Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Transubstantiation: A Continuing Sacrifice?

Continued from this post.

Let me begin by first clarifying the belief that I spoke out against. Catholic doctrine holds that "Christ gives us His own body and blood in the holy Eucharist first, to be offered as a sacrifice commemorating and renewing for all time the sacrifice of the cross" (Catechism 356). This view of the Lord’s Supper, from the Catholic standpoint, is literally the re-sacrificing of Christ. And, while the Catholic catechisms quote Scriptures that speak of Christ dying once at the cross, this doctrine also teaches that Catholic priests perform at each Mass a miracle that transforms the bread and wine into Christ's physical body and blood (transubstantiation) and that each Mass “is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross” (Catechism 359). Jesus is then – quite literally according this doctrine – sacrificed anew each time a Mass is held and the Lord's Supper is taken.

In contrast to this, however, the New Testament teaches that Christ’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins was both final and complete for all time. Consider Hebrews 9, which deals with the passing away of first (old) covenant regulations in light of the new covenant in Jesus. Hebrews 9:25-28 says “…Nor was it to offer Himself repeatedly… for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself… so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many…” Consider too the even more explicit statements of Hebrews 10:10 – “…We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” Hebrews 10:12 – “…But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time…” and of Hebrews 10:14 – “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Consider as well Christ’s own words before He died on the cross – “It is finished” (John 19:30). The phrase in Greek is teleho – which is to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill, to accomplish the final part of one’s task.

To assert then that there is a continuation of Christ’s sacrifice, as the Roman Catholic doctrine asserts in their view of the Eucharist, not only contradicts New Testament teaching, but destroys the assurance we have that payment for our sin has been fully paid – once and for all – by Christ and wholly accepted by God the Father. If continual sacrifice for our sins still must be made by Christ, we have no assurance of there being “no condemnation” toward us (Romans 8:1). New Testament doctrine is clear that after the one offering of Christ on the cross, there is no more need of continual or further sacrifice.

Continued next post...


curious servant said...

Hi there!

I'm following this series of postings.

I really don't have a position on this (as I said on my blog) but I'd like to toss this idea out there:

If time is more than the linear thing we think it, might it be that from the eternal perspective the crucifixion is occuring continually?

Here's my thought: If time were two dimensional and we cannot access that additional dimension because our mortal forms work on entropy, then a being who experiences the added time space would be able to stop, pause move perpendicular, go any when and observe anything throughout the whole of creation.

So, for the sake of this mind experiment, we consider Heaven and its occupants to be creatures of two time dimensions, then the Creator would have to be larger in order to contain all that He made. Therefgore He may be a being of three time dimensions just as we are creatures of three physical dimensions.

So, the inference there is that he contains all of creation, from beginning to end, and permeates it.

Might the crucifixion therefore be seen as ALWAYS happening?

I know that I am almost certainly wrong here. I am out of my depth. But the point I am making is that what is real and what isn't is almost certainly beyond our understanding.

Of course, you may be exactly on target with the transubstantiation thing.

I'm looking forward to your next post.

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Anonymous said...

interesting insights.
the concept of transubstantiation was just recently brought to my attention (by a broadway song of all things) and oddly enough i've been looking into the concept of time and matter from a quantum mechanical prepective and how it's concepts affect my interpretation bible which touches on the comments made by curious servant.

I look forward to your next posting

van.diesel said...

Get thee behind me, davejones5400...

Curious Servant & Anonymous - in regards to your intriguing comments, I won't embarass myself by showing my ignorance of space/time continum, dimensional theory, quantum mechanics, etc.

I do, however, know this; God is eternal and timeless, as is His word (Genesis 21:33, Deuteronomy 33:27, Psalm 119:89, etc.) Not only does He contain and permeate all created things (even time), He upholds them by His good pleasure.

Might the crucifixion therefore be seen as always happening? Not according to the verse references in this post. A.W. Tozer points out that "When time-words occur in the Scriptures they refer to our time, not to His." To assert that the crucifixion is ever-happening is to conclude that it is never finished.

One of the most helpful things I've read regarding time in relation to God is a chapter from Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. You can read it online here. It's not overly long and is very insightful.

...What is real and what isn't is almost certainly beyond our understanding. There are attributes of God that are well beyond our understanding (His omnipotence, omniscience, infinitude, etc.) but much of what God has put forth is understandable - to the finite extent that is need be understood - by man. Perhaps I mistunderstand your point, but to say that general reality is beyond our understanding is to stray dangerously close to relativism (where you can have your reality and I can have mine, and it's all good).

You make some very interesting conjectures here, but as we work this out, may the Lord keep us from putting the theoretical and philisophical above the authority of His eternal word.

van.diesel said...

Oh - and just out of curiousity - what broadway song brought to mind transubstantiation??

curious servant said...

When I refer to beyond our understanding I mean beyond the understanding of beings limited by three physical and one linear time dimension.

Although, I am unsure if we can even understand all of that. Certainly we can know what we NEED to know, especially on issues that important (matters of faith).

This also applies to the crucixcion comment. The cricifixion can be finite and infinite. In that if one were able to exist in a two dimensional time, then one who could stop at any point in time and stay there for as long as they wished. That would make that time always there.

It may be that the crucifixion is the most observed instance of creation in that at some "future" date everyone will go there/then to witness it first hand.

Of course this may be all a ridiculous mid game I am playing which I at least hope amuses Him.

Ah. I am a silly creature.

The only truth that I really know is that He loves me and that is enough.