Monday, September 17, 2018

Debunking Catholic Apologist Steve Ray On The Eucharist

  • Discussion:
          -This article strives to interact with a post published by Roman Catholic apologist Steve Ray at Catholic Answers called Ankerberg Aweigh on the dogma of transubstantiation. Following are quotations from the author in pink alongside my comments:

          "The Catholic Church does not teach that Christ is "re-sacrificed" on the altar. Why does Ankerberg say that it does? The quotation he uses from the Catholic Encyclopedia does not use anything like"re-sacrifice," yet Ankerberg says it teaches "re-sacrificing." Words are important; smart Catholics will catch on to what he is doing- playing footloose with terminology to suit his own interests."

          The Eucharist is called a divine sacrifice (CCC, 1068), and is done repeatedly. We are told that the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Jesus are "one in the same sacrifice" (CCC, 1367). The Eucharist is believed to be propitiatory (CCC, 1367). It is believed to make atonement for sin (CCC 1414). So the Catholic distinction between "re-sacrifice" and "re-presentation" is a weak one. The principle of Jesus Christ being offered "once for all" is nevertheless violated (Hebrews 10:10-14). If the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary and the sacrifice of the Mass are one and the same event, then why does it have to be continually offered?

          "Catholics teach that there was only one sacrifice and that the Mass is a re-presentation of that sacrifice, a partaking in and of the one sacrifice-the eating of the Lamb (Ex. 12:11, John 6:52-58)."

          The manna is a type of Christ, not communion wafer. The Old Testament "blood of the covenant" passages point to the once for all sacrifice of Christ, and say nothing regarding the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. Nowhere does Scripture convey to us that the consumption of the communion elements imparts to believers saving grace. The Lord's Supper has sacrificial overtones, in that the bread and wine point to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ (not to themselves). Jason Engwer of Triablogue provides these insights as to various weaknesses in the standard Catholic interpretation of John 6 which I could not have stated better myself:

           "Jesus was speaking before the institution of the eucharist, yet He held His audience responsible for eating and drinking in the present, before they had any opportunity to participate in the eucharist. He says that coming to Him and believing in Him satisfies our hunger and thirst (John 6:35, 6:40, etc.), which means that a believer has consumed His flesh and blood before he participates in his first post-conversion eucharist. Jesus says that nobody has life unless he eats and drinks His flesh and blood, yet Roman Catholicism teaches that people can be justified before participation in the eucharist or without participating in it. Etc. There are a lot of problems with the popular Catholic reading of John 6."

          "So we have an anomaly: Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, and Christ, the Lamb of God, standing on the altar. In the temporal world, he was slain once-but in heaven, the world outside time, it appears that the sacrifice of Christ is an eternal event. We are even told that he was crucified before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8)."

          Even though the Scripture portrays the sacrifice of Christ as being displayed on an alter in heaven to remind us continually of His atonement, the effects of His work are permanent. Only He can offer Himself up. He has conquered death, and never has to offer Himself up as a sacrifice again (Romans 6:9-10; Hebrews 10:18). True Christians worship at the alter of God, not the alter itself. In other words, Catholics confuse the communion elements with what they are supposed to be representative of. True Christians worship the Person of whom the communion elements signify, not the bread and wine themselves.

          Nowhere does the New Testament teach that the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Mass are inextricably united. Nowhere does the New Testament tell us that the sacrifice of Christ is made present during the Mass by an ordained ministerial priest consecrating the communion elements.

          If the literalistic interpretation of the Last Supper is correct, and Jesus stated that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine with the apostles until they be in the Father's kingdom (Matthew 26:29), then does that not also mean the Lord Jesus Christ is going to continue drinking His blood with His disciples in heaven throughout eternity? Does this mean that Roman Catholics who partake of the Eucharist become living tabernacles? If the consecrated wafer is the body of Christ, then should we not be able to use it in the process of cloning Him? How is consuming a person's flesh and blood communion?

          If the Church of Rome had such a high view of Christ, then why is He so frequently portrayed in congregations as dead crucified on a cross or as a helpless babe in the arms of Mary? Why is it that this sacrificial meal is the ultimate reality of celebration and worship for Roman Catholics, instead of His work at Calvary and bodily resurrection?

          As is usual for Roman Catholic apologists, this author refers us to the writings of church fathers. Here are some links of my own to answer those:

           It should not surprise us when early Christian writers made statements similar to "this is my body" and "this is my blood", since they were alluding to the words spoken by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper. The focus should become what is meant by such language, depending on the context in which it is used. This excerpt from Church Historian Philip Schaff's work called History of the Church, Volume II, paragraph 69, is pertinent here:

          "The doctrine concerning the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, not coming into special discussion, remained indefinite and obscure [during the period from 100-325 AD]. The ancient church made more account of the worthy participation of the ordinance than of the logical apprehension of it. She looked upon it as the holiest mystery of Christian worship, and accordingly, celebrated it with the deepest devotion, without inquiring into the mode of Christ’s presence, nor into the relation of the sensible signs to his flesh and blood. It is unhistorical to carry any of the later theories back into this age; although it has been done frequently in the apologetic and polemic discussion of this subject.”

          An excerpt from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online:

           "The Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries show us what is practically our present Roman Mass. How did the service change from the one to the other? It is one of the chief difficulties in the history of liturgy. During the last few years, especially, all manner of solutions and combinations have been proposed. We will first note some points that are certain, that may serve as landmarks in an investigation…Justin gives us the fullest Liturgical description of any Father of the first three centuries (Apol. I, lxv, lxvi, quoted and discussed in LITURGY). He describes how the Holy Eucharist was celebrated at Rome in the middle of the second century; his account is the necessary point of departure, one end of a chain whose intermediate links are hidden. We have hardly any knowledge at all of what developments the Roman Rite went through during the third and fourth centuries. This is the mysterious time where conjecture may, and does, run riot. By the fifth century we come back to comparatively firm ground, after a radical change. At this time we have the fragment in Pseudo-Ambrose, “De sacramentis” (about 400. Cf. P.L., XVI, 443), and the letter of Pope Innocent I (401-17) to Decentius of Eugubium (P.L., XX, 553). In these documents we see that the Roman Liturgy is said in Latin and has already become in essence the rite we still use."

           Roman Catholic Author Greg Dues said the following in his book titled Catholic Customs And Traditions: A Popular Guide, On Page 166:

           "Priesthood as we know it in the Catholic church was unheard of during the first generation of Christianity, because at that time priesthood was still associated with animal sacrifices in both the Jewish and pagan religions.”

           Following is a good observation from J.N. Darby on the substance and accidents Aristotelian philosophy employed in Roman Catholic transubstantiation: 

           "The doctrine of transubstantiation is simply the fruit of the scholastic use of Aristotle in the middle ages. It depends, on the face of it, on the difference of substance and accidents. The substance of bread is changed into the substance of the Lord's body, the accidents of bread remain. Without this theory, the idea could not exist. But this theory of a particular substance and accidents was a mere metaphysical theory, without any real foundation. We have got nowadays to molecules and atoms infinitely minute, which may be called perhaps substance or essential matter; but all this Aristotelian theory of an imaginary substance and accidents in material objects, is a mere groundless fancy. We see different qualities which awaken sensations in us; colour, form, hardness, etc., and the mind recognises there is something there. Of this conviction, which in relation to us creatures I do not dispute, Aristotle and the schoolmen, who were as a rule wholly under his influence, made a distinct but imaginary substratum in which the various qualities were inherent. There was the substance of bread, etc. But this was a mere philosophical notion, a mere theory of the heathen Aristotelian school, adopted by the schoolmen, and has no other foundation whatever. But the whole doctrine of transubstantiation, and even the word, depends on it, cannot exist without it, is the mere expression of it, only bringing in a miracle on the ground of it, as to the Lord's supper."
          Notes by Christian apologist William Webster on the beginning of the historic development of Roman Catholic Eucharist theology:

           "Men began to see the priest and Christian ministry as being parallel to priesthood and ministry of the Old Testament. And though the analogy had been set forth by Fathers earlier, they always emphasized that New Testament ministry had displaced the carnal sacrifices of Judaism with the spiritual sacrifices of the Church on the basis of the completed sacrifice of Christ. But now the analogy lost its spiritual character. More and more Christianity begins to lose its true spirituality to materializing and externalizing influences. With a materialistic view of the elements in the eucharist there now began to develop through the influence of Cyprian, with his view of the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood, the concept of the eucharist as a literal sacrifice, even though Cyprian himself still retains to a large degree the idea that this sacrifice is a commemoration of Christ’s sacrifice."

           An excerpt from Dr. Francis Nigel Lee's Fifty-Five These Against Transubstantiation:

           "Even since A.D. 831, many Roman Catholics still opposed such transubstantiation. So: Ratramnus, Berengarius, John Scotus Eriguena, Rabanus Maurus, Walafrid Strabo, Christian Druthmar, Florus Magister, Eusebius Bruno (Bishop of Angers), Frollant (Bishop of Senlis), and Elfric. Also, according to the famous RC Cardinal Bellarmine in his De Sacramento Eucharistea (111:5 and 4 dII q.6 art. 1,2 and q. 3 art. 1,2 and I:5) - even the celebrated Cardinal Cameracensus said: "Transubstantiation cannot be proved from Holy Writ .... To this Cardinal Roffensis, Cardinal Cajetan and also Scotus all concur." Indeed, the RC scholars Gabriel, Nicolus, Cusanus, Tapper, Hessel and others all present the "Protestant" interpretation of John 6:54. See Dr. P.G. Logan's Ph.D. dissertation The History and Doctrine of Transubstantiation, Sydney, 1994, pp. 84f."

          The Roman Catholic apologist being critiqued in this article provides these comments on the text of 1 Corinthians 10 as being evidence for transubstantiation:

          "Notice the sacrificial language being used. The term "table of the Lord" is a technical term which in the Old Testament always refers to a table of sacrifice. Why would Paul use such blatantly sacrificial terminology if he is trying to deny any association between the Eucharist and sacrifice?"

          The context of this passage pertains more to appropriate conduct and application of discernment in worship services than having a correct view on the Eucharist. The purpose and meaning, not the substance, of the communion elements are being discussed in 1 Corinthians 10-11.

          The communion that the pagans had with idols was also very real, yet there is no evidence suggesting that their offerings were transubstantiated. The Apostle Paul stated that Jesus Christ was the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:3-4), yet He never underwent a process of literal petrification. If eating causes one to "participate" in the sacrifice itself, then why would the Apostle Paul tell his audience that it is fine for them eat the meat offered to idols?

          Even granting that this text makes mention of the Eucharist, it does not prove transubstantiation. There is not even the slightest hint of an ordained ministerial priesthood in this context.


  1. Hello Jesse,

    You said,The Eucharist is called a divine sacrifice (CCC, 1068),

    Get it right. It's called THE Divine Sacrifice.

    1068 It is this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world:
    For it is in the liturgy, especially in THE divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, that "the work of our redemption is accomplished," and it is through the liturgy especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.

    and is done repeatedly.

    It's offered repeatedly. But Jesus Christ only did His part only once. What was His part? He sacrificed Himself upon the Cross.

    Have you never wondered why Scripture calls Jesus the Lamb of God? By the way, Protestants claim to wash themselves in the Blood of Christ. Where do they get that Precious Blood? They can't and don't. But Catholics are washed in the Precious Blood of Christ every time we partake of the Eucharist.

  2. Hi De Maria,

    Playing snarky semantic games is not going to help your case. The sacrifice of the Mass is described as being true, proper, and expiatory in nature. It is repeated on a weekly basis. This logically constitutes a re-sacrifice of Christ.

    The Word of God emphatically teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ was offered up once for all. It is that single act by which we can be redeemed. It is that single act that has enabled us to receive forgiveness from God. Only Christ could offer Himself up. His atonement sacrifice is neither ongoing nor re-enacted. He made His sacrifice one time, and died one time. His work has already been accomplished.

    Christ translated His literal blood to the heavenly sanctuary so that it could be applied to the Mercy Seat and sprinkled on believers through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 9:12-28). Christians approach the Father by the Son through faith, not rituals. The once for all sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to cleanse believers of all sin. The very essence of the gospel is trusting in His death, burial, and resurrection.

    If sacrifices for sin have to continually be made, then those offerings have insufficient power to save lost souls (Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:1-2; 10-11; 18). Thus, the Eucharist of the Roman Catholic Church is idolatry and blasphemous. We are saved only by the blood of Jesus. Anyway, how can a person literally consume the soul and divinity of Christ?

  3. So according to your translation then the first 1600 years of the church was wrong about the lords supper!?

    1. No, rather, it is that the Roman Catholic Church teaches heretical doctrine and a fictitious historical narrative.

    2. The Catholic Church brought in transubstantiation a couple centuries after the REAL church was established. The Papist church invented it. So the REAL church was never wrong, and the REAL church leaving papism was never wrong.