read them here). Among other things, he wrote, ” Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place. … Christ’s body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance.” Also, “it is impossible for the same thing to be in motion and at rest, else contradictories would be verified of the same subject. But Christ’s body is at rest in heaven. Therefore it is not movably in this sacrament.”
Summing up Church teaching, Cardinal Newman wrote:

Our Church argues that a body cannot be in two places at once; and that the Body of Christ is not locally present, in the sense in which we speak of the Bread as being locally present. … [the Church] answers, he is really year, yet not locally. (Tract 90)

Since Christ’s body is not locally present in the Eucharist, there is no “bilocation,” since bi-location by definition presupposes the multiplicity of local presence (presence “as in a place” or location).
Thus, while we might speak poetically of Jesus “coming down from heaven” or of the priest “calling him down from heaven,” this is not theologically accurate language. The apologist who is misled on this point has to that extent gone astray.

SDG November 17, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Incidentally, no idea what you’re talking about re. my “constant ploy” to “get you to admit that your statement about McCarthy was contradictory.” What is that even supposed to mean?

Tim J. November 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

“Thus, while we might speak poetically of Jesus “coming down from heaven” or of the priest “calling him down from heaven,” this is not theologically accurate language.”
I was hoping someone would point that out. That language is *clearly* meant to stir the hearts of the faithful, not to instruct them in precise theology. It does not constitute Church teaching on the matter.

The Pachyderminator November 17, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I already answered this in the essay, but seems like no one wants to read that either.

Gecko, your “essay” is 22,500 words long. That’s not a blog combox post, it’s a short book. This format can sustain a high level of intellectual engagement, but it has to come in small pieces. Your post is the same sort of thing as someone walking into a room where a conversation is going on, delivering a ninety-minute lecture without even pausing to say “hello”, and becoming indignant that no one listens.
That said, I’ll try to read your book, and maybe respond to some of it, when I get time. Maybe this weekend.

Daniel Stevens November 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Most Protestants with whom I speak are able to recognize the difference between language that could be characterized as theologically precise versus language that reflects the phenomenological perspective of human persons. I doubt, Gecko, that you on the attack when someone speaks about the sun rising, even though we all know, when pressed, that technically the sun does no such thing. Likewise, SDG and Tim J. are correct to point out that the idea of Jesus coming down from heaven, which understandably reflects the human perspective, actually reverses what truly happens during the Mass:
During the Mass, the bread and wine are taken into (for lack of a better term) the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. With them, the alter, the priest, the deacons, and the entire church are taken up into heaven, where there is (according to St. John in Revelation) a heavenly liturgy always and forever occurring. Jesus is constantly, unceasingly offering his sacrifice to the father in the order of Melchizedek, which is to say that he offers his sacrifice in the form of bread and wine (see Hebrews). There is one sacrifice of Christ that both occurred in time and has occurred since the beginning of the world. This sacrifice is offered to the Father for our salvation in heaven, whose “time” is, to us, like one eternal “now.” (Hat tip to St. Augustine for that one!) One eternal present. In the Mass, and most particularly in the Eucharist, we enter into this once and for all sacrificial offering of Christ to the Father.
The limitations of the English language force us to use words that may not be so precise, words like “re-present.” The mysteries of Christ’s kingdom will never be perfectly contained in the tiny boxes dear Webster provides us!
Gecko, one of the limitations of your essay is its seeming failure to appreciate, account for, or refute the mystical notions of time and space that we Catholics take for granted when it comes to the mysteries of Christ, most especially the Sacraments.
May the peace of Christ be with you!

The Masked Chicken November 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Dear Gecko,
Are we referring to one or two people when we use that handle? I only want to know so as to use the correct verb tense.
I hope you noticed my attempted apology at 7:39 am, above, for starting off our acquaintance so abruptly and dismissively. We have had a few disruptive drive-by posters visit this blog and some of them have started by posting long comments. You may look through some of the old theology posts to see what I mean, if you are interested. The comments on both sides quickly got heated and charity on both sides was lost.
There are too many points in your original post to make comments on. Is there any way you could break it up into more manageable parts? What you originally posted is, quite possibly, the longest comment, ever, on this blog and that is saying a lot.
In any event, I am looking forward to fruitful discussions.
The Chicken

BobCatholic November 17, 2009 at 7:56 pm

>To get back to Bob and his quest for what John may have “thought” Jesus meant by his chapter 6, as I quoted Mr. Svendsen above:
BZZZZZZZZT! Wrong answer.
I didn’t ask for Svendsen’s interpretation of scripture.
I asked for John the Apostle’s interpretation of scripture.
Why not just admit you don’t know the answer?

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 8:51 pm

In regard to my comment on John 6, I said,
“What caused them to abandon ship was the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man.”
Tim J responded:
Yeah, because Jews could never accept anything so outlandish as the absolute sovereignty of God. Totally foreign concept, I’m sure
I am uncertain if Mr. J is being facetious, or is dead serious that he believes the Jews could never conceive of the concept of the sovereignty of God. If the former, he is dead wrong, as His sovereignty is displayed on practically every page in the doings of men. One example: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it withersoever he will.” (Prov 21:1).

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Mr. Stevens has asked if I would refer to “Crossing the Tiber”. I did in fact read this book some years back, but I don’t have a copy of it in my possession.
Nevertheless, you are correct in assuming in that I am quite familiar with the early fathers, and what may surprise you is that I have read every single citation of what they DID have to say on the issue. That’s because I read Mr. Stone’s 2 volume set mentioned below, who attempted to put together every single citation of the Eucharist by these people in one place.
The following is what I said in our essay:
____________________________________
OBJECTION: But it is a fact that the early pioneers of the church believed in Transubstantiation.
ANSWER: First of all, while many early fathers may have believed it then, there are millions today who do not—-including 70% of Catholics when asked this very question in a 1992 Gallup Poll which may be found on-line. Second, if sheer numbers don’t impress you, the New Testament predicted an immediate departure from sound doctrine from within the church both during and after the life of the apostle Paul {Acts 20:29-30, 1 Tim 1:20, 2 Tim 1:15; 2:17-18, Jude 3,4, 10-13} . Considering the voluminous evidence against Transubstantiation, it is not unreasonable to classify this belief as one of those anticipated “perverse” departures {Acts 20:30, 2 Pet 3:16}. Third, Catholics typically assert that there was never any disagreement on this issue, which is completely untrue. Let us merely look to the Roman Catholic work by Robert Sungenis to prove that there has always been, “a diversity in patristic thought on the Eucharist” (“Not By Bread Alone”, p. 306)—right up till the time it was officially defined in 1215 under Innocent III.
Circa 830, a monk by the name of Radbertus, who openly made a strong identification of the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist, was opposed by another monk called Ratramnus, who took the opposite view (ibid, p. 299). In 855, Rabanas Maurus wrote that there were those who were wrong that judged the sacrament was the same body and blood which was born of the virgin Mary and which suffered on the cross and rose from the grave” (ibid, p. 300). The wondering monk called Gottschalk, and the abbot, Gezo, accused Radbertus of advocating a realism of the Eucharist which bordered on cannibalism (p. 300-1). One by the name of Erigena, held that, “the sacrament of the altar might not be the body and blood, but only a remembrance” (p. 300). Circa 1000, Berengar, of the church of St. Martin in Tours, openly denied transubstantiation and said there was no need for the substantial presence in the sacrament and that the whole idea was nonsense (p. 302-303). Nor was it the way in which one received eternal life, to which Peter of Vienna agreed (p. 308). The Cathari movement and the Albigensians of France agreed with the argument presented by Berengar (p. 303).
Fourth, we have read Darwell Stone’s, “A History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist” {circa 1900}. The two volume set includes the names of others which can be added to those above. But it is significant that Mr. Stone expresses bewilderment in four separate places in relation to the, “constant use of sacrificial language in reference to the Eucharist made by those who do consider it a literal sacrifice. It is unaccompanied by any explicit and detailed explanation of the way in which the Eucharist is a sacrifice” {p. 113, 47, 49, 153}. Quite true. And this is because Scripture will not permit it. These men simply assert it, their opinion being worthless. In spite of ample opportunity to do so in an epistle replete with sacrificial language, never once does the book of Hebrews ever connect the sacrifice of Christ to the Eucharist, and never once does Paul ever equate “sacrifice” with the Lord’s Supper in his epistles either. The ludicrous idea of the Lord’s Supper needing to be offered as a sacrifice that takes away sin, slowly crept into the church unchecked.
We would also add that when you read the early fathers, it is frustrating to note that in 95% of the cases, they merely claim the fact that Transubstantiation is true based on John 6 with no meaningful explication of why we should believe it with reasons based on God’s word! Not surprisingly, they usually couple their opinion with lame analogies such as that old stand-by, “God can do anything so it must be true”. On the other hand, the “epistle” you are now reading is putting forth over 100 solid reasons why Transubstantiation is unbiblical, and amazingly, these early writers don’t deal with any of them!
________________________________________
Mr. Stevens also wonders about Ignatius. While he didn’t mention it, many Catholics assume Iggy was a disciple of the apostles, but I have been unable to find reliable sources, other than later tradition, to close the case on this. Iggy says
“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.” (Letter To The Smyrnaeans, 7)
Yet, earlier in the same letter he writes:
“Yea, far be it from me to make any mention of them, until they repent and return to a true belief in Christ’s passion, which is our resurrection.” (5)
Are we to conclude that Ignatius believed that faith in Jesus’ passion is transubstantiated into our resurrection “under the appearance” of remaining Jesus’ passion????
There’s nothing in Ignatius that tells us much about his view of the eucharist, and more importantly, for such a supposedly important doctrine, neither does the word of God explicate on it either! Catholics simply cannot claim to know for certain that Ignatius agreed with their view on this issue.
Elsewhere, SDG brings up the assertion that certain people spoke in “poetical language”. This may be true of Iggy as well.
In any case, Catholics typically bypass the larger picture and simply choose what they want to believe from the fathers when it suits them, but oh how quickly they desert them when they don’t say what they want them to say. For example, Iggy mentions church government in his letters quite frequently, referring to deacons, presbyters and bishops, and how important it is to submit to them. Yet amongst all this, not a word about a papacy. This is irrefutable proof as to why many scholars (names and quotes furnished upon request) have concluded that Rome didn’t even have a monarchial hierarchy until 150. And if Iggy was utterly unaware of such a crucial claim (which V-1 asserts DID exist–”from the beginning”) why then do you believe it?
You believe it because somewhere along the line you must say Iggy was wrong because V-1 was a higher authority than he, but what you won’t allow yourself to say is that he was wrong about the eucharist, even though no one can say for sure that his statement supports RC doctrine.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Mr. Chicken wonders if I wouldn’t mind breaking up my essay into smaller managable parts. I would be delighted. However, I still want to know from my answer to you previously, if you will admit that there DO exist Protestants who understand RC theology and at the same time reject it, just as there are Catholics who do understand Prot theology and reject IT.
I am also waiting for you to tell me how a Jew living 100 years before Christ could know that, let’s say, Isaiah and Jeremiah were inspired without any RC church in existance to tell them.
Now, I have asked this question for the third time and no one has answered. I submit the Protestant has everything Jesus promised by His sending to us the Holy Spirit (and He did that NOT in conjunction with the institution of the Eucharist, which is mere speculation on the part of the RCC which cannot be biblically exegeted). The Roman Catholic thinks they have something special when they allegedly injest His body and blood. What is it, Mr. Chicken, that the body and blood accomplishes within your anatomy that the presence of the Holy Spirit does NOT? In anticipation of your answer, I wrote the following:
_____________________________________
OBJECTION: “We believe that as a result of consuming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we are granted the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For as John Paul II has said, “Through our communion in His body and blood, Christ also grants us His Spirit” (and) “the joint and inseparable activity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . is at work in the Eucharist” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #17 & 23}.
ANSWER: The biblical evidence will not permit the Roman Catholic to have it both ways because the gift of the Spirit has been promised outside of the Communion ceremony by faith as Scripture clearly teaches! Because the RCC cannot pinpoint any direct biblical link as to what advantage might result from actually swallowing the physical body of Jesus, she cleverly solves this problem by co-joining the presence of the Holy Spirit as a “benefit”, so that everything said about the Holy Spirit, may now be equally said about the Eucharist. Thus she deceitfully transfers all the attributes of the Spirt’s presence which are found in the Bible in abundance, and then unwarrantedly transfers them over to the Eucharist, which are not stated anywhere! Swallowing the body of Christ, literally or not, is a biblically proven separate action that does not give any promise equal to what the Holy Spirit has already been appointed for. The Catechism readily admits that the Spirit will “teach us everything”, helps in understanding the Word of God, renews us into the image of Christ, sanctifies the church, and produces in us “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self-control” according to Galatians 5:22 {CCC # 729, 1101, 1109, 747, 736}. Furthermore, they agree that He has been sent . .. . “to lead us into all truth” — “to convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” —- “to shine in our hearts to give us light” — “to give us wisdom” — “to quicken us to spiritual life” — “to help our infirmaties, to help us pray, to intercede for us” — “to confirm within our hearts that we are children of God” —and “to be the seal of our inheritence” { John 16:13, 1 Cor 6:20, 2 Cor 4:6, Eph 1:17, John 6:63, Romans 8:16; 26, Eph 1:13}.
We have as yet to hear of any benefit of the RCC Eucharist that has not already been defined as one of the Holy Spirit’s assigned duties. That being the case, ingesting the actual body of Christ does not serve any purpose whatsoever; thus our thesis will show He must have been speaking metaphorically in those places where He bids us to “eat Him”. The Holy Spirit which inspired the Scripture, singlehandedly multi-tasks all the benefits Christ promised when He emphatically stated His physical presence was going away and the Comforter sent to fill in the void. Moreover, the catechism as quoted above {#1374} which states that the Eucharist materializes the “real presence” in the fullest sense, is a lie. Galatians 3:26 says that when “we receive the promise of the Spirit by faith” —- we are filled with that Spirit and with all the fullness of God {Luke 1:41; 67, 4:1, Acts 2:4; 4:8; 31; 6:3; 5, 7:55, 9:17, 11:24, 13:9; 52, Eph 3:17-19; 5:18, }. The RCC says the Eucharist brings “fullness” —but the Holy Spirit says HE does! Both cannot be true since you cannot fill a vessel that is already full with something else! Yet the RCC presses even further by supposing that, “in the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, the Church prays that the Father of Mercies will grant His children the fullness of the Holy Spirit . . . ” {Ecclesia de Eucharista, #43}. Let the RCC pray all she wishes. The Bible will not support this “dual presence in the fullest sense”, and therefore, she has neither one.
In addition, as they looked skyward to see Him leave this world, the angel said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.” {Acts 1:11}. Since He left in His resurrected body, He will return in “like manner” and in no other manner—including disguising Himself under the form of bread and wine. Notice— if the RCC position were true, the angel should have reminded them in similar fashion as He did at the empty tomb. .. . “He is risen. . . just as He said unto you.” {Mk 16:7} And then we would read, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? {You have the reality of His bodily presence when He hides Himself in the bread and wine, just as He said unto you}. But the angel offered no such reminder. Hence, the ascension of Christ and consequent sending of the Spirit for our comfort explicitly denies the necessity for transubstantiation, and thus the case for Jesus speaking symbolically in John 6 and the Last Supper, rings true.
Furthermore, when we take God’s character into consideration, we note that the overwhelming evidence indicates that when He wishes to demonstrate His power by miracles, they must be seen! No where in the Bible are we ever told of a miracle taking place where all the evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. Transubstantiation is an allegedly “invisible” miracle that cannot be seen. We object. The wafer looks, tastes, smells and feels like a wafer— and that is exactly what it is. How can we forget water changing into wine, a rod being changed into a serpent, the sea being split down the middle, the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and even dry bones are changed into an army of men, all to the amazement of the onlookers {Ezekiel 37:5-10}. And John the Baptist said that God could of these very stones, raise up children to Abraham {Matt 3:9}. But if He did, they would no longer retain the appearance of stones! Moreover, lest we forget that Jesus turned water into wine, we are reminded that the guests did not say, “Why are you serving us water?”. Neither did Jesus respond, “It may look and taste like water, but it is actually wine under the appearance of water.” No, in fact the guests considered the wine to be the finest served that night” (John 2:1-10). Consequently, we must conclude that invisible miracles such as disguising Himself “under the form of bread and wine” is saying something about God which is incorrect {Job 42:8}.

Gecko November 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm

SDG says:
“The quotation from Pope Pius XI’s is a good counter-stroke, and I’ll respond to that later.”
You are free to do so, but I am not going any further with you unless and until you admit that what we originally wrote in our essay accurately represented RC theology.
We wrote: “The RCC teaches that a priest has the power to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, and through the miracle of Transubstantiation, the communion wafer and the wine are both suddenly changed into His actual body and blood, even though there appears to be no change in the elements under close scientific examination {Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376}.”
And you replied:
This sentence is incorrect on two counts. That’s to say: In the sentence above you claim two things as Catholic teaching that are neither correct Catholic teaching nor substantiated in CCC §1376.
Furthermore, both errors were already specifically rebutted by me in my original post above, as M. L. Martin has verified. He even gave you the numbers from my original post to review.
I am offering you an opportunity to check your work and show that you are capable of self-criticism. Can you rise to the challenge? Please let me know if you need help.”
______________________________
Now Mr. SDG, I am offering YOU the opportunity to check your work and show that you are capable of self-criticism. Can YOU rise to the challenge?

Gecko November 18, 2009 at 12:38 am

Mr. Bob…. you continue to pose the question of demanding to know HOW the apostle John understood what Jesus meant in chapter 6 of his gospel. In your desperate attempt to find some fault with me, I am now required to be a mindreader and know his exact thoughts to have any validity! You know very well you don’t have any evidence other than the gospel of John to go on yourself, so what you’re trying to prove, I have no idea. What CAN be said is that you’re being extremely obstinate, for I explicity answered you when I interacted with the text, directly answering your question, to which you had no comment!
I pointed out to you that since Jesus said if we didn’t eat His flesh and drink His blood, “ye have no life in you” (6:53). A direct commentary on this verse BY THE APOSTLE HIMSELF is found by him later in 20:31, telling us how HE understood Jesus in chapter 6, which was
“It is by BELIEVING Jesus is the Christ that we have life.”
You then retort with, “why don’t you just admit you don’t know”.
And why don’t you, sir, admit that you have no response and have nothing better to offer? The fact of the matter is that John’s commentary above on what Jesus meant, is perfectly in line with embracing the glorious truth of Jesus using the mode of eating and drinking as SYMBOLIC for BELIEVING! It was simply two ways of saying the same thing, as Scripture clearly testifies. It must be a fact therefore, that “eating and drinking” are synonymous with simply “believing in Christ” because they both produce the same result —eternal life!
In John 5:24, 6:35, 6:40, 6:47 we read that believing in Him results in everlasting life. Compare them with verse 54 and we learn that eating His flesh and drinking His blood also brings eternal life. To eat His flesh and drink His blood is analogous to believing in Him. . . period.
STATED IN PLAIN LANGUAGE . . . {John 6:40}
” . . .everyone which seeth the Son and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
STATED IN FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE . . .{John 6:54}
“whoso eateth my flesh and drinks my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”
On another matter, again we see the same dual meaning—”Lazarus sleepeth, but I go to awake him out of sleep”. The disciples said not to bother, let him enjoy his rest. Jesus then said, “Lazarus is dead” {John 11:11}.
Two ways of saying the same thing!
But as Jesus said, as I perceive it of you, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life [but instead think that salvation may be found in your stomach]” (Jn 5:40).

bill912 November 18, 2009 at 2:50 am

To the ancient Israelites, as well as to Arabs today, the phrase “to eat the flesh and drink the blood” of someone did indeed have a symbolic meaning; it meant to hate, to revile.
I doubt that Jesus meant to say: “He who hates and reviles Me has eternal life…”

Tim J. November 18, 2009 at 5:29 am

“I am uncertain if Mr. J is being facetious, or is dead serious that he believes the Jews could never conceive of the concept of the sovereignty of God.”
I was being facetious. You held that many of Jesus disciples walked away because of his “…proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man.”.
If anyone was familiar with such language, if anyone embraced such religious concepts with enthusiasm, it would have been these first century Jews. So, their *leaving* based on that would make no sense at all.
In context it is OBVIOUS that they left because of Jesus teaching that “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”.

SDG November 18, 2009 at 7:13 am

Okay, Gecko. I propose we split the difference.
I admit that your Pius XI quotation is sufficient justification for your characterization of the priest as “having the power” to turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ — better justification than I would have thought you could produce at that level of teaching authority. (I have more to say about that, but for now I’d rather just make that admission and move on.)
Can you admit that the quotations I provided from Aquinas, Pius VI and Newman (I can provide others if desired), demonstrating that Jesus’ body is locally present only in heaven, not in the Eucharist, establishes that your characterization of the priest as “calling Jesus down from heaven” is not theologically accurate language?
Some thoughts on John 6.
Those who argue for a non-eucharistic reading of John 6 argue that when Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood He was simply re-stating in figurative language what He had already said plainly about believing in Him. While this may seem reasonable at first glance, such a reading is actually contrary to Jesus’ whole usage of figurative language.
There are many instances scattered among all four Gospels in which, after using figurative language, Jesus turned to plain speech when His figures had not gotten across. There are also a few instances in which He refrained from speaking plainly even though His metaphors had not gotten across. But the idea of Jesus beginning by making his point plainly and then resorting to figurative language to say what he has already said plainly misses the whole point behind our Lord’s non-literal language.
Jesus used figures of speech where he found images preferable to plain speech, either because imagery offered a vividness and thought-provoking clarity (e.g., “I am the vine, you are the branches”) that would be harder to replicate in plain speech, or else because in a few cases He did not wish to speak openly and didn’t mind if his hearers were baffled (eg. “Destroy this temple…”).
The eating-equals-believing theory does not fit either case. Jesus had already spoken plainly about believing in Him; it cannot be argued either that he found plain language less than ideal to communicate his point, or that he wished to be furtive on this subject.
The eating-equals-believing theory can provide no reasonable explanation for why Christ would use such a bizarre figure for what He had already stated so plainly, something unprecedented in and contrary to His whole usage of figurative language.
Underscoring the point is Jesus’ refusal to clarify or explain his meaning even to the Twelve. The reason this is so significant is that (as Mark Shea has pointed out) whether or not He would have deliberately confused His other followers, He would not have done so to the Twelve: “privately to His own disciples He explained everything” (Mk 4:34; see e.g., Mt 13:10-23, 34-43,51, 15:15-20, 16:6-12, 17:10-13, Lk 24:25-27, Jn 11:11-14, etc.). More on this in a bit.
Let’s take a closer look at John 6 in light of John 4.
Svendsen is quite correct to point out striking parallels between the “living water” discourse in John 4 and the “bread of life” discourse in John 6. Even if as some scholars maintain the “living water” discourse does have a sacramental background pointing to the literal waters of baptism, the waters of baptism are not drunk, and so the act of drinking Jesus refers to there is clearly metaphorical.
In both passages, Jesus is approached by someone seeking natural sustenance (the Jews want more bread, the woman wants water). In both cases Jesus is questioned (“Do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?”; “When did you get here?”), and responds by pointing to supernatural sustenance (“You would have asked, and he would have given you living water”; “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that offers eternal life”). Jesus is then challenged by way of comparison to an Old Testament figure (Jacob digging the well; Moses giving them manna in the desert), and goes on to point to faith in himself (“I who speak to you am he”; “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent”).
So far the parallels are close to exact. But there are also striking differences.
First, in John 4 Jesus does not miraculously give anyone real water to drink. (He does not, for instance, repeat the feat of Moses in the wilderness producing water from a rock.) But in John 6 he does miraculously give the crowds real bread to eat.
Second, the subject of drinking water in John 4 is much less pronounced than the subject of eating food/bread and drinking drink in John 6. In John 4, after the woman asks Jesus for the living water, the subject of drinking water is never mentioned again.
Jesus does not continue to tell the woman over and over that she must drink the water, that unless she drinks the water she cannot live forever, that the water is real drink, and so on. Instead, he allows the image to recede and turns to what he really wants to talk about. In other words, John 4 fits the usual pattern described above in which Jesus begins with an arresting metaphor but then proceeds to speak more and more clearly about what the imagery actually means.
John 6 is completely different. So far from allowing the language about eating and drinking to fade away, Jesus not only insists again and again on bringing the subject back to eating and drinking, his language actually becomes more and more emphatic, vivid and shocking.
After initially urging his hearers to eat the “bread from heaven,” which he says he will “give” them, Jesus eventually identifies the “bread” with himself, then goes still further and identifies the bread with his flesh, and then finally goes on to insist that not only must they eat his flesh, they must also drink his blood, for his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink.
There is no parallel in John 4 for the astonishing force and repetitive emphasis of verses 53-56:

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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

These verses are so clearly Eucharistic in force that some scholars who deny the Eucharistic force of the passage as a whole regard these verses as a later interpolation.
In particular, the attempt to argue that while Jesus spoke on two different occasions (at Capernaum and again at the Last Supper) not only of consuming his physical form but also of drinking his blood, these two references were completely unrelated — that the Capernaum discourse did not anticipate the Last Supper, nor the Last Supper recall Capernaum, that Jesus simply happened to strike on the most abhorrent image of drinking his own blood on two different occasions without intending any connection between them — is clearly absurd.
Certainly we cannot imagine John’s readers in the late first century gathering for worship, reading this passage about eating Jesus’ flesh as real food and drinking his blood as real drink, and then going on to recount Jesus’ words at the Last Supper (“Take and eat, this is my body … Drink this, all of you, this is my blood”), and eating and drinking the Eucharistic elements as the body and blood of Christ, and regarding these two images of eating Jesus’ physical form and drinking his blood as unconnected.
This point is reinforced by John’s use of language drawn directly from the Last Supper institution accounts: John reports that Jesus “took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated” (6:11). These words are almost identical to the liturgical Last Supper accounts in the four NT institution accounts (Mt 26:26, Mk 14:22, Lk 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:23-32) as well as other early liturgical writings.
These words had been used in the celebration of the Eucharist for decades when St. John penned his gospel, and he knew quite well that any early believer would make the association. Note the reference to “giving thanks” (eucharisteo) which John later repeats almost gratuitously (6:23); “eucharist” as a term for the Lord’s Table is documented as early as the Didache and the epistles of Ignatius, i.e., essentially contemporaneous with John’s Gospel.
It is thus extremely difficult to deny the Eucharistic force of John 6. “Eating my flesh and drinking my blood” refers to literal eating and drinking, the eating and drinking of communion.
Once we recognize this, the insistent adjective of verse 55 — “My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink” (or “true food” and “true drink,” or “food indeed” and “drink indeed”) — becomes difficult to ignore: Jesus does not say such things as “I am a real vine, and you are real branches” or “I am a door indeed,” just as he doesn’t say in John 4 “The living water is drink indeed.” It is about as clear a way as he could have chosen to say, “Don’t allegorize this away. I mean exactly what I say.”
Hammering the point home, Jesus’ challenge to the Twelve — “Do you also wish to go away?” (6:67) — is plain: Eating his flesh and drinking his blood is non-negotiable; if the disciples stumble over it, they too must leave.
This is not a mere rhetorical fillip to befuddle the opportunitistic crowds. It is central. It is essential. If the disciples were confused about the “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” or thought that “Lazarus has fallen asleep” meant taking rest in sleep, Jesus was happy to clarify. Here no clarification will be offered. Jesus will stick to his guns even if the Twelve abandon him. Even when Peter responds plaintively, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Jesus offers no further explanation or clarification. Mark Shea comments perceptively:

No word of explanation. No deeper inner meaning. Nothing. In fact, the whole exchange is strikingly similar to His thrice-stated prophecies of impending death and resurrection [Mk 8:31-32, 9:9-10]. In both cases His disciples were baffled, squinting to read between the lines and discussing among themselves what He might really mean. And in both cases He did not “clarify” Himself — evidently because, in both cases, He was stating a bald fact.

There’s lots more, but that’s all I have time for now. Back later.

Gecko November 18, 2009 at 10:30 am

Bill-912 comments that,
“To the ancient Israelites, as well as to Arabs today, the phrase “to eat the flesh and drink the blood” of someone did indeed have a symbolic meaning; it meant to hate, to revile.
I doubt that Jesus meant to say: “He who hates and reviles Me has eternal life…”
ANSWER: I will let someone smarter than me take up this challenge:
________________________________________
In an effort to defend the literal interpretation of John 6:53-58, virtually every Catholic apologist resorts to some form of the following argument: Eating flesh and drinking blood cannot be metaphors for belief in Jesus, for both eating flesh and drinking blood were already Old Testament metaphors for reviling or causing someone injury (e.g., Psalm 27:2, Ecclesiastes 4:5, Isaiah 9:20, 49:26, Micah 3:1-3). Therefore, Jesus was speaking literally. Karl Keating, citing John A. O’brien, argues:
“[T]he phrase ‘to eat the flesh and drink the blood’, when used figuratively among the Jews, as among Arabs of today, meant to inflict upon a person some serious injury, especially by calumny or false accusation. To interpret the phrase figuratively then would be to make our Lord promise life everlasting to the culprit for slandering and hating Him, which would reduce the whole passage to utter nonsense.” Christ would be saying, “He that reviles me has eternal life” (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, [San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988], 241).
Essentially the Catholic apologist is saying that either Jesus was speaking metaphorically of reviling, or he was not speaking metaphorically at all. But if Jesus was not speaking metaphorically of reviling, then he must have been speaking literally. There are several problems with this argument.
A False Dilemma
A false dilemma is the fallacy of forcing a complex issue into a choice between two options, without admitting of alternative solutions. The Catholic apologist is guilty of this fallacy. We do not need to choose between metaphorical reviling or literalism. There are alternatives. For example, the unbelieving Jews of John 6:52 interpreted eating and drinking in neither a figurative sense nor a sacramental sense; rather they interpreted his words in a crassly literal, or carnal sense: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Of course, this is not a viable alternative, as Jesus is clearly not prescribing cannibalism. But it does demonstrate the faulty logic of the Catholic position. Is there a viable alternative to metaphorical reviling and sacramental literalism? In deed there is. James D. G. Dunn argues that:
[Jesus] uses the language of “eating”, “munching”, “drinking” as metaphors for believing in Jesus: the need to believe in Jesus is the central emphasis of the whole passage [John 6] (vv. 29, 35, 36, 40, 47, 64, 69)…to munch Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood is the believe in Jesus as the truly incarnate one (James D. G. Dunn, Unity and Diversity in the New Testament, 2nd Edition, [Harrisburg: Trinity Press. 1990], 170, emphasis in original).
In other words, metaphorical believing is a viable alternative. The Catholic apologist rightly acknowledges that eating flesh and drinking blood can be metaphors of reviling, but errs in claiming that they can only be metaphors of reviling. Any given word or words can be used metaphorically in a number of ways. Consider, for example, the word “sword.” In Luke 2:35, a “sword” (romphia) will pierce Mary’s heart. Clearly “sword” is a metaphor for sorrow. But in Revelation, the “sword” (romphia) in Jesus’ mouth is a metaphor for judgment (cf. Revelation 1:16; 2:16; 19:15, 21). In Matthew 10:34, “sword” (machaira) is a metaphor for division and violence, whereas in Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12, the “sword” (machaira) is a metaphor for the Word of God. There is therefore nothing wrong in principle with the suggestion that eating flesh and drinking blood can have more than one metaphorical meaning. The Catholic has to concede at least this point. But what is even more devastating to the Catholic argument is the fact that both eating flesh and drinking blood are metaphorical in other ways besides reviling or causing someone injury. Sometimes eating flesh and drinking blood are metaphors of distress under persecution (Leviticus 26:29; Dueteronomy 28:53; Jeremiah 19:9). Sometimes they metaphorically express divine justice or giving someone their just desserts (Numbers 23:24; Isaiah 49:26; Revelation 16:6). Ezekiel uses these metaphors in a combined sense of ironic retribution and festal celebration (Ezekiel 39:17-20). In Second Samuel 23:17, David refuses to drink the blood of the heroic men who risked their lives to bring him a drink of water. The metaphorical sense here suggests both solidarity with, and a refusal to dishonor the brave. Finally, James speaks of eating flesh as a metaphor for greed (James 5:3).
Conclusion
Catholic apologists who claim that eating flesh and drinking blood are either metaphors of reviling in John 6 or they are not metaphors at all, are guilty of the either/or fallacy. They are giving us a false dilemma. While the Old Testament and other passages can shed light on how those terms have been metaphorically used elsewhere, the determining criterion for a proper exegesis of those terms is the immediate Johannine context. The context makes it clear that eating flesh and drinking blood are primarily metaphors for belief in Jesus.

SDG November 18, 2009 at 11:01 am

“Catholic apologists who claim that eating flesh and drinking blood are either metaphors of reviling in John 6 or they are not metaphors at all, are guilty of the either/or fallacy. They are giving us a false dilemma. While the Old Testament and other passages can shed light on how those terms have been metaphorically used elsewhere, the determining criterion for a proper exegesis of those terms is the immediate Johannine context. The context makes it clear that eating flesh and drinking blood are primarily metaphors for belief in Jesus.”

This is a reasonable rejoinder, as far as it goes. It’s quite true that images can be used to mean more than one thing, and an image with a well-known metaphorical sense can be given a bold new interpretation by a speaker as daring and challenging as Jesus. Jesus certainly had the rhetorical wherewithal to reinterpret a metaphorical image in a radically different sense, and he could easily have done so in John 6 had he wished to. An excessive insistence that a metaphorical reference to “eating the flesh and drinking the blood” must mean only what it already meant elsewhere is closed-minded thinking.
That said, in light of the established metaphorical sense of “eating the flesh and drinking the blood,” the alleged choice of Jesus to use this image as a metaphor for something positive seems even more provocative, more counter-intuitive, more likely to be misunderstood by listeners, including the Twelve.
It heightens the difficulty outlined above of explaining why, having spoken straightforwardly of believing in him, Jesus would then choose, contrary to his use of figurative language everywhere else, to cloak his already-stated plain meaning in baffling, off-putting, seemingly antagonistic metaphorical language. Language that drove away many followers, and over which he was prepared to lose even the Twelve, despite his consistent practice of clearing up any confusions the Twelve might suffer over his striking images. Except, of course, when their confusion was precisely that they failed to grasp that he meant exactly what he said.

SDG November 18, 2009 at 11:48 am

Note: If you’re having trouble posting to this combox, it’s not just you and it’s not something deliberate. There seems to be something buggy on TypePad’s end. Sometimes you can get in, sometimes you can’t.
Try closing your browser completely and coming to the site fresh. Or try varying http://www.jimmyakin.org with just jimmyakin.org (without the www), or jimmyakin.typepad.com. Stupid little tricks like that sometimes help.

Nobody November 18, 2009 at 11:54 am

…And always copy your comment (highlight+Ctrl C) before hitting post, so you can paste it when you try again…

The Masked Chicken November 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Gotta love Typepad…actually, if you can’t post a comment, you might save the document in text format, somewhere. There have been who hours where I couldn’t post a comment, although I have often suspected that this was God’s comment on what I had written :)

The Masked Chicken November 18, 2009 at 12:40 pm

There have been whole hours. Didn’t mean to imply Dr. Who was involved.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken November 18, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Dear Gecko,
You wrote:
Mr. Chicken wonders if I wouldn’t mind breaking up my essay into smaller managable parts. I would be delighted. However, I still want to know from my answer to you previously, if you will admit that there DO exist Protestants who understand RC theology and at the same time reject it, just as there are Catholics who do understand Prot theology and reject IT.
This is a loaded question. Since the fullness of faith can only exist in one or the other group, this is like asking, tacitly, are there some people who reject the Catholic faith for something better. If the Catholic Church has the fullness of faith, then if a person rejects it to become Protestants, despite (per hypothesi) understanding it, then they would have rejected the faith, but for nothing better. These people, properly called, would be heretics and would have put their souls in grave danger. If the Catholic Church were not the fullness of faith, then (per hypothesi) they would be leaving the Church for something better.
So, the question is not, strickly speaking, are there Protestants who understand Catholic teaching and reject it, but whether or not the Catholic teaching or Protestant teaching contains the fullness of faith. If a Protestant completely understood the teachings of the Church and found them deficient, then, presumably, they would be compelled to leave for something that does contain the fullness of faith, since all people are morally bound to follow the faith of Christ. However, since you have not even begun to prove the conclusion that the Catholic Church does not contain the fullness of faith, it is unclear whether or not a Protestant who has understood the Catholic faith and left it in search of the fullness of faith, has, in fact, understood the faith, since he would be searching for something he left. This would be logically inconsistent.
Your comment presupposes that Catholicism is not the fullness of faith and you have not proven this. Until this is proven, your original statement cannot be decided, except trivially: there have been people who have left the Catholic Church to become Protestants, which is a matter of history, presupposing that they will find the fullness of faith. Just because they have left and claimed to not have found the fullness of faith does not make it the case that the fullness of faith wasn’t there, however. We have a few logical possibilities and a moral imperative:
A = Catholic Church has the fullness of faith
B = Catholic Faith does not have the fullness of faith
R = The person has understood the teaching of the Catholic Church
S = The person has not understood the teaching of the Catholic Church
L = The person has left the Catholic Church
NL = The person has not left the Church
Moral Imperative: one must go to whatever group has the fullness of faith
Your statement that there are Protestants who have understood the teaching of the Catholic Church and left can only be correct in the form: BRL. In order for this to be logically consistent, you must first prove B, since if the form is ARL, this would contradict the Moral Imparative and be an illogical action.
Thus, to properly answer your question as to whether or not a person has properly understood Catholic teaching and left, you must first prove or disprove A, otherwise, they may have left the Church, but either they are no longer interested in following the Moral Imperative (in which case, the truth of A or B does not have to be established), or they have not understood what they were leaving when they left.
In other words, I can’t answer your question until you prove A is false. You have not, so the status of people leaving the Catholic Church who claim to understand its teaching is an open question.
I am also waiting for you to tell me how a Jew living 100 years before Christ could know that, let’s say, Isaiah and Jeremiah were inspired without any RC church in existance to tell them.
The could do so by a special dispensation from God to fill in for the defect they had in revelation until Christ came. In fact, Scripture alludes to this (Heb 1: 1 – 2):

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

[NKJV]
Now, I have asked this question for the third time and no one has answered. I submit the Protestant has everything Jesus promised by His sending to us the Holy Spirit (and He did that NOT in conjunction with the institution of the Eucharist, which is mere speculation on the part of the RCC which cannot be biblically exegeted). The Roman Catholic thinks they have something special when they allegedly injest His body and blood. What is it, Mr. Chicken, that the body and blood accomplishes within your anatomy that the presence of the Holy Spirit does NOT? In anticipation of your answer, I wrote the following:
This is a complicated question (more than I suspect you know), so I will only give a simple answer, here, otherwise, I will have to write a book to properly answer your question. In giving us the Holy Spirit, Jesus did what? What is it you think the Holy Spirit does in the Church? Is the Holy Spirit the Father? Is he the Son? For your information, Jesus did not promise the Holy Spirit at the institution of the Eucharist. This is not the teaching of the Church. There are two institution-like narratives, one for the Eucharist and one for the Holy Spirit (John 6 and John 14- 17). Both are found exclusively in the Gospel of John. Both occur in the context of a meal and both point to a future when they will be realized. They have similar points: both relate to a future preisthood and such, but I don’t want to get into a detailed analysis, right now.
To answer your question, directly, in fact, those who receive the Eucharist receive something the Holy Spirit does not have: the body, blood, and soul of Jesus Christ. In fact, this is something the Holy Spirit cannot give because he does not possess it, only Christ does. The Holy Spirit and Christ share the divine nature and as such, when one receives the Eucharist, one receives, in addition to the body, blood, and soul of Christ, his divinity to participate in, but to do that is to also receive the Holy Spirit, since there can be no division in nature. This is the correct interpretation of the passage you cited, earlier:
We believe that as a result of consuming the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we are granted the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For as John Paul II has said, “Through our communion in His body and blood, Christ also grants us His Spirit” (and) “the joint and inseparable activity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . . is at work in the Eucharist” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #17 & 23}
If you deny that, if the Eucharist is Christ, when you receive it you also receive the Holy Spirit, then you would have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the Trinity.
So, if the Eucharist is Christ, then one receives a relationship one does not have through the Holy Spirit – a relationship of person to person (Christ and the communicant), both of whom have walked the earth, whereas the Holy Spirit has not.
I suspect, but can’t say further without probing deeper, that you may have misunderstood what the Holy Spirit’s purpose is in the Church. If you keep reading your interpretation of what that is (you may quote Scripture all you want – so do the hundreds of splinter Pentecostal groups that differ on the interpretation of those passages), you may arrive at any number of different interpretations, but they are not complete or consistent.
We can discuss the Holy Spirit later. In regards to your original question about the Eucharist, I believe I have given you one or more ways the Eucharist provides something the Holy Spirit does not give. Ultimately, the question boils down to whether or not Christ is in the Eucharist. This is not a question you asked me, so I will let you debate this with others, here.

BobCatholic November 18, 2009 at 2:04 pm

>Mr. Bob…. you continue to pose the question of demanding to know HOW the apostle John understood what Jesus meant in chapter 6 of his gospel. In your desperate attempt to find some fault with me, I am now required to be a mindreader and know his exact thoughts to have any validity!
No, I don’t intend you to be a mindreader.
I am expecting you to hold to Apostolic doctrine, not man made doctrine.
I am expecting you to hold to Apostolic interpretation of scripture rather than Svendsen’s man-made interpretation of scripture.
>You know very well you don’t have any evidence other than the gospel of John to go on yourself, so what you’re trying to prove, I have no idea.
Actually I do have evidence of John’s interpretation of scripture. He didn’t hold it to himself, he did pass it on.
But it is not in the Bible. If it were, you would have found it and not arguing with me. The Apostolic interpretation
of scripture is available and you choose to reject it.
However, you have already proven that you do not understand John 6 as John the Apostle did. If you did, you would have
cited John’s interpretation instead of your own.
>STATED IN FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE . . .{John 6:54}
>”whoso eateth my flesh and drinks my blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”
Who told you this is figurative language?
Now, all you did in your post was basically try to sell YOUR INTERPRETATION of scripture.
I’d rather hold to the Apostolic interpretation of scripture rather than a man-made one.
Galatians 1:9, you know.
Unless you can prove to me that your interpretation of scripture is identical to John’s interpretation, you
are doing nothing but passing on a man-made tradition which makes null the word of God.
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior says “This is My Body”
Your man-made tradition says “no it is not, it is just a symbol.”
Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior says “This is My Blood”
Your man-made tradition says “no it is not, it is just a symbol.”
Malachi 1:11 says:
For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles;
and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great
among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
Your man made tradition says “No, that doesn’t have to happen!”
What I see here is your inability to provide John’s interpretation of scripture. I would think he would know
best on what he wrote in John 6. But you cannot provide me John’s interpretation, acting like it is some
mindreading trick is needed.
You cannot provide John’s interpretation of Scripture because you do not have it, because you do not hold to Apostolic doctrine and flat out reject it. Instead you depend on men
such as Svensen and his long essays which you posted verbatim.
I’d rather hold to Christianity than Svensenism.

JoAnna November 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Gecko,
You wrote, “The RCC teaches that a priest has the power to call down Jesus Christ from heaven, and through the miracle of Transubstantiation, the communion wafer and the wine are both suddenly changed into His actual body and blood, even though there appears to be no change in the elements under close scientific examination {Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1376}.”
From the CCC:

1376 The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.”

1. There is no mention of the priest “call[ing] down Jesus Christ from heaven.”
2. There is no mention of there being “no change in the elements under close scientific examination.”
I’m confused. How can you draw the above two conclusions from a reading of paragraph 1376 in and of itself?

JoAnna November 18, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Hi all, Gecko sent me an e-mail and asked me to post the following:
“Hey guys….
I am sending this through one of your thread lurkers who was kind enough to paste it here for me. I simply cannot get through. Seemingly, some have the ability to bypass Typepad’s stubborness, but I do not. Don’t know if this is temporary or not, but just wanted to say I wasn’t ignoring anyone.
Gecko”

BobCatholic November 19, 2009 at 8:28 am

JoAnna : That’s because Gecko was brainwashed into hating our faith. They lied to him and provided him misinformation about our faith and he didn’t bother reading the CCC for himself.
Anti-Catholicism = bigotry and lies. Both things Christ would not tolerate.

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 6:54 am

JoAnna asks:
1. There is no mention of the priest “call[ing] down Jesus Christ from heaven.”
2. There is no mention of there being “no change in the elements under close scientific examination.”
I’m confused. How can you draw the above two conclusions from a reading of paragraph 1376 in and of itself?
_______________________________________
Answer: You are correct in saying that the above info cannot strictly be found in #1376. However, there is not one thing I said that cannot strictly be verified in reliable RC literature either! I quoted the pope:
“For the priest has power over the very body of Jesus Christ and makes it present upon our altars, offering Him a victim pleasing to the Divine Majesty” {Pius XI, “Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, 1935}.
Please notice that #1376 says that the Council of Trent SUMMARIZES thus and such. I went to the actual source (“Concerning the Superiority of the Eucharist over the Other Sacraments”, chapter 3) wherein they say that it is immediately after the words of consecration by the priest that this “change” takes place. I assumed that another way of saying this would be “calling Him down” which makes sense to me since the pope said that the priest has “the POWER over the very BODY of Jesus Christ.” I then used the statement that “the priest has the power to call down Christ from heaven” taken from Fr. O’Brien’s book, “The Faith of Millions”, who appears to be logically in sync with the papal teaching. This publication was published by TAN Books and given the official seal of the church. So if you are upset by my using the words “calling down” when one is trying his best to represent RC doctrine accurately, you should write a letter to the publisher above and the diocese which issued the offical seal.
In my own words I then stated that nothing could be noticably changed “under close scientific examination” to convey exactly what the pope has taught, elsewhere noted in my essay:
“[We] must firmly maintain that in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist. . .[This] mystery indeed taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us.” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by Pope John Paul II, #15 & 58}.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

“However, there is not one thing I said that cannot strictly be verified in reliable RC literature either!”

Your repeated reliance on an inspirational passage from a wholly non-authoritative work, The Faith of Millions — a passage chock-a-block of manifestly non-literal language (the priest “reaching up into heaven,” “commanding” Jesus, etc. — to maintain the idea of Jesus “coming down from heaven” over against the clear teaching attested by the likes of Aquinas, Pius VI and Newman is not persuasive.
You should concede this point: It is not Catholic teaching that Jesus actually “comes down” from heaven in the Eucharist.
On the other points, as I said, I accept the evidence from Pius XI regarding the acceptability of describing the priest as “having the power” to turn the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ; and it is certainly the case that Catholic theology teaches that the bread and the wine cease to exist.

Tim J. November 20, 2009 at 7:35 am

Gecko, do you think that “scientific examination” could show that Jesus was the Son of God?
Why, or why not?

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 7:48 am

Tim correctly notes that I say that many of Jesus’s disciples walked away because of the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man as stated in 6:44 & 65.
But he concludes that,
“If anyone was familiar with such language, if anyone embraced such religious concepts with enthusiasm, it would have been these first century Jews. So, their *leaving* based on that would make no sense at all.”
Answer: No one is arguing that these Jews would NOT have happily embraced the sovereignty of God. I AM saying that
#1) they were getting the impression that Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah but were unconvinced, as is evidenced when the Jews asked Him, “How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24). I say this is proof He was speaking figuratively in
John 6.
#2) The Jews did not believe in His divine origin from the start—which is a truth set forth in the very first verse of this gospel; hence it is illogical to suppose that Jesus would lead UNBELIEVERS on to more advanced learning—such as the alleged “mystery” relating to the consumption of His flesh and blood. By describing Himself as the “Bread of Life” in verse 35, the RCC admits that up to verse 47, “the teaching and the meaning, at least up to this point, is purely symbolic” (Not By Bread Alone, by R. Sungenis, p. 172). Thus, the RCC bids us to believe that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He says He was the bread that came down from heaven, but later spoke literally when He told them to eat it! This is pure nonsense.
Tim then says,
In context it is OBVIOUS that they left because of Jesus teaching that “…unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”.
Answer: Au contraire, pierre. To millions past and present, (including those the RCC put to death for believing Jesus spoke figuratively in this very chapter) it is most definitely NOT “obvious” at all. While it MAY have contributed IN PART to their leaving, it is the word of God that over-rules you when we read in verse 65– the PRIMARY REASON. The unbelieving Jews did not accept it would take the power of God to come to HIM, whose identity they considerd suspect. Because the operating power of the Father was missing in their empty souls in verse 65, verse 66 states, “Because of THIS”, or in another, “From THAT time, many of His disciples went away.” We must strive to stay within context, and the context simply does not tell us to refer back to anything else except verse 65 when it says “THIS” was the reason they went away. Thus your “obvious” conclusion is out of order.
The last part of what you quoted Jesus as saying is also evidence He was using the metaphors of eating and drinking to connote “believing”.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood REMAINS in me and I in Him.”
The Lord is here referring to the popular biblical concept of “ABIDING” in Him. However, Holy Writ is completely silent on abiding in Christ by virtue of ingesting the Eucharist! It is just the opposite: “HEREBY WE KNOW THAT HE ABIDES IN US; BY THE SPIRIT WHICH HE HATH GIVEN US” {1 John 3:24}, and THAT, sir, comes by FAITH IN CHRIST, the very thing He was elucidating on in John 6 and confirmed elswhere (Gal 3:2) whether you believe it or not. Consequently, the reason we don’t have to literally eat Him is because He ALREADY dwells with us by the promise of the Holy Spirit! It would be redundant for Him to vow the same thing through ingestion of the Eucharist—therefore His words in John 6 and the Last Supper must be taken figuratively.
The Catechism states that the principal fruit of ingesting the Eucharist is abiding in Christ more intimately {CCC #1391, #1406}. Nothing could be further from the truth! By biblical definition, abiding “IN CHRIST” has nothing whatsoever to do with consuming the wafer. Nothing! This two word phrase is used over 20 times. We are “in Christ” and abide in Him by FAITH when we eat His flesh and drink His blood (i.e., when we believe in both His LIFE (flesh) of obedience fulfilling the law FOR us, and His DEATH (blood) taking the penalty upon Himself so we wouldn’t have to (Romans 5:10). See also being “in Christ” at 1 John 2:5; 3:24, Romans 3:24, 8:1, 8:39, Eph 1:3, 2:13, 3:11-12, Phil 3:9; 14, 4:19, 1 Tim 3:13, 2 Tim 1:1, 1:9, 1:13 , 2:1, 2:10, 3:15, 1 Cor 1:2, 1:30, Colosssians 1:28; 2:6, 1 Thess 1:1, 2:14, 1 Peter 5:14}.
Read for example, Colossians 2:6: “As you therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him”. How then are we to walk “in Him”? Answer: “As we received Him”. And did we receive Him via the mouth? NO! It was by faith alone! When that happens, we receive the Holy Spirit (Gal 3:2) and ipso facto, become “complete in Him” {Colossians 2:10}. If we are “COMPLETE” by faith, there is simply no room for arguing that swallowing the Eucharist makes us somehow “more complete”. Therefore, because believing in Christ brings completeness and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the benefits claimed for ingesting the Eucharist are non-existent.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

“Tim correctly notes that I say that many of Jesus’s disciples walked away because of the proclamation of the absolute sovereignty of God and the inability of man as stated in 6:44 & 65.”

This proposition reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ remark about biblical critics who claimed that they could “read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves.”
Jesus’ proclamation of God’s sovereignty and human inability in vv 44 and 65 is a commentary on why the grumbling disciples left: They left, Jesus says, because it has not been given to them to accept what Jesus is saying and follow him, and so they cannot help stumbling at Jesus’ teaching.
There is no evidence at all that the Jews leave because Jesus said that it had not been given to them, and that this teaching was the material occasion for their stumbling (as opposed to the explanation of the formal cause of their stumbling). There is no evidence that his words on that subject made any impression on them at all. They never comment on it, and they ignore it completely the first time he brings it up in verse 44.
On the contrary, there is every evidence that the teaching over which they stumbled is Jesus’ teaching on the bread of life. This is plainly what they are interested in, and they comment on it again and again, both positively and negatively.
Let’s review!

  1. Jesus himself begins in verses 26-27 by noting that the disciples have only sought him out because of the miraculous meal he provided, and urges them to “the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you.” The disciples respond by alluding to Moses and the Old Testament “bread from heaven.” When Jesus goes on to speak about the “true bread from heaven,” they say, “Lord, give us this bread always.”

  2. Then, however, after Jesus speaks of himself as the bread from heaven, the murmuring begins. John specifically tells us that the disciples murmured at him “because he said ‘I am the bread which came down from heaven.’”

  3. Then, when Jesus raises the stakes by identifying his flesh (not just himself) as the bread he would give for the life of the world, the murmuring intensifies to open dispute: “The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?

    Note that this is after Jesus’ first declaration in v. 44 about the sovereignty of God and the inability of man; they pay no attention to this declaration. Nobody is offended or troubled by this. Their whole attention is focused on the shocking idea of eating Jesus’ flesh.

  4. Then, after Jesus raises the stakes yet again to drinking his blood in the grand-slam scandal of verses 53-58, the disciples openly express their inability to accept what Jesus is saying: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Note that they not only express their own inability to accept it, they also implicitly affirm Jesus’ own teaching that no one can accept it unless it is given to them to do so (“Who can listen to it?”).

  5. At this point Jesus himself specifically comments that it is this teaching — the teaching about eating his flesh and blood — that gives them offense: “Do you take offense at this?”

    And so he offers the formal explanation (not the material cause) for their offense: “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” — i.e., because no one can accept so hard a teaching as eating and drinking Jesus’ body and blood without faith from God.

    Nobody comments on this final saying. Nobody takes offense, grumbles, murmurs or disputes about it. There is no evidence that this saying about God’s sovereignty and human inability had any causal connection to the disciples’ dissatisfaction. Rather, it was merely Jesus’ commentary on their dissatisfaction with the teaching where the difficulty clearly lay, the teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

Yet despite this overwhelming exegetical evidence, you can only admit that Jesus’ teaching about eating his flesh and drinking his blood “MAY have contributed IN PART to their leaving,” while insisting — with no exegetical evidence at all — that a couple of references to God’s sovereignty that no one comments on or objects to were “the PRIMARY REASON.”
That is the most profoundly unpersuasive exegesis I’ve encountered in a long time.

c matt November 20, 2009 at 8:57 am

In my own words I then stated that nothing could be noticably changed “under close scientific examination” to convey exactly what the pope has taught, elsewhere noted in my essay:
“[We] must firmly maintain that in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist. . .[This] mystery indeed taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us.” {Ecclesia de Eucharistia, by Pope John Paul II, #15 & 58}.

There are many realities which scientific examination cannot reveal – not sure what your point is. Science does not, cannot examine the immortality of the soul (or the soul itself), it cannot measure or observe the soul changing through baptism. Yet these are realities, are they not?

JoAnna November 20, 2009 at 9:18 am

Answer: You are correct in saying that the above info cannot strictly be found in #1376. However, there is not one thing I said that cannot strictly be verified in reliable RC literature either!
Why, then, did you cite CCC 1376 as your only source and not this other source as well? It’s intellectually dishonest and doesn’t really make me want to take your arguments seriously, if you can’t (or won’t) even cite your sources properly.

Lucien Syme November 20, 2009 at 10:21 am

Wow I can post again on this combox, too bad my arguments now are outdated; so I will just have to point out one of many follies that I have noticed regarding the techniques of many anti-Catholic apologists.
“Why, then, did you cite CCC 1376 as your only source and not this other source as well? It’s intellectually dishonest and doesn’t really make me want to take your arguments seriously, if you can’t (or won’t) even cite your sources properly.”
JoAnna, good call this is the key that all of us should take to heart. When someone lies regarding their sources we should cut them off, regarding dialog, especially given the format here.
If someone were to speak incorrectly during a live formal debate there is room for excuse but not when you take the time to type out your responses.
There is no reason other than the fact that they lied because their case is weak and they know it.
If Gecko were discussing these things with others in cyberspace there would be almost no chance they would catch him lying.
Let me do the same here and see if Gecko can catch me typing a lie:
The handbook of Anti-Catholic Apologetics states on page 102 paragraph 2; “…that if engaged with Catholics regarding matters of doctrine it is excusable to lie regarding sources – especially Catholic sources – and their content. It is pleasing, in this instance, to the Lord “who is the way, the truth and the life”. Since the fact of the matter is that their sources are of the devil and most Catholics will not know there is any source to reference regarding matters of doctrine.”

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 11:47 am

“Bob the Catholic” makes the accusation that
“Gecko was brainwashed into hating our faith. They lied to him and provided him misinformation and he didn’t bother reading the CCC for himself.”
Response: In my opinion, the man ought to be banned from this site. If the moderator of this thread knows in his heart that they would have given ME the ax for saying such things, then they ought to be consistent and ban Bobcat. Needless to say, the charges of brainwashing and being lied to all my life, are nothing but wild speculations that I’m sure all readers will agree were uncalled for. The further nonsense about me not reading the CCC is also quite ridiculous as my own worn out paperback copy, if it could speak, would laugh at. Still, Bobcat is relentless by informing us that
“Anti-Catholicism = bigotry and lies. Both things Christ would not tolerate”
Response: I’m quite sure if Bobcat auditioned for Disney to be the voice-over for Snow White’s father—the one who gave the kind maiden her perky personality and love for chipmunks,—there is no doubt Bobcat would fail to get the part. Now let me get this straight; everything I have said thus far must be classified as bigoted, anti-Catholic hatred???? And everything Bobcat has said does not even carry a HINT of Anti-PROTESTANTISM????? Why there isn’t a person in the universe who would agree to that, so no further comment is necessary.
Also, you appear to be blind to the fact that you are a false witness—- something specifically condemned in the Bible. If one is to accuse someone of “LYING”, they ought to bring forth the evidence of the alleged “untruth” and better be able to prove it alongside God’s word. So don’t tell me that Jesus would not tolerate me “searching the scriptures” which He instructed us to do in no less than 25 places. So far, I’ve only seen you quote Scripture one time, and even there, it was taken out of context (see below), so who do you think the Lord has more respect for?
Bobcat is bringing up the same subject for the third time now and I’m only putting up with it so the audience can see how lame his responses are.
He said: “I am expecting you to hold to Apostolic interpretation of scripture rather than Svendsen’s man-made interpretation of scripture…..You posted long essays of his verbatim.”
Response: Someone calculated that my essay came out to be 22,000 words. I quoted one paragraph of Mr. Svendsen and you make the completely false charge that I posted his LONG ESSAYS VERBATIM— a total fabrication that anyone can check out in a minute (but of course no one will admit because it is not proper etiquette to condemn a fellow Catholic even if they have proven to be a hypocrite). But oh my, doesn’t the “long essays by Svendsen” charge fall into the category of LYING? May I remind you that according to the book of Revelation, liars will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, so you’d better shape up.
I said: “You know very well you don’t have any evidence other than the gospel of John to go on yourself, so what you’re trying to prove, I have no idea.”
He answered: “Actually I do have evidence of John’s interpretation of scripture. He didn’t hold it to himself, he did pass it on.
But it’s not in the Bible. If it were, you would have found it and not arguing with me. The Apostolic interpretation
of scripture is available and you choose to reject it.”
Response: The unprovable assumption that John passed it on into the waiting hands of Roman Catholic dignitaries for commentary, is delusive. What you really mean to say is that as a result of what Roman Catholic authorities have since SAID about John 6, we ought to listen to them, plain and simple. That is a FAR CRY from your original demand of me asking what “JOHN’S interpretaion was of his own writing!” But as a matter of fact, even though you were referring to RC authorities when you referred to “John’s interpretation”, I took you by surprise by actually giving you the writer’s own personal interpretation contained explicity in 20:31 (juxtaposed with 6:53)—something you were not prepared to answer then, neither are you now, because the “word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword” and you have lost the battle. Furthermore, the claim that the RC interpretation is “APOSTOLIC” is completely gratuitous and is your own opinion which I thank you very much for sharing. I emphatically deny it. At the end of the day, all you really wanted to find out was if I KNEW that the official RC position on John 6 was not contained in the Bible. Hello???? I spent 22,000 words outlining that very thesis— so your “intimidating” question was a complete waste of time to every person reading this.
Bobcat said: “However, you have already proven that you do not understand John 6 as John the Apostle did. If you did, you would have
cited John’s interpretation instead of your own.”
Answer: Your persistent assumption that the Roman Catholic Church knew the personal opinion of John the apostle now falls into the category of stand-up comedy.
He said: “Unless you can prove to me that your interpretation of scripture is identical to John’s interpretation, you
are doing nothing but passing on a man-made tradition which makes null the word of God.
Answer: Quite funny, you really ought to be on Leno. And unless YOU can prove to ME that YOUR interpretation is IDENTICAL to John’s, you are doing nothing but passing on man-made tradition which makes null and void the word of God. For your information B-C, the Roman Catholic Church has only “infallibly” defined the amount of biblical verses that can be found on one hand—and John 6 IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Consequently, MY interpretaion which IS based on God’s word, has more credibility than yours, which you admit, is not to be found in the text.
To validate the coming of the Mass, you quote the O.T: “Malachi 1:11 says: For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great
among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
Your man made tradition says “No, that doesn’t have to happen!”
Response: It is nothing less than eisegesis to read a prohpecy of the Mass into this verse. First of all, since when has the Lord’s name been great among the heathen? His name is typically the #1 curse word of preferance for all unbelieving humanity, so suffice it to say He couldn’t have been referring to the Mass, since that’s old history, but rather of a future time to come which we haven’t even reached yet. Second, the “pure offering” mentioned in the text does not unavoidably refer to a sacrifice for sin, which is what you would have to opine if you say He means “the Mass”. The word translated “offering” refers to the grain offering, which was a voluntary act of gratitude and NOT any sort of sacrificial sin offering as we find in the Mass.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Gecko, why do you keep responding to everyone else and mostly ignoring me? (I’m the one who can disinvite you, after all…)
You are in no position to object to the abrasiveness of BobCatholic’s rhetoric, which I agree is beyond the pale. BobCatholic may have accused you of being brainwashed and not bothering to read the CCC, but nobody has suggested that you are personally on the path to hell, and I’m a lot more inclined to crack down on that sort of thing.
Everybody chill. Stick to the issues and the arguments, and avoid every kind of gratuitous personal swipe.
Don’t make me stop the car and come back there, I don’t care who started it, I’ll finish it, and all that jazz.
Gecko: You have some overdue responses to me. Get cracking.

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

JoAnna bemoans:
Why, then, did you cite CCC 1376 as your only source and not this other source as well? It’s intellectually dishonest and doesn’t really make me want to take your arguments seriously, if you can’t (or won’t) even cite your sources properly.
Answer: JoAnna, are you a perfect person? Does every single word that comes out of your mouth carry the pristine certainty of truth personified? The answer to that is no, and it is the same for me! I am dismayed that you immediately jump to the conclusion that I was purposely trying to be intellectually dishonest and don’t even entertain the POSSIBILITY that I simply could have been better at annotating the quote from #1376 with the ones I furnished you upon request. Taken together, there is no argument and you know it. For the charge of dishonesty to carry any weight, you would have to find a similar string of erroneous notations, as well as furnishing a reason as to what I might have to gain for purposely withholding the other two references (BOTH contained in my essay– but just not next to #1376 which you would have preferred, and which I can happily change in the blink of an eye). So the accusation of “deceit” must be thrown out the window if you yourself have any integrity. Frankly, it upsets my stomach when you don’t look at the BIG picture of all my other ACCURATE references and take great delight in zeroing in on the misplacement of a couple of quotes! Will you be divorcing your husband any time soon because he may have some shortcomings? No you will not. Will you be leaving the Catholic Church any time soon even in light of the horrific and disgusting molestations that have been going on for years, courtesy of innumerable Catholic priests? You’ll tell me, “oh they’re only human, we ought to forgive and forget, and of course, we MUST continue to take them seriously”. Fine, if you’re going to continue to take THEM seriously, then you can do the same for me, at least as someone who is trying to accurately represent what your church teaches….even though you may disagree with my conclusions.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm

GECKO: CHILL OUT. NOW.
I can understand taking umbrage at JoAnna’s charge of “intellectual dishonesty.” Fine. Respond to the charge like a Christian.
Leaping from a challenge about the honesty of your sourcing practices to “Oh yeah? What about PRIESTLY ABUSE!” is way, way over the top … just like going from “Gecko is a brainwashed bigot who never bothered to read the CCC” to “You’re a LIAR on your way to HELL unless you shape up!” (Incidentally, your representation of what a Catholic might say about priestly abuse is, to put it mildly, not among your better efforts to approximate what an actual Catholic might say about anything.)
I am not yet ready to disinvite you, but I am closer than I was this morning, and nearly every post you write pushes me in the same direction.
The one good thing in your latest post is that it looks like you can actually acknowledge room for improvement in your presentation. Let’s build on that. Try responding to my MANY-times-repeated challenge regarding the theological accuracy of describing Christ as “coming down from heaven” in the Eucharist. Then let’s see if you can defend anything you’ve said about John 6 against my rebuttals.
Or you can keep issuing acerbic rejoinders to other participants by whom you feel slighted, and we can take an early weekend here. Your choice.

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Lucien states:
When someone lies regarding their sources we should cut them off, regarding dialog, especially given the format here.
If someone were to speak incorrectly during a live formal debate there is room for excuse but not when you take the time to type out your responses.
_______________________________________
Response: I was munching on an apple as I read your comment, which caused such a spurt of laughter that part of the apple was spit onto my screen!
If you really were serious, you do need to take a wake-up pill I’m sorry to say. To insinuate that it is “inexcusable” for someone to make a mistake in their writing, is probably the most ludicrous requirement for someone’s credibility I have ever heard in my life! NO ONE on earth could possibly support such an outrageous demand. Let me pull one example out of hat that ought to silence you. The Bible translation used at the Council of Trent (The Latin Vulgate) expresses Ezekial 18:30 as “Be converted and DO PENANCE”. And Luke 13:5 as , “Except you do PENANCE you shall all likewise perish”. And Acts 2:38 as “Do PENANCE and be baptized…” What’s worse is that they went on to say the Vulgate did not contain any errors! And this was an “infallible” council? Spare me.
The original Hebrew and Greek make it apparent that the Vulgate was WRONG. God wants REPENTANCE, not penance. Happily, modern editions have now properly changed these errors to “repent”, but oh my, isn’t it shocking that the bigwigs of the RCC also could not live up to your
“no mistakes allowed when writing” demand? But ummm, will you hold any condemnation for THEM? Of course not. Catholics may make as many mistakes as they want, burn as many Protestants at the stake as they wish, molest as many little boys as possible and embrace faulty translations of Holy Writ without a care in the world. Have you no shame???
And guess what? I just noticed that intertwined with your pompous and arrogant pronouncement that one’s credibility MUST narrow down to “perfection” if they are to be respected in their writing, I just noticed that you misspelled the word “DIALOGUE” above.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 1:23 pm

At this point I’m having a hard time avoiding the conclusion that Gecko WANTS to be disinvited and is actually TRYING to provoke me into doing it … possibly because he can’t actually defend his claims and would rather be banned than have to admit it. Then he can enjoy the smugness of innocent victimhood rather than the shame of backtracking.
Fine. If that’s the case, I’m thisclose to giving him what he wants.
BTW, Gecko, “dialog” has two acceptable spellings. Jerk.

Gecko November 20, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Lucien says
“When someone lies regarding their sources we should cut them off, regarding dialog, especially given the format here.
If someone were to speak incorrectly during a live formal debate there is room for excuse but not when you take the time to type out your responses.”
_______________________________________
ANSWER: Excuse me, but I noticed you misspelled the word “dialogue” above, so since it appears you cannot live up to your own requirements for failing to proof-read, kindly do not bother us with any more of your unreasonable demands.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 1:37 pm

And so Gecko gets what he wants.
All the time in the world to explain just how obscenely and uncharitably wrong other people are about his motives, sources, and everything else, but for some reason couldn’t find the time to defend his claims on John 6 or respond to practically anything else I wrote .. not even the spelling of “dialog.”
He is hereby disinvited from further participation. Gecko, if you want to appeal, feel free to write to me privately at Decent Films.

JoAnna November 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Gecko, saying I’m “bemoaning” anything is a stretch. I’m making a simple observation. 
Citing your sources correctly is such an elementary aspect of any sort of written debate that it really does cast doubt on your arguments, as well as your logic. If you are unable to correctly attribute your findings to the proper sources, why should I trust that your arguments are framed logically? I have a B.A. in English, and if I had cited my sources that sloppily in any of my research papers, I would have received a very low grade indeed. 
But if you would like more evidence, let’s look at this paragraph:

I went to the actual source (“Concerning the Superiority of the Eucharist over the Other Sacraments”, chapter 3) wherein they say that it is immediately after the words of consecration by the priest that this “change” takes place. I assumed that another way of saying this would be “calling Him down” which makes sense to me since the pope said that the priest has “the POWER over the very BODY of Jesus Christ.” I then used the statement that “the priest has the power to call down Christ from heaven” taken from Fr. O’Brien’s book, “The Faith of Millions”, who appears to be logically in sync with the papal teaching. This publication was published by TAN Books and given the official seal of the church.

Let’s take the bolded portions in order.
1. You “assume”? Perhaps you should instead investigate how learned theologians interpret this passage instead of relying on your own assumptions. My teachers used to say that when you ASSUME, it makes an ASS out of U and ME.
2. It “appears to be” based on what? Your own opinion? What do other theologians say? Have you researched this?
3. “Official seal of the church” — there is no such thing. If you’re referring to an imprimatur, that is one bishop’s opinion that the work does not directly contradict Catholic faith and morals. It is not a proclamation that the book is infallible, or that Catholics are obliged to consider its contents to be Church teaching. Imprimaturs can and have been revoked. Moreover, even the most truthful teachings can appear distorted when taken out of context and interpreted without proper exegesis, so quoting a short passage from a book and using the book’s imprimatur as some sort of certificate of authenticity is, frankly, shoddy scholarship.
And that, Gecko, is just one paragraph of yours. I have no time to go through your 22,000 word essay to find your other errors — given the errors in the above, I’d have to write a novel to rebut you.

The Pachyderminator November 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Militant Protestants never seem to last long around here. Why is that?
Of course, without excusing the conduct of either Gecko or Oneil, I can’t blame them for being on the defensive in a place like this.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 2:58 pm

“Of course, without excusing the conduct of either Gecko or Oneil, I can’t blame them for being on the defensive in a place like this.”

Unfortunately, Gecko had some legitimate beefs. Most of his complaints about being accused of one thing or another had some validity.
For instance, the sentence I challenged him on regarding his citation of the CCC was problematic, but I don’t think the fact that he cited the CCC and not other sources amounts to intellectual dishonesty. Nor do I think that charges of brainwashing or not reading the CCC were constructive.
Gecko’s response was like pouring grease on fire. In the future it would be nice if there were nothing to ignite an interloctor’s grease, and he merely went slip-sliding on his way without any unnecessary explosions.

J123 November 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm

Gecko,
Since your arrival on this thread I’ve been overwhelmed by the 6 months worth of content you dumped. Since you’re keeping track, I’ll note when I copied your original post into a word document it was 71 pages. I copied it because I expected it to be deleted being in violation of Da Rulz. It took me 3 days of free time to read it in its entirety. On the surface it is quite provocative in its first reading and I admit that I do not feel equipped to engage you in this discussion. But more importantly I’m not certain it would be fruitful.
Regardless of how persuasive your Epistle is or is not, I’ve been most discouraged by your behavior and righteous heir. Your insistence that no one here is able to refute your evidence seems to me to be only bravado, because when people such as SDG or the Masked Chicken take the time to address them thoughtfully and earnestly, there comments are seemingly ignored. It appears to me you prefer to engage with those who oppose you and not your arguments. Most striking is the lack of any concession of worth on your part.
SDG has defended your right to speak freely, encouraged you when in his estimation your point holds some validity and in a few instances criticized arguments against yours. I haven’t heard any show of appreciation except this sentence, “It looks like I have been given permission to answer some of your comments and I would be delighted to do so and will get to them as quickly as I am able.”
Your response when being introduced to Da Rulz and how you broke them was a simple admission that you had not read them followed by an assertion that the reaction would have been the same. No harm, no foul, and, I guess, no apology.
The masked chicken conceded that maybe his original response was not as charitable as it might have been. He apologized, and made some efforts to engage you courteously, expressing his wishes that the dialogue be fruitful. All such efforts seemingly ignored by you. He also pointed out that your entire Epistle rested on the disputed argument that the Bible is your sole source of authority. I believe he was hoping you’d to address this, I know I was. I believe your response was something to the effect of, “How did Jews 100 years before Christ know that Isaiah and Jeremiah were inspired?” I suppose this question is to head off any reference to the authority of the Church, but I would have preferred you “Say what you mean.”
Sticking with the Chicken, despite his attempts at charity and your complete rejection and lack there of, he put forth quite a thoughtful response to your question regarding the good of the Eucharist inside our bodies for such a brief period of time. A direct answer to a specific question from your original post, and you’d rather lobby for the removal of Bob Catholic from the thread? I’d be most interested in hearing your response to the Masked Chicken, and to SDG.
Though I have much to say, it’s all in the same vain. Please forgive my criticism, I mean not to sit in judgment, just hoping to encourage you to address the topics you said you wanted answered without copying sections of your Epistle over and over again. I believe this is supposed to be a dialogue and SDG is trying to have one with you. I hope you’ll engage him and those better equipped than I.
While doing so I hope you’ll be patient, kind, not arrogant or rude or irritable or resentful or insist on your own way. I hope you believe I have been.
SDG
Thank you for your responses and insights. Your wisdom in this thread is only overshadowed by your witness. I, for one, am better for it.
The Masked Chicken
Thank you, too, for your attempts at charity, show of humility, and expressing in words what I could not regarding the Eucharist’ presence within me at communion.
Daniel Stevens
“Gecko, one of the limitations of your essay is its seeming failure to appreciate, account for, or refute the mystical notions of time and space that we Catholics take for granted when it comes to the mysteries of Christ, most especially the Sacraments.”
Thanks for saying what I was thinking, but better

BobCatholic November 20, 2009 at 5:49 pm

>And everything Bobcat has said does not even carry a HINT of Anti-PROTESTANTISM?????
I’m not lying about what protestants believe. But you are lying about what we believe. In fact, you mock what we believe.
>So don’t tell me that Jesus would not tolerate me “searching the scriptures”
I never told you to NOT search the scriptures. Don’t lie about me.
>you make the completely false charge that I posted his LONG ESSAYS VERBATIM
This is what is known as trying to divert the argument away from something else.
And you did not bother to answer the fact that you accept his interpretation of scripture instead of holding to the Apostles’ interpretation of scripture.
I really don’t care who’s essay you posted verbatim – it just proves you depend on other men for interpretation of scripture. None of the men you cite are holding to the Apostolic interpretation of scripture on this point. That is obvious.
But then you rail against us for accepting the Catholic Church’s interpretation of scripture…
Glass houses….
>Response: The unprovable assumption that John passed it on into the waiting hands of Roman Catholic dignitaries for commentary, is delusive.
Did I say that? I never mentioned this.
It is your assumption that is unprovable – that the Apostles kept their interpretation of scripture to themselves, and that we have to figure out the scriptures for ourselves and we cannot count on the Apostolic interpretation of scripture.
>For your information B-C, the Roman Catholic Church has only “infallibly” defined …..
Yet another lie about my faith. Anti-Catholicism is full of bigotry and hate. You’ve posted so many lies about my faith but you think that’s OK.
>First of all, since when has the Lord’s name been great among the heathen
The heathen = the Gentiles – 99% of Christianity is Gentile. So you’re saying that the Lord’s name is not great among them?
This prophecy was fulfilled. Now what about the rest of that verse? It is not fulfilled in your church. Period.
>The word translated “offering” refers to the grain offering, which was a voluntary act of gratitude and NOT any sort of sacrificial sin offering as we find in the Mass.
How is a grain offering “pure”? I recall Paul’s letters saying that none of the sacrifices of the old law took away sins….
I thought the sacrifice of Christ was the only PURE offering ever given to the Father? Seriously, if you are right that there are other pure offerings besides Christ’s, then Christ was not necessary. Thus, I reject your man-made interpretation of scripture.
So back to my question.
I’ve asked you multiple times to tell me how John the Apostle interpreted John 6.
It is a simple question.
If you cannot, JUST SAY SO and stop worshiping the mirror. What rubs me the wrong way is your prideful inability to say “I do not know” – what would it hurt to say that? Not like I’m going to slam you for admitting that. But I will slam bigotry and lies easily.
And I wonder what your church teaches about artificial birth control? I bet your church allows it :)

JoAnna November 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I’d have to disagree with you on one point, SDG — I think it is intellectual dishonesty to cite a source that isn’t wholly the basis of one’s assertions. It would have been more accurate of him to cite the CCC, the Council of Trent document, AND Fr. McBrien’s book as his sources for that assertion, since he was drawing from all three. Whether or not he was deliberatly omitting these sources or just doing so out of ignorance is debatable.
At any rate, I invited him to try his luck at the CA forums.

SDG November 20, 2009 at 8:37 pm

JoAnna, maybe I didn’t follow the discussion closely enough — from my perspective, it looked like Gecko had thrown out the claim that the priest has the power to call down Christ and turn the bread and wine into his body and blood, and he provided a CCC reference that supported most of that statement, which I thought was grounds to call him on the bits that weren’t in the CCC, but I wouldn’t consider it intellectual dishonesty not to exhaustively reference every possible assertion. I don’t profess to have followed the whole subsequent discussion though.

roger November 21, 2009 at 3:46 am

It is sad to see this post to come to such a tragic end.
Yet, I am still curious on how a Jew who lived in 100BC would know how to interpret scripture?

J123 November 21, 2009 at 10:06 am

Roger,
Not certain. I believe the orginal question was not regarding interpretation of scripture but rather how they decided what books were inspired. Here is Gecko’s question restated and a response given by The Masked Chicken.
Gecko: I am also waiting for you to tell me how a Jew living 100 years before Christ could know that, let’s say, Isaiah and Jeremiah were inspired without any RC church in existance to tell them.
Chicken: They could do so by a special dispensation from God to fill in for the defect they had in revelation until Christ came. In fact, Scripture alludes to this (Heb 1: 1 – 2):
*God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;*
Not certain if you will find this answer satifactory. Not certain if I do. I would guess Gecko would not. But at least The Chicken offered a response.

Lucien Syme November 21, 2009 at 10:25 am

Gecko,
Sorry you spit your food out and sorry to see they dis-invited you.
Thank you for your concern regarding the spelling of the word dialog(ue). From my source below it states both are acceptable.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dialog
Please in the future cite your sources correctly and people are more apt to listen to you; which was the majority of the point I was trying to make.

Athanasius November 24, 2009 at 3:46 am

My first time commenting on this site – I’d just like to say that both the original post and the ensuing discussion have been fascinating.
I’d also like to say that I am grateful for Gecko’s comments. Although I don’t agree with him, and there’s a lot of stuff in there that we’ve heard a million times before, on the whole I find his (or her?) level of research and argumentation somewhat more impressive than the majority of anti-Catholic polemics that we usually come up against. There were one or two ‘new’ points in there, for me at least, so I wouldn’t dismiss him completely out of hand.
I think it illustrates wonderfully the danger of interpreting without the guidance of the Church. It is possible to be extremely convinving – if my university students produced this sort of exegeis of a literary, non-religious text, I’d be thrilled! – but ultimately the test must not be ‘what does the Bible seem to me to say?’ but ‘what is the Truth, handed down from Christ to the Apostles and preserved in Scripture and Tradition?’. In the light of what is known about Christian beliefs in the first century (Didache etc), we must conclude that if the Church has got this issue wrong, she got it wrong so early that either the Apostles themselves had misunderstood (in which case where does that leave St John’s Gospel anyway?!) or that they were remarkably bad teachers.
I note that Gecko also glosses rather unconvincingly over the accounts in St Paul. I know what he and other Protestants believe this means, but I am utterly unpersuaded that this is the “plain sense” of the texts.
Actually, I had a crisis of faith a while back, and it mostly centered on the Eucharist (I now know this was a sort of ‘dark night’ which has led to a strenghtening of faith in the long run). What I found most compelling as I researched and prayed about the issue was the fact that the Eucharist is almost undeniably ‘sacrificial’. I know Gecko will want to say this is an innovation, but as I’ve said, this is hardly supported by the evidence of early Christian beliefs, which tied it in with the prophecy of Malachi. Gecko comments correctly that ‘eucharistia’ means ‘thanksgiving’, but it is disingenuous to fail to comment that already this was the Greek translation of ‘todah’ – which was of course a sacrificial meal. As a number of Catholic writers have recently explored, there are considerable typological parallels with the Jewish ‘todah’ and the Last Supper (it is less likely that it was a Passover meal, though there are inevitable links there too given that the entire Passion was – is – Paschal). And there was of course a prophecy that all sacrifice would cease (cf. Hebrews!) except the todah… And of course, the key point about sacrifices is that they need to be eaten (cf. 1 Corinthians inter alia).
Now granted none of this proves transubstantiation per se, and I do not claim that it does, but it does force into our focus the probability that Jesus was talking about us consuming the sacrificial victim – which all Christians can agree was Him. The John 6 discourse can (should) be read in the light of the need for us to receive the true sacrifice, the only one that could and would be genuinely redemptive. Without this sacrifice, we do not live – end of. Finally, the ‘belief’ thread that runs through John 6 (and indeed throughout John in general) must be understood in the context of *what* we are to believe: not a mere proposition, ‘I believe that God exists’ (etc.) but a belief in, i.e. trust in, that redemptive sacrifice: acceptance of Jesus means placing trust in the fact that He is the One Who was sent by the Father, which means precisely that He is not a mere teacher or prophet come to deliver an oral word, but that He is THE sacrificial victim offered up for and therefore received by us.
Reflecting on this I find it impossible to come to any conclusion other than that maintained by the Catholic Church from her inception to the present. All the rest – alternative biblical interpretations, the ‘power of the priest’, various Popes’ attempts to explain the mystery, the scientific/philosophical implications of Transubstantiation etc. etc. – is all interesting and fun to debate, but basically irrelevant.
(Sorry for an untrained apologist writing such a long comment – just thought I’d share my personal perspective on the issue).

The Masked Chicken November 24, 2009 at 5:23 am

Welcome, Athanasius from over the pond.
Roger, above, asked the question:
Yet, I am still curious on how a Jew who lived in 100BC would know how to interpret scripture?
J123 repeated the answer I posted from some time, ago. This is the classic answer, because, basically, one is talking about incomplete revelation. The truth was only partially known and understood in Old Testament times. The question is, how did the Jewish people decide which texts were authentically inspired? How did they decide that God really spoke to or inspired the author of a given text, given that they did not have a fully functioning Magisterium (although, they did have a partial one). This question goes to the matter of how they decided that certain utterances or people were prophetic (including histories).
This is an interesting question. In the book of Jeremiah, for instance, there are some rules given for discerning true from false prophets and there is a history of slow development in discernment among the Jewish people. There were genuine prophets; some false prophets; some true prophets who were pagans (Balaam, for instance). If anyone is interested, I could write a fair amount about how this discernment slowly developed, although it is not something to do with the topic of this post. It has to do with the development in the understanding of the office of the Prophet and that means understanding exactly who and what prophets are.
Having decided that a given author was inspired, his writings would be accepted. Thus, Isaiah was accepted as a prophetic book based upon the methodology developed by the Jews due to their long and unique contact with God. Their contact, however, was only partial, so their discernment had to be augmented by certain external signs which pointed indirectly to the provenance of the writing. In the current age, Jesus, being the complete revelation of God, left a Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit in a direct way, that is able to pronounce on the truth of Scripture in a direct way, through internal means (although using external signs).
Given that Jesus was to make use of the Old Testament, God kept the texts which were decided on as being inspired from going off of the rails (making false choices) although God worked more in the background, since he had not yet revealed himself, directly. When Christ came, he validated the Jewish discernment which he had been a part of directing, in secret.
Thus, we have the partial, but correct revelation from the methodology in the Old Testament as the first source of knowing that an Old Testament text were inspired, but we also have the validation of Jesus for the texts in the New Dispensation, because he read from these texts during the temple service and approved of them.
There is a lot more that I could say, but, as Gecko has left the room, there seems to be no need to answer the question any further in this thread.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken November 24, 2009 at 5:35 am

Oh, one more point:
Could Jimmy or Tim J. or SDG establish a policy that, should a poor, helpless, Evangelical, filled with zeal, wander into the comment box, again, that everyone, here, will do their best, from the start, to pull them aside and show them the ropes, as in how to be zealous, but polite? Impoliteness has gotten more people kicked off from JA.org than any other reason. Perhaps, early intervention is the key? No doubt, Evangelicals (I’m using them as a shorthand stand-in for Protestant posters, in general) feel they must, urgently, convert we poor, dumb, misled Catholics, however, stressing patience as a virtue might help.
I once heard a talk on Fundamentalism by a priest who was an invited guest if a university church and his comment was that Protestants like to convert; Catholic like to dialogue. Evangelicals like quick results and the Sinners Prayer; Catholics like slow, methodical development. He wondered if discussion were actually even possible.
I think it is, but could there be a short discussion on how to prevent the meltdowns we’ve seen from people like O’Neil and Gecko? They help us challenge and frame our arguments as much as we help to challenge theirs. It would be a shame if Ecumenism were just another name for a shouting match. That is not what the Church intended in the document on Ecumenism from Vatican II. I suppose we are more restrained at JA.org, then at many free-for-all sites, but perhaps we can do better?
Just a question to the floor.
The Chicken

SDG November 24, 2009 at 6:25 am

“Could Jimmy or Tim J. or SDG establish a policy that, should a poor, helpless, Evangelical, filled with zeal, wander into the comment box, again, that everyone, here, will do their best, from the start, to pull them aside and show them the ropes, as in how to be zealous, but polite?”

Funny, I thought that WAS the policy, Chicken. :-) What exactly could I have done differently in that regard from what I did?

Lucien Syme November 24, 2009 at 8:20 am

I think SDG is doing a good job and acted up front and early enough with both Oneil and Gecko trying to get them to be polite.
Quite frankly the mammoth post by Gecko was just a superficial attack meant to confuse those weak in their understanding of the faith; much like McCarthy’s materials in general and so SDG thought it might be an opportunity to learn how to defend against those kinds of attacks.
Genuine dialog(ue) is not really an option with the likes of Gecko and Oneil so I think it is only necessary that we give a reasonable defense in an honest and charitable fashion.
But both Gecko and Oneil deliberately misrepresented sources that the Church uses as teaching documents.
You can call it a mistake or you can call it forgetfulness but I am much more skeptical of their intentions and I don’t think that that tactic should be accepted.
In other words, “If someone lies, their thread dies”.
Would any one here ever go enter into a dialog(ue) with Mormons and misrepresent a citation from the Journal of Discourses?

The Pachyderminator November 24, 2009 at 11:01 am

Lucien, saying “Genuine dialogue is impossible with this person” is always a self-fulfilling prophecy. Furthermore, being skeptical of someone’s intentions is exactly the last attitude we should be taking if we’re interested in “genuine dialogue”. Let’s follow Wikipedia protocol and assume good faith until definitively proven otherwise. In Gecko’s case, there was no such proof. This is a blog, not an academic journal; people should not be banned from the discussion simply for failure to cite all their sources properly (outright plagiarism is another matter, as is misinformation).
I think when dealing with commenters who are militantly opposed to the positions of this blog (this applies particularly to Protestants, but also to atheists, agnostics, etc.), we should make an extra effort to be – shall I say – gentle. This doesn’t mean go easy on them intellectually, but watch carefully to avoid a hostile tone.

SDG November 24, 2009 at 11:51 am

Well said, Pachy. Thanks.

Lucien Syme November 24, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Actually what I said was “genuine dialogue is not really an option” which is quite different than “impossible”. Me being able to slam dunk a basketball on a 10 foot goal is “not really an option” for me but is not “impossible” – I could grow 7 inches in the middle of the night from some medical disorder or future nutritional supplement.
Nevertheless, my point was that both Gecko and Oneil misrepresented Catholic sources in the body of their text and if you notice once this point is raised, this is typically when both of them got hostile in their comments. No one likes to get caught in a lie.
This coupled with the attack-style format that both of them chose to employ shows to me that they were more disruptive to the pursuit of truth than acting in ‘good faith’ as an agent of that pursuit.
But this is not my blog, Jimmy and SDG do a very good job with it and I am just glad it exists. I will, if the opportunity presents itself, just point out that someone has misrepresented a Catholic source and disregard anything further from that commentator.

SDG November 24, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I honestly believe that neither Gecko nor Oneil suffered from bad faith. I think that Father Gregory of the Orthodox Church in America put it well in comment at Mark Shea’s blog — both in terms of the etiology of “testosterone-driven apologetics” (of any persuasion), and the challenge of a loving and gentle response. I will not excerpt his wise and penetrating comments; they are worth pondering in full.

The Masked Chicken November 24, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Funny, I thought that WAS the policy, Chicken. :-) What exactly could I have done differently in that regard from what I did?
Not much. I think, in Gecko’s case, had he been shown, immediately, that not only long posts, but rudeness would get him kicked off of the blog, he might have started with a less defiant tone. It is hard to tell. O’Neil started out kind of mixed. He was deferential in science with people whom he knew were actual scientists, but very passionate with some he considered laymen. Since the early discussion concerned science, he was less likely to be rude, overall. Once pure theology kicked in, he became more passionate and progressively ruder.
It may be that many Protestants (SDG and Tim J. can provide more insight) think that simply quoting Scripture is enough to settle a question and that anyone that is in disagreement with their interpretation is a heretic. Perhaps, that is why there are so many splinter groups in Protestantism. What we might need is a passage of Scripture that is universally not understood so that we can show them, early on, that more than one interpretation of a passage of Scripture is sometimes possible. If we can dilute the absolutism, we might be able to dilute the tendency towards triumphalism, which is really what is fueling the rudeness. We Catholics can also be triumphantalists and on some Radtrad sites the commenters sound very similar to O’Neil and Gecko. At JA.org, we tend, I think, to be more discussion-oriented. It is, however, I think, the triumphantalism that almost always precedes the rudeness and if it can be detected and defused early on. it might lead to a more productive discussion.
My thoughts, anyway. SDG and Tim J. might understand the nature of the beast, better, so, over to you guys.
The Chicken

SDG November 24, 2009 at 2:16 pm

FWIW, I am still in touch with Oneil. I think we have established at least some level of mutual respect.
Gecko has not written to me — one of the only people I have ever disinvited not to do so. As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that he was actually trying to get disinvited because he realized he was in over his head and would not be able to defend his claims against sustained cross-examination. When someone feels unjustly bounced from the site, they are usually motivated to protest their bouncing and continue the cross-examination of Catholicism. That Gecko has not done so converges with my hypothesis about his motivation.

Tim J. November 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

“…we should make an extra effort to be – shall I say – gentle. This doesn’t mean go easy on them intellectually, but watch carefully to avoid a hostile tone.”
I could use an extra measure of patience and… gentleness, at times. I too often lose my temper against rude behavior.

The Masked Chicken November 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

SDG,
Good to hear that you are still in touch with O’Neil. Give him my best and tell him he is missed (by me, at least).
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
The Chicken (who is happy he is not a turkey)

Josua December 5, 2009 at 2:52 am

Saludos:
Jimmy Akin
¿Dominas Español?
Deseo preguntarte sobre la Peshitta
¿Es cierto que en el ¨New Testament¨aparece YHWH?.
Soy nuevo en este foro y entre con el fin de hacerte esta pregunta.
josua3000@yahoo.com.mx

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