An exchange on the White vs. Sungenis debate on the Mass

During the White vs. Sungenis debate on “Is the Roman Mass a Propitiatory Sacrifice?” James White on several occasions made the following argument against the mass being the representation of Christ’s one sacrifice: He argued that since the sacrifice of Christ is “perfect” that those who receive it cannot later reject it. Man has no role in cooperating with the gift of grace, nor is he able to reject it. What White espoused is basic once saved, always saved theology.

So in order to prove the Eucharist at the Catholic mass cannot be the same sacrifice, he argued that because receiving the Eucharist does not absolutely guarantee one will go to heaven, it therefore cannot be the same perfect sacrifice that he believes results in once saved always saved.

Having repeated that line of thinking throughout the debate, Sungenis during a cross-examination, presented White with one of many passages that refers to a believer’s capacity to turn away from God. *2 Tim 2:11-13 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. (emphasis Sungenis’)*White’s response to that passage: “You can either understand these passages as prescriptive–things we must do to become Christians or stay Christians; or descriptive–descriptive of what Christians do or do not do. … An individual who has been united with Christ and has been changed in the act of regeneration is an individual who will not deny Christ.”

White’s response was enlightening to me. And not because it was good. There are numerous passages that use language presenting the believer as capacitated to respond. For example: “do not quench the Spirit,” “take heed lest you fall,” “they have left the straight way and wandered off,” “if we sin wilfully after we have received knowledge of the truth, there remain no more sacrifice for sins,” etc… One could literally provided dozens upon dozens of examples. In the debate, Sungenis pointed out how every book in the NT (except maybe Philemon) refers to someone falling from the faith.

But compare the language of such passages that charge the faithful with enduring with the response White gave (at the end of previous post). White essentially says to himself that whenever he sees such a passage, it’s just a “description of what Christians do not do.” It is his “get-out-of-these-passages-free” card. This amounts to the authors of Scripture providing trivial information to audiences that are secure in their faith anyway. White has in essence made it impossible for Scripture to teach that a person could fall away because he insists that any passage that is worded that way means something else.

In the end, White’s argument rested heavily on Heb 10:14 which says Christ has “perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” He insisted this verse means that those who receive Christ have been made completely “perfect,” past tense during their earthly lives. This results in a very bizarre and confounding theology where the “perfect” elect still fall into sin regularly, which White readily admitted in the debate. God in being totally sovereign in the elect’s life, still lets them be witnesses to sin regularly—to what end I don’t know other than to create confusion.

Needless to say, Catholic theology on the nature of Christ’s sacrifice is the coherent one between the two positions.

During the debate, White suggested that Augustine didn’t believe in the Real Presence. Sungenis in the cross-examination asked White if he was aware of the many times Augustine wrote of the Eucharist as a change in substance, that it was a sacrifice. White denied this saying, “I would not agree with that.” And then he attempted to back his claim that Augustine did not believe in the Real Presence by quoting a fragment of Augustine’s tractate on John, #92.1.

White stated: “Especially in light of his teaching concerning the fact that the Church has been deprived of the bodily presence of Christ until the very end of the world.”

Here is the passage from Augustine in question.*The Lord Jesus, in the discourse which He addressed to His disciples after the supper, when Himself in immediate proximity to His passion, and, as it were, on the eve of departure, and of depriving them of His bodily presence while continuing His spiritual presence to all His disciples till the very end of the world, exhorted them to endure the persecutions of the wicked, whom He distinguished by the name of the world: and from which He also told them that He had chosen the disciples themselves, that they might know it was by the grace of God they were what they were, and by their own vices they had been what they had been. And then His own persecutors and theirs He clearly signified to be the Jews, that it might be perfectly apparent that they also were included in the appellation of that damnable world that persecutes the saints. … They hated me, and slew me when I stood visibly before their eyes; but such shall be the testimony borne in my behalf by the Comforter, that He will bring them to believe in me when I am no longer visible to their sight.*The part I clipped (where you see the “…”) goes on how they will continue to endure persecution from the world. But as you can see, this passage isn’t about Augustine’s belief in the Eucharist at all, and I think it was misleading for White to suggest so. This passage does not deny that there could be a sacramental presence in the Eucharist at all. The passage rather speaks of how Jesus ascended after the Passion (i.e. His "departure) and His followers bear the persecution as participants in the sufferings of Christ. And those who cannot physically see the Incarnate Christ Who walked the earth are going to “see” Him by the power of the Spirit.

Since I couldn’t find a question to answer I’ll just comment that debates are a poor use, and possibly a sacrilegious one as well, of scripture. The liturgical readings this week talk of humility and a humble search of the sacred text does not involve debate. It is like someone putting a consecrated host under a microscope to see proof of God in it. They are searching the accidents for a spiritual reality. It isn’t a true search for God because it proceeds from curiosity and lacks the honor to be given to God.

Why did Jesus not answer Pilot when he posed the (albeit rhetorical and possibly contemptuous as well as dishonorable) question “what is truth?”… Pilot was not worthy of an answer. That Jesus is the Truth and standing in front of him was lost on Pilot and the fact that the truth of Catholic faith in Christ is just a humble search for truth away for Mr. White seems to be lost on both sides of the debate.

I have that debate, actually they debated twice on that subject, once in 1999 and later in 2003 or so. Both debates covered virtually the same material, but the first one was a little more “heated”. To suggest St. Augustine didn’t have an orthodox Catholic teaching on the Eucharist ignores all that Augustine said about the sacrifice of the Mass. He may not have believed in “transubstantiation” since that term didn’t come up in discussions on the Eucharist until the 2nd millennium. To summarize St. Augustine:

(1) The bread having been sanctified “IS THE BODY OF CHRIST”

(2) The wine having been sanctified “IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST”

(3) We know Christ in the breaking of the bread; and not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ “BECOMES CHRIST’S BODY.”

(4) When Christ said “THIS IS MY BODY” He carried “HIS OWN BODY” in “HIS OWN HANDS”

(5) Christ is “IMMOLATED” (sacrificed in an unbloody manner) in the Eucharist every day (this is not a re-crucifixion but a re-presentation or “making present” before the Father for our benefit and application of His one and only Sacrifice)

(6) Christ is Priest and Victim OFFERING Himself and in the daily Sacrifice His Body the Church OFFERS herself through/with Him

(7) All who wish to have eternal life must take as food and drink the Blood of Christ’s Sacrifice in Holy Communion

(8) The souls of the dead in Christ find relief through the Sacrifice of the Mediator OFFERED for them and through the prayers of the living Body of Christ on earth

(9) The WHOLE Church observes this practice handed down from the Fathers – the prayers of the Holy Church, the salvific Sacrifice, and alms and works of piety and mercy are offered for those who have died “in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ” so that the Lord might deal more mercifully with their sins

(10) Christ gave us His own flesh “to be eaten unto salvation” and no one eats that flesh unless He ADORES (worships) it in the Holy Eucharist since Christ is truly present and took flesh in the Incarnation

You’ll find these in passages: Sermons 227; 234:2; 272; 172:2; Psalms 33:1:10; 98:9; Letters 98:9; City of God 10:20; Questions on the Heptateuch 3:57; Ench Faith, Hope, Love 29:110; etc.

I summarize Philip Schaff, JND Kelly, and Darwell Stone on Augustine and Eucharist here:

St. Augustine on the Eucharist

Phil P

Since White is debating Catholics again this year :), I thought I’d add a little more just to annoy him if he reads this: :smiley:

From Schaff’s History of the Christian Church

“…[Augustine] calls the celebration of the communion -verissimum sacrificium- of the body of Christ. The church, he says, offers (immolat) to God the sacrifice of thanks in the body of Christ, from the days of the apostles through the sure succession of the bishops down to our time. But the church at the same time offers, with Christ, herself, as the body of Christ, to God. As all are one body, so also all are together the same sacrifice [De civit Dei x.20 Latin given].” (Schaff, vol 3, p. 507)

“The subject of the sacrifice is the body of Jesus Christ, which is as TRULY PRESENT on the altar of the church, as it once was on the altar of the cross, and which now offers itself to God through his priest. Hence the frequent language of the liturgies: “Thou art he who offerest, and who art offered, O Christ, our God.” Augustine, however, connects with this, as we have already said, the true and important moral idea of the self-sacrifice of the whole redeemed church to God. The prayers of the liturgies do the same.” (p. 508)

"Even St. Augustine, with Tertullian, teaches plainly, as an OLD tradition, that the eucharistic sacrifice, the intercessions or -suffragia- and alms, of the living are of benefit to the departed believers, so that the Lord deals more mercifully with them than their sins deserve [Serm 172:2 Latin given]. His noble mother, Monica, when dying, told him he might bury her body where he pleased, and should give himself no concern for it, only she begged of him that he would remember her SOUL at the altar of the Lord [Confess 1:9:27 Latin given]. (p. 510)

From JND Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines

"Augustine’s conception of the eucharistic sacrifice is closely linked with his ideas on sacrifice in general. ‘A true sacrifice,’ he writes [De civ dei 10:6], ‘is whatever work is accomplished with the object of establishing our holy union with God.’ Essentially it is an interior transaction of the will, and what is conventionally termed the sacrifice is the outward sign of this: ‘the visible sacrifice is the sacrament, i.e. the sacred symbol (sacrum signum), of the invisible sacrifice.’ [De civ dei 10:5]

"The supreme and uniquely pure sacrifice, of course, is the offering of Himself which the Redeemer made on Calvary [Enarr in Ps 149:6]. This is the sacrifice which all the sacrifices of the Jewish Law foreshadowed; it is the memorial of it that Christians celebrate today in the eucharist [C. Faust 6:5; 20:18].

‘This sacrifice,’ he remarks [De civ dei 17:20:2], ‘succeeded all those sacrifices of the Old Testament, which were slaughtered in anticipation of what was to come…For instead of all those sacrifices and oblations His BODY IS OFFERED, and is DISTRIBUTED to the participants.’

“The Christian supper presupposes the death on the cross [Serm 112:1]. The self-same Christ Who was slain there is in a real sense slaughtered daily [sacramentally in an unbloody manner] by the faithful, so that the sacrifice which was offered once for all in bloody form is sacramentally RENEWED upon our altars with the OBLATION of His BODY AND BLOOD [Ep 98:9; C. Faust 20:18; 20:21]. From this it is clear that, if the eucharistic sacrifice is essentially a ‘similitude’ or ‘memorial’ of Calvary, it includes MUCH MORE than that. In the first place, it involves a REAL, though sacramental, OFFERING of Christ’s BODY AND BLOOD; He is Himself the priest, but also the OBLATION [De civ dei 10:20]. In the second place, however, along with this oblation of the Head, it involves the offering of His members, since the fruit of the sacrifice is, precisely, their union in His mystical body…” (Kelly, p. 454-455)

From Darwell Stone’s old volumes, History of the Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist

“There is like terminology in the West. A canon of the Council of Arles, held in 314 A.D., like the Council of Nicaea eleven years later in the East, incidentally contains the word ‘OFFER’ to describe the work of the presbyters which the deacons might not perform [Canon 15]. St. Optatus of Milevis uses the words ‘SACRIFICE’ and ‘OFFER’ in regard to the Eucharist [2:12]. St. Ambrose says that it is part of the work of the Christian ministry to ‘OFFER SACRIFICE for the people’; that Christ ‘is Himself on earth when the body of Christ is OFFERED’; and that the word of Christ ‘consecrates the SACRIFICE which is OFFERED’ [In Ps 38 Enar 25]. St. Augustine refers to the Eucharist as ‘the SACRIFICE of our redemption,’ ‘the SACRIFICE of the Mediator,’ ‘the SACRIFICE of peace,’ ‘the SACRIFICE of love,’ ‘the SACRIFICE of the BODY and BLOOD of the Lord,’ ‘the SACRIFICE of the Church’ [Conf 9:32; Enchir 110; In Ps 21 Enar 2:28; In Ps 33 Enar 1:5; De civ Dei 10:20]. St. Leo speaks of ‘the OFFERING of the SACRIFICE’ as an act of Christian worship [Serm 26:1; 91:3].” (Stone, volume 1, p. 113)

“St. Augustine closely connects the Eucharistic ALTAR on EARTH with the ALTAR of our LORD’S OFFERING in HEAVEN; regards our Lord’s heavenly work as the fulfillment of the type in the sacrifice which the Jewish high priest offered in the holy of holies; and speaks of the approach to the earthly altar as symbolic both of the present access of Christians to our Lord in heaven and of their future entrance therein…[quotes several passages: In Ps 25 Enar 2:10; In Ps 64 Enar 6; Serm 351:7; etc]” (Stone, volume 1, p. 120-121)

Case closed. Augustine was certainly a “Tridentine” Catholic even if he may not have used the precise term “transubstantiation”. :thumbsup:

Phil P

Mr.White, it is going to be hot…very hot…repent!!!

He’s debating Sungenis again, right? Is there another Catholic forthcoming too? Or did you mean the Staples debate from earlier in the year?

<< He’s debating Sungenis again, right? Is there another Catholic forthcoming too? Or did you mean the Staples debate from earlier in the year? >>

Yeah the two debates I guess. Plus the Martignoni one on October 31, midnight held outdoors in Constance near the tomb of Jan Huss (sorry don’t know where he’s buried): RESOLVED: “The Roman Catholic Church is the true Church according to the Scriptures.”

Or here’s an idea: “The true ‘Bible Christian Society’ is Protestant, Reformed, and BaBtist.”

Didn’t mean to scare you or Martignoni. It will probably be “scrubbed.” That’s an inside joke to White’s blog readers. :stuck_out_tongue:

Phil P

Forgot to mention: White debated Saturday (on Aug 28, the Feast of St. Augustine) the traditionalist Chris Ferrara on the Immaculate Conception. If Ferrara sticks with Juniper Carol’s Mariology and compare with White’s (pathetic) Mary, Another Redeemer? he’ll do fine. :thumbsup:

Phil P

Phil, from your one link:

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that same James White argue for SS vs. Pat Madrid by hanging his hat on the Greek words “exartizo” and “artios”? And if his is the correct interpretation of 1 Tim 3:15-17, wouldn’t the infant Church have taught SS regardless of enscripturation occurring?

<< Now correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that same James White argue for SS vs. Pat Madrid by hanging his hat on the Greek words “exartizo” and “artios”? And if his is the correct interpretation of 2 Tim 3:15-17, wouldn’t the infant Church have taught SS regardless of enscripturation occurring? >>

Scripture would need to teach that “sometime in the future” the oral teaching would stop being authoritative, or that Scripture alone would be the authority, or that tradition would not be an authoritative grid in which to interpret Scripture, etc. The Fathers didn’t believe this. They all had a tradition in which they interpreted Scripture, or had customs/practices/teachings that were to be believed that were not found in Scripture, etc.

WARNING: Do not visit anything from my site ( for now. Hackers have gotten in once again. They are inserting Javascript “redirect” code into all my .htm or .php files. It’s been a battle and a mystery with GoDaddy the past few months I’ve been trying to solve. I am now “blacklisted” (as of today 8/30/2010) with Google unfortunately, so I’ll need to figure this out soon. I’ve “forbidden” all pages for now.

Phil P

I agree with you. But then James White is contradicting himself when he tries to argue SS from 2 Timothy, is he not? If the infant Church nowhere taught sola scriptura, that would include 2 Timothy.

Maybe you should start a prayer thread for your website. :slight_smile:

I was reading some of White’s critiques then tried to back out to the other site that referenced his works and got the dreaded “forbidden” - now I have lost the links to White’s rebuttals… Sigh. What is going on??

White does seem to be making some valid points about Catholic apologists being out of sync with what the historians are telling us were some of the sentiments. He claims the African Churches never recognized Rome’s authority and that we are translating and projecting anachronistic concepts (e,g, “pope” into Bishop of Rome’s reports)…


When the links work for you again, bring some of the arguments of his here so we can examine whether or not they are valid.

<< I was reading some of White’s critiques then tried to back out to the other site that referenced his works and got the dreaded “forbidden” - now I have lost the links to White’s rebuttals… Sigh. What is going on?? >>

That’s me. Sorry. I had to set all my pages to “forbidden” since I’ve been attacked (once again) by Protestant, Reformed, BaBtist, Jan Huss, John Calvin, Martin Chemnitz web demons. There was a large web attack on Wordpress and other sites back in May 2010 or so, and some of these have continued. It effected all my PHP/HTML sites and I have repeatedly deleted them, put them back up clean, changed passwords, etc. The demons are still getting in and trying to redirect my site to AOMIN. :mad: Just kidding, but they are attempting to redirect my site, and infect people.

I am going to the domain name for all my pages in a day or 2. All pages will forward to these. Stay tuned. The best “anti-James-White” site on the Internet (me) is not going anywhere. :thumbsup::eek:

Phil P

Wow Phil. What’s behind this? Is this anti-Catholic fundi Protestants doing this you think?


<< Wow Phil. What’s behind this? Is this anti-Catholic fundi Protestants doing this you think? >>

Naw, it effected all kinds of sites. And not just GoDaddy. Just a rogue anti-Catholic script or something. :stuck_out_tongue:

What’s Up with these Attacks?

Somehow “they” have gotten “in” to me also and tried to redirect / infect virtually all my pages. I’ll have that fixed tonight hopefully.

“Evangelical Catholic Apologetics” is moving to, and all links should forward and work as well. :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Phil P

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