Against Roman Catholicism- Refuting Transubstantiation
Below follows my responses to three Roman Catholics on a Roman Catholic apologetic website, where I refute the Roman catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Names have been changed for the purposes of this article.
Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:54 KJV
He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him. John 6:56 KJV
Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? John 6:60 KJV
When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? John 6:61 KJV
What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before? John 6:62 KJV
It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63 KJV
It is very clearly written in the Bible. Jesus clarified what he was saying for the benefit of those disciples who did not understand. Irenaeus merely affirms this in Fragment 13.
Quite simply, the Bread and the Wine are a symbolic and spiritual food and drink. Why else would Hippolytus note that Peter and Paul convinced two Jews, Mark the evangelist bishop of Alexandria and Luke the evangelist to come back and join them? They were disciples and of the Seventy, but left because they were offended at ‘eat my body and blood’ teaching.
Every time we eat the bread and drink the wine with faith and thankgiving, we feed on Jesus spiritually and become spiritually nourished, provided we remain in his teaching and do his will. In response to his disciples Jesus said, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing, my words are spirit and they are life’.
And so the bread is blessed with the word of God and by this act becomes holy.
John tells us that the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and so the word is the spiritual body and blood of Christ. The bread and wine are symbols of the body and blood of Christ and so we do not treat them as ordinary bread, but we respect what they represent.
Jesus said that his food was to do the will of the one who sent him and to finish his task, and so as we eat the bread and drink the wine as he commanded, we remember him, follow his doctrine, believe and do his will, so we too in our turn are spiritually nourished, feeding on his word in our hearts, the true leaven of Christ. So the food at thanksgiving is both earthly and heavenly, as Irenaeus also affirmed. As the bread and the wine are symbolic of the body and blood of Christ and are made holy by the word of God, by eating with thanksgiving, we partake of the spiritual body and blood of Christ- we receive spiritual meat and drink. Christ dwells in us, that is, he is spiritually present in our hearts. Remember, he said that when two or three are gathered together in his name, he is there amongst them. He was talking spiritually. And that is exactly what he was trying to convey when he said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me’. This is what Jesus meant when he said he is the Living Bread-do not labour for food which perishes but that which leads to eternal life.
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. And they reasoned amongst themselves, saying, it is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Matthew 16:6-8 KJV
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?
Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matthew 16:11-12 KJV
It is important to realise that the apostles, Irenaeus, and the early church fathers did not understand the eucharist in the terms of the doctrine of transubstantiation as formulated by the Roman Catholic church.
Roman catholic 1 says:
Yes, but Ireneaus also talks about the bread not longer being common bread. So it is more than symbolic…
It is no longer ‘common bread’ because it symbolises Christ’s Body, and that is why we are admonished to eat the bread worthily and with respect, recognising the sacrifice Christ made for us. This bread is not meant to be taken lightly and without due regard to this.
Roman catholic 2 response to me:
What do you mean by “symbolizes”? The point I think that is being made is that the bread and wine are not mere “symbols” but the real presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Luke 22:19-22 1 Corinthians 11:27-30
Roman Catholic 2 says:
This change is made possible by the Holy Spirit together with God the Father, One God in essence and undivided.
Roman Catholic 2 says:
The bread and wine are consecrated at all Divine Liturgies before God and the community of the Church share Holy Communion.
Roman Catholic 3 says:
I agree that for early Christians the Eucharist is more than symbolic. Justin believes that the bread and the wine are “consecrated by the word of prayer” and become “flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus”. It is confirmed by Irenaeus of Lyon who in the same century states: “The mixed cup and the bread that has been prepared receive the Word of God and become the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ.”The next century Apostolic Tradition tells us that the bishop gives the bread with the words: “The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus.”
Of course, we cannot say they believed in transsubstantiation…Early christians did not have a compultion to explain everything, like we have in contemporary times. Instead, they saw it as a mistery, comparing it to the mistery of Incarnation:They could say today: “We do not know how exactly it is happening, the same, we don’t know how Christ can be fully divine and fully human. But we receive it by faith, and just benefit from the presence of God in the elements of bread and wine.”.
Simple Eucharistic liturgies of the second century descended into different liturgical families around the Mediterranean. The East emphasized the work of the Holy Spirit who is invoked over the elements and “may come upon them…and make this bread the holy body of Christ.” Bishop Cyril reflected: “for whatsoever the Holy Spirit has touched is sanctified and changed.” The West emphasized the power of the words of institution in the consecration moment: “the priest no longer uses his own words, but he uses the words of Christ. Therefore the word of Christ makes this Sacrament”, says Ambrose of Milan. Therefore the emphasis is on the second person of the Trinity, not as in the Eastern Church on the Third.
We see that even if the churches differed in their liturgies and emphasized different theological truths (Holy Spirit, the Word) they kept the Eucharist in the center of their worship believing that Christ is present among believers in the bread and wine.
Roman Catholic 1 says:
I agree. Thanks for you comment.
Roman Catholics 1, 2 and 3,
I’m afraid you missed the point I was trying to illustrate in Matthew 16:11-12 KJV above…
Christ is present in spirit when we break bread in his name, provided we believe his teaching and try and follow it. If we do not believe his teaching and follow other doctrines, yet still eat the bread, we do not respect him or his doctrine and may expect to be judged accordingly.
To believe that Christ is present in the actual wafer or bread itself, or that the actual wafer or bread is Christ crucified is to misinterpret the meaning intended in the Gospels.
Fragment 13 From the Lost Writings of Irenaeus (New Advent Translation):
‘For when the Greeks, having arrested the slaves of Christian catechumens, then used force against them, in order to learn from them some secret thing [practised] among Christians, these slaves, having nothing to say that would meet the wishes of their tormentors, except that they had heard from their masters that the divine communion was the body and blood of Christ, and imagining that it was actually flesh and blood, gave their inquisitors answer to that effect. Then these latter, assuming such to be the case with regard to the practices of Christians, gave information regarding it to other Greeks, and sought to compel the martyrs Sanctus and Blandina to confess, under the influence of torture, [that the allegation was correct]. To these men Blandina replied very admirably in these words: “How should those persons endure such [accusations], who, for the sake of the practice [of piety], did not avail themselves even of the flesh that was permitted [them to eat]?”
Irenaeus makes it clear the bread is NOT the actual flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ