Transubtiation dialogue on Catholicism - page ONE
Transubtiation dialogue on Catholicism.
On redish eh's forum (Catholicism), there was a discussion on transubtiation on "A Doctrine of the Church" (that thread should ring a bell to some us). This guy was trying to use the Church Fathers to diprove the Catholic position on the Eucharist. I have William Jurgen's three volume set, "The Faith of the Early Fathers" and will post my thoughts on this thread. Everyone and anyone else is invited to do so too.

May the Holy Trinity be with us all,

Autoexec.batman

Hi Autobat,
I am the guy who was posting on the other boards with Redish on the Transbsubstantiation. I am glad that someone noticed the discussion. Regarding the "Faith of the Early Fathers" by Jurgens (not familiar with the exact set), you would do well if it was whole early documents, unabridged, rather than a historian citing texts to "proof text" a particular argument. I have the "Ante_Nicene Fathers" published by Hendrickson, which is about 5,000 ages for just the first 300 years of Christianity. If you can come up with any fathers who argue for the change of the "whole substance", I will happily amend my views on the other board. Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be anyone who will deal with the evidence i presented that the early church fathers explicitly denied such a possibility. i am not just trying ot be a trouble maker, but I do believe that the best theological representation of the church is found at the points closest to it's source. It is important that we all see the early church as it was, not necessarily through our denominationally colored spectacles, which we are all so prone to do.
Sincerely,
Eric aka Intolerant (eman77@juno.com)


Unfortunately, I haven't had the time to do the research on this topic that I would like to have. And FYI, I do have a collection of the Apostolic Fathers (whole texts)in a reader. It's called "The New Testatment and and other early Christian Writings". Also, I've downloaded every single win.hlp file from the Wheaton site of early Christian writings. So, it isn't the lack of material, but the lack of time, that is constraining me.

May the Holy Trinity be with you,

Autoexec.batman

I have several quotes from early Church fathers that support a change of substance. These are at least consistant with Transubstantiation.

Justin Martyr

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus"

Irenaeus of Lyons

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life - flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (Against Heresies 5:2).

Cyril of Jerusalem

"The bread and the wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation of the adorable Trinity were simple bread and wine, but the invocation having been made, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ" (Catechetical Lectures 19:7 [A.D. 350]).


Martin,
Thanks for your response. Sorry it took so long to reply but I have been very busy with work. The translation I have used on the Fathers is slightly different from yours, but there is no significant difference in the import of what is being said. First of all, I want to point out that I am looking for texts that would support the transubstantiation. That is, not just that Christ's Presence is real and indwells the elements, but that the substance is wholly changed, and the bread and wine cease to be in substance. That after all, is what distinguishes the transubstantiation from the other views. Following is from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and although I know that most here are familiar with this, I just want to state it anyways:

"The Catholic Church firmly believes and professes that in this Sacrament the words of consecration accomplish three wondrous and admirable effects.
The first is that the true body of Christ the Lord, the same that was born of the Virgin, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, is contained in this Sacrament.
The second, however repugnant it may appear to the senses, is that none of the substance of the elements remains in the Sacrament.
The third, which may be deduced from the two preceding. although the words of consecration themselves clearly express it, is that the accidents which present themselves to the eyes or other senses exist in a wonderful and ineffable manner without a subject. All the accidents of bread and wine we can see, but they inhere in no substance, and exist independently of any; for the substance of the bread and wine is so changed into the body and blood of our Lord that they altogether cease to be the substance of bread and wine. "

Later in the same document we have:
"Proof From The Preceding Dogmas
What has been said in explanation of the two preceding points must facilitate for pastors the exposition of this truth. For, since we have already proved that the body and blood of our Lord are really and truly contained in the Sacrament, to the entire exclusion of the substance of the bread and wine, and since the accidents of bread and wine cannot inhere in the body and blood of Christ, it remains that, contrary to physical laws, they must subsist of themselves, inhering in no subject.
Proof From The Teaching Of The Church
This has been at all times the uniform doctrine of the Catholic Church; and it can be easily established by the same authorities which, as we have already proved, make it plain that the substance of the bread and wine ceases to exist in the Eucharist . " .

The whole point of course is that the substance of the elements, after the consecration, is gone. Excluded. Without subject. You get the idea.

Now lets look at the text that you just quoted. Here is Justin Martyr from his First Apology (ca 155 AD)

"For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him"

Justin here uses an analogy to describe the change in the eucharist. It is the incarnation. The Word descends and is tabernacled in flesh. We understand that in the incarnation, Christ indeed had a body, or substance from this earth. The only group that said he didn't have a fleshly substance were the Docetists, which were a heretical group. So Justin's formula for the eucharist would then be described as the Word or divine presence indwelling the elements. The substance of the elements remaining in accordance with the incarnational principle.
Here is operative part of the quote form Irenaeus in Against heresies:
"When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist".
This doesn't actually address the substance of the elements at all. They become the Eucharist, but does Irenaeus mean that the substance of the bread and wine are annihilated? Although this text doesn't say, there is a more exact quote on the Eucharist from Irenaeus in Against Heresies IV, xviii,5. (ca 180 AD)

"But our belief is in accord with the Eucharist, while the Eucharist confirms our opinion. For we offer to Him the things that are His, proclaiming harmoniously the unity of flesh and spirit. For the bread which is of the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread but Eucharist, consisting of two things, and earthly and a heavenly; so also are bodies, partaking of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of eternal resurrection."

Irenaeus says that the Eucharist consists of two things, an earthly and a heavenly essence. He is clearly affirming that the substance of the bread remains. Again, he is using the incarnational principle. The context of his quote was a rebuttal of Docetism. Look it up. Likewise the earliest eucharistic quote I know of from Ignatius (ca 105 AD) is a rebuttal of docetism saying "They (the docetics) do not receive the Eucharist" (Epistle to the Trallians). If that is not enough, I just came upon a very specific quote from Pope Gelasius of Rome, ca 490 AD. As it is found in the footnotes of Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, pg. 185.

"By the sacraments, we are made to participate in the divine nature, yet the substance and nature of the bread and wine do not cease to be in them"

Again, this is in complete contradiction to the Tridentine formulation of the transubstantiation. This is the essence of my issue with Eucharist. The contemporary view first enunciated by Paschius Radbertus in 831 AD, is refuted by the early church fathers. Pope Innocent III was the first Pope to define the transubstantiation view in 1215 AD. He, as well as later formulations that spoke of a annihilation of substances were clearly wrong.


The whole point of course is that the substance of the elements, after the consecration, is gone. Excluded. Without subject. You get the idea.

I understood what you were looking for. I don't think you will find a quote as you are looking for that defines transubstantiation as technically in such a manner from the early church fathers.

Similarly, you won't find a real clear Trinitarian definition prior to the time of Anathasius. But certainly, his teaching is consistant with the rest of the early church fathers.

Did Anathasius invent his definition as well?

Now lets look at the text that you just quoted. Here is Justin Martyr from his First Apology (ca 155 AD)

"For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him"

Justin here uses an analogy to describe the change in the eucharist. It is the incarnation. The Word descends and is tabernacled in flesh. We understand that in the incarnation, Christ indeed had a body, or substance from this earth. The only group that said he didn't have a fleshly substance were the Docetists, which were a heretical group. So Justin's formula for the eucharist would then be described as the Word or divine presence indwelling the elements. The substance of the elements remaining in accordance with the incarnational principle.

That's not quite what Justin Martyr was talking about. Especially when you consider the rest of Justin Martyr teachings on the Eucharist. Like Jesus Christ, the Eucharist IS the Body, Blood, Soul, And Divinity of Jesus .... NOT part Jesus, part bread ..... nor Jesus indwelling in some bread and wine. Justin's teaching is entirely consistant with transubstantiation. Does he define as clearly as the Fourth Lateran Council? No ....... I wouldn't expect him to, there wasn't any controversy about it, and there wasn't a strong need to spell our a precise definition (like there was when Anathasius gave us the definition for the Trinity.)

Here is operative part of the quote form Irenaeus in Against heresies:

"When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist".

This doesn't actually address the substance of the elements at all. They become the Eucharist, but does Irenaeus mean that the substance of the bread and wine are annihilated?

It doesn't spell it out as such, but it does say the bread and wine become something else after the "Word of God" (which is also called the Eucharistic prayer in other early Church fathers), and become specifically the Eucharist.

Although this text doesn't say, there is a more exact quote on the Eucharist from Irenaeus in Against Heresies IV, xviii,5. (ca 180 AD)

"But our belief is in accord with the Eucharist, while the Eucharist confirms our opinion. For we offer to Him the things that are His, proclaiming harmoniously the unity of flesh and spirit. For the bread which is of the earth, receiving the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread but Eucharist, consisting of two things, and earthly and a heavenly; so also are bodies, partaking of the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of eternal resurrection."

Irenaeus says that the Eucharist consists of two things, an earthly and a heavenly essence. He is clearly affirming that the substance of the bread remains.

The earthly substance this quote is referring to is the earthly "Body" and "Blood" of Jesus ... not simple bread and wine. This is entirely consistant with the Incarnation and transubstantiation.

If that is not enough, I just came upon a very specific quote from Pope Gelasius of Rome, ca 490 AD. As it is found in the footnotes of Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol 1, pg. 185.

"By the sacraments, we are made to participate in the divine nature, yet the substance and nature of the bread and wine do not cease to be in them"

In Pope Gelasius treatise "On the Two Natures in Christ" was written to defend the Chalcedonian settlement in Christology. If you remove it from it's context of gradually developing doctrine, it sounds like the Lutheran consubstantiation. (I will point out that the ascription to Gelasius is disputed).

I'll throw out another one that I turned up that supports transubstantion. In "Cathetical Lectures", Cyril of Jerusalem declares:

"Once in Cana in Galilee he changed water into wine by his own will: is it incredible that he should chnage (metaballein) wine into blood?"

An excellent book that looks at the Eucharist in the Age of the Fathers is "The Holy Eucharist" by Aidan Nichols OP.


Martin,
Martin says: "I understood what you were looking for. I don't think you will find a quote as you are looking for that defines transubstantiation as technically in such a manner from the early church fathers.
Similarly, you won't find a real clear Trinitarian definition prior to the time of Anathasius. But certainly, his teaching is consistant with the rest of the early church fathers"

I agree that there is no quote from the early church that defines the transubstatiantion. Simply because they didn't believe it. It absent from their theology. You are incorrect in your statement that there was no Trinitarian definition before Athanasius. Virtually all of the apologists make definitive statements about the co-equality of the Godhead, and Tertullian formulated the terminology over a century before Athanasius. Melito of Sardis actually used the term "Trinity" even before Tertullian. It was considered part of the Apostolic Rule of faith passed down by the apostles, whereas not only is the doctrine of the transubstantiaion not, but goes against the implications of the writings of the fathers.

Martin Says: "That's not quite what Justin Martyr was talking about. Especially when you consider the rest of Justin Martyr teachings on the Eucharist. Like Jesus Christ, the Eucharist IS the Body, Blood, Soul, And Divinity of Jesus .... NOT part Jesus, part bread ..... nor Jesus indwelling in some bread and wine. Justin's teaching is entirely consistant with transubstantiation. Does he define as clearly as the Fourth Lateran Council? No ......."

Justin made a clear and unambiguous parallel to the incarnation. Some how you say that he is not. No where does Justin say or imply that the "Eucharist...is.. not Part Jesus, part Bread...nor Jesus indwelling in some bread and wine". Those are merely your biases which you are trying to foist upon Justin. Justin just draws a correlation between the transmutation of the Eucharist, and the incarnation. I merely point out that if Justin's parallel is valid, then the substance of the bread must remain. Please don't represent him as saying something that he never says or implies.

Martin says: "The earthly substance this quote is referring to is the earthly "Body" and "Blood" of Jesus ... not simple bread and wine. This is entirely consistant with the Incarnation and transubstantiation."

Martin, I want you to honestly look at that text again. Irenaeus cleary denotes in this formula that the bread is of the earth, and is the "earthly substance". For you to say that he is scrambling his meaning of "earthly," and somehow really meant "resurrected flesh of Jesus" is way out of the parameters of sound reason. He is clearly saying that Christ's presence harmoniously indwells the substance of the bread. (Again, very similar to the hypostatic union of Christ in the incarnation). By the way, isn't the "body" supposed to be the heavenly "resurrected" flesh anyways? (Not to be called "Earthly" no mattter what way you cut it) Wouldn't that in itself show that you are grasping at straws to keep Irenaeus from meaing what he is clealrly saying?

Lastly, regarding the quote from Pope Gelasius which mercilessly refutes the transubstantiation, yes I am sure it is in dispute! I am likewise sure that by necessity, any papal statement that refutes current dogam would be in dispute! In fairness, I cited exactly where i found it, as a footnote in the First set of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. The volume where it actually appears I do not have in my possesion, although I do have access to them. I have not seen any scholar disputing it, but I will do the research this week at my friends theological library. If I find any evidence that it is spurious, I will post it, or if you find evidence to the same, please post and I will check it out.

In Christ,

Eric


I agree that there is no quote from the early church that defines the transubstatiantion. Simply because they didn't believe it. It absent from their theology.

Then bring forth the evidence. All you have done to date is simply try to refute what Catholics think the early Church fathers are saying. Just bring forth the evidence in which a (non-heretical) early Church father repudiates the thought that the bread and wine actually change into the body and blood. I have already presented you with several quotes that speak positively about the change into the body and blood of Christ .....

Most definitively, Gregory of Nyssa proposes that, by the consecration, the elements are 'trans-made', metapoisthai, and 'trans-elemented' metastoicheiousthai', into the body and blood of the Lord. Just as in ordinary biological life, bread and wine are progessively taken up and transformed into our flesh and blood, so it is, Gregory explains, with the eucharistic elements. They become Christ' body and blood, but in a single moment in time. Their new constituent elements, stoichea, are rearranged under a new form, eidos. (Catechetical Oration). John Chrysostom speks in a similar way of the divine Word reordering, metarrymizein, (On the Betrayal of Judas, and the Pasch I.6) the gifts and transforming, metakeuazein, them. (Homilies on Matthew 82.5)

Another early Church writers, Macarius of Magnesia (around 400 A.D.) mentions those who spoke of the Eucharist in a way he himself repudiated:

"It is not a type of the body and type of the blood, as some whose minds are blinded have foolishly said, but really the body and blood of Christ." (The Answer Book (Apocriticus) 3,23).

You are incorrect in your statement that there was no Trinitarian definition before Athanasius. Virtually all of the apologists make definitive statements about the co-equality of the Godhead, and Tertullian formulated the terminology over a century before Athanasius. Melito of Sardis actually used the term "Trinity" even before Tertullian. It was considered part of the Apostolic Rule of faith passed down by the apostles, whereas not only is the doctrine of the transubstantiaion not, but goes against the implications of the writings of the fathers.

I'm not talking about simple Trinitarian statements in which the three-person God head is discussed, but rather, an early Church fathers that speaks at such length about the equality of each person, the seperation of each, the unity between them, etc.

Justin made a clear and unambiguous parallel to the incarnation. Some how you say that he is not. No where does Justin say or imply that the "Eucharist...is.. not Part Jesus, part Bread...nor Jesus indwelling in some bread and wine". Those are merely your biases which you are trying to foist upon Justin. Justin just draws a correlation between the transmutation of the Eucharist, and the incarnation. I merely point out that if Justin's parallel is valid, then the substance of the bread must remain. Please don't represent him as saying something that he never says or implies.

I agree with Justin Martyr on this. But like Justin Martyr, I don't believe the Incarnation entailed bread and wine ... but rather the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus.


Martin,

You have asked me to "present the evidence?" I think I have just presented several early orthodox sources that flatly contradict the Transubstantiation. Irenaeus, I think you'll have to admit, is acknowledging the "earthly" (ie. physical elements) remain, and Justin making the parallel of the incarnation to the Eucharist. Regarding Justin, for the second time you have put words in his mouth that aren't there. You finished your post with

"I agree with Justin Martyr on this. But like Justin Martyr, I don't believe the Incarnation entailed bread and wine ... but rather the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus"

Justin never says that. You are taking medeival doctrine and terminology and ascribing it to him. If you want to say you disagree with Justin on this, you can do that. Not all the fathers are infallible, or always right on every point. It is wrong on your part, however, to mislead your audience into thinking that Justin said something that he really didn't say.

Pope Gelesius' statement is about as clear as one can get. I am still getting verification. I will consider evidence inferring that the quote is spurious, if you can find any. Otherwise, it seems consistent with the other fathers.

For the other quotes that you have provided, they again don't speak specifically as to whether the substance of the bread and wine remain. I can say that the Eucharist "really and truly" is Christ, without believeing that the substance of the bread is annihilated. It is just as I can say that Jesus is truly and really God, without denying his fleshly body. I have indeed posted definitive statements that show that the bread and wine have "substance" while you have failed to show any evidence that any father believed the substance no longer remained.

I would lastly like to make a basic appeal to reason and common sense. After the consecration, when allegedly there is no longer any substance to the elements, can we discern that the substance of bread is gone? if we put the host under a miscroscope, we still can see the bread molecules. If we leave the bread in a warm humid place, we can watch mold spores grow. Are we sure that there is really no bread there? It has taste. I can feel it. Are you sure there is no substance there? Do you really want to believe that God hoodwinks every eye, places a false image on every camera that might be pointed at the host, and deceives every toungue that eats of it?

The doctrine of the transubstantiation is a late, novel and non-apostolic doctrine. To reject it doesn't mean rejecting the Real Presence of Christ, but merely that we are conforming to apostolic teaching on the subject.

Eric Francke


You have asked me to "present the evidence?" I think I have just presented several early orthodox sources that flatly contradict the Transubstantiation.

I have yet to see one that flatly denies transubstantiation.

Irenaeus, I think you'll have to admit, is acknowledging the "earthly" (ie. physical elements) remain,

Let's look at that quote again!

Irenaeus of Lyons

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life - flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in fact a member of him?" (Against Heresies 5:2).

This clearly does not say what you are inserting into his mouth.

and Justin making the parallel of the incarnation to the Eucharist. Regarding Justin, for the second time you have put words in his mouth that aren't there.

I'm not putting words into his mouth. I am taking his words quite literally. It is you who is imposing your theology into his words.

You finished your post with: "I agree with Justin Martyr on this. But like Justin Martyr, I don't believe the Incarnation entailed bread and wine ... but rather the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus"

Justin never says that. You are taking medeival doctrine and terminology and ascribing it to him. If you want to say you disagree with Justin on this, you can do that. Not all the fathers are infallible, or always right on every point. It is wrong on your part, however, to mislead your audience into thinking that Justin said something that he really didn't say.

Jutin Martyr's quote again:

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus"

I simply cannot see anyplace in this quote where it implies that Jesus' body is indwelling within the bread and wine. It simply says that Eucharist IS the flesh and blood of Jesus.

Pope Gelesius' statement is about as clear as one can get. I am still getting verification. I will consider evidence inferring that the quote is spurious, if you can find any. Otherwise, it seems consistent with the other fathers.

This one disputed quote is all you will find from a non-heretical church father that even might imply something like consubstantiation. Every historic church, East and West, rejects such a theory. While the Eastern Orthodox may feel the Catholics have over-defined the Eucharist by its definition of transubstantiation, they do feel it does fit within the scope of the early Church fathers theology. I've discussed this at length with some Eastern Orthodox.

For the other quotes that you have provided, they again don't speak specifically as to whether the substance of the bread and wine remain.

They simply say the Eucharist is changed into the body and blood of Jesus. I'll quote Macarius of Magnesia again:

"It is not a type of the body and type of the blood, as some whose minds are blinded have foolishly said, but really the body and blood of Christ." (The Answer Book (Apocriticus) 3,23).

And Cyril of Jerusalem again:

"Once in Cana in Galilee he changed water into wine by his own will: is it incredible that he should chnage (metaballein) wine into blood?"

I would lastly like to make a basic appeal to reason and common sense.

This is a mystery!!!! We don't claim to understand it.

I don't totally understand the Trinity or the Incarnation, those defy normal reason and common sense. Try explaining these to a devout Jew and they'll tell you the same thing you are telling me .... "they defy reason and logic!"

But they are true ..... just as transubstantiation is true.


...Continue with this Dialogue