Mass & Communion
This article was originally a letter sent to a Pastor Warren Heckman in 1991. While visiting a Church “Madison Gospel tabernacle,” someone handed me a booklet on everything that is seemingly wrong with the Catholic Church. The name of the booklet is, "The Bible and Roman Catholicism," put out by, Christian Equippers International, authored by William R. Kimball. The person, who handed me the booklet, suggested that I read it and contact one of the Pastors at Madison Gospel Tabernacle so that I could be saved and become a Christian. And so this letter (with some changes) was a response to that booklet. The pastor never responded; perhaps you will have a response.
Kimball’s booklet appears to be an outline of another book, “Roman Catholicism” by Lorraine Boettner. And so, I have taken one chapter of his book and have answered most of his objections having to do with the Catholic Mass. In this letter, I will give the Catholic view and some of the Protestant views of the Mass and Eucharist. These views are contrasted with the Bible and the early Church Fathers.
This article defends the Catholic Mass as understood by the Church. Catholics please copy this and keep it for future reference for the next time someone is confused about one or more of the Church’s teachings regarding the Mass. Protestants may find it helpful as well, since I cover the understandings of Eucharist by the major Protestant Reformers. You can read the whole thing or just those things of interest in the index.
I make an effort to differentiate between the actual teachings of the Church and the alleged teachings or false allegations made against the Mass. In so doing, this should give Catholics and Protestants one more reason why we should be ONE, something that Jesus desires of us;
- "So that they may all be ONE, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are ONE, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as ONE, that the world may know that you sent me (Jn 17:21-23).
The world does not know that the Father
sent Jesus because we are not ONE!
BELOW IS AND INDEX OF TOPICS IN SEQUENTIAL ORDER
Where does the word Christmas come from?
Were there really Ancient Liturgies?
Why is the Mass Divided in two parts?
Is there only one Protestant view of Communion?
What was the first major division among Protestants?
Do Catholics worship the sun God or the Son of God?
The Mass was in Latin so it was not understood, or was it?
Priest, Sacrifice, Altar:
Is there a New Testament Priesthood?
Are there no New Testament Sacrifices?
Is there a New Testament Altar?
Is Hebrews 10:11, referring to animal sacrifices or offering of Jesus in the Mass?
Is Jesus crucified at every Mass?
Why does Lorraine Boettner say a sin offering was not eaten?
Is there a tie between the last supper and the cross?
What words are Spirit and Life, John 6:63?
Is a communion service only a memorial of Jesus?
Is the offering of Jesus in the Mass cannibalism?
Can we believe Jesus literally?
Why does Paul claim the cup is a participation in the blood of Christ?
How can you participate in the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ, if it isn’t the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ?
Why does Boettner quote Paul and then leave out the context?
Boettner runs away from Paul’s words "shall be guilty of the body” WHY?
Is Jesus a literal door; is Jesus an actual grapevine?
How do we know when Jesus is speaking literally?
Here, Jesus speaks figuratively?
Here, Jesus speaks literally?
Is Jesus to be taken literal or figurative sense in John 6:51?
Why was it a scandal to partake of the blood of animals?
Boettner admits that the Jews took Jesus literally:
The disciples wanted this bread and later rejected the bread, Why?
The Catacombs, the underground church:
What was the inscription on the tomb of Tarcisius?
Transubstantiation; what is it?
Luther & Calvin believed in a real presence; Zwingli did not:
Did the early Church Fathers believe in the real presence?
Why did the Gnostics abstain from the Eucharist?
What was the Eucharistic miracle at Lanciano?
WHERE DOES THE WORD CHRISTMAS COME FROM? I was once told by a friend, that she didn't believe in Mass. And so I asked her if she ever celebrates Christmas and she said, "Yes." I asked further, "You mean you really believe in Christmas?" And she said, "Yes, of course I do." I pointed out to her, that she then approved of Mass, "Christ-Mass" at least once a year. The Roman Catholic Mass is precisely that, Christ's Mass. Mass throughout the year has sometimes been referred to as "little Christmas." This term Mass, can be a strange word to Protestants and sometimes not fully understood by all Catholics.
Where did the word Mass come from and what does it mean? The detractors of the faith would like people to believe that the Mass was not in the early Church; however, as can be plainly seen, it was a part of the early Church. Some not only do not believe in the Mass, they also do not observe Christmas, because the Catholic Church replaced a pagan Festival with the celebration of Christmas. To the detractors of the Church this in affect makes celebration of this Holy day a Pagan holiday.
I checked with a Church historian at Marquette University and asked him if the Catholic Church replaced Pagan festivals with major Christian Holy days. His response was “no, they did not, with the possible exception of Christmas.” The detractors are being intellectually dishonest, because if you did replace a Pagan festival with a Christian Holy Day, you are no longer celebrating a Pagan feast, but a Christian Holy Day. And when the Pagan Festival is replaced by Christmas, you are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.
WERE THERE REALLY ANCIENT LITURGIES? “Very ancient usages generally remain in the Mass. The basic outline of the liturgy as it is today existed in liturgies as early as 150 A.D. (For example, readings, homily, a Eucharistic prayer, and communion.) Other supporting elements had taken form by the third century. It is notable that among these ancient liturgical practices, some have been restored to the Mass in the recent liturgical reform. The interaction between the priest and congregation at Mass, the offertory procession, and the "Second Eucharistic Prayer," were derived from these ancient liturgies.
WHY IS THE MASS DIVIDED IN TWO PARTS? Also, as mentioned earlier, since the days of the persecutions when the catechumens were excluded from the breaking of bread and permitted to stay only for initial prayers, the Mass has been divided into two parts. There still remains the definite breaking point in this part of the Mass where the Liturgy of the Word ends and the Liturgy of the Eucharist begins. (Formerly, this marked the end of the so called Mass of the Catechumens and the beginning of the Mass of the Faithful.) Incidentally, since the most solemn and secret part of the Eucharistic Liturgy was heralded by the dismissal of the catechumens, it is easy to see how the word "Mass" evolved. It is derived from the Latin word for dismissal” (The Words Greatest Secret - J.M. Haffert).
IS THERE ONLY ONE PROTESTANT VIEW OF COMMUNION? Mr. Kimball gives on page 35 what he believes is the Protestant view of communion. “Protestants view Communion as a source of Spiritual blessing and a symbolic Sacrament commemorating Christ's sacrifice on our behalf.” However, Communion as a spiritual blessing and a symbolic sacrament commemorating Christ's sacrifice is not the Protestant view, but a Protestant view. This is why I said in my first letter that Mr. Kimball misrepresents many Protestant Churches as well as Catholic.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST MAJOR DIVISION AMONG PROTESTANTS? “The first important division in the ranks of the Protestants occurred over the interpretation of Holy Communion. Zwingli (d. 1531), the priest who brought the Reformation to Switzerland, found himself at odds with Luther over the words of Scripture, "This is my body." In spite of his rejection of transubstantiation, Luther still retained the traditional interpretation, which said that Jesus was really present in the bread and wine by a bodily and objective presence - not dependent upon subjective feelings and considerations. Zwingli, on the other hand, asserted a mere memorial presence of Jesus in the sharing of the bread and wine. A colloquy between the two leaders at Marburg in October 1529 failed to bring agreement and confirmed the disquieting fact that the principle - Scripture alone - might not be sufficient to maintain a consensus. Theologically Protestantism had to admit that it was a house divided, and so it was to remain during the succeeding centuries.” (A Concise History of the Catholic Church - T. Bohenkottler. p. 199).
It is interesting that the first major division in the Protestant ranks occurred over Holy Communion, a sacrament that signifies, among other things unity or oneness. "Because the loaf of bread is ONE, we though many are ONE body for we all partake of the SAME loaf" (I Cor 10:17). Are the Protestant Churches one body, is there one Protestant Church? According to the "Oxford Encyclopedia of World Christianity," there are over 40,000 different Protestant denominations and sects.
In reference to Holy Communion, Zwingli believed one thing, Luther believed another and Calvin still another. This is why any attempt by the anti-Catholics to give the Protestant view on Communion or most other items of Protestant belief will meet with failure. There is no one central set of Protestant beliefs, because there is no one central Protestant authority but 28,000 of them. You can see this article is dated because now there are over 40,000 Protestant groups.
DO CATHOLICS WORSHIP THE SUN GOD OR THE SON OF GOD? I have heard many strange things about the Catholic Church. I was told by one individual that the Catholic Church actually worships the Sun God, rather than the Son of God and this is because the host we use in Communion is round like the sun and thus represents the sun. This was a new one on me, but I knew, like all things, it had to come from someplace and it wasn't until years later that I ran into an explanation of this by Karl Keating.
“In the chapter on the Mass, there is a photograph of the interior of St. Peter's. As the text explains, it "shows the altar of St. Peter's and [the] huge canopy (the baldachin [sic]) -ninety-five feet high - which is supported by four columns, twisted and slightly covered by branches. At the top of the columns - 'on high above' the most important altar in Catholicism - are sun-images like those that were used in pagan worship."
Here the reader glances to the opposing page. The photograph has superimposed on it three arrows. Two point to these "sun-images" at the top of the columns. The "sun-images" are so indistinct that Woodrow has penned in, next to the arrows, little "happy face" suns so the reader will understand what is supposed to be present. The third arrow points to the apse. There, "high on the wall, as the photograph also shows, is a huge and elaborate golden sunburst image which, from the entrance of the church, also appears 'above' the altar... Interestingly enough, the great temple at Babylon also featured a golden sun-image."
This is his proof: he sees what he thinks is a "sunburst" and promptly deduces that Catholicism borrowed from the Babylonian cults. It is safe to say that Woodrow has never been to the Vatican and has never examined a clear photograph of the interior of the basilica. If he had, he would not have committed such a blunder. What he thinks is an "elaborate golden sunburst" on the far wall of St. Peter's is nothing less than a representation of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove exuding rays of light. (Even fundamentalists use the dove motif in art work.) The dove hovers over the reliquary said to contain St. Peter's chair. This is perhaps the most famous piece of art in the church - certainly the most eye-catching after the baldachin - and this blunder is representative of Woodrow's book. All in all, his contribution to the religious debate is a sorry example of "a detailed and historical account of how, when, why, and where ancient paganism was mixed with Christianity" (Catholicism and Fundamentalism - K. Keating. pp. 161 and 162).
Again, perhaps the detractors of the Church who believe Woodrow would like to visit the Vatican and check this out. It is either an "elaborate golden sunburst" or the "symbol of the Holy Spirit" in the form of a dove. One final point, Woodrow does not seem to be aware that scripture does use the sun image for the Lord “the Sun of justice shall arise" (Malachi 3, 20-21).
Scripture does use the sun
Image for the Lord “the Sun of
justice shall arise”
THE MASS WAS IN LATIN SO IT WAS NOT UNDERSTOOD, OR WAS IT? Since, as I said in my first letter, it appears that Kimball's work is an outline, in part, of Boettner's work, "Roman Catholicism" let's take a look at some of the things Boettner covers. “Another feature of the Mass is that it is conducted in Latin, a language not spoken by the people in the medieval church nor understood by people today unless they use a translation. Latin has been a dead language for centuries. Paul said: ‘Howbeit in the church, I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue’ (I Cor. 14:19) (Roman Catholicism - Boettner, p. 184).
Boettner says that the Mass was in Latin, a dead language not understood by people today or in the Medieval Church. He makes the criticism that at Mass the worshipper is not a participant. The reason that the person is not a participant is of course obvious if you don't know what's being said, how can you fully participate? On the bottom of the page he backs off part of his position including this note, In the New Mass, introduced in 1965 Latin is no longer compulsory.
He has a convenient ignorance of the Church in that he doesn't tell the reader that even when the Mass was in Latin, before Vatican II, right next to the Latin, the Mass was in English in the Missalettes and the Mass was understood by the people allowing them to fully participate. When the priest was saying the Mass in Latin, I was following along in English. Boettner, like Kimball, uses half-truth in order to mislead the reader.
PRIEST, SACRIFICE, ALTAR:
Boettener claims, “In the New Testament, the ordinance of the Lord's supper is always presented as a sacrament, never as a sacrifice” (Boettner Rom. Cath., p. 174). If Boettner is correct then
- there is no New Testament sacrifice that continues to be offered
- then we don't need the priesthood; it was the priest who was required to offer sacrifice,
- and we most certainly don't need an altar because the only reason you need an altar is for the sacrifice being offered.
We are doing pretty well so far; we seemingly just eliminated the sacrifice, the priesthood and the altar. And while we are at it, we could also eliminate altar calls; we could call them table calls instead.
IS THERE REALLY NO NEW TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD? Did the priesthood pass away? If it does exist, how long does this priesthood last? And every priest offers sacrifice, so a New Testament priest would have to have something to offer. And lastly, what is being offered? As for the first question, there is a New Testament priesthood and Jesus is that High Priest. “Where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb 6:20). Next, we find out how long this priesthood lasts offering sacrifices.
“You are a priest forever (Heb 7:21). but he,
because he remains forever, has a priesthood
that does not pass away” (Heb 7:24).
IS THERE NO NEW TESTAMENT SACRIFICES? Now that we know there is a priesthood and it lasts forever, does it really offer sacrifices? “Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices, thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer” (Heb 8:3). In Boettner's statement he is saying the Lord's Supper was never presented as a sacrifice (p. 174). Hebrews tells us there are sacrifices to be offered.
“Now every high priest is appointed
to offer gifts and sacrifices” (Heb 8:3).
In actuality, we have a high priest named Jesus (New Testament) who remains a high priest forever. Paul says that this high priest forever must have something to offer, and he offers gifts and sacrifices. I have two choices here; I can believe Boettner who says that the Lord's Supper is not presented as a sacrifice, or I can believe the New Testament and the Apostle Paul who says there is a New Testament sacrifice being offered. And the offering is Jesus himself. “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences, from dead works to worship the living God” (Heb 9:14).
There are some, who in their determination to show that God is in opposition to good works, will quote Hebrews 9:14 “dead works.” The question is this. Are these “dead works” the same thing as the good works” And if not, what are the “dead works” of Hebrews. The “dead works” are animal sacrifices and Paul contrasts these sacrifices with Jesus own sacrifice.
“Taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves [animal Sacrifice], but his own blood, [sacrifice of Jesus] having won an eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins (Heb 10:4). To confuse “dead works” animal sacrifice, with good works is a corruption of Scripture.
“Dead works” are animal sacrifices and not
in any way to be confused with good works.
IS THERE NO NEW TESTAMENT ALTAR? Boettner quotes a Dr. Harris to make the point that there was no New Testament altar. “It was probably the invention of the priesthood which brought in the altar. The early churches had no altars” (Fundamental Protestant doctrines, II, p. 5). Boettner would have fared better if he just would have stayed with the Bible that he professes to believe rather than quoting Dr. Harris.
Dr. Harris says we have no altar; the Bible says, “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat” (Heb 13:10). If there was no New Testament altar, then why did Paul say "We have an altar"? With this in mind, perhaps the Apostle Paul should have checked with Dr. Harris before he made the statement,
“We have an altar from which
Those who serve the tabernacle
have no right to eat” (Heb 13:10).
IS HEBREWS 10:11 REFERRING TO ANIMAL SACRIFICE OR THE SACRIFICE OF JESUS IN EVERY MASS? It is very easy with incomplete information to get the non-critical reader to hear Hebrews 10:11 the way the detractors of the faith here it. Boettner says and I quote, “the verses [Hebrews 10:10-14] just quoted completely contradict all that Rome has to say about the Mass. Thank God that we can look back to what our Lord did on Calvary and know that He completed the sacrifice for sins once for all” (Rom. Cath., p.182).
BOETTNERS MISUNDERSTANDING OF HEBREWS 10:11: Every [Catholic] priest stands daily at his ministry [daily Mass] offering frequently those same sacrifices [Eucharist or Communion] that can never take away sins (Heb 10:11).
BIBLICAL UNDERSTANDING OF HEBREWS 10:11 in context: Every [Levitical - Heb 7:27] priest stands daily at his ministry [Old Testament covenant] offering frequently those same sacrifices [blood of bulls and goats - Heb 10:4] that can never take away sins (Heb 10:11).
For it is impossible that the blood
of bulls and goats take away
sins (Heb 10:4).
Do you see how easy it is to confuse Hebrews, simply by leaving out any specific reference to the blood of bulls and goats that can never take away sins? If Boettner indicates even one time specifically what this sacrifice is, the reader will realize that this is the Old Covenant animal sacrifice and not the New Covenant offering of Jesus in the Mass. He does mention on the top of page 182, "with blood not his own" (Heb 9:25), but he doesn't mention that this is the blood of bulls and goats, that can never take away sins.
In order for a Catholic priest to be in violation of Hebrews 10:11, he would have to offer animal sacrifices at every Mass, but he doesn’t, he offers Jesus.
IS JESUS RECRUCIFIED AT EVERY MASS? Once we realize that Boettner and others are confusing the Old Covenant sacrifice (animal) with the New Covenant sacrifice (Jesus) in order to discredit the Eucharist as taught by Jesus, they really only have one argument left. It is absolutely imperative that they convince the reader that Jesus dies at every Mass and is re crucified again and gain.
After all, if Christ dies many times, is this not a contradiction to Hebrews (7:27) (9:12, 29) (10:10, 12, 14)? Did Christ die once and for all, or does he die many times? That is why Boettner says, “Notice that throughout these verses occurs the statement, ‘once for all’ ” (p. 182). Boettner is correct when he says Christ only dies once. He is only incorrect when he says that Christ dies many times in the Mass. Christ dying many times is Boettner’s teaching, not to be confused with Catholic teaching.
Kimball says “Mass is a ritual officiated by a priest in which Christ's body is recrucified and resacrificed for atonement of an individual sin” (p. 35, Kimball). There is a reference to recrucifying Jesus in the Bible; however, it has nothing to do with offering Jesus in every Mass and so Kimball is speaking out of context. It has to do with those who have fallen away; “and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are RECRUCIFYING the Son of God for themselves and holding him [Jesus] up to contempt” (Heb 6-6).
Of course, Christ dying again and again at each Mass is not Catholic teaching; it is not the teaching of most Protestants; and it is not the teaching of Paul in Hebrews 9:25-28. It is purely the teaching of Boettner, Kimball and other detractors of the faith.
They misrepresent Catholic teaching by claiming that Catholics recrucify Jesus at ever Mass and then disagree not with Catholic teaching, but with their own misrepresentation of Catholic teaching.
Catholics have a communion service often, weekly and even daily. Eastern Orthodox, Methodists, some Lutherans, Anglicans and Episcopalians have a weekly communion service as well. Many Evangelicals do this as often as two three times a year. Why do we do this often, because the apostle Paul tells us to? “For as OFTEN as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).
Why do we do this often, because the apostle Paul tells us to?
“For as OFTEN as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
It is not intellectually honest to suggest that because we have a Communion service often we are recrucifying Jesus. In order to fulfill the Biblical norm, we must do this often.
WHY DOES BOETTNER SAY A SIN OFFERING WAS NOT EATEN? Here Boettner is making a direct analogy between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In other words, if the sin offering in the Old Testament was not eaten, then neither would a sin offering be eaten in the New Testament. Boettner says and I quote, “Furthermore, according to the Levitical Law, a sin offering was never to be eaten... The fact that in the Lord's supper the elements are eaten is further proof in itself that it was never intended to be a sacrifice” (p. 174, Rom. Cath. Boettner). At the Lord's Supper it was eaten therefore he suggests the Lord's supper could not be a sacrifice. His argument sounds convincing up until you realize that Old Testament sin offerings were in fact eaten (with the exception of the blood). Then his argument actually works against him. If Boettner's way of forming a proof is valid, then he actually proves that the Lord's Supper is a sacrifice. Boettner and I finally agree on something.
“The priest who presents the sin offering
may partake of it; but it must be eaten
in a sacred place” (Lev 6:18-19).
BOETTENER CLAIMS A SIN OFFERING WAS NEVER EATEN? Furthermore, Boettner misses the tie between the last supper and the cross; the two are inseparable, "for this is my blood... which will be shed" (Mt 26:28). What is the blood which will be shed? This is Jesus' blood sacrificed on the cross. Then Jesus said; "This is my body, which will be given for you" (Lk 22:19). Notice the words will be given. What is this body that will be given for you? This is Jesus' body sacrificed on the cross. When Boettner says that the Lord's supper is never presented as a sacrifice he ignores these very words of Jesus. And when Boettner says a sin offering is never to be eaten according to the Levitical law he is not knowledgeable about Old Testament sacrifice; “it must be eaten” (Lev 6:19).
“It must be eaten” (Lev 6:19).
WHAT WORDS ARE SPIRIT AND LIFE (Jn 6:63)? Some people try to use John 6:63 to nullify everything that is obvious in the preceding verses. “It is the Spirit that gives life while flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn 6:63). Scott Hahn used to use John 6:63 in this same way and he explains how he used to do it and what he left out. “ ‘And the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,’ (what words) ‘that you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood’ (Jn 6:63) (those words). So you can't just say the words themselves are all we need, because if the words alone are all we take we are disobeying the words themselves. Do you catch that?
I used to always say to those Catholics in bible studies look at verse 63: ‘It's the words of Christ that give life. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.’ That's right, they are, but what are those words? If you just take the words, without the Eucharist, you're disobeying the words themselves, because the words say, ‘eat my flesh and drink my blood’ ” (Jn 6:56) (Tape Series II "The Eucharist; Holy Meal," Scott Hahn). 1-818-331-3549.
“The words say, ‘eat my flesh and
drink my blood’ ”
IS A COMMUNION SERVICE ONLY A MEMORIAL OF JESUS? Boettner does a very interesting analogy using Memorial Day and the sacrifice of a soldier as contrasted with Christ's sacrifice. “When on Memorial Day we lay a wreath on the tomb of a soldier we may speak of the sacrifice that he made to save his country. But his sacrifice cannot be renewed. He died once and his sacrifice was complete so it is with the sacrifice of Jesus he died once” (Rom. Cath. p.183).
I sincerely like Boettner's analogy of a soldier's death with Christ's death; in fact I wish I had thought of it myself. It is a very good analogy. The only thing I would do is take it a little further. If Jesus had said; "hang a wreath once a year at my empty tomb; this is what I want you to do in remembrance of me." This is what we would do and this would have been just fine. However this is not what Jesus said to do. Jesus said of the bread after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you, do this in remembrance of me" (I Cor 11:24). Jesus could have asked for some type of symbolic action such as laying a wreath, but He asked for something much more substantial; He asks us to “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” (Jn 6:53) and if there is any question whether this is symbolic or literal, Jesus answers this when he says, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).
Jesus answers this when he
says, “my flesh is true food, and
my blood is true drink.”
IS THE OFFERING OF JESUS IN THE MASS CANNIBALLISM? Boettner makes another attempt to discredit the Eucharist. “Another and more important proof that the bread and wine are not changed into the literal and actual flesh and blood of Christ is this: the literal interpretation makes the sacrament a form of cannibalism. For that is precisely what cannibalism is - the eating of human flesh. Rome attempts to deny this, but not with much logic. Clearly there is a contradiction in the Romanist explanation somewhere” (p.176 Rom. Cath.).
What is most interesting about so much of Boettner's criticism is that in order for him to discredit the truth, he actually points to the truth. This type of argument (cannibalism) reminds me of a story that took place in Russia some years ago. The Communist government was printing stories in their newspapers, discrediting the Bible, and much to the delight of the Communists there was a great deal of interest in these stories and there were requests for more reprints. What the Communists didn't know was that the people requesting these articles were Christians. They requested these articles because when they were discrediting the Bible, they actually had to quote the Bible. Christians, with Bibles in short supply, wanted these actual Bible quotes.
Boettner in the same way is pointing to the truth at the same time he discredits it. What he doesn't apparently realize is that this isn't the first charge of cannibalism against the Church. And the reason for this charge is because the early Christians believed that the Eucharist was the actual receiving of the body and blood of Jesus.
Peter Stravinskas turns this charge on its head and uses it to make an important observation. “Allegations of cannibalism actually backfire on fundamentalists because, in bringing the topic up today, they encourage Catholics to note that it was brought up centuries ago. Stravinskas notes that "both Tertullian and Minucius Felix give considerable attention in their second-century writings to the charge of cannibalism being leveled against the Church. A belief in the Real Presence thus clearly existed in the Early Church, for no 'simple memorial supper' would have evoked such specific and violent charges from the general pagan population" (Catholicism and Fundamentalism - Karl Keating, p.251).
Actually, Boettner makes the charge of cannibalism and in so doing; he was not quoting the early Christians, but echoing the persecutors of the early Christians. And just as the early persecutors of the Church had trouble distinguishing cannibalism from receiving the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist, it appears that Boettner and others have the same trouble today.
Boettner makes the charge of cannibalism and in so doing; he was not quoting the early Christians, but echoing the persecutors of the early Christians.
The early Christians denied the charges of cannibalism and the Catholic Church denies it again today.
CAN WE BELIEVE JESUS LITERALLY? Boettner asks this very good Biblical question; “Indeed how can Christ's words ‘This is my body, and this is my blood,’ be taken in a literal sense?” (p.176, Rom. Cath). This is not the first time this question was asked. The Jews quarreling among themselves asked this same question of Jesus with some different wording. How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? (Jn 6:52).
Boettner and Kimball do a good job of echoing the words of the quarrelling Jews, because these were the most difficult for the Jews to believe. This is the only place in all the Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples left. Things haven't changed much, and the skeptics today still continue murmuring the same question because they don’t believe that Jesus can give us His flesh to eat.
- “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” (Jn 6:52)
- "The Jews murmured about Him" (Jn 6:43).
- "The Jews quarreled among themselves" (Jn 6:52).
- "his disciples were murmuring about this" (Jn 6:61).
- As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him (Jn 6:66).
And while Boettner and Kimball do a good job of echoing the words of the quarrelling Jews and disciples. The Church does a good job of echoing the very words of Jesus when He tells us how He can “give us give us [his] flesh to eat?”
- “unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood" (Jn 6:54).
- "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood" (Jn 6:55).
- "For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" (Jn 6:55).
- "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me" (Jn 6:56).
- Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me (Jn 6:57.
- This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever (Jn 6:58)."
Things haven't changed much; Some people today still continue quarrelling among themselves. They keep asking the same question “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” (Jn 6:52), even though Jesus has already answered this question. These statements were hard for His disciples to believe; "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" (Jn 6:51).
It is true that “many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life” (Jn 6:66), but not everyone left Jesus. “Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6:67-69).
When Peter said to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life,” He is both affirming and referring back to what Jesus had already said about eternal life. “Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6: 53-55).
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks
my blood has eternal life (Jn 6:54) and
I will raise him on the last day (Jn 6:54)
I understand that it is difficult to believe Jesus Body is true food and drink. It is the most difficult thing in the whole of the Gospels to believe and that is why many of his very disciples left him; however, Jesus said it and so who are we not to believe it.
HOW CAN YOU PARTICIPATE IN THE BLOOD AND BODY OF JESUS CHRIST if it wasn’t the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ? Jesus is not the only one who says His Body is true food and his Blood is true drink. Paul also says that the cup of blessing is a participation in the Blood of Christ and the bread that is broken is a participation in the Body of Christ. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (I Cor 10:16). How can you participate in the Blood and Body of Christ if it wasn’t the Blood and body of Jesus Christ? This is the single question that brings blank stares when it is asked.
How can we participate in the Blood
and Body of Christ if it wasn’t the
Blood and body of Jesus Christ?
If Jesus is not to be taken literally, then how come Jesus says his flesh and blood is true food and drink? "For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink" (Jn 6:55). If it is not true food and drink, and just a symbol, then why does Jesus say His Flesh and Blood is true food and drink.
WHY DOES BOETTNER QUOTE PAUL AND THEN LEAVE OUT THE CONTEXT? This is another verse that somehow Boettner left out. Of course, he does not always leave out entire scripture verses; sometimes he only leaves out those parts of the verses that don't fit with his theology. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner... But let each man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup" (I Cor 11:27-28) (Rom. Cath., p.176).
He claims that Paul says the bread remains only bread, but then he leaves out the most significant part indicated by THREE DOTS? It just doesn’t seem to fit with his theology; “shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord” (Vs 27). If it wasn't the Body and Blood of the Lord how can you be guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord?
How can you be “guilty of the body
and blood of the Lord” if it wasn’t
the Body and blood of the Lord?
Why does Boettner omit the context? Because to be guilty of someone's body and blood is to revile him, and one can hardly revile baked flour or fermented grape juice. This omitted line makes no sense at all unless it means a profanation of the sacrament is something serious and it clearly implies the bread and wine become Christ himself” (Catholicism and Fundamentalism, Karl Keating, p.251).
BOETTNER RUNS AWAY FROM Paul's words "shall be guilty of the body?” "WHY? As you can see, Boettner goes out of his way to leave out certain scriptures or parts of scriptures that speak to the literal nature of Christ's words. However, in fairness to Boettner, he doesn't always do this. Notice what he conveniently leaves out on page 176, he includes on page 181 and then notice what he does to cover it up.
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (I Cor. 11:18-27). How could anyone be guilty of drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner if the cup were not given to him?” (Rom. Cath., p.181) Notice that when he quotes “shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” he doesn’t comment on it. He goes on to deliver an attack against the Catholic Church for Communion among the laity in one kind only. Of course he never bothers to mention that today we take Communion under both forms.
All of this is beside the point; he only goes on the attack to keep the unwary reader from asking the question why would anyone “be guilty of the body and blood of Lord” if it wasn’t the body and blood of the Lord? Of course, he never has to answer this question because he changes the subject.
IS JESUS A LITERAL DOOR; IS JESUS AN ACTUAL GRAPEVINE? Boettner uses another tactic to convince people that Christ is only speaking in a figurative sense. He takes John 6:54 and puts it in the middle of a group of unrelated figurative quotes and tries to convince people, by doing this, John 6:54 is just a figure of speech.
Boettner: “On other occasions Jesus used similar language.”
- He said, "I am the door (John 10:7) - but, of course, He did not mean that He was a literal wooden door with lock and hinges.
- He said, "I am the vine" (John 15:5) - but no one understood Him to mean that He was a grapevine.
- When He said, "I am the good shepherd" (John 10:14), He did not mean that He was actually a shepherd.
- When He said, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7), He referred not to a physical birth but to a spiritual birth.
- When He said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19), He meant His body, not the structure of wood and stone.
Note that all of the verses quoted above are not literal. He then quotes Jesus "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life (Jn 6:54). And because the unrelated verses above are not literal, then Jesus was not literal in John 6:54. Boettner continues to reinforce his point further and lists another group of verses that are not to be taken literally.
- He said, "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matt. 5:13),
- and "Ye are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14).
- He spoke of "the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matt. 16:6).
- James said, "The tongue is a fire" (3:6);
- and again, "Ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (4:14).
- Moses spoke of "the bread of affliction" (Duet. 16:3);
- and Isaiah spoke of "the bread of adversity and the water of affliction" (30:20) (Rom. Cath. p.177, 178).
Boettner, lists six passages that speak in a figurative language. He then lists John 6:54, "He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life” and after this, he lists seven more quotes where Christ is speaking in a figurative language. It appears that the strength of his argument is that if he puts John 6:54 or any other comment in the middle of thirteen unrelated figurative quotes, this will in and of itself make verse figurative.
Well, nice try Mr. Boettner; by doing this you will convince no one except the undiscerning. Along with abusing John 6:54, you could quote other scenes such as the Wedding feast of Cana, put it in the middle of a group of figurative quotes and say, the water didn't actually become wine, this was only a figure of speech.
There is something missing here that Boettner and others conveniently leave out, and that is any discussion on how you determine whether a particular scripture verse is meant in a literal or figurative sense. Although you can get great theatrics out of asking, "Was Jesus a wooden door; was Jesus an actual grapevine?" these quotes are not helpful in determining the sense of Jesus' speech in John 6:54.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN JESUS IS SPEAKING LITERALLY? Ultimately, how do we know, when Jesus is speaking in a a literal sense and at other times in figurative language? This one is a little more difficult. In fact, the Jews, and his disciples began to voice objections to what Jesus was saying. "The Jews murmured about Him." (John 6:41). "How can he say I have come down from heaven?" (John 6:42). "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:43).
HERE JESUS SPEAKS FIGURATIVELY: Actually, the problem of figurative and literal language and what Christ actually meant is not something solved by some medieval theologian, as Boettner would suggest, but by Jesus himself. Whenever Jesus needed to give a further explanation He does one of two things He either explains away the misunderstanding or reinforces what He has already said.
- For example, in John 3:4, when Nicodemus asked, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot re-enter his mother's womb?" Jesus was not talking about literal rebirth, so He explains away the misunderstanding. Jesus answered, "Amen, Amen, I say to you no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit."
- Another example in John 11:11-14, when his disciples said, "Master if he is asleep, he will be saved." Jesus was not talking about literal sleep, so He explains away the misunderstanding. Jesus said to them, "Lazarus has died." In both cases Jesus did not mean what his disciples thought he meant and so in his further explanation Jesus explains away the misunderstanding.
HERE JESUS SPEAKS LITERALLY and reinforces what He has said: Now let's take a look at a couple more scripture quotes that like my first two quotes need further explanation; however in these, Jesus is to be taken literally. In these cases there was no misunderstanding. They understood Jesus quite well. They just had a problem accepting it. The reason that we know Jesus is to be taken literally is that rather than explaining away a misunderstanding (because there wasn't one) He reinforces what he has already said.
- When the scribes were asking themselves (Mark 2:5-12), "Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus was talking about literal forgiveness of sins so he reinforces what He has already said. Which is easier to say to the paralytic, "Your sins are forgiven," or to say, "Rise, pick up your mat and walk."
- Here is one more example. When the Jews said to Him (John 8:56-58) "You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?" Jesus was again to be taken literally, so He reinforces what he has already said, "Amen, Amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM."
IS JESUS TO BE TAKEN IN A LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE SENSE IN JOHN 6:51? Jesus said; “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51). There are objections being raised by the Jews, so there is need of further explanation. The Jews quarreled among themselves saying, "How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat" (Jn 6:52)? In Jesus' further explanation he can do one of two things with this.
He can either, explain away the misunderstanding (Jn 3:4), (Jn 11:11-14) or reinforce what He has already said (Mk 2:5-12), (Jn 8:56-58). Jesus does not explain away a misunderstanding (because there wasn't one); the Jews understood Him correctly; Jesus' response is literal. Jesus,
- reinforces what He has already said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53).
- and reinforces what He has already said. “Whoever eats my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:54).
- and reinforces what He has already said. “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (Jn 6:55).
- and reinforces what He has already said. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56).
Jesus reinforces what he has already said. Not once, but four times, he says the same thing four different ways. It is very clear that Jesus was to be taken quite literally. What Kimball, Boettner and call figurative, commemorative, and spiritual, Jesus calls true food and drink (Jn 6:55).
WHY WAS IT A SCANDAL TO PARTAKE OF THE BLOOD OF ANIMALS? But then how could the Jews and His disciples accept it? Doesn't it say in Leviticus, "Wherever you dwell, you shall not partake of any blood" (Lev 7:26)? Most were not even aware yet that Jesus was God. Jesus does have one last chance to set the record straight (if they had misunderstood Him).
When his own disciples began to leave, he could have said, Wait a minute, wait a minute, you still don't understand. When I said, "Unless you eat my flesh," I meant only receive me in your heart. When I said, "My flesh is real food and drink," I didn't mean that either. I was just speaking of a commemorative meal with just ordinary food and drink, and when you're eating and drinking remember me on the cross.
These things, of course, Jesus did not say, because there was no misunderstanding. The disciples had understood Him quite clearly and in fact, that is why they were leaving. Jesus didn't recant; He didn’t stop them. He said to the twelve "Do you also want to leave?"
BOETTNER ADMITS THAT THE JEWS TOOK JESUS LITERALLY. What I find most interesting here is that Boettner actually admits that the Jews took Jesus literally. When Boettner refers to the Jews and Catholics as literalists in regard to the last supper, he is correct, but incomplete, because he leaves out one group, Jesus very own disciples. After the Jews objected to Jesus' words it was finally his disciples who were listening to this, who complained and ultimately left Him (John 6:66) because they did understand Him literally. This was extremely difficult to accept; in fact, because it was so difficult, this is the only place in all of the Gospels where many of His disciples left. As Boettner admits, they did take Jesus literally and they couldn’t accept His words.
This is the only place in the whole of the
Gospels where many of Jesus very own disciples left,
because they did take Jesus literally.
THE DISCIPLES WANTED THIS BREAD and later rejected the bread; WHY? In John 6:34 they wanted the bread from heaven "Sir, give us this bread always" (Jn 6:34) In John 6:66 they no longer wanted this bread, but they wanted out of there, so they left. What happened between John 6:34 and John 6:66 to make their wants change? Some of these disciples may have been with Him up to three years. They liked Jesus. They liked his miracles and teachings. They liked the way he spoke with authority. They already had a personal relationship with Jesus; they didn't want more, but Jesus wanted more for them.
He wanted them to eat his real flesh and drink his real blood in the form of bread and wine (Jn 6:51-56). But they didn't want Him that much; they didn't want Him Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, a personal relationship would have been just fine and they already had that.
Many of Jesus' words can be received in the minds and hearts of people. But these words were different, these words must be more than received in the mind. These words must be consumed and in consuming these words we are consuming the very Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus (Jn 1:14). And they didn't want this Word (Jesus) in this way and that is why the bread of heaven that they wanted in John 6:34 they no longer wanted in John 6:66 because they now knew that this bread was his very own flesh.
THE CATACOMBS, THE UNDERGROUND CHURCH. We hear of churches, in various countries, which because they were persecuted, were hidden and were called underground churches. The church, for most of the first 300 years, was a persecuted church and often literally underground in the catacombs. With miles of channels underneath Rome and other cities, this is where they buried their dead and held their early Masses. Because of a Roman superstitious fear of death these underground burial chambers provided a measure of safety for the Christians. The catacombs of St. Calixtus under Rome were rediscovered and excavated in 1852.
In Luke's gospel, with Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, they proclaimed, "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord, peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Some of the Pharisees said to Him; "Teacher rebuke your disciples." He said in reply, I tell you if they keep silent the stones will cry out (Lk: 19-38-40)! And when the church was silenced in the first three hundred years, the stones on the walls of the catacombs did cry out with thousands of drawings and frescos speaking of the faith of the early Christians in a veiled language that was only understood by the Christians.
- Of the thousands of frescoes drawings, and inscriptions found in the catacombs from the first centuries of Christianity, most refer to miracles related to the Holy Eucharist (p. 89, World's Greatest Secret, J. Haffert).
When partially trusted strangers or new converts from paganism attended Christian rites, they were allowed to stay only for the first part of the prayers and ceremonies. They were required to leave when the second, more private, part was about to begin. The first part of the liturgical service was designated for "the catechumens" (that is, for those still learning the catechism of the Faith) and the rest designated for "the faithful" (that is, for those who had proved their steadfastness in the Faith and had been baptized). The great act of the liturgy of "the faithful" was perhaps the most carefully guarded secret of all history. In the liturgy it was referred to as "The Secret" until 1964! (p.29, The World's Greatest Secret, J. Haffert).
WHAT WAS THE INSCRIPTION ON THE TOMB OF TARCISIUS? Nothing in the catacombs cries more eloquently from the past than an inscription written on the tomb of Tarcisius.
"Carrying the sacraments of Christ he
chose rather to suffer death than to betray
the heavenly body to raging dogs"
That inscription and a boy's skeleton were all that remained to tell the modern world, when the archeologists found them, of a faith in the Eucharist and a heroism that makes fifteen hundred years of united faith in the Eucharist understandable. We can easily recreate what happened. In those early centuries, Christians had to assemble in stealth to celebrate the Eucharistic Liturgy. And between celebrations the Eucharist was carried to the sick, to the imprisoned, to those about to face martyrdom, to those in hiding. Tarcisius had the Blessed Sacrament on his person. He was probably taking it to someone in prison, or perhaps even caught in the act of approaching a Christian soon to be put to death. He was seized and beaten to reveal the Christian Secret. What was it he was carrying? Why was he coming to see a Christian who looked forward to receiving him so eagerly that it was evident that he carried something important, something that gave him away? Rather than permit that they should know, and therefore perhaps dishonor Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Tarcisius let them beat him to death. And all they found was what looked like a piece of bread. (The Worlds Greatest Secret, p.160 & 161, J. Haffert).
What looked like just a piece of bread, what detractors of the faith would call only a piece of bread a symbol, no different than any other bread, early Christians, such as Tarcisius were willing to die for. He died almost 200 years after the last supper and he didn't die for an ordinary piece of bread; he died for the heavenly Body (Jesus).
TRANSUBSTANTIATION, WHAT IS IT? Transubstantiation is what Catholics believe about the Eucharist. Transubstantiation is by definition "a change of substance." What was before one substance is now another substance. The first Miracle of transubstantiation was not a miracle of the Eucharist, but done with the bidding of Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, and was the first recorded miracle of Jesus.
And when the head waiter tasted the water that had become wine, (Jn 2:9). What was before water is now wine. There was an actual change of substance (transubstantiation). So, the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana was a type of transubstantiation. The first recorded miracle of Jesus (Wedding feast of Cana, Jn 2:9) and one of the last recorded miracles of Jesus prior to his death at the last supper. He blessed and shared the bread with them saying, “ ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins’ ” (Mt 26:26-28).
"Take and eat, this is my body." Then he took a cup,
gave thanks... saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood”
What was before bread is now the body of Christ; what was before wine is now the blood of Christ. There was and still is an actual change of substance (transubstantiation). Although in both instances you have a change of substance there is also a difference. It is much easier to believe the water becomes wine than it is to believe that the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ. When the water became wine it took on the properties and appearance of wine. When the bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Jesus, it is still under the appearance of bread and wine and thus takes more faith to believe. Of course there are exceptions to this where bread and wine takes on the properties of flesh and blood.
The detractors of faith understand it this way: "Take this and eat it, this [represents] my body." He blessed and shared wine with them saying, "All of you must drink from it, for this [represents] my blood." (Mt 26:26-29).
Jesus understood it this way: "Take this and eat it, this IS my body." He blessed and shared wine with them saying, "All of you must drink from it, for this IS my blood." (Mt 26:26-29).
The detractors say, (represents) Jesus says, (is) and so who will you follow?
The detractors insert the word, (represents);
however, Jesus says the word (is)
and so which way will you say it?
LUTHER & CALVIN BELIEVED IN A REAL PRESCENCE, ZWINGLY DID NOT. Luther believed in the real presence of Jesus along with the bread; Calvin believed that Jesus was present on top of the bread and Zwingli believed Jesus was not present in relation to the bread and wine. The Zwinglian position, which is the denial of any unique presence of Jesus in relation to the elements of bread and wine, is the Eucharistic tradition of many, but not all Evangelicals. Sometimes they call themselves Calvinists, but in this they are Zwinglian.
Calvin's position was actually an attempt to bridge the difference between Luther and Zwingli. He was trying to come up with a position that all Protestants could accept. However, what he succeeded in was coming up with another Protestant position.
"The whole of Christendom accepts
the doctrine of the Real Presence."
Luther's position, like that of the Catholic position, was the belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Luther believed that the body and blood of our Lord co-exist in and with the substance of bread and wine, "Consubstantiation". Notice that in Luther's belief, Christ is actually present, but there is no change of substance.
“First, let us remember that even after fifteen hundred years the impact of Christ's miracles was so great that all Christians believed in the Eucharist. Even Martin Luther, who set in motion the world's first wave of disbelief, himself believed. In Wider Etliche Tollen Geister (1532), he testified that "the whole of Christendom accepts the doctrine of the Real Presence." In This is My Body, published in 1527, he wrote: "These words of Christ, still stand firm against the fanatics" (p.70 & 71, Haffert).
I find it interesting that for fifteen hundred years all Christians believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This new revelation that Christ's body and blood was not truly present in the sacrament did not begin with Jesus, or the apostles, or the early fathers or Martin Luther. It began with the other Protestant reformers and is a rather new tradition.
DID THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE? The Fathers of the Church, without an exception, re-echo the language of the Apostle of the Gentiles by proclaiming the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. I have counted the names of sixty-three Fathers and eminent Ecclesiastical writers flourishing between the first and sixth century all of who proclaim the Real Presence - some by explaining the mystery, others by thanking God for his inestimable gift, and others by exhorting the faithful to its worthy reception. From such a host of witnesses I can select here only a few at random.
St. Ignatius, a disciple of St. Peter, speaking of a sect called Gnostics, says: "They abstain from the Eucharist and prayer, because they confess not that the Eucharist and prayer is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ."
St. Justin Martyr, in an apology to the Emperor Antoninus, writes in the second century: "We do not receive these things as common bread and drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior was made flesh by the word of God, even so we have been taught that the Eucharist is both the flesh and the blood of the same incarnate Jesus."
Origen (third century) writes: "If thou wilt go up with Christ to celebrate the Passover, He will give to thee that bread of benediction, His own body, and will vouchsafe to thee His own blood."
St. Cyril, of Jerusalem (fourth century), instructing the Catechumens, observes: "He Himself having declared, this is My body, who shall dare to doubt henceforward? And He having said, This is My blood, who shall ever doubt, saying: This is not His blood? He once at Cana turned water into wine, which is akin to blood; and is He undeserving of belief when He turned wine into blood?" He seems to be arguing with modern unbelief.
St. John Chrysostom, who died in the beginning of the fifth century, preaching on the Eucharist, says: "If thou wert indeed incorporeal, He would have delivered to thee those same incorporeal gifts without covering. But since the soul is united to the body, He delivers to thee in things perceptible to the senses the things to be apprehended by the understanding. How many nowadays say: 'Would that they could look upon His (Jesus') form, His figure, His raiment, His shoes. Lo! thou seest Him, touchest Him, eatest Him.'"
St. Augustine, “The bread which you
see on the altar... is the body of Christ”
St. Augustine (fifth century), addressing the newly-baptized, says: "I promised you a discourse wherein I would explain the sacrament of the Lord's table, which sacrament you even now behold, and of which you were last night made partakers. You ought to know what you have received. The bread which you see on the altar, after being sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, after being sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ."
The Nestorians and Eutychians, who separated from the Catholic Church in the fifth century, admit the corporeal presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Such also is the faith of the Greek church, which seceded from us a thousand years ago, of the Present Russian church, of the schismatic Copts, the Syrians, Chaldeans, Armenians, and , in short, of all the Oriental sects no longer in communion with the See of Rome” (The Faith of Our Fathers, James Gibbons).
It sometimes comes as a surprise to people that you can confirm or deny modern day Christian teaching based on what the early Church Fathers taught. You can actually go back to the early Church and find out what the early Christians believed. When Boettner says the concept of the Mass was not in the early Church he is greatly mistaken; and when he says the concept of transubstantiation (change of substance) was not around before 1565 he shows both ignorance of the New Testament scriptures and ignorance of the early Church Fathers.
When Boettner points to the early Church he actually points to the strength of the Catholic Church. He would do better to not talk about the early Church at all because it is the early Church that in fact, confirms modern day Catholicism. And it is the honest study of the early Church Fathers that has led many Protestant Ministers (some of them anti-Catholic) back home to the Catholic Church. You might say they evangelized themselves and when they found that the understandings of the early Church Fathers confirm the truthfulness of the Catholic Church this led to a considerable period of soul searching.
If you want to see whether a particular Christian teaching lines up with the teaching and practices of the early Church, I would recommend a three volume work, The Faith of the Early Fathers by William A. Jurgens.
WHY DID THE GNOSTICS ABSTAIN FROM THE EUCHARIST? Those who would reduce the sacrament of the Eucharist to symbolic and spiritual not accepting that Christ's body and blood is real food and real drink actually have a type tradition that goes back to the time of the apostles. However, this would be the many disciples who left Jesus and could not accept his words.
They also have the tradition of the "Gnostics" who abstained from the Eucharist because they could not believe that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ. It is very clear that the early Fathers believed in transubstantiation (a change of substance).
The detractors of the faith embrace the tradition
of the Gnostics, who abstain from the Eucharist
because they deny that the flesh of Jesus is present.
As St. Justin Martyr put it, “the Eucharist is both the flesh and the blood of the same incarnate Jesus.” There is a real change of substance, what was before common bread and drink is now the flesh and blood of the same incarnate Jesus.
WHAT WAS THE EUCHARISTIC MIRACLE AT LANCIANO? I have been pretty hard on the detractors of the faith in this article. However, let me point out that it is not only non-Catholics, but also Catholics, even some Catholic priests, who have trouble believing. Here is the story of one priest who had a hard time believing.
A Basilian monk in Lanciano Italy, wise in the ways of the world, but not in the ways of faith, was having a trying time with his belief in the real presence of Our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist. He prayed constantly for relief from his doubts, and from the fear that he was losing his vocation. He suffered through the routine of his priesthood day after day, with these doubts gnawing at him.
The situation in the world did not help strengthen his faith. There were many heresies cropping up all the time, which kept chipping away at his faith. They were not all from outside the church either. Brother priests and bishops were victims of these heresies, and they were being spread throughout the church.
This priest couldn't seem to help being more and more convinced by the logic of these heresies, especially the one concerning his particular problem, the physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
One morning, while he was having a strong attack of doubt, he began the Consecration of the Mass for the people of the town. He used the same size host which is used in the Latin Rite masses today. What he beheld as he consecrated the bread and wine caused his hands to shake, indeed his whole body.
He stood for a long time with his back to the people and then slowly turned around to them. He said: "O fortunate witnesses to whom the Blessed God, to confound my disbelief, has wished to reveal Himself in this Most Blessed Sacrament and to render Himself visible to our eyes. Come, brethren, and marvel at our God so close to us. Behold the Flesh and Blood of our most beloved Christ."
The host had turned into Flesh.
The wine had turned into Blood.
The people, having witnessed the miracle for themselves, began to wail, asking for forgiveness, crying for mercy. Others began beating their breasts, confessing their sins, declaring themselves unworthy to witness such a miracle. Still others went down on their knees in respect, and thanksgiving for the gift the Lord had bestowed on them.
All spread the story throughout the town and surrounding villages. The church of the Eucharistic Miracle is located in the center of the town. But what is the center of the town today was the outskirts of the town back in the Eighth Century, when the Eucharistic Miracle occurred. At the time, it was called the Church of St. Legontian and St. Domitian, and was under the custody of the Basilian Monks of the Greek Orthodox Rite. This was prior to the Great Schism of 1054.
How many tests have been made over the years, how many times Our Dear Lord Jesus allows Himself to be prodded and cut, examined under microscopes, and photographed. The most recent, as extensive scientific research done in 1970, used the most modern scientific tools
available. The results of the tests ar as follows:
- The flesh is real flesh. The blood is real blood.
- The flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart (myocardium).
- The flesh and blood belong to the human species.
- The flesh and blood have the same blood type (AB).
- In the blood, there were found proteins in the same normal proportions as are found in the sero-proteic make up of fresh, normal blood.
- In the blood, there were also found these minerals: Chlorides, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium.
The preservation of the flesh and of the blood, which were left in their natural state for twelve centuries (without any chemical preservatives) and exposed to the action of atmospheric and biological agents, remains an extraordinary phenomenon.
Another unusual characteristic of the blood is that when liquefied, it has retained the chemical properties of freshly shed blood. When we cut ourselves and stain our clothes, the chemical properties of the blood are gone within 20 minutes to a half hour. If blood is not refrigerated within an hour maximum, the composition rapidly breaks down. If blood were taken from a dead body, it would lose its qualities quickly through decay. This blood is over 1250 years old and still contains all its properties, chemicals and protein of freshly shed blood. And yet in the testing, it was determined that no preservatives of any kind were found in the blood (Eucharistic Miracles, Bob and Penny Lord).
This blood is over 1250 years old and still
contains all its properties, chemicals and
protein of freshly shed blood. ________
When Jesus returned to Cana, there was an official whose son was ill and he asked Jesus to heal his son. And Jesus said to him, "Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe" (Jn 4:48). After this scolding, Jesus does in fact heal the man’s son and because of this sign the official and his whole household believed (Jn 4:53). I believe that Jesus would scold us again today with the same words; however, he still is willing to give us a sign so that as Christians both Protestant and Catholic, we can believe that the bread and wine actually becomes Jesus' body and blood. And this sign is the sign of Lanciano and other Eucharistic miracles.
For those of us Christians who really need a sign to believe, I would suggest reading Eucharistic Miracles by Bob and Penny Lord. or better still, to visit the sites of the Eucharistic miracles. When I first read about the Lanciano miracle since this miracle happened over a thousand years ago, I thought, wouldn't it be nice if we had a Eucharistic miracle for today? But then I realized this miracle is today's miracle because the flesh and blood has not deteriorated in over 1200 years.
It also must not be forgotten that we can have the miracle of Jesus in the Eucharist each day at daily communion under the appearances of bread and wine.