Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The altar

Catholic apologist Erick responded to my post:

In addition, some Catholics on Facebook also had feedback. This post is a rejoinder to both. 

This is a strange bifurcation created between “Christianity” and “Christ’s Church”. All who partake of Christ in a saving manner are “members of His body” (1 Cor 12), and thus in the Church. 

That's why you don't have to go on a quest to find Christ's church. If you became a Christian, that automatically makes you a member of Christ's church. I appreciate Erick unwitting endorsement of my ecclesiology! 

And since the Church has origination in Christ, I see a problem with this idea of not wanting to be a part of the “original Church which Christ founded”. 

I didn't suggest Christians shouldn't wish to be a part of the “original Church which Christ founded”. Rather, all true Christians are already a part of that church by virtue of salvation. 

But I prefer to give SH the benefit of doubt and assume he means here that there is no single visible institutional Church which has been comprised of a visible and unbroken hierarchical succession since the Apostles, with one single membership rite. 

As a low-church Protestant, I don't define the church Christ founded in terms of "unbroken hierarchical succession since the Apostles." Isn't that self-evident? 

Protestant scholars who have studied the Patristic data will admit that the early Church Fathers understood “the holy Church” as one visible hierarchical society which requires external unity in faith, sacramental economy, and governmental solidarity. Any break in these three essential elements would create 2 different communities, one false claimant to being the “una sancta” of the Creed and the other being the true and authentic una sancta of the Creed. Period. 

Church fathers aren't my touchstone. Period. 

As a Protestant, it is strange that SH would deny that there are real contenders to the claim of ecclesiality since I am sure he would discount Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, and Unitarians from being an authentic Church. He would prove it by giving criteria of falsification. 

Since heretics aren't Christian, they don't belong to the church. That's entirely different from the claim that Christ's church is confined to one ecclesial community among myriads of false claimants–which you must isolate by process of elimination. And not only don't I regard the Roman Catholic church as the one true church, I don't regard that sect as a part of Christ's church. It's a nominally Christian denomination. 

The Apostles and Nicene Creed has had all Christians in history profess "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church". There aren't denominations and it isn't a difficult search. What Steve is testifying to is that he doesn't believe in any denomination, any specific church, as in none of them are orthodox nor historic, but rather all inventions of men. 

1. Since the Apostles' creed and Nicene creed are fallible, uninspired documents, that's not my criterion. Uninspired creeds can be true, but the criterion is revelation, not tradition. 

2. At the risk of stating the obvious, all Christians in history don't profess "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church". 

i) They couldn't profess articles of those creeds before those creeds were promulgated.

ii) Not all evangelical churches have a liturgy with those creeds. 

iii) At what point were those creeds incorporated into the Latin liturgy?

iv) How could illiterate, non-Latin speaking (not to mention non-Romance speaking) peasants recite a creed in Latin? How would they know what they were saying?

v) The fact that many churchgoers recited a script someone else wrote for them is an illicit argument from authority.

3. Historical continuity isn't a prerequisite to be an expression of Christ's church. Catholics operate with a priest-sacrament paradigm. Protestants operate with a Word-Spirit paradigm. 

4. Many Protestant denominations are far more orthodox than Roman Catholicism. 

5. In God's providence, denominations reflect historical contingencies. They develop in relation to the circumstances God puts Christians in, which vary in time and place. 

Back to Erick:

In response to (i) : I have never sought to argued or prove that the text of Scripture says that the bread and wine are changed when a priest speaks a verbal formula. I may have asserted this once or twice, but that is quite beside the intent of my overall argument. 

In the introduction to his original post, Erick said:

There is a doctrine which is very clearly taught by the New Testament…I mean this – when the Lord’s Supper is commemorated, the bread and the wine are changed into the real Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus. 

That's not all he said, but he included that in his definition of the doctrine. And he said that doctrine is "very clearly taught" in the NT. So I'm just holding him to his own statement. That's how he framed his position. I appreciate his concession that he failed to prove that claim. 

Therefore, this initial point leaves my argument untouched. 

Sorry, but he's rewriting the history of his own post (see above). 

My argument is, succinctly put, Scripture teaches us that in the Lord’s Supper a real sacrifice takes place, and that there is a real presence of Christ’s flesh and blood in the bread and wine. Never have I sought to particularly show how this comes about in any mechanical fashion.

In the original post he said:

Indeed, and I would argue that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is the only way to reconcile the fact that Christ’s priestly order, which is Melchizedekian, and thus can only offer what Melchidezek offered (Bread/Wine) with the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is truly and substantially his own body and blood, since Transubstantiation identifies the two in substance (i.e. the bread/wine become the body/blood).

So he did mention how that comes about, and that figures in his argument. But once again, I appreciate his concession that he failed to prove that claim. It's tedious responding to a disputant who can't remember his own argument. 

In response to (ii): I never once asserted that “if you attend a church where the clergy and laity don’t believe in the real presence, then the communion elements are never anything more than bread and wine”, and thus, once again, this leaves my argument untouched.

i) Erick fails to grasp the dialectic. The question at issue is not confined to what he explicitly asserted but involves consideration of the possible permutations or presuppositions of what he asserted. What does his position logically imply or presume? 

ii) Throughout his response, Erick suffers from a blinkered grasp of the dialectic. He imagines that I "leave his argument untouched" if I don't interact with his argument as it stands. However, when I draw attention to deficiencies in his argument, that's a way of engaging his argument. Pointing out that his argument as it stands is flawed is definitely one way of engaging his argument. 

What I did assert, or at least imply, is that one’s search for the true Church can be narrowed by seeing that the Scripture teaches the Catholic Mass, and since Christian communities which are not Catholic or Eastern Orthodox (or of the Oriental line up of Apostolic churches) teach strongly against the Catholic Mass, they would be grievously misleading people away from Christ. That doesn’t say anything about what exists in Protestant churches. Although, if I had the time or the interest, I could venture on that subject. I can play SH’s game and say, for the sake of argument, that the real presence of Christ does exist in the communion-service of Protestant churches. That is still consistent with Protestant communities being extremely dangerous since they would be committing a blasphemy by respecting the bread as mere bread, or worse, a spiritually un-defined medium of another substance. All in all, my intention is to say that all Protestant communities (include all who don’t teach the Catholic mass) defy the Scripture which teaches that the Lord’s Supper is the Catholic Mass.

i) Notice that he ducks the question of whether denominations which reject the real presence nevertheless receive the body and blood of Christ simply because God wills it–irrespective of what they believe. So he still leaves it unclear as to whether that's a reason why Protestants should abandon Protestant denominations. After all, if God instantiates the real presence in their communion services despite their misguided beliefs to the contrary, then the real presence is not a reason to abandon Protestant denominations.

ii) However, he now gives a different reason, which may or may not be an additional reason. How is it blasphemous for them to view the communion elements as mere bread and wine (or grape) juice? Assuming for discussion purposes that the communion elements are the Host, does Erick think intent not a necessary condition of blasphemy? What if they're invincibly ignorant about the real presence? It's not like they intend to commit sacrilege. They don't willfully defy what Scripture (allegedly) teaches about the real presence. Does Eric have no room for innocent mistakes in theological disputations? 

iii) If, moreover, Eric doesn't think Protestant communion services instantiate the Host, then they can't be committing blasphemy in that direction. So he's created a dilemma for himself. 

In response to (ii) : I never claimed that “eating cultic meals in honor of a pagan deity” was equivalent to “ingesting the deity”. Nor did I claim that this supposed “ingestion of deity” was parallel to what occurs when a Christian ingests the holy flesh and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and so this leaves my argument untouched.

But Erick does believe that Catholic communicants receive the body and blood of Christ. So the parallel breaks down. 

In response to (i) : This is begging the question since I’ve asserted and argued that the Eucharist is the sacrifice of Christ, and so simply saying that it isn’t doesn’t achieve a rebuttal, but a denial without reason. Secondly, my argument doesn’t depend on the Lord’s Supper coming up explicitly in the Book to the Hebrews.

What I actually said was:

In his priestly role in Hebrews, Christ doesn’t offer himself in the eucharist. Rather, he offers himself on the cross. His redemptive death is the offering (e.g. Heb 7:27; 9:12,14; 10:10,12).

I didn't merely deny his position, but cited some illustrative passages from Hebrews to substantiate my rebuttal. Jesus only died once–at the cross. So when Hebrews says Jesus offered himself in death, that refers to the crucifixion–not the eucharist. The crucifixion is an unrepeatable event–whereas the eucharist is indefinitely repeatable. 

I made an argument from Scripture in 1 Cor 10 in order to show that the Lord’s Supper involves the real presence of Christ’s body and blood. The arguments will have to be engaged, rather than spurned by asserted denials.

At this point I wasn't responding to his argument from Corinthians but Hebrews. I quoted Erick's claim that:

But, wait! Isn’t the sacrifice of Christ’s priesthood His own body, as Holy Writ explicitly declares? Indeed, and I would argue that the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is the only way to reconcile the fact that Christ’s priestly order, which is Melchizedekian, and thus can only offer what Melchidezek offered (Bread/Wine) with the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is truly and substantially his own body and blood, since Transubstantiation identifies the two in substance (i.e. the bread/wine become the body/blood).

I then said:

That's circular. Whether the real presence is true is the very issue in dispute. That's what Erick is attempting to demonstrate. So he can't very well take that as a given, and use that presumptive datum to prove that Christ's sacrificial action in Hebrews is really offering himself in the eucharist rather than offering himself on the cross.  

Erick has yet to address the counterargument. He's laboring to prove the real presence, but notice here how he appeals the real presence to arrive at his conclusion. Yet the real presence is supposed to be the conclusion of his argument, not a premise feeding into the argument. Here he takes for granted the very thing he needs to prove. His argument is supposed to yield the real presence, not make the real presence a necessary step in the argument. 

I never claimed Paul wrote Hebrews.

He said:

Some interpreters of Paul have attempted to tone this all down to either symbolic or spiritual significance. In other words, sure, Christ is the Melchidezekian [sic] priest…

But Paul doesn't refer to Melchizedek. That's Hebrews. 

I never asserted that the author to the Hebrews draws any parallel between Melchizedek and Jesus with respect to bread and wine. So this again leaves my argument untouched. 

Once again, we're treated to Erick's eccentric notion of what it means to engage someone's argument. The fact that Hebrews never makes the connection that Erick is making highlights a failure in Erick's argument. The fact that Hebrews never draws a parallel that's key to Erick's argument, even though he relies on Hebrews, is a serious lacuna in Erick's argument. 

He doesn't grasp the dialectic. I didn't say he made that claim about Hebrews. The problem, rather, is that he cannot make that claim because that's missing from Hebrews–even though Eric tries to create a parallel. He does so by circumventing Hebrews and going straight to Genesis. 

What I did argue is that the author to the Hebrews teaches us that Christ is identified as a Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek”. The same author also teaches that every priest is called to intercede on behalf of the people by offering gifts and sacrifices. I then asked what gift/sacrifice did Melchizedek offer in his Priesthood? I argue that it is the “bread and wine” of the Genesis-text. Does the Genesis-text explicitly speak of the “bread and wine” being sacrificial gifts? No, it does not. However, it seems implied by the fact that Melchizedek, acting in his intercessory role between Abram and God, brings out bread and wine. If you read the text, there is mention of the King of Sodom going out to meet Abram at the Valley of Shaveh after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, and then immediately , out of nowhere, Moses writes: “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.  And he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’”. And that’s it. Melchizedek is gone. In the first place, there is nothing in this text which would necessitate that Melchizedek is part of a Priestly order whose character involves the indestructible life of its Priests. Secondly, when King David brings this up in the Psalm, there is still no explication of what ties together the future Anointed one with Melchizedek. The author to the Hebrews draws this out for us, thankfully, but Christians had been able to draw this out before Hebrews was written since it was in the oral tradition of the Church. 

Where is Erick's evidence that "Christians had been able to draw this out before Hebrews was written since it was in the oral tradition of the Church."

Moreover, for Melchizedek to be a Priest of the Most High God and the typical Priestly figure whose order the eternal Son of God would fulfill to pop in the life of Abram’s life without acting in his Priestly fashion would be strange, indeed. 

The question at issue isn't whether Melchizedek offered Abraham bread and wine, but the fact that that detail doesn't figure in the argument of Hebrews, which Erick made his frame of reference, only to desert it when he can't find what he needed there. He's not getting that connection from Hebrews. He doesn't have the authority of Hebrews for his interpretation. 

That bread and wine are mentioned clearly shows that this is what is being offered to God on behalf of Abram. How unlikely and superfluous would it be to mention this grand Priest figure who prays to God on behalf of Abram without acting in his Priestly function, i.e. bringing bread and wine? 

Which has no bearing on the priestly role of Christ in the theology of Hebrews. 

Lastly, that Christ instituted the last Supper as celebration of Priestly sacrifice (this is why I began my article with 1 Cor 10) in the order of Melchizedek with bread and wine is a parallel fulfillment of the type so clear that it is a stretch to deny the connection.

i) I deny that the Last Supper is a priestly sacrifice.

ii) It's hermeneutically fallacious to wedge an argument from Hebrews into 1 Cor 10. The argument from Hebrews never figures in Paul's argument while Paul's argument never figures in the argument of Hebrews. That's not an assumption in 1 Cor 10. You need to interpret texts by different writers on their own terms. 

Yes, Paul uses the word “body” in different senses. And? I’ve never asserted, argued, nor implied that there is a single sense. Thus, my argument, once again, remains untouched.

Once more, we're treated to Erick's mechanical trope. The point is that Paul has alternating senses of the "body" in 1 Corinthians. Therefore, you can't just assume that a reference to the "body" is eucharistic rather than ecclesiastical. 

It is not helpful to appeal to other people’s work unless you are going to provide reference to points which engage my argument.

It's helpful to some readers to point them to literature that provides more detailed exegetical arguments for observations I made more summarily. 

If you see my original article, I also have a list of early Church fathers who clearly saw the Priestly connection between Melchizedek and Christ in terms of the use of bread and wine.

An exercise in misdirection. Erick is attempting to persuade Protestants. Quoting church fathers to putty in crucial gaps in his exegetical argument is a tacit admission of failure. Church fathers aren't authority figures for Protestants. The fact that he resorts to patristic padding is a backdoor concession that hie exegetical argument were a bust. 

I saw no mention in your rebuttal of the clear parallel in 1 Cor 10 with "the Lord's table" (cf Mal 1:7) and "table of demons," in which Sacrificial Altar is meant in both places. That's the heart of Erick's post and it seems you skipped over it. 

Since Mal 1:7 never figured in Erick's original argument, how can that be the heart of his argument? I can't very well skip over something that wasn't there to begin with. 

I only skimmed it since I know from many years of experience that when certain things aren't addressed then there's hardly any rebuttal. 

That's illogical. Even if certain things aren't addressed, the things that were addressed may well have been rebutted. What we see on display is Catholic cronyism. Stick up for your teammates, even if you must use manifestly fallacious arguments to do so.

That is a bit of an evasion. It is extremely clear in the context of the author's argument that "table of the Lord" means an altar. That is precisely why he also brings up Israel according to the flesh - those who eat the sacrifices are participants in the altar, that is by partaking of the thing sacrificed. That is true in the case of pagan sacrifices (eating in the context of the meal, not so much eating what was later sold at market) and in the case of Jewish sacrifices, and if this connection is not being drawn with the Eucharist, Paul bringing up all of this is completely superfluous.

Once again, since Mal 1:7 was no part of Erick's argument, how is it an "evasion" that I don't respond to something he never brought up in the first place?

Some of his buddies are attempting to shore up Erick's argument by improving on his original argument. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but my response to Erick wasn't defective if I didn't address supplementary arguments that weren't on the table at the time.

"Table of the Lord," has a definite connotation of "altar." It does in Malachi 1, and the combination of that with Paul's contextual argument in 1 Corinthians 10 makes it very clear this is a sacrificial altar. 

My point is that they found a way to actually take Paul's contextual argument in 1 Cor. 10 at face value, whereas it seems like the Reformed and Baptists I have encountered have a position reducible to, "It's just a table, you haven't conclusively proven it must be an altar." The burden of proof being asked for by those taking such a stand is much higher than the burden assigned to many Reformed proof texts, as well as proof texts we Catholics share with you on common doctrines. I bring up the Lutherans because you seem to be avoiding "it is an altar" as if you concede too much by doing so, yet plenty of Protestants have accepted this idea without doing so. 

I think it is a cumulative point. I think one could reasonably regard "table of the Lord" as an idiom for altar of the Lord, and the context of 1 Cor. 10 where Paul immediately compares it to two other altars upon which sacrifices are made definitely strengthens that view. Verse 18 makes no contextual sense to bring up unless Paul effectively means that this newer table of the Lord is for Israel according to the spirit, as opposed to the flesh. The juxtaposition of table of demons, which clearly means a sacrificial altar, and table of the Lord, gives us extremely strong reason for us to believe that this is the altar of the Lord. 

Saying the agape feast didn't use an altar in this case is question begging because whether or not it used an altar is the very matter in dispute. We are not assuming it was and forcing that into 1 Cor. 10; you are assuming it cannot be and forcing that upon 1 Cor. 10, resulting in your refusal to acknowledge the Eucharistic table as an altar. 

1. The death of Christ is sacrificial. If the eucharist is an emblematic memorial to the crucifixion, it's unsurprising that scriptural descriptions of the eucharist employ sacrificial language and imagery inasmuch as the eucharist represents the atonement of Christ at Calvary. That doesn't make the eucharist sacrificial. Rather, that reminds communicants of the sacrificial nature of the atonement. 

Assuming that Paul alludes to Mal 1:7, evoking picturesque allusions to an OT altar (temple, tabernacle) doesn't entail that the eucharist is a priestly sacrifice, but rather that the crucifixion is a priestly sacrifice, which the eucharist commemorates. 

2. Catholic apologists operate with a retrograde typology. But biblical typology involves a principle of escalation, not repetition. Catholic apologists act as though the Mosaic cultus foreshadows the eucharist. But that's fundamentally off the mark. The Mosaic cultus foreshadows the redemptive death of the messiah. Jesus replaces the Mosaic cultus. The crucifixion replaces the Mosaic cultus. The Passover and Levitical rites are placeholders that prefigure the cross. That's the counterpoint. 

3. In terms of communion furniture, whether it looks more like an altar than a dining table is not a hill to die on. I don't boycott churches with altars. 

i) The symbolism of a table is preferable because Paul is describing a sacred meal in private homes. And the mundane meal shades into the sacred meal. The distinction wasn't formalized at that date. 

ii) An altar fosters superstitious notions that a priest is enacting a sacrifice. 

iii) To my knowledge, there's been a shift in Catholic eucharistic symbolism. The priest used to celebrate Mass at a high altar in the back of the sanctuary (apse). After Vatican II, altars were relocated to occupy the center of the church, and had a shape more like a dining table than a traditional Catholic altar. Ironically, post-Vatican II architecture is more "Protestant" in that regard. 

Why on earth would the use of private homes preclude an altar, anyways? An altar is merely a table upon which sacrifice is made and placed. It can be spruced up and decorated to reflect its usage, as a powerful symbol, but there is no doctrinal reason why the dinner table in an early Christian home could not be used for it.

An altar has specific connotations both in Judaism (temple, tabernacle) and Catholicism. 

Our all being participants in the one loaf raises important questions, and Lutheran sacramental union seems to me to line up better with that notion than a mere symbolic memorial meal. What do you think it means - we all participate in different bread that just so happens to involve the same symbolic relationship? Could you tease this out, please?

Like religious symbolism generally, what makes it communion bread is a communal convention that assigns a ritual function to bread in that setting. Not just the bread but related rituals. 

As if the Catholic Eucharist could never be celebrated in a private home with a dinner table.

But that includes sacerdotal paraphenalia that wasn't present in 1C worship services in house-churches. 

That does not yet address the question of sacrifice of propitiation, sacrifice of thanksgiving, etc. 

What does a sacrifice of thanksgiving even mean? Assuming the real presence for discussion purposes, it isn't the worshiper who's offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving, but Christ who's offering himself in the Eucharist.

I am a little surprised at your incredulity given that this concept is fairly well represented in Lutheran writings and that there are non-propitiatory sacrifices of thanksgiving aplenty within Scripture. Psalm 116:17 explicitly mentions it. It is simply an offering of a gift back to God as a way of thanking God for his graciousness in offering that gift in the first place. We are supposed to be living sacrifices. Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God and there is no contextual indication they were propitiatory. The peace offering of the levitical system may fall into this realm as well.

That misses the point of what I said. Yes, there are thank offerings in Scripture. Those are offerings made by the worshiper to God. But according to the real presence, that's the opposite: Christ offering himself to the worshiper in the eucharist.

One can view the real presence as a sacrifice of thanksgiving by Christ back to the Father. Christ offering himself to the worshiper is not in contrast to this insofar as, assuming the real presence as you just did for the sake of argument, Christ offers to us what he offers to the Father, allowing us to participate in it. And insofar as we are joined to Christ in his mystical body, when he himself is offered up, we are offered up along with him. 

That's a convoluted explanation that's far removed from the alleged parallel with Levitical thank offerings (and other suchlike).

I can understand why an opponent of the real presence would take issue with this. I can understand why a Lutheran might feel the Catholic view is insufficiently Christocentric. And I can understand why a Lutheran would take issue with draw the cutoff at thanksgiving vs. propitiation, given that the predominant Protestant atonement model focuses very heavily on Christ's body-soul separation - allowing the propitiatory element to "seep into" any other element of Christ's work would then imply an insufficiency in the work on the cross and threaten the whole paradigm. 

I don't see how that's a body-soul separation. 

In Hebrews 7-9, the author draws a parallel with the Yom Kippur ritual and is focused not on the death of the animal and the death of Jesus as the point of comparison, but on the post-death sacrificial actions done with the blood of the animal in Yom Kippur as the post-death sacrificial actions of Jesus in the so-called heavenly sanctuary. The author even says if he were on earth he would not be a priest and talks about him offering something in the heavenly sanctuary. Given that the actions of the priest in the earthly sanctuary were propitiatory and not merely a, "Hey God, propitiation is done so check out the completed and terminated sacrifice after the fact." While that meaning is effectively given in Protestantism to Christ's post-death actions, it does not appear to be representative of what Yom Kippur was (supposedly one did not even need to be a priest, to say nothing of the high priest, to kill the animal) and it seems to call into question why the author brought up post-death ritual in the first place if it were non-sacrificial.

O'Brien has a detailed analysis of that interpretation, which he debunks. Cf. P. T. O'Brien, God has Spoken in his Son (IVP 2016), appendix. 

An additional point - given the parallel in language and argument between 1 Cor. 10:18 and Hebrews 13:10, why can't the later be talking about the Eucharist after all? If it is, then it is the very reference in Hebrews you contend is not there. We have an altar the practicing Jews cannot eat from? Why specify the Jews have no right to eat from it if it can be eaten from? Is this just mere metaphor?

i) The exegetical options are sifted in standard commentaries like O'Brien (520-21) and Koester (568-69).

ii) A metaphor for the cross. That fits right into the author's overall argument. Those who revert to Judaism forfeit the benefits of Christ's atonement.   


  1. Steve would you say that Rome has become a nominal Christian denomination only since Vatican 2 or was it never part of Christ’s Church?

    1. It's a process, so there's no exact moment, but as you know, one turning point is when Rome formally repudiated certain theological positions at Trent. Another turning point is when Rome repudiated Augustinian soteriology by condemning the Jansenists. Also, Vatican II didn't come out of the blue.

  2. How did Vatican 2 not come out of the blue?

    1. Modernism had already seeped into the hierarchy, viz. Cardinal Bea, Cardinal König, Pius XII.

  3. //And since the Church has origination in Christ, I see a problem with this idea of not wanting to be a part of the “original Church which Christ founded”. //

    The ironic thing is that Eastern Orthodoxy has a much greater claim to being the "original Church which Christ founded" given Catholicism and Orthodoxy's shared [but false] understanding of Church Tradition. It's Catholicism that has invented the Papacy with an alleged "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church", when originally the bishop of Rome was merely the "First AMONG EQUALS" [cf. Tertullian's ridicule of a "Pontifex Maximus"]. It's Catholicism that changed the creed to include the filioque contrary to the dogmas of the ecumenical councils. It's Catholicism that attempted to rationalize the mystery of the mystical eucharist by introducing and applying pagan Aristotelean philosophical metaphysics into cataphatic theology. It's Catholicism that has claimed more ecumenical councils then the universally accepted 7, even though Catholicism didn't involve the Eastern Churches in that process. Catholicism affirms the genuine Apostolic Succession of Eastern Orthodoxy. How then could Rome's additional alleged ecumenical councils [now totaling a massive 21?] be truly Ecumenical if the Eastern Churches were excluded from the proceedings? It's Catholicism that uses 3 dimensional statues (whose noses you can pinch), instead of the more 2D Orthodox icons. It's Catholicism that has invented the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, her sinless life, her bodily assumption, in purgatory, the practice of the Stations of the Cross, in the discipline of disallowing priests to marry before ordination, in introducing the Latin Vulgate as authoritative and then changing its mind despite the fact that the LXX was already in popular use among the early patristic churches, Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, etc.

    Catholicism more blatantly violates Vincent of Lerins' maxim regarding orthodox teaching which must have been believed, "everywhere, always, and by all." A much better case can be made that it was the Western Church (i.e. Rome and those who followed her) who broke away from the Eastern Church, than that the Eastern Churches breaking away from the Western Church. Meaning, Catholicism is more plausibly a false church given her own views regarding Church Tradition, history and the Fathers.

    1. Theological novelties anyone? It seems that Roman Catholicism is rife and reliant on them.

  4. Annoyed Pinoy are you Eastern Orthodox? If not why not become one since you admit that they have preserved the truth the best over the western churches? Why not heal the schism which you admit the West caused and enter in communion with the eastern churches? By remaining Protestant (if you are one?) you are giving sanction to the schism by remaining out of the very church that you admit was in the right in the schism and that has preserved the truth the most, according to your own admission.

    1. I'm a Protestant non-denominational Calvinist [also Baptistic and continuationist regarding the sacraments and pneumatology]. I'm not EO because I don't accept EO assumptions and standards. I'm convinced of Sola Scriptura or what I've termed Summa Scriptura [which is similar, but not exactly what some have termed Prima Scriptura].

    2. But you just admitted that EO has a good clam to being the original church and that it was not responsible for the schism? Do you accept the filoque? I know most Calvinists do.

    3. I said that GIVEN the shared assumption of RCism and EOy's understanding and authority of Church Tradition (with a capital "T"). I reject that assumption, even though I think church tradition (small "t") has some value.

      I can take or leave the deeper Trinitarian issues of eternal generation and procession of the Son and Spirit, etc. along with the filioque. Though, I personally find generation, procession and the filioque as making much sense. But I'm not dogmatic either way.

  5. //I am a little surprised at your incredulity given that this concept is fairly well represented in Lutheran writings and that there are non-propitiatory sacrifices of thanksgiving aplenty within Scripture. Psalm 116:17 explicitly mentions it. //

    And there's no Biblical evidence that the Lord's Supper was meant to be propitiatory. If we're to take seriously the connection between Melchizedek's use of wine and bread as a forerunner and type of the Lord's Supper, then we should affirm the bread and wine remain merely bread and wine as in the case of Melchizedek's alleged "sacrifice". There's no indication of transubstantiation in Melchizedek's sacrifice OR in the Jewish Passover.

    Also, the earliest church fathers who referred to communion as a "sacrifice" usually referred to it as a thanksgiving offering with no hint of it having a propitiatory nature. That was a much later development.

    Using Catholic eisegesis that infers "This is My Body" to mean the elements turn into the literal body and blood of Christ, [it seems to me] a greater case can be made to argue the physicality of the Holy Spirit. Both in Hebrew [ruach] and Greek [pneuma] the words referring to the Holy Spirit is usually the same word used to refer to the air, or wind or breath. They are used in that way hundreds of times in the Bible. In the NT alone, the Holy Spirit is referred as "pneuma" or air/wind/breath OVER 220 times. MANY MORE TIMES than the alleged places where transubstantiation is supposed to be taught regarding communion. So, given Catholic hermeneutics, and if we were to be consistent, when Jesus said in John 4:24 "God is Spirit", we should take that to mean that God is physical wind.

    1. Catholics seem to be saying two things at the same time:

      1) they took and we should take these words "literally" which means transubstantiation

      2) transubstantiation understood in terms of Aristotelian categories.

      I find the two things to be highly unlikely at the same time.

  6. I like James White's approach here. Hebrews tells us the Christ's sacrifice makes perfect all who draws near. Rome defines the mass as a representation of said sacrifice. People can go to mass a billion times and then go commit a mortal sin and go to hell.

    This doesn't jive.

    I believe Timothy Kauffman wrote a series of articles showing how the early fathers saw Malachi 1 being fulfilled by our prayers and praise. The Eucharist would be a part of that I assume because it reflects our thanksgiving.

    Also, I'm not sure how a sacrifice of praise would be considered a propitiatory sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood there's no forgiveness of sins.

  7. If the Eucharist really was Jesus Christ, then surely, Catholics would have the same type of reaction as did the Apostle John when he saw the Lord Jesus Christ in the fullness of His majestic glory and fell at His feet (Revelation 1:12-17).

  8. It's interesting to me that the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church has become more important to Roman Catholics than the actual sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

    Great point btw Jesse!

  9. As an ex-Catholic, I find Catholic somersaults amusing (in retrospect). Thanks for sharing, SH.