Did Tertullian Deny the Real Presence?

In the comments to this post, a Protestant calling himself “meyu” claimed that there wasn’t any consensus in the early Church on the Real Presence. Since I’ve actually written on this subject before, I challenged him on this. After all, I’ve shown Church Fathers explicitly affirming the Real Presence in the first and second century, the third century, and the fourth century. Even the Jews and Romans were aware that the Christians believed that the Eucharist was actually Jesus.

Of course, if these Church Fathers are wrong, they’re blasphemously wrong: they’re either encouraging people to worship Jesus or to worship an idol of bread and wine. Yet nobody in the Church disagrees with them: no remotely-orthodox Christian writes against the Eucharist as idolatry. Everyone who writes on the subject writes in a way that’s compatible with Catholicism, oftentimes in ways that are undeniably explicit in teaching the Real Presence.

Meyu’s initial response was to try to get me to read every early Church Father in order to verify that none of them disagreed with the Church. Obviously, that’s an absurd burden shift, so I told him to come back when he had actually read the Church Fathers for himself, and found a place where any of them disagreed with the the doctrine of the Real Presence. Instead, he just copy-pasted (without attribution) someone else’s list of proof-texted quotations by the Fathers who allegedly deny the Real Presence:

Tertullian
“Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)

Bread and wine are offered, being the figure of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. They who participate in this visible bread eat, spiritually, the flesh of the Lord. (Macarius, Homily xxvii.)

For He, we know, who spoke of his natural body as corn and bread, and, again, called Himself a vine, dignified the visible symbols by the appellation of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace. (Theodoret, Diologue I, Eranistes and Orthodoxus.) 
For the Lord did not hesitate to say: “This is My Body”, when He wanted to give a sign of His body. (Augustine, Against Adimant.) 
He admitted him to the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His Body and Blood. (Augustine, on Psalm 3.)

We have received a memorial of this offering which we celebrate on a table by means of symbols of His Body and saving Blood according to the laws of the new covenant. (Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica.)”
None of these Fathers disagrees with anything that the Church teaches on the Eucharist. In fact, three of them – Tertullian, Augustine, and Eusebius – were actually Fathers that I’d quoted in my original posts (Tertullian here; Augustine and Eusebius here) because of their explicit affirmation of the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ, as the Sacrament of the altar, and as Sacrifice.
As far as I can tell, the only reason that Meyu thought that these Fathers disagreed with the Church is because they talk about the symbolic aspects of the Sacrament. So let’s talk about that dimension, before drilling down into the example from Tertullian, specifically.
I. Are the Sacraments Symbolic?
Stained glass window,
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish, Findlay, Ohio
When Protestants talk about Sacraments being symbolic, they typically mean that they’re only symbols. And of course, as Catholics, we think that’s false. But we don’t deny that the Sacraments are symbols. On the contrary, as the Catechism says:

1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.

The paragraph before that quotes St. Thomas Aquinas: 

Therefore a sacrament is a sign that commemorates what precedes it – Christ’s Passion; demonstrates what is accomplished in us through Christ’s Passion – grace; and prefigures what that Passion pledges to us – future glory.

So the Sacraments have threefold signification: they’re heavily symbolic. I suspect that nearly every Catholic knows this, on some level. In the Sacrament of Baptism, for example, our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). Naturally, Our Lord chose water as the matter of this Sacrament: water is what we ordinarily use to clean things. 
But it’s not just a meaningless ritual of washing: it actually removes our sins, which is why the Sacraments are not just signs of grace, but an efficacious signs of grace, meaning that they cause what the symbolize.Is the water of Baptism symbolic? Yes. Does Baptism still wash away our sins? Yes.
So we can readily affirm that the Eucharist is both a symbol and the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus could have consecrated something else: say, a melon. But He didn’t. He chose bread and wine, and for good reason. I’ve talked about the importance of the symbolism of bread and wine before, but I want to quote someone else on this same score… Tertullian, who Meyu claims denies the Real Presence.
II. Tertullian on the Real Presence
The reason that I pressed Meyu so hard to get him to actually read the Church Fathers is that reading the Fathers directly tends to dispel a lot of falsehoods. Besides that, if you’re going to claim that someone in the early Church agrees with your position (and use that as an argument to “disprove” Catholicism), it seems to me that you should have at least a general idea of who the person you’re relying on was, as well as the context of what they were saying. Had he done that here, he would have seen what a mistake it was to rely on Tertullian’s Against Marcion. Recall that first quotation from Meyu’s list:

“Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4.)

More specifically, that quote comes from Chapter 40 of Book IV of Against Marcion. In context, it turns out that Tertullian is actually arguing that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and Christ’s Death on the Cross both disprove the Gnostics’ claim that Christ didn’t actually come in the Flesh (since, if they were right, we wouldn’t have the Eucharist or the Atonement). [Tertullian isn’t the first to make this particular argument, either: Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Apostle John’s students, made the same argument in the early 100s: the Gnostics’ beliefs lead them to deny the Eucharist, so we know that they’re wrong.] In the midst of this, Tertulilan explains why Christ chose to consecrate bread and wine, instead of a melon:
Justus van Gent (Joos van Wassenhove),
The Communion of the Apostles (1470)

When He so earnestly expressed His desire to eat the passover, He considered it His own feast; for it would have been unworthy of God to desire to partake of what was not His own. Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion’s theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: “I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread,” which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body. 

He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed “in His blood,” affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood. […]Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood.

So let’s recap Tertullian’s arguments: 
  1. Marcion denied that Christ had a true Body of Flesh and Blood. If that were true, then we would have to believe that the Eucharist was just bread, and that Christ on the Cross was just bread.
  2. He says that Christ explained exactly what He meant by “Bread” when He described it as His Body. According to Tertullian, the question now is why Christ referred to His Body as “Bread,” rather than something else (like a melon). He answers this by saying that Christ’s Body is referred to throughout Scripture as Bread.
  3. He quotes a passage from the Septuagint version of Jeremiah to show that Christ’s Crucified Body is rightly called “Bread.”
  4. The Eucharistic Bread and Wine affirm the reality of Christ’s Flesh, since He couldn’t give us His Body or Blood if He didn’t have actual Flesh. Christ’s Flesh, in turn, proves that He had a true Body.
  5. Christ consecrates the wine, fulfilling the Old Testament typology.
Again, all of this is from the very section that Meyu (or more accurately, whoever Meyu cribbed this from) quoted. The only difference is that I actually included context, instead of proof-texting a single decontextualized sentence. Clearly, Tertullian isn’t arguing against the Real Presence, but for it, and using the Real Presence to disprove Marcion.
All of this, of course, harmonizes with what I had previously quoted from him: Chapter 19 of On Prayer, in which he explains that partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ don’t break the fast on the days of Stations:

Similarly, too, touching the days of Stations, most think that they must not be present at the sacrificial prayers, on the ground that the Station must be dissolved by reception of the Lord’s Body. Does, then, the Eucharist cancel a service devoted to God, or bind it more to God? Will not your Station be more solemn if you have withal stood at God’s altar? When the Lord’s Body has been received and reserved each point is secured, both the participation of the sacrifice and the discharge of duty.

Does that sound like Tertullian is a Baptist, all that talk about the Eucharist being the Lord’s Body, and that receiving and reserving it is a participation in the Sacrifice at the altar? Or does that sound like he actually believes in the Real Presence?
Conclusion
Hopefully, no one is still left wondering whether or not Tertullian believed in the Real Presence. Clearly, he did. But I want to draw out two more things from this back-and-forth. First, don’t be afraid of the Church Fathers. And second, read them in context.  Figure out (a) who they are, and (b) what they’re saying (who they’re arguing it, what they’re trying to say, etc.).
As Catholics, we shouldn’t fear the Fathers; on the contrary, they’re an enormous spiritual aid. They explain the teachings of the Church, have beautiful spiritual insights, and are the way that we know, for example, which Books belong in the Bible (as well as who wrote them, etc.). Without them, our faith would be ahistorical. 
Periodically, the Fathers really will disagree. But more often then not, when Protestants claim that the Fathers disagree with the Catholic Church, they’re really just taking them out of context, or not understanding what the Father in question is saying. Going back to the source usually clarifies this. In this case, I chose Tertullian simply because he was the first on the list, and it didn’t seem worth going through each one if Meyu wasn’t serious enough to even find the source that he claims disproves the Faith. The misleading prooftexting is characteristic of anti-Catholic citations to the Church Fathers. 
For those reading this who think that the Catholic Church is wrong on the Eucharist, maybe you can succeed where Meyu failed: can you find an example of an orthodox Christian in the first few centuries arguing against the Real Presence, or arguing that the Eucharist is only symbolic, or otherwise affirming the Protestant view(s) on the Eucharist over and against the Catholic view?

If not, assuming that you don’t seriously believe that the Apostles left an entirely apostate and idolatrous Church, isn’t that a compelling reason to believe that the Catholic view is the correct one? And if we Catholics really do have the Eucharist (and thus, the priesthood, since the two are inseparable), isn’t that a good reason to become Catholic?

197 Comments

  1. Well done! I wanted to say as much, but clearly I would have taken over your com box so I tried to be as short and simplistic as possible. I find it’s better to make a single point and move on.

    I hate proof texting, but my most ironic Bible proof text is about saying particular prayers like the Hail Mary. The use Matthew 6:7-8 which talks about heaps of empty phrases. It’s fun to point out that the very next section of the Bible says, Pray like this, proceeded by the Lord’s Prayer. Context always. Otherwise you wind up with odd conundrums like Sole Fide.

    I’m so glad you wrote this post.

  2. Either Christ failed or Rome is who she claimed to be. Thank you Joe. Your articles are fantastic and God has blessed you and put you on this earth to convey his teachings.

  3. Excellent piece, Joe.

    The Real Presence is one of the reasons I’m attracted to the Catholic Church. If the Eastern and Western Churches are right about the Eucharist (which, at this point, I’m convinced they are), then the Eucharist seems to be just the remedy I need as a man who sins with his whole being, body and soul. If the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ, and if his body and blood are “true spiritual food and true spiritual drink”, then it also follows that the memorialist view is seriously lacking. I can’t remember which Church Father said it, but one of them (maybe more than one?) pointed out that just as Adam and Eve ate the fruit that brought about death, so now by eating the Bread from Heaven, we can live forever.

    But it’s not that Protestants wouldn’t necessarily believe this; maybe they haven’t seriously considered it. So many are unwilling to look beyond the events of the Reformation. One church I know of considers Martin Luther to be a “Church Father.”

    At any rate, I’m now attending RCIA, and I credit this site and Called to Communion for helping me along my journey.

    Thanks again!

    Jason

    1. Jason,

      Welcome home! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re in RCIA, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to assist in that in any way possible.

      I agree with you about the Real Presence. It certainly fits neatly with all of the Biblical (Old and New Testament) evidence and the Patristic testimony. I think that there are four major reasons that it can be hard for some Protestants: (1) it involves a miracle; (2) it’s deeply material, with bread and wine being consecrated for spiritual ends;* (3) if we’re wrong, it’s idolatry; and (4) they’re so vague on their own Eucharistic views that it’s hard to see how huge the difference is between their view and the Catholic view. In my experience, (4) has probably been the most common, which has been surprising to me. I would have guessed (3).

      You’re blessed to have a clear understanding of Who the Eucharist Is, and why this matters. A convert that I know described the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as a magnet that helped her to get through all of her other doctrinal questions and struggles. I hope that He serves that role for you, as well. Once again, welcome!

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *Certain strains of Protestantism have an almost Gnostic dualism that treats material things as evil. So, for example, you’ll find groups that believe in possessed objects (ouija boards, and the like) but don’t believe in blessed objects (holy water and the like). For obvious reasons, if this is what’s going on in the background, then believing that any of the Sacraments do what the Church (and Tradition and Scripture) say that they do is going to be hard. Memorialism is much more comfortable, because material things like bread and wine are relevant only as they remind us of spiritual things.

    2. Joe,

      When talking to my brothers in my old Presbyterian church it feels sometimes more like a selective materialism. That being said, I really think the root of the resistance is fear. If it turns out not to be the real body and blood of Christ then I have become an idolator. If baptism does not truly wash away sins then I have made baptism a work and placed my faith in it. If I participate in confession then I have placed a man in the seat of God. Protestantism is deeply fearful at its root of the very gifts that Christ has given to aid us, bless our lives, restore us as image bearers, and draw us into union with Him as partakers of His life. In my experience, one of the big turning points was reassessing what salvation was really all about. Once I had grasped the Catholic understanding of salvation many other pieces began to fall into place and my fears began to fall away. Then the beauty of the sacraments became manifest in the light of God’s desires for His people. To me Luther’s worst attack on the faith was his diminishing of the Gospel. Instead of restoring a biblical understanding of salvation Luther impoverished it, and even worse he did this in the name of giving God greater glory. Now Protestants deny gifts of God that truly glorify Him out of fear of running afoul of Him. It is ironic, but even more troubling to my spirit because I very much love my Protestant brothers and sisters.

      Chris.

  4. Joe,

    Where is that passage “Let us cast the tree upon His bread” in Jeremiah? I have a copy of the Douay-Rheims translation, which I believe is largely taken from the Septuagint, so I should be able to find it there.

    1. Jeremiah 11:19, although bear in mind that most translations read very differently. Likely because they are translating directly from the Hebrew rather than pulling from the Septuagint.

      Chris.

    1. Joe, thanks for this and many other articles. I am in the process of becoming Catholic now (Eastern rite – Melkite), and your site has been a huge blessing to me in the last year. It was a huge shock, as a former protestant, to realize that I had a family and a history that I had been so profoundly ignorant of. Your site, and articles like this, were very important in urging me forward to keep reading and learning.

      Keep up the good work.
      Chris.

  5. Joe,
    The best place to start to understand doctrine in the Scripture. You wrote “1131 The sacraments are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us. The visible rites by which the sacraments are celebrated signify and make present the graces proper to each sacrament. They bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions.”

    Can you show me any verse in the Scripture that calls the Lord’s supper a sacrament and that by eating it “divine life is dispensed to us” ? Keep in mind that John 6 is not about the Lord’s supper given that none of the supper accounts say that by eating the bread etc one gets eternal life.

    1. Meyu, as tempting as it would be to address various parts of your response, I’m not going to do so. Joe has just devoted an entire post to your challenge and your accusations about Tertullian, setting aside a bunch of his time. I would like to hear your response to the central thesis.

      As I see it, you have two options:

      1. Joe has misrepresented Tertullian. If so, please demonstrate how.

      2. Joe has correctly demonstrated that Tertullian believed in the Real Presence. If so, then you either need to find another Church Father to quote, or concede the initial point that the Early Church Fathers believed Jesus was truly present in the Eucharist.

    2. Patrick,
      I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who has read the over 30 volumes of the church fathers so I’m suspicious of anyone’s interpretation of them. Secondly, there are problems supporting the real presence with Scripture. At the supper, Jesus was using metaphorical language at the supper. His physical body was not broken at that table. This is one of the many problems taking the RC view on the supper accounts.

      Have read the actual works of the fathers? If not, how would you know Joe has interpreted Tertullian correctly?

    3. Meyu,

      I agree with Patrick and Restless Pilgrim. You claimed that Tertullian denied the Real Presence, I’ve shown that he doesn’t, and now you’re in an awful hurry to change the subject.

      For me, the question that I’m interested in is, how much do you care about truth when it challenges your prejudgments?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    4. > . I don’t know anyone who has read the over 30 volumes of the church fathers so I’m suspicious of anyone’s interpretation of them.

      C’mon Meyu, you’ve used this tactic before and it just comes off as avoidance. You made a claim about the Early Church. Joe rebutted it. It’s now time to either back up your claim or concede the point.

    5. Joe,
      Of course you agree with them. Since I have not read all that Tertullian wrote, I can’t say. Have you?
      Have you read what other scholars have written about the Tertullian’s beliefs on the Lord’s supper?

      Tertullian wrote “Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine…”. What does consecrate mean?

    6. > Since I have not read all that Tertullian wrote, I can’t say

      Yet you felt confident enough to submit Tertullian as an ancient writer who denied the Real Presence?

      What if we changed the question? Meyu, given Joe’s exegesis and expanded context of the passage, do you agree that it looks an awful lot like Tertullian didn’t, in fact, deny the Real Presence?

    7. Joe,
      Tertullian wrote:
      “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body.”

      If Tertullian meant that Jesus was literally in the bread then why does he say “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body”? How could Jesus have a “veritable body” as a piece of bread when He already has a human physical body?

      Did the disciples at the supper believe that Jesus had 2 bodies? One human and another of bread? I see nothing in any of the supper accounts that they believed this.

    8. Restless Pilgrim,
      How do you know Joe got it right? Have you read all of the sources on Tertullian to know that he is interpreting him correctly?

      Can you answer those questions I posed to Joe?

    9. meyu, Your point about interpretation is salient. I urge you to just go read the Fathers for yourself. You won’t have to read the entirety of the works of all the Fathers before your views of the sacraments, the authority of the Church, and many other issues are profoundly challenged. At that point it becomes a question of how willing you are to recognize the authority of this collective teaching over your own personal interpretation. One of my thoughts in reading from the Fathers was to wonder how much I trusted my own acuity over centuries of thought from men who also had the seal of the Holy Spirit, and furthermore men who were far closer in time to our Apostolic roots. This question was asked of me by a friend of mine who also converted to Catholicism, and the aptness of the question became evident as I read for myself.

    10. > How do you know Joe got it right?

      Two reasons:

      1. I can’t find any fault with his exegesis
      2. We have no record of any other Church Father criticizing Tertullian for not believing in the Real Presence. He’s criticized for other things, but never that.

      > Have you read all of the sources on Tertullian to know that he is interpreting him correctly?

      I’ve read a good chunk of Tertullian but, more importantly, I’ve come across the cherry-picked quotation before. Upon seeing it I went and read it in context and immediately saw the problems with asserting that Tertullian denied the Real Presence (which Joe has outlined above).

      > Can you answer those questions I posed to Joe?

      I could, but they’re beside the point. You’re asking How can this be?”, objecting to the doctrine of the Real Presence rather than to whether or not Tertullian believed it. We know you have difficulty believing the doctrine, but that’s not in question here. To recap:

      1,. You made an assertion about the Early Church concerning the Eucharist
      2. Joe asked for an example
      3. You cited Tertullian
      4. Joe provided context and rebutted the assertion

      It now remains for you to either retract your comment about the Early Church or demonstrate how Joe’s analysis is wrong.

    11. Scripture should be consulted, but in Pism there is a belief that scripture is clear on almost every issue and if you don’t agree with another P then you just didn’t study hard enough. Of course, scripture doesn’t claim to be clear at all times or what exactly is scripture. Don’t lose fact of the light if Holy Tradition as the light to illuminate Apostolic teaching!

    12. 1) After one of the miracles of the loaves, Jesus declares “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life”. None of His disciples understands how this can be done, many of them leave Him because of this but some, including all of the apostles, stay.
      2) At the Last Supper, Jesus gives bread and wine to His apostles and says “This is my body … this is my blood”. How is it not obvious that at this point the apostles understand what He was talking about at Capernaum, that this is how they can eat His body and drink His blood and have that eternal life promised?

      If eating Christ’s flesh and blood gives us ‘eternal life’, aren’t you just quibbling when you say Scripture doesn’t promise ‘divine life’?

      Most of our translations of the New Testament into English don’t translate “mysterion” as “sacrament”. That would be how our Greek brethren would often read it. Or do you just have a problem with the Church coining neologisms to describe some of the mysteries revealed in the New Testament?

    13. Meyu, cwdlaw223 and thefederalist have responded to your questions about the Eucharist in Scripture but, again, I’d just like to underscore the central issue raised in this post: did Tertullian deny the Real Presence? That is the question that needs to be answered.

    14. Deltaflute,Restless Pilgrim,
      So consecrate has nothing to do with changing the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ. Right?

      Lets go on to then next point. What did he mean by “the figure of my body”?

    15. quixote2030,
      Have you read most of the volumes of the church fathers? Can you tell me if what the fathers wrote is what the entire church believed at the time? Do what they write means they are the supreme authority of the church at the time?

      BTW- just because the fathers lived closer in time to the apostles does not mean they had any better understanding what the Scriptures mean.

    16. meyu, Just read the writings for yourself. Why argue with me regarding the consensus or authority of the Fathers when you haven’t read them? Regarding the value of proximity in time I would say that it is held in high regard in every other form of testimony I know of, why would it not be applicable to testimony related to apostolic teaching?

      The development of the New Testament canon is a prime example of why we should trust that the early Church was a faithful witness to apostolic teachings. A common misconception amongst non-Christians is that the canon we know today was essentially a product of Constantine’s influence, and that legitimate new testament writings were suppressed. This is obviously false, but to demonstrate why scholars have generally pointed to the historical documents themselves which show that the formation of the canon was a process. The generally agreed upon criteria used by the Church in this process included: the apostolic authority behind the text, faithfulness to apostolic teaching (orthodoxy), antiquity, and a consensus of acceptance in the Church. These criteria rely heavily on the Church being a faithful apostolic witness. The Church had to accurately preserve knowledge regarding its own history and the teachings of the apostles, and it recognized the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church as a whole family. You can see why Catholics argue that to trust Scripture should be to trust the Church that produced the canon, and to trust its authority. If you deny the Church’s authority and faithfulness to apostolic teaching then how can you argue that we should trust the canon that we have received?

      From there you simply need to start reading the writings of these Fathers, and you will quickly see that Catholic teaching indeed has apostolic origins. Either that or God produced the canon of His Word through a demon Church. You can decide which makes more sense.

      Chris.

    17. Saint Paul in Acts admonishes Christians to “eat worthily” of the bread and wine. I suggest you also read Peter’s letters (also in the Bible) regarding these and other sacramental issues. All are addressed at some point in the Acts and in the letters, but especially the Eucharist. You have a Bible, so use it to prove your own points. Lastly, as a college-educated individual who just took an upper-division course in this very subject (late-antique Christianity), I can say without a doubt that ALL early Church Fathers believed in the Real Presence. You have access to the sources, so please read them. If you don’t like Joe’s interpretation, then read the quotes in full context and judge for yourself, then come back here and give a good answer. Passive-aggressive redirection has no place in an intelligent conversation.

      The Hardworking Housewife

    1. If Jesus is ” physically present in the Blessed Sacrament” then the host is God. That would mean the host could speak. It would also mean that Jesus has another nature besides His human and divine nature.

    2. Yes to sentence one and two. God can do all things He chooses to do. Cannot Jesus take the form of whatever He wants? He entered the upper room after His resurrection by coming through a locked door thus He showed that our boundaries are not His. No need for another nature when He is omnipotent!
      And as an aside I would ask you to think about the night before you are going to die. If you are given the gift of knowing would you consider it important? Would you make it dramatic? Would you give your loved ones all you could give so that they could hang on to you? Something to have for the rest of their lives? Words? Thoughts? Gifts? Jesus gave us Himself in the Eucharist for the rest of time! You and I living now receive that which the apostles received because He knew we would need Him just as they did!

    3. It would NOT mean that Jesus other nature is His human AND divine nature. We are saying that the bread and wine become His Blood and Body – so those transformed substances become human. There was an old story from the desert fathers regarding an elder who did not believe in the Real Presence. His brothers prayed for him. One day, when celebrating Mass, the old priest was allowed by God to see that the wine and bread did indeed become Flesh and Blood. He fell to his knees and an angel explained to him that the reason people were not allowed to see the transformation is that they would be repulsed and not consume what is spiritually necessary to them. If you cut off my arm, my life, my presence, my life giving blood would still be dwelling in it until the cells died. But my arm can’t talk. So I am not sure what you are getting at.

    4. If I may interpose, St. Augustine anticipated one of your difficulties when he said that at the Last Supper Christ “held Himself in His Sacred Hands,” since as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus is not limited by space, time, or matter.

      By all means study the early Fathers, but you need not master every word they wrote before coming to a reasonable conclusion about their witness. I have not studied the Fathers nearly as much as you have, but instead relied on the testimony of those whom I trust, particularly taking into account the price they paid for their own conversion into the Church. They emphatically did NOT want to become Catholics, but their abiding faith, diligent study, & intellectual honesty compelled them to “swim the Tiber.” Besides contemporaries Scott Hahn (get his conversion testimony at Catholicity.com), Marcus Grodi, Steve Ray & others, I also read historical figures Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, G. K. Chesterton, & others. Newman in particular is a great example, who as a leading Oxford scholar & preacher enjoyed great prestige & recognition, but cast all this aside when he literally wrote himself into the Church with his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. His Apologia Pro Vita Sua is a masterpiece of both English literature & spiritual autobiography.

      Look up the annual miracle of St Januarius & other Eucharistic miracles. To my mind they are so remarkable that they could hardly be the product of human creativity, & they certainly “speak” in the sense of giving testimony. While you’re at it, consider the “incorruptibles”, which offer their own silent testimony.

      Consider that St. John goes to some pains in his Gospel account to record the reactions of others to what Jesus said & did. For example, when He uses the Divine Title “I Am” in 8:58, the Jews pick up stones to cast at Him (8:59). In 6:66 (a curious number), John records the only time in all of the NT that Jesus’ disciples leave him en masse, significantly in reaction to his teaching on His Body & Blood. If the Eucharist were only symbolic as the Perfect Teacher He would in justice have had to tell these people so. Not only did He not do so, He did not back down one bit, rather He further challenged the Apostles in v 67, “Do you also want to leave?” One can imagine the weariness in Peter’s voice when in v 68 he says, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Here Peter is making a simple statement of faith, not a theological discourse, as he hardly could have fully understood the implications of what he had just heard.

      With respect to the doctrinal differences you encounter, I would suggest you cultivate a paradigm shift in your thinking, from the zero-sum “either-or” to the often paradoxical “both-and.” There is in Protestant thought a fear that any recognition given to anyone or anything else must necessarily detract from the glory given to God alone. Sacred art was banished from Protestant Churches, & some went so far as to remove music & even cease the celebration of Christmas, on the spurious grounds that it displaced a pagan festival. On the contrary, in the breathtaking beauty of the work of Michelangelo, Raphael, & others we see a glimpse of the God’s glory, which serves to aid our meditation. This is only the merest scratch on the surface of a very deep subject, but if you start to direct your antennae to detect this radical dichotomy, you will be on your way to a better appreciation of the richness of the Catholic perspective.

      If you want to read really rigorous thinking by some very reluctant converts visit http://www.calledtocommunion.com.

  6. MPatrick please don’tmake the error of trying to prove too much. Jesus is truly, really and substantially and sacramentally present, but He is not physically present. If He were physically present, the Eucharist would not be a sacrament as it would lack signification.

    1. Prove too much? His presence is real as you are real. You are physically real He is physically real no less but even more so because His reality is not a derivative of existence but THE supreme required existence. Does it change your understanding to believe the fullness of this reality? Why would Jesus hold back on such a Divine Gift? If you limit Him you limit yourself not Him.

  7. It the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, what else is there to being physically present? Christ himself is a Sign. He is also physically present in the Eucharist.

    1. There is a difference between real sacramental presence (which the Church teaches), and physical presence (which the Church does not teach).
      The Catholic Church nowhere teaches that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist. Rather she teaches Jesus is really truly and sacramentally present in the Eucharist.
      This is an important disticntion. To fail to grasp this is to not fully appreciate sacramental theology and you end up trying to prove something to unbelievers which the Church Herself does not teach.
      Please, look up Abbot Vonier’s “A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist”.

    2. What is truly? What is truth? “Adaequatio intellectus et rei” (conformity between the intellect and reality); Thomas Auinas, Summa Theologiae I, q. 21, a. 2c. The church has always held that the physical reality of Jesus in the Eucharist is best explained by saying Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity! Sacramentally present only specifies the consecrated aspect of the altar bread not the theology of His real and substantial presence. Read Trent! Read Vatican I and II. The description of physically present is actually less than Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is just that 21st century English speaking Americans .think that “physically” means something more!

  8. Catechism 1374: “This presence is called ‘real’ . . . it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.”

    1. Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood are really and substantially present in the Eucharist. His Body, including every organ, His Blood, and even His Soul and Divinity: all there. So if that’s what you mean by “physically present,” then yes, He is.

      But He isn’t present in the Eucharist in the same way that He is present in Heaven: which is to say, He doesn’t have to leave Heaven in order to be present Eucharistically. Christ’s mode of presence in the Eucharist is different than His mode of presence while He walked the earth, or in Heaven now, or at the Second Coming (otherwise, each Mass would be the Second Coming, right?). So Christ was fully present at the Last Supper both as Priest (consecrating the Eucharist, offering up His Sacrifice) and as the Sacrifice itself, but He was present in different modes.

      In technical terms, we would ay that He’s not “locally” or “circumscriptively” present. So if that’s what you (or Abt. Vonier) mean by “physically present,” then no, He’s not.

      But it seems to me that this whole debate terms on an ambiguity in what we mean (and don’t mean) by physical: neither of you actually seems to be believing something different from the other; you just seem to be giving different meanings to the same word. Maybe just use a different word, instead? A more technical word like “substantially” (on the one hand) or “circumscriptively” or “locally” (on the other)?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    2. Joe nice try but you are diminishing His gift to you. The difference is only that Jesus was visibly present before His ascension but now is hidden in the form of Bread and Wine. Reread what you wrote and tell me you know He is there.
      He is present in both places as well as everywhere as the Omnipresent necessary Supreme Being.

    3. Joe,
      That is quite a statement you wrote–“Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood are really and substantially present in the Eucharist. His Body, including every organ, His Blood, and even His Soul and Divinity: all there. So if that’s what you mean by “physically present,” then yes, He is.”

      Where is the evidence for this claim? If we were to put a host under a microscope would we see what you claim?

    4. The priest at my parish said not so long ago when talking about the Eucharist: “Jesus said this is my body, this is my blood. That’s good enough for me!”. I appreciated the simplicity of his acceptance. His focus was on the manner in which the sacrament allows us to participate in the divine life of God. This is a nice quote from John Paul II in Orientale Lumen:
      http://enlargingtheheart.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/john-paul-ii-salvation-eucharist-divinization-communion-with-the-mystery-of-the-trinity/

      Our priest certainly has an eastern approach to understanding the sacraments, but I also appreciate the western analytical approach so long as the goal of a continuing, deeper, and more precise understanding doesn’t distract people from the most important aspects of the sacrament: what it gives, enables, and accomplishes.

      It seems to me that it’s important not to understand the Eucharist carnally, or to dismiss it as merely symbolic. Still, I’m not a super huge fan of the way attempts at precise definitions often dominate discussions while the true nature of the sacrament, which isn’t found in linguistic debates, fades into the background.

      Chris.

    5. meyu,
      If Christ is not literally present in the Eucharist, why, at the end of the discourse on the Bread of Life in John 6, did he allow so many disciples to walk away? Over a symbol? Also, why would unworthy reception, referenced in 1st Corinthians 11:23-29, bring judgment?
      As for the physical presence: If the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, what physical component is left to be excluded?

    6. A metaphorical-symbolic understanding of the Lord’s supper is what Scripture teaches. It may sound great to say ” the sacrament allows us to participate in the divine life of God” but you don’t get that from exegeting the passages on the Lord’s supper.

      Here is what Scripture says about how we are to participate in the “divine life”: “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”
      2:Peter 1

      Notice that Peter does not mention the Lord’s supper. It is by faith in Christ alone that we participate in the divine life.

    7. Rob Patrick.
      They walked away because they were not drawn by the Father to Christ–64″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.”

      To take the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner means ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude.

      What do you mean–“As for the physical presence: If the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, what physical component is left to be excluded?” Can you clarify?

    8. meyu –

      So why in John 6:60 is there even a reference to a “hard teaching” which relates directly back to John 6:53-59? Why does Jesus ask if the disciples are “offended” by his offensive words? There is absolutely no reference in John 6:53-66 about disciples not being drawn to Christ by the Father and that is why they left. In fact, they were already drawn to him (which is why there were called disciples) but they couldn’t get over the fact that Jesus was asking them to partake in what appeared to be cannibalism!!!! There is no other logical way to explain this passage other than the Catholic formula and have it make a scintilla of sense.

      So you think the divine life includes ignoring the direct commands of Christ? That is what you are implying by referencing 2:Peter 1 and the making a reference that Peter does not mention the Lord’s Supper. Under your worldview scripture would need to include everything that was ever said under every possible scenario and interpretation all in one book for it to correctly apply.

    9. meyu –

      Do you honestly believe the two interpretations of John 6 (Real Presence vs. Symbol/Metaphor) were debated since the start of Christendom? That right out of the gate believers were confused and misguided about this central tenant of the Catholic faith? If so, why don’t we see these debates play out in history? Even if there were debates, why did the Catholic position win out for over a thousand years?

    10. cwdlaw223
      It was a hard teaching. True there is no reference in John 6:53-64 about being drawn to Christ by the Father. That is mentioned in 64-65 where the reason is given why they left. In 64, Jesus knew from the “beginning” who did not believe.

      Jesus is making some stupendous claims in John 6 that they could not accept. For one He is claiming to be greater than Moses and to give eternal life to those who would believe in Him and raise him up on the last day. These are staggering claims for anyone to make.

      Where in any of the supper accounts does it say anything about eating it makes one participate in divine life? Where in any of these accounts does it mention eternal life?

    11. cwdlaw223,
      Remember what the church historian said about the Lord’s supper in the first 3 centuries? Let me give you the quote again:
      “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.”
      Philip Schaff’s History of the Church – Passages on the Eucharist

      Even in Christendom today there are differing views on it.

    12. meyu, read 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Paul is talking about participation in the body and blood of the Lord. Blood in particular signified life to the Jews and Christians of the time, and Christ explicitly referred to himself as the bread of life. Furthermore, Paul draws a clear parallel in this passage between the Eucharist and sacrifices in both Judaism and paganism. He warns that one cannot be partakers in both the table of the Lord and the table of demons. This is because to participate in the table of demons is to intimately partner with demons. It stands to reason then that to participate in the table of the Lord is to intimately partner with Him.

      This is very reminiscent of another parallel Paul draws in the first letter to the Corinthians, in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17. In this passage he argues that we cannot both unite ourselves to the body of Christ and to the body of a prostitute. Why? Because in the act “the two shall become one”.

      The Eucharist is not just a memorial. It unites us to Christ and His body. To receive Holy Communion is to participate in the life of Christ.

    13. quixote2030
      I agree that “to participate in the table of the Lord is to intimately partner with Him.”

      How can you say that “The Eucharist is not just a memorial” when Jesus says at the supper we are to eat it in remembrance of Him in Luke 22:19.

      Why did Jesus connect His supper with the Passover meal?

      What do you mean that by eating the Lord’s supper we “participate in the life of Christ”?

    14. meyu, Joe’s got a point in his comment below about staying focused, so I’ll respond to your questions and then I’ll drop it and if you want the last word that’s OK by me. First, I accept that the Eucharist is done in remembrance, but there is no reason you need to take those words to mean that Jesus intended that the Eucharist be only a memorial. To turn the tables a bit, how can you say the Eucharist is clearly metaphorical when Jesus says “this is my body…this is my blood” without qualifications? This is especially true when the Gospel accounts of the supper are taken with the rest of the scriptural context concerning the Eucharist (John 6, 1 Corinthians 10, 1 Corinthians 11, etc.). I believe that the perspicuity of Scripture is a core Sola Scriptura principle, so I would say that you should apply your own principle here.

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the prefiguring in the Passover meal. What about that would indicate that the Eucharist is symbolic? As one of my friends who also converted to Catholicism quipped to me when I was still a Protestant, “You remember what they did with the Passover lamb, right? They ate it.” Regardless, I think discussing the connections with the Passover meal would be getting far afield.

      To answer your last question, I will quote Athanasius, “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. This probably his most well known statement because it sums up so well a reality that is largely absent from Protestant theology. Namely, that the primary reason Christ took on a human nature was to transform us and unite us with Himself; to be His image bearers in truth and fullness. In the Eucharist we encounter this reality in a profound way, and we are joined to Christ at the moment of His sacrifice on the cross. The moment where Christ by His own Authority laid down His life for us, and in words from the eastern Liturgy “where He trampled death by His death”. Read Hebrews 2. The writer of Hebrews summed this up beautifully.

      Chris.

  9. Joe,
    I can not speak to your theologian list but if you are willing to apply logic to what you are saying you have to conclude that if the veil of the Sacred Species were removed you would be looking in His eyes just as He looks at you when you are in adoration or near the tabernacle. He can’t be not wholly there. Please remember the English language is not catholic. You have to catholisize (sorry my word) your language. One of the best sources is St Peter Julian Eymard who as you probably know is founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and is considered the Apostles of the Blessed Sacrament. I have read widely to understand this teaching and I don’t think what you believe is far from transignification.
    God Bless you for your love of our faith. I know you will come to understand and it will deepen your love of the gift of Humility that the Blessed Sacrament truly is. Just think…talk about not recognized…Wow!!

  10. Can you show me any verse in the Scripture that calls the Lord’s supper a sacrament and that by eating it “divine life is dispensed to us” ? Keep in mind that John 6 is not about the Lord’s supper given that none of the supper accounts say that by eating the bread etc one gets eternal life.

    Huh?

    He’s referring to the same bread.

    When Jesus said the following: “I am the bread of life… If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever…” (John 6:48, 52) and then at the Last Supper while holding bread in his hands, he states: “This is my body.” what was Jesus really getting at?

    If someone says “I am the bread of life, eat me.” and then a little while later says: “This bread is my body, eat this.” It would be easier to just assume they were talking of the same thing at two different times…

    Here’s my own two cents…

    Not only does Jesus use the less-literal “φάγῃ” (fage) to eat, he also uses the literal “τρώγων” (trogon).

    The Greek word in question, “τρώγων”, it means to literally bite down upon with your teeth, and swallow. The way it’s used throughout Pre-Christian Greek writings attest to that literal meaning:

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/wordfreq?lang=greek&lookup=trw%2Fgw

    That’s a list of the times that word has appeared in Ancient Greek literature that has survived to our time.

    From Herodotus:

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0125:book=1:chapter=71&highlight=trw%2Fgein

    (On the right side there should be an option next to “English” called “load” click that and one will see the English translation of the work. Use the numbers in the Greek Text to find your way around the English. In that example the Greek reads “..have no figs to eat…“)

    Homer’s Oddysey:

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0135:book=6:card=85&highlight=trw%2Fgein

    “took [ate] their meal on the river’s banks”

    To Aristophanes:

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0035:card=532&highlight=trw%2Fgwn

    Munching [eating] beans…

    To loads and loads more examples, related to literally putting some food item into one’s mouth, and eating it.

    If John didn’t want us to take Jesus’ words literally, (ie: Bread that he would turn into His flesh that we’re supposed to put between our teeth, bite down on, swallow, and put into our digestive tract.) the word “τρώγων” would be the LAST word he would use.

    All the people around Jesus KNEW what he meant when he said “τρώγων”, and that’s why they walked away from him, and why Jesus didn’t go after them. This point should be hammered home, over and over again, until people get it:

    Yes! Jesus wants you to literally eat him!

    1. Rob,
      If John 6 is to be taken literally as you suggest then we have cannibalism. Don’t see how you can avoid that in your understanding.

      Are you familiar with the supper account in John?

    2. Meyu,

      You’ve accused the Church of teaching cannibalism due to Her belief in the Eucharist. Fittingly, that’s what the Roman enemies of Christianity said about us during the first few centuries. You’re only further proving that , yes, we believe what the early Church believed.

      If this is going to be a productive conversation, let me propose two things:

      (1) Let’s stay focused: the question is “what did Tertullian and the early Church Fathers believe about the Eucharist?” not “were they right?” You, by the way, were the one who raised this discussion. But you keep diverting the question to your own denials of the Eucharist.

      (2) Don’t be a troll: It’s absurd and hypocritical for you to hold one ridiculously-high standard of proof for us, and one ridiculously-low standard for you.

      You make sweeping (and demonstrably false) claims about Tertullian and the early Church Fathers, based on nothing more than plagiarized stuff you’ve taken from who-knows-where on the Internet. You had no legitimate basis for spreading the misinformation that you did: you owe the Truth more of a debt than you’re paying. Meanwhile, you’re demanding that anyone who disproves you needs to read every Patristic document in existence. That’s laughably absurd. Do I need to read every letter St. Augustine ever wrote to know what he meant in any one of his letters? If so, how is that not circular, since I couldn’t understand any of his letters, without previously knowing all of his other letters? Do I have to read every word of every Book of the Bible before I can understand any part of the Bible? And if this is necessary, how in the world, can you possibly depend repeating the same lie that some of the early Church Fathers denied the Eucharist… even after it’s been debunked? Have you read every Patristic document? Gross hypocrisy.

      Let me ask you a third time: do you care what the Church Fathers believe? Or are you just trolling, looking for a pointless fight, that you’re not going to let change your heart?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    3. Joe,
      If you take the literal view that you and the others are proposing then that would be cannibalism. We know that this view is wrong because its absurd. The metaphorical-symbolic view avoids this absurdity.

      What “ridiculously-high” standard do you think I am holding you to? Could it be that you don’t like your view and your church’s views scrutinized?

      You did not show any thing I posted to be false. Rather what you have done is attack those who have a different view than yours so you can dismiss them.

      If you and the others are going to claim that fathers said this or that then you should have studied what they wrote in their original works i.e. the over 30 volumes. Do you claim to be an authority on the writings of the fathers?

      The church fathers can shed some light on the early church. However, they don’t speak for the entire church since no one man can.

      Where did I say that “some of the early Church Fathers denied the Eucharist…”? The Eucharist and the real presence are not the same things.

      The person who studies every book of the Bible will have a greater understanding than those who do not. If you don’t have this knowledge you can misunderstand another part of the Bible. I have read the Bible many many times. Can you say that about the works of the church fathers or your catechism?

    4. Meyu,

      I don’t mind the Church’s teachings being scrutinized at all. I’ve been doing that continually for nearly five years on this blog, after all. I raise challenging objections, and then show how they can be resolved.

      No, the ridiculously-high standard is this one:

      “If you and the others are going to claim that fathers said this or that then you should have studied what they wrote in their original works i.e. the over 30 volumes.”

      Do you not see why that’s ridiculous? You can claim that Tertullian denied the Real Presence on the basis of some junk you found on the Internet, but if we want to say that he affirmed the Real Presence, we have to read 30 volumes of other Church Fathers?

      Explain how you’re not being brazenly hypocritical here.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    5. Joe,
      That is not a “ridiculously-high standard” to ask if you have read the over 30 volumes of the fathers. You are capable of doing this. Its no more ridiculous than asking me if I have read the Bible completely.

      So let me ask you: how many of the volumes of the church fathers have you read?

      I asked some questions on your claims that he believed in the real presence that I haven’t seen answered (maybe they have but I haven’t seen them).

      Let me ask you about one of his statements above: “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure.”
      What does he mean by “He made it His own body, by saying, the figure of my body”? Where does he say that this means the bread literally-physically becomes His body?

    6. meyu –

      Do you believe the quote above was written in response to a claim that the Eucharist was the actual flesh and blood of Christ? Or was the quote used in a different manner?

    7. Meyu,

      Great. If it’s not an unreasonable standard, then go read them, and then maybe you can hold an intelligent discussion on the subject. Here’s where we are so far:

      1. You claimed, without apparently having read any of the Church Fathers, that some of them denied the Real Presence.
      2. Since I’ve read a lot of their writings, and actively searched (fruitlessly) for any who denied the Real Presence, I called shenanigans, and asked you to find something from the Fathers themselves.
      3. You, instead, plagiarized a list from somewhere on the Internet claiming that Tertullian didn’t believe in the Real Presence.
      4. Since I’ve actually read some of Tertullian’s writings on the Eucharist, I knew that this wasn’t true, and called shenanigans again. Tracking down your plagiarized proof-text, I showed that you were 100% wrong: that Tertullian does believe in the Real Presence, and affirmed it in the very place that “you” (or your anonymous source) said he denied it.
      5. You started over at step 1 in the comments to this post: claiming that some of the Church Fathers didn’t believe in the Real Presence… even though you now know that you’re making a claim that you can’t actually support.

      The ball is now in your court. If you’re going to continue to claim that some of the Church Fathers deny the Real Presence, go find one… and read what he has to say. In the time it’s taken you to ignorantly assert things on the Fathers in this combox, you could have done so by now (if, in fact, such a Real Presence-denying Father existed).

      What you’re asking for is called “proving a negative.” If I said “all ravens are black,” and you said, “no, some are blue,” the burden would be on you to prove that a blue raven existed. I can show you black ravens night and day, and you’ll just wave them away, saying: that’s just one raven. It doesn’t represent all ravens. That’s exactly what you’ve done with the Fathers. So now find one – just one! – who supports what you’re claiming. But read him for yourself, instead of taking the lazy and dishonest way out.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    8. Joe,
      You didn’t answer my question about how many volumes of the fathers you have read. It looks like you have read none. Correct?

      I’m not convinced by your arguments that Tertullian believed in the real presence. He did believe in the Lord’s supper but its not clear he believes the bread becomes literally-physically Christ i.e. the real presence. That’s why I asked you some questions about some quotes of his that you have not yet answered.

      Btw- your nastiness is showing.

    9. Meyu,

      I didn’t answer this question in part because it doesn’t really make sense. I’ve read a lot of the Church Fathers, but in the particular 30 volume series that you’re referring to. Much of my exposure comes through the Office of Readings: with few exceptions, this includes a passage from the Church Fathers every day. I also have taken courses on Church history that include these writings, and I’ve spent numerous hours reading their writings (often in standalone texts, sometimes in compilations). I have no idea how to quantify that in the way that you’re asking.

      The second reason is that I find the whole question a bit pedantic. The whole notion that you need to read every single document to have an expertise is obviously false (and for the record, there are plenty of Patristic writings outside that 30 volume series). I used to work as an attorney, and to be licensed to practice law, you’re not required to have read every single law on the books. I know Medievalists who haven’t read anything remotely close to every Medieval document (that would be impossible in one lifetime). I think you would be hard pressed to find experts in many fields who have literally read every document.

      But on a yet-deeper level, it’s a silly question simply because I’m not asking you to be an expert. I’m asking you to get a tiny bit acquainted with them, before you say foolish things in ignorance. You can call that nastiness if you’d like, but I don’t think I’m saying anything more than Proverbs 16:23, “The mind of the wise makes his speech judicious, and adds persuasiveness to his lips.” If you wait to speak until you know what you’re talking about, you’d be acting more virtuously, and you’d be more persuasive. Otherwise, it’s hard for me to see how what you’re doing is indistinguishable from lying: after all, you’re claiming something as true (that Church Fathers denied the Real Presence) while you’ve basically conceded you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      As I said before:


      The ball is now in your court. If you’re going to continue to claim that some of the Church Fathers deny the Real Presence, go find one… and read what he has to say. In the time it’s taken you to ignorantly assert things on the Fathers in this combox, you could have done so by now (if, in fact, such a Real Presence-denying Father existed).

      What you’re asking for is called “proving a negative.” If I said “all ravens are black,” and you said, “no, some are blue,” the burden would be on you to prove that a blue raven existed. I can show you black ravens night and day, and you’ll just wave them away, saying: that’s just one raven. It doesn’t represent all ravens. That’s exactly what you’ve done with the Fathers. So now find one – just one! – who supports what you’re claiming. But read him for yourself, instead of taking the lazy and dishonest way out.”

      If you can’t be troubled to even try to find the truth, you seem to be wasting all of our time.

      I.X.,

      Joe

    10. Meyu,

      There were two other issues that I forgot to address earlier. You asked what Tertullian meant by saying that the Eucharist was a figure of Christ’s Body. In context, He’s talking about how the Eucharist is both the Body of Christ and a symbol of the Body of Christ (to use his example, this is why Christ used bread, instead of a melon).

      Also, you’ve asked about whether we believe that Jesus is present in the bread. No, we believe that at the consecration (which, in the context of Eucharistic theology, is a bit of a term of art), it ceases to be bread, and becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It still looks like bread, even on a microscopic level (excepting a handful of miraculous cases in which it visibly became Flesh).

      St. Ambrose, another of the Church Fathers (the one who converted St. Augustine to Catholicism), had a great passage where he acknowledge that people had trouble believing that what looked like bread could actually be Jesus; he pointed out that it’s no more “unbelievable” than believing in the Virgin Birth. Presumably, under a microscope, Jesus would have XY chromosomes, appearing to have a biological father. In both cases, “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

      I.X.,

      Joe

      P.S. Have you read any of the writings of the Church Fathers yet? If you need links to their work online, I can help you there. And Restless Pilgrim has even offered to mail you a hardbound copy of their works. That’s like free money.

    11. Joe,
      How do you know your interpretation of Tertullian is correct? Secondly, he says nothing about “… Jesus is literally and wholly present—body and blood, soul and divinity—under the appearances of bread and wine.” http://www.catholic.com/tracts/the-real-presence

      As for your claim that “it ceases to be bread” is false. You know full well it is still bread. It is dishonest for your church to claim something that is not proven to be so.

      To walk by faith and not sight has nothing to do with this. Just look up the context in 2 Cor 5 and you will find nothing about the Lord’s supper here.

    12. Meyu,

      “How do you know your interpretation of Tertullian is correct?”

      By reading him in context. I also have read other Church Fathers (like Ignatius) making very similar arguments in response to the Gnostics, so it helps to read him in that broader context. This also isn’t exactly a debated point: I don’t think you’ll find anyone who has read Tertullian who thinks that he’s a memorialist who denied the Real Presence. He is pretty explicit, and doesn’t leave room for that.

      Are you actually disagreeing, or just playing the agnostic on this one?

      I.X.,

      Joe

    1. In the context of where He says this I would not change my position from the metaphorical-symbolic view. Jesus would not be speaking of literally eating His human flesh as He spoke these words. That is why its best to understand them metaphorically.

    2. Ah…now it’s working.

      Meyu- So let me get this straight…you don’t believe that metaphorical language can be used in Genesis when discussing the Fall, but you DO believe that metaphorical language is being used about the Last Supper?

      If this is so, how did you arrive at those separate conclusions? In other words, by whose authority did you draw that one Bible story is literal ie they died (or as you put it some sort of spiritual death/separation) when they ate of the tree and the other not?

      Setting aside the fact that I am Catholic, I have a hard time understanding the continuity in how you interpret Scripture. Is how you interpret scripture your own making or do you follow someone?

    3. Deltaflute,
      Lets see. The Bible is really a library of books of different genres. Genesis is historical because Jesus and Paul based some of their arguments on it being historical. Jesus in Matt 19 grounds marriage on Adam and Eve and the creation account. Paul speaks of the serpent deceiving Eve in 2 Cor 11:3. Peter in his 2nd letter appeals to the flood of Noah to warn false teachers.

      Understanding last supper as metaphorical-symbolic makes the best sense since it avoids absurdities and contradictions.

      Adam and Eve died when they ate the fruit. Death as I said before is understood in Scripture by its contexts.

      I study Scripture, read it daily, listen to pastors who exegete it, read commentaries and other theological books.

      How would you answer your question on this? RC’s tell me they interpret it by tradition and what their says. Not sure how this works given that there is no definitive official commentary by your church that I know of.

    4. All on his own! If you operate under the incorrect assumption that scripture is sufficiently clear at all times and there is Holy Tradition (we haven’t even brought up the liturgy of the Mass that pre-dated several books of scripture) then you are at liberty to interpret scripture on your own and create your own church since it’s only you and your personal relationship with Jesus that counts in the end. Exegete scripture without unity!!!

    5. cwdlaw223,
      Ok. I’m in a discussion with a RC who believes Genesis is a myth. What does “Holy Tradition” tell you about the meaning of Genesis 1-11? Does it say it is historical or myth?

    6. meyu –

      Do you realize that your arguments are all about you and what you know and what you believe instead of what the church that guides you believe. Are you your own church? You have no Holy Tradition and you box yourself into a set of books that you have no authority or power to declare as scripture. You just assume it’s scripture. That is a massive epistemological problem that you fail to address. You exegete scripture to the satisfaction of yourself and if someone doesn’t agree with you all they need to do is to study harder.

    7. We’ve already been down this road before. There’s no point in me answering that question for you again. You’ve convinced yourself that you are all- knowing and cant possibly be swayed by the devil. When ones faith resides in oneself that faith is built on a house of sand. My faith resides in Christ who knows my human frailities thus I have the Church and my confessor to keep me in line. I pray the devil doesnt use you.

  11. Guys, I’d just like to flag up that the question answered in this post wasn’t “Does the bible prove transubstantiation?” or “Does Meyu hold to the Catholic belief in the Eucharist”, but “Did Tertullian deny the Real Presence?”

    1. I asked Joe these questions on Tertullian. Perhaps you can answer them also: “Let me ask you about one of his statements above: “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure.”

      What does he mean by “He made it His own body, by saying, the figure of my body”? Where does he say that this means the bread literally-physically becomes His body?

    2. Ex. 12:8,11 – The paschal lamb had to be eaten to spare the first-born sons. Jesus is the true paschal Lamb.

      Lev. 19:22 – In the old covenant priests made atonement for sin with the guilt offering of an animal which was consumed. What was consumed was the sacrifice, not a symbol of a sacrifice.

      Zech. 9:15-16 – The sons of Zion, shall drink blood like wine and be saved. This prefigures the Eucharistic sacrifice.

      Ezek. 2:8-10; 3:1-3 – God orders Ezekiel to open his mouth and eat the scroll which is the Word of God.

      2Chron. 30:15-17; 35:1,6,11,13; Ezra 6:20-21; Ezek. 6:20-21 – The lamb was killed, roasted and eaten to atone for sin and restore communion with God. Jesus was stripped, pierced, and sacrificed to atone for our sin and restore communion.

      Mt. 26:2; Mk. 14:12; Lk. 22:7 – Jesus’ passion is connected with the Passover sacrifice where lambs were slain and eaten.

      Jn. 6:35,41,48,51 – Jesus says four times that He is the bread of heaven.

      Jn. 6:51-59 – Then Jesus says that the bread He is referring to is His flesh. The shocked Jews understood Jesus literally.

      Jn. 6:60 – 67 – Jews leave because of this, and Jesus does not stop them. Jesus confirms it is truly His body and blood.

      Mt. 26:26-28; Mk. 14:22,24; Lk. 22;19-20; 1Cor. 11:24-25 – Jesus says, “this is my body and blood”…not a symbol of it.

      Lk. 22:19, 1Cor. 11:24-25 – Jesus says “do this”, that is, offer the Eucharistic sacrifice,” in remembrance of Him.

      1Cor. 11:27 – You can’t profane a symbol, neither can you worship one. Paul confirms the Real Presence.

    3. Irenaeus of New York,
      When Jesus said He was the bread that came down from heaven in Jn. 6:51-59 did He mean that literally-physically?

      In regards to 1Cor. 11:27 how can you profane a piece of bread?

      In verse 25 it says “25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

      Is the cup a literal covenant?

    4. [—
      When Jesus said He was the bread that came down from heaven in Jn. 6:51-59 did He mean that literally-physically?
      —]
      It’s not a yes/no. The accidents are of bread/wine, the substance is of His flesh/blood. Identical twins Bob and Bill look the same, and are genetically the same, but underneath the accidents, one is the distinct substance of Bill, and the other is the distinct substance of Bob even though the accidents are identical. The accidents of normal bread/wine may appear just like consecrated bread/wine, but the substantive reality of the “bread/wine” changes just as Jesus said, and the early fathers believed. It is the Miracle of the Mass.

      [—
      In regards to 1Cor. 11:27 how can you profane a piece of bread?
      —]
      That is my exact point. You cant profane a plain old piece of bread that is substantively bread. St. Paul says this because he knows that it is not the substance of bread/wine.

  12. I’m not sure why but this browser is acting funny and won’t let me post in the thread. My computer is ancient.

    Meyu- You asked to define consecration for you so I did. You can consecrate people (priests and bishops for examples) and things (churches). The other questions you posed other people have already answered.

    1. Your browser is possessed 🙁

      Ok. So consecration has nothing to do with changing something into something else i.e. the bread into the physical-literal body of Christ. Correct?

    2. During the Holy Eucharist they consecrate the bread and wine, it is at that moment transubstantiation happens. For Latin Catholics it’s at the moment the priest speaks the Words of Institution (during the consecration). For Eastern Catholics it varies. I can look when transubstantiation happens for the different Rites if you are curious.

    3. Ah. More verbal masterbation eh? It’s my husband’s term for explaining how people like to hear themselves talk over the internet rather than listening. You asked I answered. Trying to convince me to go against the Bible interpretted by centuries of theologians and discussed by people who were taught by disciples of Christ? Good luck with that.

  13. meyu:

    Just for a minute, please step back, take a breath, and kindly consider some “big-picture” factors. I posted above a response which suggested moving from “either-or” to “both-and” in your thinking to really understand the Catholic perspective, so please glance through that before you consider the following:

    1) You posit that either the Eucharist is a memorial or it is cannibalism, which is a false dichotomy. Here we are speaking not of the limited, ordinary human flesh you and I currently share, but the glorified body of Christ, which can pass through a locked door but can still eat a piece of baked fish (Jn 20).

    2) Looking at this issue in another aspect, how can you deny that a Catholic priest has the authority to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit (the epiclesis) so that the words of institution he then recites effect what they signify, but then accuse us of cannibalism, which infers (& some state) we are re-crucifying Christ over and over again?

    3) You therefore accuse us of either doing too little or doing too much; either way we are wrong. It seems not to matter that these views are self-contradictory so long as your argument yields the desired negative result.

    4) In transubstantiation, a word coined later as was “Trinity,” the “accidents,” the sense-perceptible elements of the bread & wine retain their physical characteristics but their “substance,” their true reality, is entirely changed.

    5) We can’t prove this in a test tube, which I believe is by design, since God never permits matters of faith to be so easily accepted. We are still there in Capernaum, and have to decide whether to follow Peter or the nameless former disciples who passed from Jesus into obscurity, and maybe worse.

    6) John opens Ch 6 with the multiplication of loaves, which is significant for understanding the rest of the chapter. If Jesus does this with ordinary bread, how much more with His Risen Body?

    7) You asked where John’s Last Supper account reflects the Eucharist as Catholics understand it. Marcus Grodi points out that in John 15 Jesus commands that we “abide in Him.” How are we to do that? He specifies this in Jn 6:56, “Whoever eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him.”

    8) In Mt 28:20, after the Great Commission, Jesus assures us that “Lo, I am with you until the end of the age.” In what form? Among others, but most tangibly, the Eucharist. As with John 6, Catholics take Jesus at His Word. We don’t pretend to comprehend this, but we accept it in faith and trust.

    9) To get to the heart of the matter, it seems that Protestants have largely left behind the significance of the Incarnation of Our Lord, which changed matter and human nature forever. There is a reluctance to let Jesus get so messy or humble as to be truly and substantially present, Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity in a little wafer of bread or a sip of wine. Yet unless you embrace this concept, how can Jesus’ Cross redeem?

    10) In this there is some echo of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, later revived by the Albigensians, which following Hellenistic thought, denied the value of the body (corruptible, bad), and instead emphasized the life of the spirit (good). This denies the value of the Resurrection, which would be pointless if the body had no worth.

    11) I alluded to this with respect to art and iconography in my comment above. The fact is that all of the data we take in is via the senses, and our imagination, our most powerful tool, works best when it has some sense-perceptible data to work with. In his mercy, God gave us a tangible gift of Himself in the Eucharist.

    12) In the latter three points, you can see examples of Protestant “either-or” (zero-sum) reductionism contrasted with the richer, sometimes paradoxical, “both-and” found in Catholic tradition.

    1. David Paggi,
      There is a lot here. You wrote-“7) You asked where John’s Last Supper account reflects the Eucharist as Catholics understand it. Marcus Grodi points out that in John 15 Jesus commands that we “abide in Him.” How are we to do that? He specifies this in Jn 6:56, “Whoever eats My Flesh and Drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him.”

      Here is what the word “abide” means in 6:56–“Of the relation in which one person or thing stands with another, chiefly in John’s writings; thus to remain in or with someone, i.e., to be and remain united with him, one with him in heart, mind, and will; e.g., with en and the dat. of person (John 6:56; 14:10; 15:4–7; 1 John 2:6; 3:24; 4:15, 16;
      Zodhiates, Spiros: The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament. electronic ed. Chattanooga, TN : AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993, S. G3306

      Where in Matt 28:18-20 does Jesus make any mention of His supper and eating it for Him to be with you?

      You wrote “5) We can’t prove this in a test tube, which I believe is by design, since God never permits matters of faith to be so easily accepted. We are still there in Capernaum, and have to decide whether to follow Peter or the nameless former disciples who passed from Jesus into obscurity, and maybe worse.”

      Don’t know where you get idea from. Throughout His ministry Jesus gives plenty of signs i.e. miracles for people to believe in Him. His resurrection is the greatest of miracles that He demonstrated to His disciples.

      “4) In transubstantiation, a word coined later as was “Trinity,” the “accidents,” the sense-perceptible elements of the bread & wine retain their physical characteristics but their “substance,” their true reality, is entirely changed.”

      This is such a weak argument because there is no evidence for it. When Jesus performed a miracle there was physical evidence for it.

    2. meyu:

      Are you interested in the pursuit of truth for its own sake, or scoring points in theological ping-pong? The fact that I even asked this question suggests the answer is already known. Be that as it may, I will respond to your points below:

      7) The New American Bible Revised Edition indeed substitutes “remains” for “abides” in both verses cited, and “remains” certainly embraces the connotations you cited. Nevertheless, these do not at all deny or exclude the assertion that the most tangible way Jesus can abide in me and I in Him is when I receive Him into my body. There simply is no antithesis here; moreover, the fact that the same word, in either of these translations, strongly suggests that the relationship being described is remarkably similar in both passages.

      8) It seems to me that when in Acts St Luke says about the Christian community that they devoted themselves to “..the prayers, and the breaking of the bread,” he is telling us that the nascent Church is already celebrating the liturgy in a deliberate way. Consequently, this is the reason why I said that since in the Eucharist Jesus is really, truly and substantially present, this is certainly a significant way He is “with us,” as He promised. I prefaced this with the qualifier “among other ways”, which would include for example, ‘whenever two or more of you together pray in My Name …” and others besides.

      So while the Eucharist is not the exclusive means of Jesus’ abiding, it is the most significant. The fact that Mt 28:20 does not state this explicitly does not make it untrue or unreasonable, nor is this novel as it has been the Church’s tradition from its inception. Why else in 1 Cor 11 would St Paul go to such pains to recite the formula he received, and then admonish his readers most seriously to “discern the Body and Blood of the Lord”?

      5) Here I am responding to the criticism that chemical analysis of the Sacred Species does not reflect the change claimed. It is remarkable however, that such a miracle has occurred. I don’t immediately recall the particulars save that in this case the consecrated host took on the characteristics of human tissue, and laboratory analysis revealed it was heart tissue. If you find the miracles Jesus performed so persuasive, why do you find it so difficult to admit to the possibility that He would give His Church the authority to repeat the same miracle He performed at the Last Supper when her priests perform the action he commanded, “Do this in memory of Me”?

      4) There is certainly a qualitative difference here. We believe that Jesus performed these miracles because we trust the testimony of Sacred Scripture read in the heart of the Church. We weren’t there, so the exercise of faith is still required. Conversely, were it possible to prove transubstantiation by chemical analysis, there would be no need for faith. This is not intended to be a “strong argument”, since here the strength of the argument depends more on the faith of the hearer than the height of its reasoning.

      All this leads to a question suggested by your objections, for which I really would appreciate some sincere reply, and not merely snarky scoffing: What is it about the Doctrine of the Real Presence that you find so difficult to accept, or rather that you revolt against almost viscerally?

    3. David Paggi,
      I challenge the real presence doctrine because the truth matters and the real presence is not taught in Scripture. We know this by studying the passages in context.

      Matt 28:20 has nothing to do with Lord’s supper.

      As I stated with the miracles of Christ when they were performed there was true physical difference that people could see with their eyes. If the bread at your mass was truly changed into the body of Christ it would be a miracle and you would see this with your eyes. The fact that you don’t demonstrates nothing has changed.

      You wrote–“Conversely, were it possible to prove transubstantiation by chemical analysis, there would be no need for faith.” If chemical analysis or something like it showed a change it would certainly lead to the truth that something did happen. When Jesus performed miracles it showed that people could place their faith in Him because He had power to do miracles. The miracles increased the faith of those who believed in Him.

      At the supper Jesus told His disciples that when they eat of His supper they are to remember what He did i.e. died on the cross for their sins and rose again. Just as God lead the people out of Egypt and bondage so Jesus would lead His people out of bondage in sin to freedom in Him.

    4. By all means, Truth matters, that is the only reason to have this discussion. Let me ask you, what if the Church is right? What if the Eucharist is what she says it is? Have you every given this ancient doctrine any real consideration, or is your mind totally closed to the possibility?

    5. In your last point, you come close to using the principle of typology, though it doesn’t really work in your example. St Jerome, a great Bible scholar, said that the NT is hidden in the OT, while the OT is revealed in the NT. In typology, we look at OT objects (persons, things, events, etc) as a foreshadowing or type which finds its fulfillment in the NT. Therefore the NT fulfillment is always a greater sign than the OT type.

      For example, consider the Ark of the Covenant, the repository for things that signified God’s intervention in history with their deliverance from Egypt, the creation of their nation under the Law at Mt Sinai, and God’s provision for them in the manna. What, or rather who, is the New Ark? Mary, the Theotokos, or God-Bearer. She also is the New Eve, as she is the embodiment of the promise given in Gen 3:15, the protoevangelium.

      Do you know the derivation of the word “manna?” I’m told that in Hebrew it was pronounced manu, and its meaning is really a question; namely, “what is it?” This is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist, as the question of this thread is “what is it, really?”

    1. BTW, I agree that if the historical, Catholic view of the Eucharist were wrong, then it would be idolatry. But then look who would be guilty of idolatry:

      St Ignatius of Antioch, St Athanasius, St Polycarp, St Justin Martyr, St Irenaeus of Lyons, St Thomas Aquinas (who wrote a hymn for the feast of Corpus Christi that is still in use today), and too many others to mention. In other words, every Christian, heretics aside, from the time of the Apostles to the Protestant Revolt, with the exception of Berengarius of Tours (999-1088) whose teaching was denounced at the Council of Rome in 1079, and the word “transubstantiation” was first used by his contemporary Hildebert of Lavardin, Catholic Encyclopaedia: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02487a.htm

      In addition, here is a link to an article discussing the basis of the Doctrine of the Real Presence: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05573a.htm

    2. Thank you kindly. If you have read a little of the Summa, for example the 5 ways of proving God’s existence in question 2, one is immediately struck with the acuity of St Thomas analysis, his very straightforward presentation, and his thorough consideration of objections and their answers. We just celebrated the 730th anniversary of his death on Jan 28, and to this day, his work is not only in print, but it remains the life work of scholars to study and teach it. In other words, to master St Thomas is the work of a lifetime and the number of people that actually do so is very small indeed. Pope Leo XIII was a Thomist, as was the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and Blessed Pope John Paul II. The Summa is available for free at http://www.newadvent.org.

      That is just one of the Titans! I meant to include St Augustine, Pope St Leo the Great, who walked out to see Atilla & convinced the Hun not to attack Rome, Pope St Gregory the Great. I think about these men, on whose witness I can rely. Goodness, St Athanasius stood alone against the world, and saved Trinitarian Doctrine from the formidable Arius, being exiled 5 times if I remember rightly.

      This man had holiness, clarity, and guts on a massive scale rarely seen in history. Therefore I believe that if I have any gratitude in my heart at all, it would be to realize that it would be the height of arrogance to say all these titans were wrong and a man who contested with the devil by fart (Luther) was right.

  14. meyu –

    Please explain to us how there can be Eucharistic miracles where the host bleeds or where the host is heart tissue. You now have to either reject these miracles as superstition, myth or lies or you have to recognize there is a supernatural/metaphysical world that connects to this world and Christ meant what he said instead of trying to explain away his obvious words as a metaphor. I suspect your mind will reject the supernatural/metaphysical because that is what post-modern man does and what the Reformers did who were heavily influenced by scholasticism which lead to modernism which lead to post-modernism – they all deny the supernatural/metaphysical and put man front in center with all of his science and reason.

  15. meyu –

    How do you explain the liturgy of the Mass preceding some of the NT books themselves? Do you believe the liturgy (being lead by those directly removed from an Apostle or one person away) was wrong because it involved a Mass? What you fail to realize is that the books of the NT were chose because of the various churches using such books as part of their Mass!! Of course, it doesn’t say that in scripture so it couldn’t have happened that way. A list of scripture didn’t just plop down from the sky! The Catholic Churches celebrating the Mass (every single one of them) are the Churches that determined what is scripture.

    The person asserting the positive bears the burden of proof in an argument. You assert, or have to assert, there were churches in biblical times (or shortly thereafter) who did not believe the Mass was the physical flesh and blood of Christ and therefore this doctrine wasn’t settled. Please name these churches from 100 AD to 325 AD who were preaching a gospel message where the bread and wine were merely symbolic. You bear this burden since you are the one who assert that history wasn’t clear during this time period. Well step up with some evidence with some names and dates. That’s all. Give us your evidence.

  16. Is it just me or are we here:

    One day, the young doctor meets a patient who swears that he is dead. In fact, he swears that he’s been dead for years. This poor patient is somewhat delusional, obviously, but the young doctor thinks that some cognitive therapy might help. Surely, he could talk this man out of his delusion.

    So, he sits the man down and asks him, “You’re dead, eh?”

    “Yes,” the young man replies, “been dead for years.”

    “Tell me,” the doctor replied, “do dead men bleed?”

    The young man answered, “No, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a dead man bleeding. That wouldn’t really seem possible.”

    At this point, the young doctor recognizes he has found the solution. One can almost see the glimmer of hope in his eye as he pulls a sterile hypodermic needle from his kit, requests the man finger, and pricks it with the needle.

    Imagine his face, however, when hears the man exclaim, “Well look at that! Dead men DO bleed.”

    The story is amusing to most people, because it is so absurd, and yet conceivable. That made me ask why. I realized that the thinking ran this way:

    Premise 1: I am a dead man.
    Premise 2: Dead mean don’t bleed.

    From those premises, the natural conclusion is that I don’t bleed. We might characterize that as the expected conclusion.

    Expected Conclusion: I don’t bleed.

    But along comes evidence intended to disprove Premise 1 (that was the doctor’s intent). We’ll call this evidence the falsifying datum.

    Falsifying Datum: I bleed.

    It was hoped that this would cause the “dead” man to recognize that premise (1) was false, but instead the “dead” man instead rejected premise (2).

  17. It is obvious that the man with the s/n Meyu is a classic troll who merely gainsays truth; so, what is the point of feeding him? He is not interested in the truth.

    That aside, the claim that the words of Jesus are merely symbolic renders an absurdity for o eat my body and drink my blood are Hebraisms denoting assault and persecute.

    IF the words of Jesus really merely symbols, the He was saying the way to eternal life was to assault and persecute Him.

    That is, apparently, what Meyu believes and he is welcome to that belief but he has no warrant for insisting others accept such an absurdity

  18. Hi, Joe, I enjoyed your explanations. As for Meyu, he sounds like a Calvinist. This is what you get when you let a lawyer, John Calvin, write your theology.

  19. Meyu,

    1) The ‘Figure of Speech’ theory is problematic. To “eat the flesh” of someone is ALREADY a figure of speech in Semitic thought meaning “to act cruelly towards.”

    Benjamin Davies Lexicon

    So if Christ is using a figure of speech in John 6, He is doing so in a way that would deliberately mislead His Jewish audience.

    2) John 6:55 “For my flesh is meat INDEED (alēthōs Strong’s G230: truly, of a truth, in reality, most certainly), and my blood is drink INDEED (alēthōs Strong’s G230: truly, of a truth, in reality, most certainly).”

    Your interpretation makes Christ use a Greek word with the opposite meaning of what it actually means, ie ‘My flesh and blood are truly and actually in reality meat and drink’ really means ‘My flesh and blood are NOT truly NOT actually and NOT in reality meat and drink.’

    What say you, Meyu?

    1. Daniel,
      Here is the definition from a lexicon on the NT on the meaning of eating on John 6:54,56,57 and 58. : “To eat fruits, nuts, raw beans, which require crunching with the teeth. Hence, trōgália or trōktá means fruits, nuts, almonds and the like used as a dessert. In the NT, generally to eat, equal to esthíō (2068), to eat as in Matt. 24:38, “eating and drinking,” feasting, reveling, with árton (740), bread in the acc., sing. or pl. (John 13:18 quoted from Ps. 41:9). Figuratively (John 6:58) with sárka (4561), flesh. See John 6:54, 56, 57.

      The meaning of flesh in these verses means: “Metaphorically in John 6:51, “and the bread . . . is my flesh,” meaning that Jesus Himself is the principle of life and nutrition to the regenerated soul; see vv. 53–56”

      Zodhiates, Spiros: The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament. electronic ed. Chattanooga, TN : AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993, S. G5176

      5176,trogo>
      primarily, “to gnaw, to chew,” stresses the slow process; it is used metaphorically of the habit of spiritually feeding upon Christ, John 6:54,56-58 (the aorists here do not indicate a definite act, but view a series of acts seen in perspective);” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

      As you can see what Jesus was teaching in John 6 was not a literal eating of His flesh but a metaphorically eating of His flesh.

    2. meyu:

      You may be impressed with your linguistic gymnastics, but I am not, because your great effort here is made in the attempt to deny the plain meaning of the text. In other words, your dictionary citation can take on significance if and only if it does not at the same time contradict common sense, which it actually does.

      If Jesus was just speaking metaphorically or symbolically, why were so many disciples so offended that they left Jesus? From the context, one may infer that not only did this represent a considerable number of Jesus’ followers, but also that a significant portion of these would have been going about with him for some time. They had seen the miracle of the loaves, had at least heard of the walking on water, and presumably witnessed any number of healings and exorcisms as well. It would take a remarkably strong stimulus to overcome all of this, and only a literal understanding of Jesus’ words fulfills that requirement; a mere symbol would not. Therefore either Jesus really meant what he said, or He was a very bad teacher in letting his disciples leave as a consequence of a serious misunderstanding.

      There is a classic prayer called an Act of Faith, which states that Jesus can neither deceive nor be deceived. He is, after all, the Way, the Truth and the Life. I believe you bear the burden of explaining why the disciples would leave in large numbers for a metaphor or symbol.

    3. BTW, if you are a believe in the reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, how is it that in this case you insist on a rather tortured “symbolic” exegesis rather than a straightforward common-sense reading of the text?

      Also, if Sola Scriptura is true, does that mean that every reader of Scripture should have at his disposal a Greek translation dictionary and a good working knowledge of Greek and English grammar? How many people do you think have any idea what “aorist” means?

      Your attempt at academic scholarship is inadvertently seriously eroding one of the bedrock principles on which you rely.

    4. David Paggi,
      Its not about being impressed but what does the passage mean. I gave you definitions from a Greek lexicons on the NT that tells us how to understand those words.

      What Jesus had just taught them was to difficult for them and He knew from the beginning that they would not believe. V64. They were also not drawn to Him by the Father. v65. If the Father does not draw a man to Christ that man can never believe in Him.

      If Jesus meant His teaching to be taken literally then that leads to cannibalism. Secondly, eternal life is not gained by eating a piece of bread or anything physical. It can be gained only by faith in Christ. See John 3:16 for example.

      Jesus asked the 12 if they wanted to leave to. Peter responds by saying that they believed in Him. Notice that in the apostles letters there is no mention of eating the supper or eating anything for that matter that leads to eternal life.

      “a straightforward common-sense reading of the text” leads to absurdities such as cannibalism and to the idea that eating something leads to eternal life.

      Sola Scriptura has nothing to do with having Greek study tools etc (although these tools do help us to understand the texts of Scripture). Sola Scriptura has do with the Scripture being the only inspired-inerrant Word of God and thereby the highest and ultimate authority for the Christian. Nothing else is equal to it.

  20. meyu –

    Explain the Eucharistic Miracles if it is so metaphhorical!!!! I suspect you can’t because you would have to admit the supernatural connects to this Earth here and now with a priest.

    Show us a repeated controversy over this issue in early Christian history from 100 AD – 1,000 AD.

    You can’t explain history with your interpretation unless you want to step up and claim everyone is wrong. Will you at least do that! Will you at least tell us that Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Acquinas were absolutely wrong on this issue.

    1. cwdlaw223,
      Don’t know that much about them. When did the church define the meaning of the Lord’s supper? What council did this? (Keep in mind what the church historian Schaff said the Lord’s supper in the 1st 3 centuries)

      What do you make of the claims that people have seen statutes of Mary cry blood tears or something like that?

    2. If you look at the Letter of St Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrnaeans c. A.D. 107, in the 7th section he says of heretics, “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm

      For most of the first 300 years of the Church, the Eucharist was celebrated in Greek. Eventually Latin became the standard language in the West, and the “Lord’s Supper” became known as the Mass, since the dismissal is the last word spoken from the Altar, “ite missa est.” This is an archaic formulation which means roughly “the Mass is ended.”

      As for the phenomena involving objects that do strange things, they usually do not interest me greatly; however, I do not automatically reject them but wait for the event to be analyzed and approved by the Church. This “approval” does not mean belief is required, as such phenomena fall into the category of private revelation. The Church has “prudently been cautious to approve, disapprove or condemn reported apparitions.” In general, studied apparitions are classified as “not worthy of belief,” “not contrary to the Faith,” or “worthy of belief.” Of course, one qualifier is that the message of the apparition cannot have any content that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. The bottom line is that it takes a while for an apparition to be approved as the Church is in no hurry to devote resources to investigate private revelation.

      Here is a remarkable example, the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, which has been occurring since the 8th century: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/physician-tells-of-eucharistic-miracle-of-lanciano. Check it out!

  21. meyu –

    Here is your logic on a different topic:

    Jesus can’t be both God and man. Jesus can only be God. Man sinned and God can’t sin. Therefore, when Jesus is referenced as a man this was a metaphor for humanity to accept him and he was really only God. (Now this is truly a controversy in history!!!!!).

  22. First of all Joel, my utmost respect for your blog and teachings. I’ve been meaning to post for along time. What a blessing and it seems you get great feedback that keeps you motivated.

    I’ve noticed with Protestants or anti-Protestants they always can skirt the issue or twist a point, meaning, definition, etc. If they are seeking truth, then they are open to study. If they are full of rivalry, then you will soon close your combox as the comments will never end. In a previous debate on another blog, an anti Catholic post quoted “Cyril” as a point of reference. Is that ludicrous, taking something out of context from a DOCTOR of the CHURCH.

    I use the term anti -Protestant referring to modern American denominations that claim they are not a denomination AND are even in protest of Lutherans.
    Please keep up your great writings.

    1. meyu –

      Of course. Do you think Protestants need to avoid history? All you seem to do is say that John 6 is metaphorical and your best argument is that even though the teaching was hard, disciples who stayed with Christ were “drawn” by the father and yet there is nothing in John 6 that is even remotely close to support this view. You reject the plain words of Christ because you need to in order to keep Protestantism alive. I’ll gladly take my chances on judgment day that I took Christ at his word and didn’t try to alter his words.

    2. cwdlaw223,
      No Protestant, no Christian should avoid church history. The major problem I see in Protestant churches is that the people are not that knowledgeable of church history. I suspect the same is true for RC’s also.

      You claim that “disciples who stayed with Christ were “drawn” by the father and yet there is nothing in John 6 that is even remotely close to support this view.”

      If that is the case then what should I make of John 6:64-65: “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.”

      How could a man believe in Christ if he is not drawn to Christ by the Father?

    3. meyu –

      I was stating your ridiculous exegesis of John 6, not mine. You think the hard teaching is effectively meaningless why some disciples left. You now can’t keep your facts straight.

    4. Deltaflute,
      The Father does not call all. Notice what the verse says: ““For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” There is nothing in this verse that the Father grants all to come to Christ. Not all are destined for salvation. Only the elect are.

    5. cwdlaw223,
      Here is what Jesus says about that the Father has given Him: “27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10

    6. meyu –

      That isn’t John 6!!!! Please explain how billions of souls got it wrong but you have it right? Please explain how your exegesis is superior to the titans of the faith like Augustine and Acquinas. Please explain the Eucharistic miracles which you avoid because in your scholastic worldview you can’t explain them unless you claim the people were lying or mistaken. There is no supernatural in your worldview which is why you view scripture like a scholastic (and maybe a gnostic).

    7. Meyu- If the father does not call all than please explain 1Tim2-4. The Bible says God saves all and Jesus ransomed himself for all. The elect are those who choose to accept Christ’s offer of salvation. No where does the Bible say God saves some while damning others. He calls all but some choose to ignore that call. This is called free will.

    8. Deltaflute.
      It is true that Christ death was for all of mankind. However, it is not true that ” God saves all”. If God saves all then there would be no hell. Jesus Himself taught that there will be condemnation for many. See Matt 7:13, 25:41-45.

      It is true that “Many are called but few are chosen’ in Matthew 22:14. It is the “chosen” that are the elect. The elect will believe in the gospel.

    9. SMH Here we go again. You said God doesnt call all (to salvation). I point out that the Bible says otherwise. You ignore the Bible and quote other passages.

      It is true that Jesus death was for all and God calls all.

      It is equally true that there are those who will not answer that call. This against the will of the Father because He calls all.

      Hell and damnation happen not because it is God’s will. They happen because it is the natural result of disobedience to God. Or do you not believe in the justice of God?

    10. Where did I say “God doesnt call all (to salvation)”?

      What verse in Scripture say that “God calls all”?

      The justice of God is why there is hell. Hell is what people get when they get His justice.

    11. Then you agree that it would be unjust of God to call some and condemn the rest; rather than calling all and condemning those who turn away from God at their final judgement (ie death).

      Thus salvation is for all but taken up by few.

      You seem to be saying that you believe that God has already condemned those at birth. Thats what predestination of the damned is. Its saying that the elect are such at birth and so are the damned. That there is nothing that you can and cant do to loose or gain salvation.

      But…as you point out from Matthew 22, the parable of the banquet, that people are called but then show up without the clothes. Thus God’s justice is at death. This person was not simply never called. He disobeyed God.

    12. God is not unjust to condemn some and not others. All men are sinners and we all deserve condemnation. If God had not sent Christ into the world to save some God would still be just.

      All the ones in the parable who were invited to the wedding were called.

    13. So you do believe in predestination of the damned. You believe some are born already condemned. That there is nothing they can do. Faith doesn’t matter? No sinner’s prayer necessary? That wouldn’t jive with scripture or a just God. You might as well do nothing as others have said. Unfortunately this is not what Christ said. Point out to where God says you dont even have to believe because He’s already saved you. Or point out where it says you are damned even though you follow God and believe.

    14. Scripture doesn’t speak of the “predestination of the damned”. Here is what Romans 9:14-18 says:
      “14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

      The elect were chosen before the foundation of the world and predestined for adoption in Christ. Eph 1:4-5. Election is not based on anything a man can do.

      God is under no obligation to save all men or any man. The fact that He saves some shows His mercy.

      Those that are of the elect will believe in Christ and be saved. God gives the elect the faith to believe.

      This does not nullify any evangelism. The purpose of preaching the gospel is for the elect to believe in.

    15. I wasn’t talking of the elect. I was speaking of the damned. You say there is nothing you can do to save yourself. In otherwards salvation isn’t a choice. The elect have no choice.

      By that logic the damned have no choice.

      Furthermore one can conclude by what you said is that in order to be part of the elect you will believe in Christ.

      What about infants? Can they be part of the elect? Or are they damned if they should die at months of age?

      What about those who live in remote places having never heard of Christ? Say North Korea where they worship their political leaders? Are they damned?

      What is the exact criteria for salvation? And if a person doesn’t meet it are they damned?

      Because in one breath you say there’s nothing you can do yet the elect will believe. If there’s nothing doesnt having mean infact man DOES have to do something?

    16. If a person is predestined to election God will make it possible for them to hear and believe in Christ. Unless God does something in the unbeliever they will not believe and be saved.

      Salvation-election is God’s choice not ours. To some He gives mercy and salvation and to others He does not. In that sense no one has a choice.

    17. The question is not whether God is supreme but about how much free will man has.

      By your own admission man has no free will. If God desires you have to do God’s will. It doesn’t matter your age or circumstance.

      Except that doesn’t hold water. The Bible talks about people falling away. Just look at Joe’s post on OSAS. We aren’t puppets that God uses against our will. If we were why all the talk about not boasting, helping the poor, etc? Why need to be told if we’re compelled against our will?

    18. Deltaflute, cwdlaw223,
      There is no such thing a “neutral” freewill. Man chooses from the desires of his heart. A heart left to itself without any influence of the Holy Spirit will never choose God.

      We see an example of this when the pharaoh resisted Moses. God let the pharaoh follow the desires of his heart and it destroyed him. Or take Jonah. He resisted the call of God and God forced him against his will to go to Nineveh.

      We need exhortation to do the good because of the power of sin in our mortal bodies. See Romans 7:14-25.

    19. So you don’t believe in Baptism? You don’t believe in what’s called actual graces?

      It’s not all black and white. If it were there would be no need to admonish. We’d either be completely good or completely evil in every action. But you and I both know that isnt the case.

      God’s call as you put it is the intial grace all humans can receive. Actual grace is the one we actively seek out. You can choose to resist prayer for example. But if you do it is having an active prayer life that feeds you soul. If prayer is not a choice than we wouldn’t have moments where we dont. The elect would never falter. God’s power over us would be so great things like fatigue and illness would never happen.

      Man who is baptized is infused with grace and is no longer subject too original sin as he was before because of Christ. He doesn’t go it alone. He goes it in cooperation with Christ.

      You seem to say there is no cooperation. We are damned if we do or damned if we dont. So again why admonish us if we are always saved or always damned? If the power of sin than is it because we dont have assurance of salvation? Can sin claim? Sin has no power with God and if we are saved why worry about sin? Why the warnings? Why would God care if we are judged from birth? By your logic we are compelled such that we could never sin.

      You aren’t making much sense. Either we can choose sin or not. God makes it such that we can make the choice. That’s why he died on a cross.

    20. meyu –

      There is no such thing as no such thing as free will!!!! Calling a pumpkin a watermelon will not make its contents sweet and juicy. Liberals are great at trying to say the same thing over and over hoping that it will change reality. And yes, the Reformers were the first modern liberals in my opinion. They trashed history, they ignored history, they twisted words and thought that they could bring about a progressive form of Christianity.

      You just don’t get it that the two (man and grace) cooperate together. Rome has never, ever taught semi-pelagianism, however, you state determinism.

    21. Pouring water over someone does not give anyone grace. The grace of God is given in and through Christ. It is because of our union with Him and been blessed in Him. See Eph 1:3

      It is because Christ set us free (Rom 6:6; Gal 5:1) from the power of sin. We are admonished by Scripture to seek after Christ and to stop sinning because of the weakness of the flesh.

      Since the believer is no longer enslaved to sin because of our union with Christ the believer no longer under the power of sin. He can say no to it. The unbeliever cannot. He is dead in his trespasses and sins and under the power of sin. In fact, he is a slave to it. (Eph 2:1-3)

    22. Meyu- Matthew 3:11 and John3:5

      So you do have to believe to be saved. You do have to cooperate. So a believers salvation is not assured if he chooses to sin. Okay.

      What about unbelievers such as children? If they cant know Christ because of lack of knowledge are they still damned should they die before knowledge? Does Christ not offer a way toward salvation for them? Or does it all hinge on faith? Are children born evil and without God’s grace until they believe?

    23. The first place to start with when dealing with with salvation is that it starts and ends with God. He is the source, the power and the finisher of salvation. With that principle in mind we can answer your questions though we may not know how God does all of it.

      All believers sin. No sin can destroy a person’s salvation.

      If the children of the unbeliever are elect then they will will be saved. If not, then no. Not sure how God offers salvation to an infant that dies. Scripture does does not say. We must trust God with this.

      All men are fallen because they inherit Adam’s inherent sinful nature. Only God can give a child the power to believe.

    24. Meyu- So faith is not necessary for salvation then. Okay. And conversely sinning does not damn you. Okay. So there is basically no cooperation with God. He damns and saves at will.

      The Bible doesn’t agree with you, but okay. You should read Joe’s most recent post about salvation. It’s enlightening.

      I should also point out that God creates us at our core to be good. Original sin is only damaging so long as we aren’t baptized. Jesus gave us this pathway with His death. Once Christ opened up heaven all were given this precious sacrament as a way to heal or wash away the infliction of original sin. We still have its scar but once baptized original sin has no power over us. This power or grace comes from God with our cooperation.

    25. Deltaflute,
      Are you saying that the RCC teaches that faith in Christ is not necessary for salvation?

      Sinning is the fruit of a fallen nature. Could a RC stop sinning without the help of God?

      If God creates us “at our core to be good” then why do you continue to sin after baptism?

    26. meyu –

      No. He’s saying what you are saying which is: Man is irrelevant in salvation because he is controlled completely by God because he is either granted saving faith or damned. That is what YOU are saying. Pure determinism.

      Rome has always stated that man needs the grace of God to come to him. Otherwise, you have pelagianism and semi-pelagianism which were heresies condemned by Rome.

      You obviously haven’t read anything about baptism on this site if you ask why man continues to sin after being baptized. Where is your evidence that early believers thought baptism was just a symbol and did nothing to remove sin? Step up to the plate there meyu and give use the names of people who thought it didn’t wash away sin!!!

    27. Even better!!!! Meyu didn’t realize you were providing him with the logical conclusions of his positions. Man is at the complete mercy of God and God actually damns. No idea where Meyu is going with the baptism issue since history is against him on his personal interpretation of what he thinks is true Christianity.

    28. Meyu- You said: “If the children of the unbeliever are elect then they will will be saved. If not, then no. Not sure how God offers salvation to an infant that dies.”

      For a while, you’ve been saying that all the elect must have faith. So I asked you about infants. You could have either drawn the conclusion that infants are not part of the elect so you still have to maintain faith. But instead you said faith is not necessary for infants. In other words, faith is not necessary. Joe’s post explains why having faith is and yet is not necessary. You can take that stance as well if you wish. But you didn’t explicitly.

      You also said: “All believers sin. No sin can destroy a person’s salvation.”- So in other words “Conversely, sinning does not damn you.”

      I’m not sure how a person could surmise otherwise.

      The problem that I see is that you’ve put yourself in a rather awkward position. When you make yourself the sole authority for Biblical interpretation (picking and choosing from other interpreters as well), you fall on your own sword. What I mean is one of two things happens: 1) the devil tricks you. This is how some Christian groups can approve gay marriage. They ignore portions of the Bible and emphasize others rather than looking at the Bible as a whole in context. They feel confident that they are not wrong. or 2) you find that you don’t know as much as you think you do. This is true of myself. I am not a Biblical scholar. I can read the entire Bible every day and would still find myself missing something crucial. I could interpret something wrong. This is why having a body of scholarship over millennium where the questions are pondered, digested, discussed, prayed upon, etc. is so vital. It is not MY interpretation. Nor is it a particular person’s. It is the collective of generations of people some of whom knew Jesus, knew the Apostles, and knew others who followed Christ. So if one wonders what the meaning of a particular passage is, then one can discover its meaning behind the ponderings of say St. Polycarp, who was taught by the Apostle John. I know better than to trust myself. But I feel more confident to trust the whole group. And Jesus knew this which is why he asked St. Peter to lead his people and build his Church.

      Now you have a choice. You can wave away all the great thinkers of every age. You can go on pretending that none of them have ever thought and answered the questions you have asked. That none of them ever possessed guidance by the Holy Spirit. That none of them ever picked up a Bible much less lived the Bible before it was in written form. But that wouldn’t be the wisest choice.

      The wisest choice is to realize that an individual should seek knowledge of God with others. And it is because we can test whether what we think is wrong or right. We can know for sure whether it is the Holy Spirit or the devil’s trickery.

      From the very start of this whole conversation I’ve been using the Socratic method, challenging you, questioning you, making you think, and not letting you change subject too much (which you like to do to deflect answering the question). And what it has shown me is that your faith needs to grow and in a direction away from your own understanding because it is limited. You have not thought of everything. And how could you possibly because you are only human. Lean not on your own understanding.

      God bless you. And good luck on your faith journey. I pray that the scales will fall from you eyes and that you will see (by seeking out) the Fullness of Truth.

    29. meyu –

      If the non-elect are already damned and the elect are already saved, why do you need to interact with anyone? God already planned it out and your efforts won’t change a thing.

    30. cwdlaw223,
      The elect are not already saved. This is why the gospel needs to be preached so that the unsaved elect will become the saved elect by believing in the gospel. Secondly, I do this because Jesus commanded it.

    31. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving The Lord your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which The Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them

  23. Robert Louis Wilken has a great book “The Spirit of Early Christian Thought”. Chapter 2 (An Awesome and Unbloody Sacrifice) is a great read and supports the idea that the early Church consistently believed in the Real Presence. He cites Justin artyr, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus and others

    1. lymphoma2012,
      What do you mean by “Is Jesus present in the Eucharist? ” Do you mean that He is literally-physically in the bread?

      I have asked a few questions about a quote by Tertullian that I have not seen answers to. Maybe you can answer them so we can see if Tertullian believed in the real presence.

      “Let me ask you about one of his statements above: “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, “This is my body,” that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure.”

      What does he mean by “He made it His own body, by saying, the figure of my body”? Where does he say that this means the bread literally-physically becomes His body?”

    2. So the answer is no and no? SMH I really dont understand. People have answered your questions. What more do you want? Are you trying to get them to say no and agree with you? Isn’t it obvious that they won’t? Or is it that you just wont accept that people don’t agree with you?

      What are your exact intentions here? To learn and listen? To have earnest dialogue? Or are you using Joe’s blog as a platform to proselytize?

    3. Deltaflute:

      Congratulations, you apparently have encountered your first 5-point Calvinist. This is why meyu is so absolute in his declarations, while he finds the Catholic perspective mystifying (but won’t admit it). Here are a few really good resources on this:

      1) “Tiptoe through the TULIP”, an article by Jimmy Akin on Catholic.com (great site) or JimmyAkin.com.

      2) http://www.calledtocommunion.com, an outstanding blog by former Reformed Protestants.

      3) Open Line on EWTN radio, 3:00 EST MF. check in particular Thursdays with Dr. David Anders; listen to his podcasts at EWTN.com.

      4) For even more depth, get Mr. Akin’s book “The Salvation Controversy.”

      At the risk of oversimplifying, I will give you a little thumbnail guide, and doubtless meyu will let us know when he thinks I’m wrong. Come to think of it, that won’t be different from anything else so far!

      Calvin was a lawyer, not a churchman, so his theology is very organized, well-stated, and juridical compared to a messy monk like Luther. Often heresies arise when one of God’s attributes is exaggerated relative to others, and this is the flaw in Calvin’s scheme. He emphasized the sovereignty & omniscience of God at the expense of a cruelly reduced view of His mercy. As best I understand it, it goes like this:

      If God knows everything, then He must know each person’s eternal destiny. Since He is sovereign, He owes nothing to anyone so it is no injustice for Him to choose who will or will not gain heaven. Obviously He makes this choice Himself, otherwise the outcome would not be known, and it would be contradictory to His nature for Him not to know something. The inevitable result is “double predestination”, a valid conclusion from his flawed premises. The five points can be described using the acronym “TULIP”

      1) Total Depravity: man’s fall is absolute; he has no free will; he contributes nothing to his salvation.

      2) Unmerited Election: Man’s salvation is God’s free gift; nothing man does has any bearing.

      3) Limited Atonement: Salvation is granted only to the relatively few elect; all others are damned for eternity, from eternity.

      4) Irresistible Grace: Sufficient grace is given the elect so that they must turn to Christ without fail

      5) Perseverance of the Saints: The elect’s salvation is secure; hence, “once saved, always saved.”

      The Calvinist believes he is being humble when he says that he merely is the recipient of God’s grace and cannot otherwise account for the fact that he has been saved from his sins and others have not. When I encounter one who holds to this theology, at some point I will interject the following in our dialogue:

      My question: BTW, have you ever met a 5-point Calvinist who did not believe he was one of the elect?

      Typical Answer: No, I don’t believe I have.

      My response: Save for the clinically depressed, you never will!

      Under the mantle of the false humility I described above lies a powerful appeal to pride, so that the smugness you encounter is people like meyu is all too common. The whole scheme is remarkably pharisaical & extremely seductive.

      Not long ago, I called Open Line and asked about this appeal to pride, and I remarked, “If I wanted this theology to work, I would want to be as far away from that decision as I could possibly get.” Dr. Anders concurred and told me in the course of his study he read many of Calvin’s letters, which reflected a great deal of pride while being wholly devoid of humility.

      Calvin aside, notice that meyu stays on offense with his criticisms of our point of view, but never bothers really defending his. To my mind, to fairly engage in this sort of discussion, one must answer challenges from one’s interlocutor before posing new questions. Meyu doesn’t do that, yet he fancies he is scoring points. In other words, it’s not respectful dialogue he wants; instead he’s just keeping his own score, which is why he scoffs at others’ points when he doesn’t ignore them entirely.

      More to follow later.

    4. I dont think Meyu would claim to be a Calvinist. I think he’s a non-denom evangelical. Most Presbyterians are rather gracious. Meyu I would describe is a Bible thumper. But obviously he adheres to Calvin’s teachings at least some of them. I asked my husband who was raised Baptist his thoughts. As he pointed out there are no hard and fast rules in a lot of denom. Its all about what you personally think. Given that Meyu claims most Protestants agree over basic dogma I think my husband’s assessment is accurate. You can try to pigeon hole him but he follows the personal interpretation crowd.

  24. Joe,

    The Church of Scotland recently appointed a Theological Commission to investigate the ordination of people in a same-sex relationship. What the Commission ended up doing was, in effect, to produce two reports as the members of the Commission were split between Traditionalists and Revisionists. In arguing their case, the Revisionists quoted St Augustine:

    “Of the early Church Fathers, it was Augustine of Hippo (354-430) who emphasised most clearly the centrality of love to a true understanding of Scripture. His reflections are particularly apposite to our current situation when he points out the foolishness of arguing over the interpretation of Scripture, when that very conflict shows that we have failed to grasp its central truth:
    There are so many meanings to be extracted from these words; so how foolish it is, then, to be in a hurry
    to assert which of them Moses really meant, and with destructive controversies to offend against the spirit
    of love, when it was for the sake of love that Moses said all the that things we are trying to elucidate.

    For him, the goal of exegesis was not right doctrine, but right living, according to the spirit of love. The way to deal with difficult passages was to ‘meditate on what we read until an interpretation be found that tends to establish the reign of charity’. If a literal interpretation ran counter to that rule, then a figurative one must be applied:
    Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbour does not understand it at all. Whoever finds a lesson there useful to the building of charity, even though he has not said what the author may be shown to have intended in that place, has not been deceived.”
    http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/13811/20_THEOLOGICAL_2013.pdf

    I would be grateful if you could comment on the Revisionists’ use (misuse?) of St Augustine.

  25. I have not seen it said yet but if Jesus was speaking metaphorically then by saying chew my flesh he would have been meant what others meant at that time and it was not good. Like today’s “eat me”.

  26. At different points, meyu writes: Where is the evidence for this claim? If we were to put a host under a microscope would we see what you claim? and How could Jesus have a “veritable body” as a piece of bread when He already has a human physical body?

    And on and on…

    You know, meyu (and others who deny what the Church teaches), you’re right…I’m sure you can put any of the other 30,000+ Christian denominations under the microscope and find the proof you need of whatever it is they say. Of course, at that point, it’s not faith, it’s…proof. What was it Jesus said…if you had a microscopic slide the size of a mustard seed…

    Personally, I’ve always found tremendous serenity in the 40 days from the Resurrection to the Ascension. What is it that Jesus taught the apostles? What did He reveal to them? How did He transform them with knowledge, signs, wonders, and revelation? We’ll never know…unless, maybe, those Truths are with us today, in the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church.

    What transpired in those six weeks to take Peter from denying Christ to having his shadow heal? From being three years removed from his nets to the man who organized and headed the Church which Jesus appointed him to lead? From being Simon the fisherman to the Rock as foundation of His Church? We’ll never know…unless, maybe, those Truths are with us today, in the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church.

    How is it that the Apostles– scared, disconsolate, and in hiding after the Crucifixion– emerged 40 days later, ready and able to journey into the world far beyond the the small patches of territory they’d only ever known, to the ends of the Earth, most of them willingly to their deaths? How is it that, after years of only listening to Him (and often getting it wrong), these laborers and fishermen and tradesmen became healers and evangelizers? And without a page of scripture in their pockets? We’ll never know…unless, maybe, those Truths are with us today, in the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church.

    Of course, the microscope wasn’t invented yet, meyu, so you’ll think my faith is misplaced.

    But I’ll bet on the majesty and mystery of those 40 days over your exegisis any day.

    1. Jake,
      What does your post have to do with if you were to put a host under a microscope would we see what you claim i.e. the body and blood of Christ?

      As you know, when Jesus performed a miracle there was physical evidence for it. If the bread is literally turning into Christ you would see this with your eyes.

      BTW- the church has always had a written Scripture even during the time of the apostles. Its what is called the OT Scripture.

    2. meyu –

      Why do you even post since God has already saved the elect and damned the repobate???? There’s nothing you can to save yourself or mankind unless you think you’re move powerful than God (and that cooperation doesn’t exist). God has already planned out the future. You’re wasting your time.

    3. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, loving The Lord your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which The Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

      Looks like a choice to me?

  27. Jake –

    I’m not sure why meyu even bothers since if you are part of the elect you cannot reject God’s no matter what anyone else does for us and if you are part of the damned, well, you’re damned. No human effort is going to change what God has already determined!!! Just live out your life. Of course, why would the damned follow the word of God? How would you know you’re damned?

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