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Author Topic: "The Early Church was Sacramental"  (Read 1585 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: December 10, 2009, 01:32:35 AM »

Hello all!  Grin

Many have stated in their conversion stories that they simply had to convert to Orthodoxy once they figured out that the early Church was completely sacramental.  Can I ask for what sources led you to believe this?  I'm wondering about specific passages of Holy Scripture and other writings that helped to totally convince you of this.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2009, 02:00:26 AM »

Hello all!  Grin

Many have stated in their conversion stories that they simply had to convert to Orthodoxy once they figured out that the early Church was completely sacramental.  Can I ask for what sources led you to believe this?  I'm wondering about specific passages of Holy Scripture and other writings that helped to totally convince you of this.

Thanks!

It's not the passage that 'totally convinced me' of anything. It is the passage that made me realize that 'something' was supposed to be going on that was much deeper than anything our memorial crackers and grape juice could encompass. And no amount of simple scripture searching could get me closer to figuring out the experience St. Paul was talking about.

Quote
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. - I Cor 11:27-29

It would be another 4 years before I figured out why I couldn't understand the passage and it was that realization that led me straight into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2009, 02:09:34 AM »

Every Gospel account of the Lord's Supper.  "This is my body.  This is the blood of the new covenant."  It was read every time we celebrated.  Also Paul, "Beware, lest ye eat and drink your own damnation" (I see Alveus beat me to it).  The Dominical statements on marriage.  The Pauline statements on marriage (and his statements on prostitution). The transformation of the Apostles from those who abandoned Him to those who fearlessly proclaimed Him (and thank the Lord Peter was always the last to catch on).  I also thought it was rather foolish to deny the presence of the Lord in communion when combined with the statement "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I also."
Finally, the Acts and I Corinthians seem to imply that the Eucharist was celebrated often.  And the entirety of the New Testament tells us that the Christian's goal is to daily sacrifice himself and become more like Christ by allowing Christ to live through him. "I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Contrast this with being told that I'm supposed to take the Bible literally, but it seems only in parts that have to do with things like six day creations, long life spans, and locusts with human faces.  And as someone who has pored over the books of Revelation and Daniel since he was old enough to read, I still don't understand where Pre-tribulation Rapture eschatology came from.

There were a few biographical details which threw these things in stark relief, but I only have leave to confess my own sins.

It should be noted that a few Protestant churches have claimed to have a sacramental understanding, but as it is said "The proof is in the pudding".
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2009, 01:45:49 PM »

Contrast this with being told that I'm supposed to take the Bible literally, but it seems only in parts that have to do with things like six day creations, long life spans, and locusts with human faces.  

One thing that's always puzzled me is how someone can say that they take the Bible literally, and then take John 6 metaphorically.
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2009, 01:58:04 PM »

This isn't really an answer to the OP, but I have evangelical friends who insist that the Lord's Supper as observed by the Early Church was by no means sacramental; it was a sort of potluck meal.
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2009, 02:15:20 PM »

This isn't really an answer to the OP, but I have evangelical friends who insist that the Lord's Supper as observed by the Early Church was by no means sacramental; it was a sort of potluck meal.

I don't know about that.  There are sources from the 2nd and 3rd centuries that lay out exactly how this meal is to take place (prayers, etc.), so I don't see how that fits into a potluck model (unless your evangelical friends don't potluck without first consulting the gospel according to Martha).
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2009, 02:48:11 PM »

From the general impression of Acts and I Corinthians 11, while the church certainly ate together, it was the "potluck" Lord's Supper that Paul was railing against.  The tradition of the "agape feast" continued for some time, but as church services turned from something held in homes and synagogues to something held in "church" buildings the tradition was ruled against in one of the early councils (I forget which one, I'll post it when I find it, here it is:Laodecia XXVIII), at least insofar as being held in the church building.  It is interesting to note that the Council of Gangra anathematizes anyone who receives an invitation to a "love feast" held in a private home and spurns said invitation, while the canon XXVII of Laodecia forbids clergy attending the love feast from taking "leftovers" with them.
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2009, 10:21:20 PM »

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/father/a5.html (The Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association: Early Christians Believed in the Real Presence)

A book I have:
http://www.amazon.com/Eucharist-New-Testament-Early-Church/dp/0814661521 (The Eucharist in the New Testament and in the Early Church)


But if you read Saint Ignatius, then you will pretty much have what you are looking for
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ignatius.html (Saint Ignatius)

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0104.htm (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians)







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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2009, 01:55:58 AM »

Which part of the letter are you thinking about?
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2009, 02:01:00 AM »

Which part of the letter are you thinking about?

My bad, that was probably the wrong letter. It's been months since I last read him, but if you read all his letters I'm sure you will find it all over the place. It's hard to miss.








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"loving one's enemies does not mean loving wickedness, ungodliness, adultery, or theft. Rather, it means loving the theif, the ungodly, and the adulterer." Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2009, 02:31:36 AM »

Well, I've already read all of his letters in the Apostolic Fathers, so if anyone else can give me specific references I'd appreciate it.
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2009, 03:36:03 AM »

Here's my rationale, friend. Hope this helps. Smiley

Many times in the old testament the jews were commanded to eat of the sacrifice that was offered to God on their behalf. Likewise, Christ commands us to eat of the once and for all eternal sacrifice that He offered on behalf of us, as our ultimate high priest.

I pulled the following exerpt describing OT practices from "Christ in the Old Testament" (http://www.alccok.com/ChristintheOTsacrifices.htm)

"The peace offering consisted of a sacrificed animal, some which was burned to the Lord, some eaten by the priest, and some returned to the worshiper to eat. "This sacrificial act was always a social occasion, the worshipper invited friends to the meal, to eat and to drink before Jahweh. This sacrifice which, more than any other, came into the category of a communion sacrifice, the participants knew Jahweh to be invisibly present as the guest of honor."

Can you see the parallel between the old and the new covenant here? It was after I noticed this that I realized what Christ truly meant when he said to eat of his body, and why it was so important for us to do so. This is because His divine flesh is the eternal sacrifice by which our bodies are to be nourished and incorporated into the mystical and physical Body of Christ. This is the actual physical means by which we partake of His sacrifice and become united with Him unto life eternal!

From John 6: (I pulled this verse from a hyper-literal translation because I think it is important here)

"The one eating My flesh and drinking My blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, also the one feeding on Me, that one will also live because of Me. . . But there are some of you who do not believe"  

Two active key requirements I draw from this passage: believe, and eat.

Later, at the Last supper, Christ makes it abundantly clear to his disciples what he meant in the above passage.

The letters of Paul clearly view it as partaking of his body and of his blood: (also hyper-literal)

1 Cor. 10:15-18

I am speaking as to wise persons; you judge what I am saying. The cup of the blessing which we bless, it is the fellowship of (or, a sharing in) the blood of Christ, is it not? The bread which we break, it is the fellowship of the body of Christ, is it not? Because we, the many are one bread, one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Be watching Israel according to the flesh. The ones eating the sacrifices are participants in the altar, are they not?

As do all the writings of the early church fathers regarding the matter, especially Ignatius of Antioch, who in particular, being very influential in my mind:

Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, Chapter 6, 110 A.D.:
Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God ... They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, 8:1, 110 A.D.:
Let that Eucharist be held valid which is offered by the bishop or by the one to whom the bishop has committed this charge. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people be; as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Romans, 7, 110 A.D.:
I desire the Bread of God, the heavenly Bread, the Bread of Life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; I wish the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.

St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadephians, 4:1, 110 A.D.:
Be ye careful therefore to observe one eucharist (for there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup unto union in His blood; there is one altar, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons my fellow-servants), that whatsoever ye do, ye may do it after God.

So it was simple: I had to find a church that believed and practiced the Lords supper like the early Church did. The relationship between theosis and the eucharist was a amazing revelation for me once I started to grasp it.

« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 03:37:10 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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