I know that the title is provocative, but please understand that I am serious in this question. At this point, I believe that it is very difficult for Roman Catholics who hold to Transubstantiation (is there any other kind of Roman Catholic!) to find harmony with a basic principle in the Definition of Chalcedon. In other words, I believe that Catholics are at odds with some essential elements of orthodox Christology.

Having said that, it may be that I am misunderstanding things (this would not be a first).  So I write this post with the intention of informing my audience of a very intriguing issue, giving them a better look at Chalcedonian Christology, and giving an opportunity to Catholics to give an answer to this issue (if there are any that happen by—and there usually are).

I am going to explain the issue and I want all of you to hang with me through some deep waters. I will try to navigate you to a point where you understand why I believe (tentatively) that Catholics deny Chalcedon because of their view of Mass.

Component #1:

Orthodoxy has historically claimed that Christ is fully God and fully man. This is not an arbitrary pronouncement or belief, but is one that is central to an understanding of the Gospel.

Short history lesson.

After Nicea (A.D. 325), the central theological issue that presented itself to the Church was this: Now that Christ was understood to be fully God, of the same substance with the Father, how did his humanity relate to his deity.

There were three initial responses that helped shape orthodoxy as it prepared for Chalcedon (A.D. 451).

1. Nestorianism: The belief that Christ’s human nature and divine nature were separate to the degree that they each possessed their own personhood. Christ could sometimes act from his human person and sometimes his divine person.

2. Eutychianism: The belief that Christ’s humanity was assumed into his deity. This mixture of human and divine commingled to the degree that the humanity virtually disappeared as a drop of water might be lost in the ocean. This created a mixture of sorts between the human and divine.

3. Apollinarianism: The belief that Christ’s human spirit and soul were replaced with the divine spirit and soul. As some people called it, Christ was “God in a bod.”

The problem with Nestorianism is that we are introduced to two persons, not one Christ. The second person of the Trinity cannot be divided into two separate consciousnesses each possessing their own attributes and acting in accordance with a distinct will.

The problem with Eutychianism is that the new entity created by the commingling of natures could not represent man to God. Reason? Because the new entity is neither human nor divine, but a new sort of “humine.” Since humanity needed to be represented by one of its own, Christ’s new nature could not qualify.

The problem with Apollinarianism is that Christ was lacking a human soul and spirit. Without these two essential components to the human constitution, Christ could not represent humanity. Humanity does not only need their material body represented, but their entire constitution, body, soul, and/or spirit.

Chalcedon stepped in and condemned each of the options above opting for a person who possess two complete natures, human and divine. These natures do not separate and cannot be commingled, mixed, or confused. In this, Christ’s natures are complete and do not share or communicate their attributes. Christ’s humanity cannot mix with his deity and thereby take on divine characteristics.

Here is the relavant statement in the Chalcedonian Definition:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin . . . one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence . . .

Okay, I am getting there . . .

Component #2

The Roman Catholic view of Mass (or the Lord’s supper) is that a miraculous event occurs as the bread and wine offered actually turn into the real body and blood of Christ. The substance of each change while the accidents (that which is seen and tasted) stay the same. This is known as “transubstantiation” because the “substance” “trans”-forms into Christ’s actual body and blood.

Transubstantiation meet Chalcedon.

The problem, if you have not already begun to see, is that Christ’s body cannot be really present since it would inevitably have to be at countless millions of places at one time. Humanity cannot be in more than one place at one time. Christ’s humanity is only present in one locale at any one moment according to Chalcedon. Why? Because the attributes of deity cannot be communicated to Christ’s humanity. Christ’s human body (that which is supposed to be present at every Mass all over the world) does not and cannot possess omnipresence.

Tomorrow’s Theological Word of the Day will be “extra Calvinisticum” (I am prophetic!), which says this:

The belief among Calvinists that Christ’s humanity is not infinite or omnipresent and therefore can only be at one place at one time, even after the ascension. This, according to adherents, is the historic view as espoused by the Chalcedonian definition since, according to the definition, Christ’s human nature cannot share attributes with the divine nature. The implications would be at odds with the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation as well as the Lutheran view of Consubstantiation, both of which believe that Christ’s human nature can be at more than one place at one time during the sacrament of mass or the Lord’s Supper. The “extra” has to do with the belief among Calvinists that while Christ’s humanity was finite, there was a sense in which Christ was still infinite, holding the world together. In other words, finite could not contain the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti).

Therefore, it would seem that Roman Catholics would have to either redefine Chalcedon to fit their view of Transubstantiation, or else redefine their view of Transubstantiation. Neither of which is really possible.

These are the questions I have for my Catholic friends: Can Christ’s humanity be at more than one place at one time? If so, how does this happen sinse there cannot be a communication of the attributes of each nature? How do you square your view of Transubstantiation with Chalcedon?

If one were to say that Chalcedon only has implication for Christ while he was on earth, but post-resurrection his attributes can be communicated, how does he then now serve as the pioneer of humanity and how does he intercede for us as a high priest?


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    172 replies to "Do Catholics Deny Chalcedon in their View of Mass?"

    • M. Jay Bennett

      Great post Michael!

      I think you are right.

      You know Calvin mounted this argument contra Roman Catholicism. He was countered with the charge of Nestorianism, based on his view of the spiritual presence of Christ in the observance of the Supper.

      But the charge of Nestorianism was clearly bogus. Calvin’s spiritual presence simply requires the omnipresence of the divine nature of Christ. And affirming the omnipresence of the divine nature of Christ merely requires a distinguishing of the two natures not a separation. Chalcedon, of course, carefully and beautifully affirms a distinction of natures (thus avoiding Eutychianism) while condemning separation (thus avoiding Nestorianism).

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Jay. Hopefully we can see how some can reconcile this. I have asked many Catholics before and it normally does not register as something they have thought about. Or some will refer to the communicatio idiomatum which only refers to the communication of the natures to the person, not the communication between natures.

    • Peter

      “following the holy fathers”. This was the formula of all the councils from the beginning. Not very much of “scripture says”. Because can scripture really tell you definitively whether Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Apollinarianism or orthodoxy is correct? I’m dubious. For example, since scripture doesn’t define the concept of a person, it’s a bit hard to form a biblical argument about it.

      Now who’s to say that humanity can’t be in more that one place at one time? The bible doesn’t say that. The bible doesn’t say this is an attribute of deity. Maybe you could argue being _everywhere_ at once is an attribute of deity, but that isn’t what we are dealing with here, and besides which, you’d have to prove that too. And furthermore, since men are to be partakers of the divine nature, who’s to say that attributes that happen to be exclusive to God right now, must all remain so?

      In any case, my body can be in thousands of places at once. I leave skin cells in every keyboard I use. Part of me is at home now, and bits of me are at work. My spirit is not in those place at once, but do you seriously wish to argue that Christ can’t be spiritually in many places at once? Haven’t you then robbed Christ of his deity in order to restrict him to your preconceived notion of humanity? Or do you want to split Christ into two persons, one of which can be everywhere present spiritually, but the other must stay in heaven?

      I didn’t see Christ’s body obeying the normal rules of humanity when on earth. He seemed to materialise in places, and then dematerialise. Not very human like. If he can do that, who’s to say he can’t materialise in two places at once? I for one look forward to having three way “conference calls” in heaven, with no telephone required.

      I think there are elements of Nestorianism and other heresies lurking in protestant thought even now. You want to split Christ into the human and the divine, and allow only one of them to do certain stuff. If Christ is one person, human and divine, then he can do everything God does, without checking his humanity in the cloakroom on the way.

    • C Michael Patton

      Peter,

      you said: “I didn’t see Christ’s body obeying the normal rules of humanity when on earth. He seemed to materialise in places, and then dematerialise. Not very human like.”

      In what places to you see Christ doing this? From what I can see, Christ was very human in his actions. Nevertheless, how do you deal with the dictates of Chalcedon that Christ did not have an intermindleing between his divine nature and human nature? Do you understand why they made such pronouncements? Do you see why Christ had to be fully man? Do you see why they would say that he could not communicate his divine attributes from his divine nature to his human nature?

    • Damian

      Peter makes a good point: Christ’s body is not the same body as it was pre-resurrection. Given the characteristics we can see in his post-resurrection body, I’m not sure your argument holds. It plainly shows some supernatural attributes (unrecognisability, walking through solid objects), yet we don’t claim that he is not human because of them.

    • David Di Giacomo

      I agree with Peter and Damian. Christ is fully and completely human, yet because he is the Son of God (and after his resurrection, the Son of God in a glorified human body) he does stuff we can’t do. He walks on water. He somehow walks right through a mob who have cornered him on a cliff and are ready to throw him off. He is transfigured before the very eyes of his disciples, and the appearance of his face changes. He later chooses whether or not people can recognize him, and when. He appears to his disciples in a sealed room with locked doors. He literally ascends into the heavens by rising bodily into the cloud. Clearly, he is doing stuff with his own phsyical body that we can’t do. Does this make him less human? It is my understanding that Christianity has always taught the exact opposite: that he was and is the first fully realized human being on the planet, more human than any of us are or have ever been, and he is showing us, by his resurrection and everything else he does, what we have to look forward to if we endure till the end.

      So who is to say that he cannot be in many places at once? Who is to say that the bread and the wine do not literally become his body and blood on the grounds that this would deny his humanity? Who are we to ascertain what the limits of a non-fallen human nature really are? How can we fathom such mysteries? I don’t know that Christ has really given us that man answers, only tantalizing hints of what awaits us as we are conformed more and more to his image.

      (In the interests of full disclosure, I am not Roman Catholic; I am, however, seriously, seriously, very seriously considering becoming Orthodox; the Orthodox church holds similar views concerning the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, without seeking to define the process by which this is accomplished as the RC do in their doctine of transubstantiation. And there is no church in the world that holds the seven ecumenical councils, including that of Chalcedon, in such high regard as the Orthodox Church!)

      • Daniel Haynes

        David, I agree with you, Peter and Damian. One correction to your post, the RC does not define “how” the transubstantiation happens in the Eucharist. They just define what it is once transformed.

    • ChadS

      At each Mass, after the consecration, the priest elevates the consecrated elements and intones: “Let us proclaim this mystery of faith.” How the elements become the body and blood of Christ cannot be known it is a mystery of faith. It’s just like Christ’s conception or his resurrection — how exactly did it happen? Man’s intellect doesn’t have the capabilities to precisely describe it or understand it, that’s why it is a mystery of faith.

      However, I believe St. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica addressed some of the issues you raise in the post. In Question 76 of the 3rd part he argues that the substance of Christ’s body and blood are present in the Holy Sacrament, but they are not present in dimensions or quantity. This means that Christ doesn’t become less complete each time a priest consecrates a host.

      Also in it’s definition of transubstantiation the Church realizes that it is the substance of the host that changes, not its physical aspects. Christ’s body and blood has to be seen through the eyes of faith — no amount of physical examination or scientific analysis will find Christ in the host.

      It seems to me Protestants are trying to dissect this issue on a purely physical level or applying earthly concepts to heavenly realities. It can’t be done.

      ChadS

    • ChadS

      Let me post another quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, this one from Question 75, Third Part.

      Objection 3. Further, no body can be in several places at the one time. For this does not even belong to an angel; since for the same reason it could be everywhere. But Christ’s is a true body, and it is in heaven. Consequently, it seems that it is not in very truth in the sacrament of the altar, but only as in a sign.

      Reply to Objection 3. Christ’s body is not in this sacrament in the same way as a body is in a place, which by its dimensions is commensurate with the place; but in a special manner which is proper to this sacrament. Hence we say that Christ’s body is upon many altars, not as in different places, but “sacramentally”: and thereby we do not understand that Christ is there only as in a sign, although a sacrament is a kind of sign; but that Christ’s body is here after a fashion proper to this sacrament, as stated above.

      ChadS

      • Daniel Haynes

        Well stated Chad, thanks!

    • Mike L

      CMP:

      Damian makes a good point. The scriptural evidence about Christ’s risen body indicates that it has certain characteristics and abilities well beyond those of ordinary human bodies, including his own before his death. That’s why St. Paul calls it a “spiritual” body, even though we must also affirm its humanity on pain of denying that the Incarnation, in Chalcedon’s sense, still holds. At the very least, this means that one cannot draw easy conclusions about how his risen body can or cannot be present on earth.

      Re its presence in the Eucharist, St. Thomas Aquinas, the greatest expositor of “transubstantiation,” actually denies that Christ’s risen body is locally present in the consecrated elements. Instead he says: “Christ’s body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance.” What does “after the manner of substance” mean? Well, to understand that even to a limited extent, you need to understand a good deal of Greek metaphysics, and neither of us has time to get into all that right now. But one point should be stressed here. The consecrated elements are “one substance,” namely the Incarnate Word himself, in a way very similar to, if not precisely identical with, how the divine and human natures of the Incarnate Word, interrelated as Chalcedon taught, form that one substance or hypostasis which is God the Son himself.

      Chalcedonian Christology has it that Jesus Christ is “one substance” in “two natures,” the natures being closely united without intermingling with or annihilating each other. That one substance or hypostasis is of course a divine person, God the Son, who has existed from all eternity. But that doesn’t mean that Jesus Christ isn’t a man. All it means is that his being a man does not make the hypostasis or substance with which he is self-identical into a human hypostasis or substance. In that respect, he is unlike other men. Christ was and remains human, but not “after the manner of substance.” I suggest that the case is similar with the bread and wine which, according to the Catholic tradition, become at the Eucharist “the body, blood, soul, and divinity” of Jesus Christ.

      All the standard “physical” properties of bread and wine remain in the consecrated elements, but they are no longer the physical substances or hypostases of bread and wine. They are now identical with the substance of Jesus Christ himself, the divine person who was and remains incarnate as a man, albeit with a body whose properties transcend our own in many ways. But their “transubstantiation” into that substance or hypostasis no more annihilates their physical properties than Christ’s being a divine substance or hypostasis annihilates his humanity. All it means is that he incorporates those physical elements into his risen body, thus making them identical with himself qua substance. Thus, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, he does something to which the ordinary process of “eating” is a faint analogue. And then of course we literally eat the elements in our turn, taking his substance into our own without in any way damaging or dispersing his.

      Of course this process is mysterious. The dogma of “transubstantiation” does not explain the mystery so much as state it. But it’s no more mysterious than Chalcedonian Christology. In fact, what’s involved is quite similar to what Chalcedon taught is involved with the Incarnation itself. It’s mysterious not only to the same degree, but in the same way, as that in which Chalcedonian Christology is mysterious.

      One consequence of this is that we must affirm a communicatio idiomata, a certain “communication of properties,” in both the Incarnation and the Eucharist. E.g. we not only can but ought to affirm that “God died on the Cross.” That doesn’t mean that divinity literally ceased to exist on the Cross; what it means is that, in and through the Incarnate Son of God’s death on the Cross, God was undergoing and thus doing something for us. That once-for-all act is mysteriously extended across time and space to the offering of the Eucharist itself by the Lord’s priests. Moreover we not only can but ought to affirm, as did the Council of Ephesus did twenty years before Chalcedon, that Mary is the Mother of God. That doesn’t mean that divinity literally began to exist in Mary’s womb. It means that, by assuming human nature from and in Mary, God the Son entered the world just as we do, and thus God acquired a mother. So, contrary to what you assert, there not only can be “a communication of the attributes of each nature,” but we ought to affirm as much, precisely for Chalcedonian reasons.

      As a regular Catholic blogger, I often find myself confronted with arguments that the body of Catholic dogma is inconsistent with itself in this-or-that respect. Since I don’t want to invite more such arguments, I shall not now cite any examples other than yours. I mention my experience only so as to cite the lesson I’ve learned from it: invariably, I find that the critic has simply misunderstood at least one of the doctrines in question. In isolated cases, that would not be at all strange. What I do find strange is the apparent frequency of the belief that the Catholic Church, despite her nearly two thousand years of teaching, dogmatizing, and theological reflection, somehow keeps missing the rather elementary points of logic that would expose her doctrinal inconsistency. I would gently urge you to be very careful before you adopt a stance which entails something so unlikely.

      Best,
      Mike

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Michael, I’m afraid that your argument fails for two reasons.

      First, while the Chalcedonian definition insists upon the unity of the divine and human natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, it does not tell us anything about the powers and properties of resurrection bodies or whether heaven is properly understood as a “place” or whatever. It has certainly been a common opinion in the West that heaven is a “place” that is spatially located someplace other than here, yet in the East strong voices have asserted just the opposite. John of Damascus writes:

      “Christ sits in the body at the right hand of God the Father, but we do not hold that the right hand of the Father is actual place. For how could He that is uncircumscribed have a right hand limited by place? But we understand the right hand of the Father to be the glory and honor of the Godhead in which the Son of God, Who existed as God before the ages, and is of like essence to the Father, and in the end became flesh, has a seat in the body, His flesh sharing in the glory. For He along with His flesh is adored with one adoration by all creation.”

      Martin Luther agreed with the Damascene on this point, and I suspect so would many Catholic theologians today.

      Second, within the Catholic Church there are many construals and interpretations of the dogma of transubstantiation, but everyone agrees that the Christ is NOT present in the Eucharist in a spatial way. This was the whole point of Aquinas’s separation of substance and accident, to allow for a presence that is real and substantial yet uncircumscribable. Christ is physically and spatially located only in heaven; in the Eucharist he is present in the dimensionless and mysterious mode of substance:

      “Christ’s body is not in this sacrament in the normal way an extended body exists, but rather just as if it were purely and simply substance. Now every body that is in a place is in place precisely as it is an extended body, that is, it corresponds to the place that contains it according to its dimensions. It follows then that Christ’s body is in this sacrament not as in a place, but purely in the way that substance is, in the way that substance is contained by the dimensions. It is to the substance of the bread that the substance of Christ’s body succeeds in this sacrament. Hence, as the substance of the bread was not under its dimensions in the way an extended body is in a place, but in the way which is proper to substance to be under dimensions, so likewise the body of Christ is not under the dimensions of the bread locally” (ST 3a.76.5).

      For a contemporary Catholic discussion of this question, see Herbert McCabe, “Eucharistic Change.”

    • C Michael Patton

      Chad, so Christ’s body is there but only sacramentally? Not really there? Love Aquinas, but I don’t think he touches on the issue.

    • C Michael Patton

      Others, you all are not dealing with the issues of Chalcedon. Do you think that Chalcedon only had to do with Christ’s pre-resurrected body? I don’t think you could make such an argument.

      As to Christ “walking through walls” walking on water, etc. this is not something unique to Christ and has nothing to do, in my opinion, with a communication of attributes or an extra quota of human attributes. Besides all of the redemptive problems that this would cause, one can just say that it was a miracle of God that accomplished his walking on water or through crowds. Even Philip was transported from one place to another by the Holy Spirit, but this did not mean his body had the attribute of levitation.

      What I hear you all saying concerns me because you are saying that Christ did not really have to be human. This is the entire issue of Chalcedon. If Christ is not human, but some Eutychian agglomeration (which is what I hear some of you saying), we are in trouble.

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Fr.

      That is helpful, but, from what I can see, does not really touch the issue at hand.

      First, Chalcedon, in my opinion, does deal with Christ post-resurrection. To deal with this question by saying that post-resurrection bodies inherit the attribute of omnipresence is problematic with regard to redemption. Redemption is not redeeming humanity into a foreign entity, but a redemption from sin where humanity as it is is restored. Otherwise, why resurrect the same bodies? Post resurrection bodies will be fully human. The only difference is that they will be without sin. Omnipresence is a property of God, not creation. It cannot be communicated to creation anymore than omnipotence or aseity.

      Second, the separation between substance and accident does not solve the problem in any way since it is precisely the “substance” in transubstantiation that causes the conflict with Chalcedon, not the accident.

    • Mike L

      CMP:

      You write: What I hear you all saying concerns me because you are saying that Christ did not really have to be human.

      I do not deny Christ’s full humanity. I just deny that his full humanity is precisely what you believe it to be, and I’ve given a substantive argument as to why. I also deny that my position is what you think it is.

      Do you think that Chalcedon only had to do with Christ’s pre-resurrected body? I don’t think you could make such an argument.

      Since my answer to your question is “no,” I’m not making the argument you say couldn’t be made.

      As to Christ “walking through walls” walking on water, etc. this is not something unique to Christ and has nothing to do, in my opinion, with a communication of attributes or an extra quota of human attributes. Besides all of the redemptive problems that this would cause, one can just say that it was a miracle of God that accomplished his walking on water or through crowds. Even Philip was transported from one place to another by the Holy Spirit, but this did not mean his body had the attribute of levitation.

      There’s a lot of misunderstanding in that, which needs sorting out.

      First, it is true that some of the miraculous things Christ did with his body are not unique to him. Indeed we should affirm that they are not, since we too will have risen bodies like his on the Last Day. But it doesn’t follow that his ability to do such things didn’t come from any communicatio idiomata. The ability of any man to do such things comes from God, and Christ is God. Hence they come from him. It is, I suppose, logically possible that such things could occur without the Incarnation, but that is not in fact how things are. In the actual world, the Incarnation is that Great Miracle from which all others flow, either directly or through intermediate causes.

      Second, I don’t know what “redemptive problems” you’re trying to saddle the doctrine of communicatio idiomata with. We all agree here that Christ assumed human nature, but was not a human person but rather a divine person. That’s just what Chalcedon affirmed; if you deny that, as the Nestorians did, then you either don’t understand or don’t accept Chalcedon. Therefore, we were redeemed by a divine person who assumed human nature without ceasing to be divine by nature. The doctrine of communicatio idiomata is simply a logical consequence of that. It means that we must attribute to Jesus Christ, who was and is a man but not a human person, the properties of that divine hypostasis with which he is identical. Why do you have a problem with that?

      Best,
      Mike

    • C Michael Patton

      Mike, you are misunderstanding. As I said before, I do not deny the communicatio idiomata, but it does not apply here in my opinion since it only deals with the communication of the natures to the person of Christ, not between natures. This is what the extra Calvinisticum deals with. That the person of Christ is omnipresent (and in some sense always has been) is not debated. What is at issue is that the body of Christ cannot be omnipresent since this would necessitate a communication of attributes between natures.

      Redemptively, if Christ is something different now, some sort of super human with all sorts of new attributes that have been communicated to his humanity, 1) he does not, in my thoughts, represent us as a High Priest and 2) he does not represent a restored humanity, but a recreated humanity.

      Concerning the “spiritual” body of the resurrection, this has to do with the disposition of the body, not the substance. The disposition is without sin and therefore spiritual. (I don’t remember who brought that up.)

    • ChadS

      Michael,

      Yes Christ is present sacramentally. Like Mike L and Fr. Alvin pointed out Aquinas was making a distinction between the substance and accidents.

      Yes, Aquinas does seem to have a bearing on this whole discussion since you claim that Christ can’t be present in the sacrament without somehow doing damage to his body. All three of us Catholics and the seeking-Orthodox poster have made similar points regarding Chalcedon’s definition and the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist.

      ChadS

    • C Michael Patton

      I was not saying that Aquinas himself does not have bearing, but that his arguments don’t really solve the issue since it is the substance that causes the conflict, not the accidents.

      Anyway, if you are satisfied with it, that is cool. You may be seeing something that I am not. But at this point, I cannot have integrity in my thinking and not recognize a serious conflict between Christ’s real presence and Chalcedon.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Michael, the same Fathers who formulated the Chalcedonian definition also believed and confessed the transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the risen Christ. They certainly did not understand themselves as calling into question the eucharistic faith of the Church. I suggest that you are misapplying the Chalcedonian dogma.

      Catholics and Orthodox confess together that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At no point do they deny the full humanity of Christ; quite the contrary, the purpose of the eucharistic transformation is to enable the baptized to participate in Christ’s risen humanity: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” At no point do they separate the divine and human natures of Christ: the flesh of Christ we receive in the Eucharist is salvific and life-giving precisely because it is the flesh of the God-Man. Cyril of Alexandria is instructive here. He argues for the unity of the divine and human natures of Christ on the basis of the eucharistic faith of the Church (see his 3rd letter to Nestorius).

      All is mystery here. The Incarnation is mystery. We cannot understand how it is possible that Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. The Eucharist is mystery. We cannot understand how bread and wine can become the flesh and blood of the Savior. But we do not deny these revealed truths simply because our logic fails us. Instead we affirm both and seek to understand how they are connected in the economy of salvation.

    • Mike L

      CMP:

      I see that we keep misunderstanding each other. Let me stress, however, that such a fact does not pose a problem for the Catholic Church. It poses only a problem of communication between individuals.

      You write:

      I do not deny the communicatio idiomata, but it does not apply here in my opinion since it only deals with the communication of the natures to the person of Christ, not between natures. This is what the extra Calvinisticum deals with. That the person of Christ is omnipresent (and in some sense always has been) is not debated. What is at issue is that the body of Christ cannot be omnipresent since this would necessitate a communication of attributes between natures.

      I still think you’re misunderstanding the import of the doctrine of communicatio idiomata. If Christ is a man, which he is, then whatever he does as Christ he also does as a man. That Christ-as-man is not also, according to Chalcedon, a human person is irrelevant. That he does tremendous things as a man does not mean that his human nature is annihilated; it means that his human nature is elevated. He destines us for the same ourselves. That’s why he said that “You are gods” (John 10:34), and that’s why 2 Peter says that we are to become “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4).

      Your misunderstanding here arises from the assumption that what is “natural” in human nature cannot, without ceasing to be human nature, be elevated and augmented to a very great extent by being joined to the divine nature in the person of Christ. That assumption is false. I see now why you make it though:

      Redemptively, if Christ is something different now, some sort of super human with all sorts of new attributes that have been communicated to his humanity, 1) he does not, in my thoughts, represent us as a High Priest and 2) he does not represent a restored humanity, but a recreated humanity.

      Christ represents and intercedes for us as “high priest” in the very ways that the Letter to the Hebrews talks about. You have offered no argument that those ways are logically incompatible with his humanity’s elevation, augmentation, and glorification in the Incarnation and the Resurrection. In fact, they are not only compatible but mutually implicated. For it is precisely in virtue of his humanity’s elevation by his divinity that he does what he has done and still does for us in the Redemption. Those who definitively accept him as their savior will become like him and, indeed, are already becoming like him.

      Concerning the “spiritual” body of the resurrection, this has to do with the disposition of the body, not the substance. The disposition is without sin and therefore spiritual.

      That involves is a conceptual error. If ‘spiritual’ simply meant ‘without sin’, then no spirit could be sinful, which is contrary to the fact of Satan and his demons. Rather, when Paul spoke of the risen body as “spiritual,” he meant “supernatural,” i.e. beyond mere nature. That is obviously true of Christ’s risen body, and will be true of ours. In turn, that reality derives ultimately from the divine Son’s assumption of human nature. Therefore, it does have to do with the “substance” of Christ. The substance of Christ is his person or hypostasis, which is divine. And it is that Person which elevates human nature, thus destining our bodies to become like his risen body.

      Best,
      Mike

    • ChadS

      Michael,

      That’s cool. I respect your desire for consistency in your thoughts and outlook.

      I just read some quote from one of the early Church saints (it was either Ambrose or Athanasius, can’t remember) but he said if God is powerful enough to bring matter into existence out of nothing through speaking a word then surely Christ can be present in the Eucharist.

      At some point on my journey to the Catholic Church after believing that communion was nothing more than a symbol I came to the realization I was trying to put God in a box of my own making by saying what he can and can’t do. Who was I to claim he wasn’t present in the Eucharist? I realized I was nobody to make such a claim.

      Okay, hardly a definitive argument one way or the other but that’s where I’m coming from too.

      ChadS

    • C Michael Patton

      “Michael, the same Fathers who formulated the Chalcedonian definition also believed and confessed the transformation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the risen Christ. They certainly did not understand themselves as calling into question the Eucharistic faith of the Church. I suggest that you are misapplying the Chalcedonian dogma.”

      Maybe so, but that is certainly not a point to which everyone would concede. As well, conflicts arise as doctrine is articulated and one often finds that systematizing these issues because problematic only after an essential point have been brought to the table of church history. In my opinion, the early church believed a very simplistic view of the Lord’s table, not necessarily defining what it means. In other words, I don’t see transubstantiation. Therefore, I don’t find much weight in your statement here.

      Please understand that I am not saying that Catholics, Orthodox, or Lutherans explicit deny Chalcedon (of course not!), but that the conflict that is created by the real presence, in my opinion creates a dilemma where both Chalcedon and real presence (in the Catholic sense) cannot be affirmed with integrity.

      While I certainly respect the idea of mystery, I don’t see this qualifying since “mysteries” do not involve contraditions, but paradox. What I see here is a contradiction.

      Btw, thanks for engaging in this. At the very least it serves to remove any Christological cobwebs!

    • C Michael Patton

      Mike, as I read your arguements I cannot help but wonder how it escapes that charge of Eutychianism or Monphysitism. (But that is the point of my original post!).

      Anyway, thanks for the engagement. I am not sure we can get too much further, but it gives us food for thought.

    • ChadS

      CMP writes: “Maybe so, but that is certainly not a point to which everyone would concede. As well, conflicts arise as doctrine is articulated and one often finds that systematizing these issues because problematic only after an essential point have been brought to the table of church history. In my opinion, the early church believed a very simplistic view of the Lord’s table, not necessarily defining what it means. In other words, I don’t see transubstantiation. Therefore, I don’t find much weight in your statement here.”

      Michael,

      I think one thing that should be taken into consideration when reading the Church Fathers is that just because they didn’t use the sophisticated theologically precise terminology 21st century man prefers that they were any less clear about what they meant. So what seems like symbolic and somewhat less precise language was probably very clear to their hearers.

      The preciseness of language might not have been necessary since there were no serious doctrinal challenges to the real presence in the earliest centuries. Remember, afterall, that the only reason we have Chalcedon and the other councils was because groups like the Nestorians, Arians, Apollinarians etc. arose to challenge orthodox thinking and were able to lead large parts of Christendom astray.

      It wasn’t until the Council of Trent and the challenge from the Reformation that the Church finally defined transubstantiation and much of that theology in the language we know and seem to prefer today.

      Anyhow, to me the Church Fathers seem quite clear enough.

      ChadS

    • C Michael Patton

      Exactly. We are all going to read these things through our theological lenses. I would just say that the best we can do is say that until the controvery arose, the doctrine remained unarticulated. Therefore, assuming either of our theologies into what they believed about the eucharist would be going beyond our abilities.

      Now, having said that, Chalcedon plays its role in helping us understand why the Reformers rejected what they believed to be a later development of the doctrine of Transubstantiation. And that is really the point of this post.

    • Wm Tanksley

      “All it means is that he incorporates those physical elements into his risen body, thus making them identical with himself qua substance.”

      I need some clarification of terms.

      The substance of Christ, as I understand it, is not the person of Christ, nor His body; the substance of Christ is the very substance of God. So if the bread takes on the same substance as Christ, it becomes fully God, in the same way that Christ is fully God, yet it would not (by that) share Christ’s person or body.

      Because of that (mis?)understanding, I’m hindered in accepting that it might be possible that “substance” could explain how the bread could truly be Christ’s body.

      In other words: it seems to me that using “substance” to explain the doctrine of transubstantiation misses the point.

      Unless, of course, the substance of Christ is _different_ from the substance of Christ’s body. Could that be?

    • David Di Giacomo

      Mr. Patton,

      Why should we accept the claim that the Reformers, hundreds and hundreds of years after the facts, had a better grip on what went on in the minds of the Apostles and Church Fathers than all those who went before them? Why should we accept their doctrinal authority? Where did they get their ideas? If from the Holy Spirit, then why were they unable to come to any agreement? If from the Holy Spirit, then why, centuries after the Reformation, is there more and more disunity, rather than less?

      You’re right that we all read things through theological lenses. The question is which pair of spectacles is the more reliable. Increasingly, I am thinking that the older pair are much better than these new-fangled ones with which I was raised. And I suspect that you may be misreading Chalcedon because you are not wearing the same spectacles as those who were actually there, and who passed their lenses on to their successors.

    • Wm Tanksley

      “Why should we accept the claim that the Reformers, hundreds and hundreds of years after the facts, had a better grip on what went on in the minds of the Apostles and Church Fathers than all those who went before them?”

      There’s a false claim here. The modern doctrine of the essence and accidents, and hence the modern understanding of transubstantiation, was developed by St. Aquinas, not by the Church Fathers. Until it was developed to that level of detail, there was little room for controversy (although I certainly see that the controversy has since expanded FAR beyond that).

    • C Michael Patton

      David, I think your statement is great and needs much consideration. But it all comes down to one’s view of the development of doctrine. Is the old the best or just a seed form of the best? http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/ParchmentandPen/files/Michael-Patton/An%20Emerging%20Understanding%20of%20Orthodox.pdf

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Maybe so, but that is certainly not a point to which everyone would concede. As well, conflicts arise as doctrine is articulated and one often finds that systematizing these issues because problematic only after an essential point have been brought to the table of church history. In my opinion, the early church believed a very simplistic view of the Lord’s table, not necessarily defining what it means. In other words, I don’t see transubstantiation. Therefore, I don’t find much weight in your statement here. Please understand that I am not saying that Catholics, Orthodox, or Lutherans explicit deny Chalcedon (of course not!), but that the conflict that is created by the real presence, in my opinion creates a dilemma where both Chalcedon and real presence (in the Catholic sense) cannot be affirmed with integrity.

      Michael, may I engage and challenge you further on this point. While it is certainly true that one does not find the Thomistic theory of transubstantiation in the early Church Fathers, one does find a common understanding of the eucharistic real identity, or what Francis Hall called the dogma of real identificationm (see my essay “Eating Christ.” What one doesn’t find in the Church Fathers is anything closely resembling a Calvinist understanding of real presence. The closest one comes, perhaps, is St Augustine; but even he is stronger on the real presence/identity than Calvin. This therefore places you in the awkward position of maintaining that Calvin’s “correction” of the simplistic views of the Church Fathers in fact represents an authentic development in eucharistic doctrine, despite the absence of patristic support for Calvin’s eucharistic teaching and despite the fact that the very large majority of Christians (Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and at least some Anglicans) disagree emphatically with it.

      One might, of course, assert that Calvin’s teaching faithfully represents the teaching of Scripture, from which the early Church quickly departed (2nd century?); but if the Fathers got the Supper so wrong so quickly, why trust their judgments expressed at Chalcedon or any of the other ecumenical councils?

    • C Michael Patton

      I am certianly not denying that many in the early church believed in some sort of “real presence.” What I am saying is that it was a primitive form of something that would later be better articulated by the various positions.

      “Though the trend was to see the communion elements as the actual body and blood of Christ, there is another strain as well that used symbolic vocabulary to refer to the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Serapion (died 211 AD) refers to the elements as “a likeness.” Eusebius of Caesarea (died c. 339 AD) on the one hand declares, “We are continually fed with the Savior’s body, we continually participate in the lamb’s blood,” but on the other states that Christians daily commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice “with the symbols of his body and saving blood,” and that he instructed his disciples to make “the image of his own body,” and to employ bread as its symbol. The Apostolical Constitutions (compiled c. 380 AD) use words such as “antitypes” and “symbols” to describe the elements, though they speak of communion as the body of Christ and the blood of Christ.

      Other Fathers who mix Real Presence vocabulary with symbolic terms include Cyril of Jerusalem (died 444),10 Gregory of Nazianzus (died 389), and Macarius of Egypt (died c. 390 AD). Athanasius clearly distinguishes the visible bread and wine from the spiritual nourishment they convey. The symbolic language did not point to absent realities, but were accepted as signs of realities which were present but apprehended by faith.

      While St. Augustine (died 430) can be quoted to support various views of the Lord’s Supper, he apparently accepted the widespread realism theory of his time, though in some passages he clearly describes the Lord’s Supper as a spiritual eating and drinking.”

      My point is that there is certianly room for historical ambiguity as to what it meant. This is why, I believe, that Chalcedon did not see an apparent conflict with their pronouncements and the eucharist.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Michael, I have to challenge your reading of the Church Fathers. It is certainly true that many (most?) of the Church Fathers employed the language of symbol to speak of the eucharistic real presence, such usage cannot be interpreted along Calvinist lines. Cyril of Jerusalem provides a good example of a theologian who can employ both symbolic and realistic language in speaking of the eucharistic presence. But there can be no mistaking Cyril: the elements are truly transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ.

      Adolf Harnack explains how it was possible for the early Fathers to employ the language of symbol: “What we now-a-days understand by symbol is a thing which is not that which it represents; at that time [i.e., the patristic age] symbol denoted a thing which, in some kind of way, really is what it signifies.”

      J. N. D. Kelly agrees:

      “Occasionally these writers use language which has been held to imply that, for all its realist sound, their use of the terms ‘body’ and ‘blood’ may after all be merely symbolical. Tertullian, for example, refers [Against Marcion, 3, 19; 4, 40] to the bread as ‘a figure’ (figura) of Christ’s body, and once speaks [ibid., 1, 14] of ‘the bread by which He represents (repraesentat) His very body.’ Yet we should be cautious about interpreting such expressions in a modern fashion. According to the ancient modes of thought a mysterious relationship existed between the thing symbolized and its symbol, figure or type; the symbol in some sense was the thing symbolized. Again, the verb repraesentare, in Tertullian’s vocabulary, [ibid., 4, 22; On Monogamy, 10] retained its original significance of ‘to make present’ … he is trying, with the aid of the concept of figura, to rationalize to himself the apparent contradiction between (a) the dogma that the elements are now Christ’s body and blood, and (b) the empirical fact that for sensation they remain bread and wine” (Early Christian Doctrines, p. 212).

      “Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e., the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be, and were treated and designated as, the Savior’s body and blood” (p. 440).

      (Darwell Stone’s History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist is necessary reading here.)

      Hence I cannot accept your claim of “historical ambiguity.” The Council of Chalcedon cannot be understood or accepted apart from the Council of Ephesus, which approved the eucharistic theology of Cyril of Alexandria as expressed in his 3rd letter to Nestorius. Moreover, the fathers of the seventh ecumenical council, II Nicaea, rejected the claim of the iconoclasts that the Eucharist is to be understood as a symbol of the Body and Blood: the bread and wine, the council fathers declares, are not icons or images of Christ; they *are* Christ.

      Whatever else the Church Fathers may have been, it may be safely said that, with regards to the Eucharist, they were NOT Calvinists. Hence I have to question your invocation of the Council of Chalcedon against the consensual teaching of the Church Fathers on the eucharistic presence. The real question is not whether the Catholic position on transubstantiation accords with the Chalcedonian definition. The real question is whether the views of Calvin and the other non-Lutheran reformers on the Eucharist can find significant support at all in the teachings of the Church Fathers.

    • C Michael Patton

      My point is that their is abiguity in defining what this meant. But there is also historic ambiguity in the sense that it was not settled and not univerally accepted by all Christians everywhere. As well, the ambiguity has to do with the issue of importance.

      In the end, my point is that the dictates of Chalcedon, which historically take precidence, in my opinion, over anyone’s opinions about the eucharist, are violated by Transubstantiation (and Consubstantiation). Therefore, from what I see, the two are not reconcilable. In this sense, it seems that the Roman Catholic church is at odds with Chalcedon on this central Christological issue.

      Hope that makes sense. Just want to stay with the original post (although this is a highly relavent discussion depending on how much weight one gives to tradition—which I give much to).

    • Peter Madison

      Michael:

      I am a forner, very active, Catholic. Today, I am a moderate Cqlvinist, not as Calvinist as you, but respectful of your writing. I am Jesuit
      educated which will be obvious by my response to you regarding the Catholic position on transubstantiiation and the question dealt with at
      Chalcedon with regard to the person of Christ. This is my first blog response, so bear with me as this is new to me. I am now an Evangelical
      Christian joining with five others to found a new church in my home town of Santa Rosa, Ca..

      As an active and well educated Roman Catholic, I long ago rejected the concept of transubstantiation. I believe eucharist is a wonderful
      part of a worship celebration and we often celebrated just the eucharist apart from Mass when we met in our homes during Charismatic
      Renewal times. Most of the churches I have attended on this side celebrate it on the first Sunday of each month and it has deep meaning
      for me, but as a symboliic act recalling the instructions of Jesus at the last supper representing his broken body and poured out blood on our
      behalf. Most of my Catholic friends, at least those who were educated agreed with that position.

      The Mass re-enacts the sacrifice of Christ. It is, at heart, a sacrifiicial rite. That is Catholic doctrine and one of many reasons why I am no
      longer a Catholic. What you and your readers need to understand, though, is that is NO united and uniiversa catholic Catholic church, today.
      People are too educated to accept that. Many remain Catholic, but disagree with the Vatican and generally ingnore most of what comes
      out of the Vatican as theological nonsence and yet stay because of their love of the traditions (small t) and fellowship that being a
      Roman Catholic means as important in their lives. I did just for many years. I struggled with what I saw as hyprocrisy in the celibate
      clergy who were not living as celibates. The very concept of dogmatic celibacy requirements flies in the face of Schripture, but the
      magesterium hold onto to that faulity theolpgy even in the liight of the tragic lives of good men and woman struggling with their
      sexuatity, trying unsuccessfully to live within rules that ignore the way God created them. I could go on, but my only point was to try
      to illustrate that people great meaning in being Catholic without researching some of the theologiy, taught to trust their priests and
      living safely, they think, within a coccon provided by them. It is very much like growing up Jewish, bathed in the strong culture that is
      so hard to break. I tried and tried to break away only to discover that I was held in a bondage and I eventually had a very dramatic
      encounter in Christ that showed me the strength and leave.

      I treasure much of my history therel. It was sort of like growing up in one of the grouips in Pennsylvania who showed us all so much
      in forgiving a man who shot so many of their children and a teacher and in their forgiveness inviting the killer’s wife and children to join
      their services for their dead. Catholicsim does great things in this world and does terrible things in this world, just like all other
      denominations. My Evangelical Christiians will be shocked to see so many Catholics in heaven. But, the denomination is wrong in its
      teaching on the two subjects you raised in your article.

      Peter M.
      l

    • Mike L

      CMP:

      In the end, my point is that the dictates of Chalcedon, which historically take precidence, in my opinion, over anyone’s opinions about the eucharist. Therefore, from what I see, the two are not reconcilable. In this sense, it seems that the Roman Catholic church is at odds with Chalcedon on this central Christological issue.

      If you read my first comment in this thread, you obviously didn’t take its last paragraph seriously. You should.

      Your replies to me have boiled down to claiming that my arguments land me in Eutychianism or Monophysitism. I’ve never thought they did, nor have you offered a careful analysis showing that they do. So I see no need to modify them.

      Best,
      Mike

    • C Michael Patton

      Mike, thanks for the comments.

      All I can do is refer you back to the original post. I am certianly trying to understand, but the answers given thus far do not harmonize the issue for me. If they do for you, that is great, but I cannot hold to a position or an opinion just because someone says that I misunderstand, but are unable to show me how.

      Believe me, I might be ignorant and unable to see how it harmonizes due to my ignorance. But, for the most part, I am usually able to wrestle with these types of theological issues with some degree of intellegence. I am not on a witch hunt and I don’t think that this issue damns Catholics to hell. I just think that they are not in agreement with this point of Chalcedon. But, never fear, I am in disagreement with one point of Nicea (minor point).

    • C Michael Patton

      Peter, thanks for the comments. What do you, as a Jesuit educated former Catholic have to say about the relationship we have been talking about between Chalcedon and Transubstantiation. Are the reconcilable?

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Michael, I’ll conclude with this final comment. In your article you write the following:

      “The problem, if you have not already begun to see, is that Christ’s body cannot be really present since it would inevitably have to be at countless millions of places at one time. Humanity cannot be in more than one place at one time. Christ’s humanity is only present in one locale at any one moment according to Chalcedon. Why? Because the attributes of deity cannot be communicated to Christ’s humanity. Christ’s human body (that which is supposed to be present at every Mass all over the world) does not and cannot possess omnipresence.”

      In fact, the Council of Chalcedon does NOT say that “Christ’s humanity is only present in one locale at any one moment.” You have drawn this inference from the Chalcedonian definition, but it is an inference that the council fathers did not in fact make.

      It’s important for everyone to actually read the text of the Chalcedonian definition. It simply does not say what you say it says. It does not address the question of bodily presence in the Eucharist. It does not address the nature of resurrection bodies. It does not address whether heaven is rightly described as a “place.”

      In fact, not only did the Chalcedonian fathers not draw the inference that you have drawn, but they would have rejected this inference, because it would have meant a repudiation of the christology of Cyril of Alexandria, which the majority of the fathers embraced (see Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy by John McGuckin). It would also have meant both a repudiation of the Eastern understanding of theosis and a repudiation of the consensual eucharistic teaching of the Church.

      If you are going to invoke Chalcedon as an authority, then you need to read it within its historical context. You need to exegete the conciliar text just as carefully as a biblical scholar exegetes the biblical text. You cannot make the dogma say more than it says.

      You may, of course, draw your own inferences from the dogma, as any theologian might, but you need to make it clear that these are YOUR inferences and not the clear and explicit teaching of the Chalcedonian fathers.

      Does the traditional doctrine of transubstantiation violate the Chalcedonian dogma? It certainly does not do so literally, because the dogma does not address the question of eucharistic presence and the relation between Christ’s eucharistic body and his natural body in heaven.

      Finally, have you correctly understood and stated the traditional Catholic teaching on transubstantiation? I do not believe you have. You assert, for example, that according to Chalcedon the risen body of Christ cannot possess omnipresence. But the Catholic Church does not claim that Christ’s glorified body is omnipresent. Luther asserted this, of course, but Aquinas did not. You need to read carefully the sections of the Summa Theologica devoted to the eucharistic presence. If you do so, you will learn that transubstantiation cannot be said to violate even your Calvinist interpretation of Chalcedon, precisely because Aquinas is as insistent as you are that Christ is locally and dimensively present only in heaven. Christ’s body does not move from heaven to the altars of the Church. There is no bodily movement whatsoever. At no point can one say that Christ’s body is dimensively present in two or more places at once. That’s not how transubstantiation works. Christ’s risen body never leaves heaven. It’s not as if the glorified body of Jesus suddenly acquires the supernatural ability to replicate itself in a million places simultaneously; rather we should think of these million places, through the eucharistic conversion, being lifted into the one place of heaven. It’s as if space gets folded back upon itself–but of course not literally. This is the whole point in asserting that the substance of the bread and wine are changed into the substance of the Body and Blood. Perhaps transubstantiation requires that we alter our understanding of space and time, but it does not require us to alter our understanding of finite human bodies–at least so I read Aquinas.

      In his book The Hidden Manna Fr James O’Connor invites us to imagine “what it would be like not to have the Sacred Host or the Precious Blood pass into our mouths but rather to have us be enabled to pass directly into them. To have us pass, that is, through what remains of the bread and wine, viz., their appearances. Were we able to do this, we should find that, having passed through the appearances, we would be standing with Christ in heaven itself, at the Father’s right hand. And not only would we be standing there, but everyone who, anywhere in the world, was capable of doing the same thing would be standing there with us united in Christ. This would be so because the Eucharistic appearances are themselves the boundary between the visible and invisible orders of creation, the horizon at which earthly time and the everlasting aeon of the blessed touch. The appearances are the window whose far side holds ‘what God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Cor 2:9).”

      Thank you for a civil and gracious conversation, Michael.

    • C Michael Patton

      Fr.

      Thanks again for for continued perseverance in this. Unfortunately, you produce a simple argument from silence that does not satisfy me. There are a lot of things that Chalcedon did not address specifically, but this does not give us the ability to loop-hole our doctrine if the implications of such are not available. In this case, I believe that what I have said is at least reasonable and should give those who believe in real presence pause, not only because it seems to conflict with the original intent of Chalcedon, but because of the seeming acrobats you have demonstrated (admirably) that one must go through to reconcile.

      From you assumptions, I could hold that Christ post-resurrection body has inherited attributes that mirror deity, but are not actually communicated from deity. This simply denies the intent of Chalcedon and the important—indeed central—redemptive purpose that they had in mind.

      Anyway, I do appreciate your comments and your attempts to research this.

      Just so you understand, it is not that I am unwilling to see your point or concede the opposite of what the proposition of this blog supports. I have had similar discussion with Catholics about their nuanced views of Purgatory and said to myself “I get it now…maybe I don’t agree…but I get it.” Such has never been the case here. I neither get it or agree.

      In the end, I hold the tentative position that Transubstantiation conflicts with Chalcedon. While I believe this is serious, I do admire much of Catholic Christology and consider those Catholics who are truly devoted to Christ to be brothers and sisters.

      God bless you my friend.

    • Peter

      “Humanity cannot be in more than one place at one time. Christ’s humanity is only present in one locale at any one moment according to Chalcedon. Why? Because the attributes of deity cannot be communicated to Christ’s humanity.”

      There’s only one Christ. To say that Christ has to split and shed his human nature every time he wishes to exercise his divine nature is not only Nestorian, but contrary to the Christ we find in the gospels. While his human nature may be distinct in that we can recognise its existence, and its not swallowed up by his deity, neither can we have a Christ who sometimes sheds his body to do God stuff (and presumably, God would duck out, while he does human stuff). Everything Christ does, has to include both natures along for the ride. If Christ is omnipresent as God, we can’t say that it is Christ sans his human nature. We pray to Christ as Creator, but he doesn’t toss off his human nature so he can hear them as God.

      If Christ has to have all the human limitations, how am I going to meet him? There’ll be a line in heaven a billion long (maybe), I might have to be there a million years before he gets to say hello. Unless you think we only get to meet the divine Christ since he has the power of omnipresence, and he keeps the human Jesus tucked away in the closet.

      The minute we start into these discussions of what the divine Christ can do vs what the human Christ can do, it is Nestorian, period.

      The rest of the debate seems to have degraded into a debate about the nature of the post-resurrection body, whether it is physical or spiritual. See JW literature for good arguments why it is spiritual. See anti-JW literature for reasons why it is physical. But orthodoxy is that it is much more than our current physical bodies, it is transformed… and yet it is still physical and still our original body. Yes this is another mystery, almost the size of the incarnation. But the bible doesn’t teach that the post resurrection body is nothing more than our current body. It is more. On the last day “We will all be changed” as St Paul said. If the post resurrection body was the same, no change would be required.

      Anyway, I think Dolly Parton has made a ruling that we’ll be able to do super-human stuff post-resurrection. I don’t want to argue with Dolly, do YOU?

    • Rey

      When we believe in Christ, are we identified in his divine body post resurrection? Are we identified in his crucified body at the cross then buriel then resurrection? Is it symbolic or is it actual so that when Christ is on the cross dying or is it a mystery? As the Church, are we a group of people united in Christ’s divine body (because of the Mind of Christ) or are we a group united in Christ’s incarnate crucified body (because He is our Passover)? Is it symbolic or actual?

      It doesn’t sound like it connects yet, I admit. Depending on how the questions are answered I think they have some bearing on the bread and cup.

      I’m just trying to get some clarity. I’ve been reading up on eucharistic traditions and perspectives and the whole topic is very interesting (and confusing when you read ockham).

    • Josh S

      Chalcedon is a confession of the 5th century and can hardly be called the “early church.” It’s well into the imperial Byzantine era, and we have lots of literature from that time. The fact is that 5th century eucharistic literature (Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, etc) does not sound in the least bit Calvinistic. So when you talk about what what “denies the intent of Chalcedon,” where exactly are you getting this “intent” from? Interpreting the words stripped out of their historical context, using Calvin’s Institutes as a guide? I think the best way to get at the “intent” is to read late 4th and 5th C literature, in which case it is impossible to conclude that what was intended was a christology that precludes the presence of Christ’s body and blood on the altar…or were the architects of Chalcedon unaware of what they were affirming?

      Here’s a general rule: If you say that a certain doctrinal formulation excludes another doctrine held by the person or persons that formulated the first doctrine, you’re interpreting it wrong.

      You may as well argue that the doctrine of justification formulated by Martin Luther excludes baptismal regeneration. Oh right, Calvinists do claim that.

    • Matt

      Michael,

      I’m still not sure you’ve really engaged Thomas Aquinas’ views on the subject. You have dismissed them, as I recall, as being somewhat irrelevant to the matter at hand.

      But it seems to me that, as Fr. Kimel has pointed out, Thomas is similarly concerned with maintaining an orthodox Christology. He believes that bi- or multi-location is impossible while maintaining the identity of an individual (and what worth would Communion be if you were not encountering the real individual Who Is Christ!). So, as a consequences, he believes it is impossible for Christ to multi-locate because He is fully human.

      He doesn’t accept the Lutheran idea, at least as I have heard it presented, about the omnipresence of Christ’s body, which Thomas would see, I think, as tantamount to Monophysitism. This seems to be precisely your criticism of the Catholic view.

      Thomas thus believed that Christ was NOT locally present in the Eucharist (and this is a view upheld in recent Magisterial documents, where Paul VI accepts the non-local presence of Christ in the Eucharist). Indeed, recent scholarship on the developments of the doctrine of transubstantiation has shown that it was an attempt to mediate between the Eucharist as symbolic and the Eucharist as a “fleshly” eating of Christ. And it may be interesting to note, in this vein, that Luther criticized transubstantiation for NOT being “FLESHLY” enough!

      Now, you can argue that Christ’s non-local but substantial presence is incoherent, or you can argue that this idea betrays the Real Presence (both of which I would dispute, of course), but you cannot argue that Thomas Aquinas’ views betray Chalcedonian orthodoxy–that Christ’s human body is TRULY human. Indeed, Lutherans have called Thomas a semi-Calvinist for this very reason.

      One final point: would you be interested in seeing Reformed writers who accept the Nestorian charge against certain construals of Calvinist views of the Eucharist?–Reformed writers who accept that, in order to encounter Christ in the Eucharist, we must (somehow) encounter his humanity?

    • J.Frances

      This has been a great discussion that I have read with real interest! Thank you, guys! Those far more studied than I have very capably defended the Catholic position, so I will try not to repeat their words.

      Having said that, I do think there is a point which, thus far, has been somewhat ignored as it pertains to the Transubstantiation/Chalcedon issue. This point has to do with the meaning of mystery.

      CMP writes candidly and succinctly: “While I certainly respect the idea of mystery, I don’t see this qualifying since “mysteries” do not involve contraditions, but paradox. What I see here is a contradiction.”

      First, a paradox is, by definition, a true statement (or statements) which leads to a perceived contradiction, or conversely a contradiction that reveals truth. Paradox and contradiction are, in fact, integrally related. So, to say that “ ‘mysteries’ do not involve contradictions, but paradox” is, therefore, inaccurate.

      It is obvious that “Mysteries” such as the Incarnation, the Trinity, the hypostatic union, and transubstantiation all require one to accept apparent contradictions on the basis of faith. This is precisely how we can accept the central gospel message that Lord, the Almightly, became human and died on a cross and rose again. This truth is fraught with contradiction and though the Fathers and councils have done their very best to clearly articulate this mystery, there still remains certain aspects of it which defy our senses and natural reason and, thus, are based primarly on faith. Therefore, we remain informed by faith, or as St. Augustine puts it, we believe that we may understand.

      Now, I fully realize, especially within the context of this blog and in the tradition of Aquinas, that the intellectual pursuit of Truth is of utmost importance. We must not abandon reason for blind faith, and yet there are those things which simply remain mysterious and mystical. And while intellect, logic, and reason and faith are all interdependent, we know, as Christians, that there are things we accept and believe as true by faith though tacit and paradoxical.

      Enter the perceived conflict and apparent correlations between the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the dictates of the council of Chalcedon:

      Among the available documents from the council of Chalcedon, we have the expository letter of Pope Saint Leo to Flavian. In it, Leo very well presents the case for mystery and truth within the context of perceived contradiction regarding the two natures of Christ. He writes:

      “He took on the form of a servant without the defilement of sin, thereby enhancing the human and not diminishing the divine. For that self-emptying whereby the Invisible rendered himself visible, and the Creator and Lord of all things chose to join the ranks of mortals, spelled no failure of power: it was an act of merciful favour. . . So without leaving his Father’s glory behind, the Son of God comes down from his heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world, born in an unprecedented order by an unprecedented kind of birth. In an unprecedented order, because one who is invisible at his own level was made visible at ours. The ungraspable willed to be grasped. Whilst remaining pre-existent, he begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless majesty and took on a servant’s form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as he is, to be subject to the laws of death.”

      It is notable that while the definition of Chalcedon and the corollary dogmatic letter of Leo clearly defend the apostolic doctrine of the hypostatic union, they do so fully recognizing the foundation of faith to which the apparent contradictions implicit to the doctrine must concede.

      Likewise, we understand Transubstantiation on the basis of faith, fully realizing the difficulties that faith often allows. We believe that when Christ, the Paschal and Eternal Lamb, says we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, that He can actually make that happen and that He alone has the words of eternal life. Yes, we have named this mystery and the Church has done its very best to explain it, but it remains by all accounts just as mysterious as the hypostatic union or the Trinity.

      We understand the dictates of Chalcedon affirming the 2 natures of Christ, in light of the faith of the early church, not isolated from it. We accept Chalcedon as a Eucharistic people, in the Christian tradition exposed by the words of Justin and Augustine:

      “We do not consume the Eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilate of its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of His own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology)

      “Christ bore Himself in His hands, when He offered His body saying: “this is my body.” (Enarr. in Ps. 33 Sermo 1, 10)

    • Kevin D. Johnson

      A good remedy to Fr. Kimel’s outrageous claims that the Fathers cannot be seen at all endorsing a Reformed or “Calvinist” view of the nature of the Sacraments regarding the bread and wine is found in Daniel Waterland’s A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist.

      At the very least, Fr. Kimel should be open and honest about the fact that Anglican divines since the Reformation have disagreed with and presented reasonable alternatives to his own prejudiced reading of the Fathers.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      CMP: “But, never fear, I am in disagreement with one point of Nicea (minor point).”

      If I may ask, what is that one minor point of disagreement which you have with the Nicene Creed?

    • C Michael Patton

      TaUD,

      The language of procession or the “eternal begotteness.”

    • Mike L

      CMP:

      I wouldn’t call that a “minor” point. It actually concerned, directly, the very issue with Arius that the Council had been called to deal with. Presumably you wouldn’t want to agree with Arius. So what, exactly, is the problem?

      I’m sure that’s a question calling for a new post rather than an extension of this combox into a deep matter that your original post did not address.

      Best,
      Mike

    • C Michael Patton

      Mike, it is a minor point since I don’t reject the principles, I just think it was bad wording and actually birth from an immature polemic. Most exegetical scholars today (esp. NT) reject his. It is a Greek thing.

    • Peter

      I for one am curious about how it was bad wording, since the concept seems pretty central to Orthodoxy.

    • Josh S

      So wait a minute, your chief criticism of RCC doctrine is that it’s not consistent with [your interpretation of] Chalcedon, but you take issue with Nicea? I don’t even know where to begin.

      Who are the “most exegetical scholars” that reject the Nicene Creed?

    • […] care for the “eternally begotten” or “proceeding” language in the Nicene Creed, but is riding that Chalcedon horse hard.  This is why I stopped reading theology. Posted by: […]

    • M. Jay Bennett

      David wrote: Why should we accept the claim that the Reformers, hundreds and hundreds of years after the facts, had a better grip on what went on in the minds of the Apostles and Church Fathers than all those who went before them?

      This assumes a unity of understanding prior to the Reformers that is simply non-existent.

    • M. Jay Bennett

      Peter wrote: To say that Christ has to split and shed his human nature every time he wishes to exercise his divine nature is not only Nestorian, but contrary to the Christ we find in the gospels. While his human nature may be distinct in that we can recognise its existence, and its not swallowed up by his deity, neither can we have a Christ who sometimes sheds his body to do God stuff (and presumably, God would duck out, while he does human stuff). Everything Christ does, has to include both natures

      This is a confused statement. Nestorianism teaches a separation of the natures of Christ. The Calvinian understanding of the Eucharist does not require a separation just a distinction, in keeping with Chalcedon.

      The incarnate Son is spiritually present in the Eucharist, and he is not physically present. In the same way, he is simultaneously omnipresent and not omnipresent; simultaneously God and man. That’s Chalcedonian Christology not Nestorianism.

    • Brent

      CMP
      as an aside: with regards to your Nicea issue I am right with you…the principal is correct the wording is VERY unhelpful indeed as it indicates some sort of procession from the Father – not helpful.

      wrt the main discussion though, can I make a (potentially stupid) statement that was my gut reponse when I read the question:

      When we RCC folk celebrate the communion are they celebrating the dead body of Jesus ie. pre resurrection post cross? In that case a dead body can be in many places at once, because one would then not neccesarily implying conscious human presence in many places(a charactersitic of divinity not humanity), which is your original premise…

    • Matt

      Wait, a second. I’m perplexed about the comment which is troubled by the language about Christ as “eternally begotten”. This Chalcedonian formula which does indeed imply “some kind of procession” is not from Greek philosophy, it’s from Scripture. John 3:16: “Only begotten Son”? What Chalcedon clarified is that Christ being begotten (which is part of Revelation) does not mean that He was “made”. He was not begotten in time, so He was _eternally_ “begotten”. It seems to me that it is not Chalcedon that is the problem for you but the Gospel of John. If not, please clarify.

    • Brent

      I think we are taking this off topic here. BUT the greek word monogenes translated in the AV as only begotten simply means only child (Strong 3439) has much more to do with the uniqueness of Christ as the ONLY Son of God – the begotten part was simply the English translation of Nicea. The word begotten or implication of it is IMHO not present in the text, and it is unhelpful as it suggests that the Son had a beginning or a moment when he did not exist…

    • Peter

      “The incarnate Son is spiritually present in the Eucharist, and he is not physically present. In the same way, he is simultaneously omnipresent and not omnipresent; simultaneously God and man. That’s Chalcedonian Christology not Nestorianism.”

      How have you not separated the natures of Christ, which is how you define Nestorianism? Natures cannot do things or be places. Persons do things and go places. It might be a nature which causes it, but the whole person has to do it. To say that a nature is present in the eucharist, and not a person, is Nestorian. It is also very Western and Platonic to make Christ into such a contemplative entity, that you make him into abstractions rather than a person. And then split those abstractions into places that bits of him cannot go.

    • Peter

      “the begotten part was simply the English translation of Nicea. The word begotten or implication of it is IMHO not present in the text, and it is unhelpful as it suggests that the Son had a beginning or a moment when he did not exist”

      * That monogenes does not contain within it the concept of “begotten”, seems uncertain to me, given the limited data used to argue it.

      * Nicea uses both terms for Jesus.

      * The bible uses both terms for Jesus. (Heb. 1:5
      “YOU ARE MY SON,
      TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”?”

      * If the term is unhelpful, blame the bible.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Michael Patton quotes the Theological Word for the Day and says that “Christ’s human nature cannot share attributes with the divine nature”.

      Do you really mean this?

      If this is so, then how can the blood of Jesus cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7)? How can it be our ransom (1 Pet 1:19)? If there is no communication of attributes, it has no divine power to save us. Furthermore, how can Christ give his flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51)? If there is no communication of attributes, then it has no divine power to give us life? If there is no communication of attributes, then mere human flesh and blood have worked salvation for us.

      Note, this is not first and foremost an issue of the Lord’s Supper. First and foremost it is a question of the atonement and our salvation. If the body and blood of Jesus are not truly united with the Son of God so that they truly share in his divinity, then they are not a worthy offering for us on the cross, and they have no power to save us.

      This argument is not original with me. I got it from a wonderful little treatise called “On the unity of the Word” by Cyril of Alexanderia. This treatise is available in a very good English translation from the Popular Patristics Series, is written in beautiful, simple, and yet profound language, is less than 100 pages, and is shot through with Scripture from start to finish. Cyril presided over the Council of Ephesus in 431 at which both Nestorius and Pelagius were condemned (the Calvinists would like the latter condemnation, if not the former). It was his theology which also ultimately won out at Chalcedon, although he had died by that time and a slightly different issue was on the table. He is the first person in the history of Christian thought to speak really explicitly about the communication of attributes between the divine and human natures, and he did this against Nestorius, who denied any such communication. The wonderful thing about Cyril is that he argues biblically rather than philosophically, and he amasses an enormous amount of Scripture in support of his position. He is also able to see clearly that issues of salvation and the atonement are at stake.

      I find it amazing that anyone would try to read the Definition of Chalcedon through the lens of modern Calvinism, rather than through the lens of people like Cyril, so that they give it an interpretion which is almost certainly the opposite of what was intended at the time.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Sorry, Cyril’s treatise is “On the Unity of Christ”, not “On the Unity of the Word”.

    • Fr. Julius Ijekeye

      Very interesting but sometimes funny positions have been and are been made here on this issue. But i would want the one who raised this question to consider this, and send me a reply. At the last supper of Jesus Christ, when he took the bread and blessed it saying: “This is my body”(Lk. 22:19), then he gave it to the 12 Apostles, and they had his body with them in their hands at the same time, what kind or type of body did he give to them? And if they had it in their hands at the same time, how many places were his body at that particular time? Or would you want to say that possible Peter had Jesus’ head, while John had one of his legs, and James had the other one? Then if this is the case, please tell me who had his right hand? If you cannot answer this question appropriately then you are completely confused about what happend at the last supper, what Chalcedon has taught, and what really the Mass is all about. Then i advice you to go back and look up these things with your two eyes open. (When i mean two eyes, i means both the physical eyes, and the eyes of the soul).God help you through your path to wisdom.

    • Seraphim Walters

      Mike,

      Interesting thoughts on Chalcedon, but I think you’re wrong in how you’re applying them. You argue against the Real Presence because you say that Christ’s Post Resurrection body couldn’t be in more than one place at a time.

      So was Jesus confused when he said:

      “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the Midst?”

      I dunno. But I doubt it.

      So I am left with two options. Either Jesus was wrong (maybe he hadn’t read Chalcedon? or you’re interpretation of Chalcedon is wrong.

      LYB

      Seraphim

    • Michael Lockwood

      Dear Seraphim,

      I would argue that the interpretation of Chalcedon given by Michael Patton is wrong, especially when Chalcedon is read in conjunction with the other ecumenical councils of the early church.

      The problem is that if Chalcedon is read in isolation, it is open to many different interpretations. When Nestorius, who had been condemned at the Council of Ephesus 20 years earlier, heard about the results of Chalcedon, he thought that the previous council had been overturned and he had been vindicated, especially by the Tome of Pope Leo which was accepted by the Council, but also by the definition of Chalcedon. He wrote:

      When I was silent, and the authority to speak out was taken away from me, and I was not believed, God raised up men who were believed, when they said the same things as I, which were the truth, without there being any suspicion or their having said these things out of friendship or love for me. And God did not bring these things about on my account. For who is Nestorius? Or what is his life? Or what is his death to the world? But he brought them to pass because of the truth which he has given to the world, and which was suppressed from deceitful causes, while he has also confuted the deceivers. And because they were filled with suspicion about me and did not believe what I was saying, and treated me as one who dissembles the truth and represses accurate speech, God appointed for this purpose a preacher who was untouched by this suspicion, Leo, who preached the truth undaunted. (Nestorius, The Book of Heracleides, II.ii.513f.; cited in Hughes, The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ, Eerdmans, 1989: 306)

      In the aftermath of Chalcedon, the church was rent apart, since many people thought that Chalcedon had sold out to the Nestorians. A large measure of unity was finally restored a century later at the 2nd Council of Constantinople, which affirmed the definition of Chalcedon, but spelled out more clearly how the definition was to be interpreted. It ruled out a Nestorian interpretation and anathamatized anyone who did not interpret it in line with the teachings of Cyril of Alexandria. This means that the 2nd Council of Constantinople clearly affirmed a real communication of attributes, and anathamatized anyone who denied it. Unfortunately, in the subsequent history of the western church the results of the 2nd Council of Constantinople have frequently been ignored.

      Blessings,

      Michael Lockwood

    • Wm Tanksley

      Oh… Painful… The blog ate my post. Let’s try one more time.

      …I won’t answer the question, because I don’t believe in transubstantiation. But perhaps I can clear up one objection, and help someone who can answer the question.

      Interesting thoughts on Chalcedon, but I think you’re wrong in how you’re applying them. You argue against the Real Presence because you say that Christ’s Post Resurrection body couldn’t be in more than one place at a time.

      No, he says that while quoting a pre-resurrection Christ. Not Post, but Pre. Even if you claim — without support from Scripture, but not without reason — that Christ was granted post-Resurrection the ability to be physically present in multiple places, you still have to address the fact that when Christ indicated the bread He was holding, He had not yet risen.

      And one minor but important point: Patton, I don’t believe that the term “Real Presence”, which you use, serves your purpose. Some Protestants deny transsubstantiation, and yet affirm a Real Presence (just not a physical one).

      So was Jesus confused when he said:
      “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the Midst?”

      Do you believe Christ was there talking about a physical, flesh and blood, presence? If not, why do you make the distinction between the two passages? If so, what is your authority, and from what substances is the transubstantiation made (it can’t be bread and wine there!)?

      -Wm

    • Michael L

      Sorry for the late reaction. Life sometimes intervenes.

      This is indeed a good question and as an ex-Roman Catholic, I do have somewhat of an opinion. Perhaps it can even shed some light

      1) Do you believe in Transubstantiation?
      I was brought up that way. I still believe the Eucharist is more than what most evangelicals believe that is just a “remembrance”. I honestly haven’t reached a stage (yet) in which I can unequivocally say either “yes” or “no”. Perhaps I never will. That being said, I do think I can address some of the challenges raised in other posts, which are common responses to the transubstantiation. Perhaps I might even answer CMP’s original question on whether it’s at odds with Chalcedon.

      2) If you believe in the literal “This is my body”, what does one do with passage such as “I am the door” ?
      Simply put Christ clearly indicated that “His Kingdom was not of this earth”. We have to be careful to apply earthly terms and understanding to Christ’s analogies. For instance, we all agree no-one can come to Father except through Christ. We all agree Christ is the way. We all agree the path is narrow. So how does one go from one place to another ? How does one go to someone, through someone ? The analogy to a door is easily made. But whether that door is like our 21st century understanding of a 6 foot by 3 foot piece of wood, metal, glass, hanging from hinges, that is swaying one way or another and has some kind of lock or handle, is probably too far fetched. In first century Judea doors would more often than not just be an opening, perhaps with a curtain. But the image remains that one walks through it to go from one place to the next. Christ is that means that allows us to go from a fallen and sinful state to approach our Father.
      Likewise, when Christ mentions that “This is His body”, it is indeed
      His body. As CMP pointed out the “accidents” are not the same, but it is literally Christ.

      3) Don’t you sacrifice Christ again and again ?
      Not necessarily. Unless you hold to the belief that each time you as a Christian commit a sin, you nail Him to the cross again. We all commit sins and we all accept Christs atoning offer was once and for all. We seem to be ready to accept that His blood washes us clean each and every day. So why wouldn’t His body wash us clean each and every time we partake of the Eucharist ?
      One has to see the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox interpretation of transubstantiation in light of the sacraments these denominations accept. Since the Roman Catholic Church, accepts confession as an atonement for sin, it also accepts the Eucharist as a sacrament for the forgiveness of sins. Once you don’t recognize the Eucharist as having that value anymore, the step to not accepting the transubstantiation is indeed relatively small. But if you do accept the sacramental nature of the Eucharist, one has to ask the question “How ?”. In that perspective the transubstantiation ma

    • Michael L

      Continued

      But if you do accept the sacramental nature of the Eucharist, one has to ask the question “How ?”. In that perspective the transubstantiation makes sense. If it were just a “remembrance” as Zwingli put it, how can it offer the value of an atonement for sins ? The two are linked hand-in-hand.

      4) Is this at odds with the definition of Christ’s humanity and deity as laid out in Chalcedon ?
      This is really the crux of the question and indeed one very difficult to answer. And I definitely don’t presume to know the answer. All I can do is retort that I also have a challenge with the definition of Chalcedon and its implications to the bodily resurrection of Christ. If, as per Chalcedon, Christ is fully human and has retained that full humanity even after death and resurrection, where is He ? It implies a physical existence somewhere. Since we know the universe as created by God is the physical world, where in the universe is He ? Or is there a parallel universe ? If so, it implies there is another creation. If so are there other “men” created in “His image” ?
      One can see this leads to an entire different debate which can lead to rather unorthodox ideas.
      Personally, I would say that the definition of Chalcedon is limited, just like anything else human we have come up with to describe the Trinitarian God we believe in. How can something finite describe something infinite ? It will always have its flaws.
      I would therefore say that adhering to the transubstantiation is not necessarily at odds with Chalcedon. Unless you admit the bodily resurrection and ascension of Christ is equally at odds. I conclude it is more of a “mystery” we can’t explain or comprehend.

      5) Does that last statement make me more of an “Eastern Orthodox” than a “Roman Catholic” ?
      Note that I am an ex-Roman Catholic. I am a non-denominational evangelical, who does believe firmly in historic Christianity and the Church I attend does have weekly Eucharist. I don’t think the weekly Eucharist is necessarily a means to justification nor sanctification, but I do think it is more than the Zwinglian definition. As I warned you at the beginning of this very long post, I’m not quite sure I have a clear understanding (yet). But if I ever do, I’ll be sure to post it on my blog. 😉

      Hope this was helpful, if you reached this point, thank you for reading the entire response.

      In Him
      Mick

    • EricW

      According to Louis Bouyer of the Oratory in his book on EUCHARIST, the Zwinglian understanding of “remembrance” as embraced by most Protestants is possibly incorrect. Bouyer finds its meaning in the Jewish prayers/liturgy, where there it’s a “remembrance” to God of the covenant He made with His people. I.e., it reminds God of His covenant with Israel, a covenant they repledge themselves to as He “remembers” His promised faithfulness to them (somewhat along the lines of dikaiosunê theou as some take the phrase to mean per the New Perspective On Paul, perhaps?).

      Likewise, when we take communion “in remembrance of” Jesus, we are “reminding” God of the covenant He made with us through His Son, to be faithful to that covenant and save us “on that day.” We likewise “remember” the vow we made to God and Christ, and reaffirm our commitment to the covenant.

      I.e., as the Jews asked God to remember His covenant with them for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Christians ask God to remember them for the sake of Jesus and the covenant He made with them through His Son’s death.

      Bouyer says the meaning of anamnêsis is explained by the Hebrew zachar, IIRC.

    • Michael Lockwood

      In reply to Michael L’s latest post, I would like to make a few comments.

      As I’ve argued in previous posts, Chalcedon simply cannot be used against the doctrine of transubstantiation, at least not when Chalcedon is read in its historical context and is interpreted in the light of the other ecumenical councils, particularly Ephesus and Constantinople 2. Yet that of course doesn’t settle the matter of transubstantiation.

      So that you know where I am coming from, I am a Lutheran who accepts the historic Lutheran position. This position is frequently misunderstood and misrepresented by non-Lutherans, so let me explain it a little. The basic position is that when Christ say, “This is my body – given for the forgiveness of sins”, he means what he says. The question of “How is this possible?” is not a question that we feel we ultimately need to answer, since God can do all things. That means that we do not have to offer some philosophical explanation like transubstantiation. The “consubstantiation” that is sometimes ascribed to us by others is from our perspective not an attempt to explain anything, but simply an attempt to hold all the statements of Scripture together, i.e. that in the Lord’s Supper we receive the true body and blood of Christ as well as bread and wine. We do however hold to a true communication of attributes within the person of Christ, as taught by Ephesus, Chalcedon 2, Cyril of Alexandria, and many other members of the early church, and which we would argue is a necessary conclusion to draw from what the Scriptures teach. Wherever Christ is present, there we have the whole Christ, otherwise Christ is divided and the wonderful mystery of the incarnation is something of a sham. Nor have Lutherans ever believed in the sacrifice of the mass. Instead, in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ which was once shed for us on the cross and is therefore available for us without any repetition of the sacrifice is now applied to us so that we may be forgiven and cleansed from sin. It is not hard to demonstrate from books such as Hebrews and Leviticus that this is how atoning sacrifices always function in the Bible, the blood that was shed in the sacrifice is subsequently applied to people (and objects in the OT) for cleansing and sanctification.

      The point that you raise about “I am the door” is something that was raised by Zwingli in his debates with Luther, and was very fully answered at the time of the Reformation. “I am the door” is of course a metaphor. A metaphor functions by playing on the ability of the second term to hold a figurative meaning. Christ is of course the doorway into God’s kingdom, not a piece of wood with hinges. This is readily understood since the word door can hold both meanings, a more literal one, and then a more figurative one to refer to any portal from one thing into another.

      I’ve run out of room, so I will continue in a subsequent post.

    • Michael Lockwood

      “This is my body” is not a metaphor, and so the comparison is a bad one. Zwingli tried to interpret this as “This represents my body”. Calvin tried to interpret it as “This is a sign of my body”. Yet neither of these are metaphors. To see the difference between these interpretations and “I am the door”, see what happens to John 10 when you interpret it as “I represent the door” or “I signify the door”. It simply doesn’t work. Jesus does not represent or signify some other door, but he himself is the door. When challenged on this point, Zwingli tried to find a similar usage to “This represents my body” elsewhere in Scripture without success.

    • EricW

      Michael Lockwood:

      But isn’t an “I am” statement different from a “This is” statement?

      I can see someone comparing Jesus’ “I am the bread of life” with “I am the door,” but I don’t see how his eucharistic words “This is my body” can properly be compared to or contrasted with his “I am” statements.

      I have not actually read Luther or Calvin or Zwingli on this, though.

    • Michael L

      EricW,

      True. I haven’t read Bouyer, so I can’t comment.

      Yet there is a good article on the Luther / Zwingli discussion on the Eucharist at Christianity Today

      I believe that Zwingli originally could not accept the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist as Luther did. I find CMP’s arguments quite close to the same actually. From what I have understood, Zwingli did believe in a “spiritual” presence in the Eucharist. However that leaves us with the difficulty that the scripture passage doesn’t read “This is my Spirit”.

      Whether it’s true transubstantiation, consubstantiation or something more “mystical” as in the Eastern Orthodox, I’m not there (yet).

      Perhaps the points you mentioned of looking at it in light of the Jewish practice at Passover is indeed helpful. But yet again it doesn’t quite explain the “This is my body”. It does indeed correlate with the “Do this in remembrance of me”, but the question remains What exactly are we doing ?

      In Him
      Mick

    • EricW

      Re: the original question (without reading all 70 responses – my apologies if one of the previous comments addresses this):

      Didn’t Christ’s humanity “change” as a result of the resurrection? He was/became the New Man. Since He then had attributes of being able to pass through doors, etc., why would His new spiritual body not also be able to be omnipresent in a way in which it wasn’t before the resurrection?

      I understand Catholics to say that in the Eucharist they receive Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity, whether via both the bread and the wine or via just one. (If after the resurrection Christ’s body “technically” had no blood, as some read Luke 24:39, this could be a problem for saying that the Eucharist distributes and manifests Christ’s post-resurrection body, because if it has no blood, then He isn’t present in it body, blood, soul and divinity.)

      So, which “body” is present/offered/received in the Eucharist: Christ’s pre-resurrection body, or His post-resurrection body? Is this question relevant for the question posed by this post?

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      How fascinating that this thread should find itself resurrected after so many months, but this is the Easter season, so I guess we should not be surprised with the appearance of new life. 🙂

      Needless to say, I agree completely with Mr. Lockwood that the Council of Chalcedonian dogma may not rightly be employed to argue against the Church’s traditional understanding of the bodily presence of the risen Christ in the Holy Eucharist. One must not wield one mystery of the faith against another mystery of the faith in this fashion. That is to place logic and system-making above divine revelation.

      I have no desire, especially in this forum, to engage in any debate with my Lutheran and Orthodox brethren on transubstantiation. Our agreement on the eucharistic presence of Christ is too profound to allow a medieval construal of this presence to cloud the important issues. I wonder, for example, if Lutherans and Orthodox would raise strong dissent to the interpretation of transubstantiation advanced by Herbert McCabe (see my article “When Bread is Not Bread“; also see McCabe’s article “Eucharistic Change“).

    • Michael L

      Michael Lockwood.

      This is going to get confusing 😉

      Michael L and Michael Lockwood… not one and the same 😉

      All kidding aside, I know Lutherans are quite close, yet different from RC doctrine in this matter. Looks like you concurred with most of my positions, just from a different angle. I used the word “Analogy” for the door example, metaphor is indeed a better English term. The challenge of not being a native English speaking person 😉 Well corrected, thank you.

      One question:
      Can you confirm or elaborate on whether Lutheran doctrine still attributes any salvific or sanctification effect to the Eucharist ?

      In Him
      Mick

    • EricW

      Whether it’s true transubstantiation, consubstantiation or something more “mystical” as in the Eastern Orthodox, I’m not there (yet).

      Michael L:

      I wouldn’t necessary call the Eastern Orthodox teaching “more mystical.” The Orthodox Church believes the bread and wine change into Christ’s body and blood, as my excerpt from the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the other thread clearly shows. I would say that the EOC differs from the Roman Catholic Church primarily in not precisely defining or trying to define or explain the “how” and “when” or the relationship between the bread and wine one eats/drinks in the Eucharist to “normal” bread and wine or what it was before the Holy Spirit changes it. True, the Orthodox Church refers to these things as mustêria, and not “sacraments,” so there is a sense of “mystery/mystical” involved. But it is believed to truly become and be His body and blood.

      From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

      (The Communion Prayers are recited silently by those prepared to receive the holy Mysteries.)

      I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. I also believe that this is truly Your pure Body and that this is truly Your precious Blood. Therefore, I pray to You, have mercy upon me, and forgive my transgressions, voluntary and involuntary, in word and deed, known and unknown. And make me worthy without condemnation to partake of Your pure Mysteries for the forgiveness of sins and for life eternal. Amen.

      How shall I, who am unworthy, enter into the splendor of Your saints? If I dare to enter into the bridal chamber, my clothing will accuse me, since it is not a wedding garment; and being bound up, I shall be cast out by the angels. In Your love, Lord, cleanse my soul and save me.

      Loving Master, Lord Jesus Christ, my God, let not these holy Gifts be to my condemnation because of my unworthiness, but for the cleansing and sanctification of soul and body and the pledge of the future life and kingdom. It is good for me to cling to God and to place in Him the hope of my salvation.

      Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not reveal Your mystery to Your adversaries. Nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas. But as the thief I confess to You: Lord, remember me in Your kingdom.

      * * *

      (The Priest prepares to receive holy Communion.)

      Priest: Behold, I approach Christ, our immortal King and God.

      The precious and most holy Body of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is given to me (Name) the Priest, for the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life.

      (He then partakes of the sacred Bread.)

      The precious and most holy Blood of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is given to me (Name) the priest, for the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life.

      (He then drinks from the Chalice.)

      (Afterwards, he wipes the Chalice, kisses it, and says:) This has touched my lips, taking away my transgressions and cleansing my sins.

      (The priest then transfers the remaining portions of the consecrated Bread into the Cup, saying:)

      Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One. We venerate Your cross, O Christ, and we praise and glorify Your holy resurrection. You are our God. We know no other than You, and we call upon Your name. Come, all faithful, let us venerate the holy resurrection of Christ. For behold, through the cross joy has come to all the world. Blessing the Lord always, let us praise His resurrection. For enduring the cross for us, He destroyed death by death.

      * * *

      (He takes the holy Cup, comes to the Royal Doors, raises it and says:)

      Priest: Approach with the fear of God, faith, and love.

      (Those prepared come forth with reverence to receive Holy Communion while the people sing the communion hymn.)

      (When administering Holy Communion, the priest says:) The servant of God (Name) receives the Body and Blood of Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

      (When Communion has been given to all, the priest blesses the people with his hand, saying:)

      Priest: Save, O God, Your people and bless Your inheritance.

      People: We have seen the true light; we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, for the Trinity has saved us.

      (Having returned the Cup to the holy Table, the priest transfers the particles of the Theotokos and the saints into the Chalice, and then those of the living and the dead saying:) Wash away, Lord, by Your holy Blood, the sins of all those commemorated through the intercessions of the Theotokos and all Your saints. Amen.

      (He covers the vessels and censes them saying:) Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let Your glory be over all the earth (3).

      (He lifts the vessels and says in a low voice:) Blessed is our God.

      Priest (aloud): Always, now and forever and to the ages of ages.

      People: Amen.

      People: Let our mouths be filled with Your praise, Lord, that we may sing of Your glory. You have made us worthy to partake of Your holy mysteries. Keep us in Your holiness, that all the day long we may meditate upon Your righteousness. Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.

    • Michael L

      EricW..

      Thanks for the liturgy, never have seen it published like that.

      I’ve actually been to some Orthodox services, but can’t recall whether the text recited is actually as you print it up here.

      In short, you even bolded the text… Mystical Supper. How does one distinguish that from Luther’s comment that Christ is present “In, with and under” the bread ? Don’t quite have an answer for you.

      I do put RC’s, Lutheran and EOC somewhat aligned. And they can all come after me and refute.

      In general, and we all know how dangerous generalizations are, the three mentioned above agree there is a “physical” presence of Christ in the Eucharist. On the other side you have the “Zwinglians”, which believe in a “spiritual” presence or “remembrance”. But then again, I believe you are in the TTP with me in Stonebriar and we just covered this in the session.

      I was just trying to answer and clarify some of CMP’s questions.

      Mick

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Eric asks: “So, which “body” is present/offered/received in the Eucharist: Christ’s pre-resurrection body, or His post-resurrection body?”

      This is an easy question for a Catholic to answer: we partake of the risen and glorified Body of the Lord.

      “Is this question relevant for the question posed by this post?”

      Probably not. 🙂

      I know, though, that you will still want an answer to the question “What does it mean to drink the Blood of the risen and glorified Christ?” I, at least, cannot tender an answer because I do not think it can be answered this side of the Kingdom. We do not know what resurrection truly means. We do not know the properties of resurrected bodies. We do not know what “body” and “blood” literally mean for a glorified existence. I do not believe, therefore, that we can give a definitive answer to the question posed, nor do I think this is a problem for the Church’s eucharistic faith. Does not Holy Scripture itself speak of our Lord taking his own Blood into the Holy of Holies. To speak of the sacred Blood of Christ as if it belonged purely to the past, pre-resurrected life of Jesus would violate something deep in the faith of Christians.

    • C Michael Patton

      Eric, they are both statements of attribution which can be taken literally or symbolically. That is why the comparison is made so often.

    • mbaker

      Fr. Alvin Kimel,

      Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

      Is not the Eucharist, as practiced by Catholics, similar to the Levitical priesthood in a sense that they are depending upon a flesh and blood substance to be a substitute of sorts for the real thing? And I don’t mean that as a loaded question.

      Even if we are saying it is the flesh and blood of a risen Savior, to take it like that would seem to me to be a case of lowering the superior (Jesus Christ) to the level of the inferior (the elements), rather than it signifying the supremacy of the new covenant of Christ, the risen Lord as our high priest. Therefore, why would changing Him back to flesh and blood, or Him changing Himself back be necessary at all in the elements themselves?

      Yes, Christ entered the holies of holies with His blood, but as Hebrews explains, it was not a tent made with human hands. The renting of the temple curtain, which occurred after He died and represented His torn body, was symbolic of establishing His heavenly ministry as our high priest.

      I’m not sure how taking a literal view of His bodily sacrifice through transubstantiation would coincide with this, because as CMP has pointed out it would seem just the opposite of Chalcedon definition of Him as both fully human, (sacrificed on the cross, once for all) and divine, the high priest of a new covenant NOT made with human hands.

      I’m not exactly getting why He would instruct us to turn back the hands of time, by revisiting us physically in the form of bread and wine. Does not scripture say we are seated with Him in the heavenlies?

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Mbaker, the short answer to your question: our salvation IS union with our Lord’s sacred and glorified humanity. It is this humanity that is the Holy of Holies. The Holy Eucharist, to which Holy Baptism initiates us, is central and decisive because through it we are joined to and deified in the sanctified human nature of the Son of God. To eat the body of Jesus and to drink his blood is to share and participate in Christ and through Christ in the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This was, as you no doubt recognize, one of St Cyril of Alexandria’s key arguments against Nestorius, confirmed at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. Or in Jesus’ words:

      “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

      I do not understand, therefore, what you can possibly mean when you state that partaking of the flesh and blood of the risen Savior “would seem to be a case of lowering the superior (Jesus Christ) to the level of the inferior (the elements).” How could this possibly be the case? Did not the Creator of the universe join himself forever to matter (the “inferior) for our salvation? Is it not therefore utterly appropriate and right that he continue to communicate himself to us through and by matter? And is not matter therefore elevated by God’s union with matter and his continuing employment of matter in the economy of salvation? This is not just Catholic and Orthodox conviction; this was also the deepest conviction of Martin Luther and lies at the heart of his understanding of justification. In response to the anti-sacramentalism and iconoclasm of Zwingli, Luther vehementaly declared: “Mir aber des Gottes nicht! ‘Don’t give me any of that God!'” The God of the Gospel is precisely a God of flesh and blood. That he is so IS our salvation.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      “I’m not exactly getting why He would instruct us to turn back the hands of time, by revisiting us physically in the form of bread and wine. Does not scripture say we are seated with Him in the heavenlies?”

      Here I would recommend Scott Hahn’s book *The Lamb’s Supper* and Alexander Schmemann’s *The Eucharist*. The Eucharist is not a turning back of the clock. It is the Church’s participation, through the Spirit, in the heavenly banquet. Earth is lifted up into Heaven. The liturgy of the Church is not separate from the divine liturgy of the Kingdom; it is identical to it! This must be clearly understood if we are to make any sense of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Transubstantiation does not stand alone as an independent doctrine. It belongs to a comprehensive understanding of the Church as the sacrament of the Kingdom.

    • Kara Kittle

      Fr. Kimel
      In reading this discourse I think what you are trying to say is that by taking one sacrament we miss the bigger picture of what it represents…like it being one piece of the puzzle.

      I know the sacraments are not just baptism and the eucharist, but also
      confirmation, marriage, and extreme unction. (I grew up with a lot of German Catholics so this is what I heard them call it.) But when we make a bigger thing of transubstantiation in the purely physical act then we miss the spiritual aspect…in much the same marriage is a physical union but a spiritual union of both the man and the woman and both with the church and Jesus Christ.

      While I may not be a Catholic and not bound to the catechism of the Catholic church, I do get a sense that it becomes more than divine nature. To show a small example of what I mean by divine nature, tonight I listened to a young man sing Pie Jesu and it touched me so deeply because in his voice I could hear a faith in him that came from somewhere deep.

      And this is divine because that faith comes from God alone, so if the divinity of the bread and wine is there it is not because there is a chemical change in the elements, but a change in the believer. Because it is set apart to be sacred then does the element become sacred? I understand it is not because there is anything sacred in the ingredients, but the fact it is the command of Jesus Christ and it is ordained by Jesus Christ, therefore it is made sacred by Jesus Christ?

      Is that what transubstantiation means? To become sacred because that is what it is designed to do?

    • mbaker

      Fr Alvin,

      Thanks for the detailed explanation. I had not heard it ever exactly expressed that way. That’s why I appreciate a Catholic to dialogue with directly.

      My point of disagreement with you, however, is that on the one hand you certainly support Christ as a flesh and blood human being, but your greater argument seems to fall back to God’s connection with us via ‘matter’, as you define it, rather than covenant.

      Yet, you also say:

      “The Eucharist is not a turning back of the clock. It is the Church’s participation, through the Spirit, in the heavenly banquet. Earth is lifted up into Heaven. The liturgy of the Church is not separate from the divine liturgy of the Kingdom; it is identical to it!”

      It seems there is a dichotomy there if the elements have to actually become Christ in the flesh all over again.

    • Kara Kittle

      mbaker,
      I think I know what he meant. the flesh of Christ is not as it was pre-resurrection but as they consider it might be now. But the ordination of communion was pre-crucifixion.

      This is an interesting subject, and I don’t know Chalcedon. But CMP asks if there is any other kind of Catholic and yes there are, there is the Irish Catholic Church, The Eastern Catholic Church and the various orthodox Churches that are Catholic but not fellow shipped with Roman Catholic.

      I think it is more in the act of obedience, the act is sacred, the command is sacred so therefore all elements of it must be sacred. But if that is the case also,would not the person administering it also must be sacred? Is that when the priest becomes the vicar? I am asking these questions of pure curiosity and interest.

    • mbaker

      Yes, Kara. I can see what he is talking about too, but if the elements themselves are sacred, in the sense of the post resurrection of Christ, then how they are they made sacred by a priest? Jesus is our high priest, so there is no need to make the elements sacred again. It is the new covenant Christ made with us that makes them sacred.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Whoah, so many posts in such a short space of time! What to reply to first?

      This post is in response to mbaker.

      Why must it be either “via matter” or “via covenant” but not both? Why can’t the two things go together?

      How was the old covenant at Sinai enacted (Exod 24)? Moses took the blood of oxen and sprinkled it on the people of Israel and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you …” Straight after they were sprinkled with this blood, Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and 70 of the elders of the people went up on Mt Sinai and ate and drank with God and saw him face to face, and yet they do not die, even though God says elsewhere that no one may see him and live. Why is it that they could do this? The obvious answer is that they had just been cleansed by the blood of the covenant. How was the New Covenant enacted? Jesus said, “Take and drink, this is my blood of the New Covenant shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”

      Second, are you suggesting that the sacrifices offered by the Levitical priethood were wrong? Surely these sacrifices were instituted by God, and they were doing what he commanded? It was wrong when they thought they could use these sacrifices as an excuse to sin with impugnity and engage in all sorts of wicked and idolatrous activities instead of trusting wholeheartedly in the Lord, but that’s a different issue. The sacrifices themselves are never condemned in Scripture but were instead commanded, until the time when they were superceded by the sacrifice of Christ which they foreshadowed.

      Blessings,

      Michael Lockwood

    • mbaker

      Michael Lockwood,

      I don’t want to get to far off the subject of the post here, but here is what I am trying to determine:

      I am not suggesting the sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood were wrong, (don’t know how you came to that conclusion) but that the making of the elements sacred vis a vis an act that can only be performed by a priest in mass, is in a sense continuing something that Jesus replaced.

      The very fact that anyone who is not Catholic cannot receive communion in that church is indicative that the church believes there has to be a covenant first with them.

      Chalcedon, which is the topic of this post, defined the fact that Christ, while fully God and fully man cannot be separated into parts and parcels, as was being done with several different religions that CMP listed above. That was the point of it.

      Therefore, making Him physically present in actual substance in millions of masses at one time, and dividing Him up, so to speak, when His bodily sacrifice has already been completed, once for all, does not make sense. Just as he cannot be crucified all over again, He cannot be deified all over again either by simply taking the Eucharist. He asked us to do it in remembrance of Him, not in replacement of Him through the elements.

      Blessings to you too.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      “My point of disagreement with you, however, is that on the one hand you certainly support Christ as a flesh and blood human being, but your greater argument seems to fall back to God’s connection with us via ‘matter’, as you define it, rather than covenant.”

      Mbaker, there are so many ways one might approach the Eucharist. The challenge (perhaps, for me at least, an impossible challenge) is to think them all together and not only to think them together but to think them into each other. The Eucharist comprehends the whole of salvation, past, present, and future. It is simultaneously the memorial of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and the enactment of the messianic banquet. It is the intersection of time and eternity. It is life in the coming Kingdom with all the saints. In this sacrament the Church realizes her identity as the community of the New Covenant and is made one people. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. I could go on and on and on. It’s all impossible to reduce to words and formulas. One must catch the vision. Only thus can one begin to understand why Eucharist is so central, so decisive, so important, so irreplaceable in the common life of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

      The Eucharist is the central sacrament of the New Covenant, instituted by the Lord himself. It is not like the rituals of the Old Covenant, which could only anticipate and point to the Incarnate Messiah and his atoning death. The content of the Eucharist is the crucified and risen Lord himself, who has established in his Body and Blood a New Covenant. One theologian who reflected at some length on the relationship between the sacraments of the Old Law and the sacraments of the New Law was St Thomas Aquinas. You might find Matthew Levering’s book *Sacrifice and Community* of interest (see my article “The Sacrifice of Transubstantiation“).

      I know I have not answered your questions. I’m not sure how to do so. There will come a time when Christ will be “all in all” and there will no longer be any need for sacraments. At that time, which will be the fulfillment and renewal of time, all will be Eucharist. But at the moment we still have one foot in this fallen world–hence the necessity of the Church and the appropriateness of the sacraments.

      (to be continued)

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      Catholics and Orthodox did not invent the Eucharist and create out of our heads a theology to support it. We received it from the Lord himself. Eucharist is simply a given for us. Sunday after Sunday, for over 2,000 years, we have celebrated the eschatological Supper of the Lamb. Sunday after Sunday, for over 2,000 years, we have offered to the Father, with Christ and through Christ and in Christ, the sacrifice of Calvary. My challenge to you is to try to understand, truly understand, why the Eucharist has been so decisive in the life of the Church. To do this will require that you take off, at least temporarily, your Reformed/evangelical glasses and read the Church Fathers and the historic liturgies in a new and fresh way. The Reformed lost their way precisely at this point. Luther saw this clearly, which is why he so violently opposed Zwingli. Calvin sought to create a mediating position, but the simple fact remains that in the Reformed Church the Eucharist ceased to be the vital reality that it once was. It was effectually replaced by the proclaimed Word, and a powerful apologetic was generated to defend this change. I’m not interested, as you are not, in engaging in Catholic/Protestant polemics. But I would like to tempt you to read the Church Fathers and the best sacramental theologians of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. You may get a glimpse of the transcendent beauty that is Eucharist.

    • EricW

      Fr. Kimel:

      Would you agree with the following?

      Unlike Non-Sacramental Protestant (NSP) churches, the Eucharist is of supreme importance to the Roman Catholic (RC) and Eastern Orthodox (EO) Churches, being central to the RC Mass and the EO Divine Liturgy. Regardless of what beliefs and practices about God, Jesus Christ, the Trinity, salvation, the Bible, prayer, Christian behavior, etc., that NSP churches have in common with the RC and EO Churches, their respective Eucharistic beliefs and practices separate and will continue to separate them.

      In the RC and EO Churches, partaking of the Eucharist is as much an act or expression of one’s union with the Church as it is an act or expression of being a member of Christ’s body (and these churches may in fact view the two as being pretty much the same thing). RCs and EOs affirm, both in doctrine and in practice, that those who do not belong to these churches do not have the right or permission or ability to take the Eucharist in these churches, for such persons are not properly united to Christ such that they can partake of His body and blood. RCs and EOs are likewise not allowed to take communion with those who are not RC or EO, respectively.

      I am not thereby saying that the RC and the EO Churches are wrong, but am only pointing out that their Eucharistic practices and beliefs are tied not simply (as is the case in many NSP churches) to the communicants’ response to the question: “Who is Jesus?”, but also to the questions: “What is the Eucharist?” and “What is the church?”

      Because of this, I think a person’s view of the Eucharist should be an important factor in their decision to become or remain RC, EO or NSP. For example, if a person believes that:

      1. the bread and wine do or must become the Real body and blood of Christ (i.e., there is a change in the bread and wine), and

      2. an integral part of one’s salvation process is the regular preparation for and act of eating and drinking the flesh/body and blood of Deity, and

      3. an apostolically-traceable ordained priesthood is a required component in authorizing and overseeing and effecting the salvific change in the bread and the wine, whether by the priest’s pronouncing the words of institution (RC Church) or by the priest’s calling upon the Holy Spirit to effect the change (EO Church),

      then he (or she) will have to be in either the RC Church or the EO Church, for he believes that he needs the above to be saved and to be in the Body of Christ. (Or if not the RC Church or the EO Church, one of the so-called “Oriental” Orthodox churches, if one accepts or doesn’t have a problem with their non-Chalcedonian Christology.)

      While I think it’s possible to believe in points 1. and 2. without believing in point 3., to be RC or EO one must also believe and accept and affirm point 3., for in these churches the mystery (sacrament) of the Eucharist is not separable from the mystery of the priesthood. (continued in post below)

    • Kara Kittle

      Fr. Kimel,
      Interesting that you called it the supper of the Lamb which was what I had asked in a previous post. But as that is clearly taught and Jesus said to do, he said it was done in remembrance of Himself and not the former Passover. But aren’t we really supposed to be getting ready for the marriage feast? We know that it will happen but what is involved with it?

      The Seder was in remembrance of the Passover, Communion was in remembrance of the Lord’s supper, but what about the marriage supper? It is upcoming. And I can see here there are three feasts that are important…the seder represents the coming Lord of deliverance, Communion represents the Lord of Deliverance, and the marriage supper is when we finally dwell with the Lord in His house. Can these also mean the three parts of man? Body (seder), soul (communion), spirit (marriage)? Or do I have those in the wrong order? I would prefer the importance of getting ready for the marriage supper.

    • EricW

      (continued beyond the 3000 character limit, for Fr. Kimel as well as the others):

      A Question (based on what I just set forth about the Eucharist – i.e., my points 1., 2., and 3.):

      If Christianity from the beginning (i.e., from the time of Jesus and the Apostles) has clearly and unarguably always believed and taught and practiced points 1. and 2. above as a central doctrine and practice of the faith, can or should Non-Sacramental Protestantism be called “Christian”?

      I.e., can a “Christian” group which ignores or rejects something the earliest Christians (including Jesus and the Apostles) believed and taught as a central doctrine and practice of the faith really be said to be “Christian”?

      (I don’t include point 3. because I don’t think it is a requirement for believing points 1. and 2., or automatically follows from them, though history shows that this is how the church’s Eucharistic practices and beliefs developed for the majority of Christians.)

      Note that I am not saying that this is in fact what Jesus and the Apostles believed and taught, but only asking a question about what to do if this is in fact the case.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Dear mbaker,

      You’ve now raised some other issues that I don’t want to get into (i.e. church fellowship, and the role of the priesthood). I am not RC and so I am not going to see those things in quite the same way as a Catholic. Yet I thought the subject of this blog was the physical presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper and how that relates to Chalcedon, which are different issues.

      The point of the “without division” in the definition of Chalcedon is that the two natures of Christ cannot be divided from each other. i.e. we can’t say “Now Christ is present, but only his divine nature and not his human nature” or “Now Christ is present, but only his human nature and not his divine nature”. Nor can we ever say that Christ is somehow disincarnate, as if he shed his human nature at his resurrection or ascension. The issue addressed by this phrase in the definition was not whether the human nature could be in more than one place at one time. This is not hard to see when the proceedings at Chalcedon and its interpretation by the early church are looked at closely.

      When Christ promises “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”, this means the whole Christ, otherwise Christ is divided in the sense that Chalcedon speaks of. This raises the issue of how Christ can keep this promise to all his followers scattered throughout the world at the same time. Reformed scholars have tended to get around this problem by saying that this promise only involves the divine nature. Yet that is to divide Christ. A far easier solution is just to admit that time and space are not sort of barriers to God that they are to us, and so the problem doesn’t really exist.

      btw Calvin’s view was a little more sophisticated than that of many of the Reformed. He knew that the statements of Scripture clearly indicate that we commune with the body and blood of Christ, and not just with his Spirit. His solution was to say that in the Lord’s Supper (and also in the whole life of faith) we are raised up to heaven to commune with him. Yet what is this besides admitting that the barriers of time and space can be transcended?

      Blessings,

      Michael Lockwood

    • mbaker

      Michael L. and Fr. Alvin,

      I think Eric W. grasped and defined some of my points quite well. I am trying to stay within the confines of this post by referring to the differences in the Chalcedon in theory, and how it differs or reinforces in practices regarding the mass. If you re-read my points above you would see how I related it.

      However, Fr. Alvin Kimel has given us a definition which would in essence bring Christ’s broken body back to earth as a ritual function of the church that Christians who are considered to be saved must take part in to prove. He has told us the Eucharist is central to the RC core belief. Scripture tells us Jesus said, “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.” No where did Christ specify how many times it had to be done, nor did He make it conditional upon salvation itself. It was/is essentially a memorial ceremony where Christ asks anyone who confesses Him as Savior and Lord to take part of as a symbol of their eternal union with Him. In doing so we Protestants do not separate Christ into two components, we just do not believe the elements literally become Him, but are symbols of His eternal union with the entire body of believers, in all ways.

      If I am understanding Fr. Alvin correctly, they are saying on the one hand it is a celebration of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, just as it is in Protestant churches. Yet it seems in actual practice that it is the covenant with the RC church that must first be realized in order to even take the Eucharist. No other non-Catholic believer present at mass can do so. That is in actual practice separating Christ from the rest of His body of believers, and making it more about certain denominational beliefs instead. So one of the points I am offering for consideration is: If this is the case, how does the Eucharist be the symbol literally for Christ’s body, in all the ways Fr. Alvin has stated, but only allowed for believers within the confines of the body of the RC church?

      This the one of the critical bottom line differences I see in the Chalcedon formal statement about Christ Himself, and the actual practices within the RC church, which would seem to lean back toward the physical presence alone being more important in the Eucharist.

      Blessings to both of you. I am enjoying this conversation.

    • Perry Robinson

      The problem is that the Reformed do not adhere to Chalcedon in the first place since they hold that the person of the mediator is a composite human-divine person as the product or result of the two natures and the divine person aasarkos (prior to incarnating) coming together to form it. To say that the incarnate Christ can be present in the elements would be to posit a separation of the persona mediatoris, the single produced subject.

      Chalcedon affirms that contrary to Calvin, that Christ is not OF two natures, but IN two natures. and that Christ is not a human person, but a divine person in both natures.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      “However, Fr. Alvin Kimel has given us a definition which would in essence bring Christ’s broken body back to earth as a ritual function of the church that Christians who are considered to be saved must take part in to prove.”

      Given that I have already asserted in #77 above that Catholics believe that it is the glorified and risen Christ who communicates himself to believers in the Eucharist, I do not understand your choice of phrasing. What I have emphatically asserted, though, is that we are saved through and in the glorified and risen human nature of Christ. There is nothing particularly controversial in this claim: it is the foundation of the patristic teaching of theosis. In his own way Calvin himself also strove to assert the salvific significance of union with Christ in his human nature.

      I’m not sure how the question of closed communion is of any relevance to our discussion. All the Churches that participated in the Council of Chalcedon practiced closed communion. That was normal practice and continues today to be the practice of Catholics and Orthodox; indeed, I imagine it was also the long-standing practice of the Reformed Churches until fairly recently. If I reject an essential belief and practice of the family, then I expect the family to exclude me from the family meal. There’s nothing controversial here. What in fact is controversial is the suggestion that the family may not and should not exclude those that reject essential family beliefs. In my former denomination, the Episcopal Church, this goes under the banner of “inclusivity.”

      Please remember: the Catholic Church does not understand herself as a denomination. She understands herself as the Church. Ditto for the Orthodox Church. The practice of closed communion flows naturally from Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiologies, both of which are grounded in Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist. (To be continued.)

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      To return now to the Council of Chalcedon. If the Reformed wish to invoke the ecumenical councils of the Church catholic on their behalf, then they must do so wholly, not piecemeal. They may not simply pick and choose which councils they like and which they do not like, nor may they interpret the dogmas defined by these councils in a way contrary to the beliefs and practices of those Churches that participated in these councils. Let them embrace not just Nicaea and Chalcedon but all the ecumenical councils of the undivided Church. If the Reformed are only willing to subject themselves to those councils whose dogmas agree with the Reformed confessions, then the ecumenical councils in fact have no real authority for the Reformed and should not be invoked in apologetic and ecumenical discussions.

      Interpretation of conciliar dogmas is not always easy nor obvious, just as the interpretation of Holy Scripture is neither easy nor obvious. But one thing seems clear at least to me: one may not construe an ecumenical dogma in a way that the council fathers who defined that dogma would not have accepted. To whit: the Chalcedonian fathers would never have supported an interpretation of the Chalcedonian dogma that excluded the real and objective eucharistic presence of Christ. They were not Calvinists. Indeed, these fathers would have appealed to the real and objective eucharistic presence of Christ against the heresy of Nestorianism, as did St Cyril before them.

      I’m off to attend my daughter’s college graduation, so this will be my last comment for a while. Have a great weekend, everyone!

    • mbaker

      Fr. Alvin,

      You said you did not understand my phrasing in comment #94 above.

      This is exactly what I am referring to, what you said regarding the church:

      “Please remember: the Catholic Church does not understand herself as a denomination. She understands herself as the Church. Ditto for the Orthodox Church. The practice of closed communion flows naturally from Catholic and Orthodox ecclesiologies, both of which are grounded in Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist makes the Church and the Church makes the Eucharist.”

      I posit to you that it was exactly that view that led to the Reformation. And that is why Catholics and their counterparts in the Orthodox church, and Protestants are at odds with one another, and why I brought up the fact that non-Catholics cannot partake of communion in mass.

      While Luther himself may have agreed with you on the literal sense of the elements, that does certainly not mean he agreed that the Catholic church alone has a right to determine who is worthy to receive communion and who isn’t, and who is a church and who isn’t.

      Indeed, who is truly worthy is determined by who is in Christ and who isn’t, and only He knows for sure who are His. It has nothing to do with church affiliation. And, certainly there are penalties spelled out already in scripture for those who take communion in an unworthy manner. We are all told to “Examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” before doing so.

      The question still remains regarding the subject of CMP’s post: If Catholics are under the auspices of the Chalcedon, as well as other councils, regarding the importance of the Eucharist as a central and literal ritual defining the church, why wouldn’t Protestants have the right to question what they see as differences between actions and words, under the public statements of stated Catholic doctrine? Isn’t this just what you are doing in this discussion regarding the beliefs of Calvin and Luther and the Reformation?

      I hope your daughter’s graduation is a wonderful family time for all of you.

      God bless.

    • Perry Robinson

      Mbaker,

      The idea that a a body can be THE church is not what motivates Orthodox claims that Rome is mistaken for the Orthodox make the same claim. We are not a denomination, one of many different appearances of essentially the same thing. The Orthodox Church just is the Church Jesus and the Apostles founded, full stop.

      The idea of closed communion is grounded in the Jewish and OT commitment that only those who profess the same faith as Israel may participate in the Passover meal and with which one can pray. This is why the Orthodox are canonically prohibited from praying with schismatics and heterodox. Jews weren’t permitted to pray with pagans.

      What led to the Reformation was far different and was mainly motivated by the Neo-Semi-pelagianism of the Okhamists, the attending Nominalism and the loss of the decrees of the Synod of Orange until the middle of the 16th century. Questions of authority came later.

      Secondly, Lutherans, Reformed and Baptists historically have not recognized each other as true visible churches and hence deny not only communion but the celebration of it to their mutual ministers. And this is because they each take the other two to fail in reference to the three Reformation marks of the church. So I am not sure why this is an issue since Protestants do the same thing.

      Neither Catholics nor Orthodox presume to judge who is in the church in terms of the imperceptible reception of grace through and in Christ. This does not mean that they are not free, as was the NT church to exclude or include others based on profession and various rites. As Paul says, those who have been baptized have put on Christ. Further, the NT indicates that the NT Church was capable of excluding members from the kingdom. (1 Cor 5:5, Matt 18:17)

      As I already noted the Reformed do not adhere to Chalcedonian Christology. They interpret Chalcedon in light of their Confessions and not the other way around. The Reformed have historically taken the view that the person of the mediator is a composite person produced from the union of the two natures so that Jesus is a divine-human person. It is a prosopic union strictly speaking and this is why Calvin speaks of the person of Christ being OUT of two natures and not IN two natures and why the WCF states “Which person is very God and very man…” (WCF 8.2)

    • mbaker

      Perry,

      Good points. However the bottom line, and where we all often fail to get to in our examination of communion, on both sides, is that whether we take it literally to mean we are drinking Christ’s blood and eating his flesh or not, (in my mind this already goes against the OT warnings) we are ALL still subject to Christ’s definition of it. That we are to do in “remembrance” of what He did not what we personally, or our churches believe.

      Are you comprehending the difference here in what I am saying? Catholics on the one hand are saying they are the only true church. Protestants, at least in my opinion, (and I am one) view communion as only a ritual we occasionally do honoring Christ.

      So in that light , at least in my mind, it is an issue that either way, Christ Himself is put secondary to the ritual itself.

      If the Chaldecon was meant to define who Christ was, in reference to all the differing opinions of religions out there who defined Him on their own terms, where are we all now regarding that particular issue?

      I find it more problematic in that respect than dogmatic.

    • EricW

      77. Fr Alvin Kimel on 14 May 2009 at 3:45 pm #

      Eric asks: “So, which “body” is present/offered/received in the Eucharist: Christ’s pre-resurrection body, or His post-resurrection body?”
      .
      This is an easy question for a Catholic to answer: we partake of the risen and glorified Body of the Lord.
      .
      [EricW asks] “Is this question relevant for the question posed by this post?”
      .
      Probably not. 🙂

      CMP wrote:

      Transubstantiation meet Chalcedon.
      .
      The problem…is that Christ’s body cannot be really present since it would inevitably have to be at countless millions of places at one time. Humanity cannot be in more than one place at one time….Christ’s human body (that which is supposed to be present at every Mass all over the world) does not and cannot possess omnipresence.
      .
      The implications would be at odds with the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation…which believe that Christ’s human nature can be at more than one place at one time during the sacrament of mass or the Lord’s Supper. The “extra” has to do with the belief among Calvinists that while Christ’s humanity was finite, there was a sense in which Christ was still infinite, holding the world together. In other words, finite could not contain the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti).
      .
      Therefore, it would seem that Roman Catholics would have to either redefine Chalcedon to fit their view of Transubstantiation, or else redefine their view of Transubstantiation. Neither of which is really possible.

      But, Fr. Alvin, that is why I think my question, and your answer, is indeed relevant. I asked:

      Didn’t Christ’s humanity “change” as a result of the resurrection? He was/became the New Man. Since He then had attributes of being able to pass through doors, etc., why would His new spiritual body not also be able to be omnipresent in a way in which it wasn’t before the resurrection?
      .
      I understand Catholics to say that in the Eucharist they receive Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity, whether via both the bread and the wine or via just one. (If after the resurrection Christ’s body “technically” had no blood, as some read Luke 24:39, this could be a problem for saying that the Eucharist distributes and manifests Christ’s post-resurrection body, because if it has no blood, then He isn’t present in it body, blood, soul and divinity.)
      .
      So, which “body” is present/offered/received in the Eucharist: Christ’s pre-resurrection body, or His post-resurrection body? Is this question relevant for the question posed by this post?

      Per your answer, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ’s risen and glorified body is offered and received at the Mass. Maybe I’m being simplistic, but that seems to render CMP’s question irrelevant, not my question, because there is no problem with Chalcedon, IMO, with Christ’s fully divine-and-human New Man Body being omnipresent.

      Or so I think.

    • EricW

      (rewritten to pass “moderation” block, I think)

      77. Fr Alvin Kimel on 14 May 2009 at 3:45 pm #
      Eric[W] asks: “So, which “body” is present/offered/received in the Eucharist: Christ’s pre-resurrection body, or His post-resurrection body?”

      Fr. Alvin: This is an easy question for a Catholic to answer: we partake of the risen and glorified Body of the Lord.

      [EricW asks] “Is this question relevant for the question posed by this post?”

      Fr. Alvin: Probably not. 🙂

      CMP wrote:

      Transubstantiation meet Chalcedon. The problem…is that Christ’s body cannot be really present since it would inevitably have to be at countless millions of places at one time. Humanity cannot be in more than one place at one time….Christ’s human body (that which is supposed to be present at every Mass all over the world) does not and cannot possess omnipresence. The implications would be at odds with the Roman Catholic view of Transubstantiation…which believe that Christ’s human nature can be at more than one place at one time during the sacrament of mass or the Lord’s Supper. The “extra” has to do with the belief among Calvinists that while Christ’s humanity was finite, there was a sense in which Christ was still infinite, holding the world together. In other words, finite could not contain the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti). Therefore, it would seem that Roman Catholics would have to either redefine Chalcedon to fit their view of Transubstantiation, or else redefine their view of Transubstantiation. Neither of which is really possible.

      That is why I think my question, and Fr. Alvin’s answer, is indeed relevant. I asked:

      Didn’t Christ’s humanity “change” as a result of the resurrection? He was/became the New Man. Since He then had attributes of being able to pass through doors, etc., why would His new spiritual body not also be able to be omnipresent in a way in which it wasn’t before the resurrection?

      Per Fr. Alvin’s answer, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ’s risen and glorified body is offered and received at the Mass. Maybe I’m being simplistic, but that seems to render CMP’s question irrelevant, not my question, because there is no problem with Chalcedon, IMO, with Christ’s fully divine-and-human New Man Body being omnipresent.

      Or so I think. 🙂

    • Matt

      I think I posted this above, but it seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Thomists among others–at least one important “strain” within Catholic orthodoxy–reject the possibility of Christ’s multilocation in the Eucharist. Thomas Aquinas says that Christ is not locally present. If you would like evidence of this claim, you can see Fr. Kimel’s essays or you can ask and I will give a citation.

      If multilocation is rejected, do we still have any problems with Chalcedonian orthodoxy?

    • mbaker

      I’m sorry but I’m not getting why ‘multilocation’ is the crux of the difference in the problem here.

      Please define the difference, someone, and not in terms of the church fathers, but in terms of scripture itself.

      Thanks.

    • Matt

      Asking to define the nuances in the doctrine of Transubstantiation with direct reference to Scripture is like asking to arbitrate the fine points between Cyril and Nestorius with the same. I’m not sure that is *entirely* fair.

      The relevance is this (at least for the discussion as a whole, maybe not where it is right now. If that’s the case, I apologize.):

      1) Thomas Aquinas says that human bodies cannot multilocate for a number of reasons based upon natural philosophical principles (which, I don’t think, are necessary to go into at this point in the discussion.

      2) Christ’s body is a true human body and, therefore, it cannot multilocate.

      So…it seems to me that Thomas Aquinas is sensitive to the requirements of Chalcedon that Christ’s human body not “exceed” what is possible for a truly human body. (That might not have been the most accurate way of putting it.) Now, the interesting question is whether something can be substantially and truly present without being locally present. But that is not a question for this post. Whatever you think about the plausibility, it seems to me that, with this formulation of Aquinas, we avoid any potential for breaching Chalcedonian (or Ephesian) orthodoxy…

    • Kara Kittle

      Isn’t Jesus omnipresent if he contains all the attributes and nature of God the Father? Does He bodily have to be in all places or spiritually can He be everywhere?

    • Matt

      http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4076.htm#article5

      The subsequent articles may be interesting as well.

    • Kara Kittle

      Matt,
      For the sake of sounding perhaps a little mystical, which perhaps this might sound like it but without the intention, have you ever had this happen to you? You are in bed sleeping and you awake the next morning to have someone call you on the phone to tell you that they felt your presence come into their room and you spoke to them.

      Now I don’t know what that is but it has happened to me. A close relative said I was there. Now that could have been a doppelganger or something like it but apparently the whole episode brought this person some sort of relief because they were going through something at the time. I don’t know what it was but I will not question it if God wanted to use me in such a manner. But think of that, Jesus has the power to come to where we are in such a way that we don’t even realize it is him.

      I don’t know, but anything is possible with God. Even Jesus appearing all over the world at one time. Since he does transcend time and space he can do what he wants. That’s my opinion, please don’t take it for more than my inquisitive mind.

    • mbaker

      My question exactly, Kara! Everyone here seems to want to argue that on the dogmatic principles of their own religious prejudices. I am asking for a scriptural viewpoint.

    • Kara Kittle

      mbaker,
      How are you tonight? We were out tonight in the yard and I took my Bible out and read it in the cool of the day and appreciated the fact that God came down and walked with Adam in the cool of the day.

      So in essence, God was walking with us in the yard in the cool of the day speaking with us. His word is alive and it was so nice to have that fellowship. Maybe that is one example of His omnipresence?

    • Matt

      I am not arguing anything on my religious prejudices. I am offering a definitive explanation of the doctrine. Only then, can we compare this explanation to the “deposit of faith” in Scripture. Do you see what I’m saying?

      The topic of this post is that Transubstantiation contradicts the Chalcedonian formulation of the Incarnation. That is a difficult topic to arbitrate with Scripture alone, no?

      The following is old and is from a Lutheran perspective (I think), but it may be useful for clarifying the conversation.

      http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc12/htm/ii.xvi.ii.htm

    • mbaker

      Matt,

      You said:

      “Asking to define the nuances in the doctrine of Transubstantiation with direct reference to Scripture is like asking to arbitrate the fine points between Cyril and Nestorius with the same. I’m not sure that is *entirely* fair.”

      Why not? Isn’t scripture the point of reference of all Christian guidelines?

      I think that is what we are asking Catholics in regards to communion: Is it your counsels or the whole counsel of God that scripture teaches that counts?

      I would ask exactly the same things of the Reformed folks. And certainly expect to in future discussions.

    • Perry Robinson

      Mbaker,

      “Literally” is far too ambiguous a term to be useful here. It has little or no purchase in the history of the technical and far more precise terminology of Christian doctrine. This is why I don’t use it. I wouldn’t put the kind of weight on “remembrance” that you do, since its usage in the OT as well as by Jews today is far more than a mental recollection.

      Lutherans and Anglicans and probably a good number of Presbyterians do not view the eucharist as “only a ritual we occasionally do honoring Christ.” An to my knowledge, do not Protestants claim historically that Rome and the Orthodox are false churches and that Protestant bodies are in fact true churches, and rather by default the only true existing churches?

    • Kara Kittle

      Matt,
      How do you personally view it yourself? Without using all the different explanations, what does it mean to you and how do you apply it into your life? Apart from being dogmatic or some other scary word…what is your own personal viewpoint?

      I think some of us who just don’t know Chalcedon or the Lutheran Church we have to understand this important thing. If you can give us something to draw on from your personal experience I might understand. I am one of those people who understand through parables. If I get a visual then it make sense.

      I am dyslexic and have trouble reading the deeply worded things and sometimes they make absolutely no sense because the way my brain functions. I can’t play chess or checkers either.

    • Kara Kittle

      Matt,
      Actually the blog title says Do Catholics Deny Chalcedon in Their View of Mass?

      I thought mass was every service. Do they take communion at every mass?

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      “The question still remains regarding the subject of CMP’s post: If Catholics are under the auspices of the Chalcedon, as well as other councils, regarding the importance of the Eucharist as a central and literal ritual defining the church, why wouldn’t Protestants have the right to question what they see as differences between actions and words, under the public statements of stated Catholic doctrine? Isn’t this just what you are doing in this discussion regarding the beliefs of Calvin and Luther and the Reformation?”

      If the Reformed do not in fact subject themselves to the dogmatic authority of Chalcedon and the conciliar tradition (which I really do not think they do), then they are simply playing polemical games when they assert that the Catholic belief in the objective eucharistic presence of Christ violates the Chalcedonian definition. How would you feel if a Catholic were to invoke the Westminster Confession against a contemporary Reformed belief or practice? I think you would rightly insist that the Catholic, since he has not subjected himself to the authority of the Westminster Confession, does not have the proper hermeneutical and personal relationship with the Confession to be able to interpret it rightly.

      The ecumenical councils belong to Catholic identity and history in a way that they do not belong to Reformed identity and history. Catholics regard the dogmas defined by these councils as infallible and irreformable. The Reformed cannot and do not regard them in this way.

      So what is being asserted in this thread is something like this: We, the Reformed, object to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation because it contradicts how we, the Reformed, on the basis of our reading of Holy Scripture, understand the hypostatic union.

      Chalcedon is irrelevant to the Reformed argument and should never have been invoked. I do not, of course, deny the right of the Reformed to reject Catholic doctrine on the basis of Reformed convictions. But I do deny their right to invoke the authority of the ecumenical councils of the Church in these kinds of polemical arguments.

    • mbaker

      Fr Alvin,

      You said:

      “Chalcedon is irrelevant to the Reformed argument and should never have been invoked. I do not, of course, deny the right of the Reformed to reject Catholic doctrine on the basis of Reformed convictions. But I do deny their right to invoke the authority of the ecumenical councils of the Church in these kinds of polemical arguments.”

      As I said in comment #112, I do not accept either side’s arguments on the basis of dogmatic arguments alone, but in respect to the whole counsel of God on the matter. Yes, we can do our own thing, whether we are Catholics or Protestants, but the real question for ALL of us, is how does this fit in with the whole counsel of God? Does it really come down to an argument about who is right and wrong in regard to our church’s beliefs?

      While I do not pretend to speak for CMP regarding this, I feel that is in essence the greater question.

    • mbaker

      Perry,

      While I respect your views, I fear you are reading far more into my comments than was meant, at least by me personally. I am asking for both sides objectively, in the lens of scripture itself, to present their case.

    • C Michael Patton

      Hey folks, have been gone most of the day and will be through the weekend. Wow! Have not had the time to get up to date and probably won’t.

      Love you all discussing these things, but do your part just keep it kind and profitable.

      God bless.

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      “I am asking for both sides objectively, in the lens of scripture itself, to present their case.”

      Just a quick note before I turn off my computer. Mbaker, you are asking a great deal, probably too much for a blog conversation. Folks have been debating these matters for centuries. But for simple Catholics like myself, the dominical words are sufficient: “This is my body. This is my blood.”

      On why these words should be taken literally, I commend to you the two great eucharistic tracts of Luther, contained in vol 37 of Luther’s Works: That These Words of Christ, “This Is My Body,” etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics (1527) and Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper (1528).

      Peace.

    • mbaker

      Fr. Alvin,

      Thanks for being willing to engage in this conversation. Your willingness to come into the ‘enemy camp’, so to speak, is most deeply appreciated by me. I have learned much about why you believe as you do. And while I do not agree with your conclusions, I do appreciate your glimpse into the other side.

      In the end, I think, it is Christ Himself who will have to decide the right or wrong of this in the matter. That is what I count upon anyway.

      For that reason, I will be signing off this thread, and leaving it to greater minds than my own.

      God speed, and God bless you.

    • Matt

      mbaker,

      I certainly believe that Scripture is (at the very least!) the “point of reference” for any discussion of Christian doctrine. But we are not talking, at this moment, about whether Transubstantiation is the most accurate way of rendering the Scriptural teaching on Communion or whatever. I do believe that it is, as I believe that the Trinity is the best way of rendering the teaching of Scripture, etc., on the relationship of Christ and the Father, etc. But though this is the case, I don’t think that every nuance of the Conciliar discussions can be proof-texted in a straightforward way. Do you?

      But that is not what we are talking about…yet. Someone here has stated that, because Christ is substantially, really, truly present on millions of altars, His body is not a truly human body (thus breaking with Chalcedonian orthodoxy). I am simply saying that, at least according to one of the greatest theologians of the Catholic tradition, this is not true; Christ is not locally present in the Eucharist. This is a matter of historical fact, not Biblical hermeneutics. Am I wrong about this?

    • Wm Tanksley

      If the Reformed do not in fact subject themselves to the dogmatic authority of Chalcedon and the conciliar tradition (which I really do not think they do), then they are simply playing polemical games when they assert that the Catholic belief in the objective eucharistic presence of Christ violates the Chalcedonian definition. How would you feel if a Catholic were to invoke the Westminster Confession against a contemporary Reformed belief or practice? I think you would rightly insist that the Catholic, since he has not subjected himself to the authority of the Westminster Confession, does not have the proper hermeneutical and personal relationship with the Confession to be able to interpret it rightly.

      I believe the point of the Reformation was that the Confessions, Councils, and traditions are NOT the highest authority; that although those things truly have authority, the Scripture is the final authority.

      The only authority the Confession has is over someone who should be confessing it; a person who’s taken an oath, is serving as a pastor in a Westminsterian church, or is studying in a class. If your Roman Catholic were to plausibly level his charges against one of these, his target should hang his head (and then decide whether to resign or reform).

      You are correct that interpretation does imply tradition, but this means that the Roman Catholic’s reading of the Westminster Confession will require careful explanation, not that the Roman Catholic should be ignored.

      None of this would show that our alleged Westminsterian is in heresy. To do that, our Roman Catholic would have to go to a higher authority; one of the councils we share, or Scripture itself.

      This is how I read the Reformed tradition, at least. Does it seem like a plausible reading to you?

      By the way, I do consider Patton’s question to be answered, on two fronts. First, although physicality limits location now, it’s not clear how it will limit location after the resurrection, and it seems silly to make a philosophical speculation into a doctrinal objection. Second, it’s clear that at least some Catholics (Thomists) hold that the Flesh is not actually in all those places, but rather all of those places join (in some manner) to the location of Christ’s flesh. (Do I have these generally right?)

      I don’t agree for other reasons, but I hope I understand.

      -Wm

    • Wm Tanksley

      To return now to the Council of Chalcedon. If the Reformed wish to invoke the ecumenical councils of the Church catholic on their behalf, then they must do so wholly, not piecemeal.

      To rephrase what I said before, we believe that the Councils have authority both through tradition and through accurate use of Scripture (from which their only binding authority derives). A Council that reached antibiblical conclusions must be rejected, and one which reached non-Biblical conclusions will have only the authority of whatever common premises it shares with the church in rightful authority over me.

      nor may they interpret the dogmas defined by these councils in a way contrary to the beliefs and practices of those Churches that participated in these councils.

      Conversely, all of the Church participated in the Ecumenical Councils, and thus all of the Church may interpret them. Of course, you hold as implicitly true that we are not of the Church; but we reserve the right to disagree.

      -Wm

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      Patton’s question in terms of argumentative force is vaccuous since the Reformed themselves dissent from Chalcedonian Christology as I pointed out above.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      The question is not what is the standard or rule of faith, but who is the judge to apply that rule? So you remark that councils are accepted in so far as they are in line with scripture. Well, who is to judge if it is in line with Scripture? Obviously the church took that to be the job of bishops since in general, general councils were limited to bishops. Secondly Paul makes clear that Scripture is good for a number of things so that the man of God is equipped and that phrase tou theu anthropos always denotes in Scripture someone ordained in some special office and not just any believer. Even if Scripture is the only infallible rule, that doesn’t imply that laymen are free to apply the rule any way they like or agree with.

      When you write that all of the churches participated in the Ecumenical councils, so they are all free to interpret them, this seems not only false but problematic. First there were no Protestant Churches for the Trinitarian and Christological councils and the majority of those were Eastern councils with western representation usually via the papal legates. As for councils outside the first seven, the Orthodox have 2 more authoritative ones and Rome a horde more after that. And Protestants have no ecumenical councils at all. Councils like any document aren’t an exegetical free for all. When people recite the Nicene Creed when it speaks of baptism for the remission of sins, honest folk aren’t permitted to reinterpret it to deny baptismal regeneration for example, which the writers of that phrase used it to denote andstill say that they believe the Nicene Creed.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Matt wrote:

      The following is old and is from a Lutheran perspective (I think), but it may be useful for clarifying the conversation.

      http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/encyc/encyc12/htm/ii.xvi.ii.htm

      This site does not give a very accurate picture of the Lutheran view. It is obiously written by someone who is Reformed, who hasn’t bothered to understand people like Luther or Chemnitz nor the Church fathers they quoted.

    • Michael Lockwood

      OK, let’s use some Scripture to decide this issue:

      “Take and eat, this is my body”
      “Take and drink, this is my blood, shed for your for the forgiveness of sins”
      “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a communion in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a communion in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)
      “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27)
      “Those who eat of my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (John 6:54-56)
      “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20)
      “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt 18:20)
      “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23)
      “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb 9:13-14)

      I believe that Scriptures such as these do settle the issue. The problem is that people like Calvin and Zwingli, whenever they were presented with such passages, always resorted to saying: “Figure of speech”, “figure of speech”, “figure of speech”. Jesus couldn’t possibly mean what he says. His body is stuck up in heaven so it is impossible for him to be with us on earth, and he would never expect us to eat his flesh and blood. In this way the Reformed, despite all their Bible thumbing, don’t actually let the Bible speak, because any passage that doesn’t suit their agenda they can always dismiss with the words, “figure of speech”.

    • EricW

      Michael Lockwood wrote: I believe that Scriptures such as these do settle the issue. The problem is that people like Calvin and Zwingli, whenever they were presented with such passages, always resorted to saying: “Figure of speech”, “figure of speech”, “figure of speech”. Jesus couldn’t possibly mean what he says. His body is stuck up in heaven so it is impossible for him to be with us on earth, and he would never expect us to eat his flesh and blood. In this way the Reformed, despite all their Bible thumbing, don’t actually let the Bible speak, because any passage that doesn’t suit their agenda they can always dismiss with the words, “figure of speech”.

      Michael Lockwood:

      Words mean what the author/speaker meant them to mean in the context in which and for the purpose for which he/she used/spoke them, not what the reader or hearer interprets them to “clearly” or “obviously” or “no doubt” or “likely” or “probably” or “certainly” mean. And the words themselves and their intended or understood or misundertood meaning can’t be divorced from the culture and understanding and expectations and assumptions and presuppositions and biases and experiences of the author or speaker and the reader or hearer.

      And I don’t think either Catholics or Reformed or any other persons can read these words without some personal filtering of what they mean. In some cases, without Jesus or Paul themselves to explain what they said or wrote, we might not ever be absolutely certain of the proper and correct understanding of some of the things they said and wrote and meant.

      E.g., what does koinônia mean? How does it differ from metechô, if it indeed does differ? And what do these mean in the context of a fellowship meal, versus trade and business? And how reliable are our current lexicons? Per some recent articles, the answer is – not always very. And what is the proper set and setting and context of the last supper/Lord’s Supper in terms of understanding what happened and the meaning of what happened on the night in which He was betrayed? And what relation does that last supper have with the Lord’s Table participation the early christians engaged in?

      IMO, before accusing Reformed Christians of not letting the Bible speak and dismissing what it “obviously” says by resorting to saying “Figure of speech, figure of speech, figure of speech,” the one making such an accusation should be absolutely certain that he or she absolutely knows what that same Bible is in fact saying.

    • Michael L.

      Wow… a couple of days and it seems this post is moving quickly.

      First off, thanks so much to all for your answers. I’m learning a lot.

      Some quick observations:

      mbaker, #100: Protestants, at least in my opinion, (and I am one) view communion as only a ritual we occasionally do honoring Christ.

      For reference, I am a member in a non-denominational Bible church, which I would catalogue as Protestant, and we have the Eucharist each week.

      On the matter of “closed” communion, during our Eucharist it is clearly mentioned that “If you have come to know Christ as your risen Lord and Savior, please feel free to partake in the elements”. Would you consider that “closed” ?

      I think Paul makes it clear as well in 1Cor11:27 that one is to “be worthy”. The different denominations will interpret what that means differently.

      Michael Lockwood’s scripture references in the previous post are very well put.

      As I mentioned in my original comment that seems to have revived this whole thread again, I think it’s more of a mystery what exactly happens at the Eucharist. We are commanded to do it, we have 2,000 years of tradition indicating Christians did it every Sunday, and there is enough Scripture reference to indicate it is more than “a remembrance”.

      But on this side…. I don’t think we’ll ever figure out who’s right 😉

      That being said, please continue the conversation in a loving manner. I find it truly educational.

      Peace to all
      In Him
      Mick

      PS: Fr. Alvin Kimel: Do you have a website or any publications out there ? Some of the statements are very clear and concise to me. Forgive my ignorance on who you might be 😉

    • Peter Madison, Sr.

      I am not going to contribute much to the discussion because for me, at 73, this is in the category of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. In my religious studies courses and my early theology under the Jesuits, this would have fascinated me. But, my relationship with God has so improved since I quit dabbling at the outer edges of theology, like this question, and focused on my prayer life and allowing the Holy Spirit to take me into dimensions of experience that make issues like this completely unimportant in my life.

      Theology tends to dry one up spiritually, as it did me, at one time. Not that I do not value theology or still research, study, and try to learn. The older I get, I realize the less I really know and understand and I highly respect Michael Patton’s attempts to make people think and learn. The Jesuits taught me critical thinking and it is of great value to me. It is just that these kinds of issues pale in the reality of the intimacy available to those who submit their lives to Christ rather than examining it from afar. I discovered this after leaving Catholicism and allowing scripture to guide me and theologians less. I discovered such differences in what theologians claimed scripture says and what I read and I read with study and research that includes opposing postions.

      I like what Oswald Chambers says that true intimacy with God follows the ability to surrender one’s “right to himself to Christ”. This is done willfully with full knowledge of what one is doing in his or her life. And it does not lead to spiritual blindness, but inspires more study and analysis in order to find out what each verse really means. I don’t just read scripture without studay and analysis. But, I now primarily read those who pray and those who have come into this deep level of experience of the nearness of God. This is the pursuit I have chosen to follow. Many of the mystics of the church are of great appeal to me, but they are not my primary source either. I read a broad area of writers with differing opinions.

      I recall a discussion at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley where the question was: Is there a place for prayer in the theologate? One the highest respected profs posited the answer was no. That is the dryness I found. I was a guest, not enrolled.

    • Michael Lockwood

      In response to Eric W’s response to me, I would like to say the following.

      Of course, good biblical exegesis involves considering things like literary context, historical context, grammar, precisely defining terms, etc. I could debate all these matters at great length if you want.

      Yet I will still contend that the Reformed position on the Lord’s Supper does not hinge on any of these issues. Instead it hinges on their metaphysical views, where barriers such as time (witness their constant references to the fact that the LS was instituted by Christ before his crucifixion) and space (witness their constant references to the impossibility of Christ’s body being in more than one place at one time) cannot be overcome by God. Furthermore, there are constant references to the indignity of God coming to us in such a physical way, which boils down to a metaphysical separation between matter and spirit, and a preference for spiritual things over material things. If one wants to look at things like context (i.e. how his words would be understood by a Jewish audience given the background of the Jewish sacrificial system), how Jesus was understood by his earliest hearers given the testimony of the earliest church documents, or grammar (the fact that Zwingli and Calvin’s interpretation does not involve any conventional figure of speech but rather involves a form of allegory, a form of interpretation that is generally rejected by Protestants and Catholics alike if it is used to trump the literal meaning of the text instead of supplementing it), then all the weight of evidence lies on the other side.

      If you think I am being unfair to someone like Calvin, I have read him at length on this issue, and I will happily supply references for how he simply dismisses as figures of speech all the statements in the Scriptures and the early church regarding either the bodily presence of Christ in the Supper or the communication of attributes. This is hard enough to do with the Scriptures, but is almost impossible to do with the early church, given the extent to which these issues were discussed. Calvin even goes so far in denying the communication of attributes that he says that the merits of Christ’s obedience and death are merely human merits, which are only meritorious for our salvation because of God’s eternal decree of mercy, not because they are also the merits of the divine Son of God.

    • EricW

      Michael Lockwood:

      I may have unfairly and hurriedly characterized your comments as being dismissive or critical of all Reformed Christians, and not specifically “people like Calvin and Zwingli, whenever they were presented with such passages.” With your further explanation and your reading of their writings, I think I better understand what you are saying about their methodology. I.e., you seem to be making more of an observation than simply a criticism.

      A friend is reading Mark Noll’s The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (a book I haven’t read), and we both wonder if the Orthodox and Catholic theology of the incarnation (with which we both are familiar) sees things like the Eucharist, as well as all of life, from the rites of the Church to the “secular” Arts and Sciences and Literature, in ways that a Reformed/Evangelical matter/spirit split or distinction (with which we both are also familiar) does not or cannot.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Dear EricW

      I think you are spot on in saying that the matter/spirit split in Reformed/Evangelical theology makes it very difficult to see a whole host of issues in the same way that an Orthodox or Catholic (or for that matter Lutheran) theology of the incarnation makes possible.

      It is interesting to note in this context that both Zwingli and Calivn were heavily steeped in Renaissance Humanism. Calvin was an accomplished humanist before his evangelical conversion, and although he later tried to work out his theology biblically without bringing in foreign philosophical elements, in my opinion he never seemed to be able to quite shake the humanism in which his early thinking had been formed. The Renaissance humanists were heavily influenced by Platonism, which makes a radical split between matter and spirit. I think it is no coincidence that Calvin’s favourite theologian from the early church was Augustine, who was also very heavily influenced by Platonism.

    • T3

      But the most influential theologian from the early church on the scholastics was also Augustine. I just don’t think it is accurate–not that you were saying this, but it may be inferred from your comments–to say that the Reformed have a corner on Augustine.

    • Perry Robinson

      Michael Lockwood,

      The issue of matter was an important issue at the time. The new definition of matter as intrinsically extensional at the time is utilized to some degree by the Reformed in their critiques of other positions. Prior theologians by and large did not think of matter as having any form or quality of its own but of being formless and only taking on form when forms exerted their causal power on it. This was why it was necessary to study metaphysics prior to any empirical science. But that is not the heart of the matter. (Pun!)

      Reformed Christology here is the key just as it is with the Reformed opposition to icon veneration. Because the Reformed view the person of Christ after the mediator a composite person in the sense that the person is the product of the divine will bring into union with itself human nature so that the incarnate Christ is a divine and human person, it is impossible for Calvin to permit Christ’s presence in the elements since that would imply a separation of the union. For Calvin, as he himself says on more than one occasion, the persona of Christ is OUT of two natures. The union is not hypostatic in the sense that Chalcedon determined but prosopic in the sense that Nestorius advocated. As I noted previously this is apparent in a careful reading of the WCF and the divines who composed it. The topic post of this thread is therefore misplaced since it is the Reformed Christology, which is directly at odds with Chalcedon and so is their Eucharistic theology which posits the divine will using the elements as a tool or instrument.

      Your reading of Calvin on the communication idiomatum and the value of Christ’s merit is spot on. At the end of the day, Christ is not the basis for our knowledge of God, but the divine will since it is the latter and not the work of the former that determines and orders the value of the atonement. Likewise, the Reformed take the communication idiomatum to be a way of speaking without any transfer of divine energies (immortality, glory, etc.) to the humanity of Christ as Athanasius, Cyril and others maintained.

    • Wm Tanksley

      “Patton’s question in terms of argumentative force is vacuous since the Reformed themselves dissent from Chalcedonian Christology as I pointed out above.”

      Do you understand why your claim has gone largely ignored? It’s because it’s entirely beside the point. It’s a vacuous ad hominem.

      Supposing for the sake of argument that all your claims were true, including the crucial unsupported ones; that doesn’t rebuke in any way the original question.

      So… My point… If you want to push THIS question, you’ll have to do it in email or in your own blog. Bringing it up in only tangentially related questions is just thread hijacking.

      -Wm

    • Wm Tanksley

      The question is not what is the standard or rule of faith, but who is the judge to apply that rule?

      Every man will be judged by God for every idle word — how much more for the application of every inspired word of Scripture? This means that every human is responsible for applying the rule of faith. On the Last Day you don’t get to claim, “oh, my Church taught me this and I did it, I Was Only Following Orders.” This is the reason the office of Bishop/Elder is so vital; the men who hold it teach the people who will be judged in how they apply the Scriptures. (There’s a greater judgment for teachers.)

      So you remark that councils are accepted in so far as they are in line with scripture. Well, who is to judge if it is in line with Scripture?

      Every single person who relies on the councils is personally responsible to confirm their accuracy. Paul praised the Bereans, who spent time confirming his accuracy (the Bereans couldn’t have been Bishops!).

      Obviously the church took that to be the job of bishops since in general, general councils were limited to bishops.

      This is a terribly circular argument. The only conclusion one could draw from it is that the people who comprise a specific council would themselves be responsible for its accuracy. This is true, but besides the point. Your conclusion that the “bishops in general” are responsible is not supported in any way by that argument.

      Now, one could make an argument by pointing out that the Biblical description of Bishops clearly gives them that job requirement; and I fully agree. But at no time does that imply that it is ONLY their responsibility. We (the laity as well as the clergy) are responsible to watch out for false teaching.

      Secondly Paul makes clear that Scripture is good for a number of things so that the man of God is equipped and that phrase tou theu anthropos always denotes in Scripture someone ordained in some special office and not just any believer.

      Even assuming what you claim (for which I was unable to find any support except that “man of God” is indeed Old Testament idiom for a prophet), that same passage is making the point that Scripture is securing Timothy’s salvation. Granted that he’s a “man of God”, the task of securing salvation isn’t limited to Bishops.

      Even if Scripture is the only infallible rule, that doesn’t imply that laymen are free to apply the rule any way they like or agree with.

      They are required to apply the rule. Their teachers are required to explain to them HOW to apply the rule. They are commanded to watch for false teachers, so that they do not get deceived.

      -Wm

    • EricW

      Secondly Paul makes clear that Scripture is good for a number of things so that the man of God is equipped and that phrase tou theu anthropos always denotes in Scripture someone ordained in some special office and not just any believer.

      Via Logos, even ignoring the case I found “tou (genitive of ho) theou (genitive of theos) anthrôpos (man)” only as follows:

      2 Tim 3:17 (ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος ho tou theou anthrôpos – the man of God)

      Gal 2:6 (πρόσωπον [ὁ] θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει prosôpon ho theos anthrôpou ou lambanei – God doesn’t receive the face/appearance of a man = God is no respecter of persons)

      Deut 4:32 (ἧς ἔκτισεν ὁ θεὸς ἄνθρωπον ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς hês ektisen ho theos anthrôpon epi tês gês – in which God created man on the earth)

      I.e., since there is only one instance where that exact phrase occurs in Scripture, I guess one could technically claim “that phrase…always denotes in Scripture someone ordained in some special office” (assuming Paul called Timothy that as a reference to Timothy’s ordained office).

      But I would think one would want more than one instance in order to say that something “always” is such and such.

    • EricW

      And if you rearrange the words so anthrôpos comes before theos, then you have what Wm Tanksley says – i.e., “man of God” is an OT idiom for a prophet:

      Judges 13:8
      1 Samuel 9:7
      1 Samuel 9:8
      1 Samuel 9:10
      1 Kings 12:24
      1 Kings 13:4
      1 Kings 13:5
      1 Kings 13:6
      1 Kings 13:7
      1 Kings 13:8
      1 Kings 13:11
      1 Kings 13:12
      1 Kings 13:14
      1 Kings 13:21
      1 Kings 13:26
      1 Kings 13:28
      1 Kings 13:29
      1 Kings 13:31
      1 Kings 20:28
      2 Kings 4:7
      2 Kings 4:21
      2 Kings 4:22
      2 Kings 4:25
      2 Kings 4:40
      2 Kings 4:42
      2 Kings 6:6
      2 Kings 7:17
      2 Kings 8:4
      2 Kings 8:7
      2 Kings 8:8
      2 Kings 8:11
      2 Kings 13:19
      2 Kings 23:16
      2 Kings 23:17
      2 Chronicles 25:9
      Psalm 89:1 (Psalm 90:1 Hebrew)
      1 Esdras 5:48-49 Then Jeshua son of Jozadak, with his fellow priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, with his kinsmen, took their places and prepared the altar of the God of Israel, 49 to offer burnt offerings upon it, in accordance with the directions in the book of Moses the man of God.

    • C Michael Patton

      It sounds like a case of illegitimate totality transfer with regard to “man of God.” Cross-referencing is a great thing to do, but can also be very dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.

      Are you saying that you can cross-reference part of this and add some form of ordination (which implies infallibility) without regarding the NT man of God as an actual prophet?

      If not, then are you saying bishops are prophets, or just like prophets in that they represent God to the people (my view)?

      There are a lot of exegetical assumptions here that I am not following.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      I don’t presume to know why others have no interacted with my argument since I am not a reader of minds. Secondly, it is not an ad hom argument. It is the same argument just re-directed to a different target that CMP makes. If my argument is an ad hom, then so is the original. The original is not, so then neither is mine.

      The Reformed view of the Eucharist is inconsistent with Chalcedon because their Christology is inconsistent with Chalcedon. If you think that claim is wrong, then please explain the citations from Calvin and others that I supplied readers with already, namely that their view is that the persona mediatoris is OUT of the two natures so that Christ is a human and divine person as indicated in the WCF 8.2. If not, then my point still stands. The union for the Reformed is prosopic and not really hypostatic which also explains their monoenergism.

      If my claims are true then the Reformed can’t consistently chide others with not holding to doctrinal standards that they profess to hold but in fact do not. So they can only make the argument by impugning their own position. And even if it were not the case that my argument functioned in that way, it would still be worthwhile and germane since it would show that the Reformed like their Catholic opponents are non-Chalcedonian and that is something worthwhile to know in and of itself.

      As for high jacking, as far as I can tell I am one of the few who has in fact taken the time here to explicate exactly what Chalcedon commits one to. Most of the other comments are tied up on the sideshow of circumscription while ignoring its fundamental Christological root and source in the Reformed Christology. So I think my comments have been right on target. One can only claim that Rome’s view or anyone else’s is inconsistent with Chalcedon only if we know what Chalcedon taught. And I don’t see anyone here really giving a substantial gloss and presentation on Chalcedonian Christology.

    • EricW

      CMP:

      I assume your question is addressed to Perry Robinson (who made the claim that “man of God” “always denotes in Scripture someone ordained in some special office”), and not to me, as I simply listed the Scripture references and made no such claim.

      To my NT list I should also add 1 Timothy 6:11 (Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ Su, de, ô anthrôpe theou – But you, O man of God) where Paul uses the vocative to so address Timothy.

      But isn’t it possible, due to the limited and specific use of the phrase in Scripture, that Paul was intentionally referring to Timothy by the well-known term for a prophet or spiritual leader because of Timothy’s position/office, per Perry’s claim, and that it’s not a phrase the early Christians would have used for all believers?

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      I have no doubt that every man will be judged by God, but that is not the issue with private judgment. I also do not doubt that teachers bear a stricter judgment but neither of these points are in dispute or germane. The question is whether a person is only obligated to believe in so far as they themselves judge it to be normative and binding on themselves and so no one is capable of making a judgment such to bind the consciences of others. That is what Sola Scriptura entails. It wouldn’t be Sola Scriptura without it but something like the Anglo-Catholic view of Prima Sctriptura as held by the opponents of the Puritans, the Laudians.

      It may be true that every person is obligated to confirm the truth of what is said, but that judgment is not the same judgement or normative power of a council. Can a council bind the consciences of other men even when they disagree with divine authority? It is not directly a question of ascertaining the truth but normativity. If someone doesn’t judge a council to be true, are they still obligated to believes its conclusions on a Protestant model? I don’t think so. This is why the example of the Bereans is irrelevant and the example of the council in Acts 15 is.

      I think you misunderstand me. It is not circular to say that a necessary condition for a legitimate council is the attendance by bishops only, legates excepting and imperial office holders to ensure orderly proceedings. Secondly, bishops as legates of the Apostles and recipients of a portion of the Apostle’s ministry are the chief teachers in the church, which is why historically only bishops in the post-apostolic era could ordain. Denoting bishops as the primary teachers is not to the exclusion of lay teachers, but that doesn’t imply that qua teachers that bishops are on a par with laymen.

      Tou theu anthropos is used of Kings, prophets, priests, angels, etc. but always for someone either directly or indirectly (as through a succession) someone commissioned by God.Many people read Paul here and simply assume that the passage is applicable to them unilaterally as laymen. It isn’t. And I don’t think Paul there says that the Scripture “secure” Timothy’s salvation, but that they are good for it. Sufficient for something is not conceptually identical with its modality being that of necessity.

      Given that the NT indicates that the teachers “rule over” others (Heb 13:7,17) and that the councils in the church as exemplified in Acts 15 can make binding decisions on others, while it may be true that laymen may apply the rule, this is not in exclusion to or on a par with that of the legates of the Apostles. Consequently there is no doctrine of private judgment taught in this passage which is entailed by the idea of Sola Scriptura.

      But none of this is germane to the thread topic. Do you adhere to Chalcedon and what exactly do you think it teaches?

    • EricW

      Perry Robinson wrote:

      Tou theu anthropos is used of Kings, prophets, priests, angels, etc. but always for someone either directly or indirectly (as through a succession) someone commissioned by God.

      By removing the article before anthrôpos theou or theou anthrôpos (with at most 1 intervening word, and regardless of the case or number of anthrôpos), a more complete list was returned. Some of the verses are inapplicable, but that will be obvious from the translation. It seems primarily to be an appelation for a prophet:

      Deuteronomy 33:1
      Joshua 14:6
      Judges 9:13
      Judges 13:6
      Judges 13:8
      1 Samuel 2:27
      1 Samuel 4:13
      1 Samuel 9:6
      1 Samuel 9:7
      1 Samuel 9:8
      1 Samuel 9:10
      1 Kings 12:22
      1 Kings 12:24
      1 Kings 13:1
      1 Kings 13:4
      1 Kings 13:5
      1 Kings 13:6
      1 Kings 13:7
      1 Kings 13:8
      1 Kings 13:11
      1 Kings 13:12
      1 Kings 13:14
      1 Kings 13:21
      1 Kings 13:26
      1 Kings 13:28
      1 Kings 13:29
      1 Kings 13:31
      1 Kings 17:18
      1 Kings 17:24
      1 Kings 20:28
      2 Kings 1:9
      2 Kings 1:10
      2 Kings 1:11
      2 Kings 1:12
      2 Kings 1:13
      2 Kings 4:7
      2 Kings 4:9
      2 Kings 4:21
      2 Kings 4:22
      2 Kings 4:25
      2 Kings 4:40
      2 Kings 4:42
      2 Kings 6:6
      2 Kings 7:17
      2 Kings 8:4
      2 Kings 8:7
      2 Kings 8:8
      2 Kings 8:11
      2 Kings 13:19
      2 Kings 23:16
      2 Kings 23:17
      1 Chronicles 23:14
      2 Chronicles 8:14
      2 Chronicles 11:2
      2 Chronicles 24:6
      2 Chronicles 25:7
      2 Chronicles 25:9
      2 Chronicles 30:16
      Ezra 3:2
      Nehemiah 12:24
      Nehemiah 12:36
      Psalm 89:1
      Jeremiah 42:4
      Daniel 6:8
      Daniel 6:13
      Sirach 45:1
      1 Esdras 5:48
      Mark 4:26
      Mark 15:39
      John 9:16
      1 Timothy 2:5
      1 Timothy 6:11
      2 Timothy 3:17
      2 Peter 1:21

    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t think “commissioned” can be used in a way which does not beg the question in some way. Protestants do believe in ordination as the do gifting of certian people. We also believe in offices in the local church. But, it is very important to realize the priesthood of all believers that makes this discussion very unprofitable when terms are left undefined.

      This is not necessarily the time or place for such a discussion, but I am just trying to keep people from wasting time.

    • EricW

      CMP:

      Do any of the replies here:

      http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1079217/replies?c=9

      to this 2004 inquiry answer your question? The inquirer basically asked the same question you did, i.e:

      To: NYer
      I have a sincere question that I have not found an answer for yet.
      Chalcedon sets forth that the divine and human natures of Christ exist “without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.”

      The Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation as I understand it have the bread actually becoming or taking on the substance of Christ’s flesh (which is obviously an aspect of His fully human nature).

      What I don’t understand is how Christ’s flesh can be in two places at once, both sitting on the throne and in the substance of the Eucharist in any number of churches at any particular time.

      Again, I am asking this sincerely because I have yet to be given a reasonable explanation for this, especially in light of the definition set forth in Chalcedon.

      9 posted on 02/16/2004 1:44:44 PM PST by Frumanchu (I for one fear the sanctions of the Mediator far above the sanctions of the moderator)

    • Wm Tanksley

      First there were no Protestant Churches for the Trinitarian and Christological councils

      There was nothing to protest against — or more accurately, the Church responded to Scriptural remonstrance. (Athenasius protested against doctrines which were accepted by the entire Church of his time.) The churches which did meet at the Councils were the progenitors of both Orthodox, Catholic, and Reformed, and all of them have an arguable claim inasmuch as they accept the authority of those documents.

      And Protestants have no ecumenical councils at all.

      That begs the question, at best. At worst, it also makes a mockery of the term “ecumenical council”.

      Councils like any document aren’t an exegetical free for all. When people recite the Nicene Creed when it speaks of baptism for the remission of sins, honest folk aren’t permitted to reinterpret it to deny baptismal regeneration for example, which the writers of that phrase used it to denote and still say that they believe the Nicene Creed.

      I quite agree. You can take that one all the way back to Peter. And it’s no more a closed case in the Nicene Creed than it was in Peter; although the Westminster Confession is very specific in denying the Baptist claim that baptism is “merely” a ritual.

      -Wm

    • EricW

      Or this 2001 inquiry/response:

      https://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?number=337480&Pg=Forum4&Pgnu=1&recnu=15

      Eucharist doctrine of the Roman Church
      Question from Andrew Murphy on 11/27/2001:

      Dear Sirs:

      Does not the doctrine of transubstantiation developed by St. Aquinas run contrary to the truths established by the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451?

      The Council says that Jesus has two natures, “truly God and Truly man, without confusion, without change, without division, without seperation.” The Council condemned as hersey the philosophy of Eutychianism which said that Jesus’did not have two seperate natures’ which were “without confusion”

      Thus, it seems to me if we believe in the formula developed by Aquinas, by using Aristotelian logic, that the wine and bread during the Mass transubstantiates into the actually blood and body of Jesus does this not mix the seperate natures of Christ?

      If Christ is truly man and truly God “without confusion”, how can a truly human man in heaven be chopped into bits and distributed throughout the world everyday?

      Any help on clearing up this would be much appreciated.

      Yours in Christ,

      Andrew

      Answer by Catholic Answers on 11/28/2001:
      1) Christ is not chopped up into bits. His human nature remains whole and intact at all time. It is merely made present under the appearances of bread and wine. This is multilocation, not disection.

      2) Multilocation is not an attribute of divinity. In his divinity, Christ is omnipresent, not multilocal. His human nature is made multilocal by a miracle, not by a fusion of his two natures. If God wanted, he could make any one of us multilocal (and, indeed, he has allowed some saints to bilocate).

      3) Because multilocation is not produced by a fusion of Christ’s human nature with his divine nature, there is no confusion in the two natures.

      4) Aquinas did not develop the doctrine of transubstantiation. It would be kind of hard for him to do so since the doctrine had already been infallibly defined in 1215, ten years before Aquinas was even born. And it was taught all the way back through history before the cause for its definition arise.

      5) It isn’t the “Roman Church.” This is prejudicial language that was designed by Protestants to be offensive to Catholics (and it is). “The Roman Church” means the local diocese of Rome, Italy. The Church to which the diocese of Rome belongs is called the Catholic Church.

      James Akin

      Catholic Answers

      – – –

      In your more recent Question on Transubstantiation thread, you said you hadn’t yet received an answer that makes sense:

      “As I said, this is not loaded. I am most certain that thoughtful people have worked through this, I have just never heard an answer that seems to make any sense.”

      Are these answers unsatisfactory?

    • C Michael Patton

      Thanks Eric, same question yes (smart chap!!),

      But the answer simply leaves my head spinning and returns me to the same position I have been at for years: The Catholic view of transubstantiation cannot be held at the same time as the definition of Chalcedon. In sum, the answer here and there is that Christ can do it because he can do all things. Therefore, since God is all powerful he can keep Chalcedon while violating it at the same time.

      It would be like saying that Christ can’t lie, but he might since he can do all things. It is just a mystery.

      I am willing to engage more with someone who says Chalcedon had it wrong than to try to produce some mesure of historical rewriting (psst, they really did believe that the humanity of Christ could inherit attributes of deity—but they are still not Eutychian!)

      Anyway, I have not been able to keep up on this thread, much less all the others, but I did read your link.

      Thanks so much my friend.

    • Perry Robinson

      Michael Patton,

      As for commissioning, I don’t think it is question begging since even in light of the Protestant doctrine of the Priesthood of all believers, they still believe there was a such a commissioning in the Levitical Priesthood in the OT and a distinction commissioning with the Apostles.

      As for Chalcedon, as I pointed out you seem to be reading “substance” as essence or a stuff, but this is not what the term means in its primary usage. It means literally “a this” or “one of those.” It means an individual thing which is greater than the sum total of its parts. So a change of substance of the elements wouldn’t imply a change of the essence of the elements but rather a change in the individuality of the thing, namely form bread to the body of Christ.

      To put the shoe on the other foot, the Reformed view of the Eucharist is inconsistent with Chalcedon since Chalcedon requires that Christ is a divine person throughout the incarnation and the Reformed view of the Eucharist requires that Christ is a divine-human person. And this view has its own “mystery” such as when Calvin speaks of us being mystically lifted up to heaven so I can’t see how it is any better off on that score.

    • Perry Robinson

      Wm Tanksley,

      So baptismal regeneration was nothing to protest against? The idea that Justification was grounded in the state and virtues of the soul as Augustine taught, contrary to Sola Fide was not sufficient to protest against? I would just read through the liturgy of Basil or Chrysostom or any of the liturgies of the time or before like that of Hippolytus in 200 A.D. and I seriously doubt Protestants wouldn’t think that there wasn’t anything to protest against.

      The famous phrase Athanasius contra mundum does not denote that he was against the teachings accepted by the entire church, since Nicea made it clear that Arianism wasn’t the teaching of the church. Rather it refers to the Imperium, such that when the new Emperor was Arian and enforced a pro-Arian policy the ”world” was now Arian. This is why Jerome near the same time famously bemoaned that the “world awoke to find itself Arian.”

      So I don’t see how the Reformed can have a serious historical claim to have been in existence or the existing churches as their progenitors. The Orthodox aren’t the progenitors of those churches, the Orthodox simply are those churches, physically and literally speaking.

      Furthermore, the Reformed do not accept the authority of those documents nor do they accept their teachings unaltered. The Reformed reject Nicene Trinitarianism and assert that the Son and the Spirit are autotheos thereby rejecting the Creeds’ statement “God of God.” The same goes for the statement on baptism which according to the express canonical statements of the bishops who wrote and agreed to them affirm baptismal regeneration.

      To my knowledge, neither the Lutherans nor the Reformed have claimed that any council they have participated in or formed ranks as an ecumenical or general council of the whole church. It would be informative to know if they have historically done so.

    • Michael Lockwood

      “A text out of context is a pretext …” This is what the Reformed have done with Chalcedon. There were 4 ecumenical councils which dealt specifically with the question of the two natures / one person of Christ: Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople 2 and 3. Chalcedon simply cannot be understood in isolation from the others, as Michael Patton and others on this blog are trying to do.

      There is a position which is clearly contrary to the “without division, without separation” of Chalcedon, and that is the Reformed position. Those phrases are not spelled out in great detail at Chalcedon, because the issue on the table at Chalcedon was Euthychianism and not the Nestorianism that these phrases were directed against. They are spelled out in much more detail at Ephesus and Constantinople 2. It is no surprise that none of the Reformed people on this blog are making any mention of those councils, since Reformed Christology is essentially Nestorian. If Calvin can be taken as the benchmark for Reformed Christology, he had difficulty affirming all of the following Christological points from the ecumenical councils:

      • That Mary is Theotokos. (Ephesus; Third Council of Constantinople)
      • That one of the Trinity suffered, was crucified, and tasted death. (Ephesus; Second Council of Constantinople)
      • That the impassible God became passible (Leo’s Tome, adopted at Chalcedon)
      • That the only begotten Son made the sufferings of the flesh his own (Ephesus)
      • That both the wonders and the sufferings are of the one Word of God incarnate (Second Council of Constantinople)
      • That the flesh of Christ was divinized (Third Council of Constantinople)
      • That the flesh of Christ is the flesh of God the Word (Third Council of Constantinople).
      • That when distinguishing the two natures one must be content with speaking in a theoretical (or contemplative) manner (Second Council of Constantinople). Calvin tends to treat the two natures as if they are two entities that are somewhat independent in practice.
      • That the merits of Christ’s death are the merits of the Word (Ephesus and Chalcedon 2)

      There is a modern Christology which is contrary to Chalcedon, and that is the Christology of the Reformed. This would be evident to all if people stopped using the definition of Chalcedon as a pretext.

    • Michael Lockwood

      It is also interesting to note that Arius and Nestorius were both motivated by the same thing: a desire to preserve the impassibility of God which they saw being threatened by the crucifixion. Arius did this by drawing a line between the Father and the Son, and saying that the Father is impassible God, while the Son is passible God. Nestorius simply drew the line in a different spot, between the impassible divine nature of the Son and his passible human nature. Orthodox theology acknowledges the difference between the two natures, but then says that in the incarnation the Son of God truly made the sufferings of the flesh his own (i.e. there is a true communication of attributes). Calvin denies this, and says that when the Scriptures talk in this way it is merely a figure of speech. This demonstrates quite clearly his essential kinship with Nestorius.

    • C Michael Patton

      Michael, I think I have noticed this charge befor from you, but it does not make any sense. Maybe you made sense out of it earlier.

      No one is trying to take anything out of context, but saying something is out of context of the bigger picture is exactly what anyone can do. It is simply a conversation stopper that carries no intrinsic weight.

      I am curious as to where you get this notion. Is it something you are coming up with through the discussions here or is it more broadly accepted and documented somewhere that I could access?

    • C Michael Patton

      I probably should not have said that Michael. I am sure that somewhere you have discussed this. I just don’t have time to keep up with all the great discussion!

      The new blog post will probably get it now! 😉

    • Michael Lockwood

      I have written a 20 page paper on the subject of Calvin’s Christology, in which I pull together the most significant comments that he makes on the 2 natures of Christ. In this paper I compare his Christology with that of the early church and the ecumenical councils. I argue that he receives considerable support for his Christology from Augustine (who died before the Nestorian controversy broke out, and therefore did not have the benefit of learning from this controversy), and a little bit from people like Aquinas and Gabriel Biel in regard to the extra Calvinisticum, but he receives little support from the ecumenical councils. I will happily make it available to anyone who is interested. I don’t know of any other source you could go to without doing a lot of homework, since I draw things together from many sources. This paper was written for a Ph.D. seminar course on the Christology of the ecumenical councils at Concordia Seminary St Louis, led by Dr David Maxwell, who did his doctoral thesis on the controversies over the 2 natures of Christ in the early church. He made us read an enormous amount of primary literature from the period, so that we could get a handle on exactly what the issues were that were at stake at the councils, and what thinking lay behind the brief summaries such as the definition of Chalcedon which are all that most people remember. I could give you a little 3 page summary of some of the main events of this period and some of the main conclusions that the councils came to, but I don’t really know how else to get a handle on this period besides reading primary literature, e.g. the documents produced by the councils themselves (available online at CCEL.org in the early church fathers series), the letters and sermons of Nestorius, the writings of Cyril which were affirmed by the councils, the Tome of Leo, the Theopaschite confession of faith, etc. For anyone who is really interested I could help them hunt down such primary literature. Unfortunately, secondary literature about this period is generally quite poor.

      The councils had to be very careful to avoid two errors, the Eutychian/heretical monophysite error (there were some monophysites such as Cyril who were never judged to be heretics but were instead explicitly affirmed by the Councils) and the Nestorian Error. Unless one has a very good handle on exactly what both the errors were and how the councils avoided both errors, it is very easy when opposing one error to fall into the opposing error.

      By the way, the councils do actually say that it is acceptable to say that the incarnate Word has only one nature, if this is understood in the correct sense.

    • Wm Tanksley

      So baptismal regeneration was nothing to protest against?

      I’d like to discuss… but it’s not the topic of this comment thread, according to the recently set comments policy. (I try to do good!)

      The idea that Justification was grounded in the state and virtues of the soul as Augustine taught, contrary to Sola Fide was not sufficient to protest against?

      Yes, with the understanding that God’s work in Justification and His work in Sanctification were two parts of salvation (which itself has many aspects). Augustine did not differentiate between these; others later did.

      I would just read through the liturgy of Basil or Chrysostom or any of the liturgies of the time or before like that of Hippolytus in 200 A.D. and I seriously doubt Protestants wouldn’t think that there wasn’t anything to protest against.

      A number of Protestants have written books going over those; they found them edifying. You interpret them to favor your position; we read them to witness to us (we don’t demand that everyone in the Ancient Church agree with us).

      The famous phrase Athanasius contra mundum does not denote that he was against the teachings accepted by the entire church, since Nicea made it clear that Arianism wasn’t the teaching of the church.

      No, of course Athanasius wasn’t against the entire Church; not even against the majority of the church (and you’re right that he wasn’t a Protestant, nor really a protestant).

      Yet Athanasius had to contend against a huge number of bishops, functionaries, and lay people who were solidly Arian. The hierarchy was extensively Arian, and in fact Athanasius was briefly replaced by an Arian bishop while he went on the run (from the Emperor, not the Church). Prior to the Council, many Arians were respected Church leaders, and some are recognized to this day as martyrs (at least Lucian of Antioch).

      It’s almost certain that many good lay Christians were disciplined by Arian bishops — their own legitimate Church authority. How to appeal? Sola Scriptura.

      So I don’t see how the Reformed can have a serious historical claim to have been in existence or the existing churches as their progenitors. The Orthodox aren’t the progenitors of those churches, the Orthodox simply are those churches, physically and literally speaking.

      “Physically and literally”? Question-begging and overly abstract. Historically, certainly — but historically we are all from the same church (even the heretics). Philosophically you ARE much closer to the original church (but you’ve made refinements as much as the Protestants have); politically you’re … not so close (not saying others are better).

      Ugh. How does this help us answer the original poster’s question? I don’t see the use.

      -Wm

    • Wm Tanksley

      Secondly, it is not an ad hom argument. It is the same argument just re-directed to a different target that CMP makes. If my argument is an ad hom, then so is the original. The original is not, so then neither is mine.

      I’m sorry, I misspoke. It’s a “tu quoque” argument. The question of whether your beliefs fit (or do not fit) Chalcedon is not answered by positing that CMP’s beliefs do not fit Chalcedon.

      It’s a good question, by the way. It’s just entirely beside the point.

      -Wm

    • Wm Tanksley

      But isn’t it possible, due to the limited and specific use of the phrase in Scripture, that Paul was intentionally referring to Timothy by the well-known term for a prophet or spiritual leader because of Timothy’s position/office, per Perry’s claim, and that it’s not a phrase the early Christians would have used for all believers?

      I do think it’s possible that in 1Tim6:11 he meant it that way. It’s possible, but it seems equally likely that it’s a general instruction as well — it, and all the surrounding text. In 2Ti3:17, however, which is the passage being examined, it’s very clear that the purposes to which Timothy is being exhorted to use (and is being congratulated for using) Scripture are emphatically ones that every Christian MUST apply, if they are to have any meaning at all.

      Yes, it MAY be that Elders have a special calling to remain undistracted by wealth and to teach true doctrine (although I’d doubt that it’s special); but they are certainly not the only ones who have to be concerned about their salvation.

      The context is a much more powerful tool than an idiomatic phrase is, especially one which appears so rarely in Greek.

      I should add that “man of God” in Hebrew doesn’t mean “priest”; it means “prophet”, and God could call anyone for that task. One didn’t need an ordination (although one sometimes was given one).

    • Fr Alvin Kimel

      From Mick: “Fr. Alvin Kimel: Do you have a website or any publications out there ? Some of the statements are very clear and concise to me. Forgive my ignorance on who you might be.”

      Mick, you may find of interest my essay “Eating Christ.” Also see my blogging ruminations on Eucharist, written over a period of a couple of years.

      Hope this helps.

    • Wm Tanksley

      I have no doubt that every man will be judged by God, but that is not the issue with private judgment.

      I didn’t say that was “the issue with” private judgment; rather, it makes private judgment necessary. Because God holds us each responsible, we are also each in authority. Responsibility and authority must balance.

      The question is whether a person is only obligated to believe in so far as they themselves judge it to be normative and binding on themselves and so no one is capable of making a judgment such to bind the consciences of others.

      Where could you possibly come up with that? It’s not even a strawman; it’s a simple direct contradiction of everything I said. God will judge each of us. The reason we must each judge righteously is that we are held responsible for our actions, which spring from our judgments.

      Of course this leads to a strong dependence on good teachers; but that doesn’t mean that we can escape from having to choose our teachers. The standard we use to measure our teachers is the standard Christ and the Apostles used — Scriptures.

      Can a council bind the consciences of other men even when they disagree with divine authority?

      I’m tempted to misread this and answer: “A council in disagreement with divine authority binds nothing.” But that’s not what you meant. No, a council doesn’t bind men’s consciences; divine authority is what binds their consciences, and a council’s decision against one simply provides evidence that divine authority is against one.

      If someone doesn’t judge a council to be true, are they still obligated to believes its conclusions on a Protestant model? I don’t think so.

      Regardless of “Protestant model”, if you personally didn’t judge a council to be true you couldn’t possibly believe it. Belief implies judgment of truth.

      This is why the example of the Bereans is irrelevant and the example of the council in Acts 15 is.

      I don’t see why the Bereans are irrelevant; Paul (an Apostle) preached to them, and rather then believing him simply because he was an apostle, they looked to the Scriptures to judge him.

      But the Acts 15 council is a good example also. It’s typical of the genre of Acts that they don’t list the reasons for their judgments, but it’s more than a mere political compromise between Judaizers and libertines; the rules they asked gentile converts to follow are precisely the rules the Mosaic law imposes on “strangers in the Land” (for example, Lev 17:13). As gentile Christians, we are the strangers in the promised Land. And the authority given for their commandment is stated in Acts 15:21 to be in the writings of Moses, not from the authority of the council.

      The council’s ruling was objectively correct; had they ruled with the Judaizers they would have been in error, and had to be corrected on the basis of the Scripture they contradicted.

      …more…

    • Wm Tanksley

      …actually, I want to go on; but I don’t think it’s pertinent to the question at hand. Suffice it to say that CMP must decide whether the Roman Catholic Church is in agreement with Chalcedon; he can’t simply assume that they are or aren’t simply on the ground that they claim to be, or that they claim to be the heirs of the Apostles (how can they be heirs of the Apostles’ authority if they’ve abandoned the Apostles’ teaching?).

    • dudley davis

      Michael said in today’s theological word of the day;

      Apophatic Theology

      Posted: 13 Jan 2009 10:52 PM PST

      [ap-uh-fat’-ik thee-aw’-luh-jee]

      (Greek apo-, “other than” + Greek phanai, “speak” = apophasis, “to say no”)

      Theological methodology which starts with the ineffability of God, believing that God’s infinite nature cannot be contained by finite men through finite language. The best way to describe God, therefore, is through way of negation (via negativa). In Christianity, apophatic theology is often associated with Eastern Orthodoxy and is foundational to much of the conversation of the so-called emerging church in Protestantism.

      Component 2 on the mass is that the Roman catholic teaching contradicts scripture. I am a Calvinist Reformed Protestant and as such I believe that Christ’s humanity is not infinite or omnipresent and therefore can only be at one place at one time, even after the ascension. as a Protestant I believe Christ had two natures human and divine. The two natures are however separate and cannot be intertwined. It is why I am not a Roman catholic and why I am not a Lutheran. I am a Reformed Protestant who believes that Christ’s work on the cross was perfect and decisive. It constituted one historic event, which need never be repeated, and which in fact cannot be repeated. The language is perfectly clear: ‘He offered one sacrifice for sins for ever’ (10:12). Paul says that ‘Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more’ (Romans 6:9); and the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says that ‘By one offering he had perfected for ever them that are sanctified’ (10:14)…We are told that Christ has sat down as token that His work is finished. Depend upon it, He never descends from that exalted place to be a further sacrifice upon Rome’s altars or on any other; for of such sacrifice there is no need…. Thank God that we who are reformed Protestants can look back to what our Lord did on Calvary and know that He completed the sacrifice for sins once for all, and that our salvation is not dependent on the whim or arbitrary decree of any priest or church. Any pretense at a continuous offering for sin is worse than vain, for it is a denial of the efficacy of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.

      I also believe that If one were to say that Chalcedon only had implication for Christ while he was on earth, but post-resurrection his attributes can be communicated, he then could not now serve as the pioneer of humanity nor could he intercede for us as a high priest. Christ is the sole redeemer and the sole mediator.
      The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the once for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross, not a daily sacrifice on altars. It cannot be argued exegetically that the Mass is a real and true sacrifice of reconciliation and that Christ still sacrifices Himself daily by the hands of the priest (Council of Trent) as the Bible repeatedly affirms in the clearest and most…

    • dudley davis

      The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of the once for all sacrifice of Christ on the cross, not a daily sacrifice on altars. It cannot be argued exegetically that the Mass is a real and true sacrifice of reconciliation and that Christ still sacrifices Himself daily by the hands of the priest (Council of Trent) as the Bible repeatedly affirms in the clearest and most positive terms that Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was complete in that one offering. And that it was never to be repeated is set forth in Hebrews, Chapters 7, 9 and 10. There we read: “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peoples: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (7:27) “…by his own blood he entered in once, into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us: (9:12). “…And without shedding of blood is no remission…Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but not once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself…So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation: (19:22-28). “By the which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (10:10-14).

      The problem with the council of Trent and the Roman catholic teaching of transubstantiation is that it attempts to explain in finite terms and language the mystery of the infinite God who is sovereign. The vanity of Lucifer himself is displayed in such Roman catholic teaching. As a Reformed Protestant how Christ manifests himself in the Lords Supper is a spiritual matter we cannot explain. It is why we say that Christ becomes present to us in our celebration of the supper through our faith alone and our communion and fellowship in the ordinance of the Lords Supper which he commanded us to do in memory of him and his one and only needed sacrifice for all who are born again in Him.

    • Michael Lockwood

      Who died for you Dudley? Was it the divine Son of God, or merely his (separate) human nature. If only the human nature died without the divine nature sharing in this suffering and death in any way (since, as you insist, the two natures are separate and there is no communication of attributes) then a mere man is your Savior and not God.

      The communication of attributes is not a speculative doctrine. Instead, it flows out of the many passages in the New Testament which attribute divine things to the man Jesus and human things to the divine Son of God. The question is, do these passages mean what they say, or are they merely using a figure of speech. Nestorius, Calvin, Zwingli, and those who have followed them say that these passages do not mean what they literally say but are using a figure of speech. Virtually all other Christians (Catholics, the Orthodox, Lutherans, the Ecumenical Councils of the early church if you take the time to read them carefully instead of pulling bits out of context, church fathers such as Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John of Damascus, etc.) believe that the Scriptures mean what exactly what they say. Yet this is not merely a question of whether we interpret the Scriptures literally of not (the Reformed certainly do not read them literally at this point). It is a matter of our salvation. For unless there was a true incarnation, so that Jesus Christ is both God and man at all times in an inseparable union, then God is not our Savior, but he got a man to do all the dirty work for him.

    • C Michael Patton

      Michael, I may be missing something as my mind is not at all fresh on this subject tonight, but the communicatio idiomatum is in reference to the natures to the person, not from one nature to another.

    • Michael Lockwood

      That is correct. Actually, Calvin and Zwingli denied any real communication of attributes at all. Later Reformed theologians recognized the difficulties with this, and were willing to acknowledge along with the early church councils a communication from the natures to the person.

      However, the difference between this later Reformed position and the Christology affirmed in the ecumenical councils is that the Reformed tend to treat the two natures as if they are two independent active subjects after the incarnation. It is as if the person is little more than a marker of the fact that there is some sort of union between the two natures, and therefore the communication of attributes is fairly meaningless, since the two natures is where all of the action happens. In the Christology of the ecumenical councils this is ruled out. The only concrete, active subject is the person of Christ, the one Word of God incarnate. Talk of the two natures is an abstraction which is used to assert that Christ lost nothing of his divinity when he became incarnate, nor is he less than fully human. It does not mean that the two natures retain some independence or can act independently of each other. Since there is only one concrete, active subject, all the actions of Christ (eating, sleeping, suffering, dying, rising, performing miracles, ruling the world, etc.) are performed by the one God-man, and therefore involve both natures. This is made clear, for instance, by the 2nd Council of Constantinople, which says that the two natures can only be distinguished in theory/contemplation, and that both the wonders and the sufferings are of the one Word of God incarnate.

    • Perry Robinson

      Michael,

      Actually its both. The communication also includes a communication of divine energies to the human nature through the divine hypostasis such as the divine glory, immortality, miracle working power, etc.

      To see how and where the Reformed dissent from Chalcedon, see Richard Muller’s Christ and the Decree. The hypostasis of CHrist on the Reformed view is OUT of two natures and a product of the union, which is why it is a divine and human hypostasis, rather than a divine hypostasis into which human *nature* had been assumed.

    • Frank

      At the last supper when Christ says this is my body, which was he referring to, the bread, or the body he was present in?

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