Thursday, May 18, 2017

Henry Newcome on Ignatius and Transubstantiation

Henry Newcome, in 1705, tackled the question of Ignatius and Transubstantiation, in response to a Roman Catholic priest identified as T.B.:
He begins with Ignatius, concerning some Heretics, (Ignatius' Epistle to the Smyrneans) that received not Eucharist or Oblations, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the Flesh of Christ. (T. B. Section 1)

The Heretics he means, were the Followers of Simon and Menander, who denied the reality of Christ's Flesh, and for that Reason admitted not the Eucharist. And what is this to Transubstantiation, that some Heretics, because they did not believe that Christ was really Incarnate, would not admit the Eucharist, the Symbols whereof represented and supposed a real Incarnation? Heresy is prolific of Heresy, and their Disbelief of the Incarnation made them reject the Eucharist, lest they would be forced to confess the Flesh of Christ. For if they allowed the Symbols of a true Body, they would be obliged to grant a true Body, since a mere Phantom can have no Sign or Symbol. Thus your Cardinal Bellarmine answers for us (Bellarmine On the Eucharist, book 1, chapter 1, p. 400), Lest the Calvinists (says he) should Glory of the Antiquity of their Opinion, it is to be observed, that those ancient Heretics did not so much oppose the Eucharist as the Mystery of the Incarnation. For therefore (as Ignatius shows in the same place) they denied the Eucharist to be the Flesh of the Lord, because they denied the Lord to have Flesh. If then in the Judgment of your Cardinal these Heretics were no Calvinists, Ignatius in condemning them, neither condemns Calvinists, nor countenances Transubstantiators: What we teach, that the Elements are Sacramental Signs of Christ's Body, is as inconsistent with the Sentiments of those Heretics as Transubstantiation, since such Figures of a Body (as Tertullian argues against the Marcionites) prove the Reality of Christ's Flesh, and that it was no Phantom, which can have no Figure. I may add, That Theodoret, out of whose third Dialogue this Passage of Ignatius is restored (which was not to be found in former Editions of Ignatius) hath plainly declared against the Eutychians (as I have formerly observed) that the Symbols after Consecration recede not from their own Nature, but remain in their former Substance. And he must have a very mean Opinion of Theodoret's Judgment, who can think he imagined this Passage of Ignatius inconsistent with his own Opinion; which would have been to have helped the Heretics instead of confuting them. To conclude, examine this Testimony by the latter part of my fifth Rule, and show us where Ignatius says a Word of the changing of the Substance of the Bread into the Substance of Christ's Body: Which is the Doctrine of the Trent Council, and what T. B. was to prove.
(Part 1, "An Answer to Some Testimonies produced by T. B. from the Fathers of the Six First Centuries, for Transubstantiation," pp. 49-50 - spellings modernized)

Theodoret's Dialogue 3 "The Impasible" (mentioned by Bellarmine)

I should caution that I believe Bellarmine may, on some other occasion, have attempted to use Ignatius against a symbolic understanding of the Eucharist. In any event, however, Bellarmine (as alleged by Newcome) is correct in stating that the objection of the heretics to the Eucharist was a denial of Christ's true humanity - not a denial of a change of the elements.

-TurretinFan

9 comments:

Dave Armstrong said...

Perhaps of interest to you (I posted it on a 2010 thread about sufficiency of Scripture; I didn't know if you would see it there):


David T. King Ignores Sola Scriptura Biblical Disproofs

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2017/11/david-t-king-ignores-sola-scriptura-biblical-disproofs.html

Jesse said...

That is some of the worst eisegesis that I have ever seen, Dave!

Dave Armstrong said...

I have replied to one of your articles, on James White's page:

"Did Jesus Commission the New Testament (or the Disciples?)"

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2018/05/did-jesus-commission-the-new-testament-or-the-disciples.html

DTK said...

Hi TurretinFan,

It is true that the Romanists misrepresent what Ignatius is affirming with respect to the incarnation, and it is a prime example of how the words of the early church writers suffer in the hands of Roman apologists. Moreover, as for the Roman communion is concerned in general, it is self-destructing given the recent exposure of the pope's "left" agenda and its same sex scandals that continue to be brought to the light.

Last, but not least, I think it is important to underscore again that given its own exclusive claims to be the one and only true church, there is nothing "catholic" about the Roman communion, which is why I refuse to affirm the term "catholic" in connection with them. The puritan John Owen put it best...

John Owen (1616-1683): “With the Roman Catholics unity ever dwelt.” Never! The very name of Roman Catholic, appropriating Catholicism to Romanism, is destructive of all gospel unity. The Works of John Owen, Animadversions on a Treatise Entitled Fiat Lux, ed. William H. Goold, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, Third printing, 1977), vol. XIV, p. 93.

DTK said...

Hi TurretinFan,

It is true that the Romanists misrepresent what Ignatius is affirming with respect to the incarnation, and it is a prime example of how the words of the early church writers suffer in the hands of Roman apologists. Moreover, as for the Roman communion is concerned in general, it is self-destructing given the recent exposure of the pope's "left" agenda and its same sex scandals that continue to be brought to the light.

Last, but not least, I think it is important to underscore again that given its own exclusive claims to be the one and only true church, there is nothing "catholic" about the Roman communion, which is why I refuse to affirm the term "catholic" in connection with them. The puritan John Owen put it best...

John Owen (1616-1683): “With the Roman Catholics unity ever dwelt.” Never! The very name of Roman Catholic, appropriating Catholicism to Romanism, is destructive of all gospel unity. The Works of John Owen, Animadversions on a Treatise Entitled Fiat Lux, ed. William H. Goold, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, Third printing, 1977), vol. XIV, p. 93.

Anonymous said...

Epistle to the Ephesians:

I. “Let no man deceive himself: if any one be not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God.” (Ephesians 5)

II. “Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David according to the flesh, being both the Son of man and the Son of God, so that you obey the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but [which causes] that we should live for ever in Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 20)

Epistle to the Philadelphians:

I. Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth ] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God. (Philadelphians 4)

II. “I flee to the Gospel as to the flesh of Jesus, and to the apostles as to the presbytery of the Church.” (Philadelphians 5)

Anonymous said...

In 2 Timothy 4:6, St. Paul writes,

“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come.”

Generally, the term used for “sacrifice” in Greek is “thusia”. However, St. Paul uses the first person singular passive verb “spendomai”, which translated means, to pour out, as in a libation (or a drink-offering). This expression is an allusion to the Jewish temple practice of pouring wine into the altar after the sacrificial animal had been burnt. He employs this metaphor to cast his own martyrdom in a liturgical light.Thus, his death becomes a public act of worship, whereby he offers himself both bodily and spiritually to God, much in the same way that Christ offers Himself to us in the Eucharist.

We see these Eucharistic overtones more clearly in the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who in his letter to the Romans, writes, “Do not seek to confer any greater favor upon me than that I be sacrificed to God while the altar is still prepared.” Here, St. Ignatius picks up on the apostle’s phrase, even employing the same verb. However, he expands on the sacrificial metaphor by referring to himself as the bread and wheat of Christ. He writes,

“Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ. Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my tomb, and may leave nothing of my body; so that when I have fallen asleep, I may be no trouble to any one. Then shall I truly be a disciple of Christ, when the world shall not see so much as my body.”

Similarly, in the account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, the author depicts the entire martyrdom as liturgy. To quote Pope Benedict XVI,

“What Paul briefly hints at here in a single short sentence has been fully thought out in the account of the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp. The entire martyrdom is depicted as liturgy -- indeed, as the process of the martyr's becoming a Eucharist, as he enters into full fellowship with the Pascha of Jesus Christ and thus becomes a Eucharist with him. First we are told how the great bishop is fettered and his hands are tied behind his back. Thus he appeared "as a noble ram out of a great flock, for an oblation, a whole burnt offering made ready and acceptable to God." The martyr, who has meanwhile been brought to the ready-laid fire and bound there, now utters a kind of Eucharistic prayer: he gives thanks for the knowledge of God that has been imparted to him through his beloved Son Jesus Christ. He praises God that he has been found worthy to come to share in the cup of Jesus Christ in the prospect of resurrection. Finally, using words from the Book of Daniel that were probably included in Christian liturgy at an early stage, he asks "may I, today, be received. . . before thee as a rich and acceptable sacrifice". This passage ends with a great doxology, just like Eucharistic Prayers in the liturgy. After Polycarp has said "Amen", the servants set fire to the woodpile, and now we are told of a triple miracle in which the liturgical character of the event is manifested in all its diversity.”

Anonymous said...


From these passages we can deduce two things, namely,

(1) That the earliest Christians viewed the Lord’s Supper in sacrificial terms. For them, the Mass was primarily a sacrifice, and a meal second.

And

(2) The bodily suffering of the martyrs proves the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. For if the Eucharist were not the literal body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, then what sense would it make for the martyrs to suffer bodily? In his dispute with the Docetists (that is, those who denied that Christ possessed a physical body), St. Ignatius wrote,

“But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound? And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.”

He continues in the same letter,

“They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.”

Quoting Catholic theologian, Servais Pinckaers,

“Just as Christ truly suffered in his body, so Ignatius suffers in his own body to the point of shedding blood, and it is also the body and blood of Jesus that Christians receive in the Eucharist, as fortifying nourishment. It is for this reason that the Docetists, denying the reality of the Passion, did not participate in the celebration of the Eucharist and rendered the sufferings of the martyrs pointless.”(The Spirtiuality of Martyrdom)

Anonymous said...

the article in Greek is neuter, so it's not only merely that Jesus was raised, but that His flesh was raised. The flesh *which* suffered, and the flesh *which* was raised for our salvation.