Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dialogue on the Development of the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Fathers (vs. "CPA")

From comments threads in related posts below. "CPA's words will be in green. He is a Lutheran.

Introduction and Broad Developmental Considerations

Dave, you've misunderstood my project and failed to draw a number of key distinctions (ones drawn by both the Apology of the Augsburg Confession AND post-Tridentine scholastics).

What I am trying to do is NOT to "dispute" that "sacrifice was indeed a prominent motif in the fathers". Instead I accept that fact, but argue that the sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist comes broadly in two forms:

1) The propitiatory type in which the offering is Christ's body and blood/His passion, at the moment of consecration.

2) The eucharistic/thanksgiving type in which the offering is the bread, wine, and other offerings of the faithful, in the offertory.

My argument is that Cyprian is the first church father to express the second type, that all other writings on the topic before Nicaea are either not specific enough to distinguish the two, or else are (esp. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and the Didache) clearly type 2.

Then I argue that the second type IS compatible with justification by faith alone, while the first I argue is not.

An incidental argument was that only a real, substantial presence makes sense of the link between the sacrament and Christ's sacrifice (this was directed against the Reformed).

Finally I note that Dix in his own theology wishes to combine the two again, in a way that I find actually WORSE than the Tridentine formulation.

That's my argument. In assessing it, you'll have to keep the following categories clear:
1. propitiatory sacrifice vs. eucharistic sacrifice (with related differences in material of the sacrifice and moment of the sacrificial action)

2. sacrament (action of God us-ward) vs. sacrifice (action of us God-ward).

Since Catholics link both propitiation and thanksgiving and sacrifice and sacrament to the Eucharist it's a common and understandable instinct of them to, when they find one element or another in Ignatius or Justin (such as the real, substantial presence) to assume the whole complex is there too. But since this is exactly at issue, I won't accept that procedure. You've got to prove specifically the part I challenge which is PROPITIATORY + SACRIFICE.


Secondly, about development of doctrine, I'm going to want to distinguish clearly two things:

1) Which authors when really do understand the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice? (It can be present only in a germ or nub, but is it actually there in some explicit statement however brief?) Which authors don't seem to understand it that way? (i.e. either they deny it or we have enough about their understanding of it to use a negative argument and say that's not how they see it.)

and

2) How do we theologically deal with the pattern of assertion, non-assertion, or denial we find with regard to the idea of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice.

Specifically I'd like to know BEFORE we go on to "development of doctrine" whether you would actually agree that no church father before Cyprian explicitly expresses the idea of propitiatory sacrifice; and that the previous authors who do discuss sacrifice do so in a eucharistic sense, not a propitiatory sacrifice.

Now, you, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and Newman may find it hard to believe that doctrines have changed in an institutionally continuous Catholic church, and you may reject such a possibility. But in doing so you will need to present independent evidence of continuity accessible to those who don't share your presuppositions; otherwise you are simply asserting what you are trying to prove (i.e. that the Catholic church's doctrine is the sole legitimate development of the ideas that were implicit in the apostolic preaching from the beginning).


*****

I . . . argue that the sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist comes broadly in two forms:
1) The propitiatory type in which the offering is Christ's body and blood/His passion, at the moment of consecration.

2) The eucharistic/thanksgiving type in which the offering is the bread, wine, and other offerings of the faithful, in the offertory.

My argument is that Cyprian is the first church father to express the second type, that all other writings on the topic before Nicaea are either not specific enough to distinguish the two, or else are (esp. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and the Didache) clearly type 2.

Then I argue that the second type IS compatible with justification by faith alone, while the first I argue is not.


I reject this because I think it entails playing word games with the data that we have, and illogical, implausible reasoning. Once real presence and sacrifice are directly merged (as is the case even with these early Fathers in many many instances), then this is necessarily a propitiatory sacrifice, not merely the bread and wine, by definition. The bread and wine have been transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus, and so what we have is the "being made present" of Calvary. Hence, Sacrifice of the Mass, and hence, adoration.

Of what sense is it to merely offer God bread and wine? That makes sense in a symbolic, Zwinglian context, when that's all you've got, but in a Lutheran context, where real, substantial presence (though not transubstantiation) is accepted, I don't see how it is coherent to suddenly switch back to mere "bread and wine" at the very moment of ocnsecration, as if that is all that is offered to the Father.

The New Covenant sacrifice is Jesus' propitiatory, atoning death on our behalf, not mere food or bulls and goats. That's the whole point, isn't it? Offering the Father bread and wine after Calvary is a spiritual retrogression, not progression, as if the infinite power of the cross is made null and void and we are back to mere symbolism and allegory.

For some reason Luther and Lutherans balked at the consistency of the real flesh and blood of Jesus being the same flesh and blood which was "poured out for you" at Calvary. Having accepted the miracle of transformation in some fashion, they refuse to believe that God would make the sacrifice on the cross present again at Mass (and somehow make out - quite incredibly - that this is idolatry). But this is what the Fathers taught.

They were teaching more than merely thanksgiving or an offering of bread and wine. This is obvious. I shouldn't have to repeat what I've already presented (it's a waste of time), but, for example:

Jaroslav Pelikan:

. . . this doctrine of the real presence believed by the church and affirmed by its liturgy was closely tied to the idea of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Many of the passages we have already cited concerning the recollection and the real
presence spoke also of the sacrifice . . .

. . . Liturgical evidence suggests an understanding of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, whose relation to the sacrifices of the Old Testament was one of archetype to type, and whose relation to the sacrifice of Calvary was one of "re-presentation," just as the bread of the Eucharist "re-presented" the body of Christ.
Note how real presence and sacrifice are connected. This is the propitiatory sacrifice; otherwise, real presence would have to be disconnected from the consecration and presentation.

The Catholic Encyclopedia notes Tertullian's "sacrificial realism":

[Y]et in another passage (De orat., c., xix) he calls Holy Communion "participation in the sacrifice" (participatio sacrificii), which is accomplished "on the altar of God" (ad aram Dei); he speaks (De cult fem., II, xi) of a real, not a mere metaphorical, "offering up of sacrifice" (sacrificium offertur); he dwells still further as a Montanist (de pudicit, c., ix) as well on the "nourishing power of the Lord's Body" (opimitate dominici corporis) as on the "renewal of the immolation of Christ" (rursus illi mactabitur Christus).

According to [Irenaeus] (Adv. haer., iv, 18, 4) it is the Church alone "that offers the pure oblation" (oblationem puram offert), . . .

Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) . . . writes (Fragm. in Prov., ix, i, P. G., LXXX, 593), "The Word prepared His Precious and immaculate Body (soma) and His Blood (aima), that daily kath'ekasten) are set forth as a sacrifice (epitelountai thyomena) on the mystic and Divine table (trapeze) as a memorial of that ever memorable first table of the mysterious supper of the Lord".
Schaff summarizes what I stated above, in these words:
The ante-Nicene fathers uniformly conceived the Eucharist as a thank-offering
of the church; the congregation offering the consecrated elements of bread and
wine, and in them itself, to God. This view is in itself perfectly innocent, but
readily leads to the doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass, as soon as the elements become identified with the body and blood of Christ, and the presence of the body comes to be materialistically taken.

Once you combine real presence and sacrifice, you have the mass. It's not fully developed, but it's there, and Schaff can readily see that, but for some reason you cannot or will not.

Likewise, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church:

From early times the Eucharistic offering was called a sacrifice in virtue of
its immediate relation to the sacrifice of Christ.

Not symbolic (bread and wine), but "immediate" (a realist view of the Body and Blood).

J.N.D. Kelly says of Justin's view:

The bread and wine, moreover, are offered 'for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,' a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord's body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection. Altogether it would seem that, while his language is not fully explicit, Justin is feeling his way to the conception of the eucharist as the offering of the Saviour's passion.

My argument is that Cyprian is the first church father to express the second type, that all other writings on the topic before Nicaea are either not specific enough to distinguish the two, or else are (esp. Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and the Didache) clearly type 2.

I think it is just as arguable, if not more so, that the more "Catholic" view is seen early on, albeit less developed. That's what the Protestant Church historians I have cited, state, too. It's historical fact. And you have to grapple with it. You can't just go by the "Protestant myth" that the earliest Fathers were good Lutherans or other type of Protestants in their theology, before everything went to pot, who knows when.

Then I argue that the second type IS compatible with justification by faith alone, while the first I argue is not.

Then the Church rejected sola fide from the beginning, which we already knew anyway.

An incidental argument was that only a real, substantial presence makes sense of the link between the sacrament and Christ's sacrifice (this was directed against the Reformed).

Indeed, and we contend that this link is the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Since Catholics link both propitiation and thanksgiving and sacrifice and sacrament to the Eucharist it's a common and understandable instinct of them to, when they find one element or another in Ignatius or Justin (such as the real, substantial presence) to assume the whole complex is there too.

It is not fully-developed, but it is not denied, precisely as the historians argue. You seem to think it was denied, and I find that impermissible in light of the hard evidence I've seen, and how the historians of doctrine (who know far more about the particulars than I do) summarize it.

You've got to prove specifically the part I challenge which is PROPITIATORY + SACRIFICE.

I've already done that. You have to explain away all this evidence that goes against your position that Cyprian was some sort of radical innovator / corruptor, carrying the day and leading the entire medieval Church into gross heresy and idolatry.

1) Which authors when really do understand the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice? (It can be present only in a germ or nub, but is it actually there in some explicit statement however brief?)

I already presented that, and then reiterated it by citing some more obvious examples, since you seem to have missed all this.

Which authors don't seem to understand it that way? (i.e. either they deny it or we have enough about their understanding of it to use a negative argument and say that's not how they see it.)

Presumably, (possibly) the ones cited by the Catholic Encyclopedia in this vein: "Aristides, Athenagoras, Minucius Felix, Arnobius . . ." Not every Father has to grasp everything that was to be far more developed later on. This is a truism; self-evident.

How do we theologically deal with the pattern of assertion, non-assertion, or denial we find with regard to the idea of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice.

By looking at the biblical evidence, the consensus of the Fathers, and the later dogmatic proclamations of the Church. What comes later clarifies what comes before. That's the nature of thought and reality. Science and philosophy work that way; so does theology.

Specifically I'd like to know BEFORE we go on to "development of doctrine" whether you would actually agree that no church father before Cyprian explicitly expresses the idea of propitiatory sacrifice; and that the previous authors who do discuss sacrifice do so in a eucharistic sense, not a propitiatory sacrifice.

They do both; the eucharistic sense is more prominent, but the other sense is not denied, and strongly suggested by simple deductive logic:

1. We offer the bread and wine.

2. The bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ at consecration.

3. Therefore, the offering of the entire Mass, construed as one worship-offering, is of Jesus Christ to the Father (the priest being the alter Christus).

4. Conclusion: the Mass is a re-presentation of Calvary, since Jesus' sacrifice and the separation of His Body and Blood, and the act of His blood being "poured out for" us, all occurred there, not at each Mass, which is an unbloody sacrifice, making Calvary
supernaturally present.

Now, you, the Catholic Encyclopedia, and Newman may find it hard to believe that doctrines have changed in an institutionally continuous Catholic church, and you may reject such a possibility.

I reject it in faith, yet a faith strongly based in historical fact, as best we can ascertain it, from all sorts of sources, many themselves not Catholic. That's my standard methodology and epistemology, and always has been, both as a Protestant and as a Catholic.

But in doing so you will need to present independent evidence of continuity accessible to those who don't share your presuppositions;

Exactly; why do you think I cite Schaff, Pelikan, Kelly et al? I always do this. It's odd that you don't seem to be aware of that yet.

otherwise you are simply asserting what you are trying to prove (i.e. that the Catholic church's doctrine is the sole legitimate development of the ideas that were implicit in the apostolic preaching from the beginning).

It's never circular argument; it is always based on the objective facts of history and patristic beliefs. That's how Newman approached it, and how I do. But we both (you and I) have faith, and it is foolish to deny that. We believe certain things based on our theological affiliation. We can only try our best to follow the facts wherever they lead, and achieve a synthesis between facts and faith, so that they do not clash. We don't differ in that regard; only in where such a methodology leads us, in our conclusions.

When I thought the facts of patristic theology and development led to the Catholic Church, I converted to it, because I follow truth wherever it leads me. I am assuming that you do the same. I obviously disagree with your interpretation of the facts at hand.

But what I'm not going to do, is distort my reading of the pre-Cyprianic fathers just because of some a priori rejection of the possibility of theological discontinuity.


But that's not required at all. One need not have any particular attachment to development, even in a general sense, or even have any particular view of theology, for that matter, to take a position on what some Father believed, simply based on what he said (as a matter of historiography and interpretation of literature).

For my part, I can believe, in perfect consistency, and in perfect harmony with the data at hand, that these earlier Fathers believed in the Real Presence, without having worked through in the depth which we see later, all the implications and understanding of what this entails. Hence they simply speak literally of the Body and Blood, without getting into transubstantiation or consubstantiation, or the full doctrine of Sacrifice of the Mass.

But there is more than enough indication, it seems to me (and also to these Protestant historians) to suggest that they also possessed the kernel of the "propitiatory sacrifice" view. That's because they spoke of sacrifice, and connected this directly with the Body and Blood. That's it. Once you get to that point, that is the Mass, as the Catholic Encyclopedia said about Irenaeus, he having put those two things together. So the notion is there; it's just not as explicitly developed, as is the case with all other doctrines.

You, on the other hand, because of your Lutheran theology, have to argue as if every use of "sacrifice" is merely symbolic, referring to bread and wine, or thanksgiving. But the immediate language and context does not permit this, as I've already shown. This would become even more clear, I'm convinced, were we to examine individual passages in greater detail.

I trust (in the intellectual sense) these Protestant historians I have cited, to give an accurate report of patristic theology, because I've always found them to be trustworthy guides in the past. So I fully expect to see their conclusions verified upon closer inspection.

The presence of this other kind of sacrifice of thanksgiving and the offertory, etc., does not rule out the propitiatory sacrifice. So simply proving the existence of that does not make your argument prevail. We freely recognize that these other ideas are there, too.

I hope this doesn't sound like quibbling, but I think you've misunderstood what the Catholic Encyclopedia says about Irenaeus.

With Irenaeus of Lyons there comes a turning point, in as much as he, with conscious clearness, first puts forward "bread and wine" as objective gift offerings, but at the same time maintains that these elements become the "body and blood" of the Word through consecration, and thus by simply combining these two thoughts we have the Catholic Mass of today.

The turning point is Irenaeus speaks of consecration make the bread body, etc. But I don't see the CE as saying he himself combined the Substantial Presence with the objective gift offering, but that I. is the first to have both elements explicitly, and when WE in hindsight combine them, we see the elements of the Mass all there. Dix argues, that much as you'd like to see I. combine them, he never does.


*****

I hadn't scrolled up to see the citations from Hippolytus. (The Tertullian one was just taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia). On the face of it, without looking at the context, it looks good for your case. But even so, it's third century, earlier than Cyprian, but long after the apostles. So we're still on the question is it or is it not a harmless theological development to go from saying, the eucharist is a thanksgiving sacrifice, we do it in remembrance of Jesus, and in it we receive His body and blood with the bread and wine, to "we offer His body and blood as a sacrifice."

I'm suspicious of such logical developments. For example, from the Bible we can prove, that man can of his own natural powers reject the grace of God. Logically that reasonably implies that man can of his own natural powers ACCEPT the grace of God. Which is explicitly denied in Scripture.

Not every logical inference, every connecting of two related ideas is right and proper. As for example, "Christians meet on Sunday not Saturday" + "Jews don't work on Saturday as an obedience to the Sabbath command" > "Christians should not work on Sunday as an obedience to a transferred Sabbath command". In fact before the Middle Ages, everyone rejected that equally logical implication.


Biblical Arguments

Much of this seems to be directed at a Baptist or a "non-sacramental evangelical" position as you put it. Since I’m a Lutheran, it doesn’t really hit my position.

About Hebrews, the apostle in this great passage uses the following logic: 1) identify common features of the Jewish sacrifice and Christ's sacrifice that make them both sacrifices, and then 2) identify differences; and then 3) draw the conclusion that the differences mean Christ’s is better.
I agree time is not the central issue. I would tend to agree that since it was the God-man who died on the Cross, the crucifixion is in a sense an eternal sacrifice, outside of time. (I only hesitate because I know this is so involved a philosophical issue. I don't think it's a point in dispute between us.) So Christ’s sacrifice is eternal (like in Rev. "Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world").

The similarities are:

1) Purpose is to win the Father's favor for sinners
2) blood is shed to make atonement
3) The priest’s people share in the atonement by believing and eating
4) The priest shares in our humanity, so he can intercede for us

The differences are:

1) Levitical line of priests produced by ordinary generation vs. one immortal, eternal priest
2) offering performed at earthly imitation of the tabernacle vs. offering done in heavenly tabernacle itself
3) offering is inherently worthless (blood of animals) vs. offering is inherently of infinite value
4) offering has to be offered over and over vs. offering is once for all
5) priesthood created by a law vs. priesthood created by a divine oath
6) priest is a sinner who has atone for his own sins first vs. priest is holy and innocent

We conclude that Christ's sacrifice is so much better as to make the first obsolete. Now, to the extent that the celebrant in the Mass cooperates with Christ in "re-coining" the merit won on the Cross (the Catholic Encyclopedia’s image), this celebrant’s side of it is exactly like that of the Jewish priests (replacing only ordinary generation by a succession of ordination). What could he possibly add? The arguments of Hebrews lead me to say: nothing! and its blasphemous even to try.

Now, this means the Mass cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice (action of us God-ward, intended to make Him favorable to us). That does not mean that it does not have a sacramental aspect (God’s action us-ward), the giving us of the sacrificial body and blood to eat so that we participate in the benefit of the sacrifice (point 3 in the similarities list). Nor does it mean that the action of the offertory (gifts of bread and wine as well as for the pastor and poor in and outside the church) is not a thanksgiving sacrifice. But like all actions of us God-ward, such a good work can have value in God’s sight only the basis of us accepting unconditionally God’s action of forgiveness us-ward.

As a sacrament distributing the sacrificed body and blood, and as a thanksgiving . . .


*****

Much of this seems to be directed at a Baptist or a "non-sacramental evangelical" position as you put it. Since I’m a Lutheran, it doesn’t really hit my position.

The biblical data may not, but the patristic may turn out to be a real thorn in your flesh

About Hebrews, the apostle in this great passage uses the following logic: 1) identify common features of the Jewish sacrifice and Christ's sacrifice that make them both sacrifices, and then 2) identify differences; and then 3) draw the conclusion that the differences mean Christ’s is better.


I'm not sure that deals with all the argumentation I have presented, but one has only so much time, I reckon.

I agree time is not the central issue. I would tend to agree that since it was the God-man who died on the Cross, the crucifixion is in a sense an eternal sacrifice, outside of time. (I only hesitate because I know this is so involved a philosophical issue. I don't think it's a point in dispute between us.)


Good. Then that cannot be one of your a priori objections to the Sacrifice of the Mass.

So Christ’s sacrifice is eternal (like in Rev. "Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world").


Indeed it is. This understanding should make you less hostile on the presuppositional level to the Catholic Mass. You just don't like the notion of priests "doing" the Mass "in remembrance" of Jesus' sacrifice, when it involves representation of the cross.

Now, to the extent that the celebrant in the Mass cooperates with Christ in "re-coining" the merit won on the Cross (the Catholic Encyclopedia’s image), this celebrant’s side of it is exactly like that of the Jewish priests (replacing only ordinary generation by a succession of ordination). What could he possibly add? The arguments of Hebrews lead me to say: nothing! and its blasphemous even to try.

Now, this means the Mass cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice (action of us God-ward, intended to make Him favorable to us).


Why? I don't follow. If we can pray the prayers that God taught us (e.g., the Lord's Prayer, and present them to God, why is it unthinkable to "present" Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross to the Father, in remembrance of this holiest and most important of all salvific events?

Everything is of a piece: centered on the cross. The Rosary is Jesus-centered, focusing on His life; crucifixes remind us of what He did for us; the Mass actually makes that act supernaturally present. God allows men to play a part in the supernatural occurrence, just as He allows them to play a role in the transformation of the elements int to Body and Blood.

If men can play no role in the Sacrifice of the Mass, then likewise, it seems to me, they could also not perform the consecration without being blasphemous (which would wipe out the Lutheran service). I don't see how one thing is any less "participation in divine mysteries" than the other.

But like all actions of us God-ward, such a good work can have value in God’s sight only the basis of us accepting unconditionally God’s action of forgiveness us-ward.

That's the whole point of having Mass, to not only "remember" what Jesus did for us (abstract, non-literal), but to actually be brought supernaturally to the very foot of the Cross on Calvary (concrete reality). This is Christianity, That's what God intended for His Church. Church is not a bare so-called "altar" with a Bible on it. Jesus is present in a Catholic Church; not just spiritually, but physically!

It is no problem for Him to perform a miracle and to transcend space and time, and so we can be at Calvary just as the persons alive at that time in history were.

And we can worship Jesus as if He were standing in the room, as if we were with Him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. But Lutherans want none of that, either. Odd . . . I've always wanted to be closer to Jesus, in any way that I can, so I was delighted to discover all the fuller truths of Catholicism in this regard. We don't just tell stories about Jesus; we also receive HIM into our bodies and worship HIM at Church, just as people who fell at His feet during His earthly sojourn did.

Dave here is the issue:

I have touched Jesus in His body and blood, received the medicine of immortality which is His flesh in my own person. You can't get much closer than that.

It's not closeness, bare Bibles, etc, that's the issue (save that for your debates with Baptists). The issue is whether I can, as a sinner, cooperate in Jesus's propitiatory action. Like Mary Magdelene I can fall on my knees before the risen Christ and say "Rabboni". I can even watch Christ suffer on the cross. But I can't be there with Him on it. I can't offer His body; only He can, because only He has standing with the Father. Once He has propitiated God, all by himself, all alone, without any cooperation whatsoever from me or any Christian, then He can present me to His Father and say "My blood has covered this sinner's corruption; receive this sinner for My sake, Father."

Now it's funny. I read and reread the Catholic Encyclopedia article on this. And sometimes it seems that they've qualified the whole doctrine so much that it's a distinction without a difference. But if it is, the Lutheran way of speaking is so much simpler, focuses so much better on what's really important, so much more Biblical, I wonder, why put yourself through the conceptual torture you see there.



I understand what your viewpoint is. Now I am interested in finding out why you reject all possible references to this concept prior to St. Cyprian. This is essentially an historical discussion, not one of comparative theology (though I am glad that readers can learn more about how a Lutheran approaches these matters).

You're making historical claims about patristic views. So why don't we start talking about individual passages now? By all means, make your case all the way to the end, and respond to the Catholic counter-response, and I'll do my best on my end.

As for our participation in some (entirely indirect and secondary) sense in Jesus' death on the cross, I have already presented several statements from St. Paul in which he is closely identifying with the cross in some mysterious, supernatural way: the most striking of which are Philippians 3:10 and Colossians 1:24.

But Protestants generally don't know what to do with those passages, and so usually want to ignore them and quickly move on to something else. You acted no differently, thus far. But anyway, that is one way we would respond to your insinuation that this is some terrible, unbiblical thing which is intrinsically opposed to God's free grace, etc.

My response to those passages was here in the above thread (that for pt. 3) where you mentioned them. If you're going to run multiple threads on the same debate, you should take the time to keep them all in view as you answer:

"The Lutheran motif of the cross is of course the cross as actual sufferings, recieved in our own bodies for Christ's sake. Walking in love is obviously an action done "God-ward" and is a spiritual sacrifice. But it is the action of good works. Like for Paul in 2 Tim. and Philippians where in context he is obviously talking about approaching martyrdom. What I don't see is any sense of "walking in love" being participation in the Eucharist. In 2 Tim. he is ABOUT to be sacrificed, as if it never happened before, hardly something to said of the weekly Eucharist."

To clarify: how we become part of Christ's body is well-known in Paul: through faith, through baptism. As members of Christ's body, our sufferings for Christ are mystically part of His sufferings. Just as are other good works done in faith are like thankofferings, spiritual sacrifices, so our sufferings for Christ are also a thankoffering, a spiritual sacrifice.

I might get into the whole doctrine of good works in Lutheranism (how they please God but are no part of our justification before Him), but that's not the issue now. I see no evidence whatsoever that either of the passages you refer to has anything to do with the Eucharist. They are, as far as I can see, completely irrelevant to our debate.

Again, if one wants to say, "is baptism a participation in Christ's death" a score of proof texts are immediately at hand. But if you want to say is the Eucharist a participation in Christ's sacrifice, you can't point to a single proof text which is actually explicitly about the Eucharist. Shouldn't the difference between the two situations make you suspicious that maybe the first idea is Biblical and the second is not?


Patristic Views / Development Again

When read carefully, all of your citations prove my point, that the idea of propitiatory sacrifice is NOT found before Cyprian, the "herald" as the Catholic Encyclopedia calls it, of the sacrificial doctrine dogmatized at Trent.

About the Ignatius, the Didache, Justin, and Irenaeus, the encyclopedia itself makes clear that the notion of sacrifice is either too vaguely stated to address the issue of propitiatory vs. eucharistic (Ignatius, Didache, Tertullian), or else is actually clearly eucharistic and attached to the offertory (Justin, Irenaeus). My only change would be to switch the Didache to the second category.

As for Schaff that he thinks the idea of a real/substantial presence in the Eucharist necessarily implies propitiatory sacrifice, that's simply a bit of Reformed special pleading. Pretty much everyone acknowledges that Irenaeus has the first, but not the second. And we Lutherans have the first but not the second. So there is no INHERENT link of the two.

The Oxford Dictionary cites only post-Cyprianic authors, so it is irrelevant to my point.

The Pelikan citation does not distinguish between propitiatory and eucharistic sacrifice in his reading of the Didache. Since the Didache clearly sees the offertory as the sacrifice, it’s linked to a eucharistic understanding, not a propitiatory one (the matter for a propitiatory sacrifice to a Christian can only be the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ, not the offertory).

As for Kelly, the first part is all sacrifice, but no distinction of propitiatory vs. eucharistic is made. And I think in Justin Martyr, he's special pleading again (from the opposite side of Schaff). From the quotation itself, Justin sees the BREAD and WINE as a thanksgiving sacrifice. That's eucharistic, not propitiatory. But Kelly WANTS to see continuity and hence he says he's "feeling his way to the conception of the Eucharist as the offering of the Savior’s passion" {Cyprian's phrase, by the way]. Which is as much to say, Justin isn’t there yet. Which is my point. His claim about "feeling his way" is anachronistic and unsupportable editorializing unless one adopts in advance the idea that all later developments MUST BE outgrowths of earlier developments. But that’s the point at issue isn’t it? And again Irenaeus and Justin Martyr are famously close in their theology, with Irenaeus using much of Justin. If we have to read Justin Martyr in any broader context, surely Irenaeus would be a better context than Cyprian. And you know what Kelly says about Irenaeus . . .

So, my key FACTUAL point, that the understanding of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice, as an offering of Christ's passion, is not found before Cyprian still stands, stronger than ever.

If we can agree on this facts, we can then discuss implications about the church and heresy, etc., that it might raise. But what I'm not going to do, is distort my reading of the pre-Cyprianic fathers just because of some a priori rejection of the possibility of theological discontinuity.


*****

The Israelite sacrificial system contained both burnt offerings (propitiatory offerings) and thankofferings, peace offerings and so on with which the offerer expressed his thanks to God for some benefit (the reception of which assumes God has already shown himself favorable to one). If you look up "spiritual/reasonable sacrifice(s)" in the New Testament every usage is along this line. Even if you don't agree that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, etc. took the Eucharist as a thank offering, you should at least admit that such a category exists.

If one "re-presents" the crucifixion in a passion play or in a Mel Gibson movie, does that propitiate God? Obviously not. So it is possible to "re-present" something in a way that it does not have the same effect as the original.

There is one big difference between the Eucharist and the crucifixion: no one is killing Christ in the eucharist. Nor is Christ dying or shedding his blood. That would seem to be a rather major difference between the two events in regards to whether they are propitiatory or not. (That it was felt as a major difference is obvious from the fact that from Cyril of Jerusalem onward it was common to do little dramatic reenactments of making the host suffer in the Eucharist.)

In the Lutheran view, Christ's body and blood are received directly from the cross so to speak, without being presented again in the Eucharist. You may not like that viewpoint, but it is a coherent theological viewpoint, no more simply a stupid misunderstanding of Luther's than the Catholic view.


*****

I would read the history differently, . . . In fact I would say that Luther was largely accurate in his view of the contemporary mass and first with Trent and then with later reformulations there's been considerable "rowback" as they call it--changing your line without telling anyone your changing it -- rewriting the explanation to minimize the role of the priest and increase the identity of the mass's sacrifice with the crucifixion, qualifying ex opere operato virtually (but not quite) to death, and so on. Those are positive developments for Catholic spirituality, but the assumption that everyone in Luther's day thought like a post-Vatican II Catholic and he was just too stupid and prejudiced to see that doesn't wash.

About propitiation, I think we are talking past each other. The sacrament is of course efficacious for the forgiveness of sins when received in faith; that's the Lutheran position.

But let's get back to the basic point . . . :


[Charlie] "the priest shares in the role of Christ the Priest, offering Christ as if the Atonement was happening at the very minute"

Says who? I'm still waiting for one person on this thread to show me that doctrine before Cyprian, or to dispute the fact that the Didache, Justin, and St. Irenaeus all talk about sacrifice but without have the priest "offer Christ".

Again, if you guys will just stipulate the FACTS of the history of doctrine, we go on to consider whether a theological novum of Cyprian's day should or should not be binding on the church.


*****

Why does it have to be either eucharistic OR propitiatory? Because that’s the point at issue between us, isn’t it? If I say, as a Lutheran, “why can’t you accept that it’s bread AND Christ’s body in the sacrament, why does it have be one or the other?” would you regard that by itself as showing that the issue is meaningless?

Why is this so important to me? Because I’m a Lutheran and I believe in justification by faith alone. (You have your problem with that, obviously, but that’s not what this is about.) The series, which Dave is here debating with, actually started in my attempts to explain to “us LUTHERANS” in what sense sacrifice could be legitimately used by “us”, and to show how such a sense is well-grounded patristically. Criticism of the Catholic position was there but secondary. So Dave picked up on that. I’m cool with that, but keep in mind where this started. I have my agenda, you have yours (that is a bias toward continuity).

About nubs and germs. The actual theological terms propitiation and eucharist applied to the Supper is a late thing, granted. But the nubs and germs can be seen in the way people use terms like sacrifice. Let’s remember, we all agree that Christ’s sacrifice is the only real propitiation. You contend that in the Eucharist the priest cooperates in re-presenting this sacrifice. If I say “My sacrifice is the bread, the first fruits of creation, which I place on the altar” I may not be using “propitiatory” or “eucharistic” but my meaning is very hard to square with a propitiatory understanding. Why? Because its me (not the priest) making the sacrifice, because the material of the sacrifice is referred to as just bread not Christ’s body, and because the sacrifice is identified with the action of the offertory, not the consecration. It isn’t just me saying this way of speaking of the sacrifice is improper; Trent says so too, and so does the Catholic Encyclopedia article Dave referred to. So my argument is that Irenaeus, who refers to the Eucharistic sacrifice in just this way has a theological nub which points away from propitiation. Ditto for the Didache and Justin Martyr.

That's my position and I'm stickin' to it. :^)

His claim about "feeling his way" is anachronistic and unsupportable editorializing unless one adopts in advance the idea that all later developments MUST BE outgrowths of earlier developments. But that’s the point at issue isn’t it?

How is it at issue? How can a "later development" not be an outgrowth of an earlier development? The very notion is nonsensical. The very term "later" must necessarily apply to something "earlier" to which it is relatively compared.

It would be like saying "we have a full grown cedar tree but it has no necessary relationship to the seedling from which it sprung." What sense does that make?

One either accepts development or they do not. I'm not aware that you reject the entire notion of development. You probably accept it in some form but go on to incorrectly define or apply it.

All that remains is to properly define development and apply it to the patristic data that we have. I see no conflict whatsoever with what I have observed thus far in this debate, and Newmanian development. None whatsoever. NONE. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Now, of course much more data could be brought to bear, which might produce some confliuct, at least in the case of some Fathers. But "some Fathers" cannot overthrow the theory of development with regard to one doctrine if the consensus goes against the exceptions.

We see precisely what a Catholic, in faith, would expect to see in history, provisionally granting for the sake of argument that early eucharistic teaching develops into the later full-blown doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

I've shown the kernels from early Fathers, suggesting this forward movement and primitive understanding of something resembling the Mass. This is EXACTLY what a Catholic would expect to find, while it is NOT in line with a notion that doctrines developed consistently in a line throughout history, inexorably leading to the Lutheran understanding.

That can't be sustained, so the Lutheran is forced to adopt a position that doctrine radically reversed itself in this instance (and many others) and went down the wrong, corrupt path of (more developed and elaborate) medieval and modern Catholicism.

That's the inherent internal inconsistency and incoherence here. Wanting to be historical and not ahistorical (like Baptists and Anabaptists and many unless educated "low Church" Protestants), one can try to create a cogent, coherent non-Catholic view of the history of doctrine, presumably incorporating development of some sort. But it is a losing battle every time. Development of doctrine will always be at odds with Lutheranism or any other brand of Protestantism, once the matter is scrutinized.

We see that again here, in my opinion. If you disagree, then we will have to go to battle over every single relevant patristic utterance that we can find; look at context, look at the Father's related statements, see what scholars think he meant, examine the Greek and Latin, insofar as we have the resources to do that, etc.

But there is still a larger picture. Say you "prove" that St. Irenaeus' view contradicted later Catholic views (which I would strongly deny). You still have to account for many others, such as St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom. How did they get it so wrong? How did the entire Church somehow lose the original true teaching?

The Catholic simply has more faith than the Protestant. We believe that God is able to, and wills to preserve true Christian doctrine from corruption (just as He did with the written Bible). He can do it, and He has done it. That's what we believe. But if you don't believe God could or would or did do that, then the door is wide open for private judgment to make all kinds of determinations as to who has truth concerning what.

The Catholic view is, I maintain, the only one that can present an unbroken line of self-consistent development and theology (believe it or no). Any other view necessarily breaks the chain of continuity. Mind you, that doesn't make our view true by that token; only self-consistent.

We see it in the present case by your open admission that the doctrine became corrupt in the 4th century. You must believe that the truth was largely lost for 1000 or so years, to be restored by Luther. This is classic "Protestant myth of origins," as I affectionately refer to it. It's a great story, but it's only fit for children, and it's just what I called it: a myth: not provable by independently verified historical fact.

You think not? Well, then we keep arguing, getting more and more particular. That's fine with me; I love that. The Catholic argument just gets stronger and stronger, the more one delves into the Fathers with greater depth. So I would be absolutely delighted to go down that path with you.

Thankofferings, peace offerings, free will offerings, the Passover, that's what. The Israelite sacrificial system contained both burnt offerings (propitiatory offerings) and thankofferings, peace offerings and so on with which the offerer expressed his thanks to God for some benefit (the reception of which assumes God has already shown himself favorable to one). If you look up "spiritual/reasonable sacrifice(s)" in the New Testament every usage is along this line.

Not quite. Ephesians 5:2:

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God.

Note what is going on here:

1. We are to walk in love as Christ did, including His sacrifice. Does that not imply that we should offer some similar tangible sacrifice to God? What better sacrifice than Jesus on the cross?!

2. This sacrifice is "Godward", not "manward." Jesus offered His sacrifice to God the Father (precisely as the priest does, standing in His place).

3. The cross is a "fragrant offering." This is entirely reminiscent of the worship scene in heaven, in Revelation 5:6-13. There we learn that Jesus is portrayed as a Lamb slain (5:6). He is worshiped, with "golden bowls full of incense" (hearkening back to the procedures of Temple sacrifice - 5:7). Jesus' sacrificial death is then mentioned again in 5:9 and 5:12.

4. In light of "This is My Body. Do this in remembrance of Me," it makes all the biblical sense in the world that Christian weekly worship is of a nature something like what we find in the Catholic Mass.

St. Paul also regards himself and/or his sufferings as an offering or sacrifice. This is a recurring motif:

2 Corinthians 4:10 Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. {see also 2 Corinthians 1:5-7}

Philippians 2:17 Even if I am to be poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. {see also 2 Corinthians 6:4-10}

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. {see also Galatians 2:20}

2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. {see also Romans 12:1}

In this verse and in Philippians 2:17, the Greek word for libation and sacrifice is spendomai. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament which was the Bible of the early Christians, this term is used for a variety of offerings and sacrifices commanded by the Mosaic Law (for example, Genesis 35:14, Exodus 29:12,38 ff., Leviticus 4:7 ff., 23:37). Most intriguing is its occurrence with reference to the Messiah, Jesus, in Isaiah 53:12: ". . . he poured out his soul to death . . ." It appears, then, that St. Paul is stressing a mystical, profound identification with Jesus even in His death (as also in 2 Corinthians 4:10 and Philippians 3:10 above).

In some mysterious, glorious way God chooses to involve us in the very Redemption (always in a secondary and derivative sense, but actual nonetheless), just as He voluntarily involves us in His Providence by means of prayer and evangelism, and in His Creation by our procreation and childbirth.

Jesus' sufferings are ours, and ours are His in a very real sense, as St. Paul unmistakably teaches, particularly and most strikingly in Colossians 1:24:

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I
complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

{see also 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, Galatians 6:17}

So I see far more in the way of "sacrifice" in the New Testament than you seem to see. If believers are so inexorably identified with the sufferings of Jesus, that leads right to the cross, and that is what Catholics experience every Sunday at Mass. God always draws further and further in those who are willing to follow and worship Him: all the way to Calvary.

This is historic Christianity, and whatever brand of Christianity today tries to distance itself from this aspect is much worse, and that much more spiritually impoverished for the loss. Lutheranism has a robust theology of the cross; this ought to come as a welcome motif or theme. But it's hard to overcome all of that Lutheran tradition of men for almost 500 years now . . .

I have to say, this is really strange. I read these Bible passages and say, obviously they prove my point. And you think they prove yours. It certainly is proof of the power of context and presuppositions to influence how one sees.

Christ's sacrifice is itself of course a "reasonable sacrifice" because it was done by an totally innocent man for a purely good purpose (in both features being unique in the world).

The Lutheran motif of the cross is of course the cross as actual sufferings, received in our own bodies for Christ's sake. Walking in love is obviously an action done "God-ward" and is a spiritual sacrifice. But it is the action of good works. Like for Paul in 2 Tim. and Philippians where in context he is obviously talking about approaching martyrdom. What I don't see is any sense of "walking in love" being participation in the Eucharist. In 2 Tim. he is ABOUT to be sacrificed, as if it never happened before, hardly something to said of the weekly Eucharist.

About development, sure every doctrine develops. One can always find many elements of continuity in each step of any school's intellectual development. Sometimes the new steps involve controversy, and sometimes big steps are taken without much fanfare at all.

If for example you take Marxism, you can see it develop into German social democracy and Maoism both by development, step-by-step changes, some involving controversy (like the role of the peasantry or the debate over social patriotism), others happening without any controversy at all (e.g. the abandonment of the Hegelian transcendence of subject and object in the dialectic for a naively objectivist dialectic in Engels' writings). (That Hegelian understanding was later recovered on the basis of newer writings by Lukacs, Gramsci and others). (I'm following Kolakowski's "Main Currents of Marxism" here).

I suppose this example won't convince you, but I offer it simply to say that I see nothing weird or unusual intellectually in the Protestant "myth of origins" as you put it. Indeed pre-Reformation Christianity 1,450 years after the death of its founder looks a LOT more like the original than Buddhism 1,450 after the nirvana of the Buddha. Obviously as Christians we see a continuity in the Holy Spirit there.

But the big example of the plausibility of our "myth of origins" is the Old Testament. Scripture says, that under Josiah the Passover was celebrated in a way never before done properly since the time of Moses. Ezra celebrated the festival of booths for the first time since Joshua (2 Kings 23:22; Neh. 8:17). How did this happen? Through the rediscovery of a book, the book of Moses (Secular scholars of course dismiss this as "unhistorical legends" because such book-based recovery of tradition doesn't happen.)

WAs Israel not Israel between Joshua and Josiah and Ezra? No, she was still the people of God and people were still being saved in her bosom. Was it teaching accurately in faith and morals? No, many minor and major corruptions existed.

Why is this understanding not applicable to the history of the church?



Because the Church is in the age of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Who will guide us (interiorly and corporately) into all truth. That is a protection from error. We also have baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit: these benefits go far beyond the Old Covenant.

Church history is, in effect, part of the doctrine of the Church, insofar as it is a history of the actions of the Body of Christ and the development of ecclesiology. For the Church to be what she is, she has to be indefectible and guided by the Holy Spirit, just as the Bible says the decisions of the Council of Jerusalem were guided. That's what the Bible tells us, after all.

As for the aspect of your analogy which you think suggests sola Scriptura, I would reply that:

1) The OT Jews did not believe in anything resembling sola Scriptura at all (which I've written about at some length).

2) We could just as easily say that Protestantism has "lost" the Bible (like you claim we did), in the sense that it changed the rules of interpreting it which had been fairly
constant for 1500 years: the fourfold method, etc., substituting the
grammatico-historical method. A book is only as valuable as it is correctly
interpreted.

3) The wonderful rediscovery of Josiah brought Israel back, as you say, to what was before: to the legitimate Mosaic heritage. But Protestantism does not do this, because the more we study the early Church, the more we see that it was not much like Protestantism at all, and quite harmonious with what can reasonably be construed as a primitive version of Catholicism.

The present case is no exception. You have to hang your case on the pretty absurd idea that Cyprian ushered in a radical departure from previous precedent (and no one was up in arms about that at all: so complete was the utter apostasy of the Church). Sorry, that just don't cut it. The facts do not support such a special pleading interpretation.

We can argue all day about who's who in the Josiah scenario. But that's not relevant to the logic of the case.

Your argument was this: the Protestant scenario of a "recovery of the Gospel in its fullness" after a thousand years of a weak and corrupt Gospel is simply unbelievable; that sort of thing never happens.

All you need is one counter-example to disprove the assertion of impossibility.

Well, it happened in Josiah and Ezra's time. So it CAN happen. And any argument that it CAN'T happen is disproved.

So there is nothing impossible or "out of the question" about the Protestant "myth of origins". Unlikely perhaps, but not impossible.

Do you agree?


*****

About the church and the indwelling Spirit: yes, I would agree there is an indwelling Spirit. But Israel too had the presence of God (e.g. Ex. 33:15-16) and irrevocable gifts and calling that raised up prophet after prophet.

About error in the church, you seem to take one set of promises -- that error will not finally prevail -- and completely ignore the other set of warnings -- that error will be rampant.

For example Luke 18:8 Jesus speaks to his church: "Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"


Mat. 7:15: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

Mark 13:22 "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."

2 Thes. 2:3-4 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that [last] day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

Acts 20:28-30: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves [i.e. his appointed elders in Ephesus] shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."

1 Tim. 4:1-3: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way."

2 Tim. 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears"

2 Peter 2:1 "there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."

1 John 4:1 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

1 John 2: 18: "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time."

Now we can debate all day the precise application of these passages. But that false teachings will constantly arise both openly and secretly is explicitly promised and no where does it promise that the hierarchy or any other organ will be exempt from error. Indeed Luke 12:42ff specifically warns that the hierarchy will abase the laity. Error will be all over,
but it won't finally prevail, and the saving Gospel will remain in all troubles.

I don't believe that the gospel "disappeared" on earth (not all error is fatal error, and not all corruption completely destroys the efficacy of the thing corrupted). But you have to answer, if there was a promise that the church's formal hierarchy would never once actually explicitly teach error in faith and morals, where is that promise? Why is that not given as a promise in connection with the warnings of rampant error?


Your argument was this: the Protestant scenario of a "recovery of the Gospel in its fullness" after a thousand years of a weak and corrupt Gospel is simply unbelievable; that sort of thing never happens.


Not absolutely impossible. What I would say is that it is not a plausible position, given the (premises of) biblical data and the nature of Christianity and the Church. That's a different argument.

All you need is one counter-example to disprove the assertion of impossibility.

Well, it happened in Josiah and Ezra's time. So it CAN happen. And any argument that it CAN'T happen is disproved.



If that were my argument, perhaps it would be, but since it wasn't, it ain't disproven. I gave my reasons why I think the NT dispensation is different than the old (most importantly because of the Holy Spirit being inside of individuals and guiding the Church).

So there is nothing impossible or "out of the question" about the Protestant "myth of origins". Unlikely perhaps, but not impossible.

Do you agree?


Yes, if we are talking about absolute impossibility (but I wasn't). Mainly I think the usual Protestant approach to history is just plain silly. It takes a religion which is historical by its very nature, going back to its Jewish origins, and pretends as if historical continuity can be discarded when the case can't be made, simply because it doesn't like the course that medieval Church history and doctrine took.

Seems to me like you're betwixt and between. You know too much to discount history, yet when it doesn't provide you with what you need to support Lutheranism over against Catholicism, then you ditch it and speak of mass apostasy, just like the Anabaptists, Landmarkians and all the other groups who are ahistorical, do.

So which is it, CPA? Are you gonna try to defend Lutheranism as the consistent development of patristic Christianity ("Reformed Catholic" style), or go the other route, and "diss" the Fathers, just like Luther and Melanchthon did when it suited their cause?

Then when we get through with this "big picture" stuff, let's examine the patristic passages we have bandied about more in-depth.

1) From the scholarship I've seen (Dix, primarily, but other writers as well), the liturgy of St. James is definitely not that early. In fact no actual text of any liturgy found before about AD 350. Since liturgies are practical documents, it's universally recognized by scholars that "updating" is a common feature in the texts and that material is commonly interpolated (added in) to match changes/developments in doctrine. The oldest liturgy which most scholars think can be reconstructed is that of Hippolytus (c. 235), but even that is based on a MS of a Latin translation c. 400. Pretty much every scholar recognizes this is interpollated to some degree, but they can't agree on what was there originally (Dix changed his mind from the 1930s to the 1940s, for example).

Dix sees the Liturgy of St. James as basically developed in Jerusalem in the late fourth century on an Antiochene base. I don't know where Sungenis gets his c. 100 date, but it is NOT what most scholars (Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Protestant) think.

So using liturgy to date early doctrinal changes/developments is very hazardous.


. . . during the service of holy communion, all we see with our eyes is people doing various things with bread and wine.

The eye of faith insists that Christ's Body and Blood are also present. When asked why he believes that, the Christian can go to clear passages of Jesus and the Apostles, unquestionably discussing Communion, saying "this is my body" "new covenant in my blood" and "discern the Lord's body" and so on.

That's more than enough for me. But if I needed more, you can find second century fathers like Justin, Irenaeus, Ignatius and so on, insisting that it is the body and blood and saying only heretics think otherwise.

Now, as a Catholic you insist ANOTHER thing I can't see is going on. That not only is the bread and wine really Christ's body and blood, but in the ACTION people are doing they are in some mystical sense participating in Christ's death on the cross, participating in His offering of himself Him up. OK, I've believed one thing I can't see about the Eucharist, I'm ready to believe another if you can give good reason for me to believe Jesus or the Apostles taught it.

But when the Bible passages are brought out, they're not really on the topic at all, or only possibly by inference or by Old Testament typology, a notoriously unreliable guide to the definition of doctrine. (But don't take my word for it; after reviewing the slender Biblical typological evidence, the Catholic Encyclopedia admits "The chief source of our doctrine, however, is tradition, which from the earliest times declares the impetratory value of the Sacrifice of the Mass.")

And when we consult tradition, we find that the second century authors don't seem to pay much attention at all to this (again, don't take my word for it: the Catholic Encyclopedia says "An impartial study of the earliest texts seems indeed to make this much clear, that the early Church paid most attention to the spiritual and subjective side of sacrifice and laid chief stress on prayer and thanksgiving in the Eucharistic function.") In the encyclopedia passage that speaks of the impetratory idea "from the earliest times" we get a quote from Tertullian (c. 230), then Chrysostom (c. 380), then Augustine (c. 400). (Even Tertullian says simply we offer prayers for the emperor during the sacrifice; since the prayers for the secular authorities are part of the "prayer of the church" [conclusion of the synaxis/service of the word] not of the eucharistic prayer/canon of the mass, "sacrifice" seems hardly being used here in any precise sense as the grounds on which the prayer is based.)

So really if isn't in the Bible and it isn't taught before the third century, there is a serious
problem. Again don't take my word for it. The Catholic Encyclopedia again: "Were this assertion correct [that you can't find the doctrine in question before the third century], the doctrine of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, c. ii), according to which in the Mass "the priests offer up, in obedience to the command of Christ, His Body and Blood" (see Denzinger, "Enchir", n. 949), could hardly take its stand on Apostolic tradition; the bridge between antiquity and the present would thus have broken by the abrupt intrusion of a completely contrary view."

Well, I've looked at the evidence the encyc. presents that you can find it earlier, it doesn't seem convincing to me, and so I'm stuck with a broken bridge between antiquity and the present.

I want to believe every mystic thing Jesus and the apostles taught--that's faith--but I don't want to believe any mystic thing they didn't teach--that's superstition.


*****

As to your challenge, Dave:

"Are you gonna try to defend Lutheranism as the consistent development of patristic Christianity ("Reformed Catholic" style), or go the other route, and "diss" the Fathers, just like Luther and Melanchthon did when it suited their cause?"

that's a false dichotomy.

Here's how I see it.

Before a crisis, doctrines are not given precise dogmatic formula. As a result, many ante-Nicene fathers, for example, spoke of the Trinity in ways that are problematic, if not just wrong. In the ante-Nicene period, one can say, for example, Tertullian pretty much got it right, Justin seemed to have some real problems. In the light of later definition, some have right views, some have wrong, but they coexist in one church. And in many cases it is hard to say exactly how important to them their right or wrong views of, say, the Trinity, or the two natures in Christ were. Speculation plays its role freely and formulations are adopted that are good for the time, but may have hidden dangers unrecognized. (This seems to be for example, the position of evolution/creation/intelligent design debate in the Catholic church today, for example.)

Before the crisis, doctrine develops, yes, but sometimes in a good, sometimes in a bad, direction. (I would imagine if you studied Byzantine ecclesiology, for example, you would see the slow development of the denial of Papal primacy and the idea that the filioque is heresy. That's what you would call a bad development, while others might call it a legitimate clarification.)

Now, for reasons we cannot really understand, the doctrine of justification was not the subject of such a controversy. Had it been, then undoubtedly the idea of the propitiatory sacrifice would have come up as a theological question. But in the absence of much real debate on the question, people have different views, minority points of view are simply tolerated and go on.

One final point: the stuff we're debating is pretty abstruse. My idea is not that Cyprian all of the sudden began anathemizing people who didn't believe in a propitiatory sacrifice. Rather, he (or possibly some lesser-known priest/bishop in Africa from whom he learned) linked up things that one could naturally link, found it fit his own thinking on the Gospel and mentioned it a few times in his writings. Others also made that natural link, and the doctrine spread -- it had no real scriptural or previous patristic thought, but lots of other current ideas in the Church (vegatarianism etc.) lacked that too. No one dogmatized on it one way or the other, because the doctrine had not reached a crisis. Had the doctrine of justification been decided in the evangelical way, then obviously the issues would have been clearer, as they became in the sixteenth century.

So that is my view. Some fathers speak well on this issue, some don't. I look at it on a case by case basis.
*****

OK here's where we are: I think we all agree that the doctrine at issue in its explicit form is third century. (Cyprian and maybe Hippolytus.) It isn't found explicitly in the Bible or the second century, I would add even in contexts where one would certainly expect it.

I was of course well aware that the Catholic Encyclopedia thinks it's there implicitly in the Bible and the second century.


Okay, CPA, so when are we gonna discuss the individual citations that I say express propitiatory sacrifice in kernel form, and which you deny do this, even in kernel form? I want to see your reasoning for why you think this.

It's real easy to make broad statements one way or the other. Now we need to get specific and each hammer out our case (one nail at a time, so to speak). I'm very interested in that, because it is the next natural step in this discussion. I hope you are too.

So far it's been a very good discussion, but if we don't go to the next phase, with each person arguing their points of view very specifically, it will have been an incomplete, ultimately fruitless discussion, in my opinion.

Well, I feel a bit frustrated that I spent about a week trying to rebut at length various lengthy general attacks on my position from a number of people all on my own, and then get told, "OK, that's just a warm up. Let's get started for the real deal." Frankly I'm a bit tired.

But, if you want to post up the relevant passages including everything the Didache, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (Clement and Ignatius too if you like but I don't think there's anything relevant there) first, and then move on to the third century stuff, I'll see what I can do about replying. I'd prefer to the full texts of the relevant passages, plus any commentary you want to add, so I can just refer to them.



You're right, CPA; this discussion is at its end, not just because you're frustrated with it, but primarily because of other mostly logical (presuppositional) considerations. Any further discussion is doomed to failure, in terms of any agreement on particulars and interpretations because of the following presuppositional factors, which are determinative:


1) Prior conceptions of the nature of development of doctrine.

2) Prior conceptions of the authority of the Church to determine orthodoxy and interpret patristic teachings in an overall framework.

3) Prior conceptions of how the authority of the Fathers is defined and understood relative to Church authority and the Bible.

4) Prior conceptions as to whether the Church en masse can fall away from theological truth, and teach heresy.

We disagree on all four factors, and so further discussion is futile, because our conclusions (almost inexorably) flow from the positions we take on these three things, as discussed earlier in our dialogue. So it might be interesting to continue, but inevitably futile, and probably frustrating for both of us. I think your present frustration (and mine, to a lesser degree) is largely related to these factors.

In a nutshell, the result of these presuppositions is: you see it as your "clincher" that the Sacrifice of the Mass is not taught explicitly in the Bible, and not explicitly by the Fathers until St. Cyprian (or possibly Hippolytus, as you pretty much granted).

On my view, on the other hand, the case is clinched by the fact that there is significant implicit biblical indication, as much implicit pre-Cyprianic patristic material as can reasonably be expected, and virtual unanimity among the Fathers after St. Cyprian, as well as acceptance by the Church.

Because we disagree on the four factors outlined above, we have different criteria for what "proves" our respective cases. Thus, unless all that is worked out (and it is not likely to be), then we will basically be talking past each other from here on in.

That said, I think it is very good to lay out how each side (Catholic, Lutheran) views the issue, and how each supports its claims. So this has not been in vain. We've gone as far as we can go without taking a big step back and delving into the presuppositions.

I look forward to many such discussions in the future. I think we'll do well to remember the above factors, when either of us become frustrated.

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