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The early churches weren't transubstantiationist #339456 12/17/09 04:08 PM
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Maverich Offline OP
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Renew America Article

Two issues here... The first, and most obvious, is the author's aurgument regarding the early Church and the Church Fathers. The second, and possibly as insidious, is the view that Catholicism (and by extension Orthodoxy) is not truuly "Christian." Interesting... it appears the Orthodox aren't even on his radar screen. Ortho-who?

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Maverich] #339463 12/17/09 05:33 PM
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Stephanos I Offline
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This is just dribble! Pure and simple.
While the Fathers mignt not have used the word transubstantion they sure did hold to the belief.
Stephanos I

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Maverich] #339465 12/17/09 06:04 PM
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I do not find the author's arguments persuasive at all. Of course the early church was not transubstantiationist in the sense that they didn't have a clearly articulated theology on this point. But undoubtedly this theology expresses in the language of scholastic philosophy what the early church teaches.

The Eastern churches continue to use the word "symbol" to describe the Eucharist but this is not understood as contradicting the reality of the transformation of the gifts or the reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Baptists use "symbol" on the other hand precisely to deny that transformation and the re-presentation of the sacrifice.

The word "remembrance" could easily be translated memorial sacrifice and I believe that's what the Greek word anamnesis translates in the Septuagint. It describes our purpose for celebrating the Eucharist rather than what we do in the Eucharist. What we do is what Our Lord did. We do what he did - transform food into the totality of Himself - so that we, like His disciples who where there in the Cenacle, can unite ourselves to Him, make His perfect humanity our own and thus participate in the divine life of the Holy Trinity.

Anyone who reads the Fathers, rather than just cherry-picking for quotes that appear to support his position, can see that they would find Baptist theology utterly alien with respect to the mysteries of the Church and with respect to ecclesiology.


Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: CRW] #339475 12/17/09 08:18 PM
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theophan Offline
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Quote
anamnesis


We've had some interesting discussions of what this term actually means in Eastern thought and practice. Actually, it seems to better translate as "bring back itno living experience" in the sense that the time of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Redsurrection, the Ascension, and the Glorious Second Coming are all brought together as one point as time, space, distance, and eternity come together in the Liturgy.

BOB

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Maverich] #339477 12/17/09 10:13 PM
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I especially like the way he rejects the "Traditional Account" of Church history and sets it in opposition to Biblical truth. Of course, the divine inspiration, apostolic authorship, and limits of the Biblical Canon are a part of the "Traditional Account" which he rejects. His is a self defeating argument.

Gregg

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: GreggP] #339484 12/17/09 11:57 PM
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theophan Offline
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After a quick read of this article, it seems that the author is taking what I'd call a standard Baptist/fundamentalist position on the Eucharist. I've read a tract written by another person in the same vein who takes the position that a man named Berengarius, who was condemned in the early centuries for his views on the Eucharist, is the only one in the early Church who "had it right."

It seems to me there is little to be gained from arguing with these folks. No amount of argument or proof will suffice. Additionally, they seem to proceed form the single premise that the Church has had it wrong from virtually the beginning and that it took the Reformation and the later reforms of the Anabaptist movement to really "recover" Christianity as it was meant to be.

BOB

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: theophan] #339499 12/18/09 06:35 AM
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Let's look at a few references.

1) The first major one we find is Saint Irenaeus of Lyons who wrote that the
"Logos enters the holy Bread" but I cannot find the reference. Anybody know
the reference? Irenaeus is fully correct in his incarnational theology. But it
has the feel of the theory of impanation rather than transubstantiation.


2) "On the Orthodox Faith" by St John of Damascus Chapter 13.

Concerning the holy and immaculate Mysteries of the Lord.

"The bread and the wine are not merely figures of the body and blood of
Christ (God forbid!) but the deified body of the Lord itself...

"Wherefore with all fear and a pure conscience and certain faith let us draw
near and it will assuredly be to us as we believe, doubting nothing. Let us
worship it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us
draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form
of the cross let us receive the body of the Crucified One: and let us apply
our eyes and lips and brows and partake of the divine coal, in order that
the fire of the longing, that is in us, with the additional heat derived
from the coal may utterly consume our sins and illumine our hearts, and that
we may be inflamed and deified by the participation in the divine fire.
Isaiah saw the coal. But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire:
in like manner also the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread
united with divinity."

The Damascene seems to be closer to a theory of consubstantiation rather
than transubstantiation.

3) From the Irish book The Leabhar Breac, the "Speckled Book"
-this quote is probably 8th century...

It stresses, in a passage about the Eucharistic offering, the reality of the
Body and Blood of Christ upon the altar.

"The body which was born of the Virgin Mary, without any stain, without
destruction of her virginity, without opening of the womb, without presence
of man, and which was crucified by the unbelieving Jews out of spite and
envy, and which arose after three days from death, and sits upon the right
hand of God the father in heaven, in glory and in dignity before the angels
of heaven. It is the body the same as it is in this great glory, which the
righteous consume off God's table, that is, off the holy altar. For this
body is the rich medicine of the faithful, who journey through the paths of
pilgrimage and repentance of this world to the heavenly homeland. This is
the seed of the resurrection in the life eternal to the righteous."


4) Saint Symeon the New Theologian:

"The grace of the Spirit, also called the fire of the Deity, belongs to our
God and Savior by nature, essentially. But his Body does not have the
same origin, for it comes from the holy and all-pure flesh of the Theotokos,
from her all-spotless blood. In assuming it from her, He made it into His
own....Ever since then, the Son of God and of the All-pure imparts to the
saints, that which proceeds from the nature and the essence of his
co-eternal Father, the grace of the Spirit, that is, divinity; and
from the nature and essence of her who really gave birth to Him, He gives
them the Flesh which He assumed from her."

"Forgiveness of sin and participation in life are bestowed on us not only in
the bread and wine of communion, but in the divinity which attends them
and mysteriously mingles with them without confusion ...If Christ is
God, His holy flesh is no longer mere flesh, but flesh and God inseparable
and yet without confusion visible in the flesh, that is, the bread, to the
bodily eyes. In His divinity He is invisible to the eyes of the body but is
perceived with the eyes of the soul."

Again Saint Symeon seems to be holding to a theory of either impanation
or consubstantiation. Since Saint Symeon died in the early 11th century
his view was most likely to be that of the Church generally at that
time and also in previous centuries.

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #339600 12/19/09 08:03 PM
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The text of the Divine Liturgy is quite clear that the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The text doesn't say that the Body and Blood hide behind the bread and wine, and doesn't say that the Body and Blood dwells with the bread and wine; the plain words are that the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ; this is the very definition of transubstantiation (change of substance).

I wouldn't expect to find consistent and precise theological terminology to express this reality until it is dogmatically defined, just as is the case with the Trinity and the Christological controversies. This doesn't change the fact that the Divine Liturgy is quite clear on what is occuring at the altar.

Peace and God bless!

Last edited by Ghosty; 12/19/09 08:06 PM.
Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Ghosty] #339613 12/19/09 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Ghosty
The text of the Divine Liturgy is quite clear that the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The text doesn't say that the Body and Blood hide behind the bread and wine, and doesn't say that the Body and Blood dwells with the bread and wine; the plain words are that the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ; this is the very definition of transubstantiation (change of substance).


Saint Irenaeus, Saint John Damascene (no mean theologian) and Saint Symeon the New Theologian all had the same text in front of them and they were still able to speak of impanation and consubstantiation.

My private opinion is that it simply does not matter and I would suspect that the Saints also found it a matter which did not trouble them. Whether Christ chooses to annihilate the substance of bread and wine and replace it with Himself, or whether He chooses to "mingle" with the bread and wine as the early Saints taught, to co-exist with them, it is not a great matter for us to know either one or the other. Let us leave it as the mystery it is, incomprehensible for our minds.

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #339629 12/20/09 03:53 AM
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But they don't clearly speak of impanation nor consubstantiation. They language they use can just as easily be understood in transubstantiationist terms, especially since they are speaking of bodily appearances and using analogies for the purpose of teaching.

There is no clear statements by the Fathers in either direction, but the text of the Divine Liturgy is quite clear on the matter. If the Liturgy wasn't so specific about the bread and wine being transformed into the Body and Blood, I would agree with leaving it in mystery. The question of how or when may be a mystery, but what is happening is clearly stated.

Peace and God bless!

Last edited by Ghosty; 12/20/09 03:57 AM.
Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Ghosty] #339631 12/20/09 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghosty
But they don't clearly speak of impanation nor consubstantiation. They language they use can just as easily be understood in transubstantiationist terms, especially since they are speaking of bodily appearances and using analogies for the purpose of teaching.


"...the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity."

Saint John the Damascene -8th century

"...not only in the bread and wine of communion, but in the divinity which attends them and mysteriously mingles with them without confusion..."

Saint Symeon the New Theologian -11th century.

This is not the language of transubstantiation but of consubstantiation.

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Ghosty] #339632 12/20/09 05:10 AM
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Hieromonk Ambrose Offline
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Originally Posted by Ghosty
If the Liturgy wasn't so specific about the bread and wine being transformed into the Body and Blood, I would agree with leaving it in mystery. The question of how or when may be a mystery, but what is happening is clearly stated.


If the matter were as clear as you believe, why has the Orthodox Church and also the Eastern Catholic Churches failed to understand their own ancient Liturgies and none of us have espoused the theory of transubstantiation. The level of clarity of which you speak, if it were present in our Liturgies, would compel us to accept transubstantiation.

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #339634 12/20/09 07:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Hieromonk Ambrose
"...the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity."
That can easily be seen through the transubstantiative view. The bread (accidents, to use Latin language) united (joined for our sake, not in essence, but in our earthly reality) with divinity (it's essence after the epiklesis).

Quote
"...not only in the bread and wine of communion, but in the divinity which attends them and mysteriously mingles with them without confusion..."
The divinity attends them (the Holy Spirit comes down and transforms them) and mysteriously mingles with them (mingling that which we see and that which is in essence divine) without confusion (the essence is Divine, without con- fusing [without a fusion of bread and divinity], not consubstantiation)

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Michael_Thoma] #339637 12/20/09 07:57 AM
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Pope Saint Gelasius, one of the great scholars and theologians of his day, was not a transubstantiationist, and, since this is papal teaching, it would have been the teaching of the Church of Rome in the 5th century.

From Saint Gelasius, Bishop of Rome in the fifth century:

"Certainly the sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive are a divine reality, because of which and through which we are made sharers of the divine nature. Nevertheless the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to exist. And certainly the image and likeness of the Body and Blood of Christ are celebrated in the carrying out the Mysteries."

Re: The early churches weren't transubstantiationist [Re: Hieromonk Ambrose] #339641 12/20/09 10:48 AM
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In ancient Christian thought, there was no hard division between image and reality. As with icons, the true image shares in the reality of that which it represents. By the same token, the line between symbol and reality was equally blurred; the symbol shares in the reality of that which it represents as well. Hence, St. Basil in his Anaphora can described the Gifts as being a symbolon of Christ's Body and Blood, yet still mean that the Gifts become Christ's Body and Blood. There was never any doubt within the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that Christ is present in the Eucharist, and that we partake not of bread and wine, but of his Bod and Blood.

Until the middle ages, however, that was believed to be sufficient; the Church knew what happened (bread and wine become Body and Blood) and why (to mark the unity of Christ's Church and his people, to grant them eternal life, to remit sins, to offer the bloodless and rational sacrifice, and in memorial of Christ's death and resurrection), but as with all such mysteries, the Church tried to avoid speculation of "why".

Only in response to the challenge of Berengarius of Tours in the 11th century did the Latin schoolmen begin to develop an aristotelian approach not just to the Eucharist but to all the sacraments, one result of which was to create a dichotomy, unknown to the Fathers, between image and reality, or symbol and reality, without which this discussion would lack foundation. Yet the scholastic concept of "transubstantiation" cannot be considered anything more than pure speculation, and use the word anything other than shorthand for the metamorphosis of the Gifts into the true Body and Blood of Christ ought to be avoided.

The early Church believed that Christ's Body and Blood were truly present in the Eucharist, because Christ said it was so. To go beyond that is to elevate philosophy to a position it does not deserve.

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