Transubstantiation

Do you believe it to be the body of Christ?
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  • Not me, but sometimes when taking communion I like to think it's true and then wonder why Christ is so salty.
  • said:

    Not me, but sometimes when taking communion I like to think it's true and then wonder why Christ is so salty.

    I've heard of Big Butter Jesus but never Keebler Jesus.
  • Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor around 112 AD:

    "[The Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind." Pliny added that Christianity attracted persons of all societal ranks, all ages, both sexes, and from both the city and the country. Late in his letter to Emperor Trajan, Pliny refers to the teachings of Jesus and his followers as excessive and contagious superstition.

    Some pagans ascribed cannibalism to the early Christians, as they misunderstood the symbolic application of the elements of the Eucharist, as well as Jesus' substitution of His own body and blood for the sacrificial system formerly of animals, with the bread and wine of the Passover meal symbolizing the new covenant in the body of Jesus, but the meal was ordinary bread and wine.

    The earliest Fathers and historians did not see the Eucharist as transubstantiation:

    Justin Martyr (110-165 AD)
    "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy allusion is made to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks."16

    Tatian (110-172 AD)
    "...It is not we who eat human flesh - they among you who assert such a thing have been suborned as false witnesses; it is among you that Pelops is made a supper for the gods, although beloved by Poseidon, and Kronos devours his children, and Zeus swallows Metis."17

    Theophilus of Antioch (115-181 AD)
    "Nor indeed was there any necessity for my refuting these, except that I see you still in dubiety about the word of the truth. For though yourself prudent, you endure fools gladly. Otherwise you would not have been moved by senseless men to yield yourself to empty words, and to give credit to the prevalent rumor wherewith godless lips falsely accuse us, who are worshipers of God, and are called Christians, alleging that the wives of us all are held in common and made promiscuous use of; and that we even commit incest with our own sisters, and, what is most impious and barbarous of all, that we eat human flesh."19

    Irenaeus starts the process toward transubstantiation with a more Luther-like consubstantiation dualism:

    Irenaeus (120 - 200 AD)
    "Then, again, how can they say that the flesh, which is nourished with the body of the Lord and with His blood, goes to corruption, and does not partake of life? Let them, therefore, either alter their opinion, or cease from offering the things just mentioned. But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity."20

    Tertullian still saw the elements as figurative of the broken body of Christ:

    Tertullian (145-220 AD)
    "Come now, when you read in the words of David, how that 'the Lord reigneth from the tree,' I want to know what you understand by it. Perhaps you think some wooden king of the Jews is meant!--and not Christ, who overcame death by His suffering on the cross, and thence reigned! Now, although death reigned from Adam even to Christ, why may not Christ be said to have reigned from the tree, from His having shut up the kingdom of death by dying upon the tree of His cross? This tree it is which Jeremiah likewise gives you intimation of, when he prophesies to the Jews, who should say, 'Come, let us destroy the tree with the fruit, (the bread) thereof,' that is, His body. 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."21

    "He says, it is true, that 'the flesh profiteth nothing;' but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, 'It is the spirit that quickeneth; 'and then added, 'The flesh profiteth nothing,'-meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' In a like sense He had previously said: 'He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.' Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith."22

    Clement sees the act as symbolism:

    Clement of Alexandria (153-217 AD)
    "And the blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, that by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord's immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh."23

    "And entertaining this view, we may regard the proclamation of the Gospel, which is universally diffused, as milk; and as meat, faith, which from instruction is compacted into a foundation, which, being more substantial than hearing, is likened to meat, and assimilates to the soul itself nourishment of this kind. 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."24

    Eusebius likewise:

    Eusebius (260-341 AD)
    "And there was one energy of the Divine Spirit pervading all the members, and one soul in all, and the same eagerness of faith, and one hymn from all in praise of the Deity. Yea, and perfect services were conducted by the prelates, the sacred rites being solemnized, and the majestic institutions of the Church observed, here with the singing of psalms and with the reading of the words committed to us by God, and there with the performance of divine and mystic services; and the mysterious symbols of the Saviour's passion were dispensed. At the same time people of every age, both male and female, with all the power of the mind gave honor unto God, the author of their benefits, in prayers and thanksgiving, with a joyful mind and soul. And every one of the bishops present, each to the best of his ability, delivered panegyric orations, adding luster to the assembly."25

    Augustine as well:

    Augustine (354-430 AD)
    "To be sure, we often speak in the following way: As Pascha approaches, we say that tomorrow, or the day after, is 'the Passion of the Lord,' although He suffered so many years before, and His Passion occurred only once. Indeed, on that particular Lord’s Day we say 'Today the Lord has risen,' although many, many years have passed since the time when he arose. Why is it that there is no one so foolish as to accuse us of being liars when we speak in this way? It is because we name these days according to a likeness to the days on which those events took place. Thus a day, which is not the actual day, but like to it in the circle of the year, takes its name from the actual day because of the celebration of the sacrament which occurred, not on the very day of the celebration, but long ago....For if sacraments did not have a certain likeness to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all....Therefore....in a certain way the sacrament of the body of Christ is the body of Christ"26

    "And because He walked here in very flesh, and gave that very flesh to us to eat for our salvation; and no one eateth that flesh, unless he hath first worshiped: we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord's may be worshiped, and not only that we sin not in worshiping it, but that we sin in not worshiping. But doth the flesh give life? Our Lord Himself, when He was speaking in praise of this same earth, said, 'It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.' ...But when our Lord praised it, He was speaking of His own flesh, and He had said, 'Except a man eat My flesh, he shall have no life in him.' Some disciples of His, about seventy, were offended, and said, 'This is an hard saying, who can hear it?' And they went back, and walked no more with Him. It seemed unto them hard that He said, 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:' they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, 'This is a hard saying.' It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, 'It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood"27

    Among the earliest Fathers who trended toward the transubstantiation view were John Chrysostom, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Ambrose.

    The doctrine became the official doctrine of the RC during the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 AD, but even then, it was not seen as a universal practice until it was declared an "essential dogma" by the Third Lateran Council in 1215, over 1100 years after the birth of the Church.

    This doctrine, like several of the RCC, were derived late in their history, and often times as a result of misunderstanding rather than solid biblical direction. It was the continual drift of the RCC into heretical directions that made the Reformation not only possible, but necessary to preserve the Church in the world, as God promised would always be.
  • This board needs an "eating popcorn" smiley.
  • Guy would just kick it off his porch and triple tap it.
  • said:

    This board needs an "eating popcorn" smiley.

    I think I hear Bill Thompson's footsteps.
  • Do we have to add this to his lenten burden?
    said:

    The earliest Fathers and historians did not see the Eucharist as transubstantiation:

    A bunch of them also thought you needed to be circumcised to convert. I am intrigued by all the cut and paste from someone who believes his religion is biblically based, yet doesn't quote the portions of the Bible that are held to relate what JC himself said on the topic.

    It is worth noting a bunch of jehudhis a couple millenia ago would have been very unlikely to think of holy communion in aristotelian terms rather than joo-ey-er passover terms. That doesn't make the overwhelming bulk of christian theology through history a heresy. It means that the world came to understand holy communion on its own terms, which were those employed by Aristotle. If you are describing a process in terms of substance, form and accidents, transubstantiation is an apt description.
  • said:

    I am intrigued by all the cut and paste from someone who believes his religion is biblically based, yet doesn't quote the portions of the Bible that are held to relate what JC himself said on the topic.

    Trivial.
    said:

    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

    said:

    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.”

    said:

    After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

    Simile can be used with both the words "like" and "is". "She's a brickhouse" is one example of the latter. I think it's clear that Jesus was using normal bread and wine to liken them to himself, but did not mean that they actually were himself, particularly since he was right there and didn't slice off some of his arm to serve.

    Further, the origin of the bread and wine are identified clearly as normal bread and wine: they were part of the normal meal setting on the table. Additionally, Jesus says he won't drink "of the fruit of the vine". This is wine, not blood.

    Here's my radical thought: communion (bread and wine/juice served in remembrance) wasn't meant by Jesus to be a stuffy ritual done in church, but to be done daily by believers who were in communion with each other during daily dinner!
  • said:

    said:

    I am intrigued by all the cut and paste from someone who believes his religion is biblically based, yet doesn't quote the portions of the Bible that are held to relate what JC himself said on the topic.

    Trivial.
    I would not agree that the words of JC at the event that mainstream christians use as a basis for communion would be trivial to a christian. It doesn't mean you can't take a minority view.
    said:

    Simile can be used with both the words "like" and "is".

    I agree.
    said:

    I think it's clear that Jesus was using normal bread and wine to liken them to himself, but did not mean that they actually were himself, particularly since he was right there and didn't slice off some of his arm to serve.

    That doesn't bear on the issue of transubstantiation. You are addressing forms and accidents.
  • said:

    said:

    said:

    I am intrigued by all the cut and paste from someone who believes his religion is biblically based, yet doesn't quote the portions of the Bible that are held to relate what JC himself said on the topic.

    Trivial.
    I would not agree that the words of JC at the event that mainstream christians use as a basis for communion would be trivial to a christian. It doesn't mean you can't take a minority view.
    I meant it was trivial to quote the relevant sections of the Bible.
  • See John 6:56-62.

    Note the disturbed, incredulous reaction of the disciples go the idea of literally eating Christ's flesh. Christ does not disabuse them of the notion and reassure them ghat he is being figurative. Instead he questions their faith.
  • said:

    I meant it was trivial to quote the relevant sections of the Bible.

    By "trivial" do you mean "easy"?

    I don't begrudge you your sense that JC just meant "Hai guise! want juice and crackers?" and people misunderstood (See Life of Brian: Holy Sandal). It does seem profoundly immodest to hold that the beliefs of mainstream christianity arise from ignorance on this point.
  • Sacred, yes.

    Actual flesh? C'mon.

    Even my Shiite-Catholic Official-Church-Apologist Holier-Than-Thou-Because-the-RCs-gots-it-RIGHT mother-in-law doesn't believe that rubbish.
  • Oh for pity's sake....

    People believe what they WANT to believe!

    Haven't you pack of nit pickers figured that out yet?
  • said:


    Haven't you pack of nit pickers figured that out yet?

    That's fair enough as far as it goes. What we see some of here is different: people opposing a doctrine while misstating it.
    said:

    Sacred, yes.

    Actual flesh? C'mon.

    Even my Shiite-Catholic Official-Church-Apologist Holier-Than-Thou-Because-the-RCs-gots-it-RIGHT mother-in-law doesn't believe that rubbish.

    You are addressing the "forms and accidents", what it looks, feels and tastes like, not what it is "in itself". Conventional christianity holds that JC is actually present in the eucharist. The doctrine isn't that you are eating what looks and tastes like meat and blood.

    The idea is that what the bread and wine are "in themselves" changed.
  • said:

    said:


    Haven't you pack of nit pickers figured that out yet?

    That's fair enough as far as it goes. What we see some of here is different: people opposing a doctrine while misstating it.

    Bah!
  • Escher, what we like to tease out here are the reasons for belief. Belief for belief's sake, what you seem to be angsting about, isn't very interesting, I agree.

    Zuk, your last post is both illuminating and perplexing. Is that really what Catholics believe? Can I get an "amen" from Bill?
  • said:

    Escher, what we like to tease out here are the reasons for belief.


    And I GAVE you the reason. People believe what they WANT to believe.

    You want to waste your time trying to parse THAT fact because it gives you kind of intellectual chubby, you go right ahead.
  • said:

    Zuk, your last post is both illuminating and perplexing. Is that really what Catholics believe? Can I get an "amen" from Bill?


    How is it perplexing?

    Christians generally* believe that when JC says this bread is my body, he is not employing simile, but that JC is actually present in the sacrament. When you get more specific than that, you may be engaging in a metaphysics not necessary to ordinary christian practice.

    If you are engaging in the metaphysics, and you use the greek framework and latin terms that would define the issue, you would say that the eucharist still has all the appearance of bread and wine, even after there is a change in its substance. (This is especially confusing to us, because we don't usually use substance that way -- to mean what a thing is in itself.

    Therefore, trans + substantiation describes the event by which what the thing "in itself" changes to become. It does not mean that christians believe they are consuming soggy human flesh with a sanguine chaser.

    Does that more clarify or confuse?

    EDIT - I think disagreement on this is as often linguistic as it is theological or political. We hear that the "substance" "actually" changes, and we think we should be able to boodtype JC with the wine left in the bottom of the chalice, because we use those words differently.

    An MP3 player is literally a phonograph, but if you ask the pretty girl at the club what she is listening to on her phonograph, you will not be accepted as a competent person. That isn't what she recognises it as.

    *This includes the other orthodox churches as well, though their different attitude toward philosophy and tolerance of what I might unfairly call mysticism means that they do not stress the latin word the way RCs and episcos might.
  • said:

    ...sanguine chaser...

    why doesn't that ever show up sunday morning?
  • said:

    said:

    ...sanguine chaser...

    why doesn't that ever show up sunday morning?
    Do baptists have a wine/juice and bread part of a service the way presbys do? If the breadth of practice allows, I would ask for scotch. It would only boost attendance.
  • said:

    ...you would say that the eucharist still has all the appearance of bread and wine, even after there is a change in its substance.
    ...
    EDIT - I think disagreement on this is as often linguistic as it is theological or political. We hear that the "substance" "actually" changes, and we think we should be able to boodtype JC with the wine left in the bottom of the chalice, because we use those words differently.

    Your edit hit the nail on the head. I was/am struggling with how "substance" can be actual flesh and blood yet still be bread and wine.

    By the way, would you really call a string of 0's and 1's stored nonlinearly a "graph" of sound? I get your analogy, though I don't think it's a good one ;)
  • I did a little digging into what "substance" means but got quickly overwhelmed.
  • Buho, I dont know if this will help but I'll throw it out anyway. This past Sundays gospel was the story of the blind man Christ cured by rubbing mud on his eyes. Now there was no special chemical or medicinal properties in the dirt that JC spat in, nor was there anything supernatural about JC's spit which needed to pair with something in the dirt to heal the blind man. Christ changed the substance of that ordinary mud and gave it supernatural properties even though to everyone else it still appeared to be just plain old dirt and spit. Christ didn't need to use mud to cure the man. He didn't have to turn that mud into something capable of causing miraculous effects, but he did so as a sign because we as temporal, physical creatures need physical signs to help us experience the supernatural. The Eucharist is similar.
  • said:

    I did a little digging into what "substance" means but got quickly overwhelmed.

    It isn't how we think of things. There are lots of ways to make sense of the world other than our own understanding of material, and trying to think in terms so unfamiliar is like trying to think in a language not our own.

    I did like the explanation in your link that water, ice and steam are all the same substance even though many of their characteristics differ. That's an imperfect converse of transubstantiation in which all charcterisitcs, i.e. everything that can be perceived stays the same.
  • said:

    ... because we as temporal, physical creatures need physical signs to help us experience the supernatural.


    Except that;

    a) We don't.

    b) "Supernatural" is a meaningless term. If some phenomenon exists then it is part of our natural universe.


    The second item is pedantic. Just wanted to admit that up front.
  • Well that settles it then. Thanks for straightening all that out.
  • edited April 2011
    said:

    Christ changed the substance of that ordinary mud and gave it supernatural properties even though to everyone else it still appeared to be just plain old dirt and spit.

    This line completely surprised me! And also, Matthew 23:16ff came to mind: Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gift on it, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?"

    Was it the dirt-made-supernatural that cured the blind man or God? I say not-both but the latter. Yes, I agree the dirt was a sign, but even still, it had no significance at all in the healing process, supernatural or otherwise. It was God acting directly on the eyes apart from the mud. This is evident in other cases, such as Matthew 9 and Matthew 20 where Jesus just touched their eyes, and as evidenced by the Centurion, even the touch (and presence of Jesus) was not needed.

    Note, I'm not calling you blind or a Pharisee, Bill. Just that focusing on and empowering things is misdirection from the Holy One, whether that applies in this discussion or not. I do not think the dirt in John 9:1ff is an example of transubstantiation.
    said:

    If some phenomenon exists then it is part of our natural universe.

    That statement is laughable. I agree "supernatural" is not a good technical word, but not for the reason you give.

    EDIT: How about "intentionality": does it exist, Escher? If so, it must be natural, but that robs intentionality of its power: it becomes deterministic.
  • said:

    How about "intentionality": does it exist, Escher? If so, it must be natural, but that robs intentionality of its power: it becomes deterministic.


    What do you think "intentionality" means?
  • said:

    EDIT: How about "intentionality": does it exist, Escher? If so, it must be natural, but that robs intentionality of its power: it becomes deterministic.

    Buho, I think you dualism is showing. If our minds are part of what we (naturally) are, their natural operation is not unnatural or deterministic.

    If a kernel of corn is made to grow and we are made to think, it shouldn't be that one is natural and the other not.
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