Why Catholicism is true(?)

This is the best argument I have ever heard for Catholicism (I heard it 20 years ago when I was a Mormon missionary.):

1.   John 6 has consistently been interpreted to point to the mystery of the eucharist, and transubstantiation, even the earliest Martyrs agree on the doctrine of transubstantiation.

2. The Catholics are the overwhelming majority who have protected this holy mystery as part of the Church.

3. Some of the martyrs perished for their faith in this doctrine alone.

4. Dropping this mystery is terrible heresy, for it allows many come unto Christ that would not otherwise.

5. Heretic churches without this dogma condemn many people to purgatory.

Therefore the Catholic church is the catholic Church.

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94 thoughts on “Why Catholicism is true(?)

  1. It seems pretty clear that the memorialist view of the Eucharist was never the view of the early Church, but the idea that transubstantiation was dogma prior to the 13th century is an an anachronism.

    Excluding the specific explanations as to how Christ is present, the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper is another area of general agreement between the East, Rome, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Reformed.

  2. I was born and raised in a Catholic family in Peru, which is a Catholic country. However I did not learn about the doctrine of the transubstantiation until when I was 13. In my personal opinion such doctrine did not make sense to me.

    When I became a Mormon a couple of years later and learned the LDS doctrine about the symbolism of the bread and water in the sacrament, I immediately and totally agree with it.

    When I was 13, I came to the realization that the Catholic Church was not the true church of God and that its priesthood was a false priesthood. It was then that my quest began to find the true church of Jesus Christ if it still existed.

    According to the doctrine of the transubstantiation, by blessing the bread and wine, the Catholic priest transformed the bread into the human flesh of Jesus and the wine into his blood.

    Regardless if that doctrine is true or not (and for me it is not true). Since I already knew before becoming a Mormon that Catholic priests did not have any true priesthood, therefore I also knew for sure that the mystery of the transformation involved in the doctrine of the transubstantiation could not be true neither real.

    Anyways, going back to your post, the fact that the early fathers of the church died or sacrifice their lives for believing and supporting such doctrine does not make it true. Neither makes the Catholic church to be the true church.

    In my own opinion the heresy is in pretending to transform simple bread and wine in human elements like human flesh and human blood and then partaking of them. In my own eyes, that gives me a sense of cannibalism that I will never be willing to accept.

    I was Catholic, but I am not Catholic anymore. I believe I found the true church of God in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am not going back.

  3. Carlos, just curious, do you think Jesus was lying then when he said very clearly that the bread was his flesh and the wine his blood? Also, he told us more than once that we had to eat his flesh and drink his water to be saved. Thoughts?

  4. I’ve always thought the Peter as Rock passage in Matthew 16 was the best scriptural proof for Catholicism. And centuries of Christian tradition and doctrine of course.

  5. The Rock (we believe) is Peter’s confession of faith…that being that Jesus is Lord. (not the sinful man, Peter – what kind of a rock is an often weak and untrusting and self-centered (we all are) sinner?) Christ Jesus Himself is the Rock, dear friends.

    Transubstantiation is not the only, nor best option for Christ being present in the sacraments. For then we would claim to know just how He is there (how it is done).

    Rather, we believe that consubstantiaition is the better and more biblical (“we walk by faith and not by sight” ) understanding.

    We Lutherans ( most of us anyway) believe Christ to be present in, under, and with the elements (bread, wine, water).

    How? We don’t claim to know how. That would be be Catholicism’s transsub.

    For us, it is enough to know that He is in it. He never commanded us to do anything wherein He would not actually be present in it (somehow)…for us.

    Thanks.

  6. There is NO true and VISABLE Church here on earth. (contrary to what so many believe )

    There are Christians in the Catholic Church, in Lutheran and Baptist and non-denom. churches as well as others where the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus is proclaimed in some fashion wether it’d be weak or strong. There may even be some Christians in the Mormon religion, although their doctrine may make that a bit tougher. Nothing is too tough for the Holy Spirit to crack when He’s after somebody.

    Heck…as my pastor says, there may even be a few Christians in our congregation.

  7. I needed to brush up on what partaking of the sacrament used to mean to me as a Mormon. It was less of a celebration of His redemptive work for me, and more of a reminder of the heavy workload still resting on my shoulders to do in order to prove myself worthy. For the work on the Cross was not done completely:
    From 2 Nephi 9:22 “And he suffereth this that the RESURRECTION might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.

    23 And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having PERFECT faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.”

    Yet, in John 6 Christ says,”anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Before that in verse 28 He answers the question posed to Him,
    ‘” What shall we do to perform the works of God?’ He replies, “This is the work of God-that you believe the One He has sent.'”

    Eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood, sounds by all means, shocking. And I believe, just the way Christ intended it to as to shake His listeners up. This is no casual relationship, no superficial division of labor between Him and a follower to achieve spiritual contentment but a disrobing of all human pretense in our attempt to devise means “to pay our own way” back to God. “Eat and drink of Me” is a call for recognition of who we are in our natural state, (nothing), and what we can do to change our nature, (nothing). So we eat/drink/accept Him and His sacrifice into us by faith, we digest/internalize Him into all parts of our being, and in a supernatural way He comes in, cleanses us from all unrighteousness, makes us a new person in Him and claims us as children of God, position and privilege which after given, can never be revoked.
    Nowadays, when I celebrate the sacrament, I am celebrating “Christ in me, the hope (assurance) of glory” as Paul describes it. Because He is alive, I am alive in Him.

  8. Carlos:
    “When I was 13, I came to the realization that the Catholic Church was not the true church of God and that its priesthood was a false priesthood. It was then that my quest began to find the true church of Jesus Christ if it still existed.
    According to the doctrine of the transubstantiation, by blessing the bread and wine, the Catholic priest transformed the bread into the human flesh of Jesus and the wine into his blood.”

    I agree with you that the Catholic priest does not have any special power nor authority to make the bread and wine be as described by Jesus. As I do not believe that the sacrament to be valid, it has to be blessed by a Mormon LDS priesthood holder before being passed. But it is a celebration in which believers partake together which is made alive by faith at the moment we receive Him into us, also by faith.

    This is just an example of how organizations and people have attempted to become the “middle man”, between a person and their Savior. Jesus Himself is our High Priest now to whom all believers have direct access. Paul expands on that beautifully in the book of Hebrews. I will mention just two verses, Heb 6:20 / 7:26.

  9. The word ‘sacrament’ is derived from the Latin word ‘sacramentum’ which means ‘sacred oath’.
    Not our oath or our commitment…but Christ Jesus’ oath and commitment TO US!

    We find that a great source of comfort and assurance. And wonderful and awesome good news!

    And it really does help to keep us off of the religious ascendency project that seems to pervade so much of “Christian religion”.
    ‘Christian faith’ is much different…and what God is after in us.
    Thanks.

  10. The Roman Catholic Church’s best claim for being the One True Church© would be its totality, its history, doctrine, institution, liturgy etc. That and ignoring the existence of the Churches in the East.

  11. @gundek,

    I thought that St. Ignatius and Justin Martyr believed in transubstantiation? That was more compelling part of the argument, as well as the disciple’s reaction to Jesus explaining the Eucharist as literally his body John 6. It appears that the disciples take him literally and he doesn’t correct them.

    Also the persistence and efficacy of the doctrine also seems like it has a strong claim for legitimacy.

  12. My view of the LDS sacrament was:

    (1) The bread represented the covenant to take upon the name of Christ and keep his commandments.

    (2) The blessing on the water represented the covenant with God that the Holy Spirit will be with all those who remember Jesus Christ.

    Symbolically, the bread was committing to live a Christian life, the water represented the grace of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  13. Transubstantiation probably shouldn’t be confused with the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

  14. The strength of the argument was that transubstantiation was part of orthodoxy from the earliest days (i.e. since the author of John 6). It was an argument showing that the Protestants abandoned a scriptural doctrine.

  15. Most historical “apologetic” arguments miss the actual complexity of theology.

    If you haven’t already, you really should read Christianity the First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch.

  16. “slowcowboy on February 1, 2015 at 9:08 am said:
    Carlos, just curious, do you think Jesus was lying then when he said very clearly that the bread was his flesh and the wine his blood? Also, he told us more than once that we had to eat his flesh and drink his water to be saved. Thoughts?”

    Slowboy, just to satisfy your curiosity, I do not think Jesus was lying when he was teaching about the bread and wine, but I think his words were not reported correctly by the witnesses.

    I just cannot imagine Jesus teaching “cannibalism” in such a sacred and very important ordinance. His words must have been reported incorrectly. The four gospels are second-hand testimonies from people who saw and heard, therefore not totally reliable in the matter of salvation. We don’t know of Jesus writing anything to be included in the Bible, actually, there was no Bible in Jesus’ time and there was no New Testament either as a book where to include his words.

    We only depend and trust that what was written of him and of his words are accurate, but nobody can guarantee that such is the case. Since the human element is present in the written reports about Jesus and his works, there is no guarantee at all about accuracy.

    Another factor to consider is that the four gospels were not recorded immediately after the events happened, on the contrary, according to the chronology of the New Testament they were written several decades after. For example, the gospel according to John (including John chapter 6 which has been mentioned in this discussion) is estimated that it was written in the year 86 AD, by John when he was incarcerated in Patmos, in other words, 56 years later after the occasion of the institutionalization of the sacrament by Jesus Christ.

    Can a person remember exactly word by word what was said 56 years earlier? Probably, but chances are he/she may not. Who can guarantee us disciples of Jesus could?

    In conclusion, Jesus did not lie, I don’t think he lied, but also I don’t think he taught a form of cannibalism when it came to the partaking of the sacrament. I prefer to think that his words and teachings were misreported by those who saw and heard his words.

    The Bible is not an accurate historical nor an accurate doctrinal document. Starting in Genesis chapter 1 and finishing in Revelation chapter 22, we can find inconsistencies in history and doctrine that makes the bible an unreliable document in the matter of Salvation if we are not going to use the Holy Ghost to guide us to find the spiritual truth that leads to Eternal Life.

  17. Carlos, then why believe anything Jesus tells us, let alone the Bible?

    I mean that quite seriously. If we can toss sayings we don’t like on the basis that it was recorded wrong, what justifies keeping those we do like for the exact same reason?

    I happen to think he meant exactly what was said. I don’t think he meant it in a literal way such that we have to eat his flesh, but his strong words got the attention of his listeners, and even you and I. And spiritually, we are to consume him in our everything.

    I don’t agree with the idea of transubstantiation, personally, but I don’t think Catholics are cannibals for believing it.

  18. slowcowboy, we are discussing here the doctrine of transubstantiation. In that doctrine, the meaning of the transformation is real, from bread to human flesh, from wine to human blood, then you have to eat it and drink it. If you are Catholic you have to accept that, believe that and partake of that. For Catholics it is actually and effectively human flesh and blood that they are partaking. It is not bread anymore even though still look like it, it is human flesh and it is not wine anymore even though it looks like wine, it is human blood. If that is not cannibalism, then what it is?

    To me that is sufficient to start walking away from the Catholic church. If others prefer differently, they have every right to do that. It is not really my business.

    About Jesus’ words, he always said what is true, but I am afraid he was not always quoted correctly. That is obviously because of the human element in the recording process. At the end of my words, I clearly stated that only by the guidance of the Holy Ghost when we read the bible is when we can distinguish what is true or not, what is right or wrong. It is the only way I always read the Bible, and that is the way I came to realize about of the inconsistencies I mentioned before. Well, some of them are obvious, especially the historical ones, but the doctrinal ones do require the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

    The fact is this: the word of God was perfect when it was uttered, but not necessarily perfect when recorded. If you prefer to believe differently, you are entitled to do so.

  19. My question to Protestants would be, what does it mean that the author of John 6 clearly included transubstantiation in his “Gospel”? Does it mean we can’t come down on one side or the other on this issue?

  20. This might be a good time to request some thoughts from Protestants. Since you don’t believe in an “apostasy” in the Mormon way, how do you make sense of the Catholic make up of the church very early on? How do you reconcile so many centuries of what you now call error? Sincere question.

  21. Not to mention that this same church structure is responsible for assembling the Bible and executing core Christian doctrines. I know how Mormons try to deal with this(successfully or not). But I still hear Protestants essentially owning the whole of Christian history (commendable) without seeing the need to participate in Catholicism.

  22. Carlos, I do believe differently. Personally, I am not Catholic and do not believe in transubstantiation. However, Catholics will urge they do not believe they are being cannabilastic. In this sense, their voice is important and should be given heed, whether you agree or not. I do not know all the justifications.

    As to the words of Jesus and the Bible? Ah, so your work around is to pay attention to the Spirit, and He will guide you to know what is correct and what is not. OK. There are so many problems with this position its difficult to know where to start. And the problems involve your own scriptures, too, which have been altered quite a bit in their short existence.

    I have no reason to believe the Gospels I read are mistaken. I have enough footnotes and other documentation to read the words of Jesus and believe they are true. Yes, this is largely an intellectual concern. And yes, faith is there, too, but we have enough confidence in the sources and their closeness to the events to be very confident they are correct. Further, I have faith in my God to give me HIS word accurately.

  23. Christian, I see the Catholic Church gaining error, if at all, in that it became a political entity into and of itself. It took a power grab in the late middle ages, and took some stances on matters of theology that encouraged a greater rebellion, which resulted in the Reformation. Even still, there was no apostasy.

    As such, there was no early error that I can point to where I would ever say they distorted the God word such that his truth was extinguished or distorted that people were taught wrongly.

    I don’t agree with every doctrinal point of the current Catholic church, but I also don’t agree with every point of my protestant brethren, either. You have to remember, and LDS seem to have a hard time with this: we view a unity within the orthodox view of Christ. That is why we reject the LDS– they reject this orthodox view of Christ.

  24. Slowcowboy,

    Do you think it matters whether a church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation?

    As far as the unity in Christ. I agree that there could be unity among Christian believers, but I don’t think there is much theological unity, the mere fact that there is a deep and unresolved dispute regarding a biblical doctrine such as transubstantiation shows this.

    In John 6, Jesus tells his followers that they will have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Some of his disciples took this literally and rejected Jesus because this was against the law of God. Jesus did not correct their literal understanding of his words. On its face, the text seems to be clearly supporting transubstantiation — defending transubstantiation seems to be the only reason this account is in the Gospel of John.

    The Mormon’s reject transubstantiation by saying that this was not a core doctrine and John 6 does not reflect what Jesus actually said or thought about whether bread and wine blessed in his name actually became his flesh.

    What method do you used to reject the literal wording of the scripture, and the ostensible purpose of the author for including the story?

  25. thanks for the explanation cowboy, To be clear I am well aware of the unity that exists today (with exceptions). I know that different baptisms are widely accepted for example. And the big one is of course the Trinity. I’ve heard from guys like Tim Keller say that the Triune view of God fundamentally unites Christians – whether Catholic, Protestant, EO etc. And I applaud this effort to put aside peripheral differences in favor of the core unity of Christ.

    I think what Protestants forget is how early on “Christianity” had the markings of Catholicism (3rd-4th century), including the political elements. And how many centuries that followed with one tradition, one church, one doctrine. I’ve even read that Luther was trying to reform the Catholic Church, not create his own movement. All this may not matter to today’s Protestant and that’s fine. I’m just asking how a Protestant justifies rejecting the same institution that gave us the Bible and the Trinity. For most people I ask, its an uninteresting question, but it fascinates me.

  26. Jared, no, I don’t don’t think it matters. Don’t mistake, though, beliefs concerning Eucharist/Communion/Sacrements as beliefs defining the IDENTITY of God.

    John 6 is a tough chapter. I’ve mentioned it before, though not specifically. Its pretty trippy, actually. What does Jesus mean here? I don’t he means we have to go take a bite out of him. This was well before the Last Supper. He had been talking about him being like manna. He had just said we are to believe in Him to do the work of God. Jesus had just told them not to believe or follow him just because they had been fed. Jesus, the day before, had fed the 5000.

    I think part of his message here was to be direct and to challenge, not to literally tell people they had to eat him. But consuming him is another matter. He was very serious about the need to consume him in everything they do.

    Now, what method do I use to read the Bible to determine what is meant? Well, honestly, my take is probably pretty legal. I look to the words, the context, and then to other sources to confirm or deny what I see as there in the document itself. The words in John 6 do suppose a literal call to eat Jesus, but the context allows for my interpretation of it being a challenge, and also the event prior seem to show food being a priority to the people who had followed him.

    I don’t see this as dealing with Communion, personally. I can see how some would, but I don’t. Its really about Jesus telling people to take him into their lives, to consume him and take what he stands for and believes, and make it a part of who they are. Kinda like the saying, “You are what you eat”, Jesus is telling them by absorbing Jesus they will become more like him.

    Make sense?

  27. Christian, I think you missed an important point. Maybe I didn’t make it entirely clear, though, either, or even remotely. But I don’t reject the Catholic church. I know of few people who do actually reject it. I am not Catholic, but I am not Lutheran either, and I fully accept Lutheranism as Christian. So I accept Catholic’s as Christian, too. Your question, or the basis for its even being asked, I think, is flawed.

    I think your question shows little understanding of Christian unity you say you get. I think you probably understand the idea, but you really do not get its import.

  28. My understanding of why some things in the bible are not considered important to Protestantism:

    In theory, Protestantism requires that the proclamation of Christ be reformed into language contemporary people can understand while staying true to the message of scripture. Protestantism consciously elevates one message of the New Testament above other messages and this guides the interpretation. If this message deserves elevation, it seems like spiritual practice and mythology of the bible is always secondary.

  29. Jared,

    As a Protestant I am quite comfortable with the idea of “a true and substantial communication of the body and blood of the Lord, as exhibited to believers under the sacred symbols of the Supper, understanding that they are received not by the imagination or intellect merely, but are enjoyed in reality as the food of eternal life…” I guess I am not sure why you think Protestants need to disregard John 6.

    How is the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation, first used in the 11th century, proclaimed in the Fourth Lateran Council and defined at the Council of Trent, uniquely taught in John 6 to the exclusion of any other explanation for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

  30. Christian,

    I take seriously every division in the Church, historically and theologically I recognize the debt owed to the fathers of the Church in every generation, but I think it takes a particularly Eurocentric view of church history to exclude the churches of the East, Africa, Egypt, Asia, etc.

  31. gundek, The Reformation was a movement specifically birthed in response to Rome. That is the primary reason I did not address every other branch. But if someone wants to take a stab at the Coptic tradition or EO, I’m all ears.

  32. Christian,

    I guess you will have to enlighten me on the role of Rome in assembling the Bible and executing core Christian doctrines?

  33. I mean I don’t want to take anything away from the Western theologians but when we think of the first 4 centuries it is Antioch and Alexandria not Rome.

  34. slowcowboy,

    For sure Catholics need to be heard and be respected in their beliefs no matter how non sense they may or may not be. As Joseph Smith taught in the 11th article of faith;

    “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    You as every human being has every right to believe whatever you want and everyone should respect that, but at the same time, that does not mean you are right.

    There are beliefs and facts and sometimes we believe based on the facts and sometimes in spite of the facts. One thing is true, facts are facts and mostly they are in the past and they do not change, because we cannot change the past.

    There is one fact. We have a Bible and it has blessed millions of people throughout centuries and it will continue to do so, regardless of its accuracy or inaccuracy in the matter of salvation.

  35. “Another factor to consider is that the four gospels were not recorded immediately after the events happened, on the contrary, according to the chronology of the New Testament they were written several decades after. For example, the gospel according to John (including John chapter 6 which has been mentioned in this discussion) is estimated that it was written in the year 86 AD, by John when he was incarcerated in Patmos, in other words, 56 years later after the occasion of the institutionalization of the sacrament by Jesus Christ.”

    “At the end of my words, I clearly stated that only by the guidance of the Holy Ghost when we read the bible is when we can distinguish what is true or not, what is right or wrong. It is the only way I always read the Bible, and that is the way I came to realize about of the inconsistencies I mentioned before. Well, some of them are obvious, especially the historical ones, but the doctrinal ones do require the guidance of the Holy Ghost.”

    Those are very interesting statements, Carlos. We are in agreement that the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding to realize the truth in Scripture. Although, I have never read anything in the Bible that struck me as false or wrong.
    But if one makes the case that God gives the Holy Spirit to help the reader this way, what would be bigger than His own power that He could not equally ensure that His words were recorded and maintained just as He intended them to be?

  36. Solange said:

    “We are in agreement that the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of our understanding to realize the truth in Scripture. Although, I have never read anything in the Bible that struck me as false or wrong.”

    Is that an invitation to me to start quoting specifically the doctrinal controversies and historical fallacies I found in the holy canon of the Bible? I guess that is a topic for another discussion.

    Solange continued:

    “But if one makes the case that God gives the Holy Spirit to help the reader this way, what would be bigger than His own power that He could not equally ensure that His words were recorded and maintained just as He intended them to be?”

    What would be bigger?, The inalienable and indisputable Free Agency granted to men. Because of the exercise of their agency on this world, men are free to do whatever they want and God will allow it, including the messing up of the Holy Bible. Evidence?:

    Just one brief example: The Bible version of the Watch Tower Society. God has allowed the Watch Tower Society to do whatever they want with the holy scriptures and to publish their own version of the Holy Bible. Need more evidence?. There are more, but that is also for another discussion.

    The point in here is. God has not stopped corrupted men of messing up the Bible in the past and He won’t stop men to continue to do that in the future, Why? because he has granted inalienable rights to free agency to each individual and each individual will be responsible for the use and exercise of his/her agency in the last day.

  37. gundek, on second thought, pointing out the non Euro early Fathers answers my question quite nicely. Thanks.

  38. “For sure Catholics need to be heard and be respected in their beliefs no matter how non sense they may or may not be.”

    Not when it comes to the gospel and what it IS. If that were the case then Martin Luther should have kept his big mouth shut.

    And we have every right as Christians to criticize those who would pervert the gospel into some big ‘help yourself to Heaven’ project. Even those who speak of inheriting your own planet and other such fictions…and especially those who deny Christ Jesus as the Living God.

  39. Carlos, you may not be right, either. I would submit, actually, that you are in fact being deceived in Mormonism.

    The past is the past, but how we view it directly reflects how we view our present. Your view of a distorted Bible lines up such that you can believe in a Book of Mormon and a church based on personal and ongoing revelation and belief in authority. This authority and ongoing revelation allows you to ignore very real changes in your own past that contradict where your faith stands now.

    Also, your example of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is a very weak example to show how free-will can trump God. How so? It ignores the fact that God still has it in his power to keep the one true compilation of his word as presented in the Bible and as recorded and translated by true followers of Christ. The KJV, and many other modern translations, reflect his true word. This being true does not deny that people can translate in error, much like the JW’s, and the Mormons for that matter.

    Now, at issue in this thread is use of John 6 to prove the Eucharist as believed by Roman Catholics.

  40. Slowcowboy, thanks for sharing your own personal opinions about me, about what I believe and about the Mormonism. You are entitled to say whatever pleases you in that regard, however, that does not mean, you are right. I actually totally and respectfully disagree with you.

  41. Carlos, I know you disagree. You are free to do so, just as I am. As to my personal opinions about you, I know very little about you, except that you are from Chile, ex-Catholic and are currently Mormon. I make no judgments about you personally, except that Mormonism has deceived you. I would wager we could be good friends if we knew more about each other. Please don’t make it seem I am condemning you as a person. I am not.

    If you don’t like me directly stating my belief that Mormon are deceived, why should I say anything at all about truth?

  42. I make no judgments about you personally, except that Mormonism has deceived you.

    I don’t think that you can say that Mormonism deceives people any more than anything else. Generally people have very little “Mormonism” to go on when they receive confirmation that God wants them to be part of the LDS Church. The LDS missionaries teach a very simple, fundamentalist gospel. I am sure if we laid bare the personal beliefs of any Christian, we could point to plenty of religious beliefs caused by “deceit”, subtle or otherwise. Mormons are more likely to deceive themselves than be deceived by scripture, but most people use scripture to deceive themselves as much as they use it to see the light. I think transubstantiation is a good example.

    If I was a Catholic who believed in transubstantiation, you might tell me that I have been deceived as well, but I could argue that what I have been deceived by was scripture itself. This is why I think Carlo’s position on transubstantiation is more reasonable than yours.

    I think the question Protestants need to address for Mormons is not “How do I avoid deceit?” but “How can I more clearly see the light?”

    I think it is VERY relevant to teaching the Gospel to answer the questions people are asking.

  43. Jared, as Pilot asked Christ: what is truth?

    If truth is found in the person of Jesus, not just his mystery or his light, anything outside of that person of Jesus is by definition untrue.

    Something like transsubstantiation is apart from that identity of Jesus. That he becomes a literal piece of bread or sip of wine is irrelevant to the person becoming.

    You still don’t understand the importance of the identity of Jesus. Is there any thing specific holding you up to at least discussing and learning about this importance? (This is another version of the question of how to see the light, by the way.)

  44. I think you forget that transubstantiation is absolutely about the person of Jesus. Catholics identify the bread at mass with the very body of Christ. By your logic, they believe in a different Jesus, i.e. the one that shows up bodily at mass. . . and the one that has told us that he would do this in John 6.

  45. Let me emphasize the importance of the deception, and why this is deception whereas I do not believe beliefs concerning Eucharist is not. The identity of Jesus is a primary belief in Christianity, the one and only primary belief, actually. His part in the Trinity and his being God incarnate are the two primary things that are non-negotiable. His resurrection would be another. Anything that leads to a different Jesus is immediately a deception.

    However, the non-negotiables are things that we can reasonably look at the same scripture and conclude differently. In other words, we are free to disagree on how that scripture is to be interpreted. There is no deception in a difference of opinion.

    No one here has been able to prove transubstantiation wrong. In fact, no one has made the claim that any particular view of Communion is the one, single correct view. The Roman Catholic view is therefore just another option. It actually does support what Christ says in John 6. Of that, there can be no doubt.

    All that has been done Carlo offered that John 6 is a misrepresentation, somehow, of what Christ really said. However, if we accept all scripture as truth, and we accept the translations as accurate (and no suggestion has been made to the contrary), there is no reason to believe this is not precisely what Jesus said. I even offered an argument that if we throw out some portions, we must throw them all out. The only response to that was that the Holy Spirit will guide us to know what is right and what is wrong. If this is true, we don’t need any help, ever, in discerning scripture. It should also be consistent within all faiths, including Mormonism and its books. However, we have seen several changes in the Book of Mormon and other doctrinal books in their short time in existence. Remember, the Book of Mormon was to be the most correct book ever, yet it has been changed. This doesn’t even begin to touch other things that were once considered essential in Mormonism.

    I don’t find the argument that the Holy Spirit guides us to the true parts of scripture very helpful or believable. If it were true, the Holy Spirit would have knocked out various Mormon beliefs long ago, unless of course even the God and the Holy Spirit change.

  46. Exactly, Cowboy. God is the giver of our free will. And He has shown many times in prophetic evidence found in the biblical texts that He is more than able to ensure that His message is not only tampered with but completely fulfilled.
    The JW’s illustration does not tells us that the original texts have been tampered with. On the contrary, it tells us that additions and changes to text and context have occurred in the specific views of religious leaders who have attempted their own translation.

    I do not prescribe to the doctrine of transubstantiation neither believe that John 6 makes a case for that because the evidence in the context does not support it. But I see support for the meaning to be of a spiritual nature. In the same chapter He calls Himself the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven and to the woman at the well He says He is the Living Water. We all agree it is not physical bread nor physical water He is meaning then. So why literal flesh and literal blood here?

  47. Jared, yes, of course its about the person of Jesus, but that does not change who Jesus IS. That’s why I called that apart from the identity of Jesus.

    Do you get the difference? You have two concepts. One is identifying a person and the second is saying the person does something. What’s important here is not what the person does, but who the person is.

  48. In the same chapter He calls Himself the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven and to the woman at the well He says He is the Living Water. We all agree it is not physical bread nor physical water He is meaning then. So why literal flesh and literal blood here?

    Here is the $64,000 question is not “who is right about this?”, it is “how can you say that somebody else is wrong about this?”

  49. It seems to me that, psychologically/spiritually, transubstantiation was an absolutely critical doctrine to the corporal unity of the church since John 6. You might say that the Catholics just recognized that it was “essential” and part of orthodoxy at the council of Trent.

  50. Jared, any evidence to suggest that it was critical doctrine, such that disagreement would warrant excommunication “since John 6”? Bear in mind Trent was in the 16th century.

  51. Jared:

    Excellent defense of the Catholic interpretation of John 6. The fact that you’re not even Catholic evidences that it is an objectively plausible interpretation and not just wishful thinking on our part.

    There was definitely priesthood and Eucharist in the Church from the earliest times, through the Middle Ages and to the present. If Protestants wish to say that the claim of holding a priesthood was a departure from the true Gospel, then it seems to me they must admit that the Mormons are right about the Great Apostasy having taken place very early on in the Church’s existence, since that’s when priesthood and Eucharist appear:

    “Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.”

    Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1, 110 A.D.

    “You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. The chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.”

    St. Augustine, “Sermons”, [227, 21]

    “God has therefore announced in advance that all the sacrifices offered in His name, which Jesus Christ offered, that is, in the Eucharist of the Bread and of the Chalice, which are offered by us Christians in every part of the world, are pleasing to Him.”

    “Dialogue with Trypho”, Ch. 117, circa 130-160 A.D.

    “Christ said indicating (the bread and wine): ‘This is My Body,’ and ‘This is My Blood,’ in order that you might not judge what you see to be a mere figure. The offerings, by the hidden power of God Almighty, are changed into Christ’s Body and Blood, and by receiving these we come to share in the life-giving and sanctifying efficacy of Christ.”

    St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 26,27, 428 A.D.

    “After the type had been fulfilled by the Passover celebration and He had eaten the flesh of the lamb with His Apostles, He takes bread which strengthens the heart of man, and goes on to the true Sacrament of the Passover, so that just as Melchisedech, the priest of the Most High God, in prefiguring Him, made bread and wine an offering, He too makes Himself manifest in the reality of His own Body and Blood.”

    St. Jerome, “Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew” [4,26,26] 398 A.D.

  52. I forgot to say that the third quote was St. Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho”, etc.

    Also, I think it’s notable that while there is all kinds of wrangling in the early Church over other controversial teachings and practices, there is no record of any major controversy over the introduction of the priesthood and the Eucharist, which shows that it was not something that struck Christians as strange or heretical. That is, not until the 16th century.

  53. “Also, I think it’s notable that while there is all kinds of wrangling in the early Church over other controversial teachings and practices, there is no record of any major controversy over the introduction of the priesthood and the Eucharist, which shows that it was not something that struck Christians as strange or heretical. ”

    Which is why I submit that this is a lesser concern than the identity of Christ. The identity of Christ was and is first and foremost among Christian theologians.

    I don’t see disagreement on Eucharist/Communion as something that would have led to ex-communication in the early church. This is also, in part, why I can say there is no apostasy.

  54. I don’t see disagreement on Eucharist/Communion as something that would have led to ex-communication in the early church. This is also, in part, why I can say there is no apostasy.

    Except that it absolutely was. I think that the Protestant answer to this question is more complex than simply, “Catholics don’t care about that much. ”

    The doctrine was critical in that it solidified priesthood hold on the church. Hundreds of millions of people take the mass far more seriously because of this doctrine alone.

  55. Jared, I asked you to provide evidence of its importance to that level.

    I don’t dispute its importance, but I do dispute that people were excommunicated for believing in something else.

    If you can provide evidence, I will eat my words.

  56. “If anyone says that Christ received in the Eucharist is received spiritually only and not also sacramentally and really, let him be anathema.”

    Was this curse ever lifted?

  57. I suppose you could argue that by this time, The Church was doing anything to spite of the Protestants.

  58. Christian: Yup. Doesn’t really provide an answer to my request for evidence on whether folks were actually excommunicated for different beliefs on this topic before 1551.

  59. yes, I realize that and was not specifically answering your question. Just asking if the curse was ever lifted institutionally. It doesn’t seem to be in Vatican2. Not that Protestants care, just asking.

  60. I was just point out how it is still out there, that’s all. I have no idea what has been lifted. To say I don’t care may be an overstatement, but it is not a high priority.

    I’ve tried to think of reasons for Jared to post this. Seems likely an exercise in thought, and it has produced positive dialogue.

  61. Christian,

    I am afraid that by answering your question from my phone I may have come across dismissive or rude. If that is the case, please except my apology.

    First let me say that I don’t read about the early church and find proto-Protestants, but at the same time I don’t see proto-Roman Catholics either. I don’t think it takes a great apostasy to explain it. God has made man to have a reasonable and rational mind, He has revealed Himself in his Word and through His Spirit, it makes sense that a process of reasoning and reflection will take place. This process of human reasoning for developing doctrine, guided by God’s providence and His Spirit, is imperfect. As a Protestants we have the liberty to reason with the early Church, mediaeval Church, Reformation Church and the Church today.

    I do not think that the anathemas of Trent have been renounced. I would recomend Trent: What Happened at the Council by John O’Malley a Jesuit.

  62. Jared,

    I still don’t see transubstantiation prior to the 11th century. I’m trying to follow your argument, but what exactly is there in John 6 that any Protestant believing in the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper cannot accept?

  63. Here’s one about 300 years before Trent:

    Here’s one about 300 years before Trent:

    “His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed in substance, by God’s power, into his body and blood….”

    “We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy raising itself up against this holy, orthodox and catholic faith which we have expounded above.”

    An later on, “Let [the faithful] reverently receive the sacrament of the eucharist at least at Easter unless they think, for a good reason and on the advice of their own priest, that they should abstain from receiving it for a time. Otherwise they shall be barred from entering a church during their lifetime and they shall be denied a christian burial at death.”

    Fourth Lateran Council (1215 A.D.), Sections 1, 3 and 31, respectively [http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum12-2.htm#CONSTITUTIONS]

    And about 1100 years earlier:

    “But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public,…”

    Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, c. 106 A.D. [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0109.htm]

  64. I’m trying to follow your argument, but what exactly is there in John 6 that any Protestant believing in the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper cannot accept John 6 that any Protestant believing in the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper cannot accept?

    I think that this is rationalizing John 6 to be anything other than an overt defense of transubstantiation. I think that it underscores that Protestants don’t take the bible literally, even though they believe in the same message as Catholics.

    Where Mormons distinguish themselves by taking thing hyper-literally, Protestants distinguish themselves by not being literal enough to justify what outsiders see as slavish devotion to scripture alone.

    I sympathize with the Protestant position, but I can’t see that it is the only reasonable position.

  65. Agellius, thanks for those quotes. The first seems to show a need to excommunicate (rather late in the game), but the others don’t, even if they talk sharply against those who disagree.

    I happen to be listening to a course on Christian theology during my commutes to and from work. Its just getting to the point where he is talking about the Sacrements. He’s started with Baptism. I’ll report on what I find out.

    Just curious, Agellius, do you think Protestants are Christian? What about Mormons?

  66. OK, I understand now. You had a point you wanted to make, but didn’t know many Protestants do in fact believe in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

  67. I may be a bit heretical — or maybe a lot Protestant — but I think we should be able to believe in the presence of Christ in a lot more than the Eucharist.

  68. Jared, I think most protestants would agree that we should find the presence of Christ in places other than the Eucharist. But its important to note Gundek’s point that almost all protestants believe Jesus is present at Communion.

  69. I think that is important to note, but unconvincing to those who take the language of John 6 as seriously as Mormons and Catholics do.

  70. Cowboy:

    Formal anathemas in regard to a doctrine are generally only made by a Council when there is some major controversy being addressed. The absence of anathemas in regard to the Eucharist is evidence that there was no major controversy in its regard. You can take this in two ways: (1) that there was no major disagreement with the teachings of the Fathers regarding the Eucharist, or (2) that the issue was considered inconsequential, such that no one cared whether people agreed or not.

    However it’s hard to reconcile option (2) with the fervor with which the Fathers write about the Eucharist, and its obvious centrality to the practice of the Faith in their eyes.

    I consider Protestants to be Christians insofar as they are validly baptized. They’re heretics (to varying degrees), but still Christians.

    The question of whether Mormons are Christians is harder to answer, if the question is whether Mormon beliefs preclude them from being Christians. After wrestling with it and spending many hours discussing it with Mormons, I can’t give a definite “no” to that question. But what does preclude Mormons from being Christians, in the fullest and strictest sense of the word, is that their baptism has been determined by the Catholic Church to be invalid. (For more detail you can see my blog posts titled “Whether Mormons are Christians” and “A Response to Maximus Nothus Decretum”; I’m not inserting links since that seems to cause comments to get stuck in moderation.)

    However I am not a stickler about refusing to call them Christians, since I do consider them Christian according to the loosest possible definition, i.e. someone who believes in and strives to follow Jesus, and I don’t think it does either them or me any good to make an issue of it in casual conversation.

  71. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church Protestants are only materially heretics. So we have that going for us.

  72. Cowboy:

    You write, “The first seems to show a need to excommunicate (rather late in the game), but the others don’t, even if they talk sharply against those who disagree.”

    I think Ignatius’s quote implies excommunication inasmuch as he says that those who speak against the Eucharist “incur death” and that “you should keep aloof from such persons, and not … speak of them either in private or in public”, which pretty much describes excommunication.

  73. Agellius, thanks for commenting on this and other posts. I wish more Catholics I know wanted to hash this stuff out. 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I can buy the rationale behind excluding Mormon baptisms from acceptability, if the chief reason is our disbelief in the traditional Triune God. But it’s interesting that the prayer is basically indistinguishable. When I baptize my daughter on Saturday, the words will be “…I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost Amen.”

  74. Agellius, thanks for the posts. I find it interesting to gather the views of others. Ive found most Catholics today accept protestants as Christian, usually without a nod to heresy, but thats ok.

    So, you accept Mormons within the fold based upon the loosest definition of Christian. What is your one area that is most important in defining a Christian? If its believing in Jesus, how much can someine get the identuty of Christ wrong before you would find them problematic.?

  75. Slowcoboy said:

    ” I make no judgments about you personally, except that Mormonism has deceived you.”

    Slowcowboy, that statement is purely your own personal opinion.

    You remind me the apostle Paul before his celestial vision in his way to Damascus. He was sure people had been deceived to belief Jesus was the Messiah and thought his job was to persecute them and put them in jail to avoid the spreading of the new religion. He thought he was right, but he wasn’t. Today you think you are right, but some day you will have your own way to Damascus and will find out by yourself that you were wrong. It is just a matter of time.

    To me Mormonism makes perfect sense and I do not see any deception. I was born and raised Catholic but my spiritual quest for finding the true Church of God took me from Catholic to Evangelical Christian for a couple of years and from that point to Christian Mormon. I feel perfectly well this way, but most important I know I have already found the true church of God, and I am not going back. To go back would be to leave the Eternal Light of Truth to immerse myself again in an apostate Christian world I once belonged to, and I am not doing such craziness.

    Slowcowboy, to say “Mormonism has deceived you” is not enough, you have to prove I have been deceived and you can’t. Therefore, you statement remains only as your pure personal opinion. Respectable, but not true at all.

  76. Carlos,

    Again, your opinion. I gave you just a couple reasons why I find you deceived. Now before we into an I’m right/you’re wrong, let me say that just because i think your faith is wrong does not mean I don’t respect you. But just the same, isn’t it important we share what think is true? Or can we never point out fallacies?

  77. Christian:

    You write, “For what it’s worth, I can buy the rationale behind excluding Mormon baptisms from acceptability, if the chief reason is our disbelief in the traditional Triune God. But it’s interesting that the prayer is basically indistinguishable.”

    You’re right, the baptismal formula is basically indistinguishable. If you want more detail as to why Mormon baptisms were judged invalid in spite of that fact, you can see my post titled “A response to ‘Maximus Nothus Decretum'” [ https://agellius.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/a-response-to-maximus-nothus-decretum-by-alonzo-gaskill/ ]. That post contains links to the Church’s official ruling on the question, an explanatory article by a Catholic priest, and a Mormon critique of the ruling and the article. The post itself is a response to the Mormon critique.

  78. Cowboy:

    You write, “Ive found most Catholics today accept protestants as Christian, usually without a nod to heresy, but thats ok.”

    Yes, most Catholics today are too PC to use the “H” word, but technically that’s what Protestants are. However it’s neither helpful nor productive to be constantly reminding them of the fact, for basically the same reason I don’ t feel the need to badger Mormons about not being Christian in the fullest sense: It doesn’t seem to do any good and it may do harm.

    You write, “What is your one area that is most important in defining a Christian? If its believing in Jesus, how much can someine get the identuty of Christ wrong before you would find them problematic.?”

    I didn’t say that I accept Mormons ‘within the fold’. This to me implies that I consider them members of the Body of Christ. The problem is that you can’t be a member of the Body of Christ without having been baptized. ‘One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,” that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.’ Catechism 782; see also Rom. 6:3. Since Mormon baptism is invalid, they can’t be members of the Body of Christ.

    I see the unity of Christ’s Church as something like an organic unity, incorporating all baptized Christians from the time of Christ to the present. The Mormons deliberately excluded themselves from this unity by declaring that Christ’s real church had disappeared from the earth, and that all existing churches were corrupt, lacking the genuine priesthood and sacraments.

    Further, Mormons admit that our baptism and theirs are not the same, by the fact that they re-baptize Catholics and Protestants who become Mormons. Therefore, clearly we don’t belong to the same organic unity. It seems odd, in this light, that Mormons expect us to accept them as fellow Christians in an unequivocal sense.

    But note that this is a sacramental argument, and not a doctrinal one. It’s a matter of being united by the sacrament of baptism into a unified whole, which clearly we are not; whereas Catholics are sacramentally unified with validly baptized Protestants.

  79. Agellius, My objection to Mormon’s claim to Christendom is that, if unopposed, distorts the importance and centrality of Jesus. I do think there can be a big tent of various forms of Christianity within the Body of Christ, I also think there must be limits. I set the limits at the identity of Christ. You and I are free to disagree on the Sacrament of Marriage, for instance, but not who Christ was.

    Personally, I think Catholics have a lot to offer, and enjoy much of their doctrine and focus on tradition and mystery. I disagree on some issues, too but there is also no question we share beliefs on WHO Christ was.

    I also don’t believe you have to share my opinion on standing against Mormons and Mormonism.

  80. Cowboy:

    You write, “I also don’t believe you have to share my opinion on standing against Mormons and Mormonism.”

    What do you mean by “standing against” Mormonism? If you mean that we should try to persuade Mormons to be Christians in the fullest sense, then I completely agree. I suspect our disagreement is on the best way to go about that.

  81. Agellius, What role does priestly authority play in baptism? This is obviously important for Mormons and I thought Catholics. But if Protestant baptisms are acceptable, then not so much…?

  82. “Agellius, What role does priestly authority play in baptism?”

    The priesthood is not essential to the sacrament of baptism. 99.9% of Catholic baptisms are done by priests as a matter of course, but in an emergency anyone can baptize, for example if someone is close to death and there’s doubt about whether he was baptized. So Protestant baptisms are considered valid despite not being done by a priest.

  83. Agellius,

    When you say, “for example if someone is close to death and there’s doubt about whether he was baptized.” Are you referring to the ritual or the spiritual rebirth? What would happen to a dying person who had not received baptism?
    I think about the thief on the Cross on this one since as we know, he put his faith in and confessed Jesus as Savior just before dying by HIs side. No time left for anything else.

  84. Solange:

    You write, ‘When you say, “for example if someone is close to death and there’s doubt about whether he was baptized.” Are you referring to the ritual or the spiritual rebirth? What would happen to a dying person who had not received baptism?’

    Spiritual rebirth normatively requires faith, repentance and baptism. This is according to the way that Jesus set things up in his Church. Obviously this doesn’t preclude God from saving people in other ways, e.g. the Good Thief. But faith, repentance and baptism is the way given to the Church by which to attempt to bring people to salvation. The Catholic Church from the earliest times has recognized the possibility of Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood, by which people can receive the grace of baptism without actually receiving water baptism.

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