Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,17:11-13) [Eucharist: Transubstantiation / Heretical Precedent / Body of Christ / Local Presence]

See the introduction and links to all installments at the top of my John Calvin, Calvinism, and General Protestantism web page; also the online version of the Institutes. Calvin's words will be in blue throughout. All biblical citations (in my portions) will be from RSV unless otherwise noted.

* * * * *

Book IV



11. Conclusion of the first part of the chapter. The sacrament of the Supper consists of two parts—viz. corporeal signs, and spiritual truth. These comprehend the meaning, matter, and effect. Christ truly exhibited to us by symbols.

I hold then (as has always been received in the Church, and is still taught by those who feel aright), that the sacred mystery of the Supper consists of two things—the corporeal signs, which, presented to the eye, represent invisible things in a manner adapted to our weak capacity, and the spiritual truth, which is at once figured and exhibited by the signs.

"Signs", "represent invisible things": same old same old errors . . .

When attempting familiarly to explain its nature, I am accustomed to set down three things—the thing meant, the matter which depends on it, and the virtue or efficacy consequent upon both. The thing meant consists in the promises which are in a manner included in the sign. By the matter, or substance, I mean Christ, with his death and resurrection. By the effect, I understand redemption, justification, sanctification, eternal life, and all other benefits which Christ bestows upon us. Moreover, though all these things have respect to faith, I leave no room for the cavil, that when I say Christ is conceived by faith, I mean that he is only conceived by the intellect and imagination. He is offered by the promises, not that we may stop short at the sight or mere knowledge of him, but that we may enjoy true communion with him.

But only "spiritually," not physically, as that would be somehow idolatrous or impossible, for inexplicable reasons known only to Calvin.

And, indeed, I see not how any one can expect to have redemption and righteousness in the cross of Christ, and life in his death, without trusting first of all to true communion with Christ himself. Those blessings could not reach us, did not Christ previously make himself ours. I say then, that in the mystery of the Supper, by the symbols of bread and wine, Christ, his body and his blood, are truly exhibited to us,

They are yet they are not . . . if we can train ourselves to simultaneously believe two things that are utterly contradictory, then we will be able to grasp and accept Calvin's convoluted reasoning.

that in them he fulfilled all obedience, in order to procure righteousness for us— first that we might become one body with him; and, secondly, that being made partakers of his substance, we might feel the result of this fact in the participation of all his blessings.

Sounds Catholic, but in context is not.

12. Second part of the chapter, reduced to nine heads. The transubstantiation of the Papists considered and refuted. Its origin and absurdity. Why it should be exploded.

I now come to the hyperbolical mixtures which superstition has introduced.

It's quite comical for Calvin to rail against "superstition" -- given all the fictional and illogical, incoherent innovations he himself has introduced . . .

Here Satan has employed all his wiles, withdrawing the minds of men from heaven, and imbuing them with the perverse error that Christ is annexed to the element of bread.

That is, the biblical, apostolic, patristic, and historic Catholic "error" . . . (we must place things in their proper perspective).

And, first, we are not to dream of such a presence of Christ in the sacrament as the artificers of the Romish court have imagined, as if the body of Christ, locally present, were to be taken into the hand, and chewed by the teeth, and swallowed by the throat.

As the fathers pretty much unanimously believed: so even Protestant historians freely concede. It has nothing particularly to do with "Romish" and everything to do with apostolic and patristic.

This was the form of Palinode, which Pope Nicholas dictated to Berengarius, in token of his repentance, a form expressed in terms so monstrous, that the author of the Gloss exclaims, that there is danger, if the reader is not particularly cautious, that he will be led by it into a worse heresy than was that of Berengarius (Distinct. 2 c. Ego Berengarius).

Berengarius was one of the few men of any note in the entire patristic and early medieval period who questioned the Real Presence and transubstantiation; hence we see Calvin immediately gravitating to him, even before he engages in his usual pretense that St. Augustine supposedly agrees with his novel position. In the article on Berengarius in The Catholic Encyclopedia, we can see from whence Calvin got some of his heretical notions of the Eucharist:

In the Eucharistic controversy of the ninth century, Radbert Paschasius, afterwards abbot of Corbie, in his De Corpore et Sanguine Domini (831), had maintained the doctrine that in the Holy Eucharist the bread is converted into the real body of Christ, into the very body which was born of Mary and crucified. Ratramnus, a monk of the same abbey, defended the opinion that in the Holy Eucharist there is no conversion of the bread; that the body of Christ is, nevertheless, present, but in a spiritual way; that it is not therefore the same as that born of Mary and crucified. John Scotus Erigena had supported the view that the sacraments of the altar are figures of the body of Christ; that they are a memorial of the true body and blood of Christ. (P. Batiffol, Etudes d'histoire et de théologie positive, 2d series, Paris, 1905.)

Unlike Calvin, who was firm in his error, Berengarius waffled and vacillated, but like Calvin, he went his own way over against Rome:

At the Council of Tours (1055), presided over by the papal legate Hildebrand, Berengarius signed a profession of faith wherein he confessed that after consecration the bread and wine are truly the body and blood of Christ. At another council held in Rome in 1059, Berengarius was present, retracted his opinions, and signed a formula of faith, drawn up by Cardinal Humbert, affirming the real and sensible presence of the true body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. (Mansi, XIX, 900.) On his return, however, Berengarius attacked this formula. Eusebius Bruno abandoned him, and the Count of Anjou, Geoffrey the Bearded, vigorously opposed him. Berengarius appealed to Pope Alexander II, who, though he intervened in his behalf, asked him to renounce his erroneous opinions. This Berengarius contemptuously refused to do. . . . in 1078, by order of Pope Gregory VII, he came to Rome, and in a council held in St. John Lateran signed a profession of faith affirming the conversion of the bread into the body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary. The following year, in a council held in the same place Berengarius signed a formula affirming the same doctrine in a more explicit way. Gregory VII then recommended him to the bishops of Tours and Angers, forbidding that any penalty should be inflicted on him or that anyone should call him a heretic. Berengarius, on his return, again attacked the formula he had signed, but as a consequence of the Council of Bordeaux (1080) he made a final retraction. He then retired into solitude on the island of St. Cosme, where he died, in union with the Church.

As the article proceeds in its analysis, we see again the similarities of the false premises of both Berengarius' and Calvin's heretical errors: particularly the notion of merely "spiritual presence":

In order to understand his opinion, we must observe that, in philosophy, Berengarius had rationalistic tendencies and was a nominalist. Even in the study of the question of faith, he held that reason is the best guide. Reason, however, is dependent upon and is limited by sense-perception. Authority, therefore, is not conclusive; we must reason according to the data of our senses. There is no doubt that Berengarius denied transubstantiation (we mean the substantial conversion expressed by the word; the word itself was used for the first time by Hildebert of Lavardin); it is not absolutely certain that he denied the Real Presence, though he certainly held false views regarding it. Is the body of Christ present in the Eucharist, and in what manner? On this question the authorities appealed to by Berengarius are, besides Scotus Erigena, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine. These fathers taught that the Sacrament of the Altar is the figure, the sign, the token of the body and blood of the Lord. These terms, in their mind, apply directly to what is external and sensible in the Holy Eucharist and do not, in any way, imply the negation of the real presence of the true body of Christ. (St. Aug. Serm. 143, n.3; Gerbert, Libellus De Corp. et Sang. Domini. n. 4, P.L., CXXXIX, 177.) For Berengarius the body and blood of Christ are really present in the Holy Eucharist; but this presence is an intellectual or spiritual presence. The substance of the bread and the substance of the wine remain unchanged in their nature, but by consecration they become spiritually the very body and blood of Christ. This spiritual body and blood of Christ is the res sacramenti; the bread and the wine are the figure, the sign, the token, sacramentum. . . .

He maintained that the bread and wine, without any change in their nature, become by consecration the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, a memorial of the body crucified and of the blood shed on the cross. It is not, however, the body of Christ as it is in heaven; for how could the body of Christ which is now in heaven, necessarily limited by space, be in another place, on several altars, and in numerous hosts? Yet the bread and the wine are the sign of the actual and real presence of the body and blood of Christ.

Calvin, too, had pronounced rationalistic and nominalistic tendencies. And so we see some of the intellectual background of his heresies in this regard.

Peter Lombard, though he labours much to excuse the absurdity, rather inclines to a different opinion. As we cannot at all doubt that it is bounded according to the invariable rule in the human body, and is contained in heaven, where it was once received, and will remain till it return to judgment, so we deem it altogether unlawful to bring it back under these corruptible elements, or to imagine it everywhere present.

Jesus' body is not "everywhere present." It is sacramentally present in the consecrated bread and wine at Mass. In fact, the very notion of consecration proves that transubstantiation does not involve a "bodily omnipresence" since what was once bread and wine miraculously becomes the Body and Blood of Christ. Therefore, if they were not that before consecration, then this proves that Jesus' body is not omnipresent itself, but becomes present locally during Mass.

Absurdities abound here, but in Calvin's view, not the Catholic position. I agree with what Lutheran pastor Paul T. McCain wrote in response to Calvin's error in this regard:

My quick response to their "how" question about our Lord’s human nature is simply this…how was it possible for the Risen Lord to suddenly "appear in the midst of them" among His disciples on Easter? . . . How did His human nature ascend? Or what about the Transfiguration? It seems that was a pretty amazing event for His human nature, a foretaste of what was to come during His glorification? How is God able to create everything out of nothing? How is a Virgin able to conceive? How is that some are saved, and not others? So many "how" questions! . . . A desire to provide a "logical" explanation to these "how" questions is really Calvinism’s downfall.

I wrote similarly in a paper on similar types of questions from Protestants:

Jesus could walk through walls after His Resurrection (Jn 20:26), and even a mere man, Philip, could be "caught away" and transported to another place by God (Acts 8:39-40). So some Protestants think that God "couldn't" or "wouldn't" have performed the miracle of the Eucharist? One shouldn't attempt to "tie" God's hands by such arguments of alleged implausibility.
The fact remains that God clearly can perform any miracle He so chooses, and this particular one entails no suspension of the principles of the Incarnation, once the doctrine of Two Natures is correctly understood. Jesus can be both incarnate and present in many places in the Eucharist, just as He can be incarnate and be present spiritually everywhere (something which all Protestants believe). Neither scenario is contradictory or impossible for God. They are both miraculous and supernatural.

And, indeed, there is no need of this, in order to our partaking of it, since the Lord by his Spirit bestows upon us the blessing of being one with him in soul, body, and spirit. The bond of that connection, therefore, is the Spirit of Christ, who unites us to him, and is a kind of channel by which everything that Christ has and is, is derived to us. For if we see that the sun, in sending forth its rays upon the earth, to generate, cherish, and invigorate its offspring, in a manner transfuses its substance into it, why should the radiance of the Spirit be less in conveying to us the communion of his flesh and blood?

Calvin's scenario is entirely possible, theoretically. The problem is that it denies the clear biblical warrant for eucharistic realism.

Wherefore the Scripture, when it speaks of our participation with Christ, refers its whole efficacy to the Spirit. Instead of many, one passage will suffice. Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 8:9-11), shows that the only way in which Christ dwells in us is by his Spirit. By this, however, he does not take away that communion of flesh and blood of which we now speak, but shows that it is owing to the Spirit alone that we possess Christ wholly, and have him abiding in us.

The indwelling itself is spiritual, and it is said that Jesus dwells inside of us, as well as the Holy Spirit, and indeed God the Father. But the same Scripture uses realistic language in describing the Body of Christ. Calvin himself alluded to this in passing not long before in his book. The clearest, most graphic example of that is in conjunction with St. Paul's conversion:

Acts 9:3-4 And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" [5] And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;

Acts 22:7-8 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' [8] And I answered, `Who are you, Lord?' And he said to me, `I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.'

Acts 26:14-15 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.'
[15] And I said, `Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, `I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

Paul wasn't literally persecuting Jesus in the flesh. He was warring against the Body of Christ. Jesus assumes here that the "Body of Christ" or the Church is literally identified with Him, in some very real sense. It's the typically pungent, literal, graphic language and categories of the Bible. Paul was persecuting the Church:

Acts 9:1-2 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest [2] and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

Acts 22:4-5
I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, [5] as the high priest and the whole council of elders bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brethren, and I journeyed to Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

Acts 26:10-11
I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. [11] And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme; and in raging fury against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

1 Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Galatians 1:23 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; (cf. 1:23)

But Jesus told him that he was persecuting Him. This graphic one-to-one equation is seen elsewhere:

Ephesians 1:22-23 and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, [23] which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 5:23 . . . Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Ephesians 5:28-32 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body. [31] "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." [32] This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;

Paul also reiterates the equation of persecution of the Church being the same as persecuting Jesus Himself:

1 Timothy 1:12-13 I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, [13] though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief,

Elsewhere we see in the Apostle Paul not only very strong eucharistic realism (1 Cor 10:16; 11:27-30) but also an identification with the very suffering of Christ, in a startlingly realistic manner:

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, (cf. 2 Cor 4:10; Gal 6:17; Phil 3:10)

Calvin can't spiritualize away Paul's bodily sufferings, as if they weren't physical in nature. Likewise, he can't spiritualize away the Holy Eucharist. Scripture is consistently realistic in tone, tenor, and language with regard to all these matters.

13. Transubstantiation as feigned by the Schoolmen. Refutation. The many superstitions introduced by their error.

The Schoolmen, horrified at this barbarous impiety,

What impiety?

speak more modestly, though they do nothing more than amuse themselves with more subtle delusions.

Quite a left-handed compliment . . .

They admit that Christ is not contained in the sacrament circumscriptively, or in a bodily manner, but they afterwards devise a method which they themselves do not understand, and cannot explain to others.

Sounds rather like Calvin's own discombobulated eucharistic theology.

It, however, comes to this, that Christ may be sought in what they call the species of bread. What? When they say that the substance of bread is converted into Christ, do they not attach him to the white colour, which is all they leave of it? But they say, that though contained in the sacrament, he still remains in heaven, and has no other presence there than that of abode.

On what grounds can Calvin or his followers argue that this is impossible? I don't see at all that it is impossible for God or prohibited by the Bible. Colossians 3:11 states that "Christ is all, and in all." The Bible refers to God being "in" physical things (including as a man, or "the angel of the Lord", in theophanies) even before the Incarnation:


Genesis 16:13
So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, "Thou art a God of seeing"; for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?"

Genesis 17:1
, 22 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless." . . . [22] When he had finished talking with him, God went up from Abraham.

Genesis 18:1
And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.

Exodus 3:16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, "The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me . . ."

Exodus 24:9-11 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abi'hu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, [10] and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. [11] And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

Numbers 12:7-8 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. [8] With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. . . .

Deuteronomy 34:10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

1 Kings 22:19 And Micai'ah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; (cf. 2 Chron 18:18)

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. (cf. 6:5)

Ezekiel 1:25-28 And there came a voice from above the firmament over their heads; when they stood still, they let down their wings. [26] And above the firmament over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness as it were of a human form. [27] And upward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were gleaming bronze, like the appearance of fire enclosed round about; and downward from what had the appearance of his loins I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness round about him. [28] Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

Ezekiel 3:22-23 And the hand of the LORD was there upon me; and he said to me, "Arise, go forth into the plain, and there I will speak with you." [23] So I arose and went forth into the plain; and, lo, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell on my face.

Daniel 7:9 As I looked, thrones were placed and one that was ancient of days took his seat; his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, its wheels were burning fire. (cf. 3:25; Rev 1:13-16)

Amos 9:1 I saw the LORD standing beside the altar . . .


Judges 13:9, 20-22
And God listened to the voice of Mano'ah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but Mano'ah her husband was not with her. . . . [20] And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar while Mano'ah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. [21] The angel of the LORD appeared no more to Mano'ah and to his wife. Then Mano'ah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. [22] And Mano'ah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, for we have seen God." (cf. Joshua 5:13-15)


Genesis 32:24, 30
And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. . . . So Jacob called the name of the place Peni'el, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved."


Exodus 3:2-6
And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and lo, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, "I will turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." [4] When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here am I." [5] Then he said, "Do not come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." [6] And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (cf. Acts 7:30-33)

Exodus 13:21 And the LORD went before them . . . by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night;

Exodus 14:24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire . . . looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, and discomfited the host of the Egyptians,

Exodus 19:18 And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.

Exodus 24:17 Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.

Exodus 40:38 For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.

Numbers 14:14 . . . O LORD, art seen face to face, and . . . thou goest before them, . . . . in a pillar of fire by night. (cf. Neh 9:12,19)

Deuteronomy 1:32-33 . . . the LORD your God, [33] who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night, to show you by what way you should go, . . .

Deuteronomy 4:12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. (cf. 4:15)

Deuteronomy 5:4-5 The LORD spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, [5] while I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the LORD; for you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. He said:

Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, . . .

Deuteronomy 9:10 the words which the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.

Deuteronomy 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the ten commandments which the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me.

Deuteronomy 18:16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, `Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.'

Deuteronomy 33:16 . . . him that dwelt in the bush. . . .

Judges 13:20 . . . the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar . . .

Mark 12:26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? (cf. Lk 20:37)


Exodus 13:21
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, . . .

Exodus 14:24
. . . the LORD in the pillar . . . of cloud looked down upon the host of the Egyptians, . . .

Exodus 16:10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 24:15-16 Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. [16] The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.

Exodus 33:9-11
When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the LORD would speak with Moses. [10] And when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the door of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, every man at his tent door. [11] Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tent. . . . [14] And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Exodus 34:5 And the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.

Exodus 40:34-38 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [35] And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode upon it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. [36] Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would go onward; [37] but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up. [38] For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, . . .

Leviticus 9:4-6 ". . . for today the LORD will appear to you." [5] And they brought what Moses commanded before the tent of meeting; and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. [6] And Moses said, "This is the thing which the LORD commanded you to do; and the glory of the LORD will appear to you."

Leviticus 9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting; and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people.

Leviticus 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses, . . . "I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat."

Numbers 11:25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him . . .

Numbers 14:10, 14 . . . Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. . . . [14] and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people; for thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and thy cloud stands over them and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.

Numbers 16:19 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.

Numbers 16:42 And when the congregation had assembled against Moses and against Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting; and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.

Numbers 20:6-7 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tent of meeting, and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, [7] and the LORD said to Moses,

Deuteronomy 1:32-33 Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, [33] who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, . . . to show you by what way you should go, and in the cloud by day.

Deuteronomy 5:22 These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of . . . the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice . . .

Deuteronomy 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud; and the pillar of cloud stood by the door of the tent.

1 Kings 8:11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD. (cf. 2 Chron 5:14)

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. [2] And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. [3] When all the children of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD upon the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the earth on the pavement, and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever."

Psalm 99:7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud . . . (cf. Neh 9:12,19)

Isaiah 35:2 . . . They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. (cf. 40:5)

Ezekiel 10:4, 18 And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherubim to the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the glory of the LORD. . . . Then the glory of the LORD went forth from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

Ezekiel 11:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.

Ezekiel 43:2-6 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory. [3] And the vision I saw was like the vision which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the vision which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. [4] As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, [5] the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. [6] While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple; (cf. 44:4)

Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.


Exodus 25:22
There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

Exodus 30:6 And you shall put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.

Leviticus 16:2
and the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

Numbers 7:89 And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

1 Samuel 4:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phin'ehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

2 Samuel 6:2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba'ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.

2 Kings 19:15 And Hezeki'ah prayed before the LORD, and said: "O LORD the God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

1 Chronicles 13:6 And David and all Israel went up to Ba'alah, that is, to Kir'iath-je'arim which belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD who sits enthroned above the cherubim. (cf. 28:2)

Psalm 80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth

Psalm 99:1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

Isaiah 37:16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, thou art the God, thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

Yet Calvin would have us believe that it is implausible or unbiblical or impossible that God (after the Incarnation) could choose to be physically present in the consecrated elements? He simply cannot do so. It is a mere false tradition of men that would dogmatically assert such a thing without biblical justification. As I've just shown, the Bible has many indications of a local presence of God in physical things, even apart from the Incarnation. Now that God has taken on human flesh, it is not implausible that He can also choose to be present under the appearances of bread and wine, just as He did in pillars of cloud and fire and burning bushes. Why should one thing be actual and the other allegedly not even plausible or possible? Jesus told us "this is My body." He emphasizes this in very strong terms in the discourse of John 6. St. Paul reiterates it. Why does Calvin, then, doubt it?

Eucharistic presence is scarcely any essentially different than all these manifestations of His special presence. God was so present in the ark of the covenant, that Uzzah was killed instantly simply because he innocently touched it, to keep it from falling over (2 Sam 6:3-7; 1 Chron 13:7-10). Seventy men of Bethshemesh were slain because they (also seemingly innocently) looked into it (1 Sam 6:19). God was so present in the Holy of Holies (Ex 26:33; 1 Kings 6:19), that contained the ark of the covenant (Ex 26:34; 40:21; 1 Kings 8:6; 2 Chron 5:7), that the priests only went in there once a year, on the Day of Atonement, and anyone who did on any other day, or not according to the proper ceremony, might be killed (Lev 16:2, 13). The River Jordan stopped flowing when the ark was carried through it (Josh 3:8-17; 4:1-18).

Joshua even bowed before the ark of the covenant on his face in a worshipful posture (Josh 7:6), and Levite priests thanked and praised God before it (1 Chron 16:4), just as Catholics genuflect and bow before the Holy Eucharist, and adore the Lord therein. King David "offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD" next to the ark (2 Sam 6:17), which is a precursor of the Sacrifice of the Mass. King Solomon did the same (1 Kings 3:15; 2 Chron 5:6), and so did the Levites (1 Chron 16:1). Catholic practices are essentially nothing that hadn't been done nearly 3000 years ago. They are made far more meaningful, however, after the incarnation and crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But, whatever be the terms in which they attempt to make a gloss, the sum of all is, that that which was formerly bread, by consecration becomes Christ: so that Christ thereafter lies hid under the colour of bread.

That's correct; as the fathers taught.

This they are not ashamed distinctly to express.

Why should we be, since Jesus and Paul did?

For Lombard’s words are, “The body of Christ, which is visible in itself, lurks and lies covered after the act of consecration under the species of bread” (Lombard. Sent. Lib. 4 Dist. 12). Thus the figure of the bread is nothing but a mask which conceals the view of the flesh from our eye. But there is no need of many conjectures to detect the snare which they intended to lay by these words, since the thing itself speaks clearly. It is easy to see how great is the superstition under which not only the vulgar but the leaders also, have laboured for many ages, and still labour, in Popish Churches.

If Calvin wishes to condemn the entirety of patristic eucharistic theology (and the explicit biblical rationale behind it), he is free to do so, but this also means that he can't pretend to be "reforming" the Church back to her former state in this regard, since there never was a time when the Church believed as he does regarding the Eucharist. He can't have his cake and eat it too (no pun intended). If he wants to oppose the massive, unarguable historical evidence of early Church beliefs on the Eucharist, then he can't at the same time maintain a pretense of supposedly going back to it and getting rid of "Romish" accretions and corruptions and inventions. He should honestly admit that his is no reform at all, but a novel revolution of thought.

Little solicitous as to true faith (by which alone we attain to the fellowship of Christ, and become one with him), provided they have his carnal presence, which they have fabricated without authority from the word, they think he is sufficiently present. Hence we see, that all which they have gained by their ingenious subtlety is to make bread to be regarded as God.

Calvin does the latter, as I alluded to above, since he makes the bread remain bread, yet wants to talk as if God is specially, mystically, spiritually present in it. So if anyone is confusing bread and God, it is Calvin. He is mixing the two in an odd, illogical manner. Lutherans, on the other hand, make it clear that both bread and God are present, and distinguish the two, while Catholics explicitly hold to a change in substance from bread to God. Therefore, neither Lutherans nor Catholics "make bread to be regarded as God." Calvin is doing that. We have plenty of biblical warrant. Calvin, however, has to change Scripture in order to believe as he does. Scripture isn't clear enough as it is. So it needs to be changed. Here, then, is the Revised Calvin Version (RCV) of the classic eucharistic texts:

Luke 22:19-20 (RCV) And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is represents my body which is given for you, as a sign and seal. Do this in remembrance of me." [20] And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you represents the new covenant in my blood, as a sign and seal."

1 Corinthians 10:16 (RCV) The cup of blessing which we bless, does it not represent and signify in a spiritual manner the blood of Christ, that we mystically participate in? The bread which we break, does it not represent and signify in a spiritual manner the body of Christ, that we mystically participate in?

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (RCV) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning what represents and signifies as a spiritual sign the body and blood of the Lord. [28] Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. [29] For any one who eats and drinks without discerning what represents and signifies as a spiritual sign the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.


Zsolt said...


First of all: tremendous job! I massively appreciate your undertaking this gargantuan task of gnawing through the Institutes, defending the Faith.
I just wanted to highlight an interesting point with regard to Calvin's (mis)understanding of the dogma of the Real Presence. (I'm pretty sure I'm not stating anything new to you here but I feel compelled to write this).
The point is related to what is meant by "local presence". Catholic faith holds two seemingly contradictory Articles of Faith. First, that bodily Christ is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father where he will be until His Second Coming. Second, that Christ is really, truly, substantially present in the Eucharist. Both Articles are vigorously upheld but no dogmatic definition has been given on how exactly to explain the paradox. It is a mystery but Catholic theology does provide some guidance for reason. Among many important points is that the Presence of Christ is nonlocal in the Eucharist when by "local presence" the normal mode of spatially circumscript presence of a person is meant.

Pope Clement IV:
[In the Eucharist] "there exist truly, really, and essentially the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, although locally [Lat. localiter] it is in heaven". (in a letter to archbishop Narbonne, emphasis mine)

St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Christ is not present in this Sacrament in the manner of being contained in a place, and that which is not contained in place is not moved locally in respect to itself but rather is moved only according to the movement of that in which it is present." (S. Th. III, emphasis mine) This is what he calls movement "per accidens".

Pope Paul VI:
"...Word Incarnate ... has become present before us without leaving heaven." (Creed of the People of God)

So if His mode of Presence is nonlocal in the above sense then in what sense is it "local"? We know in a sacramental way but what does it mean? Of course we cannot hope to get a full understanding of a mystery with our tiny finite minds. Still for me a breakthrough was reached in the quest to have at least a feel for a solution to grasp the paradox while reading James T. O'Connor's theology of the Eucharist. He says:
"... the Eucharistic appearances are themselves the boundary between the visible and invisible orders of creation, the horizon at which earthly time and the everlasting aeon of the blessed touch. The appearances are the window whose far side holds 'what God has prepared for those who love him' (1 Cor 2:9)." (The Hidden Manna, a theology of the Eucharist, p. 293) It's a great book though I guess you know it :-)

So the vision I got out of this, thanks to my sci-fi oriented mind, is something akin to a wormhole (as per the Stargate movie/TV franchise). The wormhole connects two spatially distant locations bending the space-time continuum. The event horizon of the wormhole at one end is directly connected to that at the other end thus allowing for communication in an immediate manner between them. According to this picture the accidents of bread and wine are the "event horizons" of a "wormhole" which at the other end embraces our Lord in Heaven. The accidents, "event horizons", could be many all over the world and could be broken, divided but still all of them is connected to the totality of Christ at the other end (who is one and is not broken by this). We are just opening up more "wormholes" connected to the same "Destination" at the other end. Thus Christ is not locally present (as in personally leaving Heaven) yet is really, truly, substantially Present in the Eucharist thus allowing for communion in an immediate manner.

(Continued below...)

Zsolt said...

Having gone through all this let's now go back to Calvin. Reading his theology on the matter I get the feeling that:
1. He seems to think the "papists" believe in the local Presence of Christ (as in bodily Presence indicating Him leaving Heaven) which of course we don't.
2. His own solution to the mystical paradox is to keep the first Article (Christ is in Heaven) and keep the implication of the second. That is: Christ is not Present substantially but a (kind of) "real eating" of His Body does occur (true participation or ‘true communion’ as he writes). So he means to uphold the "real eating" in place of the Real Presence. We bind the mystery of transubstantiation and Real Presence to the miraculous action of the Holy Spirit during consecration invoked by the priest acting in Persona Christi. Calvin is binding his mystery of "real eating" also to the miraculous action of the Holy Spirit, taking place, however, during partaking in the signs invoked by the faith of the participant. It is interesting that he actually describes the action of the Holy Spirit here as a "kind of a channel" (!) deriving Christ to us.
So after all I think he is actually closer to the Catholic understanding than he thinks he is but still far from the full wonderful depth and richness of this most amazing mystery and miracle that Christ gave us. The big difference, obviously, is that the Real Presence is, albeit mysterious and miraculous but, an objective, physical Reality (as well as meta-physical and spiritual) brought to us irrespective of whether we (or the celebrating priest) believe it or not (faith of course being necessary to receive worthily). His "channeled" "real eating" seems to be more subjective, arguably with a spiritual reality, and conditioned upon the participant's status of faith. And this is where it most clearly contradicts Scripture (most of all, perhaps, 1 Cor 11:27-29) since provided the "channel" opens up indeed only as much as one believes I don't see why God would be offended by those lacking belief: they think that they are not partaking and they are indeed not partaking. Offence to God can there be only when one doesn't discern an objective reality (The Supreme Reality).

In light of the above it's also interesting to have a glance at Luther and Zwingli. Luther's theology of the Eucharist could be viewed as holding to a form of the second Article (Real Presence albeit shared with real bread & wine) but also advocating "local presence" and thus resulting in a clear contradiction with the First Article. Thus it is deficient and he has been criticized a lot.
And Zwingli, as we know, simply rejects the Second Article thus indeed avoiding both any contradiction and mysterious paradox but at the price of obtaining a truly, really and substantially "empty" symbol.

Dave Armstrong said...

Very fascinating commentary and info. Thanks so much. You have added very important data and considerations to the post itself.