Apologetic websites must post more about the Church Fathers and the Real Presence

onefold.wordpress.com/early-church-evidence-refutes-real-presence/

Well, this is one of the the best refutation of the belief of the Real Presence I have ever seen and ironically, it seems every Catholic or Orthodox Apologetics page I searched all don’t even have any proper explanation for things like this and eventhough they all post the Truth about the Real Presence, they don’t even bother to explain their use of language and justify their context used. Well, I have commented here under the alias of “John” where using what I know from Books and Anglican Sources which I have read from plus my knowledge of Philosophy, I decide to confront the beast of deceit once and for all.

Overall, the question here is, When will Catholic and Orthodox Apologetics websites begin to give more about the context, philosophy and language of the Church Fathers in detail. Even Catholic Answers make everything looked like they have been taken out of context or wrongly used when they are not. If we are just merely going to provide the Bible Verses and Quotes from the Church Fathers without going deeper into them by explaining their usage of philosophy and allegory in their Writings, we are the ones who would look like idiots bending things around here.

Going into the Church Fathers in detail is a noble goal and there should be more of it. But I think there are several reasons why most apologetics literature doesn’t do it.

For one thing, the Bible is so much more of a focus than the Church Fathers. Most apologetics doesn’t even get into the Church Fathers. If you’re doing apologetics with Protestants, you’re typically going to just use the Bible. The only evangelical Protestants who believe the Church Fathers are a high authority are those who have been through seminary programs, and that’s just not where most apologetics literature is focused – it’s focused at the people in the pews, who are willing to read stuff in the Bible but not go looking up Church Fathers.

The best example of a detailed analysis of the Fathers re: Catholic doctrine that I know of is Gary Michuta’s book “Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger.” He has only one or two chapters about Biblical references to the Deuteros, and the rest of his book is taken up with quoting and analysing the Fathers for things like context, content, and stuff like that. If you want to see how to do the Fathers right, I recommend you pick up that book. We just need more apologetics literature that goes into that kind of detail about other issues, including the Eucharist.

I would like to thank Kamui Senketsu for his post. I have to admit that I found the article to be a strong refutation to the Real Presence in the Eucharist. That being said I find it interesting that the writter of the article in using some of the writtings of the early Church Fathers seems to acknowledge that there is Divine Revelation in the Apostostolic Tradition. He focused on those writtings of the early Church Fathers that point to the Eucharist as a symbol without discussing the work of other Church Fathers who clearly believed in the Real Pressence. He was not able to use the Bible in his argument but rather turned to some of the writtings of the Early Church Fathers. Interesting who he did that.
It would be helpful if there was more discussion on the Church’s Doctrine of Transubstantiation. As Catholic’s we need to be able to defend our Church and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Well true I suppose, many Evangelicals I encounter don’t seem to know much about these Church Fathers and would merely use the Bible. For these kind of people, the material offered by many Apologetic websites would do but for the more complex kind of people just like the Author of One Fold Blog, a background on the writings of the Church Fathers and exegesis would be required to go toe to toe with them. Of course that being said, there is a so very obvious flaw in Brian’s(the author) blog,

1)He has cited zero credible Historians that share or support his view
2)Like he love to accuse Catholics of taking quotes out of context, he himself is doing it especially when he doesn’t understand how the Platonic minds of these Church Fathers work.

Well, while I know that there are many books about the Church Fathers and their beliefs out there, the problem is that it would be easier to share at least some content from these books online. Not everyone would be willing to buy a Book and sometimes, books like these are hard to find in Bookstores, though it can be ordered online.

Personally for me, I think that many Catholic and Orthodox Apologetics websites keep things short to make it easier to convey the message to the reader without straining their eyes but regardless of that, I sincerely hope that more websites will be willing and able to do actually post exegesis of the Church Fathers from time to time. While I know that things like these would take lots of time, the effort will be well paid off.

Well it depends actually, if one does not know of the philosophy used by the Church Fathers then of course it would be a strong refutation. To the author of this article, all Church Fathers taken the Eucharist symbolically but the fundamental problem here is that what a symbol is to the Church Fathers is different from how we view a symbol, especially with the Platonic philosophy that is reflected in the writings of the Church Fathers he used. As I would like to quote JND Kelly regarding this,

“Occasionally these writers [the Fathers] use language which has been held to imply that, for all its realist sound, their use of the terms ‘body’ and ‘blood’ may after all be merely symbolical. Tertullian, for example, refers [E.g. C. Marc. 3,19; 4,40] to the bread as ‘a figure’ (figura) of Christ’s body, and once speaks [Ibid I,14: cf. Hippolytus, apost. trad. 32,3] of ‘the bread by which He represents (repraesentat) His very body.’

Yet we should be cautious about interpreting such expressions in a modern fashion. According to ancient modes of thought a mysterious relationship existed between the thing symbolized and its symbol, figure or type; the symbol in some sense was the thing symbolized. Again, the verb -repraesentare-, in Tertullian’s vocabulary [Cf. ibid 4,22; de monog. 10], retained its original significance of ‘to make present."-Early Christian Doctrines

It’s because of the failure of the author to take this into account when writing his article that his entire argument that the Church Fathers do not believe in the Real Presence just falls apart. I can assure you, all the Church Fathers he cited actually believed in the Real Presence. I have entered into a sort of debate with the author and he seems to be only viewing from his own point of view and did not bring up any notable Historian to support and affirm his position. In my debate with him, I brought up two notable Historians on Church History, JND Kelly and Darwell Stone to back up my assertion. Of course, I’m awaiting his reply at the meantime.

Still however, we need a clear Scholarly exegesis when it comes to articles like these and I really hope that more Catholic and Orthodox websites would be willing to do so.

First off, he’s overlooking the transfiguration as a moment that Christ showed His glorification. Meaning to say, Christ was glorified from conception, being in intimate contact with Divinity. However, He chose, for the most part not to display His Divinity in His glorified Body or any aspect of the glorification.

peace
steve

Amazing, this would then explain why the Body and Blood of Christ still have the appearance of Bread and Wine after it has been Sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Nice statement you got there:thumbsup:

It seems the best apologetics are in books written over 100yrs ago. Here.is one I ran across some years ago at my local catholic lending library. It is in the public domain and I believe can be copied to an apologetics website.

The book written by a convert governor of California, Peter H. Burnett, and published in 1859. “The path which led a protestant lawyer to the Catholic Church” . Burnett, Peter H. (Peter Hardeman), 1807-1895.

Here is a link to his chapter on transubstantiation.
first page
babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?i…ew=1up;seq=538
last page
babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?i…ew=1up;seq=629

The entire book is a very logical and well thought out examination of Roman Catholicism and its claims, in a very legal, scholarly approach. I would recommend reading the entire book, after you’ve read the chapter on transubstantiation.

Hope you enjoy it. He makes a lot of interesting points, and also lots of parallels to the way systems of law work. Somewhat stilted speech, but I believe normal for books of that time, and makes the reading interesting as well.

peace
steve

I have to agree, from my perspective, (one that does not believe in the literal transubstantiation of the bread/wine at this point, though I’m studying it), this article you point out is a strong apologetic against the RP. I have to ask that if what you say here is true, if we assume the ECF’s were using words like symbol as not meaning “only symbolic” then what words would they have used if they did indeed believe it was only symbol?

I ask because most of us protestants don’t believe communion is “just a symbol” or an empty symbol or a meaningless symbol or powerless symbol; we too believe that it makes Jesus present to us, and His body and blood, just not in the same sense that the RCC teaches. I can read many of the ECF’s and agree with their perspective and their description of the Lord’s supper.

I do understand that to Protestants such as the Lutherans and Presbyterian Churches, there is the belief in the Real Presence. Even Calvin and Luther both have the belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Of course getting to your question. We have to understand the word “symbol” through the lens of Platonism, since many of the Church Fathers and nearly all of them the author of the blog have used are indeed influenced by Platonism. We first must get into the Theory of Forms to better understand the what the Church Fathers are actually trying to convey in their writings whenever they describe the Eucharist in “symbolic” terms.

Based on the Theory of Forms by Plato, the Ultimate Reality is the “Ideas”(Forms), that is the immaterial and the physical realm is imperfect or an image of the “Ideas”(Forms). To better explain this of course, we must look at Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”. It goes like this, imagine that you are a prisoner in a cave since childhood and you are tied to a wall in a fixed position. Behind you, there is a fire that is lighted and a raised walkway, Along this walkway is a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects " including figures of men and animals made of wood, stone and other materials.". In this way, the walking people are compared to puppeteers and the low wall to the screen over which puppeteers display their puppets. Since these walking people are behind the wall on the walkway, their bodies do not cast shadows on the wall faced by the prisoners, but the objects they carry do. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them, being only able to view the shadows cast upon the wall in front of them. There are also echoes off the shadowed wall of sounds the people walking on the road sometimes make, which the prisoners falsely believe are caused by the shadows.

Now this is not the whole allegory but I suppose it would do. We are the prisoners here and the “shadows” are our reality. The metaphysical are the “Ideas”(Forms) such as the people which we are unaware are causing the shadows. This is the same with the Eucharist, the material reality of it we see is Bread and Wine but, at the “Ideas”(Forms) of the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ which to us just like the prisoners in the allegory of the cave, a mystery and incomprehensible to us that to better understand it, we must resort to using “symbols” to establish a relation with the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the reasons why Allegory and metaphor is used to describe the Eucharist by Church Fathers such as the well known, Clement of Alexandria.

If the Church Fathers do not believe in the Real Presence, and would want to convey that it is only a mere symbol then,
1)Philosophical notions and allegory must not be used
2)Exegesis regarding the Eucharist will only point to a symbolic(Modern sense) dimension and will in no way mention or give hint that they taken it Literally
3)Exegesis would be short as if the partaking of the Bread and Wine is just partaking of those, there would be little or no Spiritual Truths to it as it is just completely a memorial.

I think you did a fine job describing the situation (I taught Philosophy at a small college), but that kind of sidesteps my question. If these individuals(the ECF’s, not us) used such language, then if they did believe in different levels or types of symbol, how do you propose they would talk if they did indeed believe that something was not literally transformed? I posit they would talk it the same manner as we find them talking. As has been mentioned, to them, something would never ever signify “mere symbol.” A symbol had real meaning, with real authority and weight with real consequences for degrading or missing the powerful symbolic nature of such.

If the Church Fathers do not believe in the Real Presence, and would want to convey that it is only a mere symbol then,

And this is were we would have a disagreement; I don’t think it would ever even cross their mind that it is only a mere symbol, but rather they could believe that Jesus was not bodily, physically present in the symbol, while still maintaining a RP in regard to Platonic thought. Because we would have to approach this with a Jewish frame of reference as well as a Platonic one, as the Apostles and earliest disciples would have fed the information through a Jewish frame of reference when passing on the info. In short, we have layer upon layer of meaning and we are then put in the position of trying to get in the ancient frames of reference when trying to decipher the actual meaning of the teachings left to us.

1)Philosophical notions and allegory must not be used

Things of this nature can only be expressed in philosophical and allegorical language.

2)Exegesis regarding the Eucharist will only point to a symbolic(Modern sense) dimension and will in no way mention or give hint that they taken it Literally

But it is as you point out so well; they wouldn’t have thought of it in a modern either/or frame. I believe we can see that it isn’t an either/or way, but a both/and, with the differences being on what is considered “literal.” As an example; Jesus as a door. Is He literally a door, does He function as a door… well, yes and no. I would say that the ECF’s would have no problem discussing Him as a door in a way that seems literal, yet we know that it is an allegory describing a literal truth. That’s what I see with the Eucharist as well.

3)Exegesis would be short as if the partaking of the Bread and Wine is just partaking of those, there would be little or no Spiritual Truths to it as it is just completely a memorial.

And this is the same as the above; you and I both can sense that the ECF’s would never just see it as “just” a memorial. Remembering and showing forth makes it a literal “bringing to the present” in their minds in a way that it is hard for us to connect with. In short, my view is that the way we think in modern terms gets in the way of how the ECF’s actually viewed the whole situation. I believe that means that the RCC and the protestants, both groups, get it wrong. One is too physically literal, while the other is not literal enough, so to speak.

Just looked at his Clement quote. Quite a sleight of hand there. He correctly says Clement regards the Flesh and Blood as figures of the Spirit and Word, respectively. Of course any Catholic can believe this, since the reality is a figure of the symbolized. But Flesh and Blood is the reality, without which being a reality, could not be figurative of anything else.

But here is the sleight of hand. He then associates Clement’s Body/Blood->Spirit/Word figures to Christ’s Bread/Wine=>Flesh/Blood statement. There is no direct comparison here.

Any Catholic can agree that the Christ’s actual Flesh and Blood are present in the Eucharist and symbolize the Spirit and Word within. But first we believe that the bread and wine become Christ’s Body and Blood.

As a side note, what is figured is the spiritual reality within the physical. And as St Augustine says, in one of his sermons on John 6, we also must receive Christ spiritually in the Eucharist, as well as physically, or we are not fully eating His Flesh and Blood.

peace
steve

I think you did a fine job describing the situation (I taught Philosophy at a small college), but that kind of sidesteps my question. If these individuals(the ECF’s, not us) used such language, then if they did believe in different levels or types of symbol, how do you propose they would talk if they did indeed believe that something was not literally transformed? I posit they would talk it the same manner as we find them talking. As has been mentioned, to them, something would never ever signify “mere symbol.” A symbol had real meaning, with real authority and weight with real consequences for degrading or missing the powerful symbolic nature of such.

Oops, sorry on my part there and for the long reply, l went to bed before looking at your reply. To be honest, in my personal opinion if they would want to say that it is a symbol, they would not give any hint that it is literal as the Church Fathers themselves wrote in obvious terms that the Eucharist is literal flat out for us to see. After all if that’s not the case then the Church Fathers must have not been at their right minds when writing as I cannot just say for example that unicorns exist and then afterwards say that they don’t or the opposite. That doesn’t add up.

I beg to differ that they would write about it in the same manner of course or even if they do, they would not have written extensively about how the Eucharist is mysterious, nourishes our bodies Spiritually and so on as if the Eucharist is only a memorial meal, the Eucharist would not have been so mysterious after all since it is understood to have the significance of remembering and commuting with Jesus in our hearts or through faith and there would not have been any if there is at all a mysterious aspect to it as it is now degraded to a memorial ritual just like for example, QingMing which is just a memorial festival for the Dead in which the Chinese show their filial piety to departed relatives, nothing more and nothing less.

And this is were we would have a disagreement; I don’t think it would ever even cross their mind that it is only a mere symbol, but rather they could believe that Jesus was not bodily, physically present in the symbol, while still maintaining a RP in regard to Platonic thought. Because we would have to approach this with a Jewish frame of reference as well as a Platonic one, as the Apostles and earliest disciples would have fed the information through a Jewish frame of reference when passing on the info. In short, we have layer upon layer of meaning and we are then put in the position of trying to get in the ancient frames of reference when trying to decipher the actual meaning of the teachings left to us.

Well I don’t think so either but what I meant is an assumption or a “What if” situation where they taken the Eucharist as a symbol as in the modern sense. Of course I’ll agree with you that it will never cross their minds at all that the Eucharist is a mere symbol but whenever such instances emerge, we do know that they are allegorizing the Eucharist in order to explain or bring up its Spiritual Truths as after all, what we can see with our eyes in the Eucharist is simply the “shadows on the wall” in the Allegory of the Cave. I agree that we must look at it from a Jewish point of view as well and a Biblical one aside from looking from a philosophical point of view as we have to know what spurred these Church Fathers to have such thoughts regarding the Eucharist.

Your view of the Eucharist is just like John Calvin’s view of the Real Presence. Well I believe that the Bread and Wine is the Body and Blood of Christ which is the “Ideas”(Forms) of the Bread and Wine after being Sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Of course I have to know what Spiritual by definition here too. I’ll go on to add that I view the Real Presence as Spiritual as well but it is the Spiritual part of the Bread and Wine, just as the Soul which is us and because it is present in the Body, the Body is us. This is what I believe about the Eucharist the Body and Blood is “Soul” of the Bread and Wine and thus making the Bread and Wine the Body and Blood of Christ.

Things of this nature can only be expressed in philosophical and allegorical language.

If you are referring to things such as the Eucharist then yes, that is the only way we can try to make sense of it and comprehend it.

But it is as you point out so well; they wouldn’t have thought of it in a modern either/or frame. I believe we can see that it isn’t an either/or way, but a both/and, with the differences being on what is considered “literal.” As an example; Jesus as a door. Is He literally a door, does He function as a door… well, yes and no. I would say that the ECF’s would have no problem discussing Him as a door in a way that seems literal, yet we know that it is an allegory describing a literal truth. That’s what I see with the Eucharist as well.

Yes, Jesus is literally the Door to our Salvation in which we go through to obtain Eternal Life so yes in this sense I can partially agree with you here. Just as Jesus is a Door but at the same time do not have any physical attributes to a door(i.e made of wood, have hinges…etc). The Eucharist is also like that. While the Bread and Wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ, it do so metaphysically which means that the Bread and Wine is still on the outset and appearance, Bread and Wine. However I disagree is that it doesn’t goes both way for things such as, “Jesus is a Lamb”. While it is mentioned many times that he is the Lamb of God, he is not a Lamb, he doesn’t “baa” and doesn’t have wool, he is fully God and fully man. Yet, there are parallels between the Sacrificial Lamb and Jesus but only within a secondary aspect as in he is Sacrificed and eaten during the Eucharist just as the Passover Lamb is Sacrificed and then eaten but this is only a parallel between Jesus and the Lamb which is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God to describe the Sacrifice.

On the other hand, when Jesus said that his Body and Blood is the Bread and Wine, he says it in a literal manner, proclaimed it so without explaining that it is symbolic and is a representation as he said, “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood”. He makes it simple and clear here for the Apostles and with other parts of the Bible such as John 6, we see how Jesus while yes, I say some Protestants got that part correct partially, it is about faith, faith in Christ but at the same time, Jesus makes it clear that one must Eat his Flesh and drink his Blood to have eternal life and oddly enough, Bread is mentioned a lot here. With this in mind, the Eucharist cannot simply be symbolic anymore as Jesus himself have declared it and foreshadowed the institution of the Eucharist through the many mentions and instances of Bread.

And this is the same as the above; you and I both can sense that the ECF’s would never just see it as “just” a memorial. Remembering and showing forth makes it a literal “bringing to the present” in their minds in a way that it is hard for us to connect with. In short, my view is that the way we think in modern terms gets in the way of how the ECF’s actually viewed the whole situation. I believe that means that the RCC and the protestants, both groups, get it wrong. One is too physically literal, while the other is not literal enough, so to speak.

Well only some Protestants, not all. The Catholics got it wrong by attempting to explain the change and make it official Dogma through Transubstantiation hereby making the Eucharist a physical event which can be explained and take away from the mystery of the Eucharist which requires the language of symbols and allegory to comprehend. Protestants(Some) got it wrong by treating the Eucharist as a mere memorial meal.

Well, this has been a fruitful discussion we have going on here where we can sit down and civilly discuss things unlike, You Tube where it can get really intense.

I agree, it is a very good discussion. I think that for me, one of the things I’ve already mentioned truly does keep me from believing in transubstantiation, and it is the wording of some (and notice I don’t say all) of the ECF’s, and early Christian writers. Their language is a mix, and even when they are indeed talking of symbol it is concrete language, which can be confusing to anyone who is reading it. But it is because of that, and those places where they seem to deny a physical change outright that I can’t jump in and fully support transubstantiation at this point in light of scripture.

Another philosophical question I’ve been wondering; why did the Catholic church “side” with Aristotle as far as forms go, and not Plato? In fact, this difference can be one reason everything seems a bit “off” in the explanations; the ECF’s may have been approaching the idea through the lens of Platonism, not Aristotelian philosophy. Aristotle’s idea of imminent forms is the main thought behind transubstantiation, while Plato maintained his transcendent idea.

It is also these very questions that also cause me a great deal of thought in the area of transubstantiation, for I can’t see the need to borrow from non-Jewish, pre-Christian philosophies to explain something that is rooted in Judaism and introduces and solidifies the New Covenant. In short, I’m not exactly in line with Calvinistic teaching either, but somewhere swimming in the middle of Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, the OC, and the RCC. lol :eek: I am indeed attempting to sort all of this out by reading various theologians from the various backgrounds and philosophies, and seeking for the truth, not just my opinion… but it is a long haul, and thus far not one single writer or explanation has fully “clicked” for me. Throw in a dose of Quantum mechanics and I may be investigating this for years to come. :o

I agree, it is a very good discussion. I think that for me, one of the things I’ve already mentioned truly does keep me from believing in transubstantiation, and it is the wording of some (and notice I don’t say all) of the ECF’s, and early Christian writers. Their language is a mix, and even when they are indeed talking of symbol it is concrete language, which can be confusing to anyone who is reading it. But it is because of that, and those places where they seem to deny a physical change outright that I can’t jump in and fully support transubstantiation at this point in light of scripture.

Well yes, I do agree that the language of the Church Fathers can be confusing at times but to me that shows the reason why they are called, “Church Fathers” in the first place,because of their complexity and their knowledge of philosophy which they used to explain and make sense of Christian Doctrine and belief. Of course I would like to add that there are some Church Fathers such as Ignatius of Antioch who are not Platonists which is why his writing is pretty clear regarding the Real Presence because of the literal expressions and language he is using in his letters. For me though, transubstantiation is not required to believe in the Real Presence, it is just that as long as one believes that the Bread and Wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist after invoking the Holy Spirit, one is believing in the Real Presence.

Another philosophical question I’ve been wondering; why did the Catholic church “side” with Aristotle as far as forms go, and not Plato? In fact, this difference can be one reason everything seems a bit “off” in the explanations; the ECF’s may have been approaching the idea through the lens of Platonism, not Aristotelian philosophy. Aristotle’s idea of imminent forms is the main thought behind transubstantiation, while Plato maintained his transcendent idea.

I’m not so sure about that but I think this have to do with Augustine as he uses Aristotelian philosophy and the greatest theologian of the Catholic Church, Thomas Aquinas who uses completely the philosophical language of Aristotle. Many of the Church Fathers used Platonism but it should be kept in mind that Aristotle himself was a student of Plato. Of course other than that, I really have not much of a clue as in why the Catholic Church decide to endorse Aristotelian Philosophy, probably because of their obsession to rationalize I suppose due to the Scholastic nature of the Catholic Church.

It is also these very questions that also cause me a great deal of thought in the area of transubstantiation, for I can’t see the need to borrow from non-Jewish, pre-Christian philosophies to explain something that is rooted in Judaism and introduces and solidifies the New Covenant. In short, I’m not exactly in line with Calvinistic teaching either, but somewhere swimming in the middle of Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, the OC, and the RCC. lol :eek: I am indeed attempting to sort all of this out by reading various theologians from the various backgrounds and philosophies, and seeking for the truth, not just my opinion… but it is a long haul, and thus far not one single writer or explanation has fully “clicked” for me. Throw in a dose of Quantum mechanics and I may be investigating this for years to come. :o

Well, it is impossible to come to a logical conclusion about the Eucharist but the main thing that we need to know is that the Bread and Wine becomes the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Oh, I think a great place to start would be JND Kelly’s “Early Christian Doctrine” which you can read for free here,
scribd.com/doc/103911481/J-N-D-Kelly-Early-Christian-Doctrines

Will check out the link, thanks! :slight_smile:

I glossed it and read your comments, well done in defending the real presence!

Why thank you for your compliments. I’ll admit that I made some grammatical mistakes in my comments on that Blog however as I usually only check my comments after posting them.

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