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Michael Voris’s “Heresy and the Eucharist”: A Fraternal Correction

July 14, 2012

In his zeal for what he would call “traditional” Catholicism, Michael Voris has recently made a video series from Trent, Italy, home of the Council of Trent.  As part of that series, he has produced this video, titled “Heresy and the Eucharist”:

Unfortunately, Voris’s zeal is not always matched by historical and theological accuracy.  This inaccuracy, coupled with Voris’s sneering and sarcastic tone, virtually ensures that the Catholic message he wishes to promote to Protestants will fall on deaf ears.  Who will listen to someone who seems to assume his opponents are acting in bad faith and, on top of that, gets the facts wrong?

In hopes of providing better conditions for separated Christians to come to understand one another on this important issue, I offer below some corrections of Voris’s claims.

1.  “Luther had come up with the harebrained understanding that Jesus and bread were both present at the same time. . . . Luther called it consubstantiation.”

It is a matter of historical fact that Luther did not come up with this understanding.  It had been considered as a possibility since before Thomas Aquinas and Thomas himself addresses it in ST III, 75, 2.  In fact, though before Thomas most theologians consider it unlikely, Thomas is the first one to condemn it as heresy, some half a century after transubstantiation first shows up in official Church teaching at Lateran IV in 1215.  In other words, when transubstantiation first entered Church teaching, the possibility of the bread and wine remaining was not excluded.

Within about a hundred years of Thomas’s death, western metaphysics underwent a drastic shift in which what Thomas called “substance” ceased existing and the term “substance” came to be identified with the accident of quantity, usually called the first accident and meaning, essentially, that something takes up space.  For Thomas, substance was a thing’s underlying and definitive essence making something to be what it is and actualized by God’s act of sustaining creation.  In other words, things were what God made them to be.  For the nominalist tradition that followed, things had no essence.  Things were what we called them simply for convenience of human discourse; we simply name them, hence “nominalism.”

In such a metaphysical context transubstantiation means the opposite of what it meant for Thomas.  It has become a subtle form of transaccidentiation because substance has become just one more accident.  This inversion led the vast majority of theologians from Scotus forward to proclaim that, while the faithful must affirm transubstantiation on the authority of the Church, consubstantiation was actually a more probable opinion, philosophically speaking – if the accidents remain and substance is an accident, then the substance of the bread remains, hence consubstantiation.  (Thomas would roll over in his grave to hear theologians oppose reason and Church teaching in this way!)  Luther was trained in the nominalist school and he specifically references the prominent nominalist Pierre D’Ailly, the “learned Cardinal of Cambrai” when he suggests that it seems more likely to him that the bread and wine remain.

On the other hand, it is important to note that Luther was never dogmatic on this point.  He was happy to let each have his own opinion on the matter and said, in several places over several years that it didn’t matter to him if the bread and wine remained provided that the body and blood of Christ were present.

Finally, Luther never called it consubstantiation.  That was a medieval term and Luther avoided it because he had no interest in using Aristotelian categories to try to understand the mystery of the Eucharist.  This was one of his key reasons for rejecting transubstantiation and he wasn’t going to fall into the same trap in his own articulation.  Now, I think Luther was naive to believe that he could avoid philosophy once the question of coherence had been raised by Zwingli and others and, in fact, Luther himself had recourse to some nominalist philosophy later in the controversies with the Swiss Reformers, but it is simply untrue to say Luther called his articulation consubstantiation.  Some others have, because of its similarity to the late medieval doctrine of consubstantiation considered by D’Ailly and others, but Luther himself never did.

In any case, interested parties should consider the judgment of Joseph Ratzinger who notes that, in light of what transubstantiation had come to mean by Luther’s time,  “it becomes clear that “transubstantiation” forms no antithesis at all to “consubstantiation”, if the latter is simply supposed to mean that bread and wine as physical-chemical entities continue to exist unchanged.”  (The Problem of Transubstantiation and the Question about Meaning in the Eucharist)

2.  “As opposed to transubstantiation, which by that the Church means that the substance of bread is totally annihilated.”

As a matter of fact, transubstantiation does not mean that the substance of bread is totally annihilated, at least, not since Thomas, whom the Council of Trent follows almost exactly on the question.  In ST III, 75, 3, Thomas considers the possibility that the bread and wine are annihilated and rejects the possibility just as he had rejected the possibility of the (substance of the) bread and wine remaining in the previous question.  According to Thomas, the annihilation theory would lead to numerous conceptual problems.  Furthermore, as other theologians have pointed out, annihilation would counter the whole Christian conviction that God does not scrap the first creation in order to create a new one, but rather transforms the old creation from within.  Annihilation takes the whole eschatological thrust out of the eucharistic banquet.  And, as the great Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe has pointed out, if the Catholic Church did believe that the bread and wine were annihilated the criticism of the Anglican 39 articles that “transubstantiation overthroweth the nature of the sacrament” would stand.  On the other hand, because bread and wine are precisely what become (rather than being annihilated and replaced by) Christ’s body and blood, the Eucharist’s sacramental (and eschatological) nature is preserved.

3.  “But today virtually every Protestant denomination worth its weight in heresy totally rejects any understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

While it is certainly true that a “merely” symbolic view of the Eucharist predominates in many Protestant churches, it is nonsense to lay the blame for this at the foot of Martin Luther, if only for the simple fact that such a view is fairly common in Catholic Churches as well.  In a world where what one can see and measure is all that is true, Zwingli is going to have a lot of followers in every Church.  On the other hand, the claim that the majority of Protestant denominations “totally reject any understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” is simply false.

Consider the following passage from the World Council of Churches document Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry, signed by representatives of virtually every major Protestant denomination (as well as by Catholic and Orthodox theologians):

The words and acts of Christ at the institution of the eucharist stand at the heart of the celebration; the eucharistic meal is the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the sacrament of his real presence. Christ fulfills in a variety of ways his promise to be always with his own even to the end of the world. But Christ’s mode of presence in the eucharist is unique. Jesus said over the bread and wine of the eucharist: “This is my body … this is my blood …” What Christ declared is true, and this truth is fulfilled every time the eucharist is celebrated. The Church confesses Christ’s real, living and active presence in the eucharist. While Christ’s real presence in the eucharist does not depend on the faith of the individual, all agree that to discern the body and blood of Christ, faith is required.  (Eucharist, 13)

Now, I will not deny that there are ambiguities here that a Catholic will want to look into (see the Catholic Church’s official response to the document if you’re interested in that), nor will I deny that some denominations were concerned that this presented too “realistic” a picture of eucharistic presence (see their own responses, collected in The Churches Respond to BEM, volumes I-VI; the Catholic response appears in volume VI) , but it remains impossible to square with Voris’s claim that virtually every Protestant denomination “totally rejects any understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

The simple fact is that ecumenical dialogue, not Voris’s “straight talk” condemnations, are what have brought about a major resurgence of eucharistic theology in the Protestant world so that many Protestant communities celebrate the eucharist with more frequency and more reverence, and with a deeper understanding of Christ’s eucharistic presence than before the ecumenical movement.  This is a matter of historical fact.

4.  “The Jews [at Capernaum in John 6] understood exactly what he meant.”

This may be one reading of John 6, but it is an implausible one and one not well represented in the Tradition.  Consider, “Did the Jews understand that Jesus would consecrate bread and wine so that his followers could receive his body and blood and be in communion with him sacramentally, or did they think he meant they will consume him cannibalistically?”  The answer is obvious from the text.  The Jews thought they were being instructed to tear chunks of Christ’s flesh; to eat pieces of him/his corpse.  (Such an interpretation is unfortunately reproduced for Voris’s Protestant viewers at 4:59 where Voris pinches his forearm to emphasize “his actual flesh.”)

The tradition has called those who follow Jesus’s audience in this understanding Capharnaites after Capernaum, the place where the bread of life discourse takes place.  Why, if they understood correctly, would a heresy be named after them?

Rather, the Jews who left did not understand exactly what he meant, as the great voices in the tradition affirm.  See, for example, this passage from St. Augustine’s tract on John 6:

14. The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? They strove, and that among themselves, since they understood not, neither wished to take the bread of concord: for they who eat such bread do not strive with one another; for we being many are one bread, one body. And by this bread, God makes people of one sort to dwell in a house.

15. But that which they ask, while striving among themselves, namely, how the Lord can give His flesh to be eaten, they do not immediately hear: but further it is said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you will have no life in you. How, indeed, it may be eaten, and what may be the mode of eating this bread, you are ignorant of; nevertheless, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you will not have life in you. (Paragraphs 14-15, emphasis added.)

Jesus’ insistence in John 6, on which Voris justly focuses, does not mean what Voris suggests it means.  Jesus is not here reinforcing their cannibalistic misunderstanding but rather insisting that, even if this makes no sense to you right now, it is nonetheless true (as Augustine’s exegesis highlights).  Indeed, it cannot make sense to you now, but if you know who I am, you will stay with me and trust my words and you will come to see how it is true in time.

This reading is supported by the whole context of John 6.  In this brilliant passage, John is linking together a whole string of difficult ideas that no one could be reasonably expected to understand.  Jesus’ claims in verses 35-40:

35 Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.

are about the incarnation.  He is claiming to be sent by God.  And the crowd disputes in verses 41-42:

41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ 42They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I have come down from heaven”?’

Jesus’ claim in verse 51:

51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.’

is not only a claim about the eucharist, though that is also included, but it is about his death that will save the world.

John’s point, of course, is that the eucharist is not an isolated mystery but rather implicated in the whole mystery of our salvation, all of which is not amenable to merely profane logic, but which must be understood through the eyes of faith.  This is how the tradition understands John 6:63:

63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

a passage which Voris’s Protestant viewers will justly point out that he ignores.

In Voris’s reading of John 6, verse 63 is inconvenient, but in the traditional reading, it provides the hermeneutical key.  It is not, as some have suggested, that Jesus is here telling the audience to take everything he said before metaphorically.  In this regard, Voris’s emphasis that the crowd left, and that Jesus did not try to stop them, is helpful, if not in exactly the way he suggests.  They left after he made this statement, so it was not understood by the crowd as a backing off of his earlier claims.  Rather, it was meant to highlight the fact that his claims were inaccessible to reason unenlightened by faith.

It is important to see what immediately precedes verse 63.  In verses 61-62, Jesus says:

61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?

Jesus has indicated the incarnation, the crucifixion, the eucharist, and now, the resurrection.  It is as if he were saying, in this verse, “You think all this stuff sounds crazy?  Just wait.  You’ll see crazy!”  In other words, the resurrection will demonstrate the truth of these claims.

This is perfectly consistent with the rest of the gospels.  Even Jesus’ closest followers, those who did not leave after John 6, were scandalized at his death.  When Jesus announced it, Peter said “God forbid,” and Jesus replied “Get behind me Satan!”  When Jesus died, the disciples ran away and hid, thinking that they must have been mistaken, that Jesus was not really the Messiah.  Only in the resurrection do they find the meaning in his death.  John is pointing out that the same is true of the eucharist.  Before the resurrection it could only seem meaningless cannibalism, the eating of a corpse.  But when Jesus comes back, not as a corpse, but as the living Lord, able to be present in ways that defy worldly logic (showing up in locked rooms, walking about unhindered by gaping wounds, being unrecognizable even to his closest friends), eucharistic presence makes more sense.  (Have a look at Luke 24, where the disappointed disciples – “We thought he was the Messiah” – fail to recognize him until he breaks the bread, for an interesting demonstration of this dynamic.)

Jesus insistence in John 6 is not on a misconstrued cannibalism, but on faith in his word.  This is demonstrated in verses 67-69:

67So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ 68Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

The point is not that the disciples understand.  Peter does not say, “Yes, we’re prepared to eat your corpse.”  Rather it indicates that they trust Jesus because of who they know him to be.  Like the Jews who left, Peter does not know that Jesus will consecrate bread and wine at the Last Supper making them to be his body and blood.  He only knows who Jesus is and so he takes him at his word, content to wait for understanding.

For John, the incarnation and the eucharist are two facets of the same scandal.  In both cases, God has come too close for comfort.  In both cases what appears to be merely earthly (“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”) is in fact the presence of God.  In both cases understanding can only follow faith in Him.

Contrary to Voris’s exegesis, the Jews at Capernaum did not understand at all what Jesus meant.  Neither did the disciples.  But one group trusted him, and their hope was not disappointed, and one group left.  That’s the point.

___________

Michael Voris simply does not have the theological or historical training to be making the kinds of claims he is wont to make.  Furthermore, his willingness to excommunicate those who disagree with his misapprehensions of Catholic teaching is troubling.  Finally, his method of engaging with our separated brothers and sisters is at odds with the magisterium of the Catholic Church, the very body he claims to represent and defend.  Let us pray that Michael Voris submit to the magisterium in its teaching about ecumenism and become a more faithful son of the Church.  Let us also pray that Protestants and Catholics do not take his articulations, like those above, to accurately represent Catholic theology.  If they do, the divisions in Christ’s Church will be deepened.

____________
If you liked this post, you may also be interested in:

Eucharist and Incarnation:  A Catholic Response to Luther

Is the Eucharist a Sacrifice or a Meal?

Eucharistic Sacrifice: And Ecumenical Attempt

Quid Sumit Mus?:  Sacramental Presence, for Father Larry

Food, Body and Eucharist

Trans-Accidentiation


Brett Salkeld is a doctoral student in theology at Regis College in Toronto. He is a father of three (so far) and husband of one.  He is writing his dissertation on the question of transubstantiation in ecumenical dialogue.

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76 Comments
  1. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    July 14, 2012 10:50 am

    Thanks for this lovely bit of exegesis. At least some good came out of Voris’ ranting!

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 10:55 am

      Thanks David.

      • Rat-biter permalink
        July 21, 2012 10:05 pm

        “On the other hand, because bread and wine are precisely what become (rather than being annihilated and replaced by) Christ’s body and blood, the Eucharist’s sacramental (and eschatological) nature is preserved.”

        ## That mention of eschatology is so important. For the Gifts to be *converted* into the Body & Blood (appearances excepted) by the action of the Holy Spirit through the human priest is very thought-provoking. It is also suggestive for the theology of election, and thus, of grace. It sounds very much like a sign in the Biblical sense. Maybe the theology of the Eucharist has hardly begun to be developed.

        Does the doctrine of the Church leave a way for developing doctrine regarding the place of the church worshipping with the priest ? The priest is the minister in a manner that his fellow-adorers are not, granted – but a theology of the Church or of the Eucharist that ignores the rest of the congregation, and their action with the priest, is surely badly defective. And not just because the whole People of God is a priestly people who partake in the Kingship of Christ. If the Eucharist is a cosmic offering, an offering by the whole creation to its God, surely this puts paid to any idea that the priest is the only human agent in the Liturgy.

      • jpaYMCA permalink
        January 30, 2013 10:44 am

        Hello, I am a translator for the Vatican – will not name the department for confidentiality – and I think your critique of the ecumenical (or lack thereof) style of Mr. Voris is wrong, or at least that it is not based on a lack of understanding of the Magisterium, as you suggest: in fact, Benedict has recently given discourses on this overly pacifying spirit, which semi-heretical spirit Mr. Voris seems to denounce.
        For what it’s worth, I think you criticize his inaccuracy of speech too harshly: there is only so much time in which to write/speak through the media – this naturally leads to abbreviations, for better or for worse, and to over-simplifications.
        Your comments about Luther’s formation and unwillingness to engage in so-called Aristotelian discourse is true to a point, but he did coin certain terms in German which – though impossible to easily translate into Romance languages or English – did imply that he “magisterially” taught consubstantiation … and against the Church of Christ’s interpretation in any case.
        Thank you.

        • February 12, 2013 1:13 pm

          I’m not sure where I said “lack of understanding of the magisterium.” Rather, he seems to manifest patent lack of understanding of theology and the tradition of the Church, including basic questions of fact. I’m afraid I’m not convinced that his mistakes are simply the matter of over-simplifications due to time constraints. That seems like a fudge to me. He makes several straight up errors of fact that could have just as easily been stated correctly in the time he had.
          Now I’m all for genuine ecumenism rather than “overly pacifying spirit,” but Voris goes much further than that, to the point of untruth. Virtue would seem to lie in the mean in this case, and Voris is very far from that.

        • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
          February 12, 2013 11:50 pm

          What a delightfully fraught discussion, and the overwrought video is a real hoot. Let’s parse the matter closely. When Trent made its pronouncements, it was not clearly disengaged from the Nominalistic rhetoric of Constance. And to get what that meant vis-a-vis the whole matter we have to be precise about the long de facto tradition of Realist Metaphysics which even Thomas’s Aristotelianism never did away with totally, mostly because because of his debt to Pseudo-Dionysian notions of hierarchies of Being. To wit, even by Thomistic Aristotelian lights, the “substance” of anything in the world (literally anything mind you, even bread and wine) was only a faint echo or shadow of some idealized form. Now to really get this we have to conceptually disengage from the Catholic 20th Century’s infatuation with phenomenology, and its desire to anachronistically read notions like “substance” in a thoroughly existentialized way. Bracket Rahnerian notions, and then you will get it.

          As merely a vague shadow of an ideal, this whole contretemps over annihilation or not becomes a bit moot. Still, if anyone is right, it is Brett, because a shadow is real, though it is just a real shadow. Where it gets tricky is that this millenia long Realist de facto understanding, that even Thomas maintained, got really put in the blender at Constance. And the impetus for that confusion was Utraquism. Remember several people lost theiir lives over this issue. What matters for us today is that at Constance the very idea of an immoveable conception of a “substance” itself was obliterated. To put a very complex matter simply, if you cannot be precise about the correspondence between Form and earthy substance, then you cannot be clear about substance period.

          What the Catholic Fathers at Constance found is that NOT being clear about this was a very useful way out of some of the checkmates that Hu-type thought had put them in. But once they got that out of the way, they discovered that outside of the rarefied world of a Church Council it all sounded a bit unsure. So at Trent they went back to the old language, without annulling the language at Constance. And no one has ever explained how it happened. People like Mr. Voris exist in a never-never land of ahistorical sureties. None of this means that Catholics are not justified in believing whatever they want on this matter. But the idea that Trent was just putting the capstone on some consistent longtime notion is pure nonsense.

          In sum, it does seem right to say that the RC Church has always believed Jesus Christ was present in a real way in the Eucharist. It is just that what “real” meant was mixed up with what “Realist” meant, which is NOTHING like what we mean by real today. When one adds several intervening contretemps on the matter, from Nominalism to Protestant proto-scientific notions of matter, and tosses in some Eckhartian Germanic notions of mysticism, what we have is anything but a simple answer. That is the point I would like to make.

        • Peter Paul Fuchs permalink
          February 12, 2013 11:53 pm

          “Hus-type thought” — of course. Almost sounded Taoist the way I wrote it, that would be funny!

  2. July 14, 2012 12:19 pm

    Thank you for this post. I always come to Vox Nova for a dose of reason.

  3. Kurt permalink
    July 14, 2012 12:55 pm

    I have an ottoman in my home that the top portion comes off and it has a tray on the other side, I regularly transubstantiate my ottoman into a cocktail table. Then I transubstantiate it back. I’m a home furnishings priest. Some of the accidents remain, but the substance has changed.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 1:15 pm

      Oh brother. What you’re doing isn’t even a substantial change, but we can do those and do every day. The prefix is of some importance.

  4. Melody permalink
    July 14, 2012 1:36 pm

    “…it remains impossible to square with Voris’s claim that virtually every Protestant denomination “totally rejects any understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”
    The simple fact is that ecumenical dialogue, not Voris’s “straight talk” condemnations, are what have brought about a major resurgence of eucharistic theology in the Protestant world so that many Protestant communities celebrate the eucharist with more frequency and more reverence, and with a deeper understanding of Christ’s eucharistic presence than before the ecumenical movement. This is a matter of historical fact.”

    Thank you for those insights, Brett. My husband was raised an evangelical Protestant, before he converted to Catholicism; and my mom was a Baptist before she became a Catholic after marrying my dad. So I have lots of evangelical relatives and in-laws, and have had occasion to discuss these subjects with some of them over the years. One thing that gripes me is when I hear Catholics say that communion in Protestant churches is merely a remembrance, or only going through the motions. Though their eucharistic theology depends on the particular denomination, one thing communion is not for them, is “only”, or “merely”, anything. They take it very seriously; and most of the churches have the expectation of a person being in a state of grace and having a right intention in order to take communion. Of course they don’t put it in exactly those words, it might be something like needing to be “right with God”. I find that Voris’ discussion is offensively ignorant and disrespectful, always a bad combination; especially if you want meaningful dialogue with someone.

  5. July 14, 2012 2:43 pm

    Excellent article, Brett! My main question is this: Vorlis has called for the replacement of our current system with a Catholic monarchy, has suggested that non-Catholics ought not to be allowed to vote, and has said nasty things about non-Catholic Christians and non-Christian religions, among many, many other goofy, offensive, and, frankly, crazy, things. Is he that high-profile or influential that we need to give a fig about what he says? I mean, the post is great, and I think your point that we and Protestants are much closer regarding the Eucharist than most people think is very important and needs to be made. Do we have to dignify Vorlis by even mentioning him in such a context though?

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 3:07 pm

      As far as I can tell, he is the most popular Catholic voice on Youtube by a fair stretch. I hope that the vast majority of those viewing his stuff don’t take him seriously, but I really don’t know. I do know that I found this piece of his because a friend shared it on Facebook. That makes me nervous.

      • July 14, 2012 10:35 pm

        Well, I wasn’t aware of that. That is rather scary.

  6. July 14, 2012 4:35 pm

    Don’t be nervous, Mr. Salkeld. Mr. Voris is not for everyone, and if you don’t like his tone, no need to listen to him. But his method does indeed work for some, as is evident by the hundreds of positive responses he gets from many converts to the faith, precisely because of his bold, uncompromising message.

    “Let us pray that Michael Voris submit to the magisterium in its teaching about ecumenism and become a more faithful son of the Church.”

    You mean like the teaching on ecumenism in Mortalium Animos? Or Mirari Vos? Or Unam Sanctam? What about these?

    “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.”

    (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)

    “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

    (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)

    “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their alms givings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.”

    (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

    I suppose in your world, VII has eclipsed all these? The problem is that the above are infallible, dogmatic pronouncements of the Church which cannot be changed, and VII, being a merely pastoral council, introduced no new dogma. So the Church’s position on ecumenism stands. By all means, dialogue with our separated brethren–but do not dilute the message simply because you are afraid of causing offense or division. Sometimes the truth is offensive–as is clear from the way Our Lord’s life ended, crucified by His enemies who refused to hear the truth.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 7:16 pm

      I suppose in your world, VII has eclipsed all these? The problem is that the above are infallible, dogmatic pronouncements of the Church which cannot be changed, and VII, being a merely pastoral council, introduced no new dogma. So the Church’s position on ecumenism stands.

      Nope. I’m a hermeneutic of continuity kind of guy. I don’t think they have been eclipsed. Rather, I believe that the interpretation of the Church in an ecumenical council and of successive legitimate successors of Peter must have an impact on how I read them. The hermeneutic of continuity goes in both directions.

      By all means, dialogue with our separated brethren–but do not dilute the message simply because you are afraid of causing offense or division. Sometimes the truth is offensive–as is clear from the way Our Lord’s life ended, crucified by His enemies who refused to hear the truth.

      But I didn’t dilute anything! I know that the truth can be offensive. Heck I’ve written a book defending Church teaching on sexual ethics! The problem is that Voris didn’t tell the truth. He spread falsehoods about Luther, consubstantiation, transubstantiation, the actual position of Protestant denominations on Christ’s eucharistic presence, and the content of Scripture! If he was telling the truth, I wouldn’t have had anything to write. It is one thing to proclaim the truth boldly and quite another to spread falsehoods boldly and then pretend that the offense or division that results is the fault of people who can’t accept the truth.

      Don’t be nervous, Mr. Salkeld. Mr. Voris is not for everyone, and if you don’t like his tone, no need to listen to him. But his method does indeed work for some, as is evident by the hundreds of positive responses he gets from many converts to the faith, precisely because of his bold, uncompromising message.

      I think I have every reason to be nervous if someone who clearly misunderstands Scripture, theology and history is making converts with his bold uncompromising message. If he was making converts with a TRUE bold and uncompromising message I wouldn’t sweat it. But if he is making converts to a brand of Catholicism that doesn’t care about theological or historical integrity, but finds its measure of truth in an utter lack of nuance and a complete self-assuredness, I think we should all be worried. Can we expect the converts to have any better grasp of the truth than the preacher?

      • July 14, 2012 8:02 pm

        To be quite honest, reading your original post left me scratching my head and wondering exactly *what* your understanding of the Eucharist is, so excessively “nuanced” was your reasoning. The average reader would come away thinking you were actually defending the protestant understanding! And then you wrote this gem:

        “The simple fact is that ecumenical dialogue, not Voris’s “straight talk” condemnations, are what have brought about a major resurgence of eucharistic theology in the Protestant world so that many Protestant communities celebrate the eucharist with more frequency and more reverence, and with a deeper understanding of Christ’s eucharistic presence than before the ecumenical movement.”

        Why is this at all relevant, if the bread remains mere bread? *Who cares* if they “celebrate the eucharist with more frequency and more reverence” if there is no valid confection of the host and therefore no true union with the Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity of Our Lord?

        “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.”–Jn 6:54

        According to your reasoning, you make Our Lord’s words meaningless!

        As I wrote below, the Vortex is not the place for a theological treatise or in-depth lecture full of qualifications and distinctions; it’s a 5-minute presentation of the truths of the faith in a way succinct, clear, and easily grasped. We know Luther held to the view of “sacramental union”, which practically speaking is really not much different from consubstantiation. And whether or not the Jews understood all the intricacies of the Eucharistic discourse is not the point–they understood well enough that Our Lord meant *His Flesh*–and it scandalized them enough to cause them to walk away.

        If you prefer the gentle approach, fine–do as you will. But with all the wishy-washy “gentleness” and Catholic-lite sermons emanating from pulpits for decades, where too many clergy are simply AFRAID of saying anything offensive or divisive, Michael’s bold, clear voice is deeply refreshing! God bless him!

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          July 14, 2012 8:22 pm

          To be quite honest, reading your original post left me scratching my head and wondering exactly *what* your understanding of the Eucharist is, so excessively “nuanced” was your reasoning. The average reader would come away thinking you were actually defending the protestant understanding!

          Can you name one thing I said that is counter to the Catholic understanding? Can you even name one thing about the Catholic understanding that is obscured by my nuance?

          I have said nothing Catholic-lite. Voris’s lack of depth is much more “lite” than the views of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, the fathers of Trent, Joseph Ratzinger, or John the Evangelist whom I follow on this question.

          Michael’s bold, clear voice is deeply refreshing! God bless him!

          So, the content of his message is really rather irrelevant? As long as he’s bold and clear, he doesn’t have to be honest or informed?

        • Hereward Wake permalink
          July 15, 2012 8:32 am

          I agree with Salkeld’s criticism on points 1 and 4, mostly. But I partially agree with Person here. Is the bread and wine of a Protestant service the Eucharist or ain’t it?

        • elizabeth00 permalink
          July 18, 2012 8:13 am

          “Is the bread and wine of a Protestant service the Eucharist or ain’t it?” Isn’t Brett’s usage of the term Real Presence in itself making a nonsense of the terms of this question? To celebrate the Eucharist means to give thanks. It’s not clear to me that we’re really giving thanks to God for as long as we’re grasping at some identity that’s dependent on the exclusion of other people. If they have a way to go before arriving at what we ourselves see to be the end of the journey, we probably do as well.

        • gadria permalink
          July 18, 2012 4:47 pm

          Sure Michael’s bold, clear voice is deeply refreshing all right – just as ‘refreshing’ as those of his militant peers in other religions.
          The world is unfortunately filled with blowhards like him – men who talk a tough talk. The can only do so because plenty of kind, well meaning folks -regardless of religious or cultural background -keep the vision of peaceful coexistence alive – we would have a religious war on our hand in America if Folks like Voris had their way – but hey instead the Voris’s and Fr Z’s of this world reap in the donation dollars and lecture from nice places – silly are indeed the guys left behind who finance this stuff.
          As far as I am concerned the good man is in it foremost for himself.
          It pays his travel bills and soothes his ego – but hey why complain –
          In the secular world we have plenty of arctic explorers, mountaineers etc. who follow the same business model….
          And yes I do very much appreciate that kind, humble and wonderfully educated folks like (Dr. )Salkeld do actually bother to confront these blowhards point by point – every bit helps.

    • Julia Smucker permalink*
      July 14, 2012 7:29 pm

      What do you think dogmatic constitutions are, if not dogma?

      And even putting his inaccuracies aside for the moment, do you really think Voris is likely to convince anyone of the truth of transubstantiation who is not already convinced?

    • Rat-biter permalink
      July 18, 2012 12:53 am

      @Christine:

      The diff. betw. those earlier conciliar & Papal statements OTOH, and the present doctrines OTOH, and the frustration experienced in trying (without success) to get a straight answer as to how the later are continuous with the earlier, coupled with the Church’s insistence on its infallibility & indefectibility, is what makes people throw in the towel.

  7. Todd Thomas permalink
    July 14, 2012 6:04 pm

    Why don’t you send these thoughts to Michael Voris directly at michaelvoris@churchmilitant.tv It’s not likely that he will hear them otherwise and your fraternal correction will have been wasted.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 6:05 pm

      An interesting suggestion Todd. I’m considering my options and will keep the thread posted.

  8. Julia Smucker permalink*
    July 14, 2012 6:50 pm

    Voris is obviously a polemicist. Ironically, in his polemical zeal, he misrepresents (in several significant ways, as Brett has skillfully shown here) the very doctrine he aims to defend. The additional irony here is that Brett’s more ecumenically irenic approach, being vastly more nuanced and profound, not to mention accurate, is what makes me think, “Wow, this is why I’m Catholic!” Granted, this may be because the Mennonite tradition I was raised in, although it contains much that I continue to appreciate, actually does lack a eucharistic theology, but still, that’s not the feeling I get from Voris. With him it’s more like cringe-inducing embarrassment over such egregiously careless theology.

  9. July 14, 2012 7:04 pm

    Voris is degreed in systematic theology. How he has applied that education is another matter, but he is educated enough. The proper allegation is that he is plying his trade with gross incompetence.

    I also think the proper term for Voris is polemicist and not apologist.

    • July 14, 2012 7:07 pm

      At the minimum, I would call him a soi disant apologist if you think polemicist is inflammatory.

      • Rat-biter permalink
        July 21, 2012 9:43 pm

        @M. Z. –

        How about “controversialist” ? (Most of the time – not always.) Doing a John Maclaine (sp ? I haven’t watched “Die Hard” for a long while) act on Luther, or on any other Protestants, or on any for that matter, shouldn’t be necessary for expounding the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. Being Luther (or someone else not thought orthodox) does not mean that one is not saying things the Church either did know (but had let it itself forget), or, had not heard but needed to know.

        Quite why being gentle is apparently seen by some as regrettable, is beyond me. Gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit – not a stinking abomination dreamed up by those goddam liberal SOBs (so to put it). But it seems that kicking the teeth in of those who are not “Catholic rednecks” (AKA “hardcore” Catholics – sounds disgusting, but what do I know ?) is the preferred tone among many these days. A bad sign, IMO. It’s difficult to be gentle: to be a habit, it requires constant self-control (another fruit of the Holy Spirit) whereas knocking the stuffing out of those on the “other side” does not.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 7:32 pm

      Well, yes, one would expect better of an S.T.B., but let’s not pretend a bachelor’s degree makes anyone a theologian. I am 50 pages away from a doctorate, am appointed to represent the Catholic Church in an official national dialogue, have published two books endorsed by bishops, and my mandatum is in the mail, and I hesitate using the term to describe myself. Theology is not quite his trade. You’re right, polemics is.

      • July 14, 2012 7:50 pm

        It’s a Sacred Theology Baccalaureate, which he received from the Angelicum in Rome via Sacred Heart Major Seminary (he graduated magna cum laude); it’s an ecclesial degree equivalent to a double master’s and qualifies him to teach at university. Please don’t judge his theological expertise from 5-minute Vortex episodes, which are not the place for in-depth theological treatises, but rather meant to present the truths of the faith in a way succinct, clear, and easily grasped.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          July 14, 2012 8:15 pm

          I know what an S.T.B. is. It is not a double master’s, nor does it qualify him to teach at a university. That’s an S.T.L., kind of. An S.T.L. is a license to teach in an ecclesiastical setting like a seminary or a pontifical school like the one I attend. It is not so much a double master’s but an ecclesiatical degree that often accompanies one’s (secular) Master’s.

          As for judging his expertise, there is no reason at all why a 5-minute episode needed to include so much falsehood. Father Barron manages to give evidence of theological competence in 5 minute pieces. And every priest is expected to be able to do so in 10 minute pieces every Sunday. You wouldn’t give a pastor permission to be theologically inept in his homilies because of the time factor.

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          July 15, 2012 6:07 pm

          As a matter of fact, having an S.T.B. without an M.Div is a bit anomalous. Usually they go together. One wonders what happened in Voris’s education that got him one without the other.

  10. Mark VA permalink
    July 14, 2012 9:27 pm

    I would like to know what the author understands to be the difference between the “eucharistic presence”, and the “Real Presence”.

    NB: I’m a Catholic Traditionalist who considers ecumenism to be a worthy endeavour.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 14, 2012 9:31 pm

      I have to say I hadn’t thought much about that. Of the cuff I’d say that Real Presence is just a way of emphasizing that eucharistic presence is not “merely” symbolic, i.e., it happens somewhere outside our own heads. Does that help? Please let me know if there is something more specific you were driving at. Thanks.

  11. David Cruz-Uribe, SFO permalink*
    July 14, 2012 10:04 pm

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Protestant commemorations of the Last Supper:

    Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible. However these ecclesial communities, “when they commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection in the Holy Supper . . . profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and await his coming in glory.”

    So the fullness of grace is not theirs as it would be in the Eucharist. But it remains a channel of grace: the Spirit blows where He wills, not where we will.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 6:57 am

      Yes. And furthermore, the issue is primarily ecclesiological and not primarily their eucharistic theology, though the two are not completely unrelated.

    • Melody permalink
      July 15, 2012 2:16 pm

      “…the fullness of grace is not theirs as it would be in the Eucharist. But it remains a channel of grace: the Spirit blows where He wills, not where we will.”
      Thanks for pointing that out, David. Sometimes these discussions focus so much on what Protestant commemorations of the Last Supper are not, that what they do signify is lost, or worse, is casually dismissed as having no value. Of course we wish for everyone to enjoy the fullness of truth, and be able to share in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. But for a large number of people, for many reasons, this simply isn’t going happen, not on this earth, anyway. We can’t put God in a box; and as you point out, “…the Spirit blows where He wills.” God meets people where they are, and we shouldn’t be dismissive of channels of grace; His ways are mysterious.

  12. Mark VA permalink
    July 14, 2012 10:34 pm

    Thank you for your reply.

    Word search of your article shows that you use the phrase “eucharistic presence” exclusively, while the phrase “Real Presence” is being used, also exclusively, by the subject of your article.

    At this point, I’m merely trying to understand what the phrase “eucharistic presence” means in the context of your article, in as precise terms as possible. Once that’s established, we can perhaps contrast it, if need be, with the meaning of the second, more common and established, phrase.

    I believe that hidden gems and salient points are often found in seemingly ordinary places, if one is willing to pursue what others may shrug off as irrelevant.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 7:07 am

      Well, that is interesting. If I had to do some personal self-psychologizing, I’d guess that Voris’s use of Real Presence in a totally exclusive way led me to use “eucharistic presence” to counteract that attitude. It was not at all conscious, but that seems likely to me (even if self-psychologizing is notoriously difficult).

      On the other hand, it is worth noting that, historically speaking, the term Real Presence was used much more often by Protestants at the time of the Reformation (and especially by Lutherans) than by Catholics. It was used especially by Lutherans in conflict with the Swiss. Only later does it become prominent for Catholics in conflict with various Protestant groups and becomes in some ways synonymous with transubstantiation in much Catholic parlance. In other words, to believe in transubstantiation is to believe in Real Presence and anything “less,” other articulations of eucharistic presence than transubstantiation, is to not really believe in Real Presence. In both cases it takes on a function of asserting identity and orthodoxy over against heretics.

      With all that said, I should note that I have no problem with the phrase and am happy to use it. Despite its rather polemical origin, it has also developed a very positive function in theology and devotion and even in ecumenical dialogue. Your questions will make me more aware of how I use it in my writing.

      • Mark VA permalink
        July 15, 2012 8:14 am

        Thank you for your reply.

        Can one then conclude that in the context of your article an equal sign can be placed between Real Presence, Transubstantiation, and eucharistic presence?

        By the “equal sign”, I mean a mathematically precise symbol that means “every property that Real Presence has, Transubstantiation and eucharistic presence have, and vice versa”. In other words, are the three circles superimposed over each other, sharing the circumference?

        • brettsalkeld permalink*
          July 15, 2012 9:11 am

          For my purposes there can be an equal sign between Real Presence and Eucharistic Presence. Transubstantiation is a little more complicated. Consider it part of the proportion: Faith is to Theology (Faith Seeking Understanding) as Real Presence is to Transubstantiation (Real Presence Seeking Understanding). In other words, one can affirm Real Presence in faith without a complete understanding of the technical details of transubstantiation. Furthermore, the Catholic Church does not require that another Christian community explicitly affirm transubstantiation in order to have a genuine faith in the Real Presence (e.g., the Orthodox Churches). Of course, the Catholic Church will be quite concerned about what the implications for faith in the Real Presence are if a community explicitly denies transubstantiation. Hence our taking great care to be clear about transubstantiation in dialogues with groups that have denied it (see, e.g., the official Catholic responses to BEM and ARCIC).

          Make sense?

  13. Jordan permalink
    July 15, 2012 12:05 am

    Mr. Voris (at least on his Vortex vlog) strikes me as akin to a quasi-literate madrassa preacher with a definite social agenda. An Islamic Studies colleague of mine once noted that many of the Taliban preachers’ teachings are not based on intensive Qur’anic exegesis, rigorous hadith study, or time-honored jurisprudence, but rather tertiary derivative legal interpretations that are not often shared widely even within Afghani or Pakistani cultural history. At this point I agree with Brett that the danger in Vortex is not its inaccuracies but rather the authoritative front. Is this not dissimilar to the way in which the Taliban and other fundamentalist religious ideologies have garnered charismatic authority without historical or theological consensus or veracity?

    A running half-serious joke here on VN is fun poked at Catholics such as Voris who ostensibly pine for Catholic political confessionalism. Regardless of whether this would take form as a Catholic monarchy or an integrist military dictatorship, it’s clear that those who support Voris’s socio-political program have no clue that Catholic political confessionalism is the absolute negation of human dignity clothed in a catechism dust jacket. Voris’s popularity is a sign that “liberal”/”progressive”/(I prefer “sane”) Catholics should stop nervously chuckling at those who blindly call for Catholic fundamentalist rule.

    • Hereward Wake permalink
      July 15, 2012 8:36 am

      “the absolute negation of human dignity”

      So why didn’t the Church propagandize for secular liberal democracy until the last few minutes, historically speaking? If that’s what you believe, it must be hard for you to respect a Church with saints like S. Pedro de Arbués.

      • Jordan permalink
        July 15, 2012 7:49 pm

        I do not respect the canonization of S. Pedro de Arubes or any of the “inquisitor saints”. These canonizations are blots on the moral credibility of Catholicism.

        Certainly, the canonization of any person who murdered in the name of a totalitarian confessional state such as Castillian or Habsburg Spain, regardless of whom was victimized or killed, is an endorsement of religion not as a vehicle of charity but rather as a brutal instrument of state control. Excuses such as “feudal and peri-feudal societies were totalized confessional states by necessity, given the lack of rule-of-law” etc. does not at all excuse bald depravity. Would many today justify the physically violent punishments of Salafist shar’ia states? If one justifies early modern inquisitorial Spain, one must logically defend fundamentalist states today.

        Tying this in with Mr. Voris and Vortex: although Voris does not call for physical violence, his call for political confessionalism is implicit support for violence and vitcimization to control deviance within a narrow, hyperultramontane, and sometimes theologically confused Catholic worldview. Does postmodern democracy impede the ability of some Catholics to victimize others in the name of doctrinal and moral uniformity? Certainly, and this is why Voris valorizes Christian totalitarianism and condemns postmodern secular government despite the unobtainability of the confessional dream.

  14. July 15, 2012 7:26 am

    This was very well done, Brett.

  15. Todd Thomas permalink
    July 15, 2012 9:41 am

    I think Voris’ presentation, which is half as long as yours, squares up pretty well with what is contained in the Baltimore Catechism (http://www.ewtn.com/library/CATECHSM/BALTEUCH.HTM), which is even shorter than Voris’ presentation. I also think that Voris’ presentation would be applauded by both Fr. John Hardon and Venerable Fulton Sheen (two oft referenced and quoted heroes of Voris). Voris’ entire Armor of God series is based entirely on The Baltimore Catechism, which is generally accepted as orthodox but would never pass the scrutiny of theologians in terms of nuance.

    What troubles me about your presentation is that you contrast your own conclusions with those of Voris, as if you say “A” and Voris says “not A,” that what Voris presents as true is “not Catholic” while yours is “Catholic.” You worry that Voris’ considerable following (he has more total views on YouTube than EWTN, Fr. Barron and Catholic Answers COMBINED) will accept his articulations of the Faith as true and authentically Catholic. I’m not sure that it’s either fair or accurate to judge Voris’ conclusions as “not Catholic.” The Baltimore Catechism is even less nuanced than Voris, and so are Fr. Hardon and Bishop Sheen, and those who are satisfied with these articulations should hardly be dismissed as misled or in error.

    My question would be this: which articulation of Catholic dogma about the Eucharist is more likely to result in a true understanding of what the Catholic Church teaches, yours or Voris’? Your presentation leaves the impression that Catholic and Protestant understandings of Eucharist, specifically what is meant by “Real Presence,” have been and are becoming less and less distinct over time. If that is true (and I’m not saying it isn’t), then we should be seeing more and more Protestants opening to the very Catholic devotion of Benediction and, in general, worship of the reserved Blessed Sacrament. I don’t see that. Voris sees a yawning chasm between Catholic and Protestant understandings of the Eucharist. You don’t. You write as a theological scholar, and your most appreciative audience is likely to be those who are more theologically sophisticated than those whose Faith is satisfactorily articulated by The Baltimore Catechism. Voris’ target audience is the latter.

    The Eucharist is as much a mystery as the Incarnation. Philosophical articulations are nothing more than attempts to understand what no human can fully understand. It is sufficient to say that “Jesus is God,” that Jesus is “fully divine and fully human,” that Jesus is “one person with two natures,” without being able to adequately articulate it even to oneself. The Council of Chalcedon didn’t even try to articulate how the two natures of Jesus could be true, just that it is or, more precisely, that anyone who denies it is “anathema.” So must it be with the Eucharist, where the classic definition (as contained in the Baltimore Catechism and elsewhere) is that Jesus is truly present under the APPEARANCES of bread and wine. In other words, there is no longer bread and wine, only their appearances, or “accidents.” Voris says this more clearly than you, and it allows you both to be “right.” Remember, we don’t “believe in transubstantiation.” We believe in what transubstantiation tries to explain.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 6:42 pm

      I have to disagree with the assessment that the Baltimore Catechism is less nuanced than Voris. I just had a look through the link you posted and I didn’t find anything problematic at all. It looks very solid, even if the format is not one that a lot of contemporary people are going to be comfortable with. It is theologically very sound.

      As for whether or not Voris’s presentation squares up with it, it must be noted that the issues I had were mostly about things that the Baltimore Catechism, by its nature, does not deal with. It quotes John 6, but doesn’t offer any interpretation. I’m pretty sure if the question was asked, “Did the Jews at Capernaum understand exactly what Jesus meant?” the BC would have given the traditional answer as we saw in Augustine. And it says the substance of the bread was changed into the substance of Christ’s body rather than that it was “annihilated” (Thomas is very keen to point out the important difference between these two claims). But other than that, my concerns were with things that aren’t the purview of the BC.

      I was concerned that Voris misrepresented Luther and the history of the idea of consubstantiation. That is obviously not going to be part of the BC. Furthermore, his serious mischaracterization of most Protestant denominations (and calling them “devils”!?!) wouldn’t be part of the BC’s mandate.

      Voris got his historical and contemporary facts wrong on questions that the BC would not have dealt with. And he got it wrong in order to mock, deride, and lambaste our fellow Christians. It is hard to imagine Fr. Hardon and Bishop Sheen approving of lying about Protestants.

      I don’t know that getting the facts about Luther and consubstantiation or the positions of contemporary Protestant denominations wrong makes his theology of the Eucharist more or less Catholic. It just makes him dishonest or, at least, irresponsible. Those don’t strike me as good qualities for someone who is catechizing the faithful.

      As to which articulation, his or mine, is more likely to lead to a true apprehension of Church teaching, I have to say that that’s not even close. In my own work, I am constantly meeting people who reject Church teaching because they see people like Voris and they believe that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is a kind of clandestine physical transformation, that we consume parts of him, that his DNA is somehow discernible in the species, that Jesus ends up in the toilet, that biting the host hurts Christ etc. etc. When they hear from me that that is not the faith of the Church they are relieved and delighted. Then we talk about how God can change something’s deepest reality, it’s very identity, without altering its physical characteristics because part of what it means to be the Creator is that you have the power to make things be what they are. This gives them a sense of how the presence can be absolutely REAL without any of the non-sense they thought the Church believed from presentations like Voris’s.

      As to the question of our closeness to Protestants, it is certainly the case that we are closer than Voris indicates. There are several factors to consider, however. First, there are many different Protestant views on this question. The Vatican was actually satisfied with ARCIC on this question, meaning that our difference from Anglicans officially (not concerning ourselves with the dissidents in both our pews) is not significant enough to divide the Churches. There are, of course, many Protestants that are basically Zwinglian. On the other hand, it is true that Protestants as a whole are developing a deeper appreciation of the tradition on this question. It is hard to find a Zwinglian professor of sacramental theology in most Protestant graduate schools of theology and getting harder. The question of benediction is tricky. There are some examples of Protestant developments in this direction, but we should be careful about making this the measuring stick, since we don’t require it of the Orthodox, whose faith in the Real Presence we don’t doubt for a second.

      If there is something “unCatholic” about Voris’s presentation it is not his factual inaccuracy so much as his need to define the Catholic position by finding a foil and playing off against it. We should be Catholic, not anti-Protestant. We paint ourselves into theological corners too often when the only way we look at a question is how others have it wrong.

      I’m fine with your last paragraph, except for the claim about Voris’s clarity. Such “clarity” can led to all kinds of misapprehensions about what the Church believes. I see them in my classes all the time.

  16. Mark VA permalink
    July 15, 2012 12:09 pm

    Brettsalkeld:

    Yes, it makes sense, especially the distinction you made between Transubstantiation and Real Presence, or, the process and its result. I see your answer as nuanced in a way that clarifies, simplifies, and explains, not obfuscates.

    Thank you very much for your replies.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 12:10 pm

      Many thanks.

  17. July 15, 2012 1:44 pm

    Just a few clarifications, principally on point #1 above. First, the role of Lateran IV and the teaching of transubstantiation is complicated. It did not seem to its contemporaries or even the two following generations to teach anything about the Eucharist that had not already been believed, viz. that what is before our senses is not bread and wine after the consecration, but the body and blood of Christ. Thomas, for example, never appeals to Lateran IV in his discussion of the Eucharist, although he happily appeals to other ecumenical councils, e.g. in his discussions of Christology, especially in the Summa theologiæ. The first theologian I know of to appeal to the first canon of Lateran IV in a dogmatic sense is Duns Scotus, a generation after Thomas. While theologians in the 14th and 15th centuries had, as you note, rewarmed up to the idea of the bread and wine as such continuing to exist as being a more plausible account, they at least knew that such was not the Church’s understanding of the sacrament, and so, like Duns Scotus, they accepted on ecclesial authority what they took to be the more problematic account of the Sacrament.

    Second, Thomas never as such condemns the view of the abiding substances of bread and wine as heresy, By his day, basically no one held that theory. Some had tried it in the later 12th century, it lost ground by Thomas’ day as plausible, and would only be revived in Scotus’ day and beyond. Thomas does reject this view, but not as heresy. Rather, he regards it as simply false and incoherent, since on such a view he claims that the substance of Christ’s Body and Blood could not be present, since obviously they do not come to be present by local motion.

    Third, it is inaccurate to say that Scotus and those following him have a radically different notion of substance from that of say Thomas or Bonaventure. Substance for Scotus and Ockham is decidedly not an accident. So, the account you give above is inaccurate. They reject much of what Thomas argues, to be sure, but not on the grounds you suggest. In addition, they agree with Thomas on the main claims, viz. that the substance of the bread and wine cease to be present, that only their accidents remains, that these are not, however, accidents of the body and blood of Christ, etc. That is, on dogmatic grounds, they assent to the same truths, however different their accounts on philosophical grounds.

    Findally, curiously, Voris, by speaking of annihilation, may get Thomas colossally wrong, but he does curiously find himself in agreement with Scotus and Ockham!

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 15, 2012 6:59 pm

      As to your first point, I am in agreement. I’m not sure what I said that would give the opposite impression.

      As to your second point, I refer you to ST III, 75, 2: “Fourthly, because it is contrary to the rite of the Church, according to which it is not lawful to take the body of Christ after bodily food, while it is nevertheless lawful to take one consecrated host after another. Hence this opinion is to be avoided as heretical.” My source (McCue’s article on Transubstantiation, 395-399) says Thomas is the first to make this claim, though Albert came close.

      As to your third point, I am not sure what support there is for your claim that my account is inaccurate. In the literature, everything I have read indicates that a serious blurring of the lines between substance and accidents took place when the metaphysics shifted form realism to nominalism. To quote Ratzinger on the question,

      “In the philosophical development of late scholasticism the Thomistic concept of transubstantiation had become intellectually untenable and inherently contradictory as a result of the extensive recasting of the Aristotelian categories that had taken place almost unnoticed in the leading schools. This process . . . had started almost immediately after Thomas: the identification of substance and quantity, of substance and “mass”, as we would say today. However, since in the celebration of the Eucharist nothing about the quantities changes perceptibly, the concept of transubstantiation had lost its meaning vis-à-vis the prevalent understanding of substance.” (Das Problem der Transubstantiation)

      Of course, they do end up “agreeing” with Thomas about transubstantiation, but not because they think it makes sense. Their arguments, apart from the (decisive) argument from authority, support consubstantiation.

      As to your fourth point: Indeed!

    • July 16, 2012 11:14 am

      Brett,

      I think I got too much sun here in California!

      To clarify a bit. Re: my first point. Basically, my worry was over your (on my reading) elision of the first time the word “transubstantiation” (in fact, actually the perfect passive participle “transubstantiatis”) entered an official Church document and the claim that this is when transubstantiation entered official Catholic teaching. Such a view, if I read you correctly, is not warranted. Why? The first canon of Lateran IV is simply a creed of sorts. It is not intended to present anything new, but only to reaffirm what is universally believed. It no more dogmatizes transubstantiation as such than it dogmatizes our rebirth to new life in baptism, the forgiveness of sins in penance, the fact that all, both religious and married people in the world can be saved, or that God created all things and made them good, including the devil and his angels. What is curious is that, by the dawn of the 14th century, appeal to the council as a witness to the teaching that the bread and wine do not remain as such was necessary, and by Florence (I believe) and Trent, an explicit appeal was made to Lateran IV to reassert the Catholic claims. I know you know this, of course, but I worry about putting the claim in a way to suggest that Lateran IV introduced transubstantiation as a teaching of the Church (which it did not) as opposed to witness to an ancient teaching but now using the language created by the later 12th century theologians (which it did).

      re: my second point. You are of course right that Thomas does on that occasion speak of asserting the abiding presence of the bread and wine as needing to be rejected as heretical. My bad. My point, though, addled as it was, was to note (a) that Thomas makes no appeal to any dogmatic declaration, and (b) his argument depends on certain strategies of reading the scripture (his main argument) and metaphysics (his second principal argument), as well as less than convincing arguments from the danger of worshiping bread or of breaking the Eucharistic fast. The former is weak in light of potentially contrary claims about showing latria to God through a material object, the latter because it is only a probable argument, hardly conclusive.

      re: my third point. You may want to consult Marilyn McCord Adams’ work on Eucharist in the later Middle Ages. Her treatment of Thomas is less successful (relying too much on the Scriptum and not enough on the Summa), but her treatment of Scotus and Ockham are excellent.

      In any event, thanks for tolerating my too rapidly written, sun-addled posting!

      • brettsalkeld permalink*
        July 16, 2012 4:07 pm

        As to your first point: Thank for the clarification. We are agreed. It is interesting that Scotus, the first in a line to find transubstantiation less than convincing philosophically, is also the first to consider it dogmatically defined by Lateran IV. I myself wonder if the very consensus on transubstantiation that he was bucking worked to give Lateran IV a sense of dogmatic definition in his own mind that it did not actually have.

        As to your second: I see now where you were going. Also agreed.

        As to your third, thanks for the reference. I will check that out. Unfortunately that part of the thesis is already written and there isn’t time for serious revision, but I should revisit it before trying to publish.

        All the best in the California sun!

  18. elizabeth00 permalink
    July 15, 2012 5:30 pm

    Thank you Brett, for a great post. I’m sure I’ll return to it in the future. A few, mostly random, thoughts:
    1.”For John, the incarnation and the eucharist are two facets of the same scandal.” That’s a great summary to which I’d say yes repeatedly. It seems to me that it ties into your other observation that a key principle of Catholic theology is grace building on, using, taking, creating into nature rather that annihilating it and starting over.
    2. This business of using, or creating into, what is in the world and of the world, is the only way not to be of the world.
    3. Perhaps you have an explicit thought path linking this post with your one on original sin (the Brene Brown clip). If you do, I’d love to read a post that mapped it out.
    4. The Fourth Gospel has the highest (and least historically likely) Christology of all the Gospels. I find it really interesting that this emerges from an insistence that the author/Beloved Disciple saw and remained with Jesus at the most defeated times in his life – saw more, if his tradition is to be believed, of the “historical” Jesus than anyone else.
    5. Michael Voris and his brand of apologetics – one of Cardinal Newman’s insights was that truth can be used to defeat its own purposes. Voris seems to me an example of someone descanting on the truth rather than venerating it. To venerate the truth means allowing for it to hold “the other” in being, to guard the way I express the truth to them in order for it not to be used as a tool of annihilation but as a creative tool both for them and for me – “building up” might be St Paul’s phrase for it – because truth makes true and true in turn. ( I do find it interesting that it’s the old sources, like the Baltimore Catechism, that are most susceptible to a veneer of veneration). To twist a quote, truth and falsehood stage a trial of the heart, the whole person engaged in true, creative act, not the mind asserting an identity closed to its opponent. Truth pervades (governs?) identity held in relation, and isn’t this what the Eucharist/Real Presence is all about?

  19. brettsalkeld permalink*
    July 15, 2012 6:14 pm

    @Hereward: I agree with Salkeld’s criticism on points 1 and 4, mostly. But I partially agree with Person here. Is the bread and wine of a Protestant service the Eucharist or ain’t it?

    This is actually a pretty complicated question that is intimately linked with the question of the validity of orders. On the one hand, the Catholic Church seems to hold that ordained persons from other Christian communities are nothing but laypersons. On the other hand an Anglican or Presbyterian minister can become a Catholic priest even if he is married. We don’t let lay people do that!

    As far as I can tell, the basic position of the magisterium on this, as indicated in the quote from the Catechism given above, is one of healthy agnosticism. We know something happens. We know it’s not the same thing that happens with full apostolic succession. We don’t know much else. If push came to shove we’d probably have to say that what happens in an Anglican or Lutheran Church is different from what happens in some independent community in a massive quonset just off the highway as you leave town.

    In any case, Person’s suggestion that this issue makes it irrelevant whether or not Protestants are coming to believe more firmly in Real Presence is absurd. That is a major advance in bringing all Christ’s followers into communion.

    • dominic1955 permalink
      July 16, 2012 10:19 am

      The current practice (in many/some areas in the Church) of ecumenism cannot be seen as “dogmatic”, ecumenism is not a “dogmatic” subject but rather a movement of sorts. Cardinal Kaspar might have thought of it as “convergence” and I knew people in the official dialogs for which it was still good old-fashioned “you-come-in-ism”, even if said in a way that would be more palatable for their dialog partners. Then of course, nothing spurs authentic ecumenical dialog more than to ponder on EENS.

      As to Orders, it is quite irrelevant that the Church allows former Protestant ministers to become priests even when they are married. You know very well that the Easterners have married priests, thus the whole issue of ordaining a married man is an issue of discipline and says nothing about what the Church views Protestant “orders” as being. The “pastoral provision” is a concession to practical realities-who is more suited to lead a congregation of former Protestants than their own former minister? If that was his bread n’ butter before, converting to the Church is going to pull the rug out from under him and leave him with a largely unmarketable degree/professional work experience. If he was a good minister in a group that was pseudo-Catholic anyway, he might very well make a good priest too. It makes sense to allow for an exception to the celibacy rule for former liturgical Protestant ministers, but it says nothing about the validity of their Protestant ministerial office. On the contrary, the Church has always upheld that all Protestant orders are invalid. If some Anglicans were ordained through the Dutch Touch, that is a whole different ballpark-but also not very Protestant at all. As far as I know, there has never been an Anglican minister accepted into the Catholic Church along with his orders, there might have been one or two ordained conditionally. If the Church decided to accept him as a priest, he is ordained unconditionally the vast majority of the time. Were any of the new Ordinariate prelates and priests ever even considered for conditional reordination? I do not think so.

      Can we not speak of what “happens” in a Protestant service in terms of objective and subjective, formal and material? It would be traditional to say that those who came up with Protestantism and all who willfully adhere to it are formal heretics. The “service” they came up with to replace the Catholic Mass is objectively false worship that confects nothing. In that manner of speaking, “nothing” happens. A non-priest saying words to a non-Mass service over what may or may not even be valid matter results in (objectively) nothing-there is no Eucharist.

      Now, the materially (but not formal, at least presumptively) heretical descendents or born-in members of these groups that perform an objectively invalid service that mimicks the Mass may subjectively benefit from their invincibly ignorant good will and sincere attempt to do God’s will as best they understand it. It would also seem that it is all the better the closer that attempt is to the truth, i.e. Catholicism. Thus, in a way, something “different” may very well occur in an Episcopalian church that tries to be “Catholic” as opposed to what goes on at the First People’s Mission Missionary Bible Baptist Church down the street.

      When Vatican II said that there are means of salvation present in non-Catholic groups, that seems to be one of them. What they have left of the liturgy that was destroyed back in the 16th Century are little elements of Catholicity that cannot help but point back to the true Liturgy as celebrated by Holy Mother Church. Those who perform those rites in good faith with open hearts and minds to the truth can be led back to the Reality that those shadows point towards.

      Thus, considered from different perspectives, it is not untrue to say that “nothing” happens at a Protestant service (if we’re talking validity, efficacy, etc. in an objectively considered way) and yet something can indeed happen in a subjective way (if we are talking subjective effects for individuals of good will being exposed to more Catholic-esque aspects that survived the ravages of the Reformation).

  20. July 16, 2012 12:14 pm

    Two things:

    1. Fantastic piece, Brett. I think that, in addition to transforming your dissertation into a scholarly monograph, you should write a 50-100 page book on the Eucharist for the average lay Catholic. There is a serious need for this, as Voris demonstrates.

    2. Who is Voris’ bishop and at what point does it become proper for him to intervene? Shouldn’t the bishop issue a disclaimer to the effect that, “While Michael Voris’s zeal for the faith is admirable, he does not always accurately represent Catholic doctrine in his materials, and should not be taken as a catechetical authority.”

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 16, 2012 3:59 pm

      Thanks WJ. I do plan such a work (it’s already partially written actually). Whether I can generate an audience is another thing. Sometimes I think the only way to sell my current books is to write new ones! (That, or get a notification from the CDF!) I’m also thinking of a kind of text book for sacramental theology courses, because I’m looking at the options for teaching it next year and finding nothing that does everything I would like to see done in one book.

      I think the Bishop (Detroit) already stepped in when he said Voris can’t use the name “Catholic.” It wouldn’t surprise me if more follows. The man looks like a prime candidate for schism if you ask me. His profile is remarkably like Corapi’s.

  21. Damian permalink
    July 16, 2012 11:53 pm

    Brett, do you believe “annihilate” means to “scrap”? The very properties of bread and wine are completely done away with, are they not? The terms “annihilate” and “scrap” are not interchangeable, as you have attempted to make so. I, a “cradle Catholic”, witnessed the great divide between faiths first hand at a WCC gathering at St. Andrews Presbyterian in downtown Toronto a few months ago. I love the fact that Michael Voris has had enough of the participatory “bending over backwards” by Catholics in the name of “ecumenism”. There is no Eucharist in Protestantism. They have “services”. We Catholics have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And the person… er, “persona Christi” presid… er, CELEBRATING has much to do with the differentiation.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 17, 2012 5:31 am

      No. The properties of the bread and wine remain. Thomas says annihilation doesn’t work. I suggest checking out the Summa.

  22. Damian permalink
    July 17, 2012 8:35 am

    Yes, you are correct. A major slip-up on my part. I took what Voris said out of context. He says the “substance” is annihilated. Is there a difference, in your estimation, between “substance” and “property”? Further, do you still see annihilate as “scrapping”? Fr. Barron has also spoken about the Jews at Capernaum in Jesus’s Bread of Life Discourse. You say the Jews “did not understand at all what Jesus meant.” I beg to differ. As does Fr. Barron… as well as Voris. The Jews most certainly knew what Jesus meant. Christ’s directive was to ACTUALLY “gnaw” on His flesh… in total defiance of the Mosaic Law. How could this man give us his flesh to eat? Easy… as Peter so eloquently states moments after the masses leave Jesus. Okay, maybe not so “easy”… but Peter’s words are so simple. Words COMPLETELY lost on those who profess to Protestantism. Anyway, I am no theological scholar. Just a simple Catholic man who loves the One True Church. I suppose that’s why Voris speaks so profoundly to people like myself. And why his “no nonsense” approach resounds so deeply with those who are fed up with the current state of affairs in the Church, and those who wish to deepen their faith… SUPLEMENTALLY. I can, however, understand why a scholar like yourself would take exception to Voris’s “calling”. I suppose this is where you are both “guilty”. Or, is the word “honest”?

    • Jordan permalink
      July 18, 2012 5:51 am

      Sorry Brett to jump in here, but I find this particular claim fascinating.

      Damian [July 17, 2012 8:35 am]: I beg to differ. As does Fr. Barron… as well as Voris. The Jews most certainly knew what Jesus meant. Christ’s directive was to ACTUALLY “gnaw” on His flesh… in total defiance of the Mosaic Law.

      The verb Jesus uses in the Bread of Life discourse (c.f. John 6:48-50) for “eat” is is aorist form of ἔδω, ἔφαγον. In turn, Jerome translates ἔφαγον as manduco (Greek aorist –> Latin present in NT narrative). Neither ἔφαγον or manduco strictly mean “gnaw”. Both could well mean “eat”. Do I “gnaw” a sandwich? Maybe, but I could also “eat” it. I don’t think that John meant to depict Jesus as emphasizing the act of chewing food for digestion as a dramatic act. Rather, as the children of Israel ate the manna of the desert (Exodus 16) for sustenance, Jesus foreshadows the Christian act of bodily communion through the eucharist as an act of eating for (spiritual, sacramental) survival.

      In fact, I would argue that Jesus’s statement in John 6:58, Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἄρτος τῆς ζωῆς, “I AM the bread of life”, would have been much more shocking to Jesus’s interlocutors than his use of ἔφαγον to presage the eucharist. Jesus’s equation of himself with the Tetragrammaton would be considered extreme blasphemy by his interlocutors and the ipso facto violation of Mosaic Law (to put it mildly). Any subsequent verb would be greatly overshadowed by the audacity of Jesus’s self-equation with God the Father.

    • Jordan permalink
      July 18, 2012 7:10 am

      re: Damian [July 17, 2012 8:35 am]: with apology for my previous shoddy argument, and also my failure to read the rest of the thread. I didn’t realize you were referring particlularly to Jn 6:57b, καὶ ὁ τρώγων με κἀκεῖνος ζήσει δι᾽ ἐμέ, “the ones gnawing [eating] me, those will live through me”, or Jn 6:58b, ὁ τρώγων τοῦτον τὸν ἄρτον ζήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, “The ones gnawing this bread will live forever”.

      John Médaille [July 18, 2012 12:13 am] writes, Generally used only for animals, it [τρώγω] is insulting when applied to humans, like calling someone a slob in their table manners. But it [τρώγω] is also used for men eating communal meals, such as (anachronistically) a tail-gate party. I’m not really sure how to interpret that, but it does seem an “in your face” way to confront the skeptics. [my addition in brackets]

      I’m not entirely sure that there is a huge semantic difference between τρώγω and φάγον. While τρώγω might be more emphatic, as in emphasizing the physical nature of eating or an informal style of eating, φάγον also describes the physical process of eating. As I said earlier, I could gnaw food or eat it, but there’s no real difference in process, only a difference in emphasis.

      Indeed, as Brett Salkeld writes in his article, “For John, the incarnation and the eucharist are two facets of the same scandal. In both cases, God has come too close for comfort. In both cases what appears to be merely earthly (“Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?”) is in fact the presence of God. In both cases understanding can only follow faith in Him.” Jesus’s equation of himself with the Tetragrammaton and God the Father in the ἐγώ εἰμι is much more crucial (and scandalous to Jesus’s opponents) than mere gradations in the symbolism of eating.

  23. brettsalkeld permalink*
    July 17, 2012 9:09 pm

    Hi Damian,
    Three things. First of all, substance and property. There is a world of difference between substance and property. In the history of eucharistic theology “substance” language emerges precisely to protect the realism of the doctrine at a time when people said, “It can’t be real because none of the properties change.” (If you are familiar with Barron’s work here you will have heard of Berengarius? Part of Berengarius’s problem was that he could not imagine a way to call the presence “real” is there was no physical change in the properties, and so he developed a more or less merely symbolic articulation.) Substance was invoked to describe something that existed at a deeper level than properties. All of what we normally understand by “properties” is covered by the terms “accidents,” “actions,” and “passions.” This means that the elements of bread and wine continue to appear exactly as before to all of our senses and to behave exactly as before, e.g., bread can nourish, wine can inebriate, bread can get moldy, wine can turn to vinegar, etc. The whole point of transubstantiation is that nothing about the properties changes. In a normal substantial change, the change of substance is accompanied by changes in the properties. If you turn a tree into a door, you have something new, and it is perceived and behaves differently. But in transubstantiation, you have something genuinely new but, on the physical level, everything stays exactly the same.

    As for Father Barron on John 6, I have used his video to teach several times and read his book at least 3 times right through. I know what he says here inside out. He does NOT say what Voris says. Barron highlights that Jesus emphasizes the necessity of eating his flesh. As part of that emphasis he notes the use of the Greek term trogein which might be translated as “gnaw.” I agree with him 100%. Jesus was very insistent. Augustine, in the quotes I include above, agrees as well. But that doesn’t mean the Jews understood precisely what he was implying, as the quote from Augustine shows. It is very clear that they understood him to be implying cannibalism, not the Eucharist. Barron is not out of step with Augustine or Aquinas on this question, both of whom claim that the Jews misunderstood. You are right to refer to Peter’s words. They are essential. But not because they indicate that the disciples knew exactly what Jesus was talking about. They plainly did not. The point was that they trusted Jesus even when they couldn’t yet understand the full import of his words.

    And it is not true that these words are completely lost on Protestants. I have read some very profound reflections on the eucharistic meaning of John 6 by Protestants. Biblical scholars are all basically in agreement that John 6 is a eucharistic text, and many Protestants have found much richness here. As the quote from BEM shows, many Protestants have a fairly serious theology of eucharistic presence.

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the bit about “guilty” and “honest.”

  24. July 18, 2012 12:13 am

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so some of this may have been covered. “Real Presence” is not in the Summa, at least not in the Latin; the 19th century Dominican translation used that term, but it’s a Tridentine formula, which Thomas would not have known; the Latin formula of Trent is not in the Summa. He does say Christ is “really” in the Eucharist, “but in a manner peculiar to the sacrament.” (I’ll look up the passages, if anyone insists, but see the discourse on the Eucharist.)

    But let me point out something very peculiar in John 6. The verb “to eat” shifts from aesthio, the normal verb for “to eat,” to trogo (to crunch, gnaw) in verse 54ff. English versions translate both verbs as “to eat,” but this is not what the Greek means at all. So verse 56, for example, says “whoever gnaws my flesh…” etc. Trogo has some interesting nuances. Generally used only for animals, it is insulting when applied to humans, like calling someone a slob in their table manners. But it is also used for men eating communal meals, such as (anachronistically) a tail-gate party. I’m not really sure how to interpret that, but it does seem an “in your face” way to confront the skeptics. He makes it very difficult for the Jews, who really just came out to see a repeat performance of the loaves and fishes trick in Chapter 5. So I think Chapter 6 has to be read in the light of 5, where people want an easy meal and an easy answer. This he refuses, and they mostly leave him. This makes the questioning of the apostles all the more pointed, and Peter’s reply all the more courageous. Peter, as you point out, doesn’t claim understanding; he claims only faith in the man he has known.

    • brettsalkeld permalink*
      July 18, 2012 5:16 am

      Agreed. And thanks for the catch on fagein/trogein. Yes, the loaves and fishes context is essential.

  25. July 18, 2012 12:17 am

    Ooops. I see you already got the “to gnaw” bit. Sorry. But the verb is not fagein, which is the aorist of aesthio. That’s the verb used prior to v. 56. To gnaw is trogo.

  26. Rat-biter permalink
    July 18, 2012 12:41 am

    In fairness to Voris, he made a video about gay Catholics which was profoundly sympathetic, and (IMO) did him nothing but credit. If he adopted the same tone on his other videos, he would lose some of his audience, but would gain the good will of many who find his usual style unfortunate.

    As to:

    “63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”:

    – might that not refer to the “Spirit” that comes upon the Gifts to sanctify them, and to the “word” which is the Eucharistic Prayer that beseeches the coming of this Spirit ? Or is that so obvious that I’m the last poster to notice it ? The date is not objection: The First Letter of Clement (c.80 or 90 ?) contains a Eucharistic Prayer.

    Such an interpretation would support the strong liturgical interest in John: he keeps on about water in some chapters, and food in others, and about the Spirit in many: IOW, he emphasises Baptism, and the Eucharist.

    “The flesh is useless” because *basar* in the OT was contrasted with the *ruach* of God – the Incarnation is shocking because it combines them. Presumably the word “words” should also be taken with the OT in mind: God’s word in the OT performs whatever He wishes, & cannot be thwarted, ever; still less can Jesus Who is the Word of God.

    STM that if a passage is difficult for a position, one must look at that passage in particular.

    As for *trwgein* & munching & chomping “the flesh of the Son of the Man”, in the OT we have these:

    Job 19:19 All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me.
    Job 19:20 My bones cleave to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
    Job 19:21 Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me!
    Job 19:22 Why do you, like God, pursue me? Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?

    Psa 14.4
    Will evildoers never learn—
    those who devour my people as men eat bread
    and who do not call on the LORD ?
    Psa 27:2
    When the wicked, [even] mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
    Psa. 53.4
    Will the evildoers never learn—
    those who devour my people as men eat bread
    and who do not call on God?
    Isa 49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the LORD your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
    Jeremiah 30.16:
    But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil.
    Eze 32.3-6
    Thus says the Lord GOD: I will throw my net over you with a host of many peoples; and I will haul you up in my dragnet.
    And I will cast you on the ground, on the open field I will fling you, and will cause all the birds of the air to settle on you, and I will gorge the beasts of the whole earth with you.
    I will strew your flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with your carcass.
    I will drench the land even to the mountains with your flowing blood; and the watercourses will be full of you.
    Eze 36:13
    Thus says the Lord GOD: Because men say to you, ‘You devour men, and you bereave your nation of children,’
    Ezekiel 39:17
    And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, [even] a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood.
    [which is cited in Revelation 19; as well as the "hidden manna" of Rev.2]
    Mic 3:3
    Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
    John 6:51
    I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
    Compare Galatians 5.15:
    But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

    This represents one layer of the meaning of 6.51. There are several others, all important for recognising Who Jesus is, & why His words are so offensive.

  27. Brian Martin permalink
    July 18, 2012 8:10 am

    In regard to Voris (and Corapi and their ilk) I am reminded of some of the lines from a Rollins Band song entitled “Icon”
    It starts as follows:
    “all eyes turned up to the hero, charismatic icon animal man
    lyrical visionary caught in the spotlight
    the more you make the more you get it right, right?

    oh nothing can stop you and no one can bring you down
    don’t give a thought to tomorrow ’cause you’re the man right now

    it doesn’t matter what you say ’cause they always find
    some meaning in it anyway, so you make them feel like
    they’re a part of some big event”

    And ends like this:
    “that one thing that you might not know: there`ll be another Messiah
    right here next week”

    Seems to me he believes his own hype just a stitch too much

  28. Kateri permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:12 pm

    This fascinating, not only as a response to Voris’s video, but to attempt to understand things I have very little understanding of. And I’m not always so sure it’s a bad thing to not understand the mystery that is the Eucharist. But I’m glad I found your blog. I’ll poke around and surely come back. :)

  29. Rat-biter permalink
    July 18, 2012 3:26 pm

    That first comment from Voris is a good example of the lamentable ignorance of Reformation theology that seems to be a staple of far too much Catholic apologetics. And not of apologists alone. However antipathetic Catholic apologists & others who teach the Faith may be to the ideas & teaching of the Reformers, they have a moral duty, as well as an intellectual one, not to be unjust to it, but to present it accurately & fairly. Otherwise, they are giving their Catholic readers & hearers untruthful info which a well-informed Protestant could explode in ten seconds.

    Can’t apologists see that to be accurate & fair in representing the views they reject that others hold is not the same as to be persuaded by those views themselves ? This is not a rarefied distinction, but a rather obvious one. Maybe the problem is with apologetics itself, which is a fine pursuit for those who think Christianity is about being in the right & having all the answers. Who needs faith, or Christ Himself, for that ?

    • Julia Smucker permalink*
      July 18, 2012 9:39 pm

      Can’t apologists see that to be accurate & fair in representing the views they reject that others hold is not the same as to be persuaded by those views themselves?

      Yes, Mr. Voris could sure take a lesson from St. Thomas Aquinas.

      • Rat-biter permalink
        July 21, 2012 9:16 pm

        St. Thomas is an excellent model for controversialists. In addition, he has impeccable manners: he calls an opinion or absurd or ridiculous once in a while, but that is the most vigorous language he allows himself.

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