October 9, 2012
Filed under Church
Tagged with Bible, Biblical, Church, Dr Scott Hahn, New Testament, Sacrifice, Theology
About Fr Stephen SmutsTAC Priest in South Africa.
Interesting, but certainly not really “Pauline”, St. Paul preached the Good News of the Gospel, or what the Pauline Letters, as the Book of Acts, etc., called the “kerygma”, i.e. the “message” of Christ Crucified, Risen & Ascended! (Btw, in 1 Cor. 11: 26, Paul says: For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you “proclaim” the Lord’s death until He comes.” Thus, this is not a showing forth of His death, but a proclamation of it, “katangello”, Gk.) Quite literally the Gospel is “to proclaim”, announce the Good News & Gospel of Christ, or “Christ Jesus”, as Paul loved to say it! And the Gospel announces (“evangelizesthai”) not only the Death of Christ, but His Resurrection & Ascension!
Indeed for both Scott Hahn, and my other Catholic friends, let me recommend reading the now classic book, by C.H. Dodd: The Apostolic Preaching, and its Developments! Btw, my copy (signed by Dodd, 1949), has a chart in the back of the book: The Apostolic Preaching, referencing the Scriptures: The Kerygma According to the Acts of the Apostles and The Kerygma According to Paul.
PS..And just let me say, that I myself see Luther’s view of the Eucharist, and what some later Lutherans call “consubstantiation”…theologically, the doctrine that the substance of the bread and wine of the Eucharist exists, after consecration, side by side with the substance of the body and blood of Christ but is not changed into it. Indeed, we must always see as the Anglican Communion, (The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1988)… “Presence and Sacrifice: ‘Both are areas of “mystery” which ultimately defy definition’.”
Again for me anyway, we must let Holy Scripture and God’s own mystery stand! And here of course the Church is always “the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15), but too the local church is part of that place where God lives & reigns, in and with His people, and here, “HE has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:6)
There is always something suspect about an innovative “correction” that took 1,500 years before being put forward and developed by a man who rebelled against the Church nonetheless! (It reminds me of a certain religion from Saudi Arabia with the claim that their holy book is a “correction” of our books.)
But yes, ultimately, as the Greeks and other Orthodox say, exactly how Bread and Wine become the Flesh and Blood of Christ is a “Mystery” (The Orthodox call their Sacraments “Mysteries” from the Greek word “Mysterion” while Catholics call the Sacraments from the Latin word “Sacramentum”) And the word “Transubstantiation” is more of a terminology for “what” happens. But in any case, I stand by with the ancient understanding that Bread and Wine totally changes into the Flesh and Blood of Christ, with the appearance and physical characteristics of bread and wine.
I wonder what was Luther’s philosophical understanding of “substance” and “accidents”? All trees share their “treeness” because they are substantially the same, despite the accident of being coniferous, deciduous, etc. I think one “modern artist” was either mocking the notion of transubstantiation by calling a glass of water a “tree”.
But in terms of consubstantiation, how is it philosophically possible for an object’s substance to be both one thing AND another, whereas it cannot be either one thing or another? The excuse “Because God did it” can sometimes be intellectually insulting, so it cannot be sufficient. I suspect that Luther was having difficulty reconciling the fact that his senses tell him that the Eucharist was bread and wine, but at the same time, his intellect tells him (either by force of habit of his Catholic origin) that it is indeed the Flesh and Blood of Christ. So consubstantiation is a happy compromise that makes it valid to say that it’s bread and wine, but at the same time, the Flesh and Blood of Christ.The problem is that the senses lie all the time, so what seems to us to be bread and wine, could very well be not. So the senses can’t be a valid guide to declaring the philosophical substance of bread and wine, if it’s not reliable. Tradition and the very words Christ said, however, is very plain; “This is my Body…” and “This is my Blood…” as well as references to people having to eat His Flesh and Blood couldn’t very well have been metaphors or hyperboles.
Referring back to the video… I don’t think any sane person would die for a metaphor or a hyperbole. And we can agree that Jesus was sane, and was not a liar. So what He’s said could not have been a metaphor or a hyperbole. It would have been something if somehow, during the early years of Christianity, there was an issue regarding whether or not the bread and wine were “consubstantiated” during consecration. For example: Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, written in AD 106 says: “I desire the bread of GOD, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ.” But if he had instead said “I desire the bread of GOD, which is ALSO the flesh of Jesus Christ.” Then this consubstantiation business would probably have more traction within Apostolic Christianity.
Note, that Luther did NOT state this position of “consubstantiation” itself, this came from later Lutherans themselves. Simpy Luther believed in the “real presence” of Christ’s body & blood “with” bread and wine, themselves. Which is the “mystery” itself! Again, “consubstantiation”, like “transubstantiation” is a scholastic idea and definition. But, to my mind and knowledge of the “biblcal” genre itself, overall the idea of consubstantiation is closer to the Biblical Texts. Finally, the reality that the first Eucharist (“this is my body, etc.”) was the Jewish passover, with Jesus standing right in the Apostles presence, makes any real “transubstantiation” very problematic and really impossible to say the least, for Christ had not yet died!
Btw, since this is a “Catholic” blog in reality, here is a wee link that presents the general “Protestant” sense of the Eucharist, very concise. The Memorial reality of the Eucharist must also not be missed! Oftentimes Catholics don’t know the historical reality here, i.e. the Protestant sense. And just present the negative idea that Christ is not “really” present. But, for many Protestants, certain Evangelicals, etc., Christ IS “present”, but “spiritually” so, (Matt. 18:20).
All the while the Eastern Christians didn’t seem to have any problems with keeping the whole business of turning Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Chrst as a matter of mystery, with a small “m” Or I’m not that well-read with literature from that part of Christendom. (It gets hard to read when one has gotten used to the more analytical “Objection”, “on the contrary” format)
“the reality that the first Eucharist.. was the Jewish passover, with Jesus standing right in the Apostles presence, makes any real “transubstantiation” very problematic and really impossible to say the least, for Christ had not yet died!”
Well, as Dr. Hahn stated, Jesus seem to have modified the Seder meal, since even in the Gospels, there was little or no reference to Moses or the Law being central (which is the point of the Passover Seder), but instead what becomes central is Jesus Christ being associated with a “New Covenant”. I have no doubt that pious Jews who didn’t know anything about Jesus at that time would have left, scandalized by how Jesus instead of referring to Moses or the Law, referred to Himself as the “New and Everlasting Covenant” as if, to those pious Jews, the Covenant with Moses and the Mosaic Law had been rendered obsolete, making Temple sacrifices in vain.
See, that’s what caught my eye: the word “Everlasting” because other than the property of this Covenant being “New” for obvious reasons, the word “Everlasting” connotes some interesting implication, such as the nature of the Covenant, and the Covenant being, in the words of Dr. Hahn, instituted during the Supper that Thursday, and consummated on Good Friday; but it does not seem to me that the “New and Everlasting Covenant” is necessarily constrained by the flow of History or Time, because a part of the character of this “New and Everlasting Covenant” is the fact that it is Everlasting, i.e., Eternal.
(Now this entire paragraph is just my own conclusion based on trying to connect together things that I’ve observed; a more learned, competent Roman Catholic theologian can correct me.) Once something is called “Eternal”, it has stepped out of History, it then goes into Eternity, the state before, beyond, and after Creation and not during or within. So the eternal nature of this Covenant seems be the reason why that particular sacrifice on Thursday is not limited or invalidated by the fact that it is consummated on Friday, and the reason why that particular Sacrifice does not only affect those who participated in the Supper that Thursday, or the few remaining followers who witnessed His death on Friday, nor just those who believed in Christ the few hundred years after, but also us, some 2,000 years later, and everyone else who goes after us, until He comes again. Also, it affirms the divinity of Jesus, since this association with Eternity does not only break the bonds of time only from that point onwards, but also implies that He had always been before all ages, as expressed in the Nicene Creed: “I believe in…. Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father =before all ages=” And so it would make sense, at least to me, why it would be possible for prophets of the Old Testament to have foretold of the coming of Christ, even if it was the span of hundreds of year before His birth. At the same time, it would make sense why, while we insist that the Mass is both a memorial and a true and perfect Sacrifice, we do not crucify Christ again, because the Mass is that point in time and space within Creation where that important Sacrifice 2,000 years ago intersects with our own time and space; so it’s literally the SAME sacrifice made on Thursday, consummated on Friday, and even includes the glorious event of the Resurrection that following Sunday; through Communion, we live again with Christ.
P.S. (let us discount those godless science-worshipers who expect Hollywood-style special effects and think of putting watches and other apparatus at the altar to prove us wrong.)
On a totally random note: I remember from studying history, particularly diplomatic relations between ancient superpowers, agreements were sealed in the ancient Middle East by a ritual slaughtering of an animal and invoking an oath to their gods as witnesses of an agreement.
And no, I am not buying Hahn’s historical so-called theology here, its just not really biblical! As I wrote above about the Gospel, etc.There simply must be exegesis of the Text, before we get to a biblical theology!
Well, both Catholics and Orthodox agree that Protestants practice eisegesis, because Scripture can only be interpreted through what was passed down from the people who actually listened and interacted with Christ.
But then, Jews accuse us Christians of eisegesis, don’t they? Particularly with Isiah.
So eisegesis/exegesis are labels that account for nothing if there’s no final, living authority that interprets the source document anyway, at least as a standard for how subordinate authorities interpret the document. The Bible is not self-interpreting; even in a community of equal individuals who interpret Scripture similarly, someone has to be set aside as the final determinant of addressing problems that eventually arise even in a similar-thinking congregation. Or else we end up with something ridiculous and self-indulgent nonsense like the Jesus Seminar, where you can vote what Jesus said and didn’t say and call it “exegesis”.
But anyway, we’re going way off topic, so this is where I’m stopping.
First, theology is simply the study of the doctrine of God, and in this exegesis is quite simply the biblical analysis and interetation of the Text itself. Certainly history is somewhat involved, but the real essence is that of the existential text itself. And the “exsegesis” here, is really in Hahn’s statements, simply. Note, I have given a biblical look at the Text of 1 Cor. 11:26. And I think a quick look a C.H. Dodd’s study of the Apostolic Preaching, ‘the Kerygma’, and the message of the Gospel.
Here is a nice statement, and one that is very theologically biblical…
‘I leave it to orators to expound the theme of the inestimable grace and glory that we have in Christ Jesus. Let them tell us how we who are miserable sinners, children of wrath by birth, may obtain this honor, so that by faith in Christ we can become children and heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, lords of heaven and earth. There is no tongue of people or of angels that can proclaim the glory of this magnificently enough.’ – Martin Luther
I just would like to add a couple of points. Mystery means what can not be understood by the mind because it transcends the mind, but it can be understood by the Spirit. Also that there is no problem with the sanctified bread and wine being both bread and wine and the true flesh and blood of Jesus. Those who have a hard time with this are people who only believe in a material world and in actuality deny that there is a Spiritual world that exists in the same place and time as the material one.
This is shown in 2nd Kings 6:15-17 where Elisha opens his servant’s eyes to see all of the angels that were there to help them. What did Elisha open his servants eyes to except to be able to see in the Spiritual realm, I was a Protestant until I was at Mass with a friend who was a Catholic Priest. When people went up to take the Eucharist I stayed sitting in the pew as I knew that since I was not a Catholic I was not allowed to partake of the Eucharist.
I stayed sitting in the pew until for the 3rd time in about 2 minutes I felt a warm, caring, masculine presence and the words came into my mind, “Would you refuse me Al?” Other experiences and things that God showed me later convinced me that it was indeed, Jesus talking to me. He did not say, “Would you refuse my symbol”, or, “Would you refuse my essence?”, What He said to me was, “Al, would you refuse ‘Me’?. One of the reasons I became a Catholic and have remained a Catholic for 42 years is that I know that the Consecrated Eucharist, “is Jesus”!
I have also experienced many times during the Mass that what is going on in the Material realm (in the mass), is a sign of what is happening in the Spiritual realm. There is no problem that both are really happening simultaneously because one is material and one is Spiritual. Theologists may agree or disagree but between a theologist’s “opinion” and the reality of an actual experience that is congruent with Scripture, I will vote for the real experience every time.
Threre is a correlation of this ‘doctrine of Grace’ as well in that of most holy Mary’s ‘Immaculate Conception’: she was created – from the moment of her Conception – free from any ‘stain of original sin’ and remained ‘free of sin’–for the sole purpose of her preeminent role as ‘the Mother of God’! This was given her in the ‘order of Grace’ BEFORE Jesus even became Flesh in her womb; she was ‘preserved’ so that the Savior would enter into a ‘worthy Tabernacle’ BUT, she too says “…my Spirit rejoices in GOD my SAVIOR”! Mary was redeemed as well, but God–outside of time and space, IS LORD…of time and space, so can preempt ALL to HIS Command and ‘Infinite Purpose’!
Jesus was/IS the New and Everlasting Sacrifice as well as the New and Everlasting Temple! HIS Words: “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will Rebuild IT”! HE IS ‘Temple and Sacrifice’ ALL-in-ONE! Calvary only ‘appears’ as an execution consumed by the ‘jaws of death’ because Jesus ‘allowed Himself’ to be handed-over to the Evil One on his (the devil’s) turf – outside of the Holy City – so as to BE ‘Redeemer of the Whole World’ – for ALL Time and Space!
So too ‘The Eucharist” – in the ‘appearance’ of Bread and Wine – seemingly ‘consumed as a meal’ – handed over to the ‘likes of sinners’ – is the very ‘Embodiment of Jesus Christ’ – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – both ‘Living Temple and Sacrifice’–at every Mass – for All Time – in Every Time – unto the ‘End of Time’!
“O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, ALL Praise and ALL Thanksgiving Be Every Moment Thine”!!
I too, like Almagore, have had a profound and personal experience with ‘Jesus in the Eucharist’ – and no amount of rhetoric can change this Knowing–of ‘HIS Real and True Presence’!
Think on this: if Jesus did NOT make Himself ‘avilable to sinners’ in the Eucharist – in that Being Truly Physically present – a ‘REpresentation of Calvary’, although unbloody – we would not have ANY Power over the Evil One – we would all be flatened out like pancakes! This Jesus IS doing whether we Believe or not believe – are atheists or agnostics – sinners or saints. The world would ‘cave-in on its Iniqutiy’ – good and bad alike – IF Jesus did NOT ‘REpresent Himself to The Father’ – continuously…in Every Mass – said continuously every moment of every day – throughout the entire World!!!
So to add, it would then be ‘necessary’ for Jesus to ‘Institute the Priesthood’ and ‘offer the First Mass–Himself as Priest and Victim’ on Holy Thrusday (at the commencement of The Passion), because…and I have contemplated this…the ‘Disciples would NOT have had the Strength and Fortitude…to endure and survive Jesus’ Passion and Death. The Eucharist IS ‘Strength for the Journey’ and THE POWER over ALL Evil!! Amen.
Here’s a link on the person and place of the Virgin Mary in Martin Luther’s theology. Though I am not a strict “Lutheran”, it is no surprise that I like the best of Martin Luther’s theology!
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