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Responding to CARM's claims of Church Fathers who denied the Local Presence

rakovsky

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The Protestant website CARM has a website with quotes that they find go against the Catholic view of the Eucharist:
Tertullian (155-220) refers to the communion supper as spiritual words. "He says, it is true, that 'the flesh profiteth nothing;' but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, 'It is the spirit that quickeneth;' and then added, 'The flesh profiteth nothing,'--meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: 'The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.' In a like sense He had previously said: 'He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.' Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appelation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith. Now, just before the passage in hand, He had declared His flesh to be 'the bread which cometh down from heaven,' impressing on His hearers constantly under the figure of necessary food the memory of their forefathers, who had preferred the bread and flesh of Egypt to their divine calling."--(Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 37)

Theodoret (393-457) says the elements remain as bread and wine. "For even after the consecration the mystic symbols [of the eucharist] are not deprived of their own nature; they remain in their former substance figure and form; they are visible and tangible as they were before." (Theodoret, Dialogues, 2)

Theophilis of Antioch (d. 185?)
denies that Christians eat human flesh. "Nor indeed was there any necessity for my refuting these, except that I see you still in dubiety about the word of the truth. For though yourself prudent, you endure fools gladly. Otherwise you would not have been moved by senseless men to yield yourself to empty words, and to give credit to the prevalent rumor wherewith godless lips falsely accuse us, who are worshippers of God, and are called Christians, alleging that the wives of us all are held in common and made promiscuous use of; and that we even commit incest with our own sisters, and, what is most impious and barbarous of all, that we eat human flesh." (Theophilus to Autolycus, 3:4)
https://carm.org/early-church-fathers-communion

While perhaps we don't follow the RC view, this website too easily rules is out.
Below are my comments:


Athenagoras here does not mention the Eucharist in particular and is be giving a general rule, just as the Old Testament is only giving a general rule when it says that God cannot die. These principles do not deny that God could die in the flesh or that a divine person could be eaten in a transformed state.

    Catholics and Lutherans would agree with Augustine that Christ is not sacrificed likewise at the sacrament, as he was at Passover, through killing him. Sure, there are "some points of real resemblance" between the sacrament that is ongoing and the sacrifice of 33 AD, and one of those points could be that Christ's body is present in each. Augustine writes: " the sacrament of Christ's blood is Christ's blood,' in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith". This confirms the Catholic/Lutheran view. Just as faith is in the sacrament of faith, Christ's blood is in the sacrament of it.
    Sure, Catholics would agree with Augustine's paraphrasing: "Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth." Catholics would not take Jesus' body that they saw at the Last Supper off the cross and cut it into pieces to eat. Instead, they eat Jesus' body as it transforms from the Eucharist.
    Sure, Augustine may have thought that in John 6 (not a narration of the Last Supper) when Jesus taught about eating his body he meant this figuratively, because it would be a crime if it was taken literally and people cut up Jesus' body directly from the cross into pieces for eating. This does not mean that he thought of the Eucharist this way. Eating bread and imagining that it is a physical body is not a crime.
    When it did come to the Last Supper and the Eucharist in 1 Cor. 11:24 [“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you] (see also Luke 22:1), Augustine did take that literally: "How this ['And he was carried in his own hands'] should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. FOR CHRIST WAS CARRIED IN HIS OWN HANDS, WHEN, REFERRING TO HIS OWN BODY, HE SAID: 'THIS IS MY BODY.' FOR HE CARRIED THAT BODY IN HIS HANDS." (Psalms 33:1:10) ~St. Augustine.

    Sure, Clement said: "And that it was wine which was the thing blessed, He showed..." But this does not mean that Clement did not see the wine as becoming Christ's blood in physical or spiritual form.
    Sure, in John's Gospel (not a narration of the Last Supper) when Jesus speaks of his flesh and blood, he could be speaking metaphorically of the faith that refreshes the Church. This does not mean that when later in the Last Supper He goes to speak of His body and blood He is only doing so metaphorically.
    Elsewhere, Clement must be saying that we drink either Christ's corporeal blood or his spiritual blood, as Clement says those are its two meanings: "The Blood of the Lord, indeed, is twofold. There is His corporeal Blood, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and His spiritual Blood, that with which we are anointed. That is to say, to drink the Blood of Jesus is to share in His immortality. The strength of the Word is the Spirit just as the blood is the strength of the body. Similarly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. The one, the Watered Wine, nourishes in faith, while the other, the Spirit, leads us on to immortality. The union of both, however, - of the drink and of the Word, - is called the Eucharist, a praiseworthy and excellent gift. Those who partake of it in faith are sanctified in body and in soul."

    In CARM's quote, Eusebius compared the Eucharist to Melchisedek's ritual that "is not represented as offering outward sacrifices". This makes sense in the Lutheran and Catholic view, because outwardly the elements are bread and wine, and not human sacrifice, but inwardly they have a real presence of Christ's body. His mention of the ritual being a "spiritual sacrifice" is in line with the Lutheran view, but Catholics don't deny that their ritual is spiritual too. And sure, Melchisedek made a blessing "only with wine and bread" in terms of the physical objects, but this does not deny that those objects have a spiritual nature as well.
    It's true that Eusebius says that the bread in the Eucharist is "the symbol of His Body," but that doesn't mean that it is "only" a symbol, as a Presbyterian forum user named Helfrick pointed out. Helfrick noted that one essay by much Church explains:
        "the Orthodox tradition does use the term “symbols” for the eucharistic gifts. It calls, the service a “mystery” and the sacrifice of the liturgy a “spiritual and bloodless sacrifice.” These terms are used by the holy fathers and the liturgy itself. The Orthodox Church uses such expressions because in Orthodoxy what is real is not opposed to what is symbolical or mystical or spiritual. On the contrary! In the Orthodox view, all of reality—the world and man himself—is real to the extent that it is symbolical and mystical". (http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-sacraments/holy-eucharist)
    Eusebius says in this same quote that the verse "'His teeth are white as milk,' shew the brightness and purity of the sacramental food." If the food was "only" a symbol, it would not be purer than any other food, just as the "symbol" of pure water (H2O) is not "purer" than any other symbol.
    Eusebius did think that in the case of the Eucharist this was a symbol where form and substance (Christ's) went together. Eusebius rejected that paintings of Jesus were images of Him, as the theologian Mazza explains, because: "There could be no true image capable of representing the actual features of Christ. The Son is an image of God, but in this kind of image form and substance go together... In [Eusebius'] view, the true image of Christ is not to be found in a painting, but in the Eucharist."
    https://books.google.com/books?id=r...EIVzAJ#v=onepage&q=eusebius eucharist&f=false

That Origen calls the Eucharist "bread" doesn't mean that he doesn't consider it the flesh of Christ (AKA "the Bread of Life"), as one researcher summarizes Origen's views:
First, the heavenly bread of the word of God seems to b e th e ultimat e realit y foun d unde r th e eucharisti e brea d an d eve n unde r th e notio n o f th e fles h o f Christ . Ever y referenc e t o th e fles h an d bloo d o f Christ , a s wel l a s t o th e manna , an d t o th e brea d an d win e o f th e mysterie s i s clearl y a referenc e t o th e Eucharist .
http://www.erudit.org/revue/LTP/1986/v42/n1/400218ar.pdf​

Tertullian also calls the elements symbols, but again, symbols are not necessarily in conflict with a real presence too. The webpage then quoted a long passage by Tertullian and commented that he referred "to the communion supper as spiritual words." But naturally ritual words are a spiritual thing, not a physical thing, whether or not they refer to physical things. Which sentence in that long passage is the website referring to and why would the supper's spiritual words mean that the Lord cannot be either spiritually or physically present in the food?

Theodoret says that the food elements "are not deprived of their own nature". Theodoret was involved in the Council of Chalcedon, and "nature" in the Chalcedonian sense means a "collection of properties". Of course, looking at the Communion food one can tell that it does not lose its properties. This does not conflict with it gaining added properties like those of Christ's presence.

Theophilius' denial that Christians ate human flesh can mean a denial that we eat human flesh in the normal sense of the words "human flesh". He is not denying that we eat the flesh of Christ in some other sense, whether it be in a spiritual sense like Lutherans claim, symbolically like the Reformed claim, and/or in the sense of the transformed flesh of the divine Christ with its divine properties.

So in review, these quotes by Church fathers are in the category of what I asked for in my first question. However, I don't see these passages in conflict with the Lutheran sense that Christ is present in the food elements of the Communion meal, and tend to find the Lutheran one the easiest to conceptualize and reconcile.

It is not clear whether they conflict with the Catholic idea of Transubstantiation either, because they don't directly and necessarily exclude the possibility of transformed physical divine flesh. Either they exclude direct cannibalism or call the Eucharist a symbol, etc., but some of the same authors elsewhere do endorse Christ's presence in the Eucharist.
 

Volnutt

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CARM is a garbage amateur hour website. If you want to tussle with Protestants, better to read some academics.


The argument is as pointless as sedevacantist's proofexts for Papal Supremacy. You can find all sorts of conflicting statements about all kinds of things in the Church Fathers. It's better to focus on the broad strokes and trends of Church History which clearly support a liturgical and sacerdotal Church crystallizing long before the Reformation. At best, Slick is arguing for High Church Lutheranism or Anglicanism (which would defeat all his proof texts with Consubstantiation anyway), not his own Broad Church Presbyterianism.

Slick is implicitly relying on "Great Apostasy" type thinking that falls apart under any serious consideration. By the time of the sixth century at the latest, Real Presence was well established. Are we really supposed to think that those dastardly Romans were so good at distorting Christ's original teachings that all trace of this alleged primitive memorialism essentially vanished until Zwingli and Calvin? It's just silly.
 

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The first two (Tertullian and Theodoret) are also theologically questionable, too, aren't they? In another thread there was discussion of whether or not Protestants cite Theodore of Mopsuestia. Well, maybe not Theodore, but now we have someone citing the similarly inclined Theodoret....
 

wgw

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Volnutt said:
CARM is a garbage amateur hour website. If you want to tussle with Protestants, better to read some academics.


The argument is as pointless as sedevacantist's proofexts for Papal Supremacy. You can find all sorts of conflicting statements about all kinds of things in the Church Fathers. It's better to focus on the broad strokes and trends of Church History which clearly support a liturgical and sacerdotal Church crystallizing long before the Reformation. At best, Slick is arguing for High Church Lutheranism or Anglicanism (which would defeat all his proof texts with Consubstantiation anyway), not his own Broad Church Presbyterianism.

Slick is implicitly relying on "Great Apostasy" type thinking that falls apart under any serious consideration. By the time of the sixth century at the latest, Real Presence was well established. Are we really supposed to think that those dastardly Romans were so good at distorting Christ's original teachings that all trace of this alleged primitive memorialism essentially vanished until Zwingli and Calvin? It's just silly.
CARM is uselss when it comes to intra-Nicene apologetics, although their material on various non-Trinitarian cults is useful.

Much of the better modern heresiology is by people who we would otherwise justifianly sneer at.  There is a likeable Baptist who is quite anti-Orthodox who compiled The Kingdom of the Cults, for example.  Given how these cults like to make a sport out of proselytizing the Orthodox, I think Orthodoxy needs to be more muscular in terms of confronting them, taking a cue as it were from St. John of Damascus, St. Epiphanius of Salamis, and St. Irenaeus of Lyons.
 

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Minnesotan said:
The first two (Tertullian and Theodoret) are also theologically questionable, too, aren't they? In another thread there was discussion of whether or not Protestants cite Theodore of Mopsuestia. Well, maybe not Theodore, but now we have someone citing the similarly inclined Theodoret....
They're both still useful as sources for Church History (though the quotes Slick is using are theological).
 

Volnutt

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wgw said:
Volnutt said:
CARM is a garbage amateur hour website. If you want to tussle with Protestants, better to read some academics.


The argument is as pointless as sedevacantist's proofexts for Papal Supremacy. You can find all sorts of conflicting statements about all kinds of things in the Church Fathers. It's better to focus on the broad strokes and trends of Church History which clearly support a liturgical and sacerdotal Church crystallizing long before the Reformation. At best, Slick is arguing for High Church Lutheranism or Anglicanism (which would defeat all his proof texts with Consubstantiation anyway), not his own Broad Church Presbyterianism.

Slick is implicitly relying on "Great Apostasy" type thinking that falls apart under any serious consideration. By the time of the sixth century at the latest, Real Presence was well established. Are we really supposed to think that those dastardly Romans were so good at distorting Christ's original teachings that all trace of this alleged primitive memorialism essentially vanished until Zwingli and Calvin? It's just silly.
CARM is uselss when it comes to intra-Nicene apologetics, although their material on various non-Trinitarian cults is useful.

Much of the better modern heresiology is by people who we would otherwise justifianly sneer at.  There is a likeable Baptist who is quite anti-Orthodox who compiled The Kingdom of the Cults, for example.  Given how these cults like to make a sport out of proselytizing the Orthodox, I think Orthodoxy needs to be more muscular in terms of confronting them, taking a cue as it were from St. John of Damascus, St. Epiphanius of Salamis, and St. Irenaeus of Lyons.
True.
 

rakovsky

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Minnesotan said:
The first two (Tertullian and Theodoret) are also theologically questionable, too, aren't they?
If they clearly announced that Jesus is not in any way except as a symbol in the food, it would be worth bringing up. But we don't even have to get into that.

The larger point is that nobody basically thought of this version until 1500 or so.
 

ZealousZeal

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Volnutt said:
CARM is a garbage amateur hour website. If you want to tussle with Protestants, better to read some academics.
It really is awful. I remember reading some criticism of Mormonism in one of their articles about how silly they are to rely on the "burning bosom" spiritual witness they claim, but in an article about how you can know the books in the Bible belong in the Bible (outside of Tradition or a Church authority), one of his proofs is that the Spirit bears witness to it.  ::) Sure thing, pal.
 

Jude1:3

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  This might sound crazy, but I'm convinced that True Christians with in Protestantism are going to start being led by The Holy Spirit into Orthodox Christianity.

  I'm also convinced that many Protestant believers are Orthodox and they just don't know it yet LOLZ. I would say most of us are/were Protestant from ignorance more then anything else. Exposure to Orthodoxy is scarce in some parts of America and in my case it was in the Southwest and in a small town. Now that people have the internet they can have way more information on Church History and find out about Orthodox Christianity.

    I'm glad we have this forum to help us.

    Thank you to all Orthodox Christians who post here. You have helped me very much.


 

byhisgrace

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Used to post in CARM as a devout Evangelical, but was later disillusioned by the folly of much of its apologetics. Words cannot express how much I suffered from that.
 

byhisgrace

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Jude1:3 said:
  This might sound crazy, but I'm convinced that True Christians with in Protestantism are going to start being led by The Holy Spirit into Orthodox Christianity.

  I'm also convinced that many Protestant believers are Orthodox and they just don't know it yet LOLZ. I would say most of us are/were Protestant from ignorance more then anything else. Exposure to Orthodoxy is scarce in some parts of America and in my case it was in the Southwest and in a small town. Now that people have the internet they can have way more information on Church History and find out about Orthodox Christianity.

    I'm glad we have this forum to help us.

    Thank you to all Orthodox Christians who post here. You have helped me very much.
Thank you for this post, Jude :)
 

Jude1:3

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byhisgrace said:
Jude1:3 said:
  This might sound crazy, but I'm convinced that True Christians with in Protestantism are going to start being led by The Holy Spirit into Orthodox Christianity.

  I'm also convinced that many Protestant believers are Orthodox and they just don't know it yet LOLZ. I would say most of us are/were Protestant from ignorance more then anything else. Exposure to Orthodoxy is scarce in some parts of America and in my case it was in the Southwest and in a small town. Now that people have the internet they can have way more information on Church History and find out about Orthodox Christianity.

    I'm glad we have this forum to help us.

    Thank you to all Orthodox Christians who post here. You have helped me very much.
Thank you for this post, Jude :)
  You're welcome.
 

rakovsky

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One of the ways some Reformed try to get around the dilemma nowadays between Christ saying the bread is his body and Reformed teaching "No", is that the Reformed occasionally make claims sounding like they are along Lutheran lines.

Philip Schaeff describes the difference:
I. The Lutheran Theory teaches a real and substantial presence of the very body and blood of Christ, ... in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine, and the oral manducation of both substances by all communicants, unworthy and unbelieving, as well as worthy and believing, though with opposite effects. ...The earthly elements remain unchanged and distinct in their substance and power, but they become the divinely appointed media for communicating the heavenly substance of the body and blood of Christ.

the augsburg confession of 1530.
"ART. X. Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the [true] body and blood of Christ are truly present (under the form of bread and wine ; The German text has this: unter der Gestalt des Brots und Weins),
...
III. The Calvinistic Theory.
Calvin... He accepts the symbolical meaning of the words of institution; he rejects the corporal presence, the oral manducation, the participation of the body and blood by unbelievers, and the ubiquity of Christ’s body. While the mouth receives the visible signs of bread and wine, the soul receives by faith, and by faith alone... It is the Holy Spirit who unites in a supernatural manner what is separated in space, and conveys to the believing communicant the life-giving virtue of the flesh of Christ now glorified in heaven.
...Calvin requires the communicant to ascend to heaven to feed on Christ there....

heidelberg catechism (1563).
Q. 79. Why, then, doth Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the New Testament in His blood; and St. Paul, the communion of the body and blood of Christ?
by this visible sign and pledge to assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood, through the working of the Holy Ghost, as we receive by the mouth of the body these holy tokens in remembrance of Him;
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc7.ii.vii.xi.html
 

rakovsky

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To summarize:
The Eucharistic Theories compared. Luther, Zwingli, Calvin.
They differ on three points,—the mode of Christ’s presence (whether corporal, or spiritual); the organ of receiving his body and blood (whether by the mouth, or by faith); and the extent of this reception (whether by all, or only by believers).
(Same source as above)
 

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rakovsky said:
One of the ways some Reformed try to get around the dilemma nowadays between Christ saying the bread is his body and Reformed teaching "No", is that the Reformed occasionally make claims sounding like they are along Lutheran lines.

Philip Schaeff describes the difference:
I. The Lutheran Theory teaches a real and substantial presence of the very body and blood of Christ, ... in, with, and under the elements of bread and wine, and the oral manducation of both substances by all communicants, unworthy and unbelieving, as well as worthy and believing, though with opposite effects. ...The earthly elements remain unchanged and distinct in their substance and power, but they become the divinely appointed media for communicating the heavenly substance of the body and blood of Christ.

the augsburg confession of 1530.
"ART. X. Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the [true] body and blood of Christ are truly present (under the form of bread and wine ; The German text has this: unter der Gestalt des Brots und Weins),
...
III. The Calvinistic Theory.
Calvin... He accepts the symbolical meaning of the words of institution; he rejects the corporal presence, the oral manducation, the participation of the body and blood by unbelievers, and the ubiquity of Christ’s body. While the mouth receives the visible signs of bread and wine, the soul receives by faith, and by faith alone... It is the Holy Spirit who unites in a supernatural manner what is separated in space, and conveys to the believing communicant the life-giving virtue of the flesh of Christ now glorified in heaven.
...Calvin requires the communicant to ascend to heaven to feed on Christ there....

heidelberg catechism (1563).
Q. 79. Why, then, doth Christ call the bread His body, and the cup His blood, or the New Testament in His blood; and St. Paul, the communion of the body and blood of Christ?
by this visible sign and pledge to assure us that we are as really partakers of His true body and blood, through the working of the Holy Ghost, as we receive by the mouth of the body these holy tokens in remembrance of Him;
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc7.ii.vii.xi.html
I have also seen some Calvinists claim that only their view is truly compatible with a Chalcedonian Christology, and that the Lutheran, Catholic, and Orthodox views are all "Eutychian".
 

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ZealousZeal said:
Volnutt said:
CARM is a garbage amateur hour website. If you want to tussle with Protestants, better to read some academics.
It really is awful. I remember reading some criticism of Mormonism in one of their articles about how silly they are to rely on the "burning bosom" spiritual witness they claim, but in an article about how you can know the books in the Bible belong in the Bible (outside of Tradition or a Church authority), one of his proofs is that the Spirit bears witness to it.  ::) Sure thing, pal.
lol, wow.
 

rakovsky

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One of Calvin's main "philosophical" claims against the presence in the Eucharist food was that it would violate the human nature of Christ, and Calvin concluded from this claim that we, the Lutherans, and others were violating Chalcedon and would be "monophysite" because we dismissed His human nature.

In reality, the Chalcedonians were faced with this kind of contradiction between statements like "God cannot die", and precepts like Christ was God and died, or humans are mortal, but Christ rose and became immortal. Chalcedon solved the contradiction by saying there were two natures and ascribing actions to one nature or the other:
  • And again the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, although it was not actually in His Divinity whereby the Only-begotten is co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father, but in His weak human nature that He suffered these things. (Leo's Tome)

As a result, Jesus' body can die like a human, but he can make it do divine actions like walk on water, or have divine forms like invisibility (John 20, Luke 24). So when it comes to a divine form, miracle, or other divine action that Chalcedon's authors believed He performed like turning water into wine, turning bread into his body, being present spiritually or physically in the bread, they would explain it similarly by His divine nature, not to his human nature.

So when Calvin and the Reformed
say that Christ's body cannot be ubiquitous or be present in the bread spiritually because it would be a divine activity that goes against his human nature, they totally misunderstand Chalcedon, the Tome, and its way of thinking. Chalcedon does ascribe divine states of being that contradict the human nature to only nature only - the divine nature. To say that Christ's body could not be invisible, or present in different locations at once (heaven and in bread), or resurrect, or be miraculously present in the bread because it violates human nature misunderstands that Chalcedon teaches that Christ's forms can violate the expected state of the divine nature or the human nature.

In his Institutes, Calvin claims about the Lutherans:
  • They say that it is unfair to subject a glorious body to the ordinary laws of nature. But this answer draws along with it the delirious dream of Servetus [Burned at the stake by Reformed with Calvin's support], which all pious minds justly abhor, that his body was absorbed by his divinity. I do not say that this is their opinion; but if it is considered one of the properties of a glorified body to fill all things in an invisible manner, it is plain that the corporeal substance is abolished, and no distinction is left between his Godhead and his human nature.​


Calvin is wrong that just because a glorified body violates the "ordinary laws of nature" it means that the "body was absorbed by his divinity". As Leo's Tome promoted at Chalcedon explains, Christ is capable of using one form or the other to perform certain actions or be in bodily states that contradict the "ordinary laws of nature", like when he passed through walls, etc. This does not mean that the "corporeal substance is abolished" as Calvin claimed, but that in a transfigured state, Christ can have either divine or human actions or modes of being. The distinction remains clear because these modes can be distinguished between one nature or the other. Invisibility, existing in multiple locations at once, etc. is clearly ascribed to the divine nature and distinct from the the human nature.

Calvin cannot see that Christ's body could violate ordinary physical laws and instead demands "subject[ing Christ's] glorious body to the ordinary laws of nature." This is why Calvin's theory ultimately could lead away from Christianity, because Jesus' transformed supernatural bodily state does violate the "ordinary" laws of nature.

It is rather Calvin who is "monophysite", because he in effect imagines that the divine nature is practically incapacitated by the human nature so that nothing can contradict the human nature. This ultimately is a "Naturalistic" perspective that forces theology to be seen through the Naturalistic prism of modern scientific understanding, chaining Christ's body to what Calvin calls "the ordinary laws of nature".
 

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rakovsky said:
One of Calvin's main "philosophical" claims against the presence in the Eucharist food was that it would violate the human nature of Christ, and Calvin concluded from this claim that we, the Lutherans, and others were violating Chalcedon and would be "monophysite" because we dismissed His human nature.

In reality, the Chalcedonians were faced with this kind of contradiction between statements like "God cannot die", and precepts like Christ was God and died, or humans are mortal, but Christ rose and became immortal. Chalcedon solved the contradiction by saying there were two natures and ascribing actions to one nature or the other:
  • And again the Son of God is said to have been crucified and buried, although it was not actually in His Divinity whereby the Only-begotten is co-eternal and con-substantial with the Father, but in His weak human nature that He suffered these things. (Leo's Tome)

As a result, Jesus' body can die like a human, but he can make it do divine actions like walk on water, or have divine forms like invisibility (John 20, Luke 24). So when it comes to a divine form, miracle, or other divine action that Chalcedon's authors believed He performed like turning water into wine, turning bread into his body, being present spiritually or physically in the bread, they would explain it similarly by His divine nature, not to his human nature.

So when Calvin and the Reformed
say that Christ's body cannot be ubiquitous or be present in the bread spiritually because it would be a divine activity that goes against his human nature, they totally misunderstand Chalcedon, the Tome, and its way of thinking. Chalcedon does ascribe divine states of being that contradict the human nature to only nature only - the divine nature. To say that Christ's body could not be invisible, or present in different locations at once (heaven and in bread), or resurrect, or be miraculously present in the bread because it violates human nature misunderstands that Chalcedon teaches that Christ's forms can violate the expected state of the divine nature or the human nature.

In his Institutes, Calvin claims about the Lutherans:
  • They say that it is unfair to subject a glorious body to the ordinary laws of nature. But this answer draws along with it the delirious dream of Servetus [Burned at the stake by Reformed with Calvin's support], which all pious minds justly abhor, that his body was absorbed by his divinity. I do not say that this is their opinion; but if it is considered one of the properties of a glorified body to fill all things in an invisible manner, it is plain that the corporeal substance is abolished, and no distinction is left between his Godhead and his human nature.​


Calvin is wrong that just because a glorified body violates the "ordinary laws of nature" it means that the "body was absorbed by his divinity". As Leo's Tome promoted at Chalcedon explains, Christ is capable of using one form or the other to perform certain actions or be in bodily states that contradict the "ordinary laws of nature", like when he passed through walls, etc. This does not mean that the "corporeal substance is abolished" as Calvin claimed, but that in a transfigured state, Christ can have either divine or human actions or modes of being. The distinction remains clear because these modes can be distinguished between one nature or the other. Invisibility, existing in multiple locations at once, etc. is clearly ascribed to the divine nature and distinct from the the human nature.

Calvin cannot see that Christ's body could violate ordinary physical laws and instead demands "subject[ing Christ's] glorious body to the ordinary laws of nature." This is why Calvin's theory ultimately could lead away from Christianity, because Jesus' transformed supernatural bodily state does violate the "ordinary" laws of nature.

It is rather Calvin who is "monophysite", because he in effect imagines that the divine nature is practically incapacitated by the human nature so that nothing can contradict the human nature. This ultimately is a "Naturalistic" perspective that forces theology to be seen through the Naturalistic prism of modern scientific understanding, chaining Christ's body to what Calvin calls "the ordinary laws of nature".
Amazing.  I've never heard of "Chalcedonian Monophysitism", but ^there it is.
 

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Yeah, it seems to me that the Calvinist hangups about Christ's body being in more than one place at once suggest they do not see much interpenetration between the two natures, which might  be seen as leaning toward Nestorianism. Meanwhile the lack of an organic connection between Christ's human nature and ours (limited atonement) reminds me of Docetism. I hesitate though to really commit to these labels- I think it's best to address a heresy's problems directly rather than trying to fit it into some pre-condemned heresy.
 

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Iconodule said:
Yeah, it seems to me that the Calvinist hangups about Christ's body being in more than one place at once suggest they do not see much interpenetration between the two natures, which might  be seen as leaning toward Nestorianism. Meanwhile the lack of an organic connection between Christ's human nature and ours (limited atonement) reminds me of Docetism. I hesitate though to really commit to these labels- I think it's best to address a heresy's problems directly rather than trying to fit it into some pre-condemned heresy.
I agree. Calvinism is its own heresy.
It is not necessarily Nestorian because it accepts that Christ is one person, and it can't even understand that Christ can potentially either act in or have a divine or human way of being when it comes to the issue under contention. Calvinism doesn't understand that it can act in a way contradicting another of its natures. Nestorianism of coruse could understand that perfectly.

It's not Docetic, because Calvinism demands that Christ's body act very physically and obey what Calvin calls "ordinary laws of nature".
So I consider Calvin falling under absolutist naturalistic thinking in this topic.
 

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CARM ignores the ancient notion of what a "symbol" is.

If you read JND Kelly's "Early Christian Doctrines", Kelly himself notes how there are Fathers who take a "symbolic" view of the Eucharist. However this view is Realist in its nature. It doesn't mean that Calvin or Zwingli is right.

The "Symbol" is taken to be something that participates in that which is represents and can be said to be in some sense the thing it represents itself. This is what the "symbolic" view of the Eucharist means when used in the context of the Fathers.

"Figura" as used in Tertullian actually means to "make present" or "manifest". It also means "form".

Even Schaff who is Reformed actually takes notice that the Fathers when using the language of "symbol", "types" or "antitypes" aren't being Calvinistic. He's even cautious of calling Tertullian a mere symbolist(referring to the Zwlinglian view) and notes how his language can sound materialistic at times.

While Schaff notes that St Augustine comes closest to the Reformed view of the Eucharistic presence, he admits that he simultaneously takes the Realist view.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
In my experience, modern committed Calvinists tend to be Nestorian.
But they aren't really Nestorians, because Nestorians would understand that Jesus in his divine nature can act in conflict with his human nature.

Calvinists don't understand that Chalcedonianism and Nestorianism both allow conflicts between the two natures. Calvinists' objection about the Eucharist is that if Christ is in the Eucharist food then His presence contradicts his human nature, since that could only be a divine state of being.

Calvinists aren't really Chalcedonian or Nestorian, therefore. They just force Christ's body to follow natural laws, so they basically are a kind of Enlightenment-era scientific naturalist that are quite  fundamentalist in their approach.
 

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rakovsky said:
Calvinists aren't really Chalcedonian or Nestorian, therefore. They just force Christ's body to follow natural laws, so they basically are a kind of Enlightenment-era scientific naturalist that are quite  fundamentalist in their approach.
rakovsky said:
One of Calvin's main "philosophical" claims against the presence in the Eucharist food was that it would violate the human nature of Christ, and Calvin concluded from this claim that we, the Lutherans, and others were violating Chalcedon and would be "monophysite" because we dismissed His human nature.
 

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Iconodule said:
Yeah, it seems to me that the Calvinist hangups about Christ's body being in more than one place at once suggest they do not see much interpenetration between the two natures
I don't understand the idea of interpenetration between natures, either. For one, are we talking particular natures or kind-natures? Second, how would natures, which are what it is to be a thing, interpenetrate one another?

For example, if a red ball has white stripes on it, the ball's being partially red is not interpenetrated by the ball's being partially white. Rather the red areas of the ball are interpenetrated by the white areas of the ball.

I guess we can fudge it if "my human nature" just means all of the actual concrete things I have that make me human. Still weird. In that case I would want to say that the hypostasis of God is working in my human nature, rather than the divine nature doing so.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
Iconodule said:
Yeah, it seems to me that the Calvinist hangups about Christ's body being in more than one place at once suggest they do not see much interpenetration between the two natures
I don't understand the idea of interpenetration between natures, either. For one, are we talking particular natures or kind-natures? Second, how would natures, which are what it is to be a thing, interpenetrate one another?

For example, if a red ball has white stripes on it, the ball's being partially red is not interpenetrated by the ball's being partially white. Rather the red areas of the ball are interpenetrated by the white areas of the ball.
Christ walked on water both as God and man- he countered laws of nature in his divinity but it was with a human body that he did the walking (there is no walking of a disembodied divine nature). So in this instance you can see how the natures, while distinct, are both necessary and inseparable in the same action. It couldn't really be said where one ends and the other begins except in an abstract way. I am in my clumsy way speaking of the hypostatic union which seems to be denied to some extent insofar as Calvinists can't accept Christ's body being in more than one place at a given time.
 

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Mor Ephrem said:
rakovsky said:
Calvinists aren't really Chalcedonian or Nestorian, therefore. They just force Christ's body to follow natural laws, so they basically are a kind of Enlightenment-era scientific naturalist that are quite  fundamentalist in their approach.
rakovsky said:
One of Calvin's main "philosophical" claims against the presence in the Eucharist food was that it would violate the human nature of Christ, and Calvin concluded from this claim that we, the Lutherans, and others were violating Chalcedon and would be "monophysite" because we dismissed His human nature.
Yes. Calvinists are hypocritical to say we aren't Chalcedonian.
 

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The idea that Calvinists are Monophysite is amusing, given the crypto-Nestorianism that permeates every facet of their faith.  Indeed, I would argue most Calvinists are more genuinely Nestorian than the Assyrian Church of the East.  They suffer the excess of Antiochene literalism, they divide our Lord unnaturally with their Eucharistic doctrine, and they are monergistic and iconoclastic.  Monergism seems comorbid with Nestorianism; I believe that Nestorianism requires it by implication in order to provide cohesion between the disparate qnuma or hypostases.
 

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Iconodule said:
he countered laws of nature in his divinity but it was with a human body that he did the walking (there is no walking of a disembodied divine nature).
Ok, take a look at the two sorts of things we're talking about here. First, Christ's divinity. Second, his human body. There is a transition here from a whole nature (divinity), on the one hand, to a concrete part of a concrete thing (human body), on the other hand. So we still haven't gotten an example of communication of properties between natures.
 

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Hm, what would be a "concrete thing" with regards to God? We can talk about attributes like omnipotence (which was demonstrated in his walking on water) and I assume you are not equating concrete with material.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
Iconodule said:
he countered laws of nature in his divinity but it was with a human body that he did the walking (there is no walking of a disembodied divine nature).
Ok, take a look at the two sorts of things we're talking about here. First, Christ's divinity. Second, his human body. There is a transition here from a whole nature (divinity), on the one hand, to a concrete part of a concrete thing (human body), on the other hand. So we still haven't gotten an example of communication of properties between natures.
I guess the question we have to ask then becomes, what is the sine qua non of an embodied human person? On the one hand, we have a whole panoply of examples of what it means to be a disabled human body or even a human body that is augmented or altered by things like artificial limbs and organs.

On the other hand, we have things like multiple personalities, digital personas, different faces that we show to other people in different social circumstances, the characters played by an actor, etc. Yes, one could always look at these "facets" of a person reductionistically as all being somehow "fake" but still it makes me wonder if the human self is as confined in time and space and we tend to think it is.

I'm just spitballing here, really.
 

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Iconodule said:
Hm, what would be a "concrete thing" with regards to God? We can talk about attributes like omnipotence (which was demonstrated in his walking on water) and I assume you are not equating concrete with material.
3 persons and a bunch of activities, for two.
 

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wgw said:
The idea that Calvinists are Monophysite is amusing, given the crypto-Nestorianism that permeates every facet of their faith.  
Yes, it's amusing.
They would be Monophysite in the opposite sense of Eutyches. Rather than dismissing the human nature like Eutyches, they make the human nature so paramount that the divine nature cannot act in conflict with the human nature.

In the Calvinist scheme, Christ cannot be invisible, immense, or in the Eucharist because all those things would contradict the human nature. The Calvinists however are capable of accepting that the divine nature could be contradicted though, eg. that Christ could die, etc.

That is, when the topic of the Eucharist comes up, they find that the human nature's normal status absolutely cannot be violated or contradicted by the divine nature. This in effect makes Christ in this topic ONLY human and NOT a divine being, as they prevent him from exhibiting divine properties.
 

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rakovsky said:
wgw said:
The idea that Calvinists are Monophysite is amusing, given the crypto-Nestorianism that permeates every facet of their faith.  
Yes, it's amusing.
They would be Monophysite in the opposite sense of Eutyches. Rather than dismissing the human nature like Eutyches, they make the human nature so paramount that the divine nature cannot act in conflict with the human nature.

In the Calvinist scheme, Christ cannot be invisible, immense, or in the Eucharist because all those things would contradict the human nature. The Calvinists however are capable of accepting that the divine nature could be contradicted though, eg. that Christ could die, etc.
It kind of makes me wonder if the sci-fi trope of the "non-corporeal lifeform" has any philosophical coherence to it- not to get too spooky.

Or, we could ask in what ways the angels are embodied or not. I mean, the Liturgy calls them Bodiless Powers, but I would assume that this is only relative to us and not to God.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
rakovsky said:
The Calvinists however are capable of accepting that the divine nature could be contradicted though, eg. that Christ could die, etc.
Don't be so sure.
From your link:
"It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death."

OK. What I mean is that it's an apparent contradiction that God doesn't die and that Christ-God died. The website you pointed me to openly recognizes this seeming contradiction, but resolves it by saying that only the human nature experienced death, and that the divine nature didn't.

Meanwhile in the resurrection, I presume that they would recognize that the Body rose again in accordance with the divine nature but unlike the normal human actions of dead bodies. Christ himself rose himself, as it says - I lay down my life and take it up again.

When it comes to the Eucharist though, the Calvinists reject that the body would violate "ordinary laws of nature" as Calvin said. When it comes to the Eucharist, unlike the death and the Resurrection, the Reformed are not willing to accept events that would violate natural laws because they claim that this would also violate the "human nature". When it comes to the Eucharist, they don't act consistent with their philosophy on death and resurrection that says it's ok for one nature's actions to contradict the other. They don't resolve the problem like they did in the other cases above, when they were capable of recognizing an apparent contradiction and action by one nature and not the other. When it comes to the Eucharist, they force the divine nature to be incapacitated and don't allow even seeming contradictions with the human nature.

If you apply their philosophy on the Eucharist to the rest of the Bible, you end up with a naturalism that denies that Christ could take up his life again, pass through walls, etc. because those things would seem to violate the "ordinary laws of nature", as Calvin called it.
 

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rakovsky said:
OK. What I mean is that it's an apparent contradiction that God doesn't die and that Christ-God died. The website you pointed me to openly recognizes this seeming contradiction, but resolves it by saying that only the human nature experienced death, and that the divine nature didn't.
Which is a Nestorian way to resolve it.

There isn't some dude named Jesus's created human nature who does his/its thing, hungering and tiring and being sacrificed and whatnot.
 

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NicholasMyra said:
rakovsky said:
OK. What I mean is that it's an apparent contradiction that God doesn't die and that Christ-God died. The website you pointed me to openly recognizes this seeming contradiction, but resolves it by saying that only the human nature experienced death, and that the divine nature didn't.
Which is a Nestorian way to resolve it.
It is a dyophisite way. You don't have to accept two persons like Nestorius did to think that Christ died in the flesh and not in his "divine nature".

I am not really interested in defending Calvinism or getting deep into what is the best label for calvinism's heresy, other than to say that they are very Naturalistic and openly using modern "laws of nature" to decide their beliefs about what happened/happens to Christ's body.
 

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rakovsky said:
You don't have to accept two persons like Nestorius did to think that Christ died in the flesh and not in his "divine nature".
Christ died in the flesh =/= merely Christ's human nature died.
 
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