Friday, August 24, 2007

A rebuttal to Symphony of Scripture.

A rebuttal to: On Catholicism: The Eucharist/Transubstantiation by Shane Gooch

Raised a Roman Catholic my decision to leave the teaching to which I was accustomed was a struggle. Nevertheless the decision I had to make became increasingly clear as I began to study the Word of God for myself. In 2 Timothy we read: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness 2 Timothy 3:16 I understood this to mean that the Bible is God’s Word and nothing that is true will contradict the things written within it. This of course was also the view put forth by the Catholic church. There is then no problem with the Church officially defining a doctrine which is not explicitly in Scripture, so long as it is not in contradiction to Scripture. So the question then must be, do the things taught in the Catholic church contradict what is written in the Bible?

This is a case of jumping from A to C while ignoring B. Yes, it is the Catholic position that the Bible is the Word of God and therefore nothing that is true will contradict it. But, it is also the Catholic position that the Bible is not the sole source of God's word. (2 Timothy 3:15). Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand. This author leaves that fact out and views the Bible as the sole source and rule of all things true. (Without of course answering the question of what do we judge the Bible by, since something cannot judge itself).

The Eucharist/Transubstantiation

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, in his Catecheses, states that we “call upon God in his mercy to send his Holy Spirit upon the offerings before us, to transform the bread into the body of Christ and the wine into the blood of Christ. Whatever the Holy Spirit touches is sanctified and completely transformed”

This is true and St. Cyril wrote this in about 350AD, that date is important as you will see later.

Pope Benedict XVI on the Eucharist According to Catholic tradition, the Eucharist is central to the Christian religion. It’s quite clear that Christ taught that we should partake of the Lord’s communion, but Roman Catholicism takes that teaching a step further by the introduction of transubstantiation, that is that upon the blessing of the priest the bread and wine transform to become the body and blood of Jesus. In Matthew we read of the first communion which took place between Jesus and His disciples: 26 While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:26-28 It is easy to see how one could take these verses to mean that Christ was actually instructing the disciples to eat His physical body and drink His physical blood. As it says in 1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion… Wouldn’t one therefore expect that Christ would make sure His disciples were not confused by what He meant?

Unless he knew that they would not be confused. Remember, Jesus later would infuse them with the Holy Spirit, and that Spirit would reveal to them "all truth". (John 16:13) And, I am sure when he said "This is my body...This is my blood" it was to remind them what he had said earlier in his ministry, as recorded in John 6. Remember men asked "How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" (John 6:52) Well, at the last supper he answered that question.

In the beginning of John the account is given of Jesus turning water into wine: 1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciple were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. John 2:1-11 In this account the indication that Jesus had physically changed the water into wine was the appearance or taste of the wine itself. In Matthew 26 however we have no such suggestion, given by the disciples or Jesus, that the bread and wine physically look and taste like flesh and blood.

This is a red herring, an excuse to infuse more scripture in an effort to make it appear that there is overwhelming scriptural evidence against the Eucharist. In bringing it up, the author places a grave limitation on Christ. Saying that God cannot spiritually change an object without there being a physical change at all. Let me ask you, dear protestants, when Jesus came into your life, did you physically change? Did your eyes change color, hair? did you get taller? Shorter? By the logic of this author, if there was no physical change then there was no change at all.

Omission does not necessarily indicate error though, hence the importance of the following verse in Matthew.
29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:29 Jesus does not say that the drink they are drinking is physically His blood nor does he neglect to tell us what they are physically drinking, He rather states “this fruit of the vine”. Had it actually been His blood that they drank then He also would have been causing them to sin according to the law;

Being passover there was more than just that one cup of wine, Jesus was not making a comment about what was in the cup but about what was about to happen to him. Again, this is forcing meaning into a passage to make it fit the authors pre-conceived notions

3 “Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. 4 “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 “Surely I will require your lifeblood; from every beast I will require it. And from every man, from every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever shed’s man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man. Genesis 9:3-6

Again, this is irrelevant to the discussion on transubstantiation, because for this to be relevant, Jesus would have to be a mere man, and he was not, he was fully divine and fully man. They were not drinking or eating his human flesh.

So to John’s gospel.

53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. John 6:53 Again, this verse alone may appear to present an open and shut case, however context need always be assessed. A careful examination of John 6 reveals the true intention of this verse.

So, because this verse does not fit the Authors pre-conceived notion, it must be misinterpreted.

25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Jesus begins here by declaring to the crowd, that He is to give to them food which will give them eternal life. In verse 21 He indicates that the food which they work for themselves will perish. It is the food which God works for which will give them eternal life. This can be seen in the crowd’s response.

So far, I agree.

28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” The crowd here acknowledges that their own works provide them with perishable food, and so they inquire of Christ how they can do God’s work. His response is that the work of God is simply believing in the One sent from God. According to verse 27 it is this “belief” which brings “…food which endures to eternal life…”

So far, still with you.

30 So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. 33 “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” Here Jesus speaks of the bread of God as that which “…gives life to the world.” He has already established however that “life” is for those who “…believe in Him whom He has sent.” This would appear to then say that the “bread of God” (”…that which comes down out of heaven…”) is the belief in Him whom He has sent. Jesus then makes a rather bold statement.

Here, I am still with you. The bread is clearly a figure for God's revelation in Christ.
34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me. 39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Amazingly Jesus proclaims that eternal life is a gift of God, given to those who believe in the One sent from God and then proclaims Himself to be that One. He says: I am the bread of life verse 35 I have come down from heaven verse 38 And in verse 40 He goes as far as to say that He is the Son of God. The response of the Jews is not an unexpected one.

Again, I am still agreeing with the author.

41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. Despite the distress from the Jews Jesus presses further proclaiming in verse 46 that He is the only One to have truly beheld God.

Yes, yes still agreeing.

47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. He then draws a link back to verses 27, 29, 33 and 35, that if He truly is the One sent from God then he who believes in Him has eternal life


48 “I am the bread of life.

Again Jesus restates His position from verse 35

49 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
50 “This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

Having established that Jesus Himself is the One sent from God, and that everlasting life comes through belief in Him, Jesus continues to speak of this truth using the typology of the manna from heaven.

With verse 51, there is a change in subject, Jesus transitions from the bread of life being God's word in him, to the bread that he would give us to eat. With verse 50 Jesus begins his foretelling of the Eucharist.

This is made extremely clear by verse 54 when Jesus states:

54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Here Jesus uses the same language previously used in verse 40:

40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

Hence it can be seen that eating His flesh and drinking His blood are equated with beholding and believing in Him.

Here, we are trying to force meaning, yes, eating his flesh and drinking his blood are equated with beholding and believing in him in the Eucharist, (the bread which he would give us to eat).

55 “For my flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
56 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
57 “As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.
58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever,”

Again, Jesus reinforces that eternal life is gift from God given to those who believe in the One sent from God, that is Jesus Christ.

Again, the assumption is made that Jesus must be speaking figuratively, because if he is foretelling the Eucharist, the authors position falls apart. I believe Jesus is speaking literally here.

59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.
60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”

What was it that was so difficult for the disciples to accept? Was it that they were being told to be cannibals? Or was it that as Jews, bound by the law, the concept that this Nazarene may have not only been sent from God, but that He may actually be God made flesh, was an insult and stumbling stone to them?

No, it means just what they said, we were not there, we don't know Jesus' tone or emphasis. They were there, and it was clear to them what Jesus meant. He was not speaking figuratively.

61 But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?
62 “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?

Jesus response here makes it clear that the concern is not over whether or not His body and blood are to be physically eaten and drunk, but that He Himself is the Messiah. The sum total here seems to be “…I have come down from heaven…” (verse 38) if you don’t believe that “What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?” (verse 62) And just to make sure that He has been clear about His spiritual teaching, He continues:

No, Jesus response here is a challenge to their faith, if they cannot believe that he can give them his flesh to eat and blood to drink, how will they accept his ascension when it happens?

63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

Jesus has just made some of the most amazing claims known. That despite all their efforts to maintain the Lord’s Law, that the Jews would not see eternal life unless they put their faith in Him and His words. And so of course:

Again, I am agreeing with you.

66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”
68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

What an amazing confession of faith. Despite many of His companions deserting him, Peter is prepared to stand up for truth and shows that he has understood and believed the words spoken by Jesus. He says “…You have the words of eternal life.” (verse 68) and “…You are the Holy One of God.” (verse 69). What a blessed truth.

Yes, it is.

What then can we make of Paul’s writings on the Lord’s supper, in his first letter to the church at Corinth?

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?
19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?
20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.
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.
1 Corinthians 10:16-21


1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
3 and all ate the same spiritual food;
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
1 Corinthians 10:1-6

Was the food that the Israelites ate not physical bread? Was the drink from the rock not physical water? In Exodus 16 and 17 God physically provides His chosen people with manna from heaven and water from the rock, however Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, indicates that the bread and water are symbolic of something further. Paul reveals that the rock symbolises Christ, and therefore the water that flows from it is the spirit and life that we receive from Christ. He does not however, nor does the account of Exodus 17 indicate that the rock physically became Jesus. The Israelites physically ate bread from heaven and water from the rock, symbolising the spiritual blessing and restoration that was received through Christ. Paul then goes on in verse 16 to speak of the partaking of the wine and bread as symbolic of the spiritual blessing and restoration that was received through Christ’s suffering.

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 10:16

If that isn’t clear he maintains this sense of symbolism in the following verse:

17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
1 Corinthians 10:17

Surely we cannot say that we all physically eat the one physical bread, and likewise become one physical body. No, Paul does well throughout the chapter to establish that this is spiritual.
Here, the author just glances over Pauls writings in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul states that in the bread and wine we are actually participating in the body and blood of Christ, he does not claim it is symbolic or merely a rememberance, he states it is a participation in the ACTUAL body and blood of Christ. Of course this is not Pauls ONLY reference to the Lords Supper. But it is clear why the author does not use those verses from 1 Corinthians 11 that also deal with it. Paul retells the story from the Gospels but adds this "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. " (1 Corinthians 11:27)

This is a harsh punishment for those who have merely failed to discern a symbolic act of nothing but regular bread and wine. Paul equates these substances with the actual body and blood of the Lord. How can that be symbolic?

The reality is that we are warned in the letter to the Hebrews to avoid these teachings:

24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;
25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after comes judgement,
28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Hebrews 9:24-28

Jesus Christ died as a sin offering for us. His one death was sufficient for our sanctification. The eucharist and the concept of transubstantiation render Christ’s work on Calvary as insufficient, and negate the core of the gospel. One cannot serve the God of the Bible and partake in this hideous act of idolatry.

And, the eucharist is a participation in that one sacrifice. When you truly study the Bible, you discover something, that 1 Corinthians was written prior to the Gospel of John. So Pauls writing is actually the earliest account we have of the Eucharist. So, by the time John wrote, the Eucharist was a established part of the Christian belief. When you realize that and read 1 Corinthians first, and then John, John 6 takes on a whole new (and proper) meaning. That is where true Bible Study is important. The Scriptures clearly teach that the Bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. And it professes dire concequences on those who cannot or will not discern it.

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