Did Augustine believe in the Real Presence


#21

Greetings again, pneuma07

I see that I am falling further behind.

I don’t think the difference has to be that radically worded. There are a number of ways in which the bread is viewed as the body of Christ. Symbolically, Spiritually, Mystically, Consubstantively, and Transubstantively all come to mind. A fellow such as Augustine may view the spiritual reality as more important than the physical reality (IIRC that was his position) and would, therefore, not say,” This is NOT really the body of Christ" because of the primary importance placed on the spiritual (as in it is spiritually the body of Christ)

Have we a general picture of the Church of that time obliging us to imagine this dramatic semantic change of the formulation through the following centuries ? When and how did this semantic, theological, ecclesial earthquake take place in the post-V century Church ?

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Being RC, you view the matter from that perspective. Being non-RC, I ask, “When did the Children of God changed from the view that eating human flesh was absolutely wrong to the view that eating human flesh in a certain manner was acceptable?” I would give the same answer to both questions. Sometime between 100 AD and the detailing of transubstantiation, the pious read more and more into the words of our Lord and arrived at a literal interpretation of “This is my body” which flies in the face of what the participant is actually able to observe with his senses.

What evidence do we have about that ?

the evidence can only be found in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers and of the early church spanning the time period in question.

Fathers.Can we find any age in Church History when the doctrine of Real Presence was a challenger rather than being challenged ?

It all depends on how one interprets the Fathers that I just mentioned. That of course could be a bunch of separate threads

  1. The Catholic Church maintains that Augustine gave an exceptional contribution to the understanding of the Sacrament of Eucharist, and of its “inexhaustible richness”.

I believe the Reformed also see their understanding of the Eucharist (spiritual presence) clearly set forward by Augustine.

Note that the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is affirmed by Augustine as clearly as by the Church. Do you reject the sacrificial nature ?

depends on what you mean by “sacrifice”. In City of God Augustine states: “A true sacrifice is anything that we do with the aim of being united to God in holy fellowship – anything that is directed towards that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed.”

Or do you imagine it without Real Presence ?

Using Augustine’s broad definition of sacrifice, one most certainly does not require a real bodily presence for the Eucharist to be viewed as a sacrifice.

You say: “Augustine is not saying that Jesus’s body is really on the Lord’s table and that the participant eats Jesus’s body any more than he is saying that the believers (who he is addressing) are really on the Lord’s table and that they are eating themselves.” You appear to propose this as a reductio ad absurdum, so that everyone may understand that Augustine would teach that we do not eat the Lord’s Flesh in the Eucharist.

Actually, what I was attempting to do was to show that unless one is prepared to say that the believers are also really present on the Lord’s table then one should acknowledge that Augustine is speaking figuratively in Sermon 272 and should not quote a sentence (out of context from the start of the sermon) as if it proves that Augustine held to a real bodily presence. I would further say that even if one is prepared to say that the believers are also really present on the Lord’s table then one should still see that Augustine is speaking figuratively because of what he stated in OCD (this would also apply to your quote from sermon 132)


#22

no doubt some protestant churches have attempted such a form in hopes of being more seeker friendly. :wink: Tis good to see the RCC isn’t going that route.

What is reality, just what you see and understand ? You will agree that the “either or” mindset, would rule out trinitarianism too. Either three, or one.

The difference in these two matters is that with respect to the Trinity we do not say God is formed as we are, but with respect to Jesus’s flesh we do say that he has flesh as we do. (If his flesh is radically different from ours, then we really should have a different term for it).

I won’t say that it is contradictory rejecting Holy Communion and saving Holy Trinity, but their root is common, if we think of it: God’s Incarnation in Mary’s womb.

with respect , I do not see the necessity of Mary’s Womb. The Trinity was the Trinity before Mary and Jesus could take on human form without Mary.

To be brief my answers can be:

  1. yes
  2. The Church, like Augustine, IMHO says both YES, if understood ordinarily
  3. The Church like Augustine says that is to be understood sacramentally.

But regarding question 3 it is critical that you answer whether or not the RCC (like Augustine) believes that that command must be understood figuratively.


#23

pneuma07,

holy communion with Jesus, yes. Holy Communion, as in eating the eucharist, no.

Do you believe eating a wafer can save you ? Did, in your opinion, Augustine believe that a piece of bread could save him ?

No and no. Post #12 from SyCarl contains quotes from Augustine indicating how one eats to gain salvation.

Dear Radical, isn’t Augustine amazing in his exposition ?

He had his good days and his bad. He most certainly has my respect.

Fearing to fall into idolatry, or to disobey God’s word, Augustine finally gets it. What we have to worship is the consecrated bread. It is a sin not worshipping it.

I don’t see where Augustine says that "What we have to worship is the consecrated bread " He ponders how one can worship the footstool of God which he identifies as the earth.

Would you worship a piece of bread ?

Nope

Did in your opinion teach to worship a piece of bread ?

Augustine did not teach that one should worship a piece of bread. In the passage he states: “And because He walked here in very flesh, and gave that very flesh to us to eat for our salvation; and no one eats that flesh, unless he has first worshipped: we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord’s may be worshipped, and not only that we sin not in worshipping it, but that we sin in not worshipping.” The object of worship that Augustine has in mind is the “footstool”, which he identifes as the earth, and the earth he in turn associates with Jesus b/c Jesus possessed flesh and he believed flesh came from earth. Bread is not contemplated. I might add that this is not Augustine’s brightest work. He ponders how one could worship the Lord’s footstool b/c he misunderstood the passage. The verse calls for worshipping at a footstool and not the worshipping of a footstool.

You see: the wrong (carnal) way to understand 6:53 is “you are to eat this body which you see”, ie becoming cannibals.

Indeed, that was the error of the non-believers present on that occasion. However, when Augustine states that John 6:53 must be understood figuratively and not literally he is not concerned with the error of the non-believers present on that occasion. Rather, Augustine is concerned with a potential error of believers some hundreds of years later. Here is a “both” matter for you. Both can be wrong. The non-believers for their carnal understanding and the believers of Augustine’s time for their literal understanding were both wrong in the carnality of their understandings. Because Augustine is addressing believers when he says that the command must be understood figuratively I can not accept your reconciliation.

Now we cannot think that a “mystery” is a simple memorial supper.

I am not saying that Augustine held to a mere memorialist view. It seems to me that he held to a spiritual presence that is quite similar to the Reformed view.

Please consider the combined evidence I gathered for you before expressing your thoughts about that, and whether you can consider as possible a change of opinion.

Thank-you for the gracious way in which you made this request. As you can tell my opinion hinges greatly on my understanding of the passage from OCD and I have done my best to explain why I hold to that particular understanding and why I can’t accept your explanation of how Augustine could hold to both 1) a real bodily presence and 2) a figurative (and anti-literalist) view of the command. I could see both real bodily presence and figurative, but not both 1) a real bodily presence and 2) a figurative (and anti-literalist).

Augustine does not look accomodating at all in his looking for and defending the truth. I guess both Donatists and Pelagians, for example, would tell you how little accomodating he was towards what he believed being error.

True, but were they viewed as fellow believers to be brought to greater unity or as opponents to unity?

You might anyway start a thread such as:

“Did Chrysostom believe in RP ?”, or “Did Jerome believe in RP ?” or "Did Theodore of Mopsuetsia believe in RP ?"and so on.
Or just a thread on the general view in those times. I’d follow it with interest.

I’ll quickly concede that many ECFs held a view that is consistent with the present RCC view, but I wouldn’t concede that all did. Are you agreed at “many” or are you at “all”?

I hope I have contributed to show that letting Augustine speak for himself the interpretation you are proposing again here could be reconsidered.

You have done a better job than any other effort that I have seen on the internet and have done it with true Christian charity. Thank-you for both the job and the charity and may God truly bless you. Cheers.


#24

#25

#26

#27

pneuma07,

This aspect of Augustine I have not looked at enough so as to have formed an opinion on his view. Your quote most certainly suggests that such was his view. How does that square with the current RC position? It seems that if salvation is possible for separated brethren, then salvation is possible without the Real Presence Eucharist.

You see both sacraments are necessary for salvation according to our author. here we’re at the centre of the issue.
If you and your denomination do not share this tenet with him, then yours and Augustine’s eucharistic doctrines have little in common.

You are right to point out that Augustine had eucharistic doctrines. One can agree with one of his doctrines and not agree with another. Fortunately, for me, agreement with Augustine is only important where and when Augustine is right.

As you see this passage is manifestly at odds with Sola Fide. Can we agree on this ?

That is the appearance of the passage.

My argument does not rest on that at all. Augustine tells us he was embarassed by the seeming command to worship the earth( which is also called God’s footsool). …2) Then you say “bread is not contemplated”. Is there anything else that Christians have ever both eaten and worshipped, other than the consecrated bread ? …This, IMHO, is our Bingo.

I suggest that in order to achieve the “Bingo”, you have read into the text that which is not there. The key sentence tells us that no one eats that flesh, unless he has first worshipped. Please note that he doesn’t say “unless he has first worshipped the consecrated bread”. Nor does he say “unless he has first worshipped Christ”, but that is how I understand his point based on his reasoning of the footstool is earth, Christ is of the earth (having taken on flesh which is from the earth) and therefore, in worshipping Christ one can be said to have worshipped the footstool in a certain manner.

Can you say that in his time and his area it was plainly absolutely clear that the there is no Real Presence in the sacrament of the Body of Christ ? Any evidence shown so far tells us just the contrary.

To what evidence are you referring?

Oposite or even distant views on the sacrament of Eucharist, would be a Church-breaking issue. Not an area on which being accomodating.

As you pointed out, Augustine had Eucharistic doctrines. If a fellow was in agreement with Augustine on all of his Eucharistic doctrines except for the literal eating vs figurative eating doctrine, I do not know that such would be viewed as a Church-breaking issue.

May God bless you.


#28

Radical,

It’s possible that you believe the Catholic doctrine to be more “literal” than it is.

As you know, we believe that Jesus is really present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, under the appearance of bread and wine.

However, that does not mean that in receiving Communion we are chewing on a hunk of Jesus, even if we consider that we are doing so invisibly to our senses.

Jesus is in no way damaged, divided, or affected by our action of eating and eventually digesting the consecrated elements.

It’s not even strictly true, according to Catholic teaching, that the “bread” is (only) His Body and the “wine” (only) His Blood. Now that He is resurrected and glorified, His blood can never again be separated from His flesh, nor His soul from His glorified body. Thus, even the tiniest recognizable bit of either “bread” or “wine” is the entire Jesus.

This may actually be compatible with your own “spiritual presence” viewpoint. I confess that I have never been entirely sure what a “spiritual presence” entails, other than that it is neither physical nor a complete lack of any special presence.

Now, we do believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist in a very special way, greater than His presence in a gathering of His followers, or His presence as God everywhere in the Universe. He is present enough there that we can direct actual worship toward the consecrated elements and be worshipping Him rather than an idol, just as one could worship the man Jesus without idolatry during His time on earth.

But it’s important to note that, however “real” our understanding of the Eucharist, we don’t subscribe to a “cannibalistic” view even today. We receive Christ in a special way by the act of eating and drinking, yes, but at no point are we actually chowing down on Him or any part of Him in a physical way. He’s really there, and completely so (even His glorified flesh), and we really receive Him in a way we don’t normally otherwise, and indeed He’s the only thing there – the apparent “bread” and/or “wine” being essentially an illusion to make possible the physical act of eating and drinking – but our teeth never bite into Jesus in the way that the words “physical” and “literal” may be leading you to think.

Usagi


#29

#30

BTW

For everyone who is interested in the …“real” catholic teaching about Real Presence, this link, besides of course the CCC,
could be helpful:

usccb.org/dpp/realpresence.htm


#31

“God in His omnipotence could not give more, in His wisdom He knew not how to give more, in His riches He had not more to give, than the Eucharist.”
– St. Augustine


#32

Hello, Usagi

Tis possible, but I believe that pneuma07 has done a good job of explaining the unexplainable. It is an interesting question. Are there degrees to “literal” such that something can be understood 75% literally? When does it become non-literal? At 50%, at 0%? In the matter before us it would seem the literalness of only two things need be considered. Is human flesh literally present? Is it literally eaten? How would you answer those two questions if you were restricted to a simple “yes” or “no”?

Jesus is in no way damaged, divided, or affected by our action of eating and eventually digesting the consecrated elements.

Something is chewed, something is swallowed and something is digested. At first glance, it would seem that the “something” can’t be the bread b/c (according to the site pneuma07 linked) the bread has been changed to body and has ceased to be bread, however, I believe what the RCC would say is that the physical characteristics of the bread (which are now “attached” to the substance of the body) are the things that are chewed, swallowed and digested. I believe that RCs would argue that the act in question is not one of cannibalism because of the absence of the physical characteristics of human flesh (notwithstanding the presence of its substance). In this case it seems then, that physical characteristics and not substance determine the morality of an act. Form over substance seems wrong in matters of morality.

This may actually be compatible with your own “spiritual presence” viewpoint. I confess that I have never been entirely sure what a “spiritual presence” entails, other than that it is neither physical nor a complete lack of any special presence.

Apart from memorialists, is anybody entirely sure about what any view concerning the Lord’s Supper entails? To me, “a purely spiritual presence” does not possess a physical component. Paul, contemplates attendance at a certain place whilst leaving his body behind. I would call that a type of spiritual presence. Had Paul’s body been brought along for the ride then I would suggest that it is no longer a purely spiritual presence. With the RCs, because they say the bread has been converted to the substance of the body, they contemplate a bodily presence that would rule out a purely spiritual presence. (At least in the way I would use the term, but then again, standard usage is not the hallmark of discussions on the Eucharist.)


#33

How funny! The poster completely misses the message of the sermon and bolds the wrong points within it - almsot on purpose. :smiley:

Also, I wonder if the poster knew that Saint Augustine was a Priest?


#34

.
Greetings!

If one reads the whole paragraph and not just the piece that MarcoPolo quoted, one sees that Augustine is in fact saying:
The bread = Jesus’s body = believers = the bread on the Lord’s table.
Augustine is not saying that Jesus’s body is really on the Lord’s table

Just so we are all clear, when you put an “equals” sign between “The Bread” and “Jesus’ body” what do you mean by that? Does your equal sign actually mean “is symbolic of” rather than “is equal to”? I dont know how you can possibly start with “The bread =Jesus” and then claim that “Augustine is not saying that Jesus’ body is (the bread)” Drop one claim or the other. Otherwise you make absolutely no sense.


#35

Yes to the first (with the caveat that it is resurrected, glorified human flesh, the properties of which almost certainly differ greatly from those of earthly human flesh).

No to the second (if by eating you mean the chewing and swallowing and digesting, though there is a sense in which the Body of Christ is consumed or received into our bodies).

Something is chewed, something is swallowed and something is digested. At first glance, it would seem that the “something” can’t be the bread b/c (according to the site pneuma07 linked) the bread has been changed to body and has ceased to be bread, however, I believe what the RCC would say is that the physical characteristics of the bread (which are now “attached” to the substance of the body) are the things that are chewed, swallowed and digested.

Actually, as I understand it, the properties of bread are not attached to the substance of the Body. They aren’t attached to anything. That’s a fairly technical point, though.

The accidents of the bread and wine are, as I said, more or less an illusion in the transubstantiationist view. It’s like when Cypher in The Matrix enjoys a steak dinner while admitting that he’s aware there’s not really any meat there, just the disembodied sight and smell and taste of it being fed to his brain.

I believe that RCs would argue that the act in question is not one of cannibalism because of the absence of the physical characteristics of human flesh (notwithstanding the presence of its substance). In this case it seems then, that physical characteristics and not substance determine the morality of an act. Form over substance seems wrong in matters of morality.

There’s also the point I was attempting to make earlier, that the substance of flesh is never actually chewed or swallowed or digested. The Presence is “bodily” because Jesus has a body and we receive all of Him in the Eucharist, but it’s not a matter of actually biting into Him. Earthly acts can no longer affect the Risen Christ.

Apart from memorialists, is anybody entirely sure about what any view concerning the Lord’s Supper entails? To me, “a purely spiritual presence” does not possess a physical component. Paul, contemplates attendance at a certain place whilst leaving his body behind. I would call that a type of spiritual presence. Had Paul’s body been brought along for the ride then I would suggest that it is no longer a purely spiritual presence. With the RCs, because they say the bread has been converted to the substance of the body, they contemplate a bodily presence that would rule out a purely spiritual presence. (At least in the way I would use the term, but then again, standard usage is not the hallmark of discussions on the Eucharist.)

Heh. Agreed.

Again, our view of the Real Presence is “bodily” because it includes the Lord’s Body. I’m not sure it can be called “physical” in any modern sense, though. Not only is the Body not observable or measurable by any physical means, but also He is not divided or affected by the eating going on.

We believe that when we receive Communion we are receiving Jesus, alive and whole, and not tearing into some part of His physical being with our teeth.

Usagi


#36

Hi Radical!

Please understand that the Eucharist is a mystery and it cannot be fully comprehended even if it is accurately articulated.
There are some very basic fundamentals regarding the Incarnation and Resurrection which escape our earthly minds. To illustrate this I ask you to consider the following questions. I know it may seem like an irrelvent diversion, but please consider it thoughtfully and I think you will find that inherent in the questions lies the mystery of the Eucharistic real presence.

We all believe that Christ was fully human. This means that he had a human body composed of atomic matter, correct?
The question I wish to present to you is what happened to the atoms of Christs humanity when he ascended into Heaven? Do you believe they :
a) ascended to Heaven and remain part of his Resurrected body; or
b) that they cease to exist;
or
c) is it a mystery?

It is a seemingly ridiculous consideration, I know. Give it some thought and let me know. I think you are going to end up at either choice b or c. Once you are there your "cannabilism/crime scenario that you injected into your understanding of Augustine’s treatments of the Eucharist will vanish. We are left with a mystery - of what is Christ’s body composed? How is it distinguishable from the rest of the Heavenly realm so that He “sits” at the right hand of the Father? Christ has an essence which substantially identifies him. What are the boundaries of such an essence and how could they apply to the Eucharist? Mystery, my friend. Somehow the Eucharist is substantially Christ so that when we partake of it we partake of Him, but not in a way that is considered cannabalistic. He is God, after all, dont expect to understand that completely on this side of eternity.


#37

pneuma07,

It has definitely been a learning experience….the trick is now to not forget what I have learned. Wish me luck.

As for “agreement with Augustine is only important where and when Augustine is right.”, I just hope you’re going to correct those who will tell you Augustine was more or less an ante litteram reformed.

If one should ever make such a claim, on your authority I will endeavor to set them straight.

I could agree…to disagree on these crucial words….letting other readers decide for themselves whether they point to eucharistic adoration, or just to the general adoration of Christ.

One more thought on this Eucharistic adoration. If Augustine placed primary importance on spiritual reality (as per my recollection), then I would suggest that a spiritual presence would be sufficient to cause Augustine to approve of adoration of the consecrated bread (though I will continue to agree to disagree on the matter of whether Augustine even endorsed such adoration in the passage).

Well, for the little we saw, Christians in Augustine’s area held the sacrament of the Eucharist for salvific, calling that sacrament simply “life” . Even in the probably unprecedented variety of denominations of our own time, I cannot see many branches of Christianity preaching a strictly salvific sacrament of Communion while clearly rejecting Real Presence.

Again, I don’t know that a Real (bodily) Presence would be required for such a view given the importance placed on spiritual reality and the absence of a real bodily presence at baptism (another salvific sacrament).

Guess on what single issue the “Marburg colloquy” between Zwingli and Luther failed ?

I’ll guess wildly here, but I think it had to do with whether Calvin should be invited or not given his tendency to turn everything into a discussion on predestination. :wink:

God bless you.


#38

Hello Philthy,

I was being lazy in my presentation, expecting that the reader would look to Augustine’s sermon to see his exact words. Allow me to elaborate on my meaning. Augustine said:

  1. the bread IS the body of Christ
  2. it’s you (the believers) that ARE the body of Christ
  3. it’s you (the believers) that have BEEN placed on the Lord’s table

I dont know how you can possibly start with “The bread =Jesus” and then claim that “Augustine is not saying that Jesus’ body is (the bread)” Drop one claim or the other. Otherwise you make absolutely no sense

My position is that if one is going to understand that the “IS” in #1 means “is actually” as opposed to “is symbolically” or “is spiritually”, then one should be consistent and understand the “ARE” in #2 to mean “are actually” and the “BEEN” in #3 to mean “actually been”. From there, if one claims a real bodily presence of Christ from “is actually”, then one should be consistent and claim a real bodily presence of all believers from “have actually been”. Further, if one can understand that in saying #2 and #3 that Augustine could have been speaking in a purely figurative manner, then one should be consistent and understand that in saying #1 Augustine could have been speaking in a purely figurative manner.

My complaint is that RCs produce the beginning of this sermon as prima facie evidence of Augustine’s belief in the RCs doctrine of Real Presence as it that settles the matter. (As has been done on this thread.) The balance of the sermon is ignored and it is the balance of the sermon that eliminates (or at least calls into question) the prima facie case.

Further, Augustine first notes that one thing is seen and another is understood. He then asks, “How can bread be his body?” His answer to that question (which continues to the second paragraph) is not one which points to a bodily presence. I understand his answer to be:

  1. Just as Paul tells the believers at Corinth that they are the body of Christ, Augustine’s congregation are also the body of Christ
  2. If one accepts this understanding, then by partaking in the Eucharist one is partaking in the sacrament of peace and unity with one’s fellow believers (who are the members of Christ’s body)
  3. A loaf of bread is suitable for this understanding because it is made from many grains (and many believers are united in the body), the grains are ground (believers are exorcised), mixed into dough (believers are baptized) and baked (believers receive the fire of the Holy Spirit).
  4. “Be what you can see, and receive what you are. That’s what the apostle said about the bread.” This is how Augustine concludes his remarks on the loaf of bread.

In other words, Augustine (IMHO) says that the bread is Christ’s body b/c the bread is also a symbol for the church and the church is, in a figurative sense, the body of Christ. The bread is well suited to be that symbol. Recognize what the bread signifies and participate in the Eucharist so as to enjoy the unity symbolized by the bread. As you can see, I do not see sermon 272 as evidence of Augustine’s belief in a real bodily presence. Instead, I believe sermon 272 is better evidence of Augustine’s figurative understanding.

Hopefully, I have now made some sense of my remarks regarding sermon 272.


#39

#40

Hmm. Well, in Catholic thinking, #2 and #3 also refer to “real” occurrences, though they may not be taken literally enough to match #1 in your view.

In terms of #2, believers really do make up a spiritual entity known as the Mystical Body of Christ. It’s not just a metaphor, but a spiritual reality. Of course, it’s not a literal, physical reality in that we are not the body Jesus walked around in on Earth. So that may not work for your comparison.

As for #3, we, the congregation, are literally and bodily present at the Mass (not every Mass, but the ones we attend). And as part of the Mass we literally offer up everything that we are in union with Christ’s sacrifice, including our bodies and anything we can bodily accomplish for God. So we, the believers, are also “placed on the Lord’s table.” Of course, we don’t literally get up and hop onto the altar, so again that might not be good enough for your take on things.

Point being, in Catholic thinking Augustine is not making figurative statements in any of the above cases.All three reflect at least a spiritual reality. Of course, since your position is one of a real spiritual presence, that may work just fine for you.

Usagi


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