Sunday, September 27, 2020

Examining The Catholic Doctrine Of The Real Presence In Light Of Scripture

        "Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood...This transformation is called Transubstantiation.” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 379)

        The Apostle Paul's language of "proclaim His death" and "until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26) logically suggests that the body of Jesus Christ is physically absent from the world at this point in time. He will return again to establish everlasting peace. If transubstantiation is true, then this passage of Scripture has been devoid of substance because Christ would be coming down from heaven on a daily basis by the command of ordained ministerial priests.

        The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that they would not see Him in the flesh after His ascension into heaven (John 7:33; 16:10; Acts 1:8-9). If He comes down from His throne at the command of a priest, then He would be contradicting Himself because He would be descending on a daily basis for believers to behold under the appearance of bread and wine.

        Paul stated that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1). If he believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the real presence, then it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to provide an exception to that idea. But he does not. Paul said elsewhere, "...even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16).

        What can be inferred from the text of Scripture is Christ being present amongst believers in a spiritual sense (Matthew 18:20; 28:20). He is made present in our minds as we bring into remembrance the significance of His atoning work. Christ does not need to physically come down from heaven to be orally consumed in order to impart grace and nourish our faith.


  1. Very good article Jesse, very thorough. The words of Gregory I [Gregory the Great], Bishop of Rome (c. 540-604 A.D.), come to mind:

    The word incarnate both tarrieth and goeth away: he goeth away in his body, but he tarrieth in his godhead.
    (J. P. Minge, Patrologi√¶ Cursus Completus, [1857], Patrologi√¶ Latin√¶, Tomus LXXVI, Sancti Gregorii Magni, Homiliarum In Evangelia, Lib. II, Homilia XXX, [Habita ad populum in basilica sancti Petri apostoli, die sancto Pentecostes], § 2, Col. 1221). Trans. (Thomas Becon, The Catechism of Thomas Becon, S.t.p. Chaplain to Archbishop Cranmer, Prebendary of Canterbury, &c., Ed. John Ayre, [Cambridge University Press, 1844], pp. 274-275).

  2. It is interesting and worth considering. I think you bring up a good point. Christ has left us (physically) and will not return til his second coming. But I think you misunderstand the nature of the Mass. A lot of protestant arguments I believe are rooted in burning down strawman, such as prayers to saints and pelegianism, and I think this is one also. To understand we must try to see things according to God's omniscient eye. The mass is not a stand alone ceremony. Each mass is not an individual celebration with its own identity. God is timeless and sees time as one. Past, present, and future are all the same to Him. So the mass is actually seen as bringing to our present, the crucifixion from two thousand years ago. We partake in the ceremony of his death, by it actually coming here. So Christ is not returning, we are actually being taken to him as he dies on the cross. This should also defeat the notion that we are crucifying Christ for a second time. We are united in the timeless nature of God, and so brought back to the dark friday when Christ was crucified.
    Also I checked out that quote Searching for the Truth gave, it is also quoted from Thomas Beccon's Catechism. The passage it comes from has an argument very similar to yours Jesse, so it was interesting to read but I think a strawman.

    1. Sean:
      In addition to teaching that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ, Rome teaches that the Eucharist is to be worshiped as Christ. The Code of Canon Law states that the faithful are to “hold the Eucharist in highest honor…worshiping it with supreme adoration.” According to Vatican II, this is to be with “the same worship of latria or adoration that we offer to God.” (both citations from James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome, P.131). Yet worshiping objects such as wine and bread is nothing less than idolatry, which Scripture specifically prohibits.

      Let’s use a little common sense and reasoning here. If the Last Supper was in actuality a Mass, then how could Jesus be sitting there with the elements at the same time saying the elements were his body and blood? Do you think the disciples understood Jesus to be speaking literally, since the Law prohibited the eating of blood? And if the human body of Christ is located in heaven at the Father’s right hand, how can it be at the same time in millions of places in Masses all over the world? Isn’t it more likely that Jesus was using the bread and wine figuratively so as to provide Christians with symbols to celebrate with as a memorial?

      Rome also claims that in the Eucharist Christ is sacrificed to God, and that the Last Supper was in itself a Mass. If the Last Supper was indeed a sacrifice of Christ, then we have an illogical situation of Christ sacrificing himself before he was sacrificed on the cross. Additionally, if each Mass is a sacrifice of Christ, then we have a direct contradiction of the Bible which says that Christ was sacrificed once for all time, and that this eliminated the need for continual sacrifices.

      Lastly, notice also that deliberately failing to participate in the Sunday Eucharist is a mortal sin, which would mean the person was in a state outside of grace and in danger of going to Hell. This would also mean that the Mass is necessary for salvation, thereby adding to the plain teaching of Scripture that we are saved by faith apart from works. (Acts 16:30-31).

      The Roman church has many reasons why they claim this is all true, and twist the Scriptures to justify much of it. However, once the reasons are examined in light of Scripture in context, one is able see that the whole basis of this teaching is because the Church says so - because they are the Magisterium, and they have the authority to speak for God, while the Pope is Christ’s representative on earth. Of course, by examining the history of the papacy and of the Catholic Church, one sees immediately the fraudulent nature of these claims.

  3. Sean,

    But I do understand the nature of the Mass. Roman Catholics believe that partaking in communion means consuming the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Setting the substance and accidents philosophy aside, it follows that He is beheld literally on a weekly basis. I am simply pointing out the glaring absence of this concept throughout the New Testament.

    It does seem self-contradictory to claim that the Mass is a presentation of the atonement of Jesus Christ at Calvary when multiple sacrifices are involved across the planet at different times. God transcending time does not account for the illogical idea of Christ's physical body being present at many different places at the same time.

    You can declare all of this a mystery, but I deem it an inconsistency. It is one thing to transcend reason, but it is entirely different to violate reason. One cannot say that I am guilty of burning down a strawman without also interacting with my specific objections. If Christ ascends into heaven in His flesh, then it stands to reason that He is not present on earth in the same way.

  4. Before the Lord Jesus gave up the spirit on the cross, he stated these words, "It is finished." The translation of this statement is "paid in full." The sacrifice is over; there's no need or purpose in reenacting it in a mass. The Lord specifically said, "Do this in remembrance of Me." He was establishing a memorial for His sacrificial work on the cross, not calling believers to reenact His sacrifice. The sacrifice is over, the Lord is seated (the work is done). We do not go back to the cross 2,000 years ago and neither does the Lord come to earth every time the mass is conducted. It was a one-time event, never to be repeated, but most assuredly to be remembered. And, remember we will for all eternity.