Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

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Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Real Presence in the Fathers...Dr. White Still Can't Get it

Festival: St. Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria (d. 326AD) (from 1731 Lutheran Almanac)
Writing of St. Alexander: Epistles on Arianism and the Deposition of Arius
Old Testament: Job 30:16-31
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 9:1-23
Psalms: Morning - 5
Evening - 27; 51

My video responses to Dr. James White on St. Augustine not withstanding, it seems as though he is intent on ignoring what his Roman Catholic opponent William Albrecht is saying with regard to St. Ignatius of Antioch and his view of the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. I am pretty sure I have heard William mention that he is defending the Eucharist (meaning the Real Presence) with regard to the writings of St. Ignatius....and explicitly that he is NOT defending transubstantiation. Dr. White has, however, ignored when William has said this and explicitly mocks William in his "Dividing Line" (found here) by saying something along the lines of, "Ignatius believes as I do, that means he was Roman Catholic and accepted transubstantiation." Of course, such is utter nonsense.

Let us set the record straight. What were the Father's views on the Eucharist? Let us let the late and sainted Jaroslav Pelikan speak on the issue: "Yet it does seem 'express and clear' that no orthodox father of the second or third century of whom we have record either declared the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist to be no more than symbolic (although Clement and Origen came close to doing so) or specified a process of substantial change by which the presence was effected (although Ignatius and Justin came close to doing so). Within the limits of those excluded extremes was the doctrine of the REAL PRESENCE (emphasis mine). Fundamental to the doctrine was the liturgical recollection (anamnesis - transliteration from Greek) of Christ. It was, according to Justin Martyr, a 'recollection of [Christ's] being made flesh for the sake of those who believe in him' and of 'the suffering which he underwent' to deliver men from their sins and from the power of evil. But in the act of remembrance the worshipping congregation believed Christ himself to be present among them. That he was also present among them apart from the Eucharist, they affirmed on the basis of such promises as Matthew 18:20, which Clement of Alexandria applied to matrimony, an Matthew 28:20, which Origen cited against Celsus as proof that the presence of God and of Christ was not spatial. Yet the adoration of Christ in the Eucharist through the words and actions of the liturgy seems to have presupposed that this was a special presence, neither distinct from nor merely illustrative of his presence in the church. In some early Christian writers that presupposition was expressed in strikingly realisting language. Ignatius called the Eucharist 'the flesh of our savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins,' asserting the reality of Christ's presence in the Eucharist against the Docetists, who regarded his flesh as a phantasm both in the incarnation and in the Eucharist; Ignatius comined the realism of his eucharistic doctrine with a symbolic implication when he equated the 'bread of God' with 'the flesh of Jesus Christ,' but went on to equate 'his blood' with 'incorruptible love (emphasis mine).'" Jaroslav Pelikan, "The Christian Tradition Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), pp. 167-168.

It seems to me that to say that Ignatius was being symbolic in his view of the body and blood of Christ in his letter to the Romans is to miss the point in his letter to the Smyrnaeans where he is QUITE explicit: "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes (7:1)."

In fact it is interesting that Docetism is the order of the day where this quote comes up. Clearly Dr. White accepts the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Why then would a real physical presence be out of the ordinary? Oh wait...Jesus COULDN'T have possibly meant that the bread was literally His flesh and the wine literally His blood, because He was right there giving it to them. Of course...getting back to my rant against WOTMR on mysticism: if you think that the finite cannot contain the infinite you will ultimately fail to fully appreciate the incarnation, the Sacraments, and salvation in general. Everything becomes purely intellectual...Jesus is only figuratively God....the Sacraments are merely physical ordinances with no mystical tie to God.....Christianity pushes the 3rd use of the law over the Gospel.....did I miss the Gnostic memo here? Who's calling who "docetic?"

Well, Dr. White claimed that Roman Catholics are somewhat docetic for holding doctrines initially espoused by docetists....the one he brought up was the ever virginity of the Virgin Mary. Of course, the fact that early orthodox fathers held to that as well is inconsequential to this discussion...or the fact that most if not all of the Reformation fathers (even Calvin!) accepted it (as well as the title Mother of God - there's that pesky incarnational consistency thing again)....and even interpretations of Ezekiel 44:1-3 indicate that the Virgin had only one child. Of course, there's also the point that Christ gave the care of His mother (type of the church) to the Apostle St. John (type of the Apostolic teachings) which would have been unheard of if she had other children by Joseph....but hey, Jesus must have been a rebel!

All I can say is...thank God for the Eucharist and that taste of Heaven which it brings us!

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." - 1 Cor. 11:23-26 NIV

"Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands" - St. Augustine, Explanations of the Psalms 33:1:10.


Blogger Chris said...

I understand that the saint mentioned in the almanac may not be St. Alexander (in fact, it probably isn't)...but I figured I'd mention him today anyway since the LSB doesn't have a date for him...although I could probably check the day of his death (upon doing appears to be April 17th - so another date would have to be chosen if it interfered with major Lent days).

7:08 PM  

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