Monday, November 30, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,17:24-28) [Eucharist: Calvin's Rationalism, Lack of Faith, & Nestorianism / Indwelling / Augustine]

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.

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Book IV

CHAPTER 17

OF THE LORD’S SUPPER, AND THE BENEFITS CONFERRED BY IT.

24. Other objections answered. No question here as to the omnipotence of God.

This infamous falsehood cannot be completely wiped away without disposing of another charge. They give out that we are so wedded to human reason, that we attribute nothing more to the power of God than the order of nature admits, and common sense dictates.

That is what Calvin's logic regarding the Eucharist amounts to, yes. He is caught up into a limited rationalistic worldview without seeming to realize that he is. He's a prisoner of his own false presuppositions. He lacks the perspective of Christian mystery, paradox, and miracle.

From these wicked calumnies, I appeal to the doctrine which I have delivered,—a doctrine which makes it sufficiently clear that I by no means measure this mystery by the capacity of human reason, or subject it to the laws of nature.

What else can one call a view that wants to limit God by saying that Jesus' Body can only be in heaven and not eucharistically present as well?

I ask, whether it is from physics we have learned that Christ feeds our souls from heaven with his flesh, just as our bodies are nourished by bread and wine?

And I ask whether it is from logic and Christianity, this notion that we can eat the flesh of Jesus but not do so at the same time, because it is in heaven only?

How has flesh this virtue of giving life to our souls?

The same way that the crucifixion and Jesus' blood gave life to our souls.

All will say, that it is not done naturally. Not more agreeable is it to human reason to hold that the flesh of Christ penetrates to us, so as to be our food. In short, every one who may have tasted our doctrine, will be carried away with admiration of the secret power of God. But these worthy zealots fabricate for themselves a miracle, and think that without it God himself and his power vanish away.

The Catholic view (and Orthodox and Lutheran and traditional Anglican), is simply taking Jesus' words at face value and accepting them in faith. We're not trying to rationalize them away.

I would again admonish the reader carefully to consider the nature of our doctrine, whether it depends on common apprehension, or whether, after having surmounted the world on the wings of faith, it rises to heaven. We say that Christ descends to us, as well by the external symbol as by his Spirit, that he may truly quicken our souls by the substance of his flesh and blood.

The substance of flesh is actually physical flesh: but Calvin denies that, so his view is metaphysically (as well as theologically) nonsensical.

He who feels not that in these few words are many miracles, is more than stupid; since nothing is more contrary to nature than to derive the spiritual and heavenly life of the soul from flesh, which received its origin from the earth, and was subjected to death,

This mentality would take out the incarnation and crucifixion and redemption and resurrection, too.

nothing more incredible than that things separated by the whole space between heaven and earth should, notwithstanding of the long distance, not only be connected, but united, so that souls receive aliment from the flesh of Christ.

But we're not limited by Calvin's arbitrary restrictions of time and place. God is bigger than all that.

Let preposterous men, then, cease to assail us with the vile calumny, that we malignantly restrict the boundless power of God. They either foolishly err, or wickedly lie.

Neither. Calvin is wrong, as shown by the Bible, Church history, and reason alike.

The question here is not, What could God do? but, What has he been pleased to do? We affirm that he has done what pleased him, and it pleased him that Christ should be in all respects like his brethren, “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). What is our flesh? Is it not that which consists of certain dimensions? is confined within a certain place? is touched and seen?

Jesus has shown that His Body has elements that go beyond dimension and the usual restrictions. The resurrection, ascension, post-resurrection appearances, and the second coming, are not ordinary physical events. Neither is the Eucharist. Calvin unnecessarily restricts his vision.

And why, say they, may not God make the same flesh occupy several different places, so as not to be confined to any particular place, and so as to have neither measure nor species? Fool! why do you require the power of God to make a thing to be at the same time flesh and not flesh? It is just as if you were to insist on his making light to be at the same time light and darkness.

We don't do that. We believe that it is His Body and Blood, but in a unique eucharistic fashion. It is Calvin's word games and metaphysical hodge-podge that introduce contradictions and nonsense into the question.

He wills light to be light, darkness to be darkness, flesh to be flesh. True, when he so chooses, he will convert darkness into light, and light into darkness: but when you insist that there shall be no difference between light and darkness, what do you but pervert the order of the divine wisdom?

None of this applies to the Catholic view . . .

Flesh must therefore be flesh, and spirit spirit; each under the law and condition on which God has created them.

But Jesus' flesh is a special case: He being God and having taken on a human body in the Incarnation.

Now, the condition of flesh is, that it should have one certain place, its own dimensions, its own form. On that condition, Christ assumed the flesh, to which, as Augustine declares (Ep. ad Dardan.), he gave incorruption and glory, but without destroying its nature and reality.

We will all have glorified bodies one day, so it isn't implausible at all that Jesus Christ should manifest the extraordinary capabilities of a glorified body Himself: especially since He is God as well as Man. There is nothing in the slightest bit strange or contradictory or implausible in that. Calvin is straining at gnats.

25. Other objections answered.

They object that they have the word by which the will of God has been openly manifested; that is if we permit them to banish from the Church the gift of interpretation, which should throw light upon the word.

Interpretation has to be from within an existing Christian tradition: not the arbitrary ramblings of a revolutionary, who wishes to depart from all that and ignore what has been received and make his own opinions the unquestioned truth.

I admit that they have the word, but just as the Anthropomorphites of old had it, when they made God corporeal; just as Marcion and the Manichees had it when they made the body of Christ celestial or phantastical.

And just as Calvin the semi-Nestorian had it when he tried to limit the glorified Body of Christ based on the restrictions of natural science and the omnipotence of God, and a lack of faith in the parameters of the miraculous.

They quoted the passages, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven” (1 Cor. 15:47): Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7). But these vain boasters think that there is no power of God unless they fabricate a monster in their own brains, by which the whole order of nature is subverted.

How melodramatic . . .

This rather is to circumscribe the power of God, to attempt to try, by our fictions, what he can do.

A perfect instance of Calvin projecting his own faults onto others . . .

From this word, they have assumed that the body of Christ is visible in heaven, and yet lurks invisible on the earth under innumerable bits of bread.

That is no more implausible or impossible than an omnipresent Spirit-God making Himself somehow specially present in fire and clouds and burning bushes, or present in human form before the Incarnation, or in each Christian (the indwelling). If God can do that, He can also be present eucharistically. It is simply a further extension of the incarnation.

They will say that this is rendered necessary, in order that the body of Christ may be given in the Supper. In other words, because they have been pleased to extract a carnal eating from the words of Christ, carried away by their own prejudice,

No; it is Calvin who assumes a carnal, cannibalistic, simplistic understanding of the whole thing, not us. He is like the ancient pagan Romans. He just doesn't get it, and so he has to mock what he doesn't have faith enough to understand.

they have found it necessary to coin this subtlety, which is wholly repugnant to Scripture.

Calvin has been providing precious little Scripture throughout, to back up his heretical eucharistic theology, whereas I have been providing dozens and dozens of passages, and incorporating the overall biblical worldview all along.

That we detract, in any respect, from the power of God, is so far from being true, that our doctrine is the loudest in extolling it.

One can say any phrase, but the concepts and beliefs have to also be behind the words and part of the worldview being offered.

But as they continue to charge us with robbing God of his honour, in rejecting what, according to common apprehension, it is difficult to believe,

Lots of Christian beliefs are difficult to believe (and go far beyond mere reason). The curiosity with Calvin is: why does he accept many mysteries, yet balk at accepting the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Why does he draw the line here?

though it had been promised by the mouth of Christ; I answer, as I lately did, that in the mysteries of faith we do not consult common apprehension, but, with the placid docility and spirit of meekness which James recommends (James 1:21), receive the doctrine which has come from heaven.

That's correct. Would that Calvin would follow his own advice.

Wherein they perniciously err, I am confident that we follow a proper moderation. On hearing the words of Christ, this is my body, they imagine a miracle most remote from his intention; and when, from this fiction, the grossest absurdities arise, having already, by their precipitate haste, entangled themselves with snares, they plunge themselves into the abyss of the divine omnipotence, that, in this way, they may extinguish the light of truth. Hence the supercilious moroseness. We have no wish to know how Christ is hid under the bread: we are satisfied with his own words, “This is my body.” We again study, with no less obedience than care, to obtain a sound understanding of this passage, as of the whole of Scripture. We do not, with preposterous fervour, rashly, and without choice, lay hold on whatever first presents itself to our minds; but, after careful meditation, embrace the meaning which the Spirit of God suggests.

Such reasoning has to be grounded in a biblical worldview. Mostly we observe Calvin pontificating out of his own head, under the influence of false philosophies and traditions of men. He talks a lot about Scripture, but doesn't cite or interpret it much. This is obvious throughout this entire chapter.

Trusting to him, we look down, as from a height, on whatever opposition may be offered by earthly wisdom. Nay, we hold our minds captive, not allowing one word of murmur, and humble them, that they may not presume to gainsay. In this way, we have arrived at that exposition of the words of Christ, which all who are moderately versant in Scripture know to be perpetually used with regard to the sacraments. Still, in a matter of difficulty, we deem it not unlawful to inquire, after the example of the blessed Virgin, “How shall this be?” (Luke 1:34).

More words out of his head, that do nothing to further his case . . .

26. The orthodox view further confirmed. I. By a consideration of the reality of Christ’s body. II. From our Saviour’s declaration that he would always be in the world. This confirmed by the exposition of Augustine.

But as nothing will be more effectual to confirm the faith of the pious than to show them that the doctrine which we have laid down is taken from the pure word of God, and rests on its authority, I will make this plain with as much brevity as I can.

So after 25 sections, Calvin finally at length decides to go to the Bible to prove his case . . . let's see what he can come up with.

The body with which Christ rose is declared, not by Aristotle, but by the Holy Spirit, to be finite, and to be contained in heaven until the last day.

Where does it claim this? I'm unfamiliar with any such passage (perhaps that is why he hasn't produced one).

I am not unaware how confidently our opponents evade the passages which are quoted to this effect. Whenever Christ says that he will leave the world and go away (John 14:2, 28), they reply, that that departure was nothing more than a change of mortal state. Were this so, Christ would not substitute the Holy Spirit, to supply, as they express it, the defect of his absence, since he does not succeed in place of him,

Now Calvin shows his astonishing biblical ignorance, since it is not only the Holy Spirit Who indwells us, but Christ as well, and this is particularly seen in the very same chapter that Calvin cites. The Holy Spirit is not a "substitute." It's yet another "both/and" scenario; not "either/or":

John 14:18 I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. (cf. 14:16-17)

John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

John 17:23 I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.

Romans 8:9-10 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. [10] But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness.

1 Peter 1:11 they inquired what person or time was indicated by the Spirit of Christ within them when predicting the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glory.

Moreover, God the Father indwells us as well (Jn 14:23; 1 Jn 3:24; 4:12-16). Scripture says many things about indwelling beyond just the Holy Spirit indwelling us: it refers to Jesus and the Father doing so (Jn 14:23), and the Father and the Holy Spirit (1 Jn 3:24; 4:12-16), and also "God" without specification as to Divine Persons (2 Cor 6:16).

St. Augustine makes the same argument in his Tractate 75 on John 14:18-21:

After the promise of the Holy Spirit, lest any should suppose that the Lord was to give Him, as it were, in place of Himself, in any such way as that He Himself would not likewise be with them, He added the words: I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Orphani [Greek] are pupilli [parent-less children] in Latin. The one is the Greek, the other the Latin name of the same thing: for in the psalm where we read, You are the helper of the fatherless [in the Latin version, pupillo], the Greek has orphano. (1)

This is precisely the opposite of Calvin's position. Calvin thinks that Christ wanted to "substitute the Holy Spirit," but Augustine argues against "lest any should suppose that the Lord was to give Him, as it were, in place of Himself, in any such way as that He Himself would not likewise be with them". St. Augustine incorporates all of the relevant biblical data, but Calvin sees only what he wants to see, to bolster his preconceived notions. This is classic, picture-perfect eisegesis, or "reading into Scripture what is not there."

Furthermore, Calvin neglects or doesn't comprehend an important and dogmatically accepted aspect of trinitarianism and Christology: what is known as the perichoresis (Greek) or circumincession (Latin). Fr. John A. Hardon. S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary (Doubleday, 1980) precisely defines it, under the first Greek term and then the Latin word:
The penetration and indwelling of the three persons reciprocally in one another. In the Greek conception of the Trinity there is an emphasis on the mutual penetration of the three persons, thus bringing out the unity of the divine essence. In the Latin idea . . . the stress is more on the internal processions of the three divine persons. In both traditions, however, the fundamental basis of the Trinitarian perichoresis is the one essence of the three persons in God.

The mutual immanence of the three distinct persons of the Holy Trinity. The Father is entirely in the Son, likewise in the Holy Spirit; and so is the Son in the Father and the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit in the Father and the Son. Circuminsession also identifies the mutual immanence of the two distinct natures in the one Person of Jesus Christ.
For more on perichoresis, see my paper: Prayer to Jesus in the NT / Prayer to All Three Persons in the Trinity (Perichoresis / Circumincession).

nor, on the other hand, does Christ himself descend from the heavenly glory to assume the condition of a mortal life.

Eucharistic presence is hardly an instance of that, so this is a non sequitur.

Certainly the advent of the Spirit and the ascension of Christ are set against each other, and hence it necessarily follows that Christ dwells with us according to the flesh, in the same way as that in which he sends his Spirit.

No; He dwells in us spiritually in the same way as the Spirit, but this doesn't rule out a physical presence as well ("both/and" again), because it was Jesus, after all, Who took on human flesh; the Holy Spirit didn't do that. Nor are the ascension and the indwelling set against each other, as I have just shown. The ascension makes the indwelling of all Christians possible (there is a chronological progression here), but it is not in the sense that Jesus is not also present within us.

Moreover, he distinctly says that he would not always be in the world with his disciples (Mt. 26:11).

That is, in the sense of walking the earth as a man, just as we do . . . Hence his reference to His burial in the next verse.

This saving, also, they think they admirably dispose of, as if it were a denial by Christ that he would always be poor and mean, or liable to the necessities of a fading life. But this is plainly repugnant to the context, since reference is made not to poverty and want, or the wretched condition of an earthly life, but to worship and honour.

To the contrary, the context is all about anointing Him for His burial (26:7-10, 12-13): it is about the ending of His earthly sojourn as a man, in the natural sense. It is in that sense that Jesus was not to be with them always. Jesus returned to His disciples in His post-resurrection appearances, and these were physical. Hence, it makes sense that He would also return in the eucharistic sense, to maintain His physical presence with men (as He stressed in most graphic terms at the Last Supper and John 6 discourse). It's a beautiful thing.

The disciples were displeased with the anointing by Mary, because they thought it a superfluous and useless expenditure, akin to luxury, and would therefore have preferred that the price which they thought wasted should have been expended on the poor. Christ answers, that he will not be always with them to receive such honour. No different exposition is given by Augustine, whose words are by no means ambiguous. When Christ says, “Me ye have not always,” he spoke of his bodily presence.

Yes, but in the tangible fashion of walking about as we do: the natural sense. This doesn't exclude the Eucharist. Calvin only thinks it does, because he is a prisoner of his own arbitrary restrictions on God.

In regard to his majesty, in regard to his providence, in regard to his ineffable and invisible grace, is fulfilled what he said: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:20); but in regard to the flesh which the Word assumed—in regard to that which was born of the Virgin—in regard to that which was apprehended by the Jews, nailed to the tree, suspended on the cross, wrapt in linen clothes, laid in the tomb, and manifested in the resurrection,—“Me ye have not always.”

"Me ye have not always" is not the same as "once I go you will never have Me physically again."

Why? Since he conversed with his disciples in bodily presence for forty days, and, going out with them, ascended, while they saw but followed not. He is not here, for he sits there, at the right hand of the Father. And yet he is here: for the presence of his majesty is not withdrawn. Otherwise, as regards the presence of his majesty, we have Christ always; while, in regard to his bodily presence, it was rightly said, “Me ye have not always.” In respect of bodily presence, the Church had him for a few days: now she holds him by faith, but sees him not with the eye (August. Tract. in Joann. 50).

Calvin cites St. Augustine on this point, yet St. Augustine believed in the Real; Physical presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and eucharistic adoration, and the sacrifice of the Mass; so he is hardly a support for Calvin's view. Once again it is the illusory appearance of support where there actually is none.

Here (that I may briefly note this) he makes him present with us in three ways—in majesty, providence, and ineffable grace; under which I comprehend that wondrous communion of his body and blood, provided we understand that it is effected by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not by that fictitious enclosing of his body under the element, since our Lord declared that he had flesh and bones which could be handled and seen.

Yes, in that earthly, natural sense. This doesn't logically exclude further eucharistic appearances, anymore than God the father being a spirit only excluded His appearances before the incarnation as a man, and in physical things (clouds, fire, burning bush, or in conjunction with the ark of the covenant).

Going away, and ascending, intimate, not that he had the appearance of one going away and ascending, but that he truly did what the words express. Some one will ask, Are we then to assign a certain region of heaven to Christ? I answer with Augustine, that this is a curious and superfluous question, provided we believe that he is in heaven.

Calvin is not thinking according to a biblical worldview and biblical categories. His vision is arbitrarily restricted by unnecessary rationalistic elements.

27. Refutation of the sophisms of the Ubiquitists. The evasion of visible and invisible presence refuted.

What? Does not the very name of ascension, so often repeated, intimate removal from one place to another?

Yes. But this proves nothing one way or the other for the issue under dispute.

This they deny, because by height, according to them, the majesty of empire only is denoted. But what was the very mode of ascending? Was he not carried up while the disciples looked on? Do not the Evangelists clearly relate that he was carried into heaven?

Yes, but the argument is much ado about nothing. It doesn't exclude the Eucharist. Calvin falsely assumes that it does, and so he thinks he has a good argument.

These acute Sophists reply, that a cloud intervened, and took him out of their sight, to teach the disciples that he would not afterwards be visible in the world. As if he ought not rather to have vanished in a moment, to make them believe in his invisible presence, or the cloud to have gathered around him before he moved a step. When he is carried aloft into the air, and the interposing cloud shows that he is no more to be sought on earth, we safely infer that his dwelling now is in the heavens, as Paul also asserts, bidding us look for him from thence (Phil. 3:20). For this reason, the angels remind the disciples that it is vain to keep gazing up into heaven, because Jesus, who was taken up, would come in like manner as they had seen him ascend. Here the adversaries of sound doctrine escape, as they think, by the ingenious quibble, that he will come in visible form, though he never departed from the earth, but remained invisible among his people.

He did remain invisibly or spiritually, as we saw above in the Indwelling passages. He also says:

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Matthew 28:20 . . . I am with you always, to the close of the age.

And the Apostle Paul says about Jesus:

Colossians 3:11 . . . Christ is all, and in all.

As if the angels had insinuated a two-fold presence, and not simply made the disciples eye-witnesses of the ascent, that no doubt might remain.

The angels didn't have to do that, since Jesus already had done so.

It was just as if they had said, By ascending to heaven, while you looked on, he has asserted his heavenly power: it remains for you to wait patiently until he again arrive to judge the world. He has not entered into heaven to occupy it alone, but to gather you and all the pious along with him.

We do await His second coming. No disagreement there.

28. The authority of Fathers not in favour of these errors as to Christ’s presence. Augustine opposed to them.

Since the advocates of this spurious dogma are not ashamed to honour it with the suffrages of the ancients, and especially of Augustine, how perverse they are in the attempt I will briefly explain.

Calvin attempts all the time to "co-opt" St. Augustine for his heretical novelties, and fails every time. The present instance is no exception.

Pious and learned men have collected the passages, and therefore I am unwilling to plead a concluded cause: any one who wishes may consult their writings. I will not even collect from Augustine what might be pertinent to the matter, but will be contented to show briefly, that without all controversy he is wholly ours.

That's a convenient evasion . . .

The pretence of our opponents, when they would wrest him from us,

The Calvinists never "had" St. Augustine to begin with, so how could we Catholics "wrest" him away?! This is a very clever use of a presumed truth that has not even been established, and is, in fact, a falsehood. I have documented elsewhere (once / twice) the great father's belief in the real physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In the next chapter it will be even more plain that St. Augustine also believed in eucharistic adoration and the Sacrifice of the Mass: things considerably more repugnant to Calvin than the Real Presence and transubstantiation.

that throughout his works the flesh and blood of Christ are said to be dispensed in the Supper—namely, the victim once offered on the cross, is frivolous, seeing he, at the same time, calls it either the eucharist or sacrament of the body. But it is unnecessary to go far to find the sense in which he uses the terms flesh and blood, since he himself explains, saying (Ep. 23, ad Bonif.) that the sacraments receive names from their similarity to the things which they designate; and that, therefore, the sacrament of the body is after a certain manner the body. With this agrees another well-know passage, “The Lord hesitated not to say, This is my body, when he gave the sign” (Cont. Adimant. Manich. cap. 12).

I have shown in a past installment that for Augustine, sign and reality are not antithetical, as they are for Calvin. I gave not only my opinion, but that of Protestant historians discussing Augustine's views.

They again object that Augustine says distinctly that the body of Christ falls upon the earth, and enters the mouth. But this is in the same sense in which he affirms that it is consumed, for he conjoins both at the same time. There is nothing repugnant to this in his saying that the bread is consumed after the mystery is performed: for he had said a little before, “As these things are known to men, when they are done by men they may receive honour as being religious, but not as being wonderful” (De Trinit. Lib. 3 c. 10).

Calvin cites the following sentence from chapter 10, section 20:

But because these things are known to men, in that they are done by men, they may well meet with reverence as being holy things, but they cannot cause wonder as being miracles.

But in the next section (Book III, chapter 10, section 21), Augustine draws the same analogy to God appearing in physical things, that I have used in this respect:

What man, again, knows how the angels made or took those clouds and fires in order to signify the message they were bearing, even if we supposed that the Lord or the Holy Spirit was manifested in those corporeal forms? Just as infants do not know of that which is placed upon the altar and consumed after the performance of the holy celebration, whence or in what manner it is made, or whence it is taken for religious use. And if they were never to learn from their own experience or that of others, and never to see that species of thing except during the celebration of the sacrament, when it is being offered and given; and if it were told them by the most weighty authority whose body and blood it is; they will believe nothing else, except that the Lord absolutely appeared in this form to the eyes of mortals, and that that liquid actually flowed from the piercing of a side which resembled this.

St. Augustine -- contra Calvin -- casually assumes that it is the Body and Blood of Christ.

His meaning is not different in the passage which our opponents too rashly appropriate to themselves—viz. that Christ in a manner carried himself in his own hands, when he held out the mystical bread to his disciples. For by interposing the expression, in a manner, he declares that he was not really or truly included under the bread.

Calvin seizes upon one word, to supposedly turn the issue in his favor . . . In this exposition on Psalm 34, St. Augustine makes it clear many times that he literally believes in the physical presence of Christ. He refers to the Sacrifice of the Mass:

Because there was there a sacrifice after the order of Aaron, and afterwards He of His Own Body and Blood appointed a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek . . . (1)

He assumes throughout a striking literal eucharistic realism:

For very humility taught our Lord in His Own Body and Blood: because when He commends His Own Body and Blood, He commends His Humility . . . (3)

Or rather some spiritual Christian invites us to approach to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But let us approach to Him and be lightened; not as the Jews approached to Him, that they might be darkened; for they approached to Him that they might crucify Him: let us approach to Him that we may receive His Body and Blood. They by Him crucified were darkened; we by eating and drinking The Crucified are lightened. (9)

Now will He speak openly of the same Sacrament, whereby He was carried in His Own Hands. O taste and see that the Lord is good Psalm 33:8. Does not the Psalm now open itself, and show you that seeming insanity and constant madness, the same insanity and sober inebriety of that David, who in a figure showed I know not what, when in the person of king Achis they said to him, How is it? When the Lord said, Except a man eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, he shall have no life in him? John 6:53 And they in whom reigned Achis, that is, error and ignorance, said; what said they? How can this man give us his flesh to eat? John 6:52 If you are ignorant, Taste and see that the Lord is good: but if you understand not, you are king Achis: David shall change His Countenance and shall depart from you, and shall quit you, and shall depart. (11; complete)

All this; yet Calvin (like all good sophists) seizes on one word and pretends that it proves his case over against Catholicism and the thoroughly Catholic St. Augustine. This is a classic example; Calvin constantly does this. It's dishonest scholarship and deceptive toward his readers, to continually present highly selective facts to the exclusion of other equally relevant facts in context.

Nor is it strange, since he elsewhere plainly contends, that bodies could not be without particular localities, and being nowhere, would have no existence.

That is no argument against eucharistic local presence. It's an argument against no presence at all for a body; thus it is yet another non sequitur.

It is a paltry cavil that he is not there treating of the Supper, in which God exerts a special power. The question had been raised as to the flesh of Christ, and the holy man professedly replying, says, “Christ gave immortality to his flesh, but did not destroy its nature. In regard to this form, we are not to suppose that it is everywhere diffused: for we must beware not to rear up the divinity of the man, so as to take away the reality of the body. It does not follow that that which is in God is everywhere as God” (Ep. ad Dardan.). He immediately subjoins the reason, “One person is God and man, and both one Christ, everywhere, inasmuch as he is God, and in heaven, inasmuch as he is man.” How careless would it have been not to except the mystery of the Supper, a matter so grave and serious, if it was in any respect adverse to the doctrine which he was handling?

Unfortunately, I can't locate this letter online, so as to show how Calvin has distorted its meaning (as he always seems to do with the fathers, and as we saw again not far above).

And yet, if any one will attentively read what follows shortly after, he will find that under that general doctrine the Supper also is comprehended, that Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, and also Son of man, is everywhere wholly present as God, in the temple of God, that is, in the Church, as an inhabiting God, and in some place in heaven, because of the dimensions of his real body.

Jesus is omnipresent in His Divine Nature. And He is locally physically present in the Eucharist.

We see how, in order to unite Christ with the Church, he does not bring his body out of heaven. This he certainly would have done had the body of Christ not been truly our food, unless when included under the bread.

Calvin here merely assumes what he fails to prove.

Elsewhere, explaining how believers now possess Christ, he says, “You have him by the sign of the cross, by the sacrament of baptism, by the meat and drink of the altar” (Tract. in Joann. 50). How rightly he enumerates a superstitious rite, among the symbols of Christ’s presence, I dispute not; but in comparing the presence of the flesh to the sign of the cross, he sufficiently shows that he has no idea of a twofold body of Christ, one lurking concealed under the bread, and another sitting visible in heaven.

This doesn't follow at all; it is merely Calvin reading his own false belief into St. Augustine. The mention of "altar" in this section 12 of Tractate 50 on John 11 and 12 is without question a reference to the Sacrifice of the Mass. Altars always have to do with sacrifice:

If you are good, if you belong to the body represented by Peter, you have Christ both now and hereafter: now by faith, by sign, by the sacrament of baptism, by the bread and wine of the altar. You have Christ now, but you will have Him always; for when you have gone hence, you will come to Him who said to the robber, Today shall you be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43 But if you live wickedly, you may seem to have Christ now, because you enter the Church, signest yourself with the sign of Christ, art baptized with the baptism of Christ, minglest yourself with the members of Christ, and approachest His altar: now you have Christ, but by living wickedly you will not have Him always.

If there is any need of explanation, it is immediately added, “In respect of the presence of his majesty, we have Christ always: in respect of the presence of his flesh, it is rightly said, ‘Me ye have not always.’” They object that he also adds, “In respect of ineffable and invisible grace is fulfilled what was said by him, ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’” But this is nothing in their favour. For it is at length restricted to his majesty, which is always opposed to body, while the flesh is expressly distinguished from grace and virtue.

This is more Nestorian heresy from Calvin. St. Augustine points out elsewhere in the same larger work, in Tractate 27 on John 6:60-72 that "son of Man" (Jesus' usual reference to His human Nature or the incarnational aspect) is referred to as in heaven, according to His unity of one Divine Person with two Natures:
And He said, It is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing. Before we expound this, as the Lord grants us, that other must not be negligently passed over, where He says, Then what if you shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before? For Christ is the Son of man, of the Virgin Mary. Therefore Son of man He began to be here on earth, where He took flesh from the earth. For which cause it was said prophetically, Truth is sprung from the earth. Then what does He mean when He says, When you shall see the Son of man ascending where He was before? . . . Christ, both God and man, is one person, not two persons, lest our faith be not a trinity, but a quaternity? Christ, therefore, is one; the Word, soul and flesh, one Christ; the Son of God and Son of man, one Christ; Son of God always, Son of man in time, yet one Christ in regard to unity of person. . . . He was Son of man in heaven in that manner in which He was Son of God on earth; Son of God on earth in the flesh which He took, Son of man in heaven in the unity of person. (4)

The same antithesis elsewhere occurs, when he says that “Christ left the disciples in bodily presence, that he might be with them in spiritual presence.” Here it is clear that the essence of the flesh is distinguished from the virtue of the Spirit, which conjoins us with Christ, when, in respect of space, we are at a great distance from him.

This is again in direct opposition to St. Augustine, whom he claims is on his side. The latter doesn't make flesh and spirit antithetical, but joins them together:

What is it, then, that He adds? It is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing. Let us say to Him (for He permits us, not contradicting Him, but desiring to know), O Lord, good Master, in what way does the flesh profit nothing, while You have said, Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him? Or does life profit nothing? And why are we what we are, but that we may have eternal life, which Thou dost promise by Your flesh? Then what means the flesh profits nothing? It profits nothing, but only in the manner in which they understood it. They indeed understood the flesh, just as when cut to pieces in a carcass, or sold in the shambles; not as when it is quickened by the Spirit. Wherefore it is said that the flesh profits nothing, in the same manner as it is said that knowledge puffs up. Then, ought we at once to hate knowledge? Far from it! And what means Knowledge puffs up? Knowledge alone, without charity. Therefore he added, but charity edifies. 1 Corinthians 8:1 Therefore add to knowledge charity, and knowledge will be profitable, not by itself, but through charity. So also here, the flesh profits nothing, only when alone. Let the Spirit be added to the flesh, as charity is added to knowledge, and it profits very much. For if the flesh profited nothing, the Word would not be made flesh to dwell among us. If through the flesh Christ has greatly profited us, does the flesh profit nothing? But it is by the flesh that the Spirit has done somewhat for our salvation. Flesh was a vessel; consider what it held, not what it was. The apostles were sent forth; did their flesh profit us nothing? If the apostles' flesh profited us, could it be that the Lord's flesh should have profited us nothing? For how should the sound of the Word come to us except by the voice of the flesh? Whence should writing come to us? All these are operations of the flesh, but only when the spirit moves it, as if it were its organ. Therefore it is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing, as they understood the flesh, but not so do I give my flesh to be eaten.

(Ibid., section 5: complete)

Protestants (following Calvin's convoluted reasoning), unfortunately influenced by the heresies of Docetism and Nestorianism, typically misinterpret the flesh that is opposed to spirit in this portion of John 6 as proving that the Eucharist is not physically real. But Jesus is opposing a carnal understanding of flesh as dichotomized from spirit: the same thing that Calvin is asserting. Both Jesus and St. Augustine contradict Calvin's understanding.

He repeatedly uses the same mode of expression, as when he says, “He is to come to the quick and the dead in bodily presence, according to the rule of faith and sound doctrine: for in spiritual presence he was to come to them, and to be with the whole Church in the world until its consummation. Therefore, this discourse is directed to believers, whom he had begun already to save by corporeal presence, and whom he was to leave in corporeal absence, that by spiritual presence he might preserve them with the Father.”

In the sense of walking the earth, He is not with us. But again, this doesn't logically exclude an additional sense of eucharistic physical presence.

By corporeal to understand visible is mere trifling, since he both opposes his body to his divine power, and by adding, that he might “preserve them with the Father,” clearly expresses that he sends his grace to us from heaven by means of the Spirit.

Scripture doesn't completely dichotomize (as Calvin does) the Human Nature of Jesus and His power as a Divine Person, as well as majesty. It is true that He is not omnipotent in His human nature, or omnipotent, etc. (the Lutheran error of ubiquity), but on the other hand, there is no huge divide between His Human Nature, including His Body, and His power and majesty. We see this in the use of "Son of Man," which clearly refers to His Human Nature, in conjunction with both heaven and power:

Matthew 13:41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers,

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

Matthew 19:28 . . . in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne . . .

Matthew 24:30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; (cf. 24:37, 39, 44)

Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.

Matthew 26:64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.

Mark 2:28 so the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath. (cf. Lk 6:5)

Mark 13:26 And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory. (cf. 8:38)

Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, "I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."

Luke 21:27 And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (cf. 9:26; 12:40; 17:30; 18:8)

Luke 22:69 "But from now on the Son of man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God."

John 1:51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."

John 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. (cf. 6:62)

John 5:27 and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.

Acts 7:56 and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God."

Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast;

Revelation 14:14 Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.

All of this teaches the unity of person in Jesus: the Chalcedonian Christology, over against Nestorianism and Calvin's quasi-Nestorianism and Docetic tendencies.

Jesus even refers to Himself as the "Son of man" giving us His flesh to eat:

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal.

John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;"

Jesus is even "glorified" as the "Son of man" as well:

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.

John 13:31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified;

Moreover, Jesus is repeatedly referred to as the "Lamb" in heaven (Rev 5:6, 8, 12; 6:1; 7:14; 8:1; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1, 4; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22-23, 27), even in the context of sitting on His throne and being honored there with all majesty and glory (Rev 5:13; 7:9-10, 17; 22:1, 3), and judging sinners at His Second Coming and Last Judgment (Rev 6:16; 7:9; 14:10; 17:14). Nothing refers more to His body and Human Nature than the reference as "Lamb" (of God). That is the Human Nature, the crucifixion, and the Sacrifice of the Mass. Calvin would like to have everything in a neat little package, with Jesus glorified in heaven, and all the messy, incarnational, Human Nature stuff now over with, but Scripture is not nearly that simple or dichotomous.

This same "Son of man" who comes again in glory, Who is glorified by God the Father, Who judges, sits on God's throne, has great power even during His earthly life, who is Lord of the Sabbath, Who has power over life and death (He raised Himself: John 2:18-22; 10:18), and raised others from the dead), gives us His Body and Blood to eat for eternal life (Jn 6:27, 53). There is no big dichotomy between His body and heaven, and glory and majesty there, and His Body on earth, both during the Incarnation, and during His physical presence in the Holy Eucharist.

Lastly, Calvin referred to, above, Jesus' "majesty, which is always opposed to body, while the flesh is expressly distinguished from grace and virtue." Again, Scripture (which he has hardly brought to the table at all in this entire dispute) contradicts Calvin. It does not dichotomize Christ's majesty from His role as Son of Man and Sacrificial Lamb and High Priest, or from His Human Nature and body:

Hebrews 1:3 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

2 Peter 1:16-18
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. [17] For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," [18] we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.

Scripture even asserts that Jesus is a priest for us specifically because He is in heaven (Heb 8:4). A priest offers sacrifice, and the sacrifice that Jesus offers is Himself, as the Lamb of God (and He does so because He is a Man, with flesh):

Hebrews 8:1-4 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, [2] a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. [3] For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. [4] Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Antidote to John Calvin's Institutes (IV,17:16-23) [Eucharist: Calvin vs. Lutheranism / Ubiquity & Locality / Symbolism, Signs, & Confusion]

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

CHAPTER 17

OF THE LORD’S SUPPER, AND THE BENEFITS CONFERRED BY IT.

16. Refutation of consubstantiation; whence the idea of ubiquity.

Some, who see that the analogy between the sign and the thing signified cannot be destroyed without destroying the truth of the sacrament, admit that the bread of the Supper is truly the substance of an earthly and corruptible element, and cannot suffer any change in itself, but must have the body of Christ included under it.

He is referring to Lutherans here.

If they would explain this to mean, that when the bread is held forth in the sacrament, an exhibition of the body is annexed, because the truth is inseparable from its sign, I would not greatly object. But because fixing the body itself in the bread, they attach to it an ubiquity contrary to its nature, and by adding under the bread, will have it that it lies hid under it, I must employ a short time in exposing their craft, and dragging them forth from their concealments.

Lutheran reasoning here is far less objectionable than Calvin's. At least Lutherans take the Bible at face value: if it (and Jesus) says "this is My Body" then they believe that, whereas Calvin wants to play word and philosophical games and have the body there, but only in a spiritual sense; hence not really there. Lutherans at least develop the biblical thought in a fairly acceptable way. Catholics disagree, but it is not hugely different. Jesus is still truly present, substantively. But Calvin massively eisegetes Scripture and brings foreign philosophies to it, in constructing his eucharistic view.

Here, however, it is not my intention professedly to discuss the whole case; I mean only to lay the foundations of a discussion which will afterwards follow in its own place. They insist, then, that the body of Christ is invisible and immense, so that it may be hid under bread, because they think that there is no other way by which they can communicate with him than by his descending into the bread, though they do not comprehend the mode of descent by which he raises us up to himself. They employ all the colours they possibly can, but after they have said all, it is sufficiently apparent that they insist on the local presence of Christ. How so? Because they cannot conceive any other participation of flesh and blood than that which consists either in local conjunction and contact, or in some gross method of enclosing.

Most of this has been previously dealt with. I would simply ask: if Jesus was locally present when He walked the earth, why is it seen as an impossible position, to assert that He can be locally present eucharistically? In what terms does one argue that an omnipotent God cannot do this? Calvin is not content to simply disagree with Luther and Lutherans. He has to deride them as idolaters also, just as he does with Catholics. In his book he is careful to not mention Luther. But in his letters he gave his full view of the matter:

. . . if Luther has so great a lust of victory, he will never be able to join along with us in a sincere agreement respecting the pure truth of God. For he has sinned against it not only from vainglory and abusive language, but also from ignorance and the grossest extravagance. For what absurdities he pawned upon us in the beginning, when he said the bread is the very body! And if now he imagines that the body of Christ is enveloped by the bread, I judge that he is chargeable with a very foul error. What can I say of the partisans of that cause? Do they not romance more wildly than Marcion respecting the body of Christ? . . .

(Letter to Martin Bucer, January 12, 1538; in John Dillenberger, editor, John Calvin: Selections From His Writings, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. [Anchor Books], 1971, 47)

In their madness they even drew idolatry after them. For what else is the adorable sacrament of Luther but an idol set up in the temple of God?

(Letter to Martin Bucer, June 1549; in Jules Bonnet, editor, Selected Works of John Calvin: Tracts and Letters: Letters, Part 2, 1545-1553, volume 5 of 7; translated by David Constable; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983; reproduction of Letters of John Calvin, volume II [Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1858], 234)

Calvin even went so far as to refer to Lutheranism as "evil":

I am carefully on the watch that Lutheranism gain no ground, nor be introduced into France. The best means, believe me, for checking the evil would be that confession written by me . . .

(Letter to Heinrich Bullinger, July 2, 1563; in John Dillenberger, ibid., 76; italics added)

17. This ubiquity confounds the natures of Christ. Subtleties answered.

Some, in order obstinately to maintain the error which they have once rashly adopted, hesitate not to assert that the dimensions of Christ’s flesh are not more circumscribed than those of heaven and earth. His birth as an infant, his growth, his extension on the cross, his confinement in the sepulchre, were effected, they say, by a kind of dispensation, that he might perform the offices of being born, of dying, and of other human acts: his being seen with his wonted bodily appearance after the resurrection, his ascension into heaven, his appearance, after his ascension, to Stephen and Paul, were the effect of the same dispensation, that it might be made apparent to the eye of man that he was constituted King in heaven. What is this but to call forth Marcion from his grave?

Lutherans are compared to the heretical Marcionites.

For there cannot be a doubt that the body of Christ, if so constituted, was a phantasm, or was phantastical.

His Body was glorified after the resurrection. He could suddenly appear through walls (John 20:19; 26). This shows that the normal physical limitations of a human body no longer applied to Him. His many post-Resurrection visitations of the disciples were no ordinary phenomenon at all. The reactions of the disciples prove this. For example:

Luke 24:36-39 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. [37] But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. [38] And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? [39] See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have."

John 20:14-16 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. [15] Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."
[16] Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher).

In another example, in His appearance to the two disciples walking to Emmaus, they didn't recognize him the whole time, then when they did (after He broke bread: a clear eucharistic referent), "he vanished out of their sight" (Luke 24:31). It was a supernatural thing. He was there with them, and then suddenly He was not. Thus, more is in play here than ordinary physical laws applying to human bodies. There is no reason why He could do the same with regard to the Holy Eucharist, should He choose to do so.

The second coming is of the same nature. That is Jesus in His physical body. But it transcends the limitations and laws of physics, because it is said that everyone on the earth will see it. That isn't physically possible on a spherical earth for Him to be in one place and yet all see Him at the same time. But it is possible for God because it is a supernatural occurrence, and transcends the laws of physics:

Matthew 24:30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; (cf. Zech 12:10)

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (cf. possible cross-reference: Isaiah 40:5)

If God can supersede the laws of physics in the Second Coming, He can and does also do so in the Holy Eucharist. He is no more limited in the latter than He is in the Second Coming or was in His post-resurrection appearances. Calvin's argument is naive, biblically shallow, and lacks the understanding and faith of the very nature of Jesus as God. This is why he has often been suspected of Nestorianism. His Christology is deficient: very notably in the present case.

Some employ a rather more subtle evasion, That the body which is given in the sacrament is glorious and immortal, and that, therefore, there is no absurdity in its being contained under the sacrament in various places, or in no place, and in no form. But, I ask, what did Christ give to his disciples the day before he suffered? Do not the words say that he gave the mortal body, which was to be delivered shortly after?

The Eucharist was just as much a miracle during the Last Supper as it has been henceforth.

But, say they, he had previously manifested his glory to the three disciples on the mount (Mt. 17:2). This is true; but his purpose was to give them for the time a taste of immortality.

It is just as plausible to take the words literally, than to resort to Calvin's facile reasoning of an actual thing being merely a sign and figure and not the actual thing it merely represents. That reads into Scripture something that isn't there. The actual account of the transfiguration, shows that it was very real:

John 17:1-6 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. [2] And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. [3] And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. [4] And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah." [5] He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." [6] When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe.

Still they cannot find there a twofold body, but only the one which he had assumed, arrayed in new glory.

And how is this relevant to the discussion of the possibility of eucharistic Real Presence?

When he distributed his body in the first Supper, the hour was at hand in which he was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:4). So far was he from intending at that time to exhibit the glory of his resurrection.

That doesn't make transubstantiation any less possible.

And here what a door is opened to Marcion, if the body of Christ was seen humble and mortal in one place, glorious and immortal in another! And yet, if their opinion is well-founded, the same thing happens every day, because they are forced to admit that the body of Christ, which is in itself visible, lurks invisibly under the symbol of bread. And yet those who send forth such monstrous dogmas, so far from being ashamed at the disgrace, assail us with virulent invectives for not subscribing to them.

How is that different in essence from His being hidden to the eyes of His disciples even when He was present in human form (Lk 24:15-16, 31, 36-37; John 20:14-15)? He was invisible to their eyes, too, yet no less present. How is it different from God before the Incarnation, appearing in fire, clouds, and burning bushes? He even appeared as a man in theophanies, with the people not always knowing it was Him at the time. None of this suggests that the Catholic belief is like Marcion or a "monstrous dogma." All it suggests is that Calvin doesn't form his thoughts within the backdrop of a thoroughly biblical worldview. He is too influenced by Nestorianism and Docetism, which in turn derive from false elements of pagan Greek philosophy.

Catholics do differ from the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity, however. Lutherans confuse the functions of the Two Natures of Christ just as Calvinists do, but in a different direction:

The old Lutheran Doctrinal Theology theology inclines to the monophysitic error which posits a real transference of Divine attributes such as omniscience, omnipotence, ubiquity, by reason of the Hypostatic Union, to the human nature of Christ, and teaches that "Christ, not only as God, but also as man knows all, can do all, and is present to all created things" (formula concordiae I 8, 11). . . .

The nature of the Hypostatic Union is such that while on the one hand things pertaining to both the Divine and Human nature can be attributed to the person of Christ, on the other hand things specifically belonging to one nature cannot be predicated of the other nature. . . . Thus it is false to say: "Christ's soul is omniscient," "Christ's body is ubiquitous."

(Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 160-161)

Peter J. Riga, in his article, Lutheranism and Transubstantiation (The American Ecclesiastical Review, December 1961, 100-122), explains the error of Lutheran ubiquity:

Luther rejects the idea of God dwelling in a place. God the Creator is everywhere. But Christ is God, so He is everywhere. Moreover, wherever Christ is as God, He is there also as man. Hence his body must be present everywhere and so in the Eucharist. The uniqueness of Christ's bodily presence in the Eucharist stems from the purpose for which he is present there. So the communicatio idiomatum applies to the unity of the two natures in such a way that what is said of one nature applies to the other. The omnipresence of Christ becomes the basic argument against the "Enthusiasts," and likewise the crowning argument against transubstantiation. Christ is in the elements long before they were put on the altar, for the Son has imparted the attribute of omnipresence to his human nature.

. . . the doctrine of Ubiquity, the basis of the Lutheran explanation of Christ's presence, is finally asserted. In the Epitome of the Formula, Absolute Ubiquitarianism is maintained and in the Solida Declaratio of the Formula, Hypothetical Ubiquitarianism is taught.

18. Absurdities connected with consubstantiation. Candid exposition of the orthodox view.

But assuming that the body and blood of Christ are attached to the bread and wine, then the one must necessarily be dissevered from the other. For as the bread is given separately from the cup, so the body, united to the bread, must be separated from the blood, included in the cup. For since they affirm that the body is in the bread, and the blood is in the cup, while the bread and wine are, in regard to space, at some distance from each other, they cannot, by any quibble, evade the conclusion that the body must be separated from the blood. Their usual pretence—viz. that the blood is in the body, and the body again in the blood, by what they call concomitance, is more than frivolous, since the symbols in which they are included are thus distinguished.

There can be a symbolic distinction without entailing a metaphysical equation. St. Paul shows that both the body and blood are included in what was formerly bread and wine:

1 Corinthians 11:27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.

The "or" proves that Paul believed that both the cup or what was formerly bread (considered individually) contain both the Body and Blood of Christ after consecration. This was one of the reasons that withholding the cup from the laity was justified, under Catholic presuppositions. Calvin chooses to wallow in his own fallacious speculations. We take our stand on the Word of God revealed in Holy Scripture.

But if we are carried to heaven with our eyes and minds, that we may there behold Christ in the glory of his kingdom, as the symbols invite us to him in his integrity, so, under the symbol of bread, we must feed on his body, and, under the symbol of wine, drink separately of his blood, and thereby have the full enjoyment of him.

Calvin, then proposes we in effect travel to heaven every time we partake of Holy Communion, and he thinks that is a more plausible interpretation of the eucharistic biblical texts than the Catholic or even Lutheran views. But it comes out of his own head, not from Scripture. There is not a hint of it in Scripture.

For though he withdrew his flesh from us, and with his body ascended to heaven, he, however, sits at the right hand of the Father; that is, he reigns in power and majesty, and the glory of the Father. This kingdom is not limited by any intervals of space, nor circumscribed by any dimensions. Christ can exert his energy wherever he pleases, in earth and heaven, can manifest his presence by the exercise of his power, can always be present with his people, breathing into them his own life, can live in them, sustain, confirm, and invigorate them, and preserve them safe, just as if he were with them in the body; in fine, can feed them with his own body, communion with which he transfuses into them. After this manner, the body and blood of Christ are exhibited to us in the sacrament.

Calvin states the right premises, but fails to follow them through to their proper conclusion. If indeed Jesus Christ "is not limited by any intervals of space, nor circumscribed by any dimensions" and if indeed He can "exert his energy wherever he pleases, in earth and heaven" then why does Calvin object to His bodily presence in the Eucharist, which is what the Church had always taught? Why does he oppose it on such flimsy and absurd, literally un-biblical or non-biblical or a-biblical grounds?

19. The nature of the true presence of Christ in the Supper. The true and substantial communion of the body and blood of the Lord. This orthodox view assailed by turbulent spirits.

The presence of Christ in the Supper we must hold to be such as neither affixes him to the element of bread, nor encloses him in bread, nor circumscribes him in any way (this would obviously detract from his celestial glory);

Why does it "obviously detract" from His glory, since God had long since manifested Himself as "enclosed" in or "affixed" to fire, clouds, burning bushes, and the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant (and within the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and temple)? Why is the Eucharist suddenly an alleged radical departure from all that? If the Eucharist "circumscribes" God, then why do not all these other things, too? What's the big difference? One marvels at such muddleheaded thinking, seemingly entirely divorced from the rich storehouse of biblical analogies and cross-references.

and it must, moreover, be such as neither divests him of his just dimensions, nor dissevers him by differences of place, nor assigns to him a body of boundless dimensions, diffused through heaven and earth.

Transubstantiation doesn't entail a "body of boundless dimensions." That is the confusion of the Lutheran ubiquity doctrine, insofar as it ascribed omnipresence to Christ's Human Nature. Classic patristic Christology didn't hold to that heretical view.

All these things are clearly repugnant to his true human nature.

Catholics believe that we are receiving Jesus Christ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist: not just a "human nature." Jesus is a Divine Person. Calvin's continued separation of the natures in ways that are not required, smacks of Nestorianism.

Let us never allow ourselves to lose sight of the two restrictions. First, Let there be nothing derogatory to the heavenly glory of Christ.

Amen! Jesus has plenty of heavenly glory, but that didn't stop one writer of inspired Scripture (after the Ascension and Jesus' glorification in heaven) from describing Him as "a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain" (Rev 5:6). He continues to refer to Jesus in heaven as the "Lamb" (with direct Passover and crucifixion and eucharistic implications) over and over (Rev 5:8, 12-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-10, 14, 17; 8:1; 12:11; 13:8, 11; 14:1, 4, 10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:7, 9; 21:9, 14, 22-23, 27; 22:1, 3).

This happens whenever he is brought under the corruptible elements of this world,

Such as fire, water, clouds and burning bushes . . . Calvin is so dense on this that he comes very close to blasphemy.

or is affixed to any earthly creatures.

We're not claiming that God does that, but He did become a Man.

Secondly, Let no property be assigned to his body inconsistent with his human nature.

Like walking through walls or being seen by all on the earth simultaneously at the Second Coming?

This is done when it is either said to be infinite, or made to occupy a variety of places at the same time.

The supernatural by nature transcends the laws and limitations of natural law.

But when these absurdities are discarded, I willingly admit anything which helps to express the true and substantial communication of the body and blood of the Lord, as exhibited to believers under the sacred symbols of the Supper, understanding that they are received not by the imagination or intellect merely, but are enjoyed in reality as the food of eternal life.

Calvin is all for "communication" as long as it is relegated to the non-physical sphere.

For the odium with which this view is regarded by the world, and the unjust prejudice incurred by its defence, there is no cause, unless it be in the fearful fascinations of Satan. What we teach on the subject is in perfect accordance with Scripture, contains nothing absurd, obscure, or ambiguous, is not unfavourable to true piety and solid edification; in short, has nothing in it to offend, save that, for some ages, while the ignorance and barbarism of sophists reigned in the Church, the clear light and open truth were unbecomingly suppressed.

I beg to differ and have been expending great amounts of effort to show exactly why I vehemently disagree with Calvin's arguments (and also how I believe that the Bible clearly does, too).

And yet as Satan, by means of turbulent spirits, is still, in the present day, exerting himself to the utmost to bring dishonour on this doctrine by all kinds of calumny and reproach, it is right to assert and defend it with the greatest care.

We don't doubt Calvin's sincerity, only his reasoning or lack thereof and his lack of biblical and patristic support for his novel heresy.

20. This view vindicated from their calumnies. The words of the institution explained in opposition to the glosses of transubstantiators and consubstantiators. Their subterfuges and absurd blasphemies.

Note how Luther (the fonder of Protestantism), Melanchthon, and Lutherans are included in the description of "subterfuges and absurd blasphemies." The early Protestants were not a big happy family, by a long shot.

Before we proceed farther, we must consider the ordinance itself, as instituted by Christ, because the most plausible objection of our opponents is, that we abandon his words.

I agree!

To free ourselves from the obloquy with which they thus load us,

Note the mutual antipathy between Calvinists and Lutherans . . .

the fittest course will be to begin with an interpretation of the words. Three Evangelists and Paul relate that our Saviour took bread, and after giving thanks, brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saving, Take, eat: this is my body which is given or broken for you. Of the cup, Matthew and Mark say, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt. 26:26; Mark 14:22). Luke and Paul say, “This cup is the new testament in my blood” (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). The advocates of transubstantiation insist, that by the pronoun, this, is denoted the appearance of bread, because the whole complexion of our Saviour’s address is an act of consecration, and there is no substance which can be demonstrated. But if they adhere so religiously to the words, inasmuch as that which our Saviour gave to his disciples he declared to be his body, there is nothing more alien from the strict meaning of the words than the fiction, that what was bread is now body. What Christ takes into his hands, and gives to the apostles, he declares to be his body; but he had taken bread, and, therefore, who sees not that what is given is still bread?

Jesus could have easily said, "this is a sign of my Body" or "this represents My Body." But He did not. When Jesus spoke parables (which is pretty much what Calvin's view entails with regard to the Eucharist, since the rite becomes symbolic and "spiritual" in a non-physical way), He often clarifies that the word pictures and analogies of the parable represent something else: a literal thing:

Matthew 13:18-20 Hear then the parable of the sower. [19] When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. [20] As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; (cf. 13:22-23)

Matthew 13:31 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field;

Matthew 13:33 He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."

Matthew 13:36-40 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." [37] He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; [38] the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, [39] and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. [40] Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.

Matthew 13:44-47 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. [45] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, [46] who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. [47] "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind;

Mark 4:34 he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Luke 8:11-14 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, that they may not believe and be saved. [13] And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. [14] And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Jesus does occasionally make reference to "signs", but He does so in a way differently than Calvin does: a reduction of it to symbolism only. Jesus doesn't separate sign and reality when He is talking about the Eucharist. In fact He takes the greatest pains to prove that He means what He says quite literally, especially in John 6:


Hence, nothing can be more absurd than to transfer what is affirmed of bread to the species of bread.

It's not absurd at all in a biblical worldview filled with unusual phenomena, supernatural occurrences, and rich symbolic imagery (construed so as not to necessarily entail pure symbolism in every case).

Others, in interpreting the particle is, as equivalent to being transubstantiated, have recourse to a gloss which is forced and violently wrested.

"Is" is simple enough to understand in English. What other language could be used if indeed the writer meant a literal equation (as we hold)? If He uses "is" Calvin and others deny the plain meaning anyway. If He had used "sign" or some such, then Calvin would have had a field day claiming that this proves symbolism, whereas Jesus referred to the "sign of Jonah" and that was one literal event signifying or giving an analogy to another real event: His resurrection, so that even the terminology of "sign" doesn't necessarily prove that there is no reality.

They have no ground, therefore, for pretending that they are moved by a reverence for the words. The use of the term is, for being converted into something else, is unknown to every tongue and nation.

I agree. At that point in the narrative, we would contend that the bread and wine have already been transformed, so the "is" doesn't refer to the act of consecration and the miracle, but rather, to the consecrated elements that have already been miraculously changed.

With regard to those who leave the bread in the Supper, and affirm that it is the body of Christ, there is great diversity among them.

As always in Protestantism . . .

Those who speak more modestly, though they insist upon the letter, This is my body, afterwards abandon this strictness, and observe that it is equivalent to saying that the body of Christ is with the bread, in the bread, and under the bread. To the reality which they affirm, we have already adverted, and will by-and-by, at greater length. I am not only considering the words by which they say they are prevented from admitting that the bread is called body, because it is a sign of the body. But if they shun everything like metaphor, why do they leap from the simple demonstration of Christ to modes of expression which are widely different? For there is a great difference between saying that the bread is the body, and that the body is with the bread.

Calvin has a certain point. My present purpose is not to defend Lutheranism. They will have to do so themselves. But Calvin's word games are hardly any more plausible to a Catholic observer than these difficulties that he observes in Lutheranism.

But seeing it impossible to maintain the simple proposition that the bread is the body,

No position maintains that. Calvin says it is mystical symbolism and spiritual equation; Lutherans hold that they are both present; we say that one has become the other.

they endeavoured to evade the difficulty by concealing themselves under those forms of expression.

Similar to Calvin and his verbal sleight-of-hand magic!

Others, who are bolder, hesitate not to assert that, strictly speaking, the bread is body, and in this way prove that they are truly of the letter. If it is objected that the bread, therefore, is Christ, and, being Christ, is God,—they will deny it, because the words of Christ do not expressly say so. But they gain nothing by their denial, since all agree that the whole Christ is offered to us in the Supper. It is intolerable blasphemy to affirm, without figure, of a fading and corruptible element, that it is Christ.

We agree. So do Lutherans. This is why it is ridiculous for Calvinists (and Lutherans) to accuse us of idolatry. It can't possibly be by the nature of the case, because nothing has replaced God. Calvinists accuse Lutherans of the same, but it is equally absurd because they haven't equated bread and wine with God.

I now ask them, if they hold the two propositions to be identical, Christ is the Son of God, and Bread is the body of Christ?

It is an inapt comparison: one is an ontological category, while the other has to do with a physical eucharistic miracle.

If they concede that they are different (and this, whether they will or not, they will be forced to do), let them tell wherein is the difference. All which they can adduce is, I presume, that the bread is called body in a sacramental manner. Hence it follows, that the words of Christ are not subject to the common rule, and ought not to be tested grammatically. I ask all these rigid and obstinate exactors of the letter, whether, when Luke and Paul call the cup the testament in blood, they do not express the same thing as in the previous clause, when they call bread the body? There certainly was the same solemnity in the one part of the mystery as in the other, and, as brevity is obscure, the longer sentence better elucidates the meaning. As often, therefore, as they contend, from the one expression, that the bread is body, I will adduce an apt interpretation from the longer expression, That it is a testament in the body. What? Can we seek for surer or more faithful expounders than Luke and Paul? I have no intention, however, to detract, in any respect, from the communication of the body of Christ, which I have acknowledged. I only meant to expose the foolish perverseness with which they carry on a war of words.

Calvin does no differently; he interprets according to a wooden logic of his own, based on false premises.

The bread I understand, on the authority of Luke and Paul, to be the body of Christ, because it is a covenant in the body. If they impugn this, their quarrel is not with me, but with the Spirit of God. However often they may repeat, that reverence for the words of Christ will not allow them to give a figurative interpretation to what is spoken plainly, the pretext cannot justify them in thus rejecting all the contrary arguments which we adduce. Meanwhile, as I have already observed, it is proper to attend to the force of what is meant by a testament in the body and blood of Christ. The covenant, ratified by the sacrifice of death, would not avail us without the addition of that secret communication, by which we are made one with Christ.

There are plenty of arguments contra Calvin. I have been providing many: whatever one may think of them. But in any event we are not all struck dumb by the profundity of Calvin's professed singular wisdom, as if there were no conceivable alternatives to his fancies.

21. Why the name of the thing signified is given to the sacramental symbols. This illustrated by passages of Scripture; also by a passage of Augustine.

It remains, therefore, to hold, that on account of the affinity which the things signified have with their signs, the name of the thing itself is given to the sign figuratively, indeed, but very appropriately. I say nothing of allegories and parables, lest it should be alleged that I am seeking subterfuges, and slipping out of the present question. I say that the expression which is uniformly used in Scripture, when the sacred mysteries are treated of, is metonymical. For you cannot otherwise understand the expressions, that circumcision is a “covenant”—that the lamb is the Lord’s “passover”—that the sacrifices of the law are expiations—that the rock from which the water flowed in the desert was Christ,—unless you interpret them metonymically.”

Scripture, in its very rich use of language in many different ways, does include this attribute, but it doesn't apply to the Eucharist, as has been shown in many different ways. The main way to determine whether an expression is metonymical is to look at context. When one does that, Calvin's contention fails.

Nor is the name merely transferred from the superior to the inferior, but, on the contrary, the name of the visible sign is given to the thing signified, as when God is said to have appeared to Moses in the bush;

God did appear in the burning bush; this is not even an example of what Calvin is discussing. The bush wasn't called God. The Scripture says that God was "in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush" (Ex 3:2) and "God called to him out of the bush" (Ex 3:3). That's why those analogies are precisely analogous to the Catholic view of the Eucharist, and why I used them in that fashion. It shows how God can be "in" matter, while not becoming the matter. An omnipresent God was in the burning bush in some mysterious fashion. Likewise He is in what still appears to be bread and wine in a mysterious fashion.

the ark of the covenant is called God, and the face of God,

Not sure what he is referring to . . . I'm unfamiliar with this, and I just recently looked through many passages about the ark of the covenant, in showing how God was associated with physical things.

and the dove is called the Holy Spirit.

That is clearly symbolism, since the Spirit is immaterial.

For although the sign differs essentially from the thing signified, the latter being spiritual and heavenly, the former corporeal and visible,—yet, as it not only figures the thing which it is employed to represent as a naked and empty badge, but also truly exhibits it, why should not its name be justly applied to the thing? But if symbols humanly devised, which are rather the images of absent than the marks of present things, and of which they are very often most fallacious types, are sometimes honoured with their names,—with much greater reason do the institutions of God borrow the names of things, of which they always bear a sure, and by no means fallacious signification, and have the reality annexed to them. So great, then, is the similarity, and so close the connection between the two, that it is easy to pass from the one to the other.

If the context permitted this, Calvin might have a point. But it does not. For example, when Paul talks about profaning the Body and Blood of Christ (1 Cor 11:27), that makes no sense whatever if all he was referring to was "special" bread and wine (and nothing else but that). All kinds of exegetical and cross-reference data in John 6 support the literal interpretation.

Let our opponents, therefore, cease to indulge their mirth in calling us Tropists, when we explain the sacramental mode of expression according to the common use of Scripture.

Even granting that this was so obvious or plausible, why do the fathers all disagree with Calvin on this score?

For, while the sacraments agree in many things, there is also, in this metonymy, a certain community in all respects between them. As, therefore, the apostle says that the rock from which spiritual water flowed forth to the Israelites was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4), and was thus a visible symbol under which, that spiritual drink was truly perceived, though not by the eye, so the body of Christ is now called bread, inasmuch as it is a symbol under which our Lord offers us the true eating of his body.

This is an interesting analogy, but again, context in the eucharistic passages suggests that a lot more is intended than mere metonymy. It is always true in cases of possible divergent use of language, or forms of language, that context has to be consulted. A simple one-on-one comparison is not conclusive in and of itself.

Lest any one should despise this as a novel invention, the view which Augustine took and expressed was the same: “Had not the sacraments a certain resemblance to the things of which they are sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. And from this resemblance, they generally have the names of the things themselves. This, as the sacrament of the body of Christ, is, after a certain manner, the body of Christ, and the sacrament of Christ is the blood of Christ; so the sacrament of faith is faith” (August. Ep. 23, ad Bonifac.). He has many similar passages, which it would be superfluous to collect, as that one may suffice. I need only remind my readers, that the same doctrine is taught by that holy man in his Epistle to Evodius. Where Augustine teaches that nothing is more common than metonymy in mysteries, it is a frivolous quibble to object that there is no mention of the Supper.

Calvin is distorting what St. Augustine believed. For St. Augustine, as with our Lord Jesus, there is no necessary antithesis or rigid distinction between a sign and the thing that is a sign. I noted this elsewhere, in my published cover article on the Eucharist:

. . . "sign" and "reality" need not be opposed to each other. . . . The Bible itself confirms this. For example, Jesus refers to the "sign of Jonah," comparing Jonah's time in the belly of the fish to His own burial (Mt 12:38-40). In other words, both events, although described as "signs," were literally real events. Jesus also uses the same terminology in connection with His Second Coming (Mt 24:30-31), which is, of course, believed by all Christians to be a literal, not a symbolic occurrence.
J. N. D. Kelly, a highly-respected Protestant scholar of early Church doctrine and development, writing about patristic views in the fourth and fifth centuries, concurs:
It must not be supposed, of course, that this 'symbolical' language implied that the bread and wine were regarded as mere pointers to, or tokens of, absent realities. Rather were they accepted as signs of realities which were somehow actually present though apprehended by faith alone.
(Early Christian Doctrines, revised edition, 1978, San Francisco: Harper Collins, 442)
About St. Augustine in particular, Kelly concludes:
. . . There are certainly passages in his writings which give a superficial justification to all these interpretations, but a balanced verdict must agree that he accepted the current realism . . . One could multiply texts . . . which show Augustine taking for granted the traditional identification of the elements with the sacred body and blood. There can be no doubt that he shared the realism held by almost all his contemporaries and predecessors.
(Ibid., 446-447)
Likewise, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church makes the same point about allusions to "symbolism" with regard to the general teaching of the Church Fathers:
Even where the elements were spoken of as 'symbols' or 'antitypes' there was no intention of denying the reality of the Presence in the gifts.

(Second edition, edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone, Oxford University Press, 1983, 475)

Here are further examples in the Bible of a "sign" being a real thing; not merely a representation of something else:

Matthew 24:30 then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory;

Matthew 26:48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him."

Mark 13:3-8 And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, [4] "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?" [5] And Jesus began to say to them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. [6] Many will come in my name, saying, `I am he!' and they will lead many astray. [7] And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is not yet. [8] For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places, there will be famines; this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs.

Mark 16:17 [disputed biblical text] And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; (cf. 16:20)

Luke 2:12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

Luke 11:30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation.

John 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did;

John 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."

John 4:54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. [i.e., healing a man's son]

John 6:2 And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. (cf. 6:14, 26, 30; 7:31; 9:16; 10:41; 11:47; 12:18, 37; 20:30)

Acts 2:22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know --

Acts 2:43 . . . many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (cf. 4:16, 22, 30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 8:6, 13; 14:3; 15:12)

Romans 15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyr'icum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ, (cf. 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4)

Were this objection sustained, it would follow, that we are not entitled to argue from the genus to the species; e. g., Every animal is endued with motion; and, therefore, the horse and the ox are endued with motion. Indeed, longer discussion is rendered unnecessary by the words of the Saint himself, where he says, that when Christ gave the symbol of his body, he did not hesitate to call it his body (August. Cont. Adimantum, cap. 12). He elsewhere says, “Wonderful was the patience of Christ in admitting Judas to the feast, in which he committed and delivered to the disciples the symbol of his body and blood” (August. in. Ps. 3).

As explained above, with the aid of Protestant scholarly sources, Calvin is drawing an unwarranted conclusion about St. Augustine, as if he agreed with Calvin's heresies.

22. Refutation of an objection founded on the words, This is. Objection answered.

Should any morose person, shutting his eyes to everything else, insist upon the expression, This is, as distinguishing this mystery from all others, the answer is easy. They say that the substantive verb is so emphatic, as to leave no room for interpretation. Though I should admit this, I answer, that the substantive verb occurs in the words of Paul (1 Cor. 10:16), where he calls the bread the communion of the body of Christ. But communion is something different from the body itself.

This is an excellent example of how context provides the correct interpretation:

1 Corinthians 10: 18-21 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? [19] What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? [20] No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. [21] You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

Thus, in context, Paul is discussing a graphic comparison of sacrifice: that of the pagans at their "table" and that of Christians at theirs. For more on this, see my paper: St. Paul's Analogical Argument for the Sacrifice of the Mass in 1 Corinthians 10:16-21.

Nay, when the sacraments are treated of, the same word occurs: “My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:13). “This is the ordinance of the passover” (Exod. 12:43). To say no more, when Paul declares that the rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4), why should the substantive verb, in that passage, be deemed less emphatic than in the discourse of Christ?

Because of context . . .

When John says, “The Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39), I should like to know what is the force of the substantive verb? If the rule of our opponents is rigidly observed, the eternal essence of the Spirit will be destroyed, as if he had only begun to be after the ascension of Christ.

How does that follow? This passage is about the indwelling being possible for all Christians, whereas before that time it had only been selectively the case. Calvin no doubt caricatures Catholic arguments here (whatever they were), as he is wont to do.

Let them tell me, in fine, what is meant by the declaration of Paul, that baptism is “the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5); though it is certain that to many it was of no use.

That baptism regenerates (obviously)!

But they cannot be more effectually refuted than by the expression of Paul, that the Church is Christ. For, after introducing the similitude of the human body, he adds, “So also is Christ” (1 Cor. 7:12), when he means not the only-begotten Son of God in himself, but in his members.

That gets back to the literalism I referred to in a past reply: there is an equation of the Body of Christ (the Church) with Christ Himself: most notably seen in the language Jesus uses towards Paul at his conversion.

I think I have now gained this much, that all men of sense and integrity will be disgusted with the calumnies of our enemies, when they give out that we discredit the words of Christ; though we embrace them not less obediently than they do, and ponder them with greater reverence. Nay, their supine security proves that they do not greatly care what Christ meant, provided it furnishes them with a shield to defend their obstinacy, while our careful investigation should be an evidence of the authority which we yield to Christ. They invidiously pretend that human reason will not allow us to believe what Christ uttered with his sacred mouth; but how naughtily they endeavour to fix this odium upon us, I have already, in a great measure, shown, and will still show more clearly. Nothing, therefore, prevents us from believing Christ speaking, and from acquiescing in everything to which he intimates his assent.

I have offered reasoned arguments. I don't need to get into the ceaseless insults and aspersions upon motivations that Calvin utilizes, or how reverent each party may be.

The only question here is, whether it be unlawful to inquire into the genuine meaning?

Of course it is lawful and necessary. And when we do that, I contend that the extreme weakness of Calvin's counter-case is revealed all the more.

23. Other objections answered.

Those worthy masters, to show that they are of the letter, forbid us to deviate, in the least, from the letter. On the contrary, when Scripture calls God a man of war, as I see that the expression would be too harsh if not interpreted, I have no doubt that the similitude is taken from man. And, indeed, the only pretext which enabled the Anthropomorphites to annoy the orthodox Fathers was by fastening on the expressions, “The eyes of God see;” “It ascended to his ears;” “His hand is stretched out;” “The earth is his footstool;” and exclaimed, that God was deprived of the body which Scripture assigns to him. Were this rule admitted, complete barbarism would bury the whole light of faith. What monstrous absurdities shall fanatical men not be able to extract, if they are allowed to urge every knotty point in support of their dogmas?

Catholics have no objection to anthropomorphism or anthropopathism. Again, context is crucial in showing how the Eucharist is a different case.

Their objection, that it is not probable that when Christ was providing special comfort for the apostles in adversity, he spoke enigmatically or obscurely,—supports our view. For, had it not occurred to the apostles that the bread was called the body figuratively, as being a symbol of the body, the extraordinary nature of the thing would doubtless have filled them with perplexity. For, at this very period, John relates, that the slightest difficulties perplexed them (John 14:5, 8; 16:17). They debate, among themselves, how Christ is to go to the Father, and not understanding that the things which were said referred to the heavenly Father, raise a question as to how he is to go out of the world until they shall see him? How, then, could they have been so ready to believe what is repugnant to all reason—viz. that Christ was seated at table under their eye, and yet was contained invisible under the bread? As they attest their consent by eating this bread without hesitation, it is plain that they understood the words of Christ in the same sense as we do, considering what ought not to seem unusual when mysteries are spoken of, that the name of the thing signified was transferred to the sign.

That doesn't follow at all. We simply don't have enough information. They could have been obedient while not understanding; could have partaken in a stunned, bewildered silence, assuming that Jesus would explain what He meant more fully later, as He did with His parables; it may have been inappropriate to speak in a ceremonial sense at the time, during the Passover. meal. So this is a rather weak argument from silence. What we do know is that in John 6, some of His disciples were perplexed about His meaning (Jn 6:60-61). Jesus never explains that it is merely a symbol (6:62-63 and previous related passages in the same discourse), and so these disciples forsook Him (John 6:66-67). We know for a fact that it was due to disbelief and lack of faith, because Jesus said so, and the narrator reiterates it (6:64). That is actual, explicit scriptural proof from a concrete incident. The only time we know of when Jesus' disciples left Him was because they refused to accept in faith the Real Presence in the Eucharist.

There was therefore to the disciples, as there is to us, clear and sure consolation, not involved in any enigma; and the only reason why certain persons reject our interpretation is, because they are blinded by a delusion of the devil to introduce the darkness of enigma, instead of the obvious interpretation of an appropriate figure.

Whoever disagrees with Calvin must do so under a demonic delusion, and due to bad character . . .

Besides, if we insist strictly on the words, our Saviour will be made to affirm erroneously something of the bread different from the cup. He calls the bread body, and the wine blood. There must either be a confusion in terms, or there must be a division separating the body from the blood. Nay, “This is my body,” may be as truly affirmed of the cup as of the bread; and it may in turn be affirmed that the bread is the blood. If they answer, that we must look to the end or use for which symbols were instituted, I admit it: but still they will not disencumber themselves of the absurdity which their error drags along with it—viz. that the bread is blood, and the wine is body. Then I know not what they mean when they concede that bread and body are different things, and yet maintain that the one is predicated of the other, properly and without figure, as if one were to say that a garment is different from a man, and yet is properly called a man. Still, as if the victory depended on obstinacy and invective, they say that Christ is charged with falsehood, when it is attempted to interpret his words. It will now be easy for the reader to understand the injustice which is done to us by those carpers at syllables, when they possess the simple with the idea that we bring discredit on the words of Christ; words which, as we have shown, are madly perverted and confounded by them, but are faithfully and accurately expounded by us.

Most of this has been dealt with already; it is reiteration on Calvin's part.