Monday, May 02, 2005

Reflections on the Holy Eucharist, Part I

I am starting today an ongoing series of posts which consist of material from the original version of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism. This early edition (completed in 1994, and written from late 1990, right after my conversion) was much longer (about 750 pages) and contained many more citations from others. It was a sort of compendium of previous apologetics on all the subjects that it touched upon (somewhat similar in format to Josh McDowell's Evidence That Demands a Verdict), as well as an extended biblical argument for Catholicism (the portion that later became the bulk of material in my present version). A lot of this stuff has never been published at all on my website, and I have it sitting in my files ("archives," if you will). So it is high time that this research should be made available, since I put that much work into it, and (as you would expect) I think it contains some valuable apologetic information. Enjoy!

Bibliographic note: the first number referred to in parentheses following a citation is to a book, as listed in my original bibliography, followed by the page number(s) in the book. Rather than change all these (it's enough work just cutting-and-pasting all this), I simply list the sources with their original identifying number. Numbers 1-10 in parentheses refer to separate footnotes.

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I. INTRODUCTION / DEFINITIONS

1. The Eucharist

A. John Hardon

"The true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, in order to offer himself in the Sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion. It is called Eucharist, or `thanksgiving,' because at its institution at the Last Supper Christ `gave thanks,' and by this fact it is the supreme object and act of Christian gratitude to God . . . As Real Presence, the Eucharist is Christ in his abiding existence on earth today; as Sacrifice; it is Christ in his abiding action of High Priest, continuing now to communicate the graces he merited on Calvary; and as Communion, it is Christ coming to enlighten and strengthen the believer by nourishing his soul for eternal life." (16:132-133)

2. Real Presence

A. John Hardon

"The manner of Christ's presence in the Holy Eucharist. In its definition on the subject, the Council of Trent in 1551 declared that `in the sacrament of the most holy Holy Eucharist is contained truly, really, and substantially the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ' (Denzinger, Handbook of Creeds, 1854, 1636, 1640) . Hence Christ is present truly or actually and not only symbolically. He is present really, that is objectively in the Eucharist and not only subjectively in the mind of the believer." (16:360)

"The Real Presence . . . is the physical presence of Christ in our midst, no less truly than he is now present at the right hand of his Father . . ." (14:465)

B. The German Bishops

"Jesus Christ is present in the eucharistic celebration in many ways. He is present in the celebrating community. `Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst' (Mt. 18:20). He is present in his word as well as in the person of the one who performs the priestly ministry . . . But Jesus Christ is most present in the Eucharist." (12:285)

C. Pope Paul VI

"This presence is called `real' - by which it is not intended to exclude all other types of presence as if they could not be `real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense . . . a substantial presence by which Christ, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present . . . It would therefore be wrong to explain this presence by having recourse to the `spiritual~ nature, as it is called, of the glorified body of Christ, which is present everywhere, or by reducing it to a kind of symbolism." (1)

D. Karl Adam

"So completely does Jesus disclose Himself to His disciples . . . that He gives Himself to them and enters into them as a personal source of grace. Jesus shares with His disciples His most intimate possession, the most precious thing that He Has, His own self . . . So greatly does Jesus love His
Community, that He permeates it . . . with His real Self, God and Man. He enters into a real union of flesh and blood with it, and binds it to His being even as the branch is bound to the vine." (1:18)

3. Transubstantiation

A. John Hardon

"The complete change of the substance of bread and wine into the substance of Christ's body and blood by a validly ordained priest during the consecration at Mass so that only the accidents of bread and wine remain. While the faith behind the term was already believed in apostolic times, the term itself was a later development. With the Eastern Fathers before the sixth century, the favored expression was `metaousiosis,' `change of being'; the Latin tradition coined the word `transubstantiatio,' `change of substance,' which was incorporated into the creed of the 4th Lateran Council in 1215." (16:438-439)

"There was no dependence on Aristotelian philosophy in the Church's use of words like `substance' or `transubstantiation.' Long before either term had become commonplace in the West, the East spoke regularly of the `ousia' or being of the bread and wine, which were changed into the `ousia' or being of Christ." (14:462)

"There are two kinds of changes which things can naturally undergo. They are called accidental and substantial changes. In accidental change, something remains substantially the same, but its accidental or non-essential properties are transformed. Thus when a block of marble is carved
into a statue, the marble remains marble, but its shape and form are changed.

"In a substantial change, the former substance ceases to exist and becomes something else. Thus, when food is eaten, its substance is changed; it becomes part of the organism which consumes the food.

"In transubstantiation there is a unique substantial change. The essence or substance of bread and wine ceases to exist, while the accidents or sensibly perceptible properties of bread and wine remain. This kind of change has no counterpart in nature; it belongs to the supernatural order.

"What actually occurs? The substance of what was bread and wine is replaced by the living Christ. Although the external qualities of bread and wine remain, their substance is no longer on the altar. It is now the whole Christ, divinity and humanity, soul and body, and all the bodily qualities that make Christ, Christ." (15:161)

4. The Inter-Relationship of the Real Presence and Transubstantiation

A. Nicholas Russo

"Our belief in the Eucharist resolves itself into three distinct propositions . . . First, that our Lord Jesus Christ . . . is present . . . as really and substantially as He is in heaven; second, that after the words of the consecration . . . the substances of bread and wine cease to exist, the accidents or species thereof only remaining; third, that the whole substance of bread and wine is changed into the body and blood of our Lord. This change is called . . . transubstantiation . . .
"The second implies the first, without necessarily implying the third; and yet the third cannot be admitted without admitting the first and the second . . . but one might deny the second and the third without denying the first, as they do who believe that our Lord co-exists in the Eucharist
with bread and wine." (88:211-212)

John 6

F. Karl Keating

"This is the only record we have of any of Christ's followers forsaking him for doctrinal reasons. If they merely had misunderstood him, if they foolishly had taken a metaphor in a literal sense, why did he not call them back and straighten things out? Both the Jews . . . and his disciples . . . would have remained had he told them he meant no more than a symbol. But he did not correct these first protesters, these proto-Protestants . . . four times he said they would have `to eat my flesh and drink my blood.' John 6 was an extended promise of what would be instituted at the Last Supper - and it was a promise that could not be more explicit. Or so it would seem to a Catholic . . . The Greek word for `body' in John 6 is `sarx,' which can only mean physical flesh, and the word for `eat' translates as `gnaws' or `chews.' This is not the language of metaphor. The literal meaning cannot be avoided except through violence to the text - and through the rejection of the universal understanding of the early Christian centuries." (4:234,237)

G. James Cardinal Gibbons

"If the Eucharist were merely commemorative bread and wine, instead of being superior, it would really be inferior to the manna; for the manna was supernatural, heavenly, miraculous food, while bread and wine are a natural, earthly food . . .

"The multitude and the disciples who are listening to Him . . . all understood the import of His language precisely as it is explained by the Catholic Church . . .

"It sometimes happened, indeed, that our Savior was misunderstood by His hearers. On such occasions He always took care to remove from their mind the wrong impression they had formed by stating His meaning in simpler language . . . (Nicodemus . . . John 3:1-15 . . . leaven of the Pharisees . . .Matt. 16:5-12)." (10:237-238)

H. John Hardon

"Jesus was fully aware that his followers were complaining and, in fact, asked them, `Does this upset you?' But he took nothing back . . . Then, to make absolutely certain there was no mistaking what he was saying, Jesus said the the twelve, `What about you, do you want to go away too?'" (14:459)

I. Nicholas Russo

"The phrases `to eat the flesh' and `to drink the blood' of any one, apart from their literal meaning, signified nothing else among the Jews but to do a person a grievous injury . . . (see Ps 27:2; Job 19:22; Micah 3:3; Eccl 4:5)." (88:201)

Let's examine these four verses:

Psalms 27:2 "The wicked . . . came upon me to eat up my flesh . . ."

Job 19:22 "Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?"

NEB: " . . . Have you not had your teeth in me long enough?"

Micah 3:1-3 ". . . Ye princes of the house of Israel . . . who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck . . . their flesh from off their bones; who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them . . ."

Eccl. 4:5 "The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh."

"If, therefore, this metaphorical meaning, the only one employed by the Jews, is to be rejected, we must of necessity admit that Our Lord's words were understood by them literally. A great deal of ingenuity is displayed by those who deny the Real Presence, and endeavor to show that the words cited mean `to believe in Christ; to eat him spiritually by faith.' To this we reply: First, the meaning of words is to be determined by the usage existing at the time they are employed . . . But this metaphorical sense was invented centuries afterwards, by men who were bent upon denying the Real Presence, which many generations of Christians had accepted in their belief . . .

"Could an eternal punishment be promulgated for the neglect of that which the Jews refused to believe, if they had not understood what it was they were to believe? . . . If our Lord did not disabuse His hearers, what else can we say but that there was no call to disabuse them, and this
precisely because they had understood Him correctly?" (88:201-202,205)

J. Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty

"The last words of Christ say, `It is the Spirit that gives life. The flesh profiteth nothing' (Jn 6:64). Christ is not speaking of His Body . . . but of you. You have not the true spirit of God in you, but you let your earthly and natural reason create foolish obstacles. You judge as the natural and animal man, who, according to St. Paul, does not perceive the things of God. Have true faith, and you will understand even though you do not fully comprehend this wonderful promise of Christ . . .

"Unless the words of Christ are taken in the literal sense and at their face value they become meaningless, incoherent and worse than that, Christ would be, then, an arch-deceiver . . .
"Christ also said, `I am the door. I am the vine.' . . . There is no parallel between those two cases. `I am the door' can have a metaphorical sense. For Christ is like a door, since I go to Heaven through Him; He is like a vine, because all the sap of my spiritual life comes through Him. But the bread is in no way like His Body or His Flesh. Either it is changed into His actual Body, or the expression `This is My Body' is nonsense. It is misery that God should have to force a Gift upon you, which you should accept with deep faith, gratitude, and love . . .

"When Christ promised that He would give His very Flesh to eat, the Jews protested because they imagined a natural and cannibalistic eating of Christ's Body. Christ refuted this notion . . . by saying that He would ascend into Heaven, not leaving His Body in its human form upon earth. But He did not say that they were not to eat His actual Body . . . He meant, therefore, `You will not be asked to eat My Flesh in the horrible and natural way you think, for My Body as you see it with your eyes will be gone from this earth. Yet I shall leave My Flesh and Blood in another and supernatural way which your natural and carnal minds cannot understand. The carnal or fleshly judgment profits nothing. I ask you, therefore, to have faith in Me and to trust Me. It is the spirit of faith which will enable you to believe, not your natural judgment.' Then the Gospel goes on to say that many would not believe, and walked no more with Him; just as many today will not believe, and walk no more with the Catholic Church." (3)

K. Bertrand Conway

"Catholics make a distinction between the first part of John 6 (verses 26 to 51), wherein Christ speaks of Himself figuratively as the Bread of Heaven, a spiritual food to be received by faith. and the second part (verses 51 to 59), wherein He speaks literally of His Flesh and Blood as a real food, and a real drink. `In the first part,' writes Atzberger, `the food is of the present, in the second of the future; there it is given by the Father, here by the Redeemer Himself; there it is simply called `bread,' here the `Flesh of the Son of Man'; there our Lord speaks only of bread, here of His Flesh and Blood' . . .(Handbuch der Kath. Dogmatik, iv, 569) . . .

"Christ makes a clear-cut distinction between three kinds of breads the bread or manna of the desert (Ex 16:15; Jn 6:49), given by Moses to the Jews in the past to nourish the body; the Bread of Heaven or the Bread of Life (Jn 6:32,35), Christ Himself, given by the Father in the present to the Jews as an object of faith; and the Bread of Life, Christ Himself in the Eucharist, to be given in the future by Christ for the life of the world (Jn 6:52).

"Again, a figurative interpretation is impossible, according to the rules of language. If a figure of speech has a definite meaning, we cannot use it in a new sense, merely for purposes of controversy . . .

"To drink one's blood was also a familiar figure among the Jews, but it always meant a chastisement of God (Is 49:26; Rev 16:6) upon His enemies, a meaning impossible here." (85:248-249)

Isaiah 49:26 " . . . I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood . . ."

Revelation 16:6 " . . . They have shed the blood of saints and prophets . . . and thou hast given them blood to drink . . ."

"Drinking blood was expressly forbidden by the Jewish law (Gen 4:4; Lev 3:17; 7:26; 19:26; Deut 12:16; 15:23), and was therefore regarded as a heinous crime (I Kings 14:33; . . . Ezek 33:25). Cardinal Wiseman well says: `The ideas of drinking blood and eating human flesh presented something so frightful to a Jew, that we cannot allow our Savior, if a sincere teacher . . . to have used them at all under any circumstances than an absolute necessity of recurring to them, as the most literal method of representing His doctrines' (Lectures on the Real Presence, 106).

" . . . We must remember that Christ, like every good teacher, made two sorts of answers to men who objected to His teaching. If they did not understand His meaning, He explained His doctrine more fully. In this way He explains . . . the possibility of the rich man being saved (Mt 19: 24-6), the fact of Lazarus' death (Jn 11:11-14), the idea of freedom (Jn 8:32-4; cf. Jn 4:31-4; 8:21-23). When His hearers understood His teaching but refused to accept it, He repeated His teaching with even more emphasis. Thus, He insisted upon His power to forgive sins, when the Scribes accused Him of blasphemy (Mt 9:2-7), and insisted on His being Eternal, when the Jews said He was not yet fifty years old (Jn 8:56-8).

"In like manner He acted with the Jews who objected to His teaching about the Real Presence . . . He did not explain His doctrine in a figurative sense, but He repeated the doctrine that gave offence in a most emphatic manner (e.g., 6:53,55)." (85:249)

Conway goes on to refute the most common Protestant comeback - that of citing Jn 6:63 to the effect that when Jesus contrasts "spirit" and "flesh," He is proclaiming the purely symbolic nature of the Eucharist:

"The words flesh and spirit, when opposed to each other in the New Testament, never mean literal and figurative, but always the corrupted dispositions of sinful human nature (flesh) contrasted with human nature enriched by the grace of God (spirit) (Mt 26:41; Rom 7:5-6,25; 8:1-14; I Cor 5:5; II Cor 7:1; Gal 3:3; 4:29; 5:13-26; I Pet 3:18; 4:6). Christ's meaning, therefore, is clear: My words are such as the mere carnal man cannot receive, but only the man endowed with grace. St. Chrysostom says: `Why, therefore did He say: The flesh profiteth nothing? Not of His flesh does He mean this. Far from it; but of those who would understand what He said in a carnal sense . . . You see, there is question not of His flesh, but of the fleshly way of hearing' (In Joan., 47,2)." (85:251)

L. Ludwig Ott

"The necessity of accepting a literal interpretation in this case is . . . evident: A) From the nature of the words used. One specially notes the realistic expressions . . . `true, real food' (v.55); . . . `true, real drink' (v.55) / (4); `trogo' = `to gnaw, to chew, to eat' (5); B) From the difficulties created by the figurative interpretation . . .; C) From the reactions of the listeners, . . . D) the interpretation of the Fathers." (13:374)

M. Archbishop Fulton Sheen

"As they had communion with the flesh and blood of the Paschal Lamb, so they would now have communion with the Flesh and Blood of the true Lamb of God. He, Who was born in Bethlehem, the `House of Bread' . . . would now be to men, so inferior to Him, their Bread of Life . . . As man
died spiritually by physically eating in the Garden of Eden, so he would live again spiritually through eating the fruit of the Tree of Life." (6)

O. Kleist and Lilly N.T.

"6:48-59: "Jesus distinguishes between `coming to him' (through faith in him) and `eating his flesh and drinking his blood.' The latter expression would not be an intelligible metaphor for the former. Besides, Jesus compares the giving of his flesh to the giving of the manna, and at the same time contrasts the two; evidently, in both instances there is a question of real food. Finally, he prepared the multitude for the Eucharist by the miraculous feeding . . .

"6:61: `were grumbling': this grumbling may be said to have been the germ of the later heresy called `Docetism,' which denied the reality of Christ's human nature, and consequently undermined all Christian faith.

"6:62: If Christ could ascend into heaven, he could also make his body and blood fit to serve as food for the soul. In either case the body is stripped, by the power of God, of its raw, material qualities." (187:250-251)

P. Romano Guardini

"Should they have understood? Hardly. It is inconceivable that at any time anyone could have grasped intellectually the meaning of these words. But they should have believed. They should have clung to Christ blindly, wherever he led them. They should have sensed . . . that they were being directed toward something unspeakably huge, and simply said: we do not understand; show us what you mean. Instead they judge, and everything closes to them." (97:206)

"Jesus' closest followers are hard-pressed, but He does not help them. He forces them to a decision of life or death; are they ready to accept the fullness of revelation, which necessarily overthrows earthly wisdom, or do they insist on judging revelation, delimiting its `possibilities' from their own perspective? . . . Jesus turns to the remaining hard core: `Do you also wish to go away?' . . . Still not a word of help, only the hard, pure demand for a decision . . . They do not understand either, but struck by the power of the mystery, they surrender themselves to it. They are dumbfounded but trustful; at least most of them . . .

"Apparently there is no genuine belief without battle. Every believer worthy of the name must sometime undergo the danger of scandal and its trial by fire . . . It was the shock that probably shattered Judas' faith, the other eleven saving themselves only by a blind leap of trust to the
Master's feet . . . Here is the steepest, highest pinnacle of our faith (or the narrowest, most precipitous pass through which that faith must labor) . . . faith's supreme test . . .

"Jesus desires that men receive and make their own the gift of His vital essence, strength, His very Person as fully and intimately as they receive and assimilate the strength and nourishment of bread and wine. He even adds that the person who is not so nourished cannot possess ultimate life." (98:164-7)

Last Supper

A. Frank Sheed

"The word `is' need not detain us. There are those . . . who say that the phrase really means `This represents my body.' This sounds very close to desperation . . . The word `this' deserves a closer look. Had He said `Here is My body,' He might have meant that in some mysterious way, His body was there as well as, along with, the bread. But He said `This is My body' - this which I am holding, this which looks like bread but is not, this which was bread before I blessed it, this has become My body . . .

"What our Lord was giving us was a union with Himself closer than the apostles had in the three years of their companionship, than Mary Magdalen had when she clung to Him after His resurrection." (81:200-201)

B. John Hardon

"Christ . . . would not, in a matter of such paramount importance, have recourse to meaningless and (worse still) deceptive figures of speech. Figures of speech enhance a discourse only when the figurative meaning is clear either from the nature of the case or from common usage, neither of which could be invoked to claim that Christ was talking figuratively at the Last Supper." (14:460)

C. Martin Scott

"At the Last Supper He worked His greatest miracle . . . There was no outward change whatever . . . yet on Christ's word there was a substantial change . . . If we saw the bread transformed into actual flesh before our eyes there would be no mystery of faith. It would be evidence . . . But Christ instituted the Mass as a mystery of faith. He wanted us to believe on His word, even though there was no evidence to support it." (86:126)

D. Leslie Rumble and Charles Carty

"At the Last Supper Christ fulfilled what He had promised in the 6th chapter of St. John . . . This is My Body; this is My Blood - what words could be plainer? . . . In the language spoken by Christ there are at least forty expressions which meant `to signify.'" (8)

"Q: `The Apostles must have taken the symbolical sense, for they did not remark on the repugnant sense.' . . . A: At the Last Supper it is far more likely that the Apostles would have remarked upon our Lord's words if He had meant them symbolically . . . There were many other alternative expressions . . . If Christ intended to give merely a symbol of His body . . . He chose the very worst words to convey His meaning when He said without any qualification, `This is My body.' It was so unnecessary to choose that expression, and so absurd, that the Apostles would certainly have demanded an explanation of what He meant. But they did not." (83; v.2:769)

E. James Cardinal Gibbons

"According to a common rule observed in the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, we must always take the words in their literal signification, unless we have some special reason which obliges us to accept them in a figurative meaning." (10:240)

F. Bertrand Conway

"I may refer to a man's cunning by calling him a fox . . . Again, I may hold in my hand a photograph of the President of the United States, and say: `This is Mr. Hoover.' In both instances my meaning will be evident at once. But in no way is bread the fitting or possible symbol of the human body . . . Would Christ . . . use a figure of speech that would deceive millions of His followers for all time, and lead them into the very idolatry He came to abolish?" (85:252)

G. Ludwig Ott

"The necessity of interpreting the words literally may be seen: A) By the wording. There is nothing in the text to support a figurative interpretation; for bread and wine are neither of their nature, nor by current speech-usage, symbols of body and blood. The literal interpretation involves no intrinsic contradiction though it presupposes faith in the Divinity of Christ. B) By the circumstances . . . In order to avoid the danger of misleading humanity, in the institution of such a sublime Sacrament and act of worship . . . He had to employ a form of speech which could not be mistaken. C) By the practical inferences which St. Paul draws from the words of institution. In the unworthy reception of the Eucharist the Apostle sees a sinning against the body and blood of Our Lord . . . I Cor 11: 27 ff.; I Cor 10:16 . . . D) By the inadequacy of the arguments advanced against it. When the copula `Is' in many passages of Holy Writ has the meaning of `designates' or `symbolises,' the figurative sense of those passages is apparent at once from the nature of the matter (for example Mt 13 : 38 : `The field is the world'; cf. Jn 10:7; 15:1; I Cor 10:4) . . . (or) in a Parable or an allegory, or from the current use of language." (13:375)

H. Romano Guardini

"Here on the same table the sacrificial lamb had lain . . . Those present cannot fail to understand Jesus' words in the same sense: ritualistically and mysteriously, but realistically nevertheless . . . They did not interpret it merely as a symbol . . . but rather along the lines of the first passover in Egypt, of the paschal feast they had just completed, and of the sacrificial rite celebrated day after day in their temples." (98:370)

Paul

A. Ronald Cox

"In contrasting the Blessed Eucharist to pagan and Jewish sacrifices, Paul quite clearly assumes that the Mass is a true sacrifice. He also teaches that Communion means union with each other through our common union with Christ; it is the sacrament of unity in the Mystical Body. Christians at Corinth and at Ephesus all eat of the one same bread; an impossibility unless the bread has been changed into the body of Christ." (9)

B. Alan Schreck

"The most straightforward interpretation of these passages is that Paul considered the eucharistic bread and wine to be literally the body and blood of Christ." (2:130)

C. James Cardinal Gibbons

"Could St. Paul express more clearly his belief in the Real Presence than he has done here? . . . He who receives a Sacrament unworthily shall be guilty of the sin of high treason, and of shedding the blood of his Lord in vain. But how could he be guilty of a crime so enormous if he had taken in the Eucharist only a particle of bread and wine? Would a man be accused of homicide . . . if he were to offer violence to the statue or painting of the governor? Certainly not. In like manner, St. Paul would not . . . declare a man guilty of trampling on the blood of his Savior by drinking in an unworthy manner a little wine in memory of him." (10:242-243)

D. Ronald Cox

"Paul reminds them of the sacredness of the act they perform at Mass by identifying it with both the Last Supper and the Crucifixion . . . Though different in manner, it is really the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross that is commemorated at each Mass." (10)

E. Confraternity Bible Notes

"This section teaches that: 1) The Eucharist is really the body and blood of Christ (24 f.); 2) the Apostles and their successors were empowered to perpetuate the act (24-26); 3) the Mass is a sacrifice (25); 4) the Mass is one with the sacrifice of the cross (26); 5) the Eucharist must be
received worthily (27-30)." (185:184)

Protestant Symbolic Views and Their Precursors

A. Docetism and Gnosticism

"In Christian antiquity the Docetae and the Gnostic-manichaean sects, starting from the assumption that Christ had only an apparent body, denied the real presence." (13:371)

B. Ratramnus

"The first serious ripples of controversy came in the 9th century . . . A monk from the French Abbey of Corbie . . . Ratramnus (d.868) held that Christ's body in the Eucharist cannot be the same as Christ's historical body once on earth and now in heaven because the Eucharistic body is invisible, impalpable and spiritual. He wanted to hold on to the Real Presence but stressed the Eucharist as symbolic rather than corporeal . . . His ideas . . . influenced all subsequent theories that contradicted the traditional teaching of the Church." (14:461)

C. Berengarius

"Berengarius of Tours (d.1088) denied the Transubstantiation . . . He saw in the Eucharist merely a figure of the body and blood of Christ . . . In 1079, . . . Berengarius made a revocation." (13:371-372)

"He is the first Christian, so far as we can tell from the records, who denied the Real Presence." (4:240)

D. Catharism and Albigensianism

"In the 12th and 13th centuries various spiritualistic sects, out of aversion to the visible organisation of the Church, and under the influence of Gnostic-manichaean views, denied the sacerdotal power of consecration and the Real Presence ( . . . Cathari, Albigenses). In refutation of these errors, the 4th Lateran Council (1215) officially proposed the doctrines of Transubstantiation, of the Real Presence; and of the exclusive consecration-power of the validly consecrated priest." (13:372)

E. John Wycliffe

"In the 14th century John Wycliffe (d.1384) . . . taught that the substances of the bread and wine remain after the consecration (Remanance theory). He reduced the presence of Christ in the Eucharist to a dynamic presence . . . [and] that the adoration of the Eucharist is idolatry, and that the Mass was not instituted by Christ. His teaching was rejected at . . . the Council of Constance (1418)." (13:372)

Bibliography

(* = non-Catholic work)

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2. Schreck, Alan, Catholic and Christian, Ann Arbor, MI:Servant Books, 1984.
4. Keating, Karl, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, SanFrancisco: Ignatius, 1988.
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81. Sheed, Frank J., Theology For Beginners, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1957.
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85. Conway, Bertrand L., The Ouestion Box, New York: Paulist Press, 1929.
86. Scott, Martin, Things Catholics are Asked About, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1927.
88. Russo, Nicholas, The True Religion, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1886.
97. Guardini, Romano, The Lord, tr. Elinor C. Briefs, Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1954.
98. Guardini, Romano, Meditations Before Mass, tr. Elinor C. Briefs, Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1955.
185. The New Testament, Washington, D.C.: Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, 1941, (tr. from Latin Vulgate, rev. of Challoner NT - 1750, a rev. of Douay-Rheims NT).
187. Kleist, James A. and Joseph L. Lilly, The New Testament, Milwaukee: Bruce Pub. Co., 1954 (Kleist translated the Gospels, Lilly the rest).

Footnotes

1. Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Mysterium Fidei ("On Eucharistic Doctrine and Worship"), Glen Rock, NJ: Paulist Press, September 3, 1965, 42.
2. Barclay, William, Daily Study Bible, John, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, vol. 1, rev. ed., 1975, 223-225.
3. Rumble, Leslie, and Charles Carty, Eucharist Quizzes to a Street Preacher, St. Paul, MN: Radio Replies Press / Rep. Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1976, Question nos. 10, 12, 19-20, 29.
4. Greek alethos ("true," "indeed," "sure," or "verily"); Strong's word no. 230.
5. Greek trogo: Strong's word no. 5176. Thayer's Greek Lexicon gives the literal meaning as
"to gnaw, crunch, chew raw vegetables or fruits (as nuts, almonds, etc.)," p. 631. This word only appears six times in the N.T. and is always translated as "eat" in the KJV -- in John 6:54,56,57,58, and in Jn 13:18 and Matt 24:38:

John 13:18 ". . . He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." (Referring to Judas, in the context of the Last Supper, probably in reference to the meal which was the institution of the Eucharist).

Matt 24:38 ". . . In the days . . . before the flood they were eating and drinking . . ."

6. Sheen, Fulton, Life of Christ, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1958 / 1977 reprint, 140-141.
7. Martos, Joseph, Doors to the Sacred, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981, 241-242.
8. Rumble & Carty, ibid. (#3), nos. 13-14.
9. Cox, Ronald, It is Paul Who Writes, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1944, 175.
10. Ibid., 179.

Completed March 8, 1992 / Feast of St. John of God
Slightly revised February 26, 1994

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sermon on Envy (Rev. Adrian Dieleman)

Rev. Dieleman is the pastor of Trinity Christian Reformed Church, in Visalia, California. This sermon was preached on 12 August 2001. I've abridged it slightly. Particularly, I cut out the story of Mozart and Salieri, because it is pure fiction (purporting to be historical fact).

----------------------------

I Envy Defined

A What is envy? It is a desire to have what another person has. It is not simply a longing to also have what the other person has; rather, the envious person wants to have something instead of the other person having it. Furthermore, the envious person has feelings of hatred and ill will toward the person who possesses what they want.

B It is possible to be envious of almost anything. You can be envious of another's musical talents. You can also envy someone's ability to hit a baseball, score a basket, or water-ski on one ski. You can envy someone's intelligence, wisdom, knowledge. You can envy someone's ability to talk or pray in public. You can envy another's possessions and money and want them to be yours alone. You can envy another's spouse or children or family. You can envy another's position, job, or career.

C Scripture tells us that envy is our natural, sinful desire (Gal 5:19). It is our natural, sinful desire to have and to keep for ourselves alone what others have. It is our natural, sinful desire to hate and despise the person or persons who have what we want. Because of this, envy is found everywhere. It is found in the church. It is found in the world. None of us, I'm afraid, are immune to it. It can strike any of us at any time.

D If we are honest, we have to admit that at times we also want to be envied, that we encourage envy. This is especially apparent among children. Every youngster knows it is more fun to be the one envied than to be the envier. I remember the first day of grade school after the summer vacation. One by one we were asked to come to the front of the class to tell our classmates what we had done during the summer. One of my fellow students envied the great vacations and exciting trips all his classmates seemed to have so he invented all sort of tales about his summer in order to make the rest of us envious of him.

It isn't only the children who seek psychological fulfillment from being envied. Many adults want to be objects of envy too. We know that God was speaking to Joseph in the dreams mentioned in Genesis 37. Yet, I have often wondered what could possibly have possessed Joseph to tell his brothers about those dreams? Did he, perhaps, want to generate their envy? And, knowing their insane jealousy about the richly ornamented robe given him by father Jacob, what could possibly have possessed him to wear it when he went in search of his brothers at Shechem and Dothan? Did he, perhaps, want to generate their envy?

Advertisers today have discovered that one way to sell a product is to create envy among those who don't have it. That's why Rolls Royce can sell a Corniche for $353,590 and Lamborghini can sell a Diablo for $274,900+. The buyers know that possession of these cars displays to others how rich the owners are. This same principle of creating envy extends to clothing, houses, and furniture. I have even seen this principle used in choosing a marriage partner. Some people choose their mates to be the envy of their peers; they don't marry someone out of love but because he or she will elicit the envy of others.

I remember, when I was a teenager, hearing sermons on the evils of keeping up with the Jones' – a mythical family living next door – on striving to have the same things as my neighbor. Today, it is no longer good enough to keep up with the Jones'. Today's creed is to keep ahead of the Jones'. Today's creed is to be the envy of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. Today's creed is conspicuous consumption in order to generate the envy of those who can't afford what you have. But this too is nothing new. The preacher spoke of this almost 1000 years before the birth of Christ.

(Eccl 4:4) And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man's envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

E Let me make it perfectly clear: to envy is sin and makes one worthy of God's judgment; and, to purposely create or generate envy is as great a sin as the envy itself. To buy or do things, to practice conspicuous consumption, merely to generate the envy of those around you, also makes one worthy of God's judgment.

Do you envy? Does someone else have or possess something you want for yourself alone? You are living a life of sin. Do you purposely generate the envy of those around you? You also are living a life of sin.

II Envy is Destructive

A In more than one place the Bible warns us against the sin of envy. It tells us about the consequences of envy and generating envy:

(Job 5:2) Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.

(Prov 14:30) A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

(James 3:16) For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.


To put it simply, envy is destructive. The church fathers of the Middle Ages tell us that envy is one of the seven deadly sins that can lead to the everlasting destruction of hell fire. Unchecked envy can alienate a person from God as well as his fellow man. And, Paul tells us those who envy "will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:21).

B We see unchecked envy in the story of Joseph and his brothers. Joseph's brothers envied his coat, they envied his dreams of position and grandeur, they envied the love their father gave him. Joseph's brothers envied him. So what did they do? Scripture tells us "they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him." And, when given the opportunity, they sold him as a slave to Ishmaelite traders. Their envy resulted in years of unresolved grief, pain, and anguish for their father and almost brought him to a premature grave.

C The Bible abounds with other examples of envy and its dire consequences. I think of the story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel because he envied the favor which Abel gained in the eyes of God (Gen 4:5). The plans of Saul to kill David resulted from Saul's envy of David's popularity (1 Sam 18:6-9). And, it is out of envy that the scribes and Pharisees had Jesus crucified (Mt 27:18).

III Envy Overcome

A Envy is evil. Envy is destructive. As Paul makes clear in Galatians 5, envy is one of the acts of our old sinful nature. But as people who have been born-again by the Spirit of God, we are not to live according to our earthly nature; rather, we are to live and walk according to the Spirit. We have died with Christ and have been raised with Christ. Therefore, we are to consider ourselves as having died to sin and been raised to righteousness (Rom 6:1-14; Gal 5:16-26; Eph 4:17-5:21; Col 3:1-17). This means, congregation, that envy has no place in our lives and ought not to be found in the church.

B We are to overcome envy. How are we to do that? When all around us people have or possess what we want for ourselves, how can we keep ourselves from envy? The first thing we can mention is the tools the Spirit uses to make us more and more like Christ. For it is only by becoming like Christ that we can leave behind us the sins which are so deadly to our souls. You want to overcome envy? You want to overcome any of the sins of the old nature? It always has to start off with the Spirit's tools and the Spirit's help: prayer, Bible reading, worship, Bible study, the fellowship of other believers.

C We are to overcome envy. How are we to do that? The second thing we can mention is that we should stop looking at our neighbor and should look instead at ourselves. There is a little song that we sing that speaks to this. You know the words: "Count your many blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God has done." That's what we have to do. Instead of looking at the goods and talents God has given to our neighbor, we ought to look at what God has given to us. We have to recognize the many blessings and opportunities God has given to us.

A good contemporary example here is Joni Eareckson Tada. She became a quadriplegic as the result of a diving accident. A life of sports, travel, and fun seemed to be over. The promise of a professional career and a happy marriage appeared to be gone. She was confined to a wheelchair for life instead of being free to live the happy life she had anticipated for herself.

How easy it would have been for Joni to envy others who were able-bodied. How easy it would have been for Joni's envy to make her into an angry, bitter person.

Instead of looking at and envying those around her, Joni looked at herself and counted the many blessings and opportunities God had given her. She discovered that because of the horrible thing which had happened to her, she was equipped to minister to other handicapped persons in a way that is impossible for those who are not disabled. Furthermore, she has been a source of inspiration and perseverance for countless believers facing trials and afflictions.

D We are to overcome envy. How are we to do that? The third thing we can mention is contentment. We are to be content with the goods, talents, and opportunities God has given to us. We are to realize that each of us is called to joyfully serve God in the place that He has put us.

E We are to overcome envy. How are we to do that? The fourth thing we can mention is goals and priorities. If you find yourself filled with envy, if you find yourself purposely generating envy, perhaps the problem is wrong goals and priorities. Don't forget, the goal of our lives is not treasure on earth, but treasure in heaven. Our purpose is not to accumulate goods and honors but to live a life of service.

Conclusion

Joseph's brothers were filled with envy. Therefore "they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him."

Beware, congregation, of the evil of envy. Beware, because envy is destructive. Beware, because envy can lead to the everlasting destruction of hell fire. Beware, because unchecked envy can alienate a person from God as well as his fellow man.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Eric Svendsen Sez Billy Graham, Franklin Graham, and Dr. James Dobson Betray the Gospel and R Lousy Evangelicals, in Distinct Danger of Damnation

[for background, see my blog post: Dr. James Dobson and "Anti-Catholicism"]

Ironically, anti-Catholic apologist Eric Svendsen is far tougher on Dr. Dobson than I was. I made it clear that I greatly respect the man, and don't question his basic Christian integrity as a Protestant evangelical. But Svendsen does not take such a favorable view:

. . . evangelicals like James Dobson are more committed to politics than they are to the truth of the gospel. They think it's more important to get social laws passed to increase their own comfort in this life than to make sure that people are not deceived by a false gospel and perhaps increase the comfort of many in the next life. Dobson thinks he represents evangelicalism when he is interviewed by the national press; he thinks he represents the “evangelical agenda.” He doesn’t. Far worse, the national press thinks he represents evangelicalism. Dobson and his ilk are far, far removed from representing the concerns of true evangelicalism; namely, contending for the "once-for-all-time-delivered-to-the-saints faith." He buckles—and embarrassingly so—when asked to defend that kind of thing. He’d just rather not talk about it. He’d rather allow others to believe that the pope is just another Christian leader, that Roman Catholicism is just another Christian denomination, and that we are all just Christians fighting together for the same political causes. If Dobson, Graham et al can’t get it right and can’t be faithful in defending the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ--when asked about it no less!--they should just stop making appearances on national media.

(Are the “Focused” Chickens Coming Home to Roost?; italics his; bolding mine)

Now, it's bad enough that Svendsen goes after Dr. Dobson in such a fashion, but when he says that Billy Graham (of all people!) "can’t be faithful in defending the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ," it makes me really furious. Billy Graham has done more to promote the gospel than Eric could ever do in a hundred lifetimes.

Billy Graham (he being an evangelist by vocation) preaches the gospel; Eric and his anti-Catholic cronies preach misinformation and disinformation, and unnecessarily, sinfully fuel divisions and suspicions. Billy Graham can be credited more than any other evangelical for providing a stellar example of an evangelical Protestant Christian to the world. But Svendsen has the unmitigated gall to suggest that both Dr. Dobson and Billy Graham "should just stop making appearances on national media," because they supposedly don't defend the "gospel" and do not represent "evangelicalism."

Where is the outrage from evangelicals themselves when someone like Svendsen writes such outrageous, outlandish things? Maybe it's out there somewhere and I have to work harder to find it, but I haven't seen it yet, and I've done my fair share of research on anti-Catholicism.

One expects Svendsen et al to get it wrong about Catholicism, but when he can't even refrain from lying about and slandering fellow Protestants (and some of the most noble and great ones at that, who have done so much good work for the Kingdom, and positively influenced so many lives), then he has clearly crossed into territory far more absurd and ludicrous than he has already been inhabiting, lo these many years. Now he is virtually anti-Protestant, too, with his criterion that any Protestant who dares classify Catholicism as a Christian entity must be a bad Protestant and no evangelical; ergo, compromises "the gospel" and so forth.

How sad . . . . . But I am happy to have a chance to defend my esteemed Protestant brethren (in this case, two men for whom I have very great admiration and respect) against public attacks from their extreme Protestant brethren.
==================================================

Clarification as of 4-30-05:
 
It turns out that I made an error in assuming that Svendsen's reference to "Graham," was to Billy Graham. It was, rather to Billy's eminent son, Franklin Graham. Svendsen also clarified that he does not deny that Dobson is an evangelical , in a post which he now has removed, because it was too insulting to me personally (but more on that below). Thus, I have removed a complete citation of that post from this paper because Svendsen removed it and apologized (which apology I appreciate and glady accept):

Waddling in the muck of Internet apologetics eventually takes its toll. I'm moving on to higher ground. While I'll continue to point out the errors of errant theological systems (such as Roman Catholicism), as well as the mis-steps of certain evangelical leaders who seem to walk a bit too close to the edge of the heretical cliff, I am going to pass on the mud-wrestling challenges from Internet e-pologists. To that end, I have deleted a previous entry written in rash response to Dave Armstrong, to whom I apologize along with any others I may have mud-wrestled in the past. While I may continue to check in on their various blogs from time to time, any response to them will be a tempered and measured one.

(Toward Higher Ground, 4-30-05)


Okay, so I "got the wrong Graham" (sounds like an inadvertant oversight at a bakery specializing in sweet crackers). But it really makes no difference in my overall argument, because Svendsen also included Billy Graham in his larger complaints, as is clear when consulting a related post of his. But in deference to his clarification (stated in most gentlemanly fashion), I have modified the title of this post. The original title was, "Eric Svendsen Sez Billy Graham and Dr. James Dobson Betray the Gospel and R Not Evangelicals."

So Mr. Svendsen thinks Dobson is an "evangelical." Fine. And he protested because I mistook "Graham" for Billy Graham. That's okay, too. I have no problem admitting that I made a mistake. I don't think it is this super-serious thing that he thinks it is, but it was a mistake, and I 'fess up to it and offer Mr. Svendsen my apology (he has more than once denied that my apologies are insincere, but nevertheless, I offer him my sincere apology. How he receives it is his business: and God sees everything).

[note: the above apology of mine was offered before Svendsen's apology. As of this writing, he has not yet publicly acknowledged and accepted it]

Now, back to the issue at hand: has Svendsen included Billy Graham in his critique along these lines of (lousy) evangelicals who appear on television, agree with Catholics to some extent, and therefore (as he thinks) compromise the gospel? The answer is yes, certainly. I shall now cite a post of his from a few days ago:

On Evangelical Comments Concerning the Death of the Pope: An Apology [link]

[bolding is mine; italics are Svendsen's]

So far I have not commented on this blog about the evangelical response to the pope's death, but the responses have become so conspicuous by their predictability that I think it's time to comment. By now, I have heard/seen all the responses by James Dobson, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson et al. But it didn't really come home with me until I saw Franklin Graham on Hannity and Colmes a few nights ago. Graham, as always, attempted to get the gospel in at every turn (for which I commend him). But when directly asked by Sean Hannity what still divides Roman Catholics and Protestants, Graham danced around it ("well there are still some doctrinal issues we don't fully agree on") and then quickly added (paraphrasing from memory), "BUT, Catholics and Protestants agree on what's important. We agree on the cross, we agree that Jesus died and rose again."That's what's important?

[Yes. I think most Christians would agree that Jesus' death and Resurrection are highly important components of the Christian faith. But Eric apparently would disagree with that.]

That's what unites us?

[Yes, among many other things]

That's the gospel upon which we agree?

[Yes, according to the Bible: see my paper, What is the Gospel?]

. . . Let me be very clear here. The official teachings of Roman Catholicism stand in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ--no less than the teachings of the Judaizers in Paul's own day stood opposed to the gospel. Indeed, Roman Catholicism has added so many obstacles to salvation that have to be hurdled as a prerequisite to salvation, that the Judaizer heresy anathematized by Paul in Gal 1:8-10 looks like a Christian denomination by comparison!

[Quite clear indeed! Quite tragically misinformed and mistaken too . . . ]

. . . What gospel? What good? How can we speak of the "good" a man does if his life is dedicated to another gospel, one we have not received, and one that is in fact based on those "good" things he did? What "good" is there in standing up for moral causes if in the end the people you've won over by those moral causes end up believing a "gospel" that cannot save?

. . . I would indeed like to offer an apology. But the apology I would like to offer is in behalf of the misguided Protestants--both those who have appeared on the media as well as those who have appeared on the Internet and presumed to apologize on my behalf (thank you very much, but please restrain yourselves in the future)--who have misled people into believing Roman Catholicism is just another option for those wanting to be Christians, who have abandoned fidelity to the gospel, and who have become the cause of stumbling to those who have looked to them for validation of following a false gospel. My apology is to the truth, to the gospel, and to the Lord Jesus Christ who has entrusted each of us with fidelity to his word, and has charged each of us to uphold it without fear, without wavering, and without giving in to the spirit of this age--the spirit that screams at us to be "broadminded" about the narrow way that saves. I want to apologize on their behalf for their shameful abdication of truth. I want to apologize on their behalf that they were too ashamed of the offense of the gospel to uphold it faithfully. I want to apologize on their behalf that they gave in to the pressures of political correctness and did not remain faithful to his word. And mostly, I want to apologize on their behalf that they, as a result of their "embarrassment" over the proclamation of the truth, have numbered themselves with those of whom Jesus himself will be ashamed at his coming. I pray they would be spared from that which in the end will be truly shameful.

Now, who is Eric talking about in the above rant? Well, obviously in context, those "evangelicals" who have appeared on television speaking (reverentially) about the death of Pope John Paul II. Do we know any specific persons to whom he refers? Yes: James Dobson, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham "et al." Those are the four he named. So it is a clear implication that one or more of these men (if not all) are being referred to (i.e., as sad examples of Protestants who said nice stuff about the pope, which is a naughty no-no in Eric's eyes and cause for the gravest concern for their very souls). It's quite reasonable, therefore, to assume that he had Billy and Franklin Graham, James Dobson, and Pat Robertson in mind when he listed the outrageous errors they committed:

1. "abandoned fidelity to the gospel."
2. "misled people into believing Roman Catholicism is just another option for those wanting to be Christians."
3. "giving in to the spirit of this age--the spirit that screams at us to be "broadminded" about the narrow way that saves."
4. "shameful abdication of truth."
5. "too ashamed of the offense of the gospel to uphold it faithfully."
6. "gave in to the pressures of political correctness."
7. "did not remain faithful to his word."
8. " '"embarrassment' over the proclamation of the truth."

As a result, Svendsen (sad to say, predictably) categorizes them as close to eternal damnation as he can without sounding utterly ridiculous and laughable (even by low anti-Catholic standards):

9. "they . . . have numbered themselves with those of whom Jesus himself will be ashamed at his coming. I pray they would be spared from that which in the end will be truly shameful."

Yes, what a spectacle: Eric Svendsen praying fervently that Billy Graham and Dr. James Dobson avoid a quite-possible and plausible damnation at the Second Coming, due to their almost unforgivable sins of acknowledging that Catholics are Christians too. I truly believe that I have seen everything in anti-Catholicism now, and that this can't be topped. I don't believe I will see this sheer folly bested in my lifetime. But I've been surprised before . . . .

All this being the case, I need not take back anything I said about Svendsen's opinion of Billy Graham or Dr. Dobson above (except -- technically -- for one phrase: "can’t be faithful in defending the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ," that Eric applied to Dobson and Franklin Graham, not Billy Graham -- but that is only the merest trifle in light of all this additional information, which expresses virtually the same thing in only slightly different words).

It's even worse than I thought. All I had wrong was the particular article where Billy Graham was skewered; it was this earlier one. Ah, yes, but Billy Graham and Dr. James Dobson are still evangelicals! They're just a hair's breadth away from damnation, for committing the unforgivable anti-Catholic fundamentalist "sin" of extending the right hand of fellowship to Catholics!

[Since it is almost inevitable that as soon as Svendsen sees this he will mindlessly accuse me of being a "breaker of solemn oaths" again, I will anticipate his foolhardy objection and provide the link for my paper, Resolutions and "Solemn Oaths": Are They Identical?: Anti-Catholic Apologist Eric Svendsen's Incomprehension of the Meaning of English Words and His Ludicrous Charges That I am a Liar and Deceiver (With James White's Blessing) --- he did indeed make this charge, in his post which he later removed]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Radical Catholic Reactionary Errors of the Seattle Catholic Documented

The following excerpts document serious errors that the Seattle Catholic saw fit to print and espouse.

* * * * *

Never Lose Focus on the Complete Picture 

Thomas A. Droleskey (23 August 2004)

Even if Rome granted an Apostolic Administration for the Traditional Latin Mass, obeisance would still have to be paid to the disaster that is the Second Vatican Council and the horror that is the Novus Ordo Missae

Rome itself must reject the regime of novelty of the past forty years, which is itself an ecclesial embrace of the very errors of modernity that coalesced into Modernism, critiqued so thoroughly by Pope Saint Pius X in Pascendi Domenici Gregis in 1907.

This, then, is my final contribution to the Seattle Catholic site, which is such a vital source of news and information on the Internet. . . . I will still try to produce articles twice a month for The Remnant. [another radical Catholic reactionary periodical]

The Vatican II Renewal: Myth or Reality

 Kenneth C. Jones (8 December 2003)

(The following article is reprinted with permission from The Latin Mass magazine.)

. . . it is beyond question that our Holy Mother Church is again falling into ruins . . . understand and respond to the emergency before it is too late. 

The myth that the Council did not cause the crisis in the Church — the post hoc ergo propter hoc objection.

These hard facts show a growing, vibrant, militant Church at the time the Second Vatican Council opened. Attempts to portray it otherwise are revisionist history by those who want to justify or explain away the revolution in the Church since the Council. 

The final myth I want to discuss is the idea that the crisis we now face was not caused by the Council or the changes imposed in its name. 

I think the burden is on those who make the post hoc argument to offer a better reason. If the changes made after Vatican II did not cause the crisis, what did? They offer no other reason.

. . . it's time we discard New Catholicism, as we discarded New Coke. It's time to bring back Catholicism Classic, the real thing.

No Wonder Our Ranks Keep Growing

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (3 November 2003)

. . . the ongoing post-conciliar revolution. 

Isn't one interpretation of the catastrophe that has resulted from revolutionizing the Church that the pre-conciliar Church may have been on to something after all?

Revolutionary Parallels 

Peter W. Miller (2 August 2004)

Responding to the ever-growing disenchantment many Catholics are starting to realize regarding what we are still being told is a "New Springtime" for the Church, a number of "Why Vatican II was Necessary," "How the Council Saved the Church," "Vatican II - We Love You," type of articles have been appearing with a greater frequency in a number of publications. With an underwhelming amount of direct evidence for positive results from Vatican II, the line of argumentation quickly turns to perhaps the last vestige of a revolutionary apologist - undocumented and largely anecdotal attacks on aspects of the pre-Conciliar Church.

Similarly, the post-Conciliar revolutionaries in the Church are having an increasingly hard time demonstrating the success of what they worked so hard to create. Faced with discouraging numbers and a universal impression of chaos to those within and without, they stubbornly stick to their guns. More and more people are starting to recognize the folly of this program, but when speaking out, are faced with the problem of authority since, by and large, those holding positions of authority in the Church are still those who wholeheartedly support the current revolution in which we find ourselves.

Catholic prelates are increasingly finding themselves in the position of Martin Luther, wondering why the revolution they helped facilitate is failing to draw new adherents, or why they are needing to fight a growing counter-effort seeking to undo what they have established. 

Revisiting Some Old Questions 

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. (25 July 2003)

The new rite itself, of course, by breaking dramatically with liturgical tradition, de-emphasizing important Catholic doctrines, and imposing bland, manufactured prayers, has severed one of the Catholic's most tangible links to the communion of saints. No longer does he worship in a manner that those who came before him would have recognized . . . Roman Rite Catholics have been rendered spiritual orphans, rootless and rudderless in a hostile world. 

Common Ground on the Catholic Crisis 

Peter W. Miller (4 April 2003)

Most orthodox Catholics are by now able to readily acknowledge the severe crisis the Church is facing in a number of areas: liturgically, doctrinally, pastorally, morally, and so on. Although conservative and traditional Catholics may agree on many things (and most importantly the Doctrines of the Faith), their disagreement as to the specific causes and contributors (particularly the role played by recent Popes, the Second Vatican Council and the liturgical modifications) have been the source of an ever-increasing amount of friction and vitriol.

More so than any other, the point of contention revolves around the Second Vatican Council and the role it played in "causing" the current crisis. Those who take up certain criticisms of the Council are accused of committing the logical fallacy, post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after the fact, therefore because of the fact); that is, they falsely assert something that happened after the Council was caused by the Council merely because of the temporal sequence. Such would be a legitimate criticism if that were the crux of traditionalist arguments, but once the issue turns to citing specific examples which support one's case, the defense must turn to a more direct refutation rather than a reiteration of a supposed logical fallacy that could no longer apply, if indeed it ever did at all. 

When speaking of the relationship between the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar crisis, "cause" is perhaps too strong a word. Rather than an originating cause of these problems, Vatican II was more of a catalyst or mechanism by which certain problems already affecting the Church were amplified and given an apparently authoritative basis. As mentioned before, liberalism can generally be regarded as the true cause; the argument then becomes whether Vatican II aided the advancement of liberalism which was already making strides in previous decades or effectively confronted and curtailed it. 

Although such figures show the difficulty of those who maintain or suggest that the Second Vatican Council was the sole cause or absolute starting point of all current problems in the Church (which I'm not certain anyone actually does, unfortunate choices of phrasing notwithstanding), arguing that the Council was not a "disaster" does not necessarily keep it from being characterized as a "failure".

It doesn't take much imagination to surmise that had Vatican II never have come about, the Church would not be experiencing any glorious age in 2003. We would most likely be facing many of the same problems, but would they be as bad? Would Catholics accept all the claims of renegades if there were no Council to which they could appeal for authority? If the Mass itself were not drastically altered, would other changes have been possible? Without a Council to mark a shift the Church's orientation, would subsequent Popes have tolerated any of this?

If the post-conciliar Church were strong with faithful Catholics and effective governance, the Second Vatican Council would most likely not have had any significant negative impact and we would be living in better times. Vatican II was not inherently bad or evil, but due to the influence of liberals and the freedom they were given, certain deficiencies and ambiguities ended up in the resulting documents and were seized upon by most of those same individuals in order to drive through their agenda.

. . . To maintain that the Second Vatican Council was a destructive force which descended upon a glorious Church to usher in the present crisis is to overlook plain and basic facts; but to absolve it from any and all culpability due to the previous existence of problems or a tentative understanding on the nature and outcome of Ecumenical Councils demonstrates an even greater obstinacy. . [relatively helpful, qualified observations]

Conservative and Traditional Catholicism Compared

Edward Faber (21 March 2003)

There is perhaps no contemporary theological discussion that alienates the traditionalists from everyone else in the Church than ecumenism. The tremendous force of John Paul II in the ecumenical direction has been welcomed by the conservatives, who justly point out that they often have more in common with their evangelical friends than with their fellow Catholics. The traditionalist is very uncomfortable with the whole ecumenical thing as it seems to compromise the unicity of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. While many traditionalists often accuse Vatican II of saying what it does not say about ecumenism, they rightly remain perplexed when the Church seems to whisper apologies for being the fullness of truth while then performing actions, be it on the papal or the diocesan or the parochial level which blatantly compromise that fact.

There is a great attempt on the part of conservatives to distinguish between a true and a false ecumenism while trying to uphold the unicity of Christ and Catholicism and reconcile ecumenism and evangelization. Much ink has been spilled on the matter without there being any convincing theological resolution. The traditionalist ignores all of this, . . .

A Brief Defense of Traditionalism: Responding to certain attacks and misconceptions

Peter W. Miller (21 December 2001)

As the heretics of yesterday have become the liberals of today, the liberals of yesterday now lay claim to the title "conservative". Consequentially the conservatives came to be known as "traditionalists". Unfortunately, these terms are no longer completely accurate descriptions. So for the purposes of this essay, I will use the following general definitions to delineate the differences between traditionalists and "conservatives":

TRADITIONALIST: One who challenges the novel practices and teachings of Catholics (including bishops and priests) which appear to contradict the prior teaching of the Church. A traditionalist questions the prudence of new pastoral approaches and holds the belief that those things generally deemed objectively good or evil several decades ago remain so today.

"CONSERVATIVE": One who upholds and defends the current policies and positions of the Church hierarchy regardless of their novelty. . . . "Conservative" will be used it in quotation marks to avoid the misleading connotation of being diametrically opposed to liberalism or on the far right of the spectrum. [i.e., "conservatives" are really "liberals"]

Again, some "conservatives" claim all current Papal actions to be completely consistent with his predecessors and Vatican II completely in line with the history of the Church, while the Pope and Cardinals claim and celebrate the opposite.

And why are "conservatives" the only ones defending these documents? Why don't the actual authors in the hierarchy provide clarifications? While many "conservatives" are quick to defend some of the novel language Ut Unum Sint or Dominus Iesus as perfectly orthodox, such defenses have not been regular or forthcoming from the Vatican. And (as with the Novus Ordo) since when does something "perfectly orthodox" even need a defense?

Traditionalists tend to place the "blame" for many modern issues on the Vatican Council and the New Mass (also Church governance which could be seen as an extension of conciliar-style "ecumenism" and "collegiality").

Traditionalists make a compelling case for the role the "renewal" of Vatican II has played in the modern crisis. . . . Traditionalists believe the Second Vatican Council to be harmful to the Church.

Which brings us to the much heralded "Spirit of Vatican II" which is used to justify any and every aberration or heresy. Regardless of whether you see this as an abuse of the Council or the result of the logical progression it unleashed (I tend to favor the latter), such novelties would have no excuse were it not for the Council, and the laity would be less likely to accept them. Novelties on a far smaller scale went on before the Council but received limited support and were clearly seen for what they were.

"Conservatives" are faced with another problem when they start blaming the current crisis on certain dissenting bishops and priests who spread heresy, dissent and scandal. If they are to blame, so is their leader. Who is the one in charge of governing the bishops and priests? Who is responsible for keeping them in line? If local policemen start a riot, you can bet the police chief and mayor will be held accountable. When Palestinian suicide bombers attack Israel, Arafat will certainly be held to blame. When a company is facing bankruptcy and losses, the CEO needs to answer for it. Pick any organizational analogy you like — teachers, parents, sports teams, schools, businesses, organizations, societies — the result is the same. The state of a household in ruin has something to do with its head — whether through misguided actions or the lack of appropriate response. So any attack against a liberal Cardinal or dissident bishop is an implication of Our Holy Father.

As a final clarification, most traditionalists do not see the Second Vatican Council and Novus Ordo as formal "causes" of the modern crisis but catalysts which allowed a number of Modernists to come to the forefront and foist their ideas and heresies on the Church under the guise of a "renewal". Both marked a sort of "triumph" of liberal, masonic and Modernist ideals within the structure of the Church. It is not wholly inaccurate to claim that:

"What the French Revolution was to France, the Second Vatican Council was to the Catholic Church."

While the validity of the sacrament may not be up for debate, the prudence of the decisions supporting the revision (revolution) of the Roman Missal is not beyond questioning, especially given one of its chief objectives. If one objects to the current ecumenical direction and practices which humiliate the Catholic Faith and cost countless souls, why should the Novus Ordo Mass receive immunity? 

The dissidents on the left who were rightfully shunned a half century ago have seen their ideals (religious liberty, collegiality, ecumenism) gain great measures of support in the Vatican.

"Conservatives" would dread having to get down on their knees every night worrying what the Pope is going to do or say next; or how many potential converts are being lost due to the ecumenical shenanigans; or how an orthodox priest will ever be able to make it through a seminary without getting expelled for being too Catholic; or what type of man a College of Cardinals which includes Mahony and Kasper will elect to succeed John Paul II.

[yeah!!!! What kind of man would be elected by all those "conservative/liberal" John Paul II appointees? Well: Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: without a doubt the RadCathRs' very favorite and most-cited Cardinal (particularly with regard to lituregical abuses). What a "revolution" and conspiracy in the Church against "traditionalism" and orthodoxy, and a blow against reform of liturgical abuses, huh? What, did all these "conservative/liberal" Cardinals wake up overnight and discover the wondrous truths of RadCathRism, which caused them to elect the right man? Hmm????]

It is ludicrous to share in the Vatican illusion of a "Springtime of Vatican II" when all eye can see is a devastated vineyard. (3)

[in an older online version of this article (as late as February 2004; removed by April 2004), there was an additional section, entitled "POST SCRIPT: 'Wandering' aimlessly? ," where the author gives his thoughts about a controversy between The Wanderer and [RadCathR periodical] The Remnant. It's not clear whether the removal of this piece suggests a move away from more radical RadCathRism on the part of Miller or not. His article, "Common Ground . . . ", above, contains some relatively balanced statements on Vatican II, so it could be indicative of a positive trend in his thought; yet the "Postcript" remained for about a year after this article appeared]:

The Remnant (an American traditional Catholic periodical whose editor was among the targets of the attack) published a series of responses which defended the individuals singled out, as well as Catholic traditionalism as a whole (FULL TEXT). The responses demonstrated the obvious inconsistencies of the attack and summarily refuted what anti-traditionalist arguments were made. To the objective observer, the original work was destroyed and the author embarrassed. As much was obvious even to a non-objective "conservative" observer. I know because I was one.

Like any good "conservative", I would react strongly against those who claimed that Vatican II or the Novus Ordo Mass had any deficiencies — they were both doctrinally sound but unexplainably hijacked and abused by evil men.

Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger were my role models and the shining examples of wonderful "conservative" Catholicism in an increasingly liberal world — the generals fighting the "culture of death".

I knew all the "conservative" mantras: . . . "Pope John Paul II brought about the 'fall' of Communism";

While the problems were already becoming quite apparent before even reading the responses, I (like several other "conservatives" I knew) acquired copies of The Remnant to read them for myself. What I knew would be a relatively easy defense became a complete and irrefutable annihilation of The Wanderer and the work they mistakenly chose to print.

Since that event, The Wanderer has been on a very questionable "trajectory". . . . The criticisms of Cardinals and bishops have become less frequent as the actions of their superiors in the Vatican have become more similar. 

The name is becoming more and more fitting as the direction in which this periodical is "wandering" becomes more and more unclear.


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Is Lutheranism Officially Anti-Catholic (The Book of Concord and the Catholic Mass)?

The following dialogue with Lutheran "BWL" occurred in comments below. Since I did a little work in my reply, I thought it would be appropriate to make it a new paper of its own. His words will be in blue. Citations from the Book of Concord will be in green.

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Not to be nit-picky, but my understanding is that Luther and Calvin saw the RCC not as a false church, but as an impure one, which is an important distinction. They both recognized the validity of Catholic baptisms, and Luther thought the RC also had a true communion. Although Luther was critical of certain elements of RC communion practice (communion in one kind, the mass as a sacrifice) he did famously say that he'd rather drink blood with the pope than wine with the Reformed. Just a suggestion, but if you want to take on anti-Catholics, bringing up Calvin and Luther's view of Rome actually helps your case. 


As I've mentioned before, this should work against Reformed Baptist types by showing how Luther and Calvin would see their sacramentology (or anti-sacramentology, however you want to put this) as conflicting with Reformational soteriology. In other words, on the whole it helps you to point out how while Reform Baptist like to claim the mantel of defending the Reformation they actually conflict with the Reformers on numerous and important points.


I believe that it is a mixed-bag, when it comes to Luther and Calvin's view of the Catholic Church. I think they contradict themselves. I've found it impossible to interpret their views in this vein in a consistent, coherent fashion. For my documentation, see my papers:

John Calvin's View of the Catholic Church

Dialogue With Dr. Paul Owen on John Calvin's Anti-Catholicism

Did Martin Luther Regard the (Roman) Catholic Church as a Non-Christian, Apostate Institution?: Featuring dozens of citations from Luther's own writings; particularly On the Councils and the Churches (1539) and Against Hans Wurst (1541)

Luther's (and Calvin's) View of the Catholic Church

On the other hand, I've written about Luther's more "Catholic" beliefs:
The Pro-Catholic Side of Martin Luther
I'd be delighted to conclude that they regarded Catholics as more or less equal brothers-in-Christ, but there is too much that suggests otherwise, which has never been adequately explained to me by those like yourself who believe that they were not anti-Catholics (you're welcome to be the first; be my guest). I always say regarding Calvin, that if he thinks I participate in the grossest blasphemy, sacrilege, and idolatry every week at Mass, then that can hardly be squared with thinking that all this is Christian.

First, as you know Luther was prone to uh, exaggerations and harsh, polemical language. This certainly was a big flaw of his, though it's worth pointing out his Catholic opponents were at times prone to nasty polemics at first. My point is, however, that Luther should be taken with a grain of salt.

Are you maintaining, then, that every time Luther wrote something which could reasonably be construed as denying that the Catholic Church is truly Christian, it should be taken in this way, as merely his excess in language? There is not a single instance of these utterances that he meant literally? It seems to me that this would be an extraordinary claim, and almost impossible to prove.

To my knowledge, however, Luther and the Lutheran church has always regarded Rome as a christian church, though an impure one with many doctrinal flaws. That includes the sacrifice of the mass. I don't see, however, why you think serious disagreements in this regard makes Luther and the Lutherans, for example, "anti-Catholic."

I think it has to be judged on an individual case basis (as regards individual opinions). Lutherans, like Anglicans and Reformed, contain both views, and many members seem confused about even their own positions.

The RCC doesn't recognize Lutheran orders, nor from what I understand does it think that Lutherans receive Christ's true body and blood when they take communion.


That's correct.

So, if the Lutheran disagreement over the sacrifice of the mass makes Lutherans "anti-Catholic", why isn't the Catholic church "anti-Lutheran" since the RC doesn't recognize Lutheran communion?

The difference would be if the mass is considered blasphemy and sacrilege and idolatry (whereas we would never say that about a Lutheran service, or any standard Protestant worship service; we would say they convey grace of some sort, even if not technically "sacramental").

The above view (where it occurs) would make the mass, by definition, a non-Christian thing. Then you would be in the incoherent, odd position of agreeing that Catholicism is Christian, despite the fact that its central rite is utterly non-Christian (and, far beyond that, anti-Christian, as it is idolatry, blasphemy, etc.). Quite a bizarre state of affairs, there . . .

In fact, the Book of Concord confirms my suspicion that Lutheranism is officially anti-Catholic. Lutherans are bound to this as their confession, so it can't be cavalierly dismissed as some old irrelevant document.

Smalcald Articles [1537], Part II, Article II: The Mass:

The Mass in the papacy must be regarded as the greatest and most horrible abomination because it runs into direct and violent conflict with this fundamental article. Yet, above and beyond all others, it has been the supreme and most precious of the papal idolatries . . .

If there were reasonable papists, one would speak to them in the following friendly fashion:

"Why do you cling so tenaciously to your Masses?

1. "After all, they are a purely human invention. They are not commanded by God . . . Christ says, 'In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men' (Matt. 15:9)."

. . . 3. . . . "one can be saved in a better way without the Mass. Will the Mass not then collapse of itself -- not only for the rude rabble, but also for all godly, Christian, sensible, God-fearing people -- especially if they hear that it is a dangerous thing which was fabricated and invented without God's Word and will?"

. . . 5. "The Mass is and can be nothing else that a human work, even a work of evil scoundrels . . ."

Accordingly we are and remain eternally divided and opposed the one to the other. The papists are well aware that if the Mass falls, the papacy will fall with it.Before they would permit this to happen, they would put us all to death.

Besides, this dragon's tail -- that is, the Mass -- has brought forth a brood of vermin and the poison of manifest idolatries.


(The Book of Concord, translated and edited by Theodore Tappert, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House / Muhlenberg Press, 1959, pp. 293-294)

Apology of the Augsburg Confession [1531], Article XXIV: The Mass

Carnal men cannot stand it when only the sacrifice of Christ is honored as a propitiation. For they do not understand the righteousness of faith but give equal honor to other sacrifices and services. A false idea clung to the wicked priests in Judah, and in Israel the worship of Baal continued; yet the church of God was there, condemning wicked services. So in the papal realm the worship of Baal clings -- namely, the abuse of the Mass . . . And it seems that this worship of Baal will endure together with the papal realm until Christ comes to judge and by the glory of his coming destroys the kingdom of Antichrist. Meanwhile all those who truly believe the Gospel should reject those wicked services invented against God's command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.

(Tappert, ibid., 268)

I guess at the end of the day I don't see why strong disagreements among Christians makes them "anti".


Not disagreements, but denial of the status of other Christians as Christians. It's the devil's biggest victory: if half of the Body of Christ denies that the other half even belongs in the Body at all, then what could be better for the devil's purposes? We'll always be hopelessly divided. So the world keeps going to hell because (anti-Catholic, anti-Protestant, anti-Orthodox) Christians can't even recognize fellow believers.

If we all recognize each others baptisms, why is this "anti" stuff even a real question? It's not like Lutherans are Reformed or fundamentalist Baptists or something.

Because (obviously) if anti-Catholicism is entrenched in both the founding confessional documents and the founders of a religious point of view, then it will continue on, because it was in the roots from the beginning. How Lutherans square the realities of these aspects of the Book of Concord, I don't know, but it creates an internal contradiction if one says that they follow the Lutheran confessions, yet dissent on the nature of the Mass and so forth, and are not themselves anti-Catholic.

How would you square these two things, BWL, if you have become aware of some passages that perhaps you were not aware of before, in the Book of Concord? I'm very curious. There may very well be a way that ecumenical Lutherans reconcile this, through some interpretive means that I am not yet aware of. I'd be more than happy to be educated by those who feel that they have a solution to this apparent dilemma for ecumenical Lutherans. Please (you or friends of yours who might help us better understand) teach me . . . I don't want division; I would love for there to be a way to reconcile these two things. No one would be happier than I would be to learn that there is some coherent explanation of this, so that anti-Catholicism is not necessary to hold as a confessional Lutheran.


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