Author Topic: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation  (Read 1602 times)

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Offline NicholasMyra

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http://personaldiscipleship.blogspot.com/2011/03/justin-martyr-and-developing-catholic.html

I've been having a "discussion" with a very odd fellow who runs some sort of bible fellowship church in California. He rejects the label Protestant, but is clearly a Protestant by definition. I first encountered him via some comments on a website discussing the Eucharist, and decided to read what his "thoughts" were. He claims that Justin Martyr paganized the Eucharist, transforming it from a memorial into a sacrifice in order to fuse it with existing mystery religions. Now, this is no new claim, but the arguments he uses are extremely strange:

Against oral tradition:
"Jesus promised to bring all things to the apostles’ remembrance and stated that "his sheep" would be made up, not only of his immediate disciples, but also "those who will believe in me through their word." These apostles understood their role in the forming of new prophetic scriptures to be similar to that of Moses in forming the Pentateuch of the Old Testament."

St. Justin's innovations:
"There are, in the main, three adjustments in Justin Martyr’s approach to the bread and wine that we should note: 1) He uses “Eucharist” as a technical term for the developing “orthodox” rite. 2) He assumes greater similarity with, and even adopts, the Hellenistic “mysteries” as a valid ritual category for his developing orthodoxy. 3) His “eucharist” has transitioned from the biblical use of the bread and wine with memorial words in the context of a fellowship meal to a mere symbolic or liturgical meal as a cultic rite."

Really? He claims that Justin is the earliest writer to use the term Eucharist, and that an earlier reference (Ignatius) is "spurious" (this is not a disputed letter). He totally ignores the Didache or implicitly dates it absurdly late.

He further claims about the word "Mystery":
The term “mystery” in Hellenistic religion stands for the “magical action” or “for the formula which effects the magic” (Kittel Vol.4, p.810).
More generally the term refers to “...the sacramental rites which constitute the true event of the mystery, the cultic actualization of the deity, which shows itself to be present in the sacred drama, in the exposition by the hierophants of the sacred symbols and the pronouncement of the accompanying formulae, and which enters into sanctifying sacramental fellowship with the devotees. Because this encounter takes place in the mystery liturgy, the sacred actions and objects must be protected from all profanation (Kittel Vol.4, p. 807).”

This whole paragraph is reflective of obsolete 19th century ideas, prompted by the scientific racist "Golden Bough movement."


In our discussion, he refuses to actually addresses my counter-points, choosing instead to speak a blend of Christianized Yoda-isms and typical evangelical litmus testing ("Did the word of God get to you? Do you accept Jesus? Do you accept the authority of Scripture?")

Any advice on where I should go from here? Should I simply drop it?

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Offline genesisone

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2011, 09:46:35 PM »


In our discussion, he refuses to actually addresses my counter-points, choosing instead to speak a blend of Christianized Yoda-isms and typical evangelical litmus testing ("Did the word of God get to you? Do you accept Jesus? Do you accept the authority of Scripture?")

Any advice on where I should go from here? Should I simply drop it?


He is not interested in the exchange of ideas unless they conform to his own. He's not ready to enter into discussion. You might want to simply suggest that he continue to read the Fathers. Pray for him. Then leave it alone.

Offline akimori makoto

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2011, 09:53:36 PM »
In our discussion, he refuses to actually addresses my counter-points, choosing instead to speak a blend of Christianized Yoda-isms and typical evangelical litmus testing ("Did the word of God get to you? Do you accept Jesus? Do you accept the authority of Scripture?")

Yawn.
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Offline biro

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2011, 11:51:58 PM »
I can't see why it wouldn't make a difference to him how the first Christians lived their lives. There's something called the preponderance of the evidence. Wouldn't it follow that if all the Christians interpreted the same texts and teachings in the same way, i.e. they believed in the Real Presence, that there was something to it, and there was a reason it didn't lead them to a different destination? The only people who didn't accept the Real Presence in ancient times were the heretical sects and the Gnostics. That's not good company to be in.

 :-[


Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2011, 12:17:17 AM »
His interpretation of the Scriptures = the true pre-"corruption" Christianity.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2011, 12:27:30 AM »
I'm sure glad God airdropped a Bible down during the apostolic age, before all that corruption started. Where would we be if we had to rely on corrupt men to figure that stuff out?  :police:
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Offline biro

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2011, 12:31:26 AM »
I'm sure glad God airdropped a Bible down during the apostolic age, before all that corruption started. Where would we be if we had to rely on corrupt men to figure that stuff out?  :police:

Ringringring. We have a winner!  :)

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 01:06:38 AM »
Firstly, let me say that I see no purpose in arguing with him unless you know of people he is trying to convince to join him.  He himself is almost certain to never be swayed by any argument you could make.  I think that even if an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, he would just assume it is a demon.  The most you can do for him personally is to pray, in my opinion (and, of course, pray is certainly the most powerful tool there is anyways).

Secondly, has he read John 6?  Disciples of Christ leave when the Lord starts speaking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and the Apostles say that it is a hard teaching and who can hear it.  If Christ is speaking only of a mere act of remembrance, a mere sign of unity amongst Christians, then why do all of the people who hear him seem to freak out?  Keep in mind that he only seems to be more insistent when they get nervous at this teaching, he doesn't start to say "Oh wait!  You misunderstood!  I wasn't being literal."  He is closer to saying "That's right!  You will actually ingest my body and blood!"

Thirdly, ask him what Christians did for the first 20 years after Christ's ascension into Heaven?  That is roughly the time of Paul's earliest letters, before then there are no Christian texts that ANYONE knows of.  It was ALL oral tradition.  As well, since all of the books of the New Testament were written over time, and not all on one day, that would mean that the Apostles writing them must have been establishing new truths never before revealed to anyone - with the possible exception of the Apostles.  He has no problem with that doctrine?  But he has a problem with an oral tradition handed from Christ to the Apostles to the Disciples of the Apostles? 

Fourthly, Eucharist is NOT a technical term.  It means thanksgiving.  If anyone thinks that is a technical term, I would hate to see a non-technical one, it must be something like "Hmm".

As well, I would point you to Matthew Chapter 26, where Jesus says that the bread He has broken and handed to the Apostles is his Body and that the cup he passed around is His Blood.  If the Eucharist is merely a symbolic act, why then did the Lord - while He was with them - have the Apostles eat of the Eucharist? Mark Chapter 14 and Luke Chapter 22 have the same story as well.  I would also point out I Corinthians 10:16-17 and 26-30. 

As for the idea of Mystery, does he not think that the Trinity is a Mystery?  Does he not think that God is Mystery?  The use of the word Mystery is in NO way pagan, it just encapsulates the Church's complete lack of understanding of exactly how the action being performed happens.  Much as to us, how a magician performs his tricks may be a mystery (though in a lesser sense, because no human being understands the Mysteries, only God).
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Offline NicholasMyra

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 03:24:28 AM »
Thanks James. Your argument is sound, but that's not gonna work here. Take a look at the comments on the blog in my OP.

I think I'm going to end this tomorrow. He's written his history, he can have it, and I've given him dozens of posts that he's failed to respond to. Just thought I'd post it here before I ended it, to get all your thoughts.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 03:26:09 AM by NicholasMyra »
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Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 07:24:59 PM »
Don't thank me for any of my arguments, thanks Protopresbyeter Michael Pomazansky, who wrote Orthodox Dogamtic Theology, I had just finished reading his chapter on the Mysteries of the Church, yesterday.
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Offline DennyB

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2011, 07:37:26 PM »
Firstly, let me say that I see no purpose in arguing with him unless you know of people he is trying to convince to join him.  He himself is almost certain to never be swayed by any argument you could make.  I think that even if an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, he would just assume it is a demon.  The most you can do for him personally is to pray, in my opinion (and, of course, pray is certainly the most powerful tool there is anyways).

Secondly, has he read John 6?  Disciples of Christ leave when the Lord starts speaking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and the Apostles say that it is a hard teaching and who can hear it.  If Christ is speaking only of a mere act of remembrance, a mere sign of unity amongst Christians, then why do all of the people who hear him seem to freak out?  Keep in mind that he only seems to be more insistent when they get nervous at this teaching, he doesn't start to say "Oh wait!  You misunderstood!  I wasn't being literal."  He is closer to saying "That's right!  You will actually ingest my body and blood!"

Thirdly, ask him what Christians did for the first 20 years after Christ's ascension into Heaven?  That is roughly the time of Paul's earliest letters, before then there are no Christian texts that ANYONE knows of.  It was ALL oral tradition.  As well, since all of the books of the New Testament were written over time, and not all on one day, that would mean that the Apostles writing them must have been establishing new truths never before revealed to anyone - with the possible exception of the Apostles.  He has no problem with that doctrine?  But he has a problem with an oral tradition handed from Christ to the Apostles to the Disciples of the Apostles? 

Fourthly, Eucharist is NOT a technical term.  It means thanksgiving.  If anyone thinks that is a technical term, I would hate to see a non-technical one, it must be something like "Hmm".

As well, I would point you to Matthew Chapter 26, where Jesus says that the bread He has broken and handed to the Apostles is his Body and that the cup he passed around is His Blood.  If the Eucharist is merely a symbolic act, why then did the Lord - while He was with them - have the Apostles eat of the Eucharist? Mark Chapter 14 and Luke Chapter 22 have the same story as well.  I would also point out I Corinthians 10:16-17 and 26-30. 

As for the idea of Mystery, does he not think that the Trinity is a Mystery?  Does he not think that God is Mystery?  The use of the word Mystery is in NO way pagan, it just encapsulates the Church's complete lack of understanding of exactly how the action being performed happens.  Much as to us, how a magician performs his tricks may be a mystery (though in a lesser sense, because no human being understands the Mysteries, only God).

Yes John 6 would be an intresting question to bring up, I have always thought that this passage alone is one in which Protestants avoid the most,if they were trully honest with themselves and the text,This is just as much a part of preaching the Gospel as any other passage. Why not preach that one must "eat the Flesh of Christ,and drink His Blood" If one is to be faithful to the Gospel? Even if it for them (Protestants) was to be only taken in a  symbolic manner?

Offline JamesRottnek

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2011, 09:17:20 PM »
I don't think I ever heard John 6 ever mentioned in any of the three Protestant churches I attended, ever.
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Offline DennyB

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2011, 06:23:37 PM »
I don't think I ever heard John 6 ever mentioned in any of the three Protestant churches I attended, ever.

I've heard John 6 preached one time by a Protestant Pastor,and He made a mess of it,and I don't think anyone else made sense of what He was saying.

Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: The Eucharist: Protestant accusations of Patristic innovation
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2011, 02:22:38 PM »
Yes John 6 would be an intresting question to bring up, I have always thought that this passage alone is one in which Protestants avoid the most,if they were trully honest with themselves and the text,This is just as much a part of preaching the Gospel as any other passage. Why not preach that one must "eat the Flesh of Christ,and drink His Blood" If one is to be faithful to the Gospel? Even if it for them (Protestants) was to be only taken in a  symbolic manner?

I've always been puzzled by folks who understand/interpret metaphorically or basically ignore John 6, while at the same time tying themselves into knots with literally interpreting "call no man father..." and using it as a stick to beat Orthodox with.
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