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 Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon 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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

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

    • 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 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 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.


    • 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


      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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