Sample clip of my debate with an
atheist on the issue of morality.
Find the whole debate at this link
Roman Catholic Doctrine of the Eucharist, part 1—Introduction
How Real is the Real Presence?:
The subject of the lecture was The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the speaker was an ex-Protestant pastor of some three decades who is now Roman Catholic. Now that sounded interesting, I just had to attend! My conclusion, and advice, is that the best way to become thoroughly convinced that transubstantiation is not true is to have someone try to convince you that it is true.
The lecturer explained that transubstantiation means that the substance transforms, but that if you examine the bread and wine, if you touch it or taste it, it is still bread and wine. If there is a literal transformation (trans…) of the substance (…substantiation) this must mean that the substance, which is matter (bread and wine) transforms, it changes. The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary states,
Transubstantiation, i.e., through the transformation of the entire bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ although the original appearance remains.1
The problem being that at the same time that we are being taught that the actual matter changes we also have to be taught something that ends up equaling a metaphor or symbolism. The change to the matter is no change at all. Vatican Council II stated that Jesus “begins to be present sacramentally as the spiritual food of the faithful under the appearance of bread and wine.”2
Therefore, while Catholic teachings states that the body and blood are literal, they obviously have to bow down to reason and science at some point because no amount of reasonable or scientific scrutiny can prove that bread and wine have literally changed in to flesh and blood. Catholicism must admit that the literal body and blood are hidden and appear as bread and wine, but can this be labeled literal? If it smells like bread and wine, if it looks like bread and wine and if it tastes like bread and wine then it is bread and wine. Lack of evidence is not evidence.
Jesus turned water into wine and the guests at the wedding did not say, “Why are you serving us water?” and Jesus did not respond “It looks like water and tastes like water, but it is wine under the appearance of water.” Rather, the guests considered that wine to be the finest served that night (see John 2:1-10).
It is important to point out that in the earliest days of Christianity allegations were made which stated that Christians were cannibals because they claimed to be consuming flesh and blood. Our Christian ancestors explained that they were not practicing cannibalism because they were not literally consuming flesh and blood; it was symbolic.
This is interesting to consider for two reasons. One, it demonstrates historical context, the earliest understanding of what the Eucharist is. Two, the Roman Catholic Church claims its traditions to be authoritative due to them being the original teachings of the Apostles. However, this becomes null and void when it comes to teachings that counter their current practices such as the historical context in this case.
A Catholic apologetics magazine explains two basic doctrines regarding the Eucharist:
What is the difference between ‘consubstantiation’ and ‘transubstantiation?’
In brief, the doctrine of ‘consubstantiation’ holds that the bread and wine are transformed during the Lord’s Supper in such a manner that the substance of Christ co-exists ‘in, with and under’ the substance of bread and wine. Transubstantiation, on the other hand, holds that after the consecration by the priest, the substance of bread and wine cease to exist and only the substance of Christ remains under the appearance of bread and wine.
Although the two doctrines are in some respects similar, the implications are drastically different. To take one as an example, the doctrine of ‘consubstantiation’ would not permit a Christian to worship the host after consecration because it is BOTH the uncreated God and created bread and wine. This is not the case with transubstantiation since the Eucharist is really God under the appearance of created objects.3
The usual and simple argument for transubstantiation is to say that Jesus said that His body is the bread and His blood is the wine. Deacon Juan Barajas wrote (in somewhat broken English), “What part of ‘the bread I will give you is my flesh…’ (Jn. 6:51) we do not understand in order to reject the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?4
If we are to take such an un-contextual approach to Jesus referring to bread as His flesh then what is to be done about all believer who are also called bread? “For we, though many, are one breadand one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1st Corinthians 10:17).
Moreover, we must also consider the many things that Jesus said He was, and the many things He is called in the Bible, namely: Word, Lamb, Lion, Vine, Rock, Door, Light, Root, Morning Star, Bread, Wine, fruit of the vine.5
Is there a problem with having different ideas concerning the Eucharist? Aren’t all Christians communing with God through the Eucharist regardless of our particular understanding of it? Before putting myself to the study of this issue I thought that there was no problem, it was just a matter of interpretation, mere semantics. After all, whether the Lord is actually present or symbolically represented seems to be a non-essential issue. However, there is a lot to be said about why transubstantiation is a very important doctrine in Roman Catholicism. Moreover, there is a big problem with believing that the Lord is actually present as the bread and wine. It is not just because we cannot accept that He could be actually present but rather, because of why it is believed that He is present, because of what His actual presence means according to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
Just because a concept is difficult to understand it does not mean that it is not true. The concept of the Eucharist is illogical and nonsensical but that is not enough to discredit it. It is a concept that is not supported by grammatical or historical context, which is a much more serious problem. There is a very good reason why a concept with various problems is still accepted; it is utilized as a tool due to the end result that it produces.
1. Albert J. Nevins, M.M., ed., The Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary (New York: Dimension Books, Grosset & Dunlap, 1965), p. 216. Nihil Obstat: Rt. Rev. Msgr. James T. Clarke, Censor Librorum 12-27-64. Imprimatur: Jerome D. Hannan, Bishop of Scranton 11-28-64
2. Austin Flannery, O.P., gen. ed., Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (New York: Costello Publishing Co., 1975), p. 103, quoting Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, section B:2, quoting Paul VI, Encyclical Letter, Mysterium Fidel: AAS 57 (1965), p. 762. Nihil Obstat: Rev. Francis X. Glimm, S.T.L., Censor Librorum 7-25-75. Imprimatur: +Walter P. Kellenberg, D.D., Bishop of Rockville Center 8-12-75
3. Thy Faith, Inc. “Questions and Answers,” Hands On Apologetics, A Magazine of Practical Apologetics and Evangelization for Today’s Catholics, Vol. 4, Num. 4, July/August 1998, p. 5
4. Deacon Juan Barajas, Office of Evangelization of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Bulletin Evangelization Messages” August 13, 2000.
5.Word: John 1:1, 14. Lamb: John 1:29, 35, Acts 8:32, 1st Corinthians 5:7, 1st Peter 1:19, Revelation 5:6, 8, 12, 13, 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 16, 7:9-10, 14, 17, 12:11, 13:8, 14:1, 4, 14:10, 15:3, 17:14, 19:7, 9, 21:9, 14, 21:22-23, 23:1, 3. Lion: Revelation 5:5. Vine: John 15:1, 5. Rock: Romans 9:33, 1st Corinthians 10:4, 1st Peter 2:8. Door: John 10:7, 9. Light: John 8:12, 9:5. Root: Romans 15:12; Revelation 5:5. Morning Star: Revelation 22:16. Bread: Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19, John 6:35, 41, 48, 50-51, 58, 1st Corinthians 10:16, 11:23, 26-28. Wine or fruit of the vine: Matthew 26:27, Mark 14:23, Luke 22:20, 1st Corinthians 11:25
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