John 6 and Transubstantiation

Discussion in 'Sacraments, Sacred Rites, and Holy Orders' started by Oliver Sanderson, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. Oliver Sanderson

    Oliver Sanderson Member

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    I was recently reading John 6 and was pondering these verses:

    54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

    55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

    56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

    I was wondering what is the Protestant explanation for John 6?
     
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  2. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We love that language; nothing in it indicates transubstantiation. From the 1662 BCP Prayer of Humble Access:

    “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, truſting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Chriſt, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his moſt precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.”

    From the Prayer of Consecration containing the words of Institution:

    “grant that we receiving these thy creatures of bread and wine, according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Chriſt’s holy inſtitution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his moſt blessed body and blood: who, in the same night that he was betrayed, took Bread; and, when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body” ...(etc)

    http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1662/HC.pdf
     
  3. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Just to be clear, the belief in the physical presence of our Lord in the Eucharist is not the same as transubstantiation.

    Transubstantiation is a specific Roman Catholic interpretation of the Real Presence, which I believe has doctrinal or dogmatic status, at least in the Roman, Mozarabic and Ambrosian Rites, and the Latin Monastic Rites that are de jure part of the Roman Patriarchate, even though in some cases, like the Carthusians or Dominicans, their liturgy is different; that was if memory serves first articulated by Thomas Aquinas. From His Aristotelian philosophy, which was influenced by the great Islamic philosopher Averroes, who wrote a Commentary on Aristotle (Aquinas refers to Aristotle and Averroes as The Philosopher and the Commentator respectively), Thomas Aquinas declared that since under Aristotle, everything has an substance, and accidents (which roughly equate to its functional characteristics and its perceptual attributes, respectfully, although there is more to it than that), at the precise moments in the recitation of the Institution Narrative in the Roman Mass (when typically a Sacring Bell is rung), when the priest says “This is my body”, the substance of the bread is replaced by the substance of the body of Jesus Christ, and when the priest finishes saying “This is my blood” the substance of the wine is likewise replaced with the Precious Blood of our Lord. However, the accidents remain the same.

    The Lutherans, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravians*, Assyrians (Church of the East) and some Anglo Catholics believe that the body and blood are truly present in the Eucharist and that a real change happens in the liturgy; Lutherans agree with Roman Catholics that this happens in the Words of Institution, whereas dating back to the Scottish Non Jurors, Anglo Catholics and some Orthodox believe it happens in the Epiklesis. Still other Orthodox, and I think, the Church of the East, as well as myself, believe the process encompasses the entire liturgy; this was also the view of Theodore of Mopsuestia, but I disagree with his precise explanation for how this occurs.

    I reject the Thomistic doctrine because the early Church, while clearly by the time of St. John of Damascus, and probably much earlier, believed that the bread and wine became the actual body and blood of our Lord, how this happened and the nature of it was always held to be a mystery. I also reject the Lutheran interpretation, because Lutherans say that the body and blood are “in, with and under” the species of bread and wine. And like Thomistic transubstantiation, they are making a doctrine out of something which cannot be inferred from scripture, and like Aquinas and his doctrine, no one prior to Luther believed in it.

    I would also note that the Anglican communion service does not rule out the physical presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, and indeed, the 1892, 1928 and 1079 editions of the American BCP, influenced more and more by high churchmen and Anglo Catholics, took what was already a very high church liturgy (because Bishop Seabury was rebuffed by the Church of England bishops and was ordained by Non-Juring Episcopalians who demanded the American church use their liturgy, which it actually did not do, but in partial respect to the Non Jurors, the Protestant Episcopal Church Holy Communion Service always included an Epiklesis.

    In general, the difference between an Anglo Catholic and a High Church or Low Church Anglican is that an Anglo Catholic will almost certainly believe in the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist, although unfortunately many rely on what I consider to be the erroneous model of Transubstantiation or the erroneous model of the Lutherans (which some call Consubstantiation, but Martin Luther and every Lutheran since has rejected that term), whereas a High Churchman may or may not believe this, and a Low Churchman almost certainly rejects this view, and some even believe in Eucharistic theologies Anglicanism rejects.

    I think the tolerance in contemporary Anglicanism between Anglo Catholics and Low Churchmen (something which originated in the 18th century under the Latitudinarians) is very important, particularly among traditional Anglicans, because as I see it, the Calvinist model which @Stalwart professes could be correct, although in my opinion the preponderance of Patristic evidence suggests otherwise. But the essential idea I think is to believe in the reverent celebration of Holy Communion, and the importance of the frequent reception of this sacrament as well as seeking to prepare for communion, remembering the warning in 1 Corinthians 11:27-34

    I would note some BCP editions, most notably including the 1552 and 1662 English BCPs, the 1912 Scottish BCP (but not the 1849 and 1929 Scottish BCPs) and the 1666 and 1926 Irish BCPs, and most notably excluding the 1549, 1560, and 1604 English BCPs as well as the 1928 Deposited book, as well as all the Protestant Episcopal/ECUSA BCP editions (1789, 1892, 1928, 1979), the 1938 Melanesian BCP, the 1954 South African BCP, the 1960 Ghanaian BCP, the 1895 Mexican BCP, and the 1962 Canadian BCP, have something called the Black Rubric intended to rule out a belief in the physical presence of our Lord in the Eucharist.

    I would also note every liturgical reform in the Anglican Communion until the liberals took over around 1970 and spoiled everything, was a movement towards a Eucharist which was more “Anglo Catholic.” But in all fairness to my friend @Stalwart, that does not mean this trend was correct (although I think it was).

    Also, during his Episcopate, the first Antiochian Orthodox bishop in the United States, St. Rafael Hawaheeny of Brooklyn, directed his flock of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants, who certainly believed that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist, but not according to the transubstantiation or Lutheran models described above, but instead regarding the Real Presence as a sacred mystery, to use Episcopalian churches and receive communion in them if there was not an Eastern Orthodox parish in the area. He also pursued active merger talks with the Episcopalians, while his superior St. Tikhon of Moscow conducted a detailed study of the BCP to determine if it could be used in Orthodox worship* (who later became the first Moscow Patriarch since Patriarch Nikon in the 17th century, and then was later arrested and died from mistreatment in a Soviet prison; the Antiochian Orthodox in America prior to the attempted Soviet takeover of the Russian Orthodox Church by a heretical movement called the Living Church or Rennovationists around 1922, and the temporary breakup of the Russian Orthodox Church on Patriarch Tikhon’s orders, in that he ordered all Russian Orthodox parishes and bishops outside the USSR to ignore further instructions from Moscow and operate as a separate church, to which most complied; this led most notably to the formation of the Orthodox Church in America and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the former of which is somewhat liberal, and was declared autocephalous by the Moscow Patriarchate around 1970 in return for the autonomous Japanese Orthodox Church, which the Soviets presumably wanted for reasons of propaganda, but the Japanese church has rather been unwaveringly Orthodox; ROCOR remained suspicious of the Moscow Patriarchate after the breakup of the Soviet Union, but by 2007 its fears had been qualmed, and Metropolitan Laurus took ROCOR into full communion with Moscow, as an autonomous church nominally subordinate to the MP, but really, effectively independent. A few Russian Orthodox parishes in the Northeast did not obey Patriarch Tikhon, and some of these “Patriarchal Parishes” remain to this day; they have their own bishop and constitute a diocese).

    *The answer is yes, and the modifications Tikhon’s commitee suggested be made to the 1892 American BCP are surprisingly minimal, thus the Book of Common Prayer was adopted by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicarate as St. Andrew’s Prayer Book.
     
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  4. Oliver Sanderson

    Oliver Sanderson Member

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    Yes. My original question came after taking to a staunch RC who said that John 6 ‘proved’ Transubstantiation.
     
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  5. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think they themselves are confusing transubstantiation with the doctrine of the Real Presence. Transubstantiation has been used erroneously to refer to the latter for some time, so you will find Orthodox Christians, even of learning, describing the Orthodox view of transubstantiation, ignorant of the Thomistic-Islamic-Aristotelian meaning of the term.
     
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  6. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes we believe that too. Both the true real presence, and that a real change happens in the liturgy. Here is the quote from Thomas Cranmer from his Defence of the Catholic Doctrine of the Sacrament:

    Book II.xi--
    "... sacramentally, the divinity is poured into the bread and wine, the same bread and wine still remaining; like as the same divinity, by unity of person, was in the humanity of Christ, the same humanity still remaining with the divinity. And yet the bread is changed, not in shape, nor substance, but in nature, (as Cyrian truly saith,) not meaning that the natural substance of bread is clean gone, but that, by God's word, there is added thereto another higher property, nature, and condition, far passing the nature and condition of common bread ... so that now the said mystical bread is both a corporal food for the body, and a spiritual food for the soul"

    Book II.xiii--
    "... even so doth the substance of bread and wine remain in the Lord's Supper, and be naturally received and digested into the body, notwithstanding the sacramental mutation of the same into the body and blood of Christ. Which sacramental mutation declareth the supernatural, spiritual, and inexplicable eating and drinking, feeding and digesting, of the same body and bood of Christ"


    Here is where we part ways: you equate the following two propositions:
    In other words, for you, the only way that Jesus could be truly present, is physically. Any other kind of presence is less real. Would you agree that that's a correct characterization of your position?


    Ahem, there's no need for insults ;) There isn't a Calvinist bone in my body. I adhere to the patristic and Anglican doctrine of the Sacrament. I don't care about Calvin or anything he believed; if he happened to have adhered to some of the teachings of the Fathers, then it's no skin off my back, but there is no reason to bring him in as a reference for anything Anglican. You will never find him cited by Cranmer, Jewel, Taylor, or any of our great divines.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    In a sense the problem I have with the doctrine of transubstantiation is that ultimately it does not go far enough. It seems to be based on the premise that only physical is real, and I just don't think that is deep enough. My faith and my theology teach me that this is not true. I may be skin and bone, yet I am much more than skin and bone. Life is not simply birth copulation and death, it is also ecstasy and joy. In a sense I think that transubstantiation asks the wrong question and focuses our attention in the wrong direction.

    The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is not about what, but rather about who. Indeed the liturgy of the Holy Communion calls us to three great moment of encounter.
    • We stand and attend the reading of the Holy Gospel, as members of the crown surrounding Jesus, and we are called to listen not to the words of the lector but to the words of Jesus, as the spirit speaks them, not only in our ears, but in our minds and in our hearts.
    • We stand and exchange the greeting of peace, not because it is nice, nor because we need a stretch after the sermon, but to acknowledge the presence of Christ in each other as we fulfill our baptismal commision to shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father.
    • We lift up our hearts, and our heads as we sink to our knees to encounter Jesus in the bread and wine as he promised, and so being fed here in the sacrament we are being empowered to go forward in faith and recognise the encounter we have with Jesus beyond the liturgy.
    Christianity has never been a what question, it has always been and remains always a who question.

    Bread is blessed and broken
    Wine is blessed and poured
    Jesus anamnesis
    Christ, the Lord.​
     
  8. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Indeed so, and this is why I love Anglicanism.

    No, I would say that is a mischaracterization. Rather, it has to do with the fullness of presence. Our Lord assures us of His spiritual presence whenever two or three of us are gathered together in His name; the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we are surrounded by an impossobly large number of angels including our guardian angel (but people who claim to talk to their guardian amgel or interact with it are usually in a state of what we call Prelest, or spiritual delusion, and are either hallucinating or seeing a devil posing as their guardian angel), and God is omnipresent in general; the Hours of the Eastern Orthodox Divine Office begin as follows:

    “O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.”

    Thus in terms of spiritual presence, our Lord as I see it is already there. But as the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed tell us, Jesus Christ is perfectly human and perfectly divine; the Oriental Orthodox believe, after St. Cyril of Alexandria, that he has one theandric nature, and the Chalcedonians believe in a slightly more complex model where he has one hypostasis, and his humanity and divinity are united in a hypostatic union; the Church of the East, although often derided as Nestorian, does not use the deeply flawed Nestorian Christology, but rather something similiar to Chalcedon.

    The Patristic principle of communicatio idiomatum, revived by Lutheran theologians, specified that whatever we attribute to one nature, or in the OO model, to His humanity or divinity, we must also apply to the other nature, albeit qualified by the incarnation and the essential differences. So when we say the Son of Man died on the Cross, we can also say the Son of God, or God, died on the Cross, although to avoid confusion it can ne very helpful to phrase this as “God incarnate died on the Cross” and to avoid further confusion we can say that it is scripturally revealed that God in His divinity or His divine essence or nature, is unchanging, and thus cannot die, except by putting on a corruptible human nature, and indeed in so doing God enabled us to be raised incorruptible at the eschaton.

    So in like manner, I feel compelled by communicatio idiomatum and the Patristic texts I have read to believe that the risen Christ is present in the Eucharist, in a physical sense, and that it is correct to call the bread and wine the Body and Blood of our Lord in absolute terms, and that by partaking of him, we are both partaking of His divine nature and also of His risen humanity, a rational and bloodless sacrifice, as the ancient divine liturgies say, starting with the Alexandrian Rite liturgy or family of liturgies commonly referred to as the Divine Liturgy of St. Mark (except in the Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox texts, where it is known as the Divine Liturgy of St. Cyril because St. Cyril of Alexandria ordered it translated into Coptic, in addition to fighting off Nestorius, and the anaphora of this liturgy was later altered to fit the Antiochene order of worship and adopted by the Syriac Orthodox (who indeed have a version of nearly every ancient anaphora and numerous ones composed within the church; the total number of Eucharistic prayers is around 80, although of those, only 15 that I am aware of have been translated into English, only four are in common use in the US (because only four exist in Syriac, vernacular Arabic and English, apparently); also there is an unrelated Syriac Orthodox Anaphora of St. Mark which I believe takes its name from the Syriac Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem that occupies the house or the site of the house of St. Mark, and has a church where the Cenacle was located*),

    I have a problem also with the so-called Black Rubric in some BCP editions because aside from specifying what we cannot know for certain, it also constrains God’s omnipotence by saying the body of the Risen Christ can only be in one place at a time. But this seems contrary to divine omnipotence; if He wills it, His body could be everywhere simultaneously, just as his Spirit is omnipresent, and also, since God exists outside of the constraints of time, having created time (we have to assert this or else time would be God, and God a demiurge, and we would be stuck with the same weak theology of the Mormons, and also, Genesis 1 and John 1:1-17 indicates that God, through the Logos, our Christ, created time), even if one asserts, on pure speculation, that our Lord for whatever reason is, in His risen flesh, subject to the same kind of spacial restraint as corrupted humans of our age, bilocation or polylocation would still be possible owing to the scriptural fact of God’s freedom from temporal restraint (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8), and we see this illustrated with our Lord’s very active movement between locations post-resurrection. I think it reasonable to conclude that risen and glorified man, being “like the angels,” will not be spatially or temporally confined.

    There are also numerous reports of holy hierarchs, monastics and martyrs among the saints appearing, while still among the living, in multiple places, and also appearing after their death, which I would propose in many cases occurred before their actual demise, and would be through special divine grace so they could assist the faithful. The most recent saint believed to have engaged in bilocation before his repose is St. John Maximovitch, and St. Nectarios of Pentapolis, who reposed 99 years ago, but who in 2009 appeared in a Romanian village that had been without a priest for many years and had a huge backlog of pastoral care, including unbaptized children, couples awaiting marriage, bereaved relatives awaiting funerals, and also the people not having had the Eucharist in years. And these incidents, although remarkable and likely to provoke incredulity, do pass the Scriptural test of “test any spirit”, in that St. John and St. Nektarios were both bishops, and the specific miracles in question were associated with pastoral care for their flocks, and the service of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


    I do profusely apologize for the misidentification. Actually, it is remarkable to consider that the basis of our faith is precisely the same; we have either read different Patristic texts or are interpreting them differently.

    Where we obviously differ is in the Anglican Divines we most closely respect. I have to confess my favorite Anglican divines are Archbishop Laud, Lancelot Andrewes, and the other Caroline Divines, Rev. John Wesley, Rev. Percy Dearmer, Dom Gregory Dix, and most importantly, Edward Pusey, who is really the architect of Anglo-Catholicism in its most splendid form, which still survives in the Church of England, in the Society and Forward in Faith, and parishes like St. Magnus the Martyr, and also in the US, primarily in continuing Anglican parishes, and in some Anglican provinces in the former Empire, for example, the Church of Ghana and the Province of Melanesia.

    But Anglo Catholicism has been under extreme threat from “liberal Catholics”, who try to take it over, because they are basically people attracted to liturgical worship but who do not wish to comply with the strict moral code of traditional Anglicanism, or Roman Catholicism, or the Orthodox churches, and basically are trying to turn the Anglican church into a grotesque parody of the Roman and Orthodox churches, with female priests, syncretic worship and so on. I maintain however that Dom Gregory Dix was not of this party, and also while Rev. Percy Dearmer is called a “liberal Catholic”, the term had an entirely different meaning during his lifetime, and was chiefly associated with Anglo Catholic priests who worked to assist the desparately poor, outperforming even the Salvation Army, and at the same time for several years facing arrests and prosecution for wearing chasubles, something which outraged the British public. Actually, when we look at the very rapid growth of the Roman Catholic Church in England in the 19th and early 20th century, I think Anglo Catholics played a key role in preventing England from reverting to Catholicism.

    At present, I consider the two greatest threats to Anglicanism to be the modern day Liberal Catholic movement, which finds its ultimate expression in the heretical worship of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church**, and aliturgical evangelical contemporary worship, which discards the Book of Common Prayer, traditional Anglican theology whether low church, high church, broad church/latitudinarian/via media, or Anglo Catholic, and the exquisite musical heritage of the Anglican Communion, in favor of services indistinguishable from the praise and worship rock band-led services one finds at any non-denominational evangelical church or megachurch. And the center of that movement was Holy Trinity Brompton, but they at least have made a partial concession to tradition by providing a traditional worship service at a nearby parish (St. Anne’s, I think), which was joined to theirs.

    I should stress that I do not object to traditional low church Anglicanism following the BCP. For me, I welcome equally an Anglo Catholic male priest who is married to a woman or celibate, wearing a cope or a chasuble with a biretta, a High Church priest in a cassock, surplice, (or alb), with a Canterbury cap, and a stole in the appropriate liturgical color, or a low church Priest wearing a cassock, surplice, academic hood, and black or red tippet (interestingly, the stoles used by readers in the Coptic Church are generally reversable, but they are either red, used most of the time, or black or dark blue, used during Holy Week from Holy Monday until midway through Easter Even, so they are directly akin to the tippet, which I particularly love). Actually low church BCP parishes right now strike me as doing a slightly better job preserving the Divine Office, mainly because of their use of Mattins as the main Sunday service. I would be especially happy with a low or broad church parish which had an early morning said service of Holy Communion, followed by the Litany, and choral Morning prayer with both the canticles and appointed psalms, and the traditional chorales (congregational hymns by Luther, Wesley and so on, accompanied by a glorious organ). And of course, choral evensong during the week.

    I should also reiterate @Stalwart that I do not object to your Eucharistic theology, and concede it may even be right. My problem is that I am influenced heavily by being raised in a half Lutheran, half Methodist family and being taught in my LCMS elementary school, and always appreciating, Martin Luther’s literal interpretation of the Institution Narrative, and my experience as an Orthodox Christian, and my reading of the Fathers which led me to a slightly different conclusion than you did.

    But, just as we discovered we were of basically the same opinion regarding iconography, I suspect that if we take a closer look at it, we might discover our Eucharistic theology is extremely close; I am inclined to suspect it is, because of the Cranmer quote you supplied, your revulsion at my accidental misidentification of you as a Calvinist, and the fact you appear to be reliant on largely the same Patristic sources and liturgical texts I rely upon. Indeed, I think the sole difference between our view of the Eucharist is that you view the Real Presence as being spiritual or pneumatic owing to the spiritual essence of the Divine Nature, whereas I believe that in a mysterious way there is a physicality to the Eucharist. I would like to explore this with you in greater detail, and propose I post a separate thread in which I will state a series of questions and propositions to see if you agree with them, and vice versa, and we can do this until we reach a true understanding of each other’s position. And I believe we can learn from each other as well; I would benefit from your more comprehensive knowledge of the early Anglican divines, and I think you could find some of my Patristic and liturgical knowledge useful, as we both have a common goal, which is the defense of traditional Anglicanism against heresy.

    I believe the only issues where we are likely to have a substantial difference of opinion concern my admiration for Dom Gregory Dix and Edward Pusey, and also possibly the question of the holiness of the prayer books (I view the prayerbook as an anthology of individual prayers, and that the holiness of each edition of the BCP is derived from the prayers contained therein, so new editions of the BCP can be evaluated in holiness based on their content, whereas your approach, correct me if I am wrong, is that holiness attaches to each BCP edition in an integral manner, so the 1918 Canadian BCP, for example, despite being nearly identical to the 1662 BCP, could never be as holy owing to the fact that far fewer people have relied on it, and furthermore, you evaluate the holiness of a liturgical text based on how many people have used and benefitted from it, whereas I take into account several other factors).

    But as I see it, these differences are not an obstacle to our fellowship and friendship; rather, they make our relationship more interesting. I am the sysadmin on an Orthodox forum and it can be kind of boring, because we seldom have anyone of a similiar form of Christianity with a slightly different approach appear to interact with us who is respectful and not trying to proselytize us or attack us. Right now we have one very lovely man, a Calvinist Baptist pastor from Southwest England, who I love talking to, because there exists a mutual respect, but his theology is far more removed from mine, and I have to confess I find Calvinist Baptist theology a bit dull, and I also cannot accept it as valid, whereas in your case, you present an alternative theology to mine which I do regard as valid even though I do not share it. So I just absolutely love interacting with you @Stalwart. :handshake:

    And now, for the footnotes which are becoming a hallmark of my longer posts:

    * I am convinced that the site the Crusaders identified as the Cenacle, and which the Catholics, Jews and Muslims are engaged in a three way struggle for, is in fact, as the Jews claim, the Tomb of King David. The Syriac Monastery of St. Mark dates to the fifth or sixth century, and I believe was in use as a church before that, and it is an unassuming buiding in a relatively quiet area, which befits the status of St. Mark the Evangelist as an upper middle class Hellenic Jewish gentleman, who, according to tradition, was not among the Twelve but was a follower and hearer, and later transcribed his Gospel largely from the recollections of St. Peter and founded the Church in Alexandria, and who afforded our Lord and his disciples the use of the Upper Room in his house, which makes sense given the lack of much property on the part of the twelve. And I do not believe God would allow the place where the Last Supper and Pentecost happened, to end up in heathen hands, which is what happened with the other alleged Cenacle after Saladin reconquered Jerusalem from the Crusaders.

    ** They doubtless chose this name because there is an urban legend that St. Gregory of Nyssa was a Universalist. In fact, he argued for apokatasis, the view that in the end God will save everyone and restore all things, but some people, and especially the devil, will wind up spending a great amount of time in agonizing Hellfire.

    Ultimately, we enjoy the last laugh on this point however, because St. Gregory of Nyssa is one of only a handful of Church Fathers to issue a canon in his diocese that was a blanket condemnation of all homosexual practices; not that the other Fathers supporter homosexuality, they did not, but rather the view seems to have been that the Torah and the Pauline epistles, and our Lord’s condemnation of lascivious conduct, were sufficient, so homosexuality is primarily treated on in manuals for confessors, such as that issued by St. John the Faster around 600 AD, wherein it was punished with very severe penances. But I suppose St. Gregory had a problem with homosexuality in his diocese, and this compelled him to write a blanket canon condemning all homosexual acts. We have to remember that among the Hellenic Pagans, homosexuality and pederasty were rampant, and as this population converted in droves to Christianity, they dountless continued to be tempted severely by their former sinful ways, and many may have looked for loopholes or excuses to continue their perverse behavior.

    I should hope this footnote might be of some particular assistance to you @Stalwart.
     
  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    While we are assured of the Lord's spiritual presence in our midst, that is an altogether different thing from eating his spiritual body. When we say that the Lord is spiritually present in the Sacrament, we mean that our souls consume, and are nourished by, his body, which can in no way be comparable to him merely being near or around us.

    Thus spiritual presence can be fully satisfying, and an altogether different experience from mere prayer (of 2-3 gathered together); without requiring a physical presence.

    Okay, so would you say then that physical is more fully a presence than the spiritual? That God is lacking something, when he does not have a physical body? Is he not really and truly present if he is "only" a spirit?

    My problem with that list is that it's heavily slanted toward the unstable theologians of the 19th century, an era when it is widely acknowledged that Anglican orthodoxy began to fray. And in the 20th century it fell apart altogether. I would embrace Laud and Andrewes with you, but they, firmly orthodox Anglicans, would side with me on all these points.

    There was no Anglican debate on doctrine, and there were no doctrinal differences among Anglican divines.

    There is almost nothing in common between Dom Gregory Dix, for instance, and Lancelot Andrewes who affirmed the justification by faith (indeed wrote one of the foundational treatises on it). Dix was in favor of abolishing the 1662 liturgy, while Archbishop Laud literally died for it.

    I'm more than happy to have a debate about that, but the reality is that mostly this is a debate about reverence rather than the finer points of omnipresence. The common objection from RCs is about the Anglican doctrine of the Sacrament being less reverent. But even if we posit that Christ's natural body can only be in one place, that does not lead to a less reverent doctrine of the Sacrament than anything from the Romans or the Orthodox or the Lutherans.

    However, although it is not less reverent, it does have the advantage of avoiding impiety of physical presence, namely that we don't have to worry about mice eating Christ's body, or flushing His Body down the toilet in the evening. Purely on practical terms, we have all the advantages, with none of the disadvantages.


    Thanks, and likewise :)



    Agreed, on all those points!
     
  10. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We are clearly on the same page regarding the benefits of the Eucharist, as food indeed, and drink indeed, and differ only on the nature of what it is.

    Certainly not.

    Rather, what I saying is that since Jesus Christ in His incarnation became hypostatically (according to Chalcedon) or naturally (according to St. Cyril, St. Severus and the Oriental churches) united with humanity, in the specific case of the person of Jesus Christ, unlike the unincarnate Father and Holy Spirit, His human nature is not separated from His divine nature, except in Nestorianism. (Note that I am not calling you a Nestorian, because there is a Chalcedon-compatible approach to your Euchology).

    Rather, in the specific case of our Lord, I believe his human nature is required to be involved in the Eucharist owing to the principle of communicatio idiomatum.


    Indeed so, but I don’t expect you to like my choice of Anglican divines, I am merely wishing to advise you of it in the interests of honesty. I


    I'm more than happy to have a debate about that, but the reality is that mostly this is a debate about reverence rather than the finer points of omnipresence. The common objection from RCs is about the Anglican doctrine of the Sacrament being less reverent. But even if we posit that Christ's natural body can only be in one place, that does not lead to a less reverent doctrine of the Sacrament than anything from the Romans or the Orthodox or the Lutherans.

    [/quote]

    Reverence is not my concern, because piety would require bread and wine in which Christ was spiritually present to be handled with the same reverence as if He is physically present, and as Rev. Percy Dearmer illustrates, historically Anglican priests did that. For example, the rubric that the priest shall retain any unconsumed bread and wine for his own use is effectively an authorization for the Ablutions.

    I disagree here entirely. Even if you are correct that our Lord is only spiritually present, it is imperative that the body and blood be handled with the most precise reverence.

    I should also note that it is a common belief held by many, myself included, that in the mystery of the sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of our Lord is not digested normally. My own personal experience would bear this out, but I believe it should not ne discussed publically, although I am willing to PM with you about it. I should add that this anomalous ingestion I believe occurs based on the empircal experience of faith that I have had, and so even if you are right that our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist is spiritual, what we are eating is still the Body of Christ and not ordinary bread, and is thus blessed by the Holy Spirit and has a profound effect on our wellbeing, positive or negative (1 Corinthians 11), for as indicated in verses 27-34 of that chapter, it can kill if people partake unworthily, failing to discern the Body of Christ. Whereas unconsecrated bread can kill only if contaminated or given to someone with that peculiar allergy to gluten (the name of which escapes me).
     
  11. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they certainly will say that. Moreover, they will point to John 6:53 -- Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. I submit that anyone who believes Jesus was talking about Eucharist in the John 6 dialogue is logically led to believe that He spoke literally of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (by literally, I mean His literal physical flesh and blood; and moreover, that person is logically led to believe that Jesus was speaking literally in verse 53, i.e., that partaking of Eucharist is absolutely essential for salvation and eternal life. Therein lies the crux of the problem because, as we all know full well, no work or deed can merit eternal life, but many a Roman Catholic mistakenly thinks and believes that the physical act of eating Deity is his source of salvation. (A corollary of this view is the inevitable elevation of the priest in the layperson's esteem, since only the RC priest can (in their belief) act as the mediator through whom Jesus will act to effect the transubstantiational change, which in turn provides the possibility of eternal life.)

    I cannot and will not speak for 'the Protestant view' on John 6, but I will present my view. It has been my observation and experience that some Christians or Christian denominations will build a doctrine, based upon several scriptures which have similarities in language but which do not belong together. For example, the prosperity teachers will string together 3 John 1:2, Luke 6:38, and a few others to support their prosperity doctrine. In the present instance, I believe that the Last Supper and John 6 have been mistakenly conflated due to similarities in language. I don't think Jesus was referring in any way, shape or form to the Last Supper or to Eucharist during that dialogue.

    Let's recall some facts. The Last Supper was still in the future; it had not taken place when this conversation occurred. And it was a dialogue which took place in the heat of the moment and without premeditation, rather than a well-thought-out discourse.

    Please take the time to read through John 6, the entire chapter. Then read my comments as follows. Then, read John 6 again in light of what I'm going to say. We must get the context and the flow of events, to understand the meaning and intentions of Jesus.

    1. Jesus feeds 5,000 men with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. The people think this is great and want to make Him king.
    2. Jesus leaves them so they can't make Him king then and there. He and His disciples cross the lake.
    3. Many of that crowd follow after him, looking for more free food.
    4. Jesus says they're looking for Him because they think He'll provide lots of free food, but they should be looking for Him because He will provide eternal life.
    5. When they ask what they have to do to receive from God, Jesus replies, "believe" in Him. (Note: we will see Jesus repeat this essential truth several times throughout the discourse.)
    6. They continue to prod for food. Moses gave manna, so they think Jesus should give manna also.
    7. Jesus explains that manna was a prophetic foreshadowing of Messiah, and He explains it by saying that He is the true bread from heaven. (Obviously this is metaphorical, because Jesus is not baked bread in a literal sense.)
    8. V. 39-40, He reiterates the foundational truth that those who believe in Him will have eternal life.
    9. The people speak doubt and unbelief. They think Jesus is just a local boy; they knew His parents and saw Him grow up.
    10. Jesus repeats the "believe" message and goes deeper into metaphorical language, saying He is living bread from heaven and eating this bread will result in eternal life and this bread from heaven is His mortal body which He will surrender up for them.
    11. The Jews don't understand. They think He is talking about literally feeding them His flesh. They are so confused, they're getting irate and balking.
    12. Jesus doesn't let up; He knows that they don't understand, but many times in the past He has purposely spoken in parables and metaphors which most would not understand. So in V. 53-58 He continues to befuddle them. Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
    13. Even His own disciples are confused by this outrageous language. They know that eating human flesh is wrong. They know that drinking any blood, let alone human blood, is expressly forbidden by God. They can't figure out what Jesus means by all of this.
    14. Jesus explains: Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. In other words, eating flesh and drinking blood (even that of Jesus) in a literal, physical sense would be wholly unprofitable. But Jesus wasn't speaking in literal terms. He tells them He was speaking about something spiritual.

    Indeed, it is the Spirit which gives life. Christ is received by faith, by believing in Him as Redeemer and Lord. Once we are Christians, we continue to "feed on Him in our hearts by faith"... in Eucharist, yes, but not just when we receive Eucharist, for in a way we also feed on Christ when we pray, when we praise Him, and when we read our Bibles.

    Now, having gone through the main points of this dialogue, can you see that Jesus was not speaking of a literal physical ingestion of literal physical flesh and blood? What was He really talking about? Jesus was explaining that He was the antitype of the miraculous manna from heaven, that faith in Him would nourish forever as opposed to filling the belly for a brief time, and that His body given upon the Cross would be the means by which He soon would provide for them. Nowhere did He say in this dialogue that He would change bread into His body. In fact, if we were to take a literal (non-metaphorical) reading of His words, we should conclude that He was making His flesh into bread... not the other way around (as the Romans would have it).

    This is why I think that the John 6 dialogue had nothing whatsoever to do with Eucharist. But because we see phrases like "eat my flesh and drink my blood," many Christians who have the benefit of reading the Last Supper account concurrently with John 6 tend to commingle and lump together the two disparate situations. This has led to such an error as that of the Roman church, such that, in the minds of many of their laity, inordinate salvific benefit is ascribed to the ingestion of our God. (For example, I have been told by some Roman Catholics that I cannot go to heaven for the simple reason that I do not receive their Eucharist... the literal complete body, blood, complete soul, full spirit, and full divinity of Christ; and they tell me that Jesus' words in John 6:53 prove their claim.)

    What was Jesus' real message in John 6? It was the same message we see throughout John's Gospel: believe in Jesus. Jesus repeated this several times in the dialogue!
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  12. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    That seems an assertion based on some non-sacramental reformed scholars. I think it was Bultman who said if you remove the sacraments from 4G then there are no sacraments in the Fourth Gospel. I don't feel that is an inspired way to read the Gospel of John. John 6 is a challenge because there is no institution narrative in John, but we have the Bread of Life discourse, and there is no resurrection of Lazarus, but we have the Transfiguration account.

    For most of the life of the Church there has been a very clear mind that the John 6 narrative has some strong eucharistic overtones. I have no desire to lay the narrative in a narrow confine, but to suggest that it has nothing to do with the Eucharist is to my mind a step to far. John, generally thought to be the latest of the Gospels, reflects an understanding of the Gospel with a deep theological resonance that is less developed in the Synoptics, and especially say Mark. As we know that the life of the early church saw the eucharist as central to their gathering and identity it would be astounding if the narrative on John 6 did not have something to do with the Eucharist.

    The point being, to refer to my earlier post, it is not a what question, it is a who question. And the answer to the who question is Jesus.
     
  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't that compel you to believe that one must eat and drink Jesus' body and blood for salvation? Where does that leave all the memorialists, since they only eat and drink emblems that have not been properly consecrated?
     
  14. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    No, I don't think it does in the sense that your suggest. God is prisoner of neither book, nor tabernacle, nor institution, and whilst all three are of great worth, all three and great vehicles of the ongoing revelation of God in the world, none of them may be perceived as constraining or containing God in the fullest sense. Indeed it is our encounter of God in these places that allows us to recognise God elsewhere, in the face of the sick and suffering, the poor and our neighbour.

    I think this passage from Paul warns against taking too light a view of the blessed sacrament.

    The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
    For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    Partaking of the Supper Unworthily
    Whoever, therefore, 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. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

    So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.

    1 Corinthians 11:23-34

    I believe this to be well reflected in the exhortations in the Supper of the Lord 1661/2
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Please don't misunderstand me, for I am not advocating 'taking a light view' of the sacrament. I am merely suggesting that the John 6 passage was not meant by Jesus to be applicable to the Sacrament.

    My question, "Doesn't that compel you to believe that one must eat and drink Jesus' body and blood for salvation?" is directly linked to Jesus' words in John 6:53. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. I am asking whether you think Jesus literally meant that we do not and will not have eternal life if we do not receive properly consecrated Eucharist? This would be a literal reading of the verse, whereas a figurative reading would take Jesus' words to mean: unless we receive Christ into ourselves by believing in Him, we have no life in us.

    My point is this: you already have expressed your feeling that the John 6 references to eating are to be taken literally. If Jesus was speaking about Eucharist (prophetically, perhaps?) then His words are to be taken as an instruction to literally partake Him with the mouth. But this means Jesus' words in verse 53 can hardly be set aside as non-literal, and therefore the oral impartation is essential to salvation/eternal life. And the logical extension is that all Christians who practice mere memorialist communion and who have no priestly consecration of the elements are, by Jesus' own words, people who "have no life" in them.

    You can say that "God is not a prisoner of a book," but that begs the question, for these are not just "some words in a book" but they are the words of Jesus Himself! And God is not a liar. So we should discern His intent. Jesus often spoke metaphorically, figuratively, or in parables. Couldn't this be one of those times?

    If Jesus was speaking figuratively in verse 53, then it makes perfect sense to view verses 51 and 52 as figurative also, does it not?

    Without John 6, the sacrament still stands Biblically upon the strength of the Last Supper discourse and the teaching of Paul to the Corinthians. I am not suggesting any departure from doctrine, but only a reevaluation of how John 6 is understood.
     
  16. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    It would be rare for me to be so obtuse. I think the real point I have made is that we should not focus on a mechanistic view of the Eucharist that requires the right words and the right authority and the ... to work as if it were an incantation. Indeed I spoke of the Eucharist as an encounter with Jesus, and indeed within the rite three moments of encounter, all different, all the same, and all recognising the real presence of Jesus.

    My view here as I expressed before was that I would be surprised if the author of 4G did not have some eucharistic sense when he wrote these words. We know that the practice of the early church was to gather for the breaking of the bread, it was a central part of the life of the Church from earliest of days. In no way have I suggested that this is the only understanding to be taken here, but rather than be an either or, I can let the text speak. I think the writer of 4G is telling the reader that it is important for us not to cut ourselves off from the sacramental life of the Church.

    In the main I try not to exegete the existence out of particular verses, a practice I have observed often descends into legalism. The scriptures were written to be heard. Most early Christians primary experience of scripture was by hearing. Some time back I had a cassette set of the NT, which let you listen to a whole gospel in one hearing. I found it profoundly helpful, and got a sense of the gospels that I would never have had from labouring through the text verse by verse. I really recommend it to anyone, no as the only way to approach scripture but as one that calls us to open our ears.

    I won't be tedious about this, however the account of the penitent thief on the cross may be enlightening.

    I do say that God is not prisoner of the book. The bread of life discourse is unique Johannine material. The Synoptics all have an account of the Institution. There is no institution narrative in John. I have never said that these are some words in a book and certainly the author of 4G attributes them to Jesus, though my presumption would be that Jesus spoke in Aramaic for the most part. I am not calling into question the truth of scripture, nor am I calling into question the veracity of God.

    Truth is a complex matter, and I am inclined to a philosophically pragmatist approach, which is to say that for the moment absolute truth is beyond our reach in this age. For the moment what we have is the best answer we have for now based on the evidence before us. On this I think I am friends with Paul for now we see in a mirror dimly, then face to face.

    Let me be very clear, I do not rule out understanding the passage figuratively, but neither would I rule out understanding the passage sacramentally.

    John Donne's words, often attributed to Elizabeth 1, are often helpful in this area 'His was the word that spake it, and what his word doth make it I do believe and take it'
     
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  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Interestingly, my pastor quoted that very same thing from Donne last Sunday during the between-services class. It's an excellent thought.