Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Papacy And The Eucharist

Two other issues Philip Blosser mentions in his response to Steve Hays are the papacy and the eucharist. Many of his comments are vague, but the most he would be able to argue is that some patristic sources agreed with Roman Catholicism on these issues or held a view that was similar to a degree. But neither doctrine is apostolic in full or in seed form. On the papacy, see here and here. Regarding the eucharist, see here, section 69 here, and section 95 here.


  1. Jason links us to this:

    "After the prayers [of the catechumen worship] we greet one another with the brotherly kiss. Then bread and a cup with water and wine are handed to the president (bishop) of the brethren. He receives them, and offers praise, glory, and thanks to the Father of all, through the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit, for these his gifts. When he has ended the prayers and thanksgiving, the whole congregation responds: ’Amen.’ For ’Amen’ in the Hebrew tongue means: ’Be it so.’ Upon this the deacons, as we call them, give to each of those present some of the blessed bread,402 and of the wine mingled with water, and carry it to the absent in their dwellings. This food is called with us the eucharist, of which none can partake, but the believing and baptized, who live according to the commands of Christ. For we use these not as common bread and common drink; but like as Jesus Christ our Redeemer was made flesh through the word of God, and took upon him flesh and blood for our redemption; so we are taught, that the nourishment blessed by the word of prayer, by which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation (assimilation), is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus."

    Thanks Jason, no comment necessary.

  2. Orthodox wrote:

    “Thanks Jason, no comment necessary.”

    Then why did you just offer a comment? Perhaps because you realize that such passages have been interpreted in a variety of ways by different scholars and different groups? You’re trying to imply that the passage is an expression of your beliefs, but why should we agree? And what about the large amount of other data discussed in the material I cited? Why were there any such disagreements if, as you’ve claimed, everybody belonged to one denomination and everybody held your standard of unity, in which even minor disagreements are considered unacceptable? (For example, you’ve criticized the alleged “thousands” of Protestant denominations for disagreeing with each other, even though you would have to include a lot of minor disagreements in order to get to “thousands”.)

  3. “Instead of a bloody sacrifice, He has appointed that reasonable and unbloody mystical one of His body and blood, which is performed to represent the death of the Lord by **symbols**.” -Apostolical Constitutions, 6.23

    “Be ye always thankful, as faithful and honest servants; and concerning the eucharistical thanksgiving…Do thou, O Lord Almighty, everlasting God, so gather together Thy Church from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom, as this corn was once scattered, and is now become one loaf. We also, our Father, thank Thee for the precious blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for us and for His precious body, whereof we celebrate this **representation**, as Himself appointed us, “to show forth His death.” For through Him glory is to be given to Thee for ever. Amen.” -Apostolical Constitutions, 7.25

    “Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood;” describing distinctly by **metaphor** the drinkable properties of *faith* and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,-of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle...Thus in many ways the Word is **figuratively** described, as meat, and flesh, and food, and bread, and blood, and milk. The Lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed on Him. Let no one then think it strange, when we say that the Lord's blood is **figuratively** represented as milk. For is it not **figuratively** represented as wine? “Who washes,” it is said, “His garment in wine, His robe in the blood of the grape.” In His Own Spirit He says He will deck the body of the Word; as certainly by His own Spirit He will nourish those who hunger for the Word.” -Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor 1.6

    “For so did God in your own gospel even reveal the sense, when He called His body bread; so that, for the time to come, you may understand that He has given to His body the **figure** of bread, whose body the prophet of old **figuratively** turned into bread, the Lord Himself designing to give by and by an interpretation of the mystery.” -Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.19

    “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…Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) ***used the figure of wine to describe His blood***.” -Tertullian, Against Marcion 4. 40

    Indeed, no commentary necessary.

  4. As I'm sure someone must have explained to you at some time, being a symbol does not preclude the reality. You are trying to overlay late Western categories onto these ECFs.

  5. Orthodox writes,

    "As I'm sure someone must have explained to you at some time, being a symbol does not preclude the reality. You are trying to overlay late Western categories onto these ECFs."

    Please excuse the ignorant Protestant, but would you mind explaining this idea in more detail? Perhaps in a way that would refute the normal interpretation(s) of those passages?

  6. Matthew: Like many things in Orthodoxy versus protestantism, it simply isn't an either/or proposition. A lot of the same church fathers quoted in favor of it being a symbol are also quoted in favor of the real presence.

    For example, Tertullian who was quoted above says "We feel pained if any of the wine, or even of our bread be spilled upon the ground." (The Crown III).

    Does that sound "merely" symbolic to you? It sure doesn't to me.

  7. I feel pained at any meal when bread or wine falls from the table. Of course I'd feel pained at the Lord's Supper, particularly because of the solemnity of the event. I read that phrase and don't blink an eye, it makes perfect sense without importing a whole metaphysical idea into it.

    Another rendering of this text reads: "We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground." That also could change the meaning significantly to include waste of any kind, particularly since other out-of-church practices are addressed in the next sentence (making the sign at all sorts of occasions). As well, this particular sentence is removed from the immediate Eucharistic context by references to fasting and offerings for the dead in-between.

    Which is all to say your leap from this phrase doesn't make it anywhere near where you plan for it to land.

  8. [sigh]

    So you deliberately go out of your way to assume that the church fathers all contradict each other when it is just as easy to assume they agree.

    This is the same methodology athiests use on bible contradictions.

  9. I suppose I could sigh too, but such dismissals do nothing to advance discourse.

    "it is just as easy to assume they agree."

    That begs the question, of course. Those of us who see them contradicting each other have made that decision because we read them doing so and don't think it is easy at all to assume their apparently-contradictory words are in fact agreeing with each other.

    I might as well grab 10 books off the Christian bookstore shelves today on any given subject, read the authors writing out of different understandings, and say, "it is just as easy to assume they agree."