Part III - Summary of the Real Presence Among the Church Fathers

In discussing the Church Fathers there is of course the need to cite them. And originally I did so right about at this point of the essay you are reading. In doing a few revisions to the work, it seemed to make sense to relegate those citations to an appendix and treat on the Fathers at this point in a summary form before moving on to discuss the faulty presuppositions that Protestants who reject the Real Presence tend to operate from. For indeed Protestant Evangelicals (not to mention Reformed Protestants and Fundamentalists) are woefully in error when they speak of the way the early Church viewed the Eucharist.

In trying to mitigate the historical lacuna that is their view on the Eucharist, Protestant apologists (such as Dr. Norman Geisler) have committed the serious blunder of ascribing the Real Presence (as well as the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass) to being "established around the time of Pope Gregory the Great" (r. 590-604). What will be included in this essay (in the Appendix section) is a list of Patristic source quotes spanning 147-510 years before Pope Gregory was elected to the Apostolic See. These evidences should effectively shoot down the assertion made by Dr. Geisler - as well as any assertions of a similar variety which opine that the Fathers did not believe in a Real Presence that was realist in form from the earliest of times. Hopefully that compendium by including citations on the sacrifice of the Mass will also dispel to some extent the error made by Protestant apologists that the Mass is a "recrucifying" of Our Lord. The latter position is absurd on its face and (as will be noted later on) reveals a profound lack of understanding the Hebrew world-view among our Protestant brethren. However, at this time it seems expedient to provide a brief overview of the Fathers and their positions on these issues before delving into additional elements that further undermine the Evangelical/Reformed/Fundamentalist understandings of the Eucharist.

To start with the earliest of Patristic writings, the Didache, 1 Clement, and the Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch were written around 80, 95, and 110 AD respectively. This places them all within earshot of Apostolic times. The Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation are often thought to have been written in the last decade of the first century. If this is correct, it would place the Didache and 1 Clement arguably before the last books of Scripture were written. (Which is probably why some in the early Church thought they were inspired Scripture.) The Epistles of Ignatius were written within ten to fifteen years of the Evangelist's death. (Ignatius himself was a disciple of the Apostle John.) Irenaeus of Lyons was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John. (Polycarp was a younger contemporary of Ignatius.) Justin Martyr was born around the time of the Apostle Johnís death and martyred around the same time as Irenaeusí mentor Polycarp. (Both were martyred in the mid second century within ten years of one another.)

Moving into the late second-early third century, we have Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria who were contemporaries of Irenaeus and born approximately ten to twenty years respectively after him. Origen was the star pupil of Clement of Alexandria and Cyprian was heavily influenced by Tertullian. The point in relaying this information is that these men were all closer to Apostolic times then Americans are to the Revolutionary War time. Again, Ignatius, Clement of Rome, and  Polycarp were disciples of the Apostles. Irenaeus, Justin, Clement, and Tertullian would be second generation Fathers. Origen and Cyprian would be third generation Fathers. These are among the earliest witnesses we have to the Faith as it was handed down from the Apostles. Therefore, in areas where they all have a general agreement their witness is significant (along with the others that came after them. But before letting the Fathers speak on this subject, we need to address some very faulty Protestant pre-suppositions in relation to the Eucharist and the Mass and explain why they are so profoundly erroneous. To do this, we will start with the common canard of Protestants believing that at Mass we "recrucify Christ afresh" and follow it up with other anachronistic errors that Protestants commit when they attempt to understand the writings of the early Church (as well as the Bible) on these key points and (indirectly) countless other ones. Let us start with the topic of the Mass.

Part IV - Addressing Some Protestant Presuppositions

The Mass makes the Lordís Sacrifice of Calvary really present (anamnesis) before us on the altar at Mass from which the Body and Blood of the Lord is really partaken of in the form of a sacramentum by the priest and the faithful. This is what Catholics and the Eastern Churches believe happens at Mass and while the first reaction of Protestants is to claim that it is "unbiblical"; in reality it is far from the case as we will detail in the following section. Hopefully this will once again crystalize in the minds of all Christians the exhortation of the Apostle Peter of how the Scriptures are easily twisted by the unlearned and unstable to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:14-17). Protestants do this constantly and perhaps in no area is this maxim best illustrated then when it comes to the topics of the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist.

The renowned Protestant early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly in his book "Early Christian Doctrines" wrote the following about the understanding of the Eucharist in the early Church:

[T]he eucharist was regarded as the distinctively Christian sacrifice from the closing decade of the first century, if not earlier. Malachi's prediction (1:10-11) that the Lord would reject Jewish sacrifices and instead would have 'a pure offering' made to him by the Gentiles in every place was seized upon by Christians as a prophecy of the Eucharist. The Didache indeed actually applies he term thusia, or sacrifice, to the Eucharist was natural for early Christians to think of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. The fulfillment of prophecy demanded a solemn Christian offering, and the rite itself was wrapped up in the sacrificial atmosphere with which Our Lord invested the Last Supper.  The words of institution, 'Do this' (touto poieite), must have been charged with sacrificial overtones for second-century ears; Justin at any rate understood them to mean, 'Offer this.' . . . The bread and wine, moreover, are offered 'for a memorial (eis anamnasin) of the passion,' a phrase which in view of his identification of them with the Lord's body and blood implies much more than an act of purely spiritual recollection. [1]
Calvary is re-enacted at every Mass: the concept of which takes us outside of time before the Lord to whom Calvary is a constant occurrence (because the past, present, and future are simultaneous to Him). The concept is Jewish in origen and takes on the form of the Passover which the rabbis teach that every Jew must personally experience to be Jewish. This was relayed to the children of Israel in the book of Exodus:
Exodus 12:
3 Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. 4 But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. 5 and it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year: according to which rite also you shall take a kid 6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month: and the whole multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood thereof, and put it upon both the side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce. 9 You shall not eat thereof any thing raw, nor boiled in water, but only roasted at the fire: you shall eat the head with the feet and entrails thereof. 10 Neither shall there remain any thing of it until morning. If there be any thing left, you shall burn it with fireÖ
14 And this day shall be for a memorial to you: and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord in your generations with an everlasting observance. 15 Seven days shall you eat unleavened bread: in the first day there shall be no leaven in your houses: whosoever shall eat any thing leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall perish out of Israel. 16 The first day shall be holy and solemn, and the seventh day shall be kept with the like solemnity: you shall do no work in them, except those things that belong to eating. 17 And you shall observe the feast of the unleavened bread: for in this same day I will bring forth your army out of the land of Egypt, and you shall keep this day in your generations by a perpetual observanceÖ
21 And Moses called all the ancients of the children of Israel, and said to them: Go take a lamb by your families, and sacrifice the Phase. 22 And dip a bunch of hyssop in the blood that is at the door, and sprinkle the transom of the door therewith, and both door cheeks: let none of you go out of the door of his house till morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through striking the Egyptians: and when he shall see the blood on the transom, and on both the posts, he will pass over the door of the house, and not suffer the destroyer to come into your houses and to hurt you. 24 Thou shalt keep this thing as a law for thee and thy children for ever. 25 And when you have entered into the land which the Lord will give you as he hath promised, you shall observe these ceremonies. 26 And when your children shall say to you: What is the meaning of this service? 27 You shall say to them: It IS the passover sacrifice of the Lord, when he passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, striking the Egyptians, and saving our houses. And the people bowing themselves, adored. 28 And the children of Israel going forth did as the Lord had commanded Moses and AaronÖ
42 This is the observable night of the Lord, when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: This night all the children of Israel must observe in their generations. 43 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the service of the Phase: No foreigner shall eat of it. 44 But every bought servant shall be circumcised, and so shall eat. 45 The stranger and the hireling shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten, neither shall you carry forth of the flesh thereof out of the house, neither shall you break a bone thereof. 47 All the assembly of the children of Israel shall keep it. 48 And if any stranger be willing to dwell among you, and to keep the Phase of the Lord, all his males shall first be circumcised, and then shall he celebrate it according to the manner: and he shall be as he that is born in the land: but if any man be uncircumcised, he shall not eat thereof. 49 The same law shall be to him that is born in the land, and to the proselyte that sojourneth with you. 50 And all the children of Israel did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And the same day the Lord brought forth the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their companies. [2]
Like the Jews, the Church does not allow "foreigners" to partake of the Eucharist who have not been entered into the covenant. They must be "circumcised" in the spirit much as in the old covenant circumcision of the flesh was required. Also, notice the perpetual remembrance of the Passover as expounded in Exodus. The rabbis taught that this participation was no mere symbolism but a real partaking of the exodus experience from Egypt by all who underwent the Passover in every generation. Or to quote the Mishnah on the subject of the Passover Haggadah:
In every generation a person is duty-bound to regard himself as if he personally has gone forth from Egypt, since it is said, "And you shall tell your son in that day saying, It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt" (Ex. 13:8). Therefore we are duty-bound to thank, praise, glorify, honor, exalt, extol, and bless him who did for our forefathers and for us all these miracles. He brought us forth from slavery to freedom, anguish to joy, mourning to festival, darkness to great light, subjugation to redemption, so we should say before him, Hallelujah. [3]
The Hebrew understanding of time is not that it is a fixed point which recedes into the past but instead it is eternally present. This is how the Church understands the Mass which was first promulgated by Our Lord at the Last Supper in the context of the Passover remembrance. Our Lord made the command that all in the New Covenant were to partake in the covenant of Our Lordís blood offered in sacrifice at the Last Supper and shed for the remission of sins on Calvary. From the Sacrifice of the Mass flows the infinite merit of the Cross from which they are applied to people of every generation for all time until the Lord returns to judge the world. The Apostolic view is one that discards time barriers and views Calvary as God does. This is why the Mass is a true Sacrifice and is not a "recrucifying of Christ" as many Protestant apologists claim. As we will see, this is the witness of the Fathers and Protestants who seek to manufacture a consensus for an opposing view or claim that no consensus for this view exists in antiquity are only deceiving themselves.

There are many unbiblical and unfounded Protestant presuppositions concerning both the nature of the Mass and also how the doctrine of the Eucharist appears in the writings of the early Church. Having already addressed the erroneous and unbiblical "recrucifying of Christ" canard, I will now address the errors in how Protestants understand the Fathers in a moment. These errors in understanding are based on an unbiblical and un-Hebrew Protestant dichotomous mindset which was alien to the Jews, the early Church, and the Fathers. This error is Hellenistic in origin and is a corruption of the manner in which the Bible and Christianity are properly understood. This is why almost all Protestants grossly err in their understanding of the Sacrifice of the Mass. They fail to understand the Hebrew nature of Catholicism and how the Incarnational concept permeates our worldview. I intend to write on this subject eventually but understanding the Incarnational concept is the "key" to unlocking Catholicism in all of its teachings. (And the way our Eastern brethren understand their worship also which they do not call the Mass but instead "The Divine Liturgy" applies here as well.) The Apostolic concept is the same and is heavily suffused with Hebrew themes especially ones of the covenantal relationship between God and man. This relationship is universal (Gk. Katholikos) in scope. The same kind of defects impair the understanding of Protestants of the writings of the Church Fathers on numerous topics including the Eucharist.

The Fathers looked at the Eucharist in many ways. While primarily the Eucharist was seen in realist means (as a sacrifice and as the literal body and blood of Our Lord) some Fathers also entertained other means of viewing this mystery. Fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and even at times Augustine of Hippo were more allegorical in their approach and some Protestant apologists point to the symbolism used in the writings of these Fathers (and a few others) and claim that these Fathers did not take the realist view. However this is a serious error in anachronism because what we call a symbol or figure today is not what the ancients held it to be. As the liberal Protestant scholar Adolph Harnack (who was never fond of the Catholic Church) noted in his work History of Dogma, what we nowadays understand by "symbol" is a thing which is not that which it represents. This is markedly different from the way the ancient Church understood the concept. To paraphrase Harnack: "At that time, Ďsymbolí denoted a thing which in some kind of way really is what it signifies." This point was also emphasized in the writings of the aforementioned J.N.D. Kelly, considered one of the greatest Protestant early church hsitorians of the twentieth century:
Occasionally these writers [the Fathers] use language which has been held to imply that, for all its realist sound, their use of the terms 'body' and 'blood' may after all be merely symbolical. Tertullian, for example, refers [E.g. C. Marc. 3,19; 4,40] to the bread as 'a figure' (figura) of Christ's body, and once speaks [Ibid I,14: cf. Hippolytus, apost. trad. 32,3] of 'the bread by which He represents (repraesentat) His very body.'
Yet we should be cautious about interpreting such expressions in a modern fashion. According to ancient modes of thought a mysterious relationship existed between the thing symbolized and its symbol, figure or type; the symbol in some sense was the thing symbolized. Again, the verb -repraesentare-, in Tertullian's vocabulary [Cf. ibid 4,22; de monog. 10], retained its original significance of 'to make present.'
All that his language really suggests is that, while accepting the equation of the elements with the body and blood, he remains conscious of the sacramental distinction between them. In fact, he is trying, with the aid of the concept of -figura-, to rationalize to himself the apparent contradiction between (a) the dogma that the elements are now Christ's body and blood, and (b) the empirical fact that for sensation they remain bread and wine. [4]
This point is also amplified by the Anglican scholar Rev. Darwell Stone:
To suppose that 'symbol in Clement of Alexandria or 'figure' in Tertullian must mean the same as in modern speech would be to assent to a line of thought which is gravely misleading. [5]

The key misunderstanding above (referred to by Rev. Stone as "grave") is why Protestant apologists are so far off base when they try to appropriate Fathers who were more allegorical then literal in their theological approaches  as believers in the Real Presence different to what Catholics, the Eastern Churches, Anglicans, and Lutherans hold to. (Among those popularly appealed to include Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine.) What we now call "symbol" is something completely different from what was so called by the ancient Church. This is why the failure to understand time periods, languages, customs, and thought patterns of the ancients will get one in a whole heap of trouble when they try to determine according to modern meanings of terms what the ancients meant by using the same terms.

A contemporary example of words undergoing a change in their usage is what has happened with the word "gay." Compared with its usage only fifty years ago, the meaning is night and day different. This is the same with the concept of "symbol" or "figure" in what it means now and what it meant fourteen hundred plus years ago. A little common sense is in order here: if the Divine Scriptures can be twisted as to their meaning by the unlearned and unstable among us (2 Pet. 3:14-17), why would anyone be naïve enough to think that the non-inspired writings of the Fathers are less suseptable to being misunderstood then the very Word of God is??? The problem lies in a seriously flawed methodology that were utilized by the "reformers" and of which their spiritual descendants unfortunately have adopted: the error of false dichotomization. This error will be addressed in the next section.

Part V - Dichotomies and Antiquity

The primary problem as we noted in the previous section is the profound misunderstanding of covenant, hebraism, and incarnationalism as the triune threads interwoven throughout the tapestry of all Catholic doctrines. Protestantism for the most part in compensating for these glaring defects seeks to dichotomize and mysteries that cannot be so reduced to simplistic formulas. When it comes to the Fathers, the Protestant apologist will read a Father who speaks in one passage in a more symbol-laden manner and say "see he did not believe in the Real Presence the way 'Roman' Catholics do." In the process of doing this, the apologist either ignores other passages by the same Father where he speaks in a realist fashion or they interpret the realist passages by way of their gross misunderstanding of the symbol-laden passage. (On account of being ignorant of what the ancient Church meant by types and symbols.) It is a common mindset among Protestants: a constant "either/or" mentality that is alien to the Hebrew worldview of the Jews, that was alien to the views of the Fathers, and which is alien to the views of the Catholic Church today (and the Eastern Churches also).

The Catholic Church like the Fathers and like the Scripture authors (and like Our Lord) constantly takes a "both/and" viewpoint. The Eucharist is but one of countless examples of this viewpoint. It is both the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and also a symbol of His body and blood. It is both a solemn sacrifice for sin offered on an altar (Heb. 13:10) and a community banquet which is a participation in the body and blood of Our Lord (1 Cor. 10:17). Our Lord called it His body and thus the Eucharist IS His body. The Church has pondered this great mystery for 20 centuries and has proposed a diversity of means of better comprehending this unfathomable mystery. She accepts all possible explanations that do not seek to contradict the primary understanding of the Eucharist that has always been held from the earliest of days: that the Eucharist is the literal flesh and blood of Our Lord offered in sacrifice to God in restitution for our sins and the sins of all men. There is a reason why St. Paul admonished the Corinthians so harshly in his first Epistle because of Eucharist abuses. There is a reason why he told them "Whoever eats this bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the Body and Blood of the LordÖfor he who eats and drinks unworthily, without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment unto himself" (1 Cor. 11:27, 29). The reason is because the Eucharist is the Body of Christ and the Cup of Blessing which is blessed is a sharing of the Blood of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). Thus, those who do not discern what (or Whom) they are eating when they partake of the Eucharist bring judgment upon themselves for profaning the very Body and Blood of the Lord. †

To again cite Protestant church historian J.N.D. Kelly on the matter:
Ignatius roundly declares that...the bread is the flesh of Jesus, the cup his blood. Clearly he intends this realism to be taken strictly, for he makes it the basis of his argument against the Docetistsí denial of the reality of Christís body...Irenaeus teaches that the bread and wine are really the Lordís body and blood. His witness is, indeed, all the more impressive because he produces it quite incidentally while refuting the Gnostic and Docetic rejection of the Lordís real humanity...
Hippolytus speaks of 'the body and the blood' through which the Church is saved, and Tertullian regularly describes the bread as 'the Lord's body.' The converted pagan, he remarks, 'feeds on the richness of the Lord's body, that is, on the Eucharist.' The realism of his theology comes to light in the argument, based on the intimate relation of body and soul, that just as in baptism the body is washed with water so that the soul may be cleansed, so in the Eucharist 'the flesh feeds upon Christ's body and blood so that the soul may be filled with God.' Clearly his assumption is that the Savior's body and blood are as real as the baptismal water. Cyprian's attitude is similar. Lapsed Christians who claim communion without doing penance, he declares, 'do violence to his body and blood, a sin more heinous against the Lord with their hands and mouths than when they denied him.' Later he expatiates on the terrifying consequences of profaning the sacrament, and the stories he tells confirm that he took the Real Presence literally. [6]

There was no need to formulate precise dogmas on the Eucharist until the Eucharist became the subject of serious controversy. There were a couple of small controveries in the ninth and tenth centuries. However, there was nothing before Berengarius that would constitute the kind of rupture in Eucharistic theology akin to the Trinitarian battles of the fourth century on the nature of God and the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The absence of precise dogmatic formulations before the first millennium is no more an argument against the Real Presence then the precise Trinitarian formulations of Nicaea and Constantinople 1 are for the doctrines of the Trinity and divinity of Christ. Yet Protestants who deny the Real Presence argue against it with the same types of arguments that Jehovahís Witnesses use to deny the Trinity (Ecc. 1:10). This fact alone should cause our Protestant brethren to sit up and take serious notice as to the arbitrary nature of their theology on these matters (and several other areas that could be mentioned).

I wish at this time to address a small note to my Evangelical-Reformed-Fundamentalist brethren on this matter. As the themes being covered in this essay are literally light years removed from what they have believed and been taught, an appeal to them of a personal nature is in order here. My separated brethren, you need to believe the clear evidences of Scripture taken literally on this matter (and virtually all matters). You need to understand that your paradigm is an artificial man-made tradition bereft of understanding of the three core threads of Christendom. (Covenantalism, Hebraism, Incarnationalism.) My brethren, you need to believe what all of Christendom for the first fifteen hundred years affirmed unanimously. The evidence against your non-realist, anti-incarnational, anti-Hebraic viewpoint is overwhelming. To support your positions involves having to explain away the literal import of Scripture (including the literal words of Our Lord and Saviour) not to mention the united testimony of fifteen hundred years of Christendom. Why do you seek to make void the Word of God for the sake of your man-made traditions (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:6-9; Mark 7:6-7)??? Why do you claim to believe in Jesus Christ if you explain away His literal words because they are "a hard saying" and "who can hear them"??? Have you no sense of appreciation for the concept of mystery??? Have you no appreciation or conception of faith which requires belief in what cannot be proven??? I cannot prove that the Eucharist is Christís Body and Blood nor can I explain how He does what He does except in the most sketchy of outlines. This is no small admission though because I cannot explain the Trinity or the Hypostatic Union either. I cannot explain how the Father has eternally begotten the Son or how Jesus Christ as the Son is just as old as His Father. We cannot explain a lot of these concepts nor can they be proven beyond any shadow of doubt. However, in another example of Protestant inconsistency and arbitrariness they insist that we do just this for doctrines they deny when it is not possible to do this with the doctrines they accept. Can anything be more ridiculous then such a demand as this???

It is typical of Protestants to ask Catholics for more proof for the doctrines where they dissent from the Catholic Church (Real Presence, Apostolic Succession, Papal Primacy/Infallibility, Purgatory, the OT canon, etc.) then exists for doctrines that they do believe (and which are much more weakly attested to in antiquity) like the Trinity or the inspiration of 1/4 of the NT books. (Or Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide which have zero evidence in both Scripture and antiquity.) Even the existence of God cannot be proven to the extent that Protestants (especially Reformed Protestants who are particularly insistent in these matters) expect of Catholic doctrines or distinctives. There is always a possibility that there is another way of understanding a position or of viewing the evidence favouring a certain stand. Possibilities though without compelling evidences to support them are worthless. The reason is simple: virtually anything is "possible." That includes that everything presented in this essay is erroneous also. It is also possible that no human has ever had a rational thought in all of history. The most important question is this: how far do we want to take such assertions and at what point do we say enough is enough??? And of course if we do stop at a certain point then what is our rationale for stopping at that point???

Hopefully it is becoming obvious why I have no use for forms of apologetic that seek to engage in "mutually assured destruction" which seems like the common approach taken by Reformed apologists. I will simply save the degeneration into agnostic blather by stating at this point that yes, it is possible that I am wrong. However, just because something is possible does not mean that it is probable.

Despite everything presented in this essay (which is merely the tip of the iceberg really), there is still the possibility that:
Yes these are possible but how probable is it really that:
Again it is possible but how probable is it to be true??? There could be other life-forms in our galaxy or on Mars too but what are the odds??? God could actually not exist too, this is possible but considering the complex factors involved in the running of our universe how probable is it to be true??? Such assertions do not square with the historical records we do have, nor does this vision of Christianity match Our Lordís reference to the Church as "the light of the world" eminating from "a city on the hill which cannot be hidden" (Matt. 5:14). The evidence in this essay and the witness of the Fathers could possibly be all wrong but are you prepared to gamble your immortal soul on it??? What is especially worth considering is that there is virtually no evidence whatsoever for the Evangelical position before the sixteenth century. Not only that, but the Evangelical position consists of explaining away the literal words of Our Lord in the Gospels to hold to this view. John Henry Newman noted this profound difficulty of reconciling Protestantism with history and explained it in the following manner:
Let them consider that if they can criticize history, the facts of history certainly can retort upon them. It might, I grant, be clearer on this great subject than it is. This is no great concession. History is not a creed or a catechism, it gives lessons rather than rules; still no one can mistake its general teaching in this matter, whether he accept it or stumble at it. Bold outlines and broad masses of colour rise out of the records of the past. They may be dim, they may be incomplete; but they are definite. And this one thing at least is certain; whatever history teaches, whatever it omits, whatever it exaggerates or extenuates, whatever it says and unsays, at least the Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth, it is this.
And Protestantism has ever felt it so. I do not mean that every writer on the Protestant side has felt it; for it was the fashion at first, at least as a rhetorical argument against Rome, to appeal to past ages, or to some of them; but Protestantism as a whole feels it, and has felt it. This is shown in the determination already referred to of dispensing with historical Christianity altogether and of forming a Christianity from the Bible alone: men never would have put it aside, unless they had despaired of it. It is shown by the long neglect of ecclesiastical history in England, which prevails even in the English Church. Our popular religion scarcely recognizes the fact of the twelve long ages which lie between the Councils of Nicæa and Trent, except as affording one or two passages to illustrate its wild interpretations of certain prophesies of St. Paul and St. John. It is melancholy to say it, but the chief, perhaps the only English writer who has any claim to be considered an ecclesiastical historian, is the unbeliever Gibbon. To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.
And this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical Christianity is a plain fact, whether the latter be regarded in its earlier or in its later centuries. Protestants can as little bear its Ante-nicene as its  Post-tridentine period. "So much must the Protestant grant, that if such a system of doctrine as he would now introduce ever existed in early times, it has been clean swept away as if by a deluge, suddenly, silently, and without memorial; by a deluge coming in a night, and utterly soaking, rotting, heaving up, and hurrying off every vestige of what it found in the Church, before cock-crowing: so that 'when they rose in the morning' her true seed 'were all dead eorpses'- Nay dead and buried- and without gravestone. 'The waters went over them; there was not one of them left; they sunk like lead in the mighty waters.' Strange antitype, indeed, to the early fortunes of Israel!- then the enemy was drowned, and 'Israel saw them dead upon the sea shore.' But now, it would seem, water proceeded as a flood 'out of the serpent's mouth,' and covered all the witnesses, so that not even their dead bodies lay in the streets of the great city.' Let him take which of his doctrines he will, his peculiar view of self-righteousness, of formality, of superstition; his notion of faith, or of spirituality in religious worship; his denial of the virtue of the sacraments, or of the ministerial commission, or of the visible Church; or his doctrine of the divine efficacy of the Scriptures as the one appointed instrument of religious teaching; and let him consider how far Antiquity, as it has come down to us, will countenance him in it. No; he must allow that the alleged deluge has done its work; yes, and has in turn disappeared itself; it has been swallowed up by the earth, mercilessly as itself was merciless." [Church of the Fathers [Hist. Sketches, vol. i. p. 418].]
That Protestantism, then, is not the Christianity of history, it is easy to determine, but to retort is a poor reply in controversy to a question of fact, and whatever be the violence or the exaggeration of writers like Chillingworth, if they have raised a real difficulty, it may claim a real answer, and we must determine whether on the one hand Christianity is still to represent to us a definite teaching from above, or whether on the other its utterances have been from time to time so strangely at variance that we are necessarily thrown back on our own judgment individually to determine what the revelation of God is, or rather if in fact there is, or has been, any revelation at all. [7]
There is a reason why Apostolic Christians appeal to history and it is because Christianity is a historical religion. It has to be since the very focal point of our faith (the Incarnation, Teachings, Death, and Ressurection of the God-man Jesus Christ) took place twenty centuries ago. Thus there has to be a historical element to the Christian revelation and the longer what was delivered "one and for all to the saints" (Jude 1:3) is pondered, the greater the insights that are drawn from that Apostolic well. The concept is called Development of Doctrine and that is what the notion of transubstantiation is: a development in the understanding of the ancient doctrine of the Real Presence. In the case of transubstantiation it was a term developed and accepted as an aptway to describe the change from bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord at Mass which occurs when the priest utters the words of consecration.
The Church has done this from the very beginning with terms like Trinity, homoousian, latria/dulia, and transubstantiation. These are later terms coined to more clarify the ancient faith in response to different heresies. In the case of transubstantiation, it was coined after Berengarius committed the heresy of denying that the bread and wine after Consecration were really the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Since this happened for the first time in the eleventh century, it is not possible to find the word used before the heresy it was coined to combat had arisen. However, the concept is tied to the ancient belief of the Real Presence which can be demonstrated from the earliest of days and with much greater success then the doctrine of the Trinity.

This is a subtle but significant distinction which Protestant apologists are seemingly incapable of making. It is probably because this paradigm is so diametrically opposed to the way they are accustomed to looking at theological matters. Hopefully in this essay some clarification of many of these points viz. The Real Presence have been made so that the Catholic and Apostolic position  -- the overwhelmingly biblical and historical one -- is better understood by my Protestant brethren.

Part VI - Final Notes

The Catholic Church first used transubstantiation formally at the Fourth General Council of the Lateran in 1215 under Pope Innocent III as the official position of the Church. Later on at the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the term was solemnly defined. The Eastern Churches also believe in transubstantiation as a concept albeit they are not particularly fond of the word itself. Anglicans and Lutherans believe in consubstantiation. The reason for this split is to a large part (indirectly) because of Berengarius' denial. Although Berengarius eventually subscribed to a formulary emphasizing in strong and uncompromising terms the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist), shortly afterwards the Church begin contemplating exactly how the transformation of the elements actually took place. The reason for this was to formulate a doctrine to protect against against a re-emergence of what had just happened.  The Church settled on transubstantiation: a term which according to Dr. Ludwig Ott was popularized in the twelfth century by the theologian Magister Roland. (Magister Roland was later on to became Pope Alexander III and he possessed one of the Church's finest legal minds.) All transubstantiation means in essence is that after the consecration at Mass, the Lord Jesus becomes really present in the Eucharist in His entirety Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity with the only remains of the actual bread and wine being their outward appearances. Consubstantiation is the belief that Jesus Christ is really present Body and Soul in the Eucharistic elements and that He is both in and under the bread and wine which at the same time retains the substance of bread and wine conjoined in some manner to the substance of Our Lordís Body.

The argument for or against the Real Presence though does not swing on these concepts but instead is on how the transformation happens. (That the bread and wine actually becomes the Body and Blood of Christ of this there is one hundred percent affirmation in the Fathers of the Church.) Despite arguing about precise formularies of the transformation itself, Catholics, the Eastern Churches, Anglicans, and Lutherans all profess a belief in the realist view of the Eucharist: that when Our Lord said "you must eat my flesh and drink my blood" in John 6 -- and His words at the Last Supper "this IS my Body" and this IS my Blood" -- that He is to be taken literally. This in fact was one of Luther and Zwingliís biggest arguing points at the Marbury conference of 1529. Zwingli argued against the Real Presence with recourse to John 6:63 and used the same faulty arguments refuted earlier in this essay. Luther turned to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and pointed to Our Lordís words "this is my Body" and said (in essence) "see it is right here in our Scripture" in his arguments favouring the Real Presence. Lutherís position between the two was the position that most squares with antiquity on this matter in terms of what the Eucharist was. His cardinal error though was in misunderstanding the Hebraic concept of a sacrificial memorial (and thus he did not believe a priest was necessary for the transformation of the elements into the Body and Blood of Our Lord to be offered in sacrifice to God. As the Fathers taught in one united voice on this manner without one dissenting voice, Our Lord is seen as transforming (through the words of his priest) the bread and wine into precisely what He said they were: His Body and Blood. However, they are in the form of a sacramentum (mystery): thus the "spiritual" means He was referring to in John 6 to the disbelieving Jews that they were unable to comprehend. †

As it was noted earlier, to Catholics and the Eastern Churches (and also Anglicans) the words "do this in remembrance of me" (anamnesis) denotes a form of living memorial much like the Passover among the Jews and refers to Our Lord giving this power of consecration to His Apostles (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24-26) who would pass on their priestly functions to chosen successors in a perpetual line for all time (see Matt. 28:19-20; John 20:20-23; Acts 2; 1 Tim. 5:22; Titus 1:5). This is the foundation of the Apostolic position and there is no evidence of anyone holding the Evangelical-Reformed view before the time of Berengarius in the eleventh century (except the heretics of course). Further still, this view was one that after Berengarius only resurfaced again for the most part during the so-called "reformation." There are far more examples among the Fathers then just the ones that will be presented in the appendix section of this essay; however the ones presented will be sufficient to make the case from antiquity while a suitable positive counter-position to what has been writen in this essay remains to be written by those who reject this thesis.  Let me repeat myself here:
    I await a suitable counter-position to be offered and NOT just a critique of this essay where the proponent undertakes the common "poke holes in my argument seeking to win by default" methodology so common to Protestantism (especially Reformed Protestant apologists).
If that is all anyone who critiques this essay does then they only underscore the weakness of their position and frankly such tactics are sophistic and unimpressive. Do not tell us what is possible but instead deal with what is most probable. Ask yourselves which of the following two assertions is the one that is the most probable:
If you say the first option is much more probable, then excellent: you have made the logical choice considering the abundance of evidence both concerning (i) taking Our Lordís words literally (ii) the far greater likelihood of interpreting John 6 in a literal manner considering proper Greek protocol, and of course (iii) the unanimous witness of the Fathers. If you choose instead to (i) explain away Our Lordís literal words (ii) go against all the grammar conventions for interpreting John 6 - even interpreting figuratively Greek words that are never used as such, and (iii) make the further claim that everyone for the first fifteen centuries was in error, then you are by default choosing the second option. If the latter is the case, then you really need to ponder the words of the Apostle Paul which were quoted at the start of this essay:
If we or an angel from heaven preach to you a Gospel other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema, I said it before and I say it again, if anyone preaches to you a Gospel other than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.

The bottom line is this and there is no way around it: If you accept the second proposition as noted above (the Evangelical-Reformed view of the Eucharist), then the condemnation of the Apostle Paul from Galatians 1:8-9 -- the curse that he proclaimed in no uncertain terms -- applies to you for holding a different Gospel then the one preached by the Apostles and handed down through the Church since Pentecost. This conclusion is undeniable and in light of all the evidence, definitive. It has been demonstrated throughout this essay on numerous levels why this option is not possible for the true "Bible Christian" to hold. Repent and accept Our Lord's words as He said and meant them. Only then can you be a real Christian and truly have life in Him (John 6:53).

If in this world there be any knowledge of this sacrament stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it in affirming that I firmly believe and know as certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament . . . I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this sacrament or other matters, I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life. [The Last Words of Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274)]

[1] J.N.D. Kelly: Early Christian Doctrines, pgs. 196-7 (c. 1978)

[2] Exodus 12:3-10,14-17,21-28

[3] The Mishnah: Pesahim 10:5

[4] J.N.D. Kelly: Early Christian Doctrines, pg. 212 (c. 1978)

[5] Rev. Darwell Stone: A History Of The Doctrine Of The Holy Eucharist Vol I, pg 31 (c. 1909)

[6] J.N.D. Kelly: Early Christian Doctrines pgs. 197-8, 211-12 (c. 1978)

[7] John Henry Newman: Excerpt from "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" (c. 1845)

Other Notes:

The citations from J.N.D. Kelly were obtained from his work "Early Christian Doctrines", San Francisco: Harper &
Row, 1978

The citation from the Book of Exodus were obtained from the Douay Rheims Bible located at the following link:

The citation from the Mishnah can be read at the following link:

The citation from the Rev. Darwell Stone was obtained from his two volume work "A History Of The Doctrine Of The Holy Eucharist", Longmans, Green & Co., 1909

The citation from Ven. John Henry Newman's "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" was obtained at the following link:

©2003, 2000, "On the Real Presence", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

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