Thursday, December 10, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,18:5-9) [Sacrifice of the Mass: Many Deaths? / Pelagianism? / Private Masses / Church Fathers]

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

* * * * *

Book IV



5. Impiety of the Mass continued. 3. It banishes the remembrance of Christ’s death. It crucifies Christ afresh. Objections answered.

I now come to the third part of the mass, in regard to which, we are to explain how it obliterates the true and only death of Christ, and drives it from the memory of men.

How Calvin can conclude this, only the most imaginative and inventive mind can scarcely imagine . . .

For as among men, the confirmation of a testament depends upon the death of the testator, so also the testament by which he has bequeathed to us remission of sins and eternal righteousness, our Lord has confirmed by his death. Those who dare to make any change or innovation on this testament deny his death, and hold it as of no moment.


Now, what is the mass but a new and altogether different testament? What? Does not each mass promise a new forgiveness of sins, a new purchase of righteousness, so that now there are as many testaments as there are masses?

No; the graces that Christ obtained for us are made available in a "new" way at each Mass, but that is nothing any different from graces received all the time in many different ways (applied grace). Why should the Mass be any different? God pours out His love and mercy to us every day: every second.

Therefore, let Christ come again, and, by another death, make this new testament; or rather, by innumerable deaths, ratify the innumerable testaments of the mass. Said I not true, then, at the outset, that the only true death of Christ is obliterated by the mass? For what is the direct aim of the mass but just to put Christ again to death, if that were possible?

As I have noted many times already, this is a gross distortion of what we believe about the nature of the Mass. Jesus died once for all. Calvin doesn't get it, but as usual, he'll go blithely on thinking that he does, and that he is profoundly unanswerable. What a joke . . .

For, as the apostle says, “Where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator” (Heb. 9:16). The novelty of the mass bears, on the face of it, to be a testament of Christ, and therefore demands his death. Besides, it is necessary that the victim which is offered be slain and immolated. If Christ is sacrificed at each mass, he must be cruelly slain every moment in a thousand places. This is not my argument, but the apostle’s: “Nor yet that he should offer himself often;” “for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world” (Heb. 9:25, 26). I admit that they are ready with an answer, by which they even charge us with calumny;


for they say that we object to them what they never thought, and could not even think.

Now is he finally starting to get it? Let's hope and pray real hard!

We know that the life and death of Christ are not at all in their hand. Whether they mean to slay him, we regard not: our intention is only to show the absurdity consequent on their impious and accursed dogma.

In other words, he knows better than we do, what we believe, and its logical and real-life consequences. It is possible to see a negative result in another system that the proponents do not see, but even if that is the case, it is necessary to understand the basic belief before proceeding to critique what is held to be its logical outcomes. Calvin fails that fundamental test miserably.

This I demonstrate from the mouth of the apostle. Though they insist a hundred times that this sacrifice is bloodless (ἀναίμακτον), I will reply, that it depends not on the will of man to change the nature of sacrifice, for in this way the sacred and inviolable institution of God would fall. Hence it follows, that the principle of the apostle stands firm, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).

Since we don't disagree with what he says here, there is no reason to reply further in this regard.

6. Impiety of the Mass continued. 4. It robs us of the benefit of Christ’s death.

The fourth property of the mass which we are to consider is, that it robs us of the benefit which redounded to us from the death of Christ, while it prevents us from recognising it and thinking of it. For who can think that he has been redeemed by the death of Christ when he sees a new redemption in the mass?

What's new about it? It is an application of the benefits of the cross.

Who can feel confident that his sins have been remitted when he sees a new remission? It will not do to say that the only ground on which we obtain forgiveness of sins in the mass is, because it has been already purchased by the death of Christ.

Why not? I think that is a perfectly acceptable, believable notion. What could possibly be objectionable in that?

For this is just equivalent to saying that we are redeemed by Christ on the condition that we redeem ourselves.

Sheer nonsense . . . why have sacraments at all if they reduce to works-salvation? The Bible is filled with passages about our own efforts and labors in the process of salvation. See:

St. Paul's Teaching on the Organic Relationship of Grace / Faith and Works / Action / Obedience (Collection of 50 Pauline Passages)

Final Judgment in Scripture is Always Associated With Works And Never With Faith Alone (50 Passages)

Biblical Evidence For Merit and "Quantifiable" Grace

Dialogue: "Doing Something" for Salvation

Catholic-Baptist Dialogue on "Being Good Enough" to Go to Heaven, etc.

1 Corinthians 3:9 and Man's Cooperation With God

Human, Pauline, and Marian Distribution of Divine Graces: Not an "Unbiblical" Notion After All?

"There is One Mediator" (1 Timothy 2:5): Does This Rule Out "Mini-Mediators"?

Merit: Clarification of the Catholic Doctrine (Condign and Congruous Merit, Total Depravity, Prevenient Grace, Etc.)

Soteriology and Creation (Man's Cooperation, Pelagianism, Nature and Grace)

For the doctrine which is disseminated by the ministers of Satan,

Calvin never demonized his theological opponents, did he? That wouldn't be a very charitable thing to do . . .

and which, in the present day, they defend by clamour, fire, and sword,

A sin by by no means confined to Catholics . . . Calvin (like Luther) approved of the drowning of Anabaptists because they differed with him on baptism. He approved the death penalty for heresy, as he defined it. No one would ever know that, however, merely by reading this passage.

is, that when we offer Christ to the Father in the mass, we, by this work of oblation, obtain remission of sins, and become partakers of the sufferings of Christ. What is now left for the sufferings of Christ, but to be an example of redemption, that we may thereby learn to be our own redeemers?

Elsewhere, as I have shown previously (Inst., II, 16:7), Calvin accepted a sense of our participation in the sufferings of Christ. This is a strong biblical theme (as I also demonstrated in a past installment).

Christ himself, when he seals our assurance of pardon in the Supper, does not bid his disciples stop short at that act, but sends them to the sacrifice of his death; intimating, that the Supper is the memento, or, as it is commonly expressed, the memorial from which they may learn that the expiatory victim by which God was to be appeased was to be offered only once. For it is not sufficient to hold that Christ is the only victim, without adding that his is the only immolation, in order that our faith may be fixed to his cross.

Of course.

7. Impiety of the Mass continued. 5. It abolishes the Lord’s Supper. In the Supper the Father offers Christ to us; in the Mass, priestlings offer Christ to the Father. The Supper is a sacrament common to all Christians; the Mass confined to one priest.

I come now to the crowning point—viz. that the sacred Supper, on which the Lord left the memorial of his passion formed and engraved, was taken away, hidden, and destroyed, when the mass was erected. While the supper itself is a gift of God, which was to be received with thanksgiving, the sacrifice of the mass pretends to give a price to God to be received as satisfaction. As widely as giving differs from receiving, does sacrifice differ from the sacrament of the Supper.

In fact, they are one and the same: it is a timeless, supernatural, beautiful thing: Jesus' sacrifice for us made profoundly present, and our receiving Him Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Calvin also has a dim understanding of the range of meaning of "remembrance" in Scripture. I've written about this in the past. The Hebrew word zecher (in Strong's Concordance, zakar or zeker: words #2142-2145) does not merely refer to a recollection of past events: it includes the notion of making the past, or eternal truths, a present reality.

Because Calvin lacks the faith in the supernatural and God's transcendence, he can only think of the cross as a past event (whereas to God it is always "now"; therefore, any sense whatever of bringing it to remembrance is, in his mentality, "sacrificing Christ anew." He has no sense of the timelessness of God or the miraculous nature of what is taking place at every Mass. He is stuck in the natural world (which is an odd thing for any Christian to do, given all the supernatural things we believe in).

But herein does the wretched ingratitude of man appear,— that when the liberality of the divine goodness ought to have been recognised, and thanks returned, he makes God to be his debtor. The sacrament promised, that by the death of Christ we were not only restored to life once, but constantly quickened, because all the parts of our salvation were then completed. The sacrifice of the mass uses a very different language—viz. that Christ must be sacrificed daily, in order that he may lend something to us.

God is not our debtor at all in Catholicism. As St. Augustine says, merit is nothing more than God crowning His own gifts. He gives us the ability, desire, and power, to merit in the first place.

The Supper was to be dispensed at the public meeting of the Church, to remind us of the communion by which we are all united in Christ Jesus. This communion the sacrifice of the mass dissolves, and tears asunder. For after the heresy prevailed, that there behoved to be priests to sacrifice for the people, as if the Supper had been handed over to them, it ceased to be communicated to the assembly of the faithful according to the command of the Lord. Entrance has been given to private masses, which more resemble a kind of excommunication than that communion ordained by the Lord, when the priestling, about to devour his victim apart, separates himself from the whole body of the faithful. That there may be no mistake, I call it a private mass whenever there is no partaking of the Lord’s Supper among believers, though, at the same time, a great multitude of persons may be present.

Jesus' sacrifice is present no matter how many people are also present, as long as a priest is presiding. Calvin misunderstands the nature and premises of the Mass, so he compounds error upon error in his ludicrous critique of it. He has to demonize what he is utterly unable to comprehend. He is a prisoner of his own false presuppositions, and charity is the first victim of this unfortunate and unrealized shortcoming.

8. The origin of the Mass. Private masses an impious profanation of the Supper.

The origin of the name of Mass I have never been able certainly to ascertain. It seems probable that it was derived from the offerings which were collected. Hence the ancients usually speak of it in the plural number.

The Latin missa is derived from missio, which is in turn derived from mittere ("to send"). It is related to our present word missions. The missionary is sent out to proclaim the good news.

But without raising any controversy as to the name, I hold that private masses are diametrically opposed to the institution of Christ, and are, therefore, an impious profanation of the sacred Supper.

Not when it is properly understood . . . The normative Mass is communitarian, but that doesn't rule out private Masses. Calvin falls prey to the "either/or" mindset again.

For what did the Lord enjoin? Was it not to take and divide amongst ourselves? What does Paul teach as to the observance of this command? Is it not that the breaking of bread is the communion of body and blood? (1 Cor. 10:16). Therefore, when one person takes without distributing, where is the resemblance?

Historically, it would resemble the action of the high priest all along in the Holy of Holies in the temple or tabernacle (Lev 16:32-34; Heb 9:1-7). Was that invalid, too, because no one else was around? Moses often acted as an intermediary priest in praying for his people (all by himself) and making atonement on their behalf (Ex 32:30-32; Num 14:19-23). His brother Aaron did the same (Num 16:46-48), as did Aaron's grandson Phinehas (Num 25:11-13). St. Paul, through his penances, undertaken on his own, by God's design, helped save others (Phil 2:17; Col 1:24; 2 Tim 4:6). People pray on their own, so that others can receive grace and benefit (e.g., the prophet Jeremiah).

But that one acts in the name of the whole Church. By what command?

By the example of the high priest, Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Paul, and (by logical extension) Jeremiah and other prophets and holy men.

Is it not openly to mock God when one privately seizes for himself what ought to have been distributed among a number?

Not at all. It is simply another manifestation of liturgical worship. Again. Calvin doesn't comprehend it because he fundamentally misunderstands what a Mass is in the first place.

But as the words, both of our Saviour and of Paul, are sufficiently clear, we must briefly conclude, that wherever there is no breaking of bread for the communion of the faithful, there is no Supper of the Lord, but a false and preposterous imitation of the Supper.

There is no community celebration or communal worship, but that doesn't rule out additional private Masses that are said on behalf of others, just as prayer and penance operate: one person alone on behalf of others. Our Lord Jesus was almost alone (save for his mother, John, and just a few others) on the cross, yet that was the greatest work of redemption of all.

But false imitation is adulteration. Moreover, the adulteration of this high ordinance is not without impiety. In private masses, therefore, there is an impious abuse: and as in religion, one fault ever and anon begets another,

Just as in logic, one shoddy thought and one false premise begets other more serious falsehoods, and false conclusions . . .

after that custom of offering without communion once crept in, they began gradually to make innumerable masses in all the separate corners of the churches, and to draw the people hither and thither, when they ought to have formed one meeting, and thus recognised the mystery of their unity. Let them now go and deny their idolatry when they exhibit the bread in their masses, that it may be adored for Christ.

As even Calvin knows, we are not worshiping bread, but Christ made present in what once bread. That is the meaning of transubstantiation: change of substance. So why does he have to keep distorting what it is we believe and practice? One can only marvel at such stubborn and calumnious wrongheadedness. He'll rail against transubstantiation on one hand, yet turn around and say that "bread" is "adored for Christ" -- when we do no such thing. If anything, that might be a criticism against the Lutheran position, where at least they hold that the bread is still indeed present after consecration, along with the Body and Blood. A case might then be made that bread is perhaps confused with Christ by at least some. But even then the critique mostly falls flat.

In vain do they talk of those promises of the presence of Christ, which, however they may be understood, were certainly not given that impure and profane men might form the body of Christ as often as they please,

We don't "form" anything. God chose to be present in this fashion by His power. All the priest does is repeat Jesus' own words at the Last Supper.

and for whatever abuse they please; but that believers, while, with religious observance, they follow the command of Christ in celebrating the Supper, might enjoy the true participation of it.

Calvin doesn't offer that because he robs the Eucharist of its very essence: the reception of Jesus Himself, according to the usual striking realism of the Bible. Instead Calvin gives his followers Greek abstractions and bare symbolism. The miracle and the power of the Mass and of the Holy Eucharist is gutted.

9. This abomination unknown to the purer Church. It has no foundation in the word of God.

We may add, that this perverse course was unknown to the purer Church. For however the more impudent among our opponents may attempt to gloss the matter, it is absolutely certain that all antiquity is opposed to them, as has been above demonstrated in other instances, and may be more surely known by the diligent reading of the Fathers.

This is sheer nonsense (and that is putting it mildly). Calvin is buried by an avalanche of patristic data that thoroughly supports the Catholic position, not his (how he could miss all this is the wonder to behold):

The Didache

Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14].

(Didache 14 [A.D. 70] )

St. Clement of Rome

Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release.

(Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 [A.D. 80] )

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God.

(Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 110] )

St. Justin Martyr

God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist.

(Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 [A.D. 155] )

St. Irenaeus

He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve [minor] prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do my will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10–11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to him, and indeed, a pure one, for his name is glorified among the Gentiles.

(Against Heresies, IV, 17, 5)

Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. . . . For it behoves us to make an oblation to God, . . . the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, . . .

(Against Heresies, IV, 18, 4; ANF, Vol. I)

For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.

(Against Heresies, IV, 18, 5; ANF, Vol. I)

St. Cyprian of Carthage

If Christ Jesus, our Lord and God, is himself the high priest of God the Father; and if he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father; and if he commanded that this be done in commemoration of himself, then certainly the priest, who imitates that which Christ did, truly functions in place of Christ.

(Letters 63:14)

St. Hilary of Poitiers

Hilary, for example, describes [Tract. in ps. 68, 19] the Christian altar as 'a table of sacrifice' and speaks [Ib. 68, 26] . . . of the immolation of the paschal lamb made under the new law.

(J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: Harper & Row, fifth revised edition, 1978, 453)

St. Basil the Great

It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. . . . once the priest has completed the offering . . .

(Letter XCIII, To the Patrician Cæsaria; NPNF 2, Vol. VIII)

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Then, after the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, is completed, over that sacrifice of propitiation we entreat God for the common peace of the Churches, for the welfare of the world; for kings; for soldiers and allies; for the sick; for the afflicted; and, in a word, for all who stand in need of succour we all pray and offer this sacrifice.

(Catechetical Lecture XXIII, 7-8; NPNF 2, Vol. VII)

St. Ambrose

We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself that is offered in sacrifice here on Earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered.

(Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David 38:25)

St. John Chrysostom

Christ is present. The One who prepared that [Holy Thursday] table is the very One who now prepares this [altar] table. For it is not a man who makes the sacrificial gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ, but He that was crucified for us, Christ Himself. The priest stands there carrying out the action, but the power and grace is of God. “This is My Body,” he says. This statement transforms the gifts.

(Homilies on the Treachery of Judas, 1, 6; in William A. Jurgens, editor and translator, The Faith of the Early Fathers, three volumes, Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, Vol. II, 1970, 104-105)

When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and on earth? Or are you not lifted up to heaven?

(The Priesthood 3:4:177)

Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all communicants! Christ, slain for us, the sacrificial victim who is placed thereon!

(Homilies on Romans 8:8)

In ancient times, because men were very imperfect, God did not scorn to receive the blood which they were offering . . . to draw them away from those idols; and this very thing again was because of his indescribable, tender affection. But now he has transferred the priestly action to what is most awesome and magnificent. He has changed the sacrifice itself, and instead of the butchering of dumb beasts, he commands the offering up of himself.

(Homilies on First Corinthians, 24:2)

What then? Do we not offer daily? Yes, we offer, but making remembrance of his death; and this remembrance is one and not many. How is it one and not many? Because this sacrifice is offered once, like that in the Holy of Holies. This sacrifice is a type of that, and this remembrance a type of that. We offer always the same, not one sheep now and another tomorrow, but the same thing always. Thus there is one sacrifice. By this reasoning, since the sacrifice is offered everywhere, are there, then, a multiplicity of Christs? By no means! Christ is one everywhere. He is complete here, complete there, one body. And just as he is one body and not many though offered everywhere, so too is there one sacrifice.

(Homilies on Hebrews 17:3 [6])

St. Jerome

According to Jerome [Ep. 114, 2], the dignity of the eucharistic liturgy derives from its association with the passion; it is no empty memorial, for the victim of the Church's daily sacrifice is the Saviour himself. [Ib. 21, 26]

(in Kelly, ibid., 453)

St. Augustine

Because there was there a sacrifice after the order of Aaron, and afterwards He of His Own Body and Blood appointed a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek; He changed then His Countenance in the Priesthood, and sent away the kingdom of the Jews, and came to the Gentiles. . . .

(Exposition on Psalm XXXIV, 1; NPNF 1, Vol. VIII)

Chapter 20.—Of the Supreme and True Sacrifice Which Was Effected by the Mediator Between God and Men.

And hence that true Mediator, in so far as, by assuming the form of a servant, He became the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, though in the form of God He received sacrifice together with the Father, with whom He is one God, yet in the form of a servant He chose rather to be than to receive a sacrifice, that not even by this instance any one might have occasion to suppose that sacrifice should be rendered to any creature. Thus He is both the Priest who offers and the Sacrifice offered. And He designed that there should be a daily sign of this in the sacrifice of the Church, which, being His body, learns to offer herself through Him. Of this true Sacrifice the ancient sacrifices of the saints were the various and numerous signs; and it was thus variously figured, just as one thing is signified by a variety of words, that there may be less weariness when we speak of it much. To this supreme and true sacrifice all false sacrifices have given place.

(City of God, Book X, 20; NPNF 1, Vol. II)

For then first appeared the sacrifice which is now offered to God by Christians in the whole wide world, and that is fulfilled which long after the event was said by the prophet to Christ, who was yet to come in the flesh, “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,” . . .

(City of God, Book XVI, 22; NPNF 1, Vol. II)

Not only is no one forbidden to take as food the Blood of this Sacrifice, rather, all who wish to possess life are exhorted to drink thereof.

(Questions of the Hepateuch, 3, 57; in Jurgens, ibid., Vol. III, 1979, 134)

The entire Church observes the tradition delivered to us by the Fathers, namely, that for those who have died in the fellowship of the Body and Blood of Christ, prayer should be offered when they are commemorated at the actual Sacrifice in its proper place, and that we should call to mind that for them, too, that Sacrifice is offered.

(Sermo, 172, 2; 173, 1; De Cura pro mortuis, 6; De Anima et ejus Origine, 2, 21; in Hugh Pope, St. Augustine of Hippo, Garden City, New York: Doubleday Image, 1961 [originally 1937], 69)

The Sacrifice of our times is the Body and Blood of the Priest Himself . . . Recognize then in the Bread what hung upon the tree; in the chalice what flowed from His side.

(Sermo iii. 1-2; in Pope, ibid., 62)

Out of hatred of Christ the crowd there shed Cyprian's blood, but today a reverential multitude gathers to drink the Blood of Christ . . . this altar . . . whereon a Sacrifice is offered to God . . .

(Sermo 310, 2; in Pope, ibid., 65)

[F]or it is to God that sacrifices are offered . . . But he who knows the one sacrifice of Christians, which is the sacrifice offered in those places, also knows that these are not sacrifices offered to the martyrs . . . For we do not ordain priests and offer sacrifices to our martyrs, as they do to their dead men, for that would be incongruous, undue, and unlawful, such being due only to God . . .

(City of God, Book VIII, chapter 27; NPNF 1, Vol. II)

Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? and yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all.

(Epistles, 98, 9; NPNF 1, Vol. I)

The animal sacrifices, therefore, presumptuously claimed by devils, were an imitation of the true sacrifice which is due only to the one true God, and which Christ alone offered on His altar. . . . This sacrifice is also commemorated by Christians, in the sacred offering and participation of the body and blood of Christ.

(Against Faustus, XX, 18; NPNF 1, Vol. IV)

St. Cyril of Alexandria

He states demonstratively: “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood“(Mt. 26:26-28) “lest you might suppose the things that are seen as a figure. Rather, by some secret of the all-powerful God the things seen are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, truly offered in a sacrifice in which we, as participants, receive the life-giving and sanctifying power of Christ.

(Commentary on Matthew [Mt. 26:27]; in Jurgens, ibid., Vol. III, 220)

St. Gregory the Great

If guilty deeds are not beyond absolution even after death, the sacred offering of the saving Victim consistently aids souls even after death . . .

(Dialogues 4, 55; in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine: Vol. 1 of 5: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1971, 356)

The Catholic church, both Greek and Latin, sees in the Eucharist not only a sacramentum, in which God communicates a grace to believers, but at the same time, and in fact mainly, a sacrificium, in which believers really offer to God that which is represented by the sensible elements. For this view also the church fathers laid the foundation, and it must be conceded they stand in general far more on the Greek and Roman Catholic than on the Protestant side of this question.

. . . In this view certainly, in a deep symbolical and ethical sense, Christ is offered to God the Father in every believing prayer, and above all in the holy Supper; i.e. as the sole ground of our reconciliation and acceptance . . .

But this idea in process of time became adulterated with foreign elements, and transformed into the Graeco-Roman doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass. According to this doctrine the Eucharist is an unbloody repetition of the atoning sacrifice of Christ by the priesthood for the salvation of the living and the dead; so that the body of Christ is truly and literally offered every day and every hour, and upon innumerable altars at the same time. The term mass, which properly denoted the dismissal of the congregation (missio, dismissio) at the close of the general public worship, became, after the end of the fourth century, the name for the worship of the faithful, which consisted in the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice and the communion.

. . . We pass now to the more particular history. 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. The germs of the Roman doctrine appear in Cyprian about the middle of the third century, in connection with his high-churchly doctrine of the clerical priesthood. Sacerdotium and sacrificium are with him correlative ideas.

. . . The doctrine of the sacrifice of the mass is much further developed in the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers, though amidst many obscurities and rhetorical extravagances, and with much wavering between symbolical and grossly realistic conceptions, until in all essential points it is brought to its settlement by Gregory the Great at the close of the sixth century.

. . . 2. It is not a new sacrifice added to that of the cross, but a daily, unbloody repetition and perpetual application of that one only sacrifice. Augustine represents it, on the one hand, as a sacramentum memoriae, a symbolical commemoration of the sacrificial death of Christ; to which of course there is no objection. But, on the other hand, he calls the celebration of the communion verissimum sacrificium of the body of Christ. The church, he says, offers (immolat) to God the sacrifice of thanks in the body of Christ, from the days of the apostles through the sure succession of the bishops down to our time. But the church at the same time offers, with Christ, herself, as the body of Christ, to God. As all are one body, so also all are together the same sacrifice. According to Chrysostom the same Christ, and the whole Christ, is everywhere offered. It is not a different sacrifice from that which the High Priest formerly offered, but we offer always the same sacrifice, or rather, we perform a memorial of this sacrifice. This last clause would decidedly favor a symbolical conception, if Chrysostom in other places had not used such strong expressions as this: "When thou seest the Lord slain, and lying there, and the priest standing at the sacrifice," or: "Christ lies slain upon the altar."

3. The sacrifice is the anti-type of the Mosaic sacrifice, and is related to it as substance to typical shadows. It is also especially foreshadowed by Melchizedek’s unbloody offering of bread and wine. The sacrifice of Melchizedek is therefore made of great account by Hilary, Jerome Augustine, Chrysostom, and other church fathers, on the strength of the well-known parallel in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

. . . Cyril of Jerusalem, in his fifth and last mystagogic Catechesis, which is devoted to the consideration of the eucharistic sacrifice and the liturgical service of God, gives the following description of the eucharistic intercessions for the departed:

"When the spiritual sacrifice, the unbloody service of God, is performed, we pray to God over this atoning sacrifice for the universal peace of the church, for the welfare of the world, for the emperor, for soldiers and prisoners, for the sick and afflicted, for all the poor and needy. Then we commemorate also those who sleep, the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God through their prayers and their intercessions may receive our prayer; and in general we pray for all who have gone from us, since we believe that it is of the greatest help to those souls for whom the prayer is offered, while the holy sacrifice, exciting a holy awe, lies before us."

This is clearly an approach to the later idea of purgatory in the Latin church. Even St. Augustine, with Tertullian, teaches plainly, as an old tradition, that the eucharistic sacrifice, the intercessions or suffragia and alms, of the living are of benefit to the departed believers, so that the Lord deals more mercifully with them than their sins deserve.

(Protestant Church historian Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. III: Nicene and Post-Nicene Christianity: A.D. 311-600, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974, from the revised fifth edition of 1910; §96. "The Sacrifice of the Eucharist,” 503-508, 510)

It was also widely held from the first that the Eucharist is in some sense a sacrifice, though here again definition was gradual. The suggestion of sacrifice is contained in much of the NT language . . . the words of institution, 'covenant,' 'memorial,' 'poured out,' all have sacrificial associations. In early post-NT times the constant repudiation of carnal sacrifice and emphasis on life and prayer at Christian worship did not hinder the Eucharist from being described as a sacrifice from the first . . .

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

(Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, 1983, 476, 1221)

[T]he Eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice from the closing decade of the first century, if not earlier. Malachi’s prediction (1:10 f.) that the Lord would reject the Jewish sacrifices and instead would have 'a pure offering' made to Him by the Gentiles in every place was early seized [did. 14,3; Justin, dial. 41,2 f.; Irenaeus, haer. 4,17,5] upon by Christians as a prophecy of the eucharist.

The Didache indeed actually applies [14, 1] the term thusia, or sacrifice, to the eucharist, and the idea is presupposed by Clement in the parallel he discovers [40-4] between the Church's ministers and the Old Testament priests and levites . . . Ignatius's reference [Philad. 4] to 'one altar, just as there is one bishop', reveals that he, too thought in sacrificial terms. Justin speaks [Dial. 117,1] of 'all the sacrifices in this name which Jesus appointed to be performed, viz. in ther eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are celebrated in every place by Christians'. Not only here but elsewhere [Ib. 41,3] too, he identifies 'the bread of the eucharist, and the cup likewise of the eucharist', with the sacrifice foretold by Malachi. For Irenaeus [Haer. 4,17,5] the eucharist is 'the new oblation of the new covenant', . . .

It was natural for early Christians to think of the eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped in the sacrificial atmosphere with which our Lord invested the Last Supper. The words of institution, ‘Do this’ (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood [1 apol. 66,3; cf. dial. 41,1] them to mean, ‘Offer this.’ . . . Justin . . . makes it plain [Dial. 41,3] that the bread and the wine themselves were the 'pure offering' foretold by Malachi . . . he uses [1 apol. 65,3-5] the term 'thanksgiving' as technically equivalent to 'the eucharistized bread and wine'. 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.

(J. N. D. Kelly, ibid., 196-197)

[T]he eucharist was regarded without question as the Christian sacrifice.

(Ibid., 449)

But before I conclude, I ask our missal doctors, seeing they know that obedience is better than sacrifice, and God commands us to listen to his voice rather than to offer sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22),

Bizarre use of fallacious "either/or" illogic . . . and as we have seen: the entire body of opinion of the Church fathers is completely against Calvin's heretical take.

—how they can believe this method of sacrificing to be pleasing to God, since it is certain that he does not command it, and they cannot support it by one syllable of Scripture? Besides, when they hear the apostle declaring that “no man taketh this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron,” so also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest, but he that said unto him, “Thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee” (Heb. 5:4, 5). They must either prove God to be the author and founder of their priesthood, or confess that there is no honour from God in an office, into which, without being called, they have rushed with wicked temerity. They cannot produce one iota of Scripture in support of their priesthood. And must not the sacrifices be vain, since they cannot be offered without a priest?

I have provided plenty of Scripture throughout these critiques, and there is much given also in the patristic citations above. I need not reiterate all that now, since I have already answered. Calvin is dead wrong (an annoyingly frequent occurrence).

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