Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word "apologetics" derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense.

Transubstantiation

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  • Transubstantiation

    Part 1
    The topic arises from another thread.
    I wrote: I truly believe that no Catholic doctrine (properly understood) contradicts scripture (properly interpreted) and vice versa.

    Stan replied - What about confession and transubstantiation? You can pick either.

    So I’ve chosen Transubstantiation

    I’ll do this in two parts with a pause after the first part for questions or comments.

    What does the Catholic Church mean by Transubstantiation and what is the Biblical basis for it?

    There are two steps needed here:

    1. What doctrine does the Catholic Church mean to express by Transubstantiation (this post)

    2. What is the biblical basis for that doctrine. (Part 2)

    This is rather like - what doctrine do we mean by Trinity, and then what is the biblical basis for that doctrine.

    The dogmatic definition was made at the Council of Trent in session 13:
    And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.

    [I’m using the translation of J. Waterworth, published in 1848 & put on-line by the Hanover Historical Texts Project - trent: complete]

    Substance (and accidents) are philosophical terms.

    Substance
    “A being whose essence requires that it exist in itself. It is an ens per se (a being by itself) or ens in se (a being in itself). It is commonly distinguished from an accident, whose essence is to exist in another, that is, in a substance. (Etym. Latin substantia, that which stands under, principle, foundation.)”.

    Accident
    “That which is not of the essence of something. In a logic a predicable accident is a predicate incidentally attributed to a subject. In metaphysical philosophy, a predicamental accident is a category of being whose nature is not to exist in itself but in another as in a subject. It is not a thing but the mode of a thing. Of the nine categories of accident, relation, quality, and quantity are the most important. (Etym. Latin accidens, a happening; something that is added; chance; nonessential quality; from accidere, to come to pass, happen, befall.)”
    (both definitions from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary on catholicculture.org)

    Colour, weight, shape etc. exist not in themselves but in something. They exist as belonging to something. We do not see whiteness, but a white cow or a white stone. Substance in not observable. All we can observe are the accidents (properties) that adhere to a substance.

    Transubstantiation says that the substance of bread changes into the substance of Christ’s body. The accidents of the bread remain and adhere to nothing. This could not happen naturally as accidents require a substance to adhere to. But we believe that this can (and does) happen supernaturally. God directly sustains the accidents of bread in existence.

    We cannot detect this change but we “live by faith”. (Heb 10:38)

    (Note: what I have said above (and later) refers to the change of the substance of bread into the substance of Christ’s body. The same applies to the changing of the substance of wine into the substance of Christ’ blood.)

    Any questions/comments so far?

  • #2
    No comments so far, so I will proceed to Part 2 - The Biblical basis

    Jesus is having his final meal with the disciples. Tomorrow he will die. He had been looking forward sharing this with them. Why? Because it will be a very significant meal.

    He takes the standard Passover meal and gives it a whole new meaning. He is not playing word games with them. He says makes some very simple statements and gives them some very simple commands

    "Take, eat; this IS my body." (not represents, not symbolises)

    "Drink of it, all of you; for this IS my blood (not represents, not symbolises)

    This was so important that this ritual was one of the key items of the early Christian assembly.
    “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42)

    Catholics take these words of Jesus literally, as we believe Jesus intended them to be.

    Consider Jesus’ words in the context of John’s gospel. John was writing many years after the other Gospels. He includes many items that the other did not. He gave no account of the Last Supper meal but did give the bread of life discourses. I think this is because the Last Supper memorial was so well established that he had no need to, but he did want to give the context for it. In Chapter 6 we hear Jesus gradually expounding about how he was the Bread of Life and they would have to eat his body and drink his blood to have life (Jn 6:51-58).

    It starts with the feeding of the five thousand, a miracle of multiplication, and a giving of bread which recalls the bread from heaven (manna) that the Israelites received in the desert. He then crossed the sea of Galilee and the crowds follow. He takes this opportunity to remind them of the miracle of the loaves and to move on from there.

    “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” (verse 26).
    He continues (verse 27): “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

    Then in verse 30-31 they ask for sign – surprising seeing that they had already had one. “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

    Jesus responds and casts out the bait…. “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
    ….and they take it “They said to him, Sir, give us this bread always”

    Now he starts the teaching. Jesus said to them “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst………I came down from heaven”

    He now has a dialogue going, “The Jews murmured about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven,’” and he continues on the bread theme “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”

    At this stage he seems to be still talking about normal bread, but he then takes it a step further.
    “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

    This is strange talk: “The Jews quarrelled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?’”

    Jesus hammers home his point and emphasises he is talking literally about flesh and blood. This is no figurative language “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”

    He then switches the verb he uses for eating from phago to trogo which means chewing or gnawing to give added emphasis.
    “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

    This upsets many listeners including many disciples who left. Does Jesus call them back and say “Hey, it was only figurative. I didn’t mean it literally”? No he doesn’t.

    He turns to the twelve and says “Do you also want to leave?” This is a crunch point There is no compromise in this. He offers no further explanation. Jesus is saying:- I meant what I said. Do you believe in me?

    The apostles are confused but Peter answers “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus has just told them that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. Now Peter says you have the words of eternal life. So he is accepting that he has to literally eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life because Jesus has said it and Jesus is the Holy One of God, even though he does not understand how this can happen without there being some sort of horrible cannibalistic ritual. And Jesus does not enlighten them.

    Now move on to the Last Supper. Jesus blesses the bread and wine. Does he say “Hey guys, remember that time a few weeks ago when I really got you wound up about eating my flesh and drinking my blood? You really fell for it. Of course I was just winding you up. You only have to eat this bread and drink this wine as a sort of symbolic action.”

    No he says
    This IS my body
    This IS my Blood

    Jesus said what he meant, and he meant what he said.

    Paul recognised this:
    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1Cor 11:27-29).

    Protestants try to claim that Jesus was only speaking metaphorically at the Last Supper. After all Jesus says things like:
    "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. (Jn 10:7)
    "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (Jn 15:1)
    And we do not think Jesus is literally a gate or a vine. That is true but there is a context in those sayings both in the surrounding text and in the lives of the hearers. There is no context for a person holding (what looks like) a piece of bread and saying “"Take, eat; this is my body."”, in the surrounding text or in the lives of the hearers, for it to be a metaphor. The context to understand Jesus words at the last Supper is John 6:51-58.

    In John 6:51-58 (and the preceding verses) Jesus prepares the apostles for what he is to do at the Last Supper.

    “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
    He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

    “Indeed” is Strong G230:- “indeed, surely, of a surety, truly, of a (in) truth, verily, very.”
    In other words – this is not a metaphor. His flesh really is food. His blood really is drink.

    In Biblical terms to eat someone’s flesh, as a metaphor, is to persecute them and bring them to ruin.

    “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell” (Psalm 27:2). See also Is 9:20, 49:26, Micah 3:2-3.

    And from the NT:- “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you…..Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.” (Jas 5:1,3). See also Rev 17:16.

    Jesus was most certainly not using eat my flesh as a metaphor. He meant it literally.
    But we ask like Mary at the Annunciation “How shall this be?”. It sounds completely repugnant.

    God’s wonderful answer is Transubstantiation.

    Comment>

    • #3
      He is using the bread and wine as figurative language. The food and wine does not undergo some sort of metamorphosis. To think you are actually eating the body of Christ is like spiritual cannibalism. The food becomes part of our bodies as it became part of His. We still eat the food, not the body. Same with the wine. We are to do those things in remembrance of Him, not to eat Him. "As often as you do these things, do in remembrance of me." It is a holy sacrament, as we should be right with God before partaking this act of remembrance. Is Jesus also really a physical door? No. Is He a physical vine? No. As living bread, this too is figurative, as bread is inanimate. You'll argue of course because your church teaches differently, and defies Scripture's true meaning, evidently. I've been there, done that. The host is not the actual body of Christ, nor the wine the actual blood, as no man can transubstantiate these into parts of the body of Christ. That is blasphemy.:mad:
      Last edited by Stratcat; 04-06-2015, 09:02 AM.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        He is using the bread and wine as figurative language.
        Wrong

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        The food and wine does not undergo some sort of metamorphosis.
        Wrong

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        To think you are actually eating the body of Christ is like spiritual cannibalism.
        Wrong

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        The food becomes part of our bodies as it became part of His. We still eat the food, not the body. Same with the wine.
        Wrong


        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        We are to do those things in remembrance of Him, not to eat Him.
        It's both.

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        "As often as you do these things, do in remembrance of me." It is a holy sacrament, as we should be right with God before partaking this act of remembrance.
        RIght! Just as St. Paul said.

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        Is Jesus also really a physical door? No. Is He a physical vine? No. As living bread, this too is figurative, as bread is inanimate.
        Covered that already. Didn't you actually read my post?


        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        You'll argue of course because your church teaches differently, and defies Scripture's true meaning, evidently.
        Wrong

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        The host is not the actual body of Christ, nor the wine the actual blood,
        Wrong

        Originally posted by Stratcat View Post
        as no man can transubstantiate these into parts of the body of Christ.:
        The Holy Spirit does the transformation.

        Comment>

        • #5
          Here is a bonus Part 3

          The early church fathers understood Jesus as speaking literally. From the first two centuries:-

          Ignatius of Antioch
          “I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life." (Epistle to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

          Ignatius of Antioch
          " But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God....

          " They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. " (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 6:2; 7:1 [A.D. 110]).

          Justin Martyr
          "And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." (First Apology 66:1-20 [A.D. 148]).

          Irenaeus
          "Moreover, how could the Lord, with any justice, if He belonged to another father, have acknowledged the bread to be His body, while He took it from that creation to which we belong, and affirmed the mixed cup to be His blood? (Against Heresies 4:33:2 [A.D. 148]).

          Irenaeus
          " He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

          "When, therefore, the mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist of the blood and the body of Christ is made, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which [flesh] is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? (Against Heresies 5:2:2-3 [A.D. 148]).



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