Monday, September 17, 2018

Is The Roman Catholic Eucharist A Re-Sacrifice Of Christ?

  • 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 followed by a critique of such claims:

          "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 Roman Catholic distinction between "re-sacrifice" and "re-presentation" is a weak one. The principle of Jesus Christ being offered "once for all" is still violated (Hebrews 10:10-14).

          "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 atonement sacrifices that were performed in the Old Testament pointed to the one perfect, final sacrifice accomplished by Jesus Christ at Calvary (Hebrews 10:1). This is an instance of taking typology way too far. Although we can see many examples of such in Exodus 12 (the bones of the lamb [symbolizes Christ] not being broken), we have no reason to interpret these blood of the covenant passages as being supportive of transubstantiation. They do not say anything about a mysterious conversion of the consecrated elements at the Mass into the literal flesh and blood of Christ.

          "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)."

          The reason for that is to remind us continually of Jesus Christ's atonement. The effects of His work are permanent. Christ does not need to be offered as a sacrifice today. Only He could offer Himself up anyway.

          If the literalistic interpretation of the Last Supper is correct, then does that mean 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 eating a man's flesh and drinking his blood communion?

           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. A person, for example, can point to a country on a map and say, "This is Israel." In that instance, he would not be literally saying the place pointed at on the paper is Israel but that it represents the location. Even if a church father believed in some mystical presence of Christ in the communion elements, that does not demonstrate he believed in transubstantiation. The former notion can be embraced without knowledge of the later.

           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.”

          Robert J. Daly writes in his paper titled Eucharistic Origins: From The New Testament To The Liturgies of the Golden Age:

          "We do not know and cannot reconstruct in precise detail what Jesus did at his "Last Supper." The New Testament itself remembered and interpreted what Jesus did in quite different ways. Attending to these differences undermines the assumption that there is a single line of development that runs from Jesus to the later Eucharist of the Church, and that can be traced back by us toward Jesus. And indeed, if by Eucharist is meant what is now done in the Church, the farther back one goes, for example, to the "Eucharists" of James, Peter, and Jesus, the farther one gets from the Eucharist of the present. Indeed, if an exact reconstruction of what Jesus did at the Last Supper were possible, it would probably look quite different from what Christians now celebrate."

           This excerpt from John D. Hannah, Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine, p. 274, is pertinent here:

          "...they saw the Lord's Supper with a strong degree of realism, though with a spiritualizing tendency. The elements really and truly were the body and blood of Christ, yet not in such a way as to be identical with the historical body of the Savior. Christ's literal body had ascended into heaven, to be brought from heaven only in His return in the last great judgement." 

          This excerpt from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online (emphasis added):

           "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."

           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."

           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."

           "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 is about appropriate conduct and application of discernment in worship services, not 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. Even granting that this text makes mention of the eucharist, that fact in and of itself does not prove the communion elements become the literal body and blood of Christ at the words of consecration by a priest.


De Maria said...

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.

Jesse Albrecht said...

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?

dreath said...

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

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

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.

Searching for Truth said...

Hello Jesse,

Excellent article addressing the monumentally fallacious reasoning set forth by Ray.

I am inclined to wonder if the Roman Church has made official, infallible pronouncements regarding the scriptures Ray is expounding upon, or if he is just giving us his own personal interpretation?

I am also inclined to wonder if Ray has Holy Orders in the Roman Church? The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

By a decree of Alexander IV (1254-1261) inserted in "Sextus Decretalium", Lib. V, c. ii, and still in force, all laymen are forbidden, under threat of excommunication, to dispute publicly or privately with heretics on the Catholic Faith. The text reads: "Inhibemus quoque, ne cuiquam laicæ personæ liceat publice vel privatim de fide catholicâ disputare. Qui vero contra fecerit, excommunicationis laqueo innodetur." (We furthermore forbid any lay person to engage in dispute, either private or public, concerning the Catholic Faith. Whosoever shall act contrary to this decree, let him be bound in the fetters of excommunication.) …when there is a question of dogmatic or moral theology, every intelligent layman will concede the propriety of leaving the exposition and defence of it to the clergy. (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, [New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909], "Discussions, Religious," p. 34) Ecclesiastical approbation: ["Nihil Obstat," May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. "Imprimatur," John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York].

On an unrelated note, Ray makes the assertion that "the table of the Lord" is a terminus technicus, though he provides no evidence to substantiate this claim. In 1 Cor 10:21 we read

21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (RSV Catholic Edition).

Seeing that there is a clear antithetical pairing made between "the cup of the Lord," and "the cup of demons," I am left wondering if the "cup of demons" contains the literal corporeal blood of the demons? Although I must admit I am uncertain how such a process would play out as I was under the impression that demons were non-corporeal beings. Similarly, I am left wondering if "the table of demons," which is antithetically paired with "the table of the Lord," contains the literal carnal corporal flesh of non-corporeal demons?

Serge Gerrard said...

A wonderful article indeed .