Minggu, Maret 14, 2010

Bab 24 "Sacrifice" of the Mass

We have come to the very heart of Roman Catholicism, that unique element which separates it from all other religions and especially from evangelical Christianity: the sacrifice of the Mass. In it "the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated. [It is] the source and the summit of the whole of the Church's worship and of the Christian life." Declared present on the altar through the miracle of transubstantiation (which only the Catholic priest can perform) is the "true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine in order to offer himself in the sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion."

Christ said from the cross just as He died, "It is finished" (John 19:30). But to the Catholic it isn't finished. Christ's sacrifice continues to this day, being endlessly repeated on Catholic altars: "Each time Mass is offered, the Sacrifice of Christ is repeated. A new sacrifice is not offered, but by divine power, one and the same sacrifice is repeated.... In the Mass Christ continues to offer Himself to the Father as He did on the Cross" but in an "unbloody manner under the appearance of bread and wine."

Calvary was a very bloody scene. How there could be an unbloody repetition thereof is not explained. Furthermore, the remission [of sins]" (Hebrews 9:22).

Yet the "unbloody" Mass is deemed to bring remission of sins-a remission which is not needed, for Christ already obtained it on the cross. The Bible says:

And he took the cup ... saying ... this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed [on the cross] for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:27, 28).

To him [Christ] give all the prophets witness, that ... whosoever believeth in him shall receive [as a gift of God's grace] remission of sins (Acts 10:43).

Many Sacrifices or Only One?

The Mass is called a propitiatory sacrifice in which "Christ offers himself [perpetually] for the salvation of the entire world ... [and] the work of our redemption is accomplished." In contrast, the Bible repeatedly emphasizes that the full penalty for sin was paid upon the cross and on that basis the resurrected Christ "entered in once into the holy place [heaven], having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12). There He is seated at the Father's right

hand, our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14), representing those He has redeemed, where "he ever liveth [dies no more] to make intercession for them":

Who needeth not daily, as those [Old Testament] high priests, to offer up sacrifice ... for this he did once, when he offered up himself [on the cross] (Hebrews 7:27).

The contrast between Catholicism and what the Bible teaches could not be greater than with regard to the alleged "sacrifice" of the Mass. That difference is exposed with stark clarity in the distinction which the Bible emphasizes between the one sacrifice Christ made of Himself and the continual Old Testament sacrifices which had to be repeated daily. The repetition of those offerings is given as proof that they could not pay the penalty for sin; and the fact that Christ was offered only once is given as proof that His sacrifice was sufficient and never needed to be repeated. That the Mass must be repeated proves its ineffectiveness. If once is not enough, then neither would be a billion repetitions; nor can Rome say how many masses it takes to get anyone out of purgatory.

The many Old Testament sacrifices of animals were anticipatory types of the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross which would accomplish what they could not. The Bible allows no misunderstanding:

Nor yet that he [Christ] should offer himself often, as the [Jewish] high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many... .

For the law ... can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? ...

But this man [Christ], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God ... for by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified....

[God says] their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 9:25-10:2; 10:12-18).

Scripture could not be clearer. Christ's sacrifice took place once for all time upon the cross and is never to be repeated because it paid the full penalty for sin. That the Mass is Christ being sacrificed over and over on Catholic altars is the heart of Catholicism; and the repetition of the Mass is the Catholic's main hope of eventual release from purgatory. That doctrine directly contradicts the Bible. Vatican II declares: "In the sacrifice of the Mass ... the body which is given for us and the blood which is shed for the remission of sins are offered to God by the Church for the salvation of the whole world." If this is true, then Christ's death upon the cross was not sufficient but only a partial payment for sin. Yet the Bible assures us that He paid the full penalty for our sins.

The Impossibility

What is claimed for the "sacrifice of the Mass" (whether it is called a renewal, repetition, reenactment, or re-presentation) is impossible. Christ's sacrifice upon the cross occurred at a specific time and accomplished its purpose. This historic event may be (and should be) remembered and honored, but it can no more be "perpetuated," repeated, or "re-presented" than

yesterday's news or any other past occurrence. And why should it be, since by that one offering He "perfected forever them that are sanctified"?

The Christian's faith is in Christ's sacrifice upon the cross. The Catholic's faith is in the Church's alleged ability to repeat that sacrifice upon its altars. Yet even the pope can't say how many such repetitions may be needed. Thus many Catholics designate large sums in their wills so that after their decease hundreds and even thousands of Masses will be said on their behalf. This doctrine breeds uncertainty, not the calm assurance that Christ offers in Scripture. The Pocket Catholic Dictionary declares, ". . . the more often the sacrifice [of the Mass] is offered the more benefit is conferred." How much "benefit" in each Mass? No one knows.

Furthermore, Christ is now in a resurrected, glorified, immortal body at the Father's right hand, never to die again. He cannot be "sacrificed" in the Mass. Christ declared: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:18). Moreover, his body, which now lives in "the power of an endless life" (Hebrews 7:16), contains no blood, which is the life of mortal flesh. His resurrection body is immortal.

"Flesh and Bone"-A Resurrected Body Without Blood

When Christ first came to His disciples that resurrection evening they thought they were seeing a spirit. To prove He was alive, He said, "Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones [not "flesh and blood"], as ye see me have" (Luke 24:39). Doubting Thomas, absent on that occasion, declared skeptically, "Except I shall ... put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).

When Christ returned a week later He invited Thomas to do just that: "Reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27). Clearly Christ's wounds had not "healed" but remain as memorials. The gaping hole in Christ's side into which Thomas could thrust his whole hand is further evidence that there is no blood in His body.

Blood is the life of mortal flesh, and Christ's blood was poured out upon the cross for our sins: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11). Yet the wine is said to become Christ's blood upon Catholic altars-the blood of His precrucifixion body that was resurrected immortal.

To repeat or to perpetuate the sacrifice of Christ, His precrucifixion body must be reconstituted. This stunning feat is allegedly accomplished through the "miracle" of transubstantiation: changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Therefore, "the priest is indispensable, since he alone by his powers can change the elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. ..."

The Vital Role of Transubstantiation

Due to the alleged miracle of transubstantiation, the host (or wafer) which is eaten at Mass is worshiped as Christ Himself. The same devotion is directed to additional blessed wafers reserved in a tabernacle (a small, boxlike receptacle covered with a veil and with a light perpetually burning nearby). The devout come and pray to the wafers therein as though to Christ, believing they are in His holy presence. Mother Teresa expresses this belief:

It is beautiful to see the humility of Christ ... in his permanent state of humility in the tabernacle, where he has reduced himself to such a small particle of bread that the priest can hold him in two fingers.

A large wafer is exhibited for adoration in a monstrance-a gold or silver vessel with a transparent center for displaying the wafer. Seeing the sacrament "stimulates the faithful to an awareness of the marvelous presence of Christ, and is an invitation to spiritual communion with him. It is therefore an excellent encouragement to offer him [in the wafer] that worship in spirit and truth which is his due." An ex-Catholic writes:

[Catholics] bow down to a wafer that sits in a "tabernacle" on an altar and believe that it is actually Christ Himself.... That's why as a child I was taught to make the sign of the cross whenever passing a Catholic church.

There is a revival across America of "perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament." Parish families sign up for an hour or more each week so that some devout are "keeping Christ company" in worship of the host almost around the clock every day. "Pope John Paul II approves enthusiastically of perpetual adoration ... establishing exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Peter's in 1981." He has said:

How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the blessed sacrament. There is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more powerful for advancing along the road to holiness.

Pagan Pageantry to Honor Christ?

Enclosed in a monstrance, the wafer is also carried in processions. It is astonishing with what extravagant pageantry the host is paraded through the streets on special festivals. An early eighteenth-century eyewitness and participant in the grand procession in Zaragoza, Spain, on the annual festival of Corpus Christi writes:

The Dean of the cathedral summons all the communities of Friars, all the clergy of the parish churches, the Viceroy, Governor and Magistrates, the judges of the civil and criminal council, with the Lord chancellor of the kingdom and all the fraternities, brotherhoods, or corporations of the city to meet together. .. in the Metropolitan cathedral church of St. Salvator, with all the standards, trumpets, giants [huge wooden figures 15 feet tall dressed colorfully] in their respective habits of office or dignity; and all the clergy of the parish churches and Friars of convents, to bring along in a procession all the silver bodies of saints on a base or pedestal, which are in their churches and convents. The inhabitants are to clean the streets, which the sacrament is to go through, and cover the ground with greens, and flowers, and to put the best hangings in the fronts of balconies and windows.

The Viceroy goes in state with the Governor, Judges, Magistrates, and officers to meet the Archbishop in his palace, and to accompany his Grace to church, where all the communities of Friars, Clergy, and Corporations, are waiting for them. ... After the Archbishop has made a prayer before the great altar, the musick begins ... while the Archbishop takes out of the tabernacle the Host upon the rich [solid gold] chalice, and placeth it on the great custodia, on the altar's table.

The Archbishop in his pontifical habit officiateth ... his Grace giveth the blessing to the people with the sacrament in his hands. Then the Archbishop, with the help of the Dean, Archdeacon, and Chanter, placeth the custodia on a gilt pedestal, which is adorned with flowers and the jewels of several ladies of quality, and which is carried on the shoulders of 12 Priests, drest in the same ornaments they say Mass in. This being done, the procession begins to go out of the church in the following order.

First of all the bagpipe, and the great and small giants [colorful figures], dancing all along the streets [followed by] the big silver Cross of the cathedral.... [Next come 30 corporations of

tradesmen, the smallest is 30 people, then] the boys and girls of the blue hospital with their master, mistress, and the chaplain.... [Then all the religious orders, led by the Franciscans because they are the youngest, in all about 70 orders] drest in the ornaments they use at the altar.... There are 20 convents of Friars ... about 2000 present on this solemn occasion; 16 convents of Nuns ... [about] 1500 ... [and the 1200 parish priests] ... [in all] 4700 ecclesiastical persons [and] the inhabitants come to 15,000 families.

[Then come] the clergy of the cathedrals of St. Salvator and the lady of Pilar, with all their sacerdotal ornaments and the musicians of both the cathedrals which go before the custodia or sacrament, singing all the way. Then the 12 Priests more, that carry the canopy, under which the sacrament goes.... The Archbishop in his pontifical habit goes at the Subdeacon's right hand, the Viceroy at the Archbishop's, and the Deacon and Subdeacon one at the right and the other at the left all under the canopy.

Six Priests with incense and incensaries on both sides of the custodia go incensing the sacrament without intermission; while one kneels down before the great Host and incenses it three times the other puts incense in his incensary ... and thus they do from the coming out of the church till they return back again to it.

The great Chancellor, Presidents, and councils follow after [with] all the nobility, men and women, with lighted candles. This procession lasts four hours from the time it goes out, till it comes into the church again. All the bells of the convents, and parishes ring all this time....

The riches of that procession are incredible.... With this magnificence they carry the sacrament through the principal streets of the city, and all the people that are in the balconies and lattice windows throw roses and other flowers upon the canopy of the sacrament as it goes by.

If this wafer is the literal precrucifixion body of Jesus Christ being offered on Catholic altars around the world, then the pageantry is not overdone-or is it? How did that one body become millions of bodies each in the form of a tiny wafer, each one literally and physically Jesus Christ "whole and entire"? How did the bloodied "old rugged cross [with] its shame and reproach" transmute into gold and become encrusted with diamonds? And how can bishops in their ornately embroidered robes of finest silk represent that One who hung naked on the cross and whose lifeless, battered body wrapped in graveclothes was laid in a tomb? Has the "perpetuation" of Christ's death become an incongruous farce?

What does such pagan pageantry with its gold and jewels have to do with Calvary? How blasphemous is this parading before the world of the Church's boasted power to hold the precrucifixion body of Christ in its hands and offer Him again upon its altars!

This dogma breeds fanaticism, not faith. The slaughter of the Jews in Deggendorf to which we earlier referred had been in revenge for their allegedly stealing and "torturing" a conse-crated wafer. Those conditioned to believe that wine had become Christ's blood were able to believe Hitler's myth of blood as well.

Reality or Fraud?

This alleged power of the priests to re-create upon Catholic altars the literal body of Christ and then to offer Him to God in "the sacrifice of the Mass [in which] Our Lord is immolated ... [and] Christ perpetuates in an unbloody manner the sacrifice offered on the cross" is the distinctive mark of Roman Catholicism. It is thereby, as we have noted, separated by an impassable gulf from all other religions and especially from evangelical Christianity. What we have here is either the most vital and miraculous reality or the most diabolical fraud. There is no middle ground.

The Catholic cannot deny that on the face of it the claim of transubstantiation seems preposterous. There is no detectable change in wafer or wine after they presumably have been transformed through the priest's unique power into Christ's literal body and blood. How then can one be certain that this "miracle" has occurred? As with so much else in Catholicism, assurance comes only by blindly accepting whatever the Church says.

Yes, some Bible verses are offered in support of this dogma, but the Catholic must accept the Church's interpretation of these, though common sense and proper exegesis would reject it. There are two main passages from which the doctrine of transubstantiation is derived: John 6:51-57 and Matthew 26:26-28 (compare also Luke 22:19,20 and 1 Corinthians 11:24,25). Let us consider them.

Literalism or Symbolism?

Referring to His impending crucifixion, Christ told the Jews in John 6, " . . . the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.... Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (verses 51,53). Catholicism takes these words literally and faults Protestantism for interpreting them symbolically. Christ also said, "I am the bread of life" (verse 35). Why not take Him literally there, making Him a loaf of bread? Is it any more foolish to say Christ is bread than to say a piece of bread is Christ? The Bible should be taken literally wherever that is its meaning-but not when analogy or symbolism is meant and literalism would violate logic or God's laws.

The psalmist said, "He [God] shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust" (Psalm 91:4). Are we to picture God as a big bird? Jesus wept over Jerusalem: "How often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34). Surely He wasn't speaking literally, though He was identifying Himself as the very One of whom Moses wrote in Psalm 91.

Jesus called mankind to believe on Him. He told Nicodemus that those who believed on Him would "not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), and that believing on Him would bring about a new birth. He didn't mean a physical birth, however, but a spiritual birth, a fact which even Catholics acknowledge. He promised to give the woman at the well "living water" and even "a well of water" springing up within her (John 4:10-14), but He surely didn't mean physical water. He told the Jews that whoever would believe on Him, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38), but He meant neither a physical belly nor literal physical rivers.

In John 6 Jesus said: "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (verse 35). That He didn't mean He was literal, physical bread or that those who believed on Him would thereafter never have the need for physical food or drink is clear-but they would never hunger or thirst spiritually again. He was of course speaking spiritually and illustrating His ideas with analogies from things familiar to all. Then why should He be taken literally when a few moments later He says that one must "eat" His body and blood?

Based on that crucial interpretive mistake, the Catholic insists that the bread and wine is literally Christ. Let us follow that to its logical conclusion. If Christ was speaking literally about His body, then He must have been speaking literally when He said, "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (verse 35). Since the Catholics claim to literally eat Christ's physical body, they should never physically hunger or thirst-but of course they do. Yet if "hungering and thirsting" are spiritual terms, then

so must be the eating of His body. Obviously, Christ is saying that those who believe on Him receive eternal life and don't have to keep coming back to Him for another installment.

Catholicism insists that the faithful eat the body and drink the blood of Christ frequently. The more Masses said the better, yet even then one can't be sure of making heaven without suffering in purgatory. The Code of Canon Law, Canon 904, says, "Remembering that the work of redemption is continually accomplished in the mystery of the Eucharistic sacrifice, priests are to celebrate frequently; indeed daily celebration is strongly recommended...." The Bible, however, assures us in numerous verses which we have already quoted that the work of redemption was accomplished once for all on the cross and that Christ's sacrifice is never to be repeated.

Christ said, "This is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life" (John 6:40). Clearly this believing on Christ (which He likens to eating Him) is a once-for-all act. He doesn't say it must be done 20 times, a thousand times, once a day, or once a week. The moment a person believes on Christ, he or she receives forgiveness of sins and everlasting life as a free gift of God's grace. Clearly, a person who has received eternal life by once believing/eating need never repeat that act. Otherwise everlasting life is misnamed, for something that is everlasting must last forever and need not be renewed or reinforced. Consider Christ's words in this same chapter again:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath [present possession] everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:47-51).

Where did Christ give His flesh? Not at the Last Supper, as Catholicism teaches, but on the cross. That interpretive error is again a fatal one. For if when Christ said, "This is my body ... this is my blood" at the Last Supper it was literally true, then He sacrificed Himself before He went to the cross! This is, in fact, the strange teaching of Catholicism: "Our Saviour at the Last Supper on the night when he was betrayed instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood so that he might perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries till his coming."

We repeat: If Christ is speaking physically of His body and blood in John 6, then those who eat of Him will never physically die. But all of the apostles themselves are dead. If He did not mean that eating of Him would prevent physical death, then neither did He refer to physically eating Him. He is obviously speaking spiritually all through that chapter, as elsewhere.

Tragically, the Catholic is prevented from receiving the spiritual eternal life that Christ offers by the dogma that He is speaking physically. Rome claims to control "the merits Christ won" and to dispense another installment thereof each time the Catholic (so it is imagined) physically ingests Christ's literal body and blood. The Mass must be repeated endlessly.

Parables to the Multitudes

When Jesus said, "I am the door; by me if any man enter in he shall be saved" (John 10:9), not even Catholics take that to mean that Christ is a physical door through which one must literally walk one's physical body to be saved. He is using this analogy to illustrate that in believing on Him one walks through a door into a new state of spiritual being, eternal life. When Jesus said, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness" (John 8:12), He was not speaking of physical light but of the spiritual light which those who believe on Him receive, in contrast to the spiritual darkness in which this world dwells.

Further examples could be given but would be superfluous. Jesus continually called mankind to believe on Him. Whatever He spoke about, whether the new birth, water, sheep, shepherd, seed, sower, plants, fruit, bread, or a door, was meant to convey a spiritual truth through the physical object of which He spoke and was not to be taken literally. We are told specifically that whenever Jesus spoke to the multitude, He always spoke to them in parables: "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them" (Matthew 13:34).

Christ was speaking to the multitude in John 6. We know, therefore, that He was, as always to them, speaking in parables, using figurative and spiritual, not literal and physical, language. There are, of course, other reasons for knowing this.

Further Compelling Arguments

It was and still is against the law for a Jew to partake of blood (Leviticus 7:26,27; 17:10,11; etc.), and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the apostles urged Gentile believers also, as something "necessary," to abstain "from blood" (Acts 15:28,29). Surely, then, Christ would not require Christian or Jew to drink His literal, physical blood. And eating His physical body would be cannibalism, an act He would not approve of, much less advocate. That He was referring to believing on Him and illustrating it by the symbol of eating and drinking is clear:

I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst, But ... ye also have seen me and believe not....

He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life.... The bread that I will give is my flesh. which I will give for the life of the world....

Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink hip blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life (John 6:35,36,47, 48,51,53,54).

Is Jesus really saying that in order to receive eternal life one must literally eat and drink his physical body and blood? Or is He saying that we must believe on Him and is using the analogy of eating and drinking to illustrate that truth? He says very clearly that believing gives eternal life. Yet He says that only by eating Him can one have life. Here is an irreconcilable contra-diction-unless, of course, eating is a synonym for believing.

There is an obvious reason why Christ used the symbol of eating. In the Old Testament the priests ate of the sacrifice: "The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it ... all the males among the priests shall eat thereof" (Leviticus 6:26, 29; cf. 6:16,18; 7:6,15; etc.). Christ was thus telling the Jews that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices and that His body and blood would be given for the sins of the world. He was also introducing the priesthood of all believers. Only the priests ate of the sacrifice under the law, but now all must partake of Him by faith to receive the gift of eternal life by God's grace. All must believe that the Son of God had become a literal flesh-and-blood man in order to die for mankind.

There are numerous other reasons why Christ could not have meant the literal eating and drinking of His physical body and blood. His sacrifice for sin occurred only once. If there were any physical eating, it should have taken place at that time. The body that was sacrificed and laid in the grave, as already noted, was resurrected and glorified. Christ's new body in which He now resides at the Father's right hand in heaven has no blood and cannot die. The old body whose life was in the blood no longer exists. Paul said, "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him [as He was before the cross] no more" (2 Corinthians 5:16). To suggest that the precrucifixion body of Christ has been re-created on

Catholic altars to be offered again for sin is a clear contradiction of both Scripture and logic.

The Bounds of Reality

The Catholic rests his entire case upon the plea that he is taking Christ literally. It is not literalism, however, but fantasy to suggest that each one of millions of waters is the complete, whole, and entire physical, precrucifixion body of Christwhile at the same time Christ is in heaven in His resurrected body. "But God is omnipresent," is the response. That is true, and because He is God, by His Spirit, Christ is everywhere at once. But when Christ became a man He voluntarily subjected Himself to certain limitations. A physical body occupies space and therefore can only be in one place at a time. Never is there a hint in the Bible that Christ was bodily present in more than one place at a time.

Yes, Christ said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Christians believe this promise, but no one imagines that Christ is at one and the same time physically present in the midst of thousands of different groups of believers around the world. In fact, none of them imagines He is present physically at all, for that would mean He could be seen, but He is not. To suggest that millions of wafers are each Christ's physical body, whole and entire, is to depart from reality and engage in fantasy.

Nor does Christ's language at the Last Supper support transubstantiation: "[He] took bread ... broke it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of me.... This cup is the new testament in my blood; this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). He wants Christians to remember His death on the cross and to take bread and wine as a reminder thereof. His language contains no thought of a repetition of His sacrifice on the cross.

Notice His words, "This is my body." He didn't say that one day pieces of bread would become His body through the miraculous power of transubstantiation wielded by Catholic priests, but that the bread at that moment was His body. No one could take that statement literally, for he was sitting there in His physical body and holding the bread in His hands. Obviously the bread was symbolic.

We may be sure that none of Christ's disciples imagined that the bread He held was His literal body. That it could be His literal body and at the same time Christ be there in His literal body was impossible. Such a fantasy did not enter the minds of those present and was not invented until much later. It was certainly not conveyed by Christ's words, nor do we have any reason to believe that the disciples derived from them such a meaning. It was Pope Innocent III who made the Mass as a "sacrifice" official dogma in A.D. 1215

Lutheranism's Similar View

Martin Luther was unable to shake free from much of his Roman Catholicism (infant baptism, etc.), and it remains within the church that bears his name to this day. While denying that they teach transubstantiation, Lutherans declare:

The true, real body and blood of Christ are somehow present, in a unique way, in, with, and under the bread and wine which are set aside, blessed, and consumed in the holy Supper. That is the plain meaning [?] of Scripture (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23-32)... .

The Lutheran doctrine is that the bread and wine in the holy Supper are the body and blood of Christ. How that can be, we do not know and do not understand. But ... Christ ... said that the bread is His body and that the wine is His blood. We simply echo His words....

Those who do not believe Christ's Words about this Sacrament, do not discern or recognize

His body-or His blood-in the Supper and so can receive the Sacrament only in an unworthy way....

It is not a question of whether one believes Christ's words, but of how those words are understood. There is no more reason to take Him literally when He said "This is my body" than when He said "I am the door." To take Him literally violates common sense, consents to breaking God's law through cannibalism and partaking of blood, and leads to the foolish heresy that in spite of Christ being in heaven in a resurrected and glorified immortal body, His precrucifixion body of mortal flesh and blood is being ingested again and again by Catholics and Lutherans. It also leads to the fantasy of imagining that millions of bits of bread or wafers can each one simultaneously be the entire physical body of Christ.

At least Luther did not teach that Christ's sacrifice was being repeated endlessly and that forgiveness of sins and eternal life are received in installments by eating the bread and wine. That delusion fostered by transubstantiation prevents the Catholic from believing in Christ. The Eucharist is the very heart of the false gospel of works promulgated by Catholicism.

Sadly, the devout Catholic has been turned from simple faith in Christ as his Savior to what he thinks is the physical eating of Christ's body and blood. Thus salvation comes not through faith but works; not by believing but by eating. No wonder it is so difficult for a Catholic to accept the biblical gospel! He has been taught that each time he ingests the alleged body and blood of Christ he takes another step toward salvation and heaven. Obviously such a person finds it very difficult to accept that through one act offaith-receiving Christ by faith into his heart-he is saved eternally and at the moment of death passes instantly into Christ's presence, not into purgatory.

The gospel of God's grace is denied by the teaching that the "merits and graces" won by Christ are dispensed to the faithful in installments through Catholic liturgy, especially through the Mass. The alleged power of the priest to turn the tiny wafer and the wine into the literal body and blood of Christ is the heart of the lie. Thus the Catholic, ignorant of the biblical teaching that Christ's one sacrifice suffices and that there is "no more offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:18), has been convinced by his Church that repeated sacrifices of Christ on Catholic altars are paying for his sin:

The Mass is a truly propitiatory sacrifice [by which] the Lord is appeased [and] pardons wrongdoings and sins....

A "Miracle"?

Those who reject the fantasy of transubstantiation are accused of not believing in miracles. Yes, "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27). Even that statement, however, must be defined by the nature of God and of reality. God cannot become a demon or Satan, nor can He lie (Titus 1:2). Nor could God become the universe, for by His very nature He is separate and distinct from the universe and pantheism is therefore impossible.

Likewise a miracle must function within the bounds of verifiable reality. A wafer which has been "turned into" Christ's body and blood yet retains all its original qualities and charac-teristics lacks an essential of a miracle: to be recognizable and thereby bring glory to God. Since the wafer and wine remain unchanged, the alleged miracle remains unseen. But a miracle must be observable (the lame walk, the blind see, the storm is instantly calmed, the dead come to life upon command, etc.), or else no one can know that it has taken place and thus no one can give God glory for it.

Of course God would be able to turn a wafer into human flesh. John the Baptist said that God could "of these stones ... raise up children unto Abraham" (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8). But if He did it, the stones which had been changed into human beings would not continue to look like stones and have all the qualities of stones. To turn a wafer into human flesh and blood would deny neither the nature of God nor of reality. But transubstantiation is not such a miracle. The wafer becomes Christ's body "under the appearance of a wafer."

There is no such "miracle" in the Bible. The opening of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could walk through it on dry land was a feat that both Jews and Egyptians observed and that both understood had occurred by God's power. Suppose it had been a "transubstantiation kind of miracle"-the Red Sea "opened" under the appearance of remaining closed and the Israelites had "walked" across on dry land "under the appearance" of having to swim across. Suppose Christ healed a blind man "under the appearance" of his not being able to see, or raised the dead "under the appearance" of lifelessness. Such suppositions are ludicrous, yet that is exactly the nature of the "transubstantiation miracle."

Let's take the miracle of the water turned to wine at Cana of Galilee. When the governor of the feast tasted it he exclaimed to the groom, "Thou hast kept the good [best] wine until now" (John 2:10). Suppose instead he had said, "This isn't wine, it's water!" The servants reply sincerely, "No, sir, it's wine." The governor's voice rises in anger: "Don't mock me! It looks like water, it tastes like water, it is water!" The servants insist, "Sir, it is wine. Jesus miraculously turned water into wine under the appearance of it remaining water." There is no such "miracle" in the Bible, and for Rome to make such a claim is a lame attempt to cover obvious fraud.

Decay, Condemnation, and Death

Let us consider only one further reason why transubstantiation is a hoax. The psalmist declared (and Peter quoted this prophecy in his Pentecost sermon, as did Paul later): "Thou wilt not ... suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:27; 13:35). Christ's body did not decay in the grave. Yet the consecrated and transubstantiated host reserved for administering to the sick or displayed for adoration breeds worms and mold if it isn't disposed of soon enough. If it were really Christ's body, it could not corrupt.

Tragically, the Mass becomes a cause of condemnation for Catholics, who "are obliged under penalty of serious [mortal] sin to hear Mass on Sundays and holy days …. According to a recent poll, only 33 percent of American Catholics attend Mass "on a given Sunday" and far less do so every Sunday as required. Only 12 percent of the Catholics in France (which is 90 percent Catholic) can be found in Mass on any Sunday. This works out to a very high percentage of Catholics who are habitually in mortal sin and thus deprived of "sanctifying grace" and "the right to heaven."

So important is this transubstantiation dogma to Rome that multitudes who could not accept it were burned at the stake. It was for this reason that most of the 288 English martyrs were consigned to the flames during the five-year reign of Bloody Queen Mary, who brought Catholicism back into England after a brief time of tenuous freedom from the papal tyranny.

Many a sincere and devout Roman Catholic desired to save England for beloved Mother Church and rejoiced when the Reformation was turned back. Today it is leading evangelicals who are only too happy to undo the Reformation and thereby deny Christ and His gospel. And in the process, they mock those who did not count their lives dear in order to preserve that gospel for us.

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