Friday, July 26, 2013

Debate on the Office of New Testament Priest: Part Four

Russell responded to Parts 3a and 3b, so it's time for another installment in our debate. His comments have caused me to think very deeply about the Mass and the particulars of the profound and abiding mystery that is unfolding whenever the Mass is celebrated. I am very thankful for that, but I also fear that I am running out of ways to explain it. Once I begin having to repeat myself, that's a good indication that a debate has reached a stalemate, and I fear that's where this debate is headed. But do not despair! I think there is some good stuff here, and I hope you will stick with me as I continue to make the case for a ministerial priesthood within the New Covenant People of God.

If you are just now joining me, you should know that this debate has shifted it's focus onto the Sacrifice of the Mass. I am usually a stickler for staying on topic, but I have allowed this shift and even contributed to it because I think that what the priest does in the Mass is at the very core of his identity as a priest. If there is no actual sacrifice being offered in the Mass, then the whole notion of "ministerial priest" in the Church needs to be re-examined and potentially discarded altogether. However, if the Mass is sacrificial, then the ministerial priest is an important and even necessary component of the makeup of the Church and the spiritual lives of Christians.

Also see Parts One and Two. His words will be indented and italicized.

You said:

“There is a difference between multiple sacrifices of various animals and one sacrifice perpetually offered. The sacrifices of the Old Covenant ministerial priest were of the first kind. The sacrifice of the New Covenant ministerial priest is of the second kind. This is a crucial distinction that must not be forgotten in this debate. We don't have multiple offerings, we have one offering without end, and every time the Mass is celebrated this offering is made present and it's merits applied to us.”

First of all, you are ASSUMING that Jesus’ sacrifice is somehow “perpetually offered” to the Father. But the book of Hebrews NEVER says that, nor is it found anywhere else in Scripture.
I've given you my evidence. You responded to some of it, and this post will address that response. But, there are other arguments I've made for the perpetuity of Christ's offering that you haven't responded to yet. I will provide them again:
  • John said, "I saw a lamb standing as though it had been slain" (Rev 5:6; cf. 14:1). Jesus is depicted as a lamb 28 times in the Book of Revelation. Why would Jesus still appear in heaven as a Passover lamb if He did not continually offer His sacrifice to the Father for us?
  • God desires that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure offering be made (cf. Mal 1:11). How is this fulfilled but by the Eucharist?
  • In Lk 22:19 (cf. 1 Cor 11:24) poieo is in the present tense. The present tense usually denotes a continuous kind of action. It can also be used to describe something some one does habitually. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament says that "This do" (τουτο ποιειτε) indicates repetition, as if Jesus said, "keep on doing this."
  • David said the todah (thanksgiving offering) was to be offered continually, and the Eucharist is the new todah meal. Psa 50:12-14 echoes the opinion of the Jewish midrash that when the Messiah comes, all offerings will be abolished except the thanksgiving todah offering. It will continue.
  • Jesus is "ministering now in the sanctuary" (Heb 8:2), He has entered the sanctuary of heaven "now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf" (Heb 9:24). The High Priest enters the sanctuary to offer sacrifice, and the author says that he is presently ministering in there.

What do you make of all this?

In fact, when Hebrews is read in context, it contradicts your “crucial distinction.” For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church claims that the Eucharist is “truly propitiatory” (CCC #1367), and that it is “the Sacrament of redemption” (CCC #1846). So (according to them) it is obviously a sacrifice / offering FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN. But Scripture tells us that there is NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN (Hebrews 10:18). There is quite an obvious difference between “perpetually offered” and “no more offering.”
First of all, that the Mass is truly sacrificial and of spiritual benefit does not contradict the distinction that I made. My very next sentence explains why: "We don't have multiple offerings, we have one offering without end, and every time the Mass is celebrated this offering is made present and it's merits applied to us." Since the sacrifice made present in the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ, the Church is obviously going to believe that the Mass is a truly propitiatory sacrament of redemption.

Secondly, I don't think Heb 10:18 means what you think it means. Let's look at it again in context:
Heb 10:11-18 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
In this passage, the author is continuing his series of proofs for the superiority of Christ's sacrifice over the sacrifices of the Old Covenant. In vs. 18, he is basically saying that the sin offerings of the Old Covenant have been replaced by Christ's single sacrifice for sins and the forgiveness it brings. This has no bearing upon the Mass because the Mass IS the single sacrifice offered for all time from vs. 12. You are taking vs. 18 out of context if you think it refers to anything other than the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Whenever terms like “forever” or “continual” are used in the book of Hebrews, they are addressing other things, like Jesus’ throne (1:8), His priesthood (5:6, 6:20; 7:17, 21, 28), the priesthood of Melchizedek (7:3), the perfection of believers (10:14), and Jesus Himself (7:24; 13:8). But this book (which deals extensively with sacrifices and offerings) never refers to Christ’s offering, itself, as “continual,” “perpetual,” “forever,” etc. So this concept is simply (and wrongly) read into the text.
Once you realize that the purpose of entering the sanctuary is to make an offering for sin, then verses like Heb 8:2 and 9:24 (which I referenced above) are clear indications that Jesus' offering is continual, perpetual, forever. It's happening "now". It is in fact "for all time", as we read twice in the passage I provided.

In this special case concerning Jesus, His perpetual priesthood does NOT require a perpetual sacrifice, because His offering is a sufficient and FINISHED work. How do we know this? Because He is SEATED at the right hand of the Father. Notice that the Old Testament priests were STANDING to offer sacrifices (Hebrews 10:11). They continually stood because their offering was never finished. But Jesus, after He offered Himself as a Sacrifice, SAT DOWN at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3; 10:12). This signifies that His work of redemption was done; it was completed; it was the END of His sacrificing. There was no more sacrificing (offering for sin) to do after this (Hebrews 10:18). The debt was paid.
I think you have completely misunderstood what it means that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. It does not mean that His work of redemption was done. It means that He has assumed the position of power and glory. One of the passages you cited provides this meaning:
Heb 1:3-4 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, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.
To sit at the right hand of the Father is to assume the position of superiority over angels (cf. Heb 1:14) and enemies (cf. Heb 10:12-13), the position "far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named" (Eph 1:20-21). To sit at the right hand is to be exalted (cf. Acts 2:33; 5:31). Jesus is "the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power" (Mt 26:64), that is "the power of God" (Lk 22:69). Ultimately, by His sitting, Jesus has assumed the position of one who is equal with the Father.

Jesus' sitting at the right hand does not mark the end of His redemptive work. Instead, this sitting includes it:
Rom 8:34 who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?

Heb 8:1-3 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.

Psa 110:1,4 The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool.” [. . .] 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchiz′edek.”
Jesus doesn't even remain seated. Stephen "gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55). John saw "a lamb standing as though it had been slain" (Rev 5:6; cf. 14:1). These passages reveal that His priestly ministry (which, as we will see, includes the offering of Himself) is part and parcel with His sitting at the right hand of the Father.

The only “priestly” work He does now is to INTERCEDE for us to the Father (Hebrews 7:24-25). Nicholas, you quoted this yourself, but you seem to have missed what it was saying. It says, “He ever lives to make intercession for them” (the saints). This is His work now, not offering sacrifice. It doesn’t say, “He ever lives to continue offering Himself to the Father.”
But how does He intercede? It is by "ministering in the sanctuary" (Heb 8:2). Christ offers His body (cf. Heb 10:10) and His blood (cf. Heb 9:12-14) as an atonement sacrifice in the sanctuary of heaven (cf. 9:24). "Christ has entered ... into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf ... to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Heb 9:24-26). Did you get that? He is in heaven, now, offering the sacrifice of Himself! I don't see how it gets much clearer than that.

Calvary is payment for a debt. The payment of a debt is not “never-ending” if it has been paid in full. There is no need to keep paying (or keep “offering” payment) for it. Are you possibly saying that Jesus’ work on the cross did NOT fully pay the debt for our sins? Hopefully, you don’t believe this. Then for what reason would it need to be “re-offered” or “re-presented” to the Father? Do His words, “It is finished” mean nothing? The context of this “once for all” language in Hebrews points to an ending / a finish / a halting of the sacrifice / offering, NOT a continuation.
The Protestant understanding of "It is finished" is probably the greatest instance of eisegesis that I have ever encountered. That is not what Jesus meant when He said, "It is finished." His words have nothing to do with the full payment of a debt. You are reading that into the text. When He said this, He had yet to die, nor had He risen from the dead or ascended to the right hand. These are crucial aspects of Jesus' redemptive work! (cf. Rom 4:25; Eph 1:18-20; 1 Pet 3:21-22; etc.). This can only mean that His work of redemption was not in fact finished.

What then did He mean? Let's look at the context:
Jn 19:28-30 After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said to fulfill the scripture, “I thirst.” 29 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished (τετέλεσται, tetelestai)”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Notice that Jesus said, "It is finished" after He drank the wine, and He drank the wine to fulfill the scripture. Thus, what is finished is the fulfillment in Christ of everything the prophets said about how the Messiah would come into the world and suffer for us. The following verses (31-37) go on to give other ways in which His life and His suffering fulfilled prophecy. Jesus' words exist within this context. In fact, the Gk word for "finished" (τελέω, teleo) could also be translated as "fulfilled". The best indication that this is what is meant is found in Luke, where we read:
Lk 18:31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished (τελεσθήσεται, telesthesetai).
Or, as the NIV has it, "will be fulfilled". The Gk word here and the one for "finished" in Jn 19:31 share the same base word. Jesus went to Jerusalem to fulfill what was written of the Son of man by the prophets. And when He finally drank from the sponge on the hyssop branch, that was mission accomplished. The prophecies were fulfilled. That's what Jesus meant.

You can look back at Calvary and be (perpetually) thankful for it, or maybe (perpetually) remember it or (perpetually) commemorate it with a ritual… but the payment for our sins (or its offering to the Father) is not perpetual, since it is a finished work.
Russell, Jesus is securing an eternal redemption with His own blood in the Holy Place, in the heavenly sanctuary (cf. Heb 9:12), where he resides "for all time" (Heb 10:12, 14). It all seems very obvious to me that the Letter to the Hebrews affirms what I've been defending. I don't really know what else to say.

The book of Hebrews contrasts the old sacrifices with the new. To proclaim that Jesus’ offering is perpetual is like saying:

“The Old Testament priests were merely mortal and the Old Testament sacrifices were imperfect, so the sacrifices had to be offered continually. On the other hand, the New Testament Priest (Jesus Christ) is immortal and His Sacrifice is perfect, and it ALSO has to be offered continually.”

This seems to be what you are saying, but this wouldn’t make sense. What is the point of the CONTRAST in Hebrews 7:27 if they are BOTH continual? If it is indeed a “continual” sacrifice, then Jesus would have to be in a continual state of death!
The sacrifices of the Old Covenant are not continual in the same way that Jesus' sacrifice is continual. I already addressed this in Part 3b when I explained what "once for all" meant, but I'll give it another go. The sacrifices of the Old Covenant were continual in the sense that the high priest was always going into the sanctuary, sacrificing an animal, then going out. In and out, in and out, each time sacrificing a different animal.

Jesus' sacrifice is continual in the sense that, when He enters the sanctuary, He does not leave. He stays there and offers the single sacrifice of Himself, to the Father, forever. This is also why He does not in fact "have to be in a continual state of death." He entered the heavenly sanctuary through His death, and since He does not leave it, it is not necessary for Him to die again (cf. Heb 9:25-26).

Within the context of the Mass, Jesus' sacrifice is continual because the Mass is celebrated every day. From the rising of the sun to its setting and in every place a pure offering is made (cf. Mal 1:11). Every day Catholics all over the world come together to witness this perpetual offering and to receive the spiritual benefits of it.

Surely you can see how the "continual" nature of the two kinds of sacrifices is not the same.

Again, look at the contrasts:

The Old Testament priests (plural) with the New Testament High Priest (singular)… The Old Testament offerings with the New Testament’s “no more offering”… the Old Testament continual sacrifices with the one sacrifice of Jesus… (the only other sacrifices in Hebrews are “sacrifices of praise, doing good and sharing, etc. - 13:15-16). And Hebrews never even mentions a New Testament priesthood (except for Jesus’). For a book that deals extensively with priests, offerings and sacrifices, the epistle of Hebrews doesn’t seem to be very “Catholic-friendly.”
Allow me to take each one in turn:
  • The Old Testament priests (plural) with the new Testament High Priest (singular): As I understand it, the contrast in Hebrews is not between priests and the High Priest, but between OT high priest and NT high priest. At any rate, the contrast as you present it is only damning of the Catholic position if the letter precludes a ministerial priesthood ... but you haven't proven that yet.
  • The Old Testament offerings with the New Testament's "no more offering": You are misinterpreting Heb 10:18, as I've already shown. "No more offering" does not apply to the Mass.
  • The Old Testament continual sacrifices with the one sacrifice of Jesus: See above.
Also, it's not true that the only other sacrifices in Hebrews are sacrifices of praise. Heb 9:23 speaks of the "better sacrifices" of heaven. I said in Part 3a, "It seems to me that the use of the plural in the place of the singular would more readily indicate the Mass, in which, in a mysterious way, the sacrifice is plural and singular." If you don't mind, I would like to elaborate on this by providing an extended quotation of Robert Sungenis. In his book Not By Bread Alone: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, he has this to say about Heb 9:22-24 (note: Sungenis assumes that Paul is the author of the letter):
Notice several things in these verses. First, the blood of the Old Covenant sacrifices was required to make everything ceremonially clean (cf. Heb 9:13); and such shedding and sprinkling of blood on the people cleansed them and obtained forgiveness for their sins. Thus, Leviticus 5:9-10; 16:30 [. . .] We have learned previously that this forgiveness, though real, was temporary and incomplete. Like every other Old Covenant sacrifice, it depended on the ultimate sacrifice of Christ even for its temporary effectiveness. God could forgive them since He saw Christ through the Old Testament atonement blood.

There is a further connection: the specific manner Hebrews 9:23 is phrased makes the "shedding of blood" refer to both the Old and the New Covenant, thus making Christ's work in "heaven itself" a "shedding of blood." This requires us to conclude that, in some manner, Christ's shed blood appears in heaven, which would coincide with Hebrews 9:24's statement that He will "now appear for us in God's presence."

Since Hebrews 9:23-24 clearly teaches that some kind of blood sacrifice is occurring presently in heaven, and since such sacrifice would constitute the ongoing work of Christ's eternal priesthood, we are not surprised to see Hebrews 9:23's use of the plural word "sacrifices" in the phrase "with better sacrifices than these" in reference to Christ's present work. Since Hebrews 9:22 introduced "blood" into the text as that which forgives sins, then Hebrews 9:23 would simply mean: "but the heavenly things themselves with better blood sacrifices than these." St. Paul is comparing and contrasting the Old Covenant "blood sacrifices" with the New Covenant "blood sacrifices."

Hence, Scripture is clear that "sacrifices" are being continually presented to God in heaven. This is the essence of the Catholic Mass -- Christ sheds His blood on the altar, under the appearance of bread and wine, and is presented, along with us, His body, to the Father in heaven, to propitiate Him for our sins and to seek his effectual graces. (pgs. 81-85)
What is singular in eternity is plural in time because each Mass presents the sacrifice of Christ, and the Mass is celebrated daily.

Finally, the Letter to the Hebrews may not specifically mention a New Testament priesthood, but when you combine this letter with the Institution narratives you basically have the basis for our understanding of the interplay that exists between the work of the High Priest Jesus Christ and the work of the ministerial priest in the Mass. The Church has always turned to this letter to form her conception of the identity and mission of the priest. Since the priest acts in the person of Christ and makes Him present, much of what describes the Jesus in this letter also applies to the priest. Of course, the letter applies to Christ pre-eminently and to the priest only secondarily, or instrumentally. But it still applies.

Now, concerning the idea that Calvary is “made present” when a Catholic priest consecrates the bread and wine… not only is this concept utterly ridiculous, it is also blasphemous. No priest can cause a past event to move into the present. And to say, “Well, it is God Who does it, not the priest,” or “It is a mystery,” or “It is done ‘sacramentally’” is just begging the question. There is nothing scriptural about this concept. The event of Calvary is no more “made present” today than the event of the death angel killing the firstborn Egyptian children was “made present” when the Jews would celebrate the Passover. Communion and Passover are reminders pointing to past events. The only way that either one would be “made present” is MENTALLY. After all, the communion service is indeed a MEMORIAL, because Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).
That Calvary would be re-presented sacramentally is not begging the question if Jesus Himself told us that this was how it would be made present. When Jesus told the crowd in Jn 6 that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, most of the crowd walked away because they could not understand how He could be commanding them to resort to cannibalism. If they would have stuck around, they would have learned from the Apostles how it was to be done, for Jesus showed them at the Last Supper: It would be under the appearance of bread and wine.

This Eucharist makes Calvary present by anticipating it. What happens in the Eucharist in an unbloody manner is what takes place on the Cross in a bloody manner: His Body is broken, His Blood is poured out, His Blood is separated from His Body. These are all the hallmarks of a sacrifice, and so it follows that whenever this Eucharist is celebrated, this sacrifice is re-presented.

It is interesting that you point out that the Mass is a memorial. As I mentioned in Part 3b, Gerhard Kittel (no slouch in the Greek department) saw this idea of re-presentation connoted in the anamnesis (or "memorial") that Jesus commanded the Apostles to offer:
anámnēsis means “remembrance” or “recollection.” In Heb. the sin offerings cannot remove sins but remind us of them (cf. Num. 5:15). In 1 Cor. 11:24 Christians are to enact the Lord’s Supper in a recollection of Jesus which has the form of active re-presentation as the action of Jesus and the disciples is repeated. (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume (the "Little Kittel"), pg. 56)
Also, I realize that you are content to scoff at how the Jews understood the greatest feast day of their lives, but God Himself set up the Passover meal in such a way that it would actively re-present for every Jew what God did for their ancestors (cf. Exo 12:26-27a; 13:8, 14-15a; Deut 6:20-22). I grant that on the order of substance it was not the same meal, but it was still the closest thing to a sacrament that the Jews possessed. Through active participation in a profound ritual -- through eating the same foods, preparing them in the same way, and reciting the same words -- the Jews made the first Passover present to future generations.

God desired that they make it present in this way. There could really be no other way to make it present until Christ came, the one who is Himself a living sacrament. Within the context of a sacrificial meal of re-presentation, He made Himself substantially present and commanded the Apostles to continue to make Him present in the same manner. That is how the Mass is a re-presentation.

But, let's step back for a moment. I don't want to get into a debate on the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and I actually don't think it is necessary. By displaying the Body and Blood in a state of separation, the elements display a sacrificial character. This is true regardless of whether Christ is literally present in the sacrament or whether He is only symbolically present. Even if He is only symbolically present, then the Eucharist symbolizes a sacrifice. It is a symbolic sacrifice. Because elders have the duty of performing the sacraments, they have the duty of performing this sacrifice, again indicating the priestly character of their office (cf. Jimmy Akin, "The Office of New Testament Priest").

In Part 3b, you said:

“To summarize, in the "doing", the "remembrance", and the "giving thanks" we find crucial indications of the sacrificial and perpetual nature of the meal that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper.”

Nicholas, it seems that you spent a lot of time and energy in the whole first half of Part 3b emphasizing the “sacrificial language” surrounding this issue. But I already addressed that. I acknowledged that Jesus is the High Priest Who offered the perfect sacrifice, so yes, there are sacrificial overtones. And I said that this is all pointing to Jesus’ work at Calvary, not to a ritual (the Eucharist). The symbolism is found in the ritual, but the substance is found at the cross. To say that they are one-and-the-same, is, I believe, more than anyone can prove. The phrase, “This is My body” in no way proves this idea. See the links below.
How you could just dismiss all the evidence I provided with a simple wave of your hand is really quite baffling to me. Jesus wasn't simply waxing poetic about His death on the Cross. All of that "sacrificial language" applies to the meal He was celebrating. His command was to do something: Take bread, give thanks, break it, and distribute it ("In the same way also the cup", cf. 1 Cor 11:23-25). It is what we celebrate out of obedience to Christ that bears with it all of this sacrificial meaning!

The Institutional Narratives make this clear. In Mt 26:28 and Mk 14:24, we read: "this is my blood of the Covenant which is poured out for many." The Gk word for "which is poured out" is ἐκχυννόμενον, ekchynnomenon. It is a participle in the present tense. The present participle denotes an action in progress or simultaneous with the action of the principal verb (in this case, "is"). These verses would be more literally translated as "which is being poured out", as we find in the Amplified Bible and Young's Literal Translation.

What this means is that Jesus was not talking about the future shedding of His bled on the Cross. Instead, He was saying that in the distribution of the wine you have the present shedding of His blood. In other words, the symbolism and the substance is found in the ritual.

In Lk 22:19-20 you find the same thing:
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given (διδόμενον, didemenon) for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out (ἐκχυννόμενον, ekchynnomenon) for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Both Gk words are present participles. Jesus body "is being given", the cup "is being poured" at the time Jesus is speaking these words at the Last Supper. This proves that it is the Eucharist itself that is sacrificial.

Claiming that the Eucharist is Calvary “re-presented” because of the sacrificial language is like saying that a wedding album and the wedding it portrays are “one-and-the-same”. There are pictures of people in the album who are dressed for a wedding, there is a wedding cake, there are gifts and celebration involved, there is a bride and a groom making vows, and there are bridesmaids and groomsmen, wedding rings and wedding certificates, etc., etc. So, obviously, this album must be the wedding event itself, right? Since all these things in the album contain “wedding language,” and there are so many “marriage connotations” and references to a wedding, surely this album and the actual wedding event would have to be one-and- the-same, wouldn’t it (according to your logic)?

No, you can use all the “marriage language” and “wedding overtones” you want, but this won’t make the wedding album change into the actual wedding event itself. The album simply points back in time to the one-time wedding event.

It is the same thing with Christian Communion, i.e., the partaking of the bread and wine. Communion is a ritual (an important and profound one) which points back to the cross, the event of Calvary. They are not one-and-the-same. Communion is a symbol of what happened there. Let’s not confuse the symbols with the substance.
I think what you're comparing here is apples and oranges because the Eucharist is a more profound symbol than a wedding album. I agree that the Eucharist points to Calvary. The Catechism affirms the immense sign value of the Eucharist, as you know. But, being a sacrament, the Eucharist points to something that is substantially present.

 A sacrament is a visible sign of an invisible reality, and the language of the Last Supper reveals that the Eucharist is drawing our minds and hearts to something that is truly present. "Offer this as my memorial sacrifice" ... "My broken body is being given" ... "My blood is being poured out" ... the fact that it is a todah meal within the context of the sacrificial Passover meal -- this is more than artificial flourishing meant to remind us of Calvary. It appears that the Gospel writers have gone to great lengths to show us that the meal itself is a sacrifice.

You offer Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24 as proof of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Not to get bogged down here on that specific topic, I would simply refer you to two of my articles on the Eucharist here:
Since I have not made the majority of the claims you are responding to in those posts, I don't really feel the need to address them. I think they would also steer us even further off topic. You did have some points in Part 2 about the Eucharist being a sacrifice, but I have responded to those already.

Pax Christi,


  1. Hello Nicholas,

    I, too, do not want us to keep repeating ourselves, so I think we have come to the end. But I agree very much with one thing you said in this last post:

    “If there is no actual sacrifice being offered in the Mass, then the whole notion of "ministerial priest" in the Church needs to be re-examined and potentially discarded altogether. However, if the Mass is sacrificial, then the ministerial priest is an important and even necessary component of the makeup of the Church and the spiritual lives of Christians.”

    The concept of a New Testament ministerial priesthood together with the Catholic Eucharist is indeed an “all or nothing” issue. I don’t think anyone can be ambiguous or wishy-washy about it. I don’t believe that there can be any middle ground – i.e., no one can say, “I like it, but that’s just my opinion,” or, “It’s no big deal,” or, “I’m neutral about this.” No, either the Catholic Eucharist is indeed Jesus Christ, Himself, and it should be worshipped… or it is (by definition) a disgusting idol. There is no in-between. And one’s view of the Eucharist will affect his view on whether there is a “New Testament priesthood” or not. Nicholas, these are extraordinary claims by the Catholic Church, and would therefore need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But I don't think it can be done, biblically.

    But I encourage everyone reading this to carefully test these concepts with Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Once again, the New Testament is not only strangely silent about these two issues, but its eternal principles are against them. And yes, we ARE talking about eternity here… eternal souls are at stake. I continue to stand confidently by all that I said in these discussions, and I believe that my arguments have been simple, biblical and logical.

    There is an old saying:

    “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Since our arguments are polar opposites, I guess this applies either to you or to me. But I suggest that we allow the reader to decide in his own heart. Thanks again, Nicholas, for the friendly and polite discussion. These are certainly important issues that need to be discussed. May the God of mercy open the eyes of all of us and show us the truth.

    In His Name,

  2. For me, the Bible is just a written tradition, not more authoritative than the writings of the early church or C.S. Lewis.

    Lothar's son - Lothars Sohn


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