Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas every day

A Protestant friend once asked me what the point is of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.  Why is it so important to think that Christ is really present under the accidents of bread and wine?  What is the cash value of this idea?  The answer I gave him is best understood in light of the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is about Emmanuel, God with us.  In particular, it is about the second Person of the Trinity entering the material world by taking on flesh.  He did so by entering into Mary’s womb, and that is why Mary had to be without sin, whether original or actual.  She was, in the most intimate way possible, the tabernacle of God.  And the tabernacle of God must be spotless. 

This spotlessness found expression in her famous exclamation “Be it done to me according to thy word,” which conveys a humble submissiveness to the divine will that every Christian must emulate.  Mary didn’t protest that she had never consented to being the vessel of the Incarnation.  She didn’t ask for time to think about it.  She didn’t bargain with God for some special favor in return for what she was going to do.  She simply said yes.  

And that is also what Christmas is about.  It’s not just about Christ being with us, but also about our welcoming Him to be with us.  Mary shows us how to do that.  When you have a guest over, you act in such a way as to make him feel welcome – by not saying or doing things that will offend him, by serving him good food and drink, by tidying the house up beforehand, and so forth.  Living without sin is the way to tidy up, as it were, so as to welcome God-made-flesh to be with us.

Now, for the Catholic, in Holy Communion we are doing something analogous to what Mary did.  We are taking God Himself, this time in the guise of the Eucharist, into our bodies.  We are consenting to be the tabernacle of God.  And though, unlike Mary, we are not sinless, we must earnestly strive to be, as far as we can.  For not to do so is to risk desecrating God’s tabernacle.  That is why taking Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is itself such a grave sin.  It is like having a king over for dinner, and then insulting him and serving him garbage – only infinitely worse, because in this case it is Christ the King who is being insulted.

Pope Francis likes to say that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect.  That is true.  But it must be a prod to us to try to become perfect – just as our Father in heaven is perfect – so as to be worthy to house the Eucharist.

That, as I told my friend, is why the doctrine of transubstantiation is so important.  Meditating on the meaning of the Eucharist can help make sin detestable and horrific to us, because God’s dwelling place ought to be spotless, and we know that every time we take Holy Communion God Himself dwells in us.  We can do so daily – God with us, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.  And throughout the year, not merely at Christmas, we need to welcome Christ with the unreserved yes that His mother exemplified.


  1. Thank you. I was fishing around for an end to my Christmas homily when I came across this post on my newsfeed.

  2. Terrific post, Doctor Feser! A merry christmas to you and your family, God bless

  3. Isn't everything already God's dwelling place?
    I mean, God is said to be omnipresent, so what difference does transubstantiiation make.
    The world is God's dwelling place and hence we should strive to make the world sinless. Whether God is made flesh or not doesn't seem to matter that much.

    1. Walter,

      When we say God is present everywhere, we mean He is present by virtue of His sustaining power. He is not substantially present in the same way as He is in the hypostatic union.

      While the Eucharist is not the same intimate union as the hypostatic union (or even the beatific vision), it is much more intimate than this basic sustaining activity. The union with God in the Eucharist is to receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of God in the flesh. This union imparts grace into the soul of the worthy recipient (by worthy I mean someone who is reverent, has faith in the Eucharist and the Church who provides it, and is not in mortal sin).

      If we do not make these types of distinctions, then we are forced to say that God is just as present to the demons in hell as He is to the angels in Heaven.

      Of course whether you believe this is another matter. I think it would be off topic to debate such. But that is the distinction, and it is important to keep it in mind.

      Of course your point that we should always avoid sin is certainly still true.

    2. Scott

      If god truly sustains everything through His pwower, then His power is the most substantial presence that is possible.
      We are then literally, at all times and in all circumstances, in union with God.

  4. Yes I think people should take the words “Lord I am not worthy to receive you...” at mass a little more seriously. Sometimes not receiving the Eucharist can be more efficacious than receiving it (for example, if you are in a state of mortal sin) insofar as that helps one have reverence for the Eucharist. Whenever I do not receive, I recall that Joan of Arc only received once a year at Easter. And I’ll be damned if I think I am holier than her. That does not mean one should be overly scrupulous, but as my Dad said, “A little shame never hurt anyone.”

    1. @Scott Lynch,

      Isn't this akin to the reception of a gift?

      A gift may or may not be received, but whenever it is received it is taken with joy and gratitude.

      But sometimes rejecting a gift may help you a little to foster more gratitude and an awareness of it's goodness.

      And just as we're not worthy to receive the Eucharist, we're also not worthy to receive the gifts we receive either. Because to be worthy of something implies that one deserves it or is strictly owed it, and by definition a gift isn't owed or deserved.

      Quite fitting for Christmas time, since the Eucharist literally is God's gift to us.

    2. Because to be worthy of something implies that one deserves it or is strictly owed it, and by definition a gift isn't owed or deserved.

      Well, this is sort of true, but technically I think that we can also be worthy of a gift not be deserving it but by being condign to it, that is, to be well fitted to it, well suited, so that when you receive it you can put it to good use or enjoy it easily and fruitfully. A dog cannot be given a gift of the Summa not because it is "more than he deserves" but because he is not suited to use or enjoy it.

      We can never (in this life) be utterly fit to receive Jesus, because he is God and there is no proportion between God and creature, but we can be "fit enough" to receive him because through baptism we have God's own life enlivening our souls - as long as we have not rejected that life through mortal sin.

    3. @Tony,

      Quote:"because he is God and there is no proportion between God and creature"

      In this sense, the gift of existence bestowed on creation by God is also something that creation is in a sense unfit to receive, since non-existent things aren't fit for anything due to their non-existence, and being fit for anything in the first place requires existing first.

      I think this is also the key to the Beatific Vision. Technically speaking the Beatific Vision is beyond what is required for our perfect eternal happiness, since Limbo would clearly suffice for that. Rather, in light of that, the Vision is something beyond even what is required for our nature to be perfectly fulfilled, and is thus a pure gift that transcends what our nature could or should be able to gain on it's own.

    4. Technically speaking the Beatific Vision is beyond what is required for our perfect eternal happiness, since Limbo would clearly suffice for that.

      This is actually not consistent with what St. Thomas says about it. He insists that the only end that can fully satisfy our desire to know the First Cause, the Principle of principles, is the Beatific Vision, and even the Limbo of the Infants should therefore be understood as a state that cannot fully satisfy man. However, he also proposes (if I recall, at least), that in Limbo the infants are unaware of the possibility of the Beatific Vision, and therefore do not feel a sense of loss of what they might have had: there is a felt difference between wishing for what you have no belief could ever have been, and desiring what indeed might actually be if you act suitably or if fate should offer it to you.

      As far as I understand it, Aristotle, having no revelation about the next life, could arrive at the truth that contemplation of God in this life is the highest pursuit of man that is achievable, but he could not actively desire a still higher union than that of this life without perceiving it as at least a possibility. And without revelation telling us that God will restore our bodies via the resurrection of the dead, there is no avenue to follow to conclude man might arrive at a positive state of bliss as whole men after death.

    5. I think this is the first time I've ever read someone use the common phrase "I'll be damned if..." literally.

  5. Great reflection! Thanks, Dr. Feser.

  6. Way to go Dr.!
    Ideal Apologetics!
    Admirably Pius!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family and readers!

  7. Many pagan cultures practiced theophagy, which is the sacramental eating of a god in the form of an image or other symbol so that one can receive the power from the god. Thus the burden on Catholics is to prove that Eucharist is what they claim it is. Otherwise they are practicing idolatry.

    1. Virtually all Christians believed in the real presence until the sixteenth century. The historical record on this matter is so overwhelmingly clear that should not even be up for dispute. The burden is on Protestants to prove that their 16th century fabrications are, all appearances to the contrary, the authentic teaching of Christ and the apostles.

    2. What religions/cultures and what are your sources?

    3. That’s just wrong. It is the non-Catholic who have the burden of proof to show that there really is a parallel between the pagan practice of theophagy and the Catholic doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, and if it is shown that there really is such parallel he still has the burden to show which theological problems follow from it.

    4. Theophagy is found in the mystery religions of ancient Rome as well as in the Hinduism. In Hinduism the food is Brahman and Brahman is food.

      Did you know that Buddha was canonized a saint in the Catholic church? (see wiki on Barlaam and Josphat) This begs the question how many other saints lives are fictional, or what other errors in doctrine the Catholic church promulgates.

    5. Again. What are your sources?

      As for canonization, first of all, it does not “beg” the question. It “raises” the question. Second of all, this is completely off topic. Third of all, so what? For that to be a serious problem, you would have to prove that Barlaam and Josphat were not real Christians (even if elements of their lives have been distorted), then you would have to prove that the Church has infallibly defined that those two people are real people who are in heaven. I feel like that might be a tall order for you.

    6. Although Barlaam and Josaphat were never formally canonized, they were included in earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology (feast day 27 November) (see wiki)

      -- Yes, I should have been more precise. They were once in the Roman Martyrology. My Grandmother spoke of this hagriographic account fondly. Bottomline: Why does this fiction even need to be taught. If this story is embellished, what other "saints" have embellished lives.

      As an example there are multiple variances to St. Christopher. They can not all be authentic.

      So if the Catholic Church is creating forgeries here, where else has she forged data. Oh, I know! The famous "Donation of Constantine".

      Augustine was considered one of the greatest teachers of the Catholic Church. His widespread influence led to the forging of at least three works in his name 200 years after his death and influenced Aquinas. Aquinas quotes these forged works in the Summa.

    7. @Scott Lynch: Study Mithraism and their seven sacramental theology. A religion very popular in Rome. "Theophagy, or the practice of eating the flesh and blood of one’s god through a sacramental meal, was a practice that was highly prevalent in the prominent religion known as Mithraism throughout Rome in the first few centuries AD"

    8. Mithraism appeared after Christianity; the first evidences of it date to the late 1st century A.D. It obviously was not the source of any element that was part of Christianity from the beginning.

    9. It is true the Mithraism appear after Christianity. It was a very popular religion among soldiers. As Newman says, Constantine dusted off pagan practices and "sanctified" them for Christian use. The false spirit of sacramentalism infected the Roman and Orthodox churches and one had to await for the damnable doctrine of Thomism to further infect Christendom and then give a metaphysical justification for Transubstantiation.

      FYI, the term Real Presence was first coined by Protestants. There is a whole book devoted to this discussion. Even Catholics are loath to use the term Transubstantiation, first coined in the 11th century. Real presence was coined by Protestants much later.

  8. The truth is the church fathers do NOT support the teaching of real presence. The church fathers, especially Augustine, who the Protestant's heavily quote believed it was a symbol. A careful reading of the church fathers supports the Protestant position. The evidence against the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist is so overwhelming if one reads the fathers in proper context. I have shown several Catholics how the Catholic church mishandles the fathers. Thus to be steeped in the fathers is to become Protestant.

    1. How do you interpret St. Ignatius of Antioch’s words:

      "Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead."

      "Letter to the Smyrnaeans", paragraph 6. circa 80-110 A.D

      He seems to be saying that belief in the Real Presence is a requisite for orthodox Christian belief.

    2. If you read that in context you will find this quote deals with heretics.

      Ignatius identified the heretics in a couple of different places, by stating that “certain unbelievers maintain, that He [Jesus] only seemed to suffer....” (see Chapter 2), and, “what does it profit, if anyone commends me, but blasphemes my Lord, not owning Him to be God incarnate?” (see Chapter 5). These heretics were claiming that Christ only appeared to suffer and was not actually God incarnate. This heresy was known as Docetism.

      When Ignatius stated in Chapter 7 that “they [heretics] do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ”, he was refuting Docetism. Docetism would have no interest in confessing that the Eucharist is the flesh of Christ because they did not believe Christ suffered on the cross.

      --The problem is the soundbite answers from Catholic sources does not properly exegete what the fathers really said. As a former Catholic, I call to the carpet all those Catholics who deliberately distort what the fathers actually said. It is precisely because of the fathers that I reject much of Catholic teaching.

    3. I have read the entire letter. If he is equating denial of the Real Presence with Docetism, so much the worse for those who deny the Real Presence.

      Here are some more examples of Church Fathers on the Real Presence.

      My question for you is: When specifically did the Church begin falsely teaching the Real Presence (when it was just a symbol) and what is your evidence that any apostles or orthodox Christians before the Steccoranism heresy in the 9th century (the first non-Gnostic Eucharistic heresy I can even find) denied the Real Presence?

    4. To go into detail would require a book. In short the church of the first 500 years had a symbolic understanding of the Eucharist. It started to change sometime after this, especially with John of Damascus. By his time the church was so weak that the East was already conquered by the Muslims.

      In short, the Catholic church is the initiator of novel doctrine. The Reformation undid much of the religious and metaphysical crust that had accumulated over centuries. The Reformation return to the Platonism of the fathers and undid the Aristotlianism which laid the foundation for many Catholic innovations.

    5. How about instead of writing a book, you provide one solid example to make your case? Please provide one solid quote from a Churcg Father that explicitly denies the Real Presence.

      If the Church slowly changed its doctrine around AD 500, why does the Coptic Church (who separated around AD 451 due to disagreements over the Christology at the Council of Chalcedon) believe in the Real Presence?

      What does Platonism have to do with the belief in the Real Presence? Aristotelian philosophy was not really broadly incorporated into the new Church until St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas incorporated it into their theology in the 13th century. You could maybe argue that Boethius led to some Aristotelian influence, but not in any substantial way. The Pseudo-Dionysius was very Platonist (and regarded as an authoritative Church Father by the medievals), and he wrote in the 6th century. John Scotus Eriugena was a very influential Christian Platonist writing in the 9th century. I do not believe he denied the Real Presence. Even Aquinas was heavily influenced by Plato (see his 4th Way). Finally, many of the Fathers of the Reformation believed in the Real Presence.

    6. Ummm, Gerald, we don't want your book. We just want you to provide one source from an Early Church Father that taught that the Eucharist was only a "symbol"...and not in fact the Real Presence. The historical record and consensus of the Church Fathers is completely clear on this matter, and you, my friend are in serious error, or in willful denial of obvious facts of the matter.

    7. Furthermore, it is nice to have the witness and testimony of the Church Fathers...but at the end of the day, the Real Presence is attested by the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, in the Gospels, and recapitulated by St. Paul:
      "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" -- 1 Cor 10:16

      "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." -- 1 Cor 11:27-30

    8. Gerald, you also wrote that St. Augustine did not believe in the Real Presence. This is absolutely incorrect.

      "Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own body, he said, ‘This is my body’ [Matt. 26:26]. For he carried that body in his hands". -- St. Augustine, Explanations of the Psalms

      "I promised you [new Christians], who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the sacrament of the Lord’s Table...That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the blood of Christ". -- St. Augustine, Sermon 227 (On the Liturgical Seasons)

    9. Gerald, I strongly suspect either bad will or utter incomprehension on your part. There is simply no way you can honestly read the Church Fathers and conclude that they believed anything other than the real presence. Protestants dishonestly cherry pick out passages that seem to refer to the Eucharistic as symbolic, but completely ignore the fact that most of them never understood "symbol" as "mere symbol" in the manner of Zwingli. The fathers understood symbols to as something that realized or instantiated the very things they symbolized. If you conclude otherwise then you cannot possibly have understood what you were reading when you read the Church Fathers.

      Reading the Church Fathers with an open mind is exactly why I am no longer protestant. I find it almost impossible to believe that anyone who reads the fathers with an open mind and good will could possibly find the doctrines of Protestantism there. There is nowhere to be found any hint of sola scriptura, sola fide, forensic justification, a symbolic eucharist, congregational ecclesiology, or anything else of that sort. It was a painful discovery for me, but it is the cold hard truth: Protestantism is a man-made religion of sixteenth century origin. There is zero evidence that anyone of note practiced the protestant version of Christianity prior to the 16th century. If you don't repent of your defection from the true faith and your willful embrace of falsehood then you are on the road to perdition my friend.

    10. One must wonder exactly what was meant by Augustine's language. After all, the Lord himself said, “This is My body” and “This is My blood.” (Remember that the word “is” can be understood either figuratively or literally). As an example when the man at the museum at the art gallery points to a painting and says this is a plane. The painting of the plane is a symbol or remembrance of an actual plane. Thus pointing at a wafer and saying this is "My body" can be understood either literally or figuratively.

      So it is not surprising that the early fathers echoed those very words of Christ. But what did they mean?

      To quote Justin Martyr that the Eucharist is a remembrance: Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [Isaiah 33:13–19] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 70)

      So when Justin Martyr explained the words he was saying they were a symbol or remembrance.

      Regarding the words of sola-scriptura. It is well documented that the church fathers defended their doctrine using sola scriptura. I quote:
      When the Church Father Basil of Caesarea (ca. 330–379) and the heretical Arians both claimed that their traditions were correct, Basil said, “Let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth.” (Basil, Letter 189, 3). This is no different than what occurred at the Reformation. Read the Councils carefully and you will see that it was a consistent appeal to sola-scriptura. After all they were appealing to church fathers and church councils.

      I went to a website from the Coptic church to see their teaching of the Eucharist. Nowhere do they mention the phrase "real presence". Again this is a typical example of Catholic eisegesis.

      I was an Eastern Orthodox Christian (Greek and Russian) for many years and none accept the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

      Thus, I rest my case. Catholicism has taken the fathers out of context and thus Catholics need to do their homework, instead of blindly drinking the kool-aid from their apologists.

      So my journey was from Catholicism, to Eastern Orthodoxy, and finally Protestantism.

    11. I feel like this is getting pretty off-topic for a post on Christmas, so this will be my last comment, and I will let you have the last word.

      While Coptics and Eastern Orthodox may not always use the words “Real Presence” or “Transubstantiation”, they certainly believe that Christ’s body and blood are really present in the Eucharist. They believe that a real ontological change takes place. This is why Catholics can receive communion at Eastern Orthodox and Coptic Churches under abnormal circumstances (e.g. emergencies) and vice versa.

      Here is an Orthodox sub-deacon writing on the issue and quoting multiple authoritative Orthodox documents.

      Here is a Coptic Church website:

      Which states:

      “The Sacrament of Communion is a Holy Sacrament by which the believer eats the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, presented by the Bread and Wine.”

      So, I am sorry if you were taught incorrectly, but it seems you are mistaken on the beliefs of Orthodox and Coptic Christians.

      Furthermore, as referenced in the blog above, Lutherans still believe in the Real Presence (although they do not believe in transubstantiation since they believe the bread is still substantially present along with the Body of Christ). Many Anglicans also believe in the Real Presence. So this is not merely a Catholic, Coptic, and Orthodox belief. So when you say that the Fathers agreed with Protestants, I ask, which Protestants specifically?

      You mentioned Justin Martyr. His Dialogue with Trypho does mention that the Eucharist is a remembrance, but it is up to you to show that a remembrance, which would be understood as a memorial offering (which was understood as a sacrifice in the Old Testament), is merely a symbol to the exclusion of the possibility of Christ’s Body being really and truly present. Even the Orthodox sub-deacon explained in his article (and I have heard this consistently from Catholics and Orthodox) that reference to a symbol does not negate the reality of something. A true symbol can be thought of as a sign that something is really present and not merely a fill-in.


    12. ...continued.

      Furthermore after proving that “remembrance” necessarily excludes the Real Presence, you would have to reconcile this interpretation of Justin Martyr with his First Apology:
      "This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."

      "First Apology", Ch. 66, inter A.D. 148-155.

      Finally, assuming somehow you refute all of these passages and prove that all of these biblical passages and passages from the Church Fathers are really only claiming the Eucharist is merely a symbol, do you mean to tell me that the meaning of these passages are so obvious that any intellectually honest person will automatically interpret them as symbolic? Are you claiming that nearly three fourths of all Christians (Catholics, Coptics, Eastern Orthodox, Lutherans, Anglicans, etc.) are intentionally misreading the obvious meaning of the passages in question. Furthermore, are you claiming that Christ’s own disciples intentionally misunderstood His Bread of Life discourse in John 6 to the point of abandoning Him? And after completely misunderstanding Him, Christ did nothing to correct them but instead challenged His closest disciples to leave Him too.

      It seems that unless you are saying that all of these billions of people throughout the centuries (some of which are the most influential philosophers and theologians who have ever lived) have all willfully misread (or at least have failed to sufficiently reflect upon) the supposedly obvious merely symbolic meaning of these passages which suggest the Real Presence.

      If you concede that many of these people at least have tried to be intellectually honest and reflective when interpreting Scripture and the Church Fathers, and yet were still wrong, then it seems that Scripture is not enough to prevent people from practicing idolatry. And certainly God would want to give people the necessary tools to understand at least the core of His teaching (at least enough to not disobey the first commandment). That in itself seems to be a refutation of Sola Scriptura (not to mention the thousands of various Protestant denominations that have significant theological differences that could have ramifications for salvation).

      Anyway, as I said, I will let you have the last word. I hope you reflect on what I have said. I hope God blesses you in your spiritual journey, and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    13. I will make this short. To be precise Catholics believe in a PHYSICAL presence of Christ. The Orthodox accept a SPIRITUAL presence in the Eucharist. This is a HUGE difference. Spiritual presence is NOT real presence. This is typical of Catholic misunderstanding of what the Orthodox believe. In short there are three systems taught in Christendom, physical presence, spiritual presence, and merely a symbol. The difference is quite large between all of them. For example, physical presence means Eucharist is a representation of Christ's sacrifice, something that is rejected by all Protestants and many Orthodox. Remember Orthodox do NOT have a central teaching authority, and thus there are a wide variety of opinions on what actually happens at the Eucharist. As a Protestant, I reject that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, because Paul specifically makes mention that it is a remembrance in Corinthians. The initial Jewish Passover was a one-time event and was and is remembered annually by Jews. Since the Bible was originally written by Jews to first century Jews, one must take the cultural context into account. Jesus sacrifice like the Passover was a one-time event. The Eucharist is a remembrance.

      The problem is that the church fathers overclocked Greek philosophy with the simplicity of the Gospel. Philosophy is at best a handmaiden to theology and goes into error when it tries to usurp theology. This is why Paul says, "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." Col 2:8. Both Thomism and Platonism are empty philosophies that led many astray. Hyper-Platonism created the Gnosticism, while hyper-Thomism created the Catholic guilt of the Middle Ages.

      To close let me quote the Catholic Encyclopedia, which was instrumental in my rejection of Transubstantiation.

      "Regarding tradition, the earliest witnesses, as Tertullian and Cyprian, could hardly have given any particular consideration to the genetic relation of the natural elements of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ, or to the manner in which the former were converted into the latter; for even Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation, so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism. (“The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Catholic Encyclopedia)"

      In the fourth century, both Cyril of Jerusalem and Eusebius of Caesarea denied transubstantiation. Cyril stated, “Under the type of bread His body given unto thee, and under the type of wine His blood given unto thee.” Eusebius posited that in communion, “Christ Himself gave the symbols of the Divine ceremony to His own disciples that the image of His own body should be made. He appointed to use bread as a symbol of His own body.”

    14. Gerald, where do you get this stuff? You're wither very ignorant or dishonest. WE Orthodox most certainly do accept the doctrine of real presence. Orthodoxy is fundamentally sacramental, where a sacrament is understood as a transformative, iconographic symbol (not a mere conventional sign) that partakes of the very reality it symbolises. The archetype is in the image as St. Basil the Great put it. The Eastern Churches are sacramental to their core. Christology, ecclesiology, and anthropology in these Churches is intimately entwined with their sacramental nature. If anything, the Orthodox don't think the Roman Church is sacramental enough. The idea you are pushing, the Zwinglian heresy that the divine Liturgy is put a conventional aid to memory, to the Orthodox might as well be the suggestion the incarnation and resurrection themselves were just aids to memory.

    15. I agree that the Orthodox are sacramental. However, the term Real Presence is a vague term first developed by Protestants. Catholics believe in Transubstantiation and the Orthodox do not. I reject ALL sacramental theological frameworks because they are the result of mixing pagan philosophy with Christianity. All pagan religions were sacramental. Judaism and first century Christianity were not sacramental. How do I know this, because there were ZERO ministerial priests in the New Testament. Paul writes three letters to Pastors/Elders and not once is there a mention of a ministerial priest.

      Consider these quotes from Catholic sources:
      • The words “priest” and “priesthood” are never applied in the New Testament to the office of the Christian ministry. All Christians are said to be priests (Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold, Pg. 692).
      • “The priesthood evolved” (Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. XII).
      • “Priests were not so called in the very earliest Christian times; rather they were the presbyters or elders” (Mass of the Future, Ellard, p. 66).
      • “The Apostolic Fathers abstained from any mention of a Christian priesthood” (Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold, p. 693).

      Since I reject priests it follows that I reject sacraments. Consequently, the Orthodox and Catholics are both in counterfeit churches that will send millions if not billions to Hell.

  9. The Protestant also needs to understand that a Symbol was different to the ancient Semitic / early Christian. A "symbol" today means something that points to something else not actually present. A "symbol" in the ancient sense often meant something that points to something else and is in some sense actually a part of that something else.

    I am not conceding any supposedly pagan roots of the Eucharist as Christ's body and blood (our Lord himself directly calls His own body and blood). However I wonder about the "it was actually pagan" premise as an argument stopper.

    The Cross was a sign of Roman (pagan) power. The word "Logos" was well-known Greek (pagan) word. These points do not matter because the resurrected Christ renews all things.

    What's more, the "isn't that actually pagan" is a common approach for the skeptic who loves to point to things like the Osiris story. The existence of a similar practice or belief is not the same thing as a reasonable warrant that the Church adopted a similar practice or belief.

    1. The Hebrews were a totally non-sacramental people. The concept of symbol in Hebrew is the same concept as that in Protestantism. Also the Greek concept of symbol, remember Church fathers were universally platonic is the same as the Protestant understanding. Catholics like to distort the facts and twists words to mean something they never meant. This is called eisegesis and leads to theological malpractice.

    2. Gerald, while your comments are entirely refutable, I will point out to both you and to other potential responders that this post is not really the material for a debate on the Real Presence doctrine.

      Further, if it were on topic, the tenor of your comments are highly unhelpful. You issue sweeping conclusions that would require the support of premises which themselves are NOT agreed starting points. In fact, it would require going so far back down the road of preliminaries of the pre-requisites to the foundations to the starting points, that it "would require a book". And, more likely than not, had you stopped and asked yourself "will many of the members of this audience hold the premises of these conclusions in common with me?" you would immediately have been able to realize that the answer is NO. In such a situation, arguing in the manner you have presented your conclusions is not the sort of arguing in good faith that is likely to be productive, it is likely only to generate a podge of he said, she said that meanders without any fruit.

      Finally, even if it were true that the Fathers meant by "the Eucharist" the symbolic meaning you assert, then Ed Feser's comments above COULD ALSO be read in that exact same vein, and would be JUST AS VALID in that light as the comments of the Fathers about it.

    3. Tertullian stated that the bread was a mere symbol or figure of the body of Christ; he specifically refuted the Gnostics on this basis:

      Taking bread and distributing it to his disciples he made it his own body by saying, "“This is my body,” that is a “figure of my body.” On the other hand, there would not have been a figure unless there was a true body. (Tertullian, Against Marcion, IV. 40)

    4. @Gerald. You continue to blithely take writings from the Church Fathers completely out of context. I also am wondering if you are doing this in bad faith. For example, why did you use such a small snippet from Tertullian's rebuttal of Marcion, without including most of the remaining chapter:
      "A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. If, however, (as Marcion might say,) He pretended the bread was His body, because He lacked the truth of bodily substance, it follows that He must have given bread for us. It would contribute very well to the support of Marcion's theory of a phantom body, that bread should have been crucified! But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! He did not understand how ancient was this figure of the body of Christ, who said Himself by Jeremiah: I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter, and I knew not that they devised a device against me, saying, Let us cast the tree upon His bread, which means, of course, the cross upon His body. And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body. He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed in His blood, Luke 22:20 affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh. If any sort of body were presented to our view, which is not one of flesh, not being fleshly, it would not possess blood. Thus, from the evidence of the flesh, we get a proof of the body, and a proof of the flesh from the evidence of the blood." -- Tertullian, "Against Marcion", Book IV, Chapter 40
      Tertullian does NOT say the bread (or blood) is a "mere" symbol or the sense that it is exclusively and only a symbol or figure. The Church Fathers understood that the Eucharist was BOTH a symbol AND the substantial instantiation of what is symbolized, i.e. Christ's body, blood, soul and Divinity.

      Further affirmations by Tertullian of the Real Presence in the Eucharist:

      "He [referring to a prodigal son who returns to the Church] remembers his Father, God; he returns to Him when he has been satisfied; he receives again the pristine garment,— the condition, to wit, which Adam by transgression had lost. The ring also he is then wont to receive for the first time, wherewith, after being interrogated, he publicly seals the agreement of faith, and thus thenceforward feeds upon the fatness of the Lord's body — the Eucharist, to wit." -- Tertullian, "On Modesty", Ch. 9
      Similarly, too, touching the days of Stations [days of fasting], most think that they must not be present at the sacrificial prayers, on the ground that the Station [fasting] must be dissolved by reception of the Lord's Body. Does, then, the Eucharist cancel a service devoted to God, or bind it more to God? Will not your Station [fasting] be more solemn if you have withal stood at God's altar? When the Lord's Body has been received and reserved each point is secured, both the participation of the sacrifice and the discharge of duty." -- Tertullian, "On Prayer",Ch. 19

    5. I am quite familiar with this quote by Tertullian. Unfortunately, it does not prove your point. Tertullian is addressing Marcion, who rejected the deity of Christ. Marcion did not believe Jesus has a physical body. So Tertullian is using the "this is my body" language as proof that Christ had a body. This leads up to Tertullian's reveal that the bread is a figure of Christ's body, i.e. a symbol.

    6. Here is a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia, hopefully this will settle their opinion on Tertullian: "Regarding tradition, the earliest witnesses, as Tertullian and Cyprian, could hardly have given any particular consideration to the genetic relation of the natural elements of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ, or to the manner in which the former were converted into the latter; for even Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation, so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism. (“The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Catholic Encyclopedia)"

    7. All right: Tertullian and Cyprian had no clear theological understanding of how the bread and wine were genetically related to the Body and Blood of Christ, or how the transformation happened. Neither had they any clear biological understanding of how ordinary bread and wine are converted into fuel for the human body, since the relevant sciences had not yet been sufficiently developed. That doesn’t mean they could not digest food, and it does not mean they did not believe in the Real Presence. Your entire quotation from the Catholic Encylopaedia is an irrelevancy.

    8. No, Tom it is very relevant. It shows how Catholic apologists are deceiving people into thinking the fathers said more than they actually did. It shows precisely that Catholics have not properly interpreted the fathers. As I said in a previous post, the Catholic church canonized Barlaam and Jehosapht who were fictional characters. Thus shoddy Catholic scholarship is leading millions if not billions astray. A careful reading of the fathers, read in context, proves they were way more Protestant than Catholic.

      Further Catholic fiction is that Peter was in Rome. Fact, the first mention of Peter in Rome was by Gnostics, NOT Christians. Do the homework and you will find that the RCC has spun a yarn of fiction.

    9. @Gerald
      Sir, your mind is closed despite clear and overwhelming evidence presented to you. Most leading Protestant biblical scholars and historians would not even pretend to argue that the early Church Fathers were, as you put it, "more Protestant than Catholic". No point further in having this dialogue, which has veered way off-topic, in any event. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.

    10. @Tritum, Thanks for the Merry Christmas and joyous New Year wishes.

      Let me give you a big reason I claim the fathers are more Protestant than Catholic.

      During the first five centuries of the church, no mention was made by the church fathers of the bodily assumption of Mary. Irenaeus, Jerome, Augustine, Ambrose, and the other church fathers of that time said nothing about it.
      Writing around 377, the church father Epiphanius of Salamis stated that no one knows the nature of Mary’s end. He added that Mary should not be worshipped or adored.

      -- That sounds very Protestant to me!!!
      Even twentieth-century Pope Pius XII commented, “Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption.” Basically, the Pope said that scholars took Scripture out of context to provide a type of justification for the Assumption.

      My observation is that Catholic are weak in both Bible knowledge and properly understanding the church fathers. I was duped by Catholic apologists until I began to read primary sources. Primary sources and Bible study convinced me that Catholicism is riddled with error and lies.

  10. Merry Christmas! God bless you and your family, Prof. Feser!

  11. Merry Christmas to everyone!

    I'm sorry for being off topic from the main post, but I'm a Thomist who has a fair number of doubts. Among them was this post I found on Reddit arguing that essentially ordered causal series can just be reduced to accidentally ordered ones, decreasing some of the power of the arguments for God's existence. What I especially found concerning was that the theists who participated in this thread seemed cornered by the atheists who disagreed with them.

    Can someone please help unpack this for me? Thank you very much. :)

    1. @GermyClean,

      Hello Germy. I did a quick scan through of the debate on the Reddit site you linked to. It appears there is a fundamental error or misunderstanding in one of the key propositions of an essentially ordered series (per se). An essentially ordered series does NOT require simultaneous actualization of potentials. All that is required is that every member in the series (except the First) has only a derived causal power. As their causal powers are derived from a "prior" member in the hierarchical/essentially ordered series, each needs a causal explanation for its actualization...except the First cause/member, which MUST have "built-in" or "intrinsic" causal power, from which all subsequent members derive their causal power. In other words, the First Cause is necessary, and could not NOT exist, even in principle, otherwise all subsequent members in the series could not actualize a potential, since they only have derivative causal power.

      Some of the atheists on that thread bring up Newton's First Law of Motion, in particular, to somehow "prove" that essentially ordered series reduce to accidental series. The argument being that an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by a force. This misses the point. An objects translation in space, or change in time, is irrelevant to the discussion. What IS relevant, is what cause is maintaining (actualizing) the existence of the object, at any given instant.

    2. I get what you're saying, but here's the objection that concerned me most; given Newtonian physics, the subsequent members of the chain will continue to actualize their potentials for a few minutes after the First Cause is eliminated. Hence, so they say, the essentially ordered series becomes accidentally ordered.

      At the same time, if we're looking at what you said, you could say that this isn't important, since after the first cause ceases to be, the potencies of the derivative causes will cease being actualized beyond the actualization they will already get from the Laws of Physics.

      Or, I could be looking at this the wrong way entirely.

  12. I just gave it a cursory overview, but it seems like the original poster (like many critics) simply reduces a metaphysical account of causation to a physical model. For one, as Feser's argued elsewhere (see "Existential Inertia and the Five Ways"), it simply doesn't make sense to appeal to Newton and argue that inertia functions metaphysically in this way. At t1, body A is at place x, and at later time t2, it is at different place y. That is, A was "in potency" with respect to y at t1, and "in act" with respect to it at t2. With respect to our universe (let's assume Newtonian mechanics for simplicity), it may well be the case that the given conditions at t1 implied the conditions at t2 barring outside interaction. But Newton's laws of motion are themselves clearly contingent—there's no logical inconsistency, for example, in the law of inertia only functioning in certain spatiotemporal domains, or in certain actions failing to have reactions. What the inertial response amounts to, then, is essentially, "Given Newton's laws of motion (whatever physical or metaphysical underpinnings they may have—say, bosons, fundamental forces, and the like), nothing is needed to actualize the potential of A to be at y at t2. But that's just to say that, in a certain sense, whatever's underpinning Newton's Laws are actualizing A's potential to be at y at t2. And something ELSE in turn has to be actualizing whatever's underpinning Newton's laws, and we're back to the essential regress.

    1. That's a good point. So you're saying that the laws of physics themselves form an essentially ordered series starting with God, and so the objections posed in that thread are illegitimate? Please correct me if my understanding is wrong.

      That seems right to me, and no one really brought it up in the Reddit thread.

    2. Yep! In fact, an "inertial explanation" risks being tautological. It basically amounts to, "Undisturbed bodies continue at constant velocity because undisturbed bodies continue at constant velocity." Which is fine for physics, of course, but is pretty obviously insufficient for metaphysics.

    3. Of course, there might be particles/other physical entities undergirding the above observation, but then you need to explain that as well ("the Higgs boson confers mass because the Higgs boson confers mass" is just as insufficient). That's the entire point of the First Way—unless you have a starting point that does NOT have the potential to be other than it is (i.e. is pure act), causality is as much a mystery as it was before.

    4. So, another question. According to this forum about physics, it would take 5+ years for someone to be poked by a 5-light-year-long stick. Does this mean that Aristotle's stick example is actually an accidentally ordered series rather than essentially ordered, since it would take a fraction of a second for the stick to move the rock, and thus, the causation is not simultaneous?

      This was brought up on the Reddit forum, and it's still confusing me a bit. Here's the physics forum post, for the record:

      Thanks for all your help so far. God bless!

    5. No worries! I wouldn't quibble too much over the hand/stick/stone example—it's more of an illustration than anything else. What makes a causal series essential is if its act depends directly on some prior cause, rather than indirectly. (I'm sure you've heard the grandfather-father-son example of an accidentally ordered causal series, in which the grandfather can die but the father still has the ability to produce a son.) All thing considered, I'm comfortable calling the hand-stick-stone example an essentially ordered causal series, assuming we throw in the proper conditional statements (e.g. given that the surface has friction, given that the force is constant, etc.), since under these conditions, the stone's potential to be moving would fail to be actualized if the hand were to stop moving (with an appropriate time delay, following relativity). And even if the stick were five light-years long, that conditional statement would still hold. The time delay really has no effect on the type of causation taking place.

  13. I do not presently belong to any religion, and though I am attracted to the Catholic Church, I've always found the doctrine of the Eucharist to be incoherent and pointless outside of the impetus it's given to construct beautiful churches within which to administer it. The accidents of bread and wine remain the same, and so according to sensory perception I am merely consuming bread and wine, and yet the substance has changed to . . . the substance of Christ? Has it changed to Christ's glorified body? If so, does that mean Christ's body, which apparently no longer exists in space and time, can regenerate itself each time bits of it are somehow transported into specific spatio-temporal locations during Mass? Or is it God's substance that we consume? God is the subsistent act of being itself, to use Aquinas's formulation. What does it mean to consume such a . . . 'thing?' It would seem that we would become God, and yet that is impossible and absurd. Perhaps it means that God indwells us. But given his nature and his creative act, God always and already does. "I ate the subsistent act of being itself in the form of bread and wine today" is pure gibberish as far as I can tell. In either case, what does the Eucharist actually do for the individual that could not be done by other means? And why does that thing, whatever it is, matter? It doesn't appear to make anyone any more or less virtuous, judging by the majority of lives in whom this sacrament occurs. In other words, it doesn't consistently make people sin less or grow in sanctity. Nor does it seem to grant one a better knowledge of Christ or Christian teaching, as I'm quite sure there are loads of material heretics who partake of the Eucharist. Nor, lastly, does it grant one eternal life, first because humans still all die, and second because, whether I partake of it or not, I will end up alive for all eternity in either heaven or hell, the former of which it does not ensure. One could theoretically, and paradoxically, partake of the Eucharist all one's life and end up in hell or not partake of it at all and potentially end up in heaven, depending on individual in question.

    1. @Anonymous --- Perhaps the most conflicting aspect of Roman Catholic Eucharist theology is its teaching that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice before He went to the cross:

      "At the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed . . . offered up to God the Father His own body and blood under the form of bread and wine . . . (“Concerning the Mass”, chapter. 1; CCC, #1365)."
      Are we to conclude that at the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread in the presence of the disciples, it actually became his sacrificial body, even though the sacrifice had not yet happened? Likewise, are we to conclude that, when Jesus gave the wine, it became his actual sacrificial blood, even though the sacrifice had not yet happened? That would make no sense at all.
      The Scriptures paint a different story, stating that Christ offered his body “on the cross” (cf. 1 Peter 2:24) — no sooner and no later, and certainly not at the Last Supper, before He went to the cross!

      Anonymous, the best advice is to read the Gospel of John three times and this will build your faith and convince you to become a faith filled Bible believing Christian.

    2. Anonymous,

      Thank you for your questions. This is a mystery, so we will not ever be able to fully explain the “mechanisms” behind the Eucharist. Appealing to mystery is not a cop-out explanation, rather, due to the incomprehensibility of God’s infinite nature, we should expect to not be able to fully understand every aspect of God’s union with a finite body.

      To attempt to answer your questions:

      Yes, the Eucharist is the living, glorified, entire body and soul of Christ. This body/soul composite (which is human) is hypostatically united to the Divine nature. The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is the underlying Person of this union. I cannot go into all of the details of Trinitarian Christology here, since I am not knowledgeable enough on that topic to avoid teaching error. Furthermore, a discussion would require multiple books.

      Christ’s Body, being finite, does in fact exist in time and space. The Eucharist being received by multiple people at the same time seems to be an example of multi-location. Many people point to the feeding of 5,000 with a few loaves in John 6 as an example of multi-location. Essentially, God, being omnipotent, can allow the full range of powers (or actualities) of His finite body to be present in multiple locations. What does it mean to “be” somewhere if not to have all of your powers “be” in some location.

      We receive Jesus under the accidents of bread and wine for several reasons:

      1. It is not possible to consume a 180 lb man.

      2. Receiving Jesus under the appearances of flesh and blood would be repulsive to human sensibilities.

      3. Receiving under the appearances of flesh and blood would give us the impression that we are receiving dead flesh, which is not the case. (Neither do we destroy Christ’s impassable body by consuming Him).

      4. Bread and wine look more like flesh and blood than any other common non-perishable food, so they are good symbols.


    3. ...continued.

      You ask if we consume God’s substance. Since God is Subsistent Being Itself, you cannot affect Him in any way (and certainly cannot “consume” Him in the sense of destroying Him).

      What you can do is receive the glorified Body of Christ much in the same way that Mary received the unglorified Body of Christ at the Annunciation. This is an intimate union with Jesus Christ, if praying to God is like calling a loved one on the phone, receiving the Eucharist is like giving your loved one a hug. It is not a perfect analogy, but it does show that there is a significant difference.

      What this intimate union actually does is provide grace to the worthy recipient in a way that mere praying cannot, just as sometimes physical contact with a human can build a relationship in a way that mere talking cannot.

      Of course, just as physical contact can become distorted and warped, especially in bad relationships, the Eucharist can be profaned if the recipient is insincere, irreverent, it has no regard for the will of God.

      You say it doesn’t make people more or less virtuous. My personal experience says otherwise. Now, of course, receiving the Eucharist does not remove free-will, so one can still sin after receiving the Eucharist in a state of grace. However, I believe many people receive the Eucharist (as I used to frequently) in a state of mortal sin, which is itself a sin. So of course we should not expect this sinful behavior to help people grow in virtue.

      Once you realize that you must receive the Eucharist in a state of grace, it gives you a major incentive to purge your life of sin and frequently confess your sins. That is how I have become holier myself (of course I still have a long way to go).

      As I have heard it put before, we cannot judge the effectiveness of the Eucharist based on how holy they are, but based on how holy they would have been without it.

      Finally, you say that people can receive the Eucharist and go to hell, while others can never receive and go to heaven. While that is true, the same applies to people who commit murder and repent who go to heaven while those who never commit murder can go to hell. Does this mean murder has no affect on our relationship with God? Of course not, and I think anyone sensible would recommend avoiding murder as a starting point for growing in virtue.

      If Christ is truly God and commanded us to partake of the Eucharist (do this in memory of Me), then shouldn’t we follow His commands?

      I hope that helps. I hope you look into attending an RCIA class and investigating the Church more. God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

    4. When Catholics are confronted about the physical presence they typically capitulate and talk about it being a mystery. In essence they are saying, You must blindly believe in Christ's physical presence, but when probed they say it is a mystery that cannot be explained. This is typical sophistry. Much of Catholicism is built on the sophistry of scholastic thinking.

      Pope John Paul II (JPII) has muddied the waters of the Eucharist in further confusion. In his encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, JPII says on the one hand that, “the body given up for us and made present under the sacramental signs, was the same body which Mary had conceived in her womb”—and in communion, “we receive His body which He gave up for us on the Cross” (#16, #55). But elsewhere, he said, “The flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is His body in its glorious state after the resurrection” (#18). Paragraph 18 is an irreconcilable contradiction with the others because the pre-crucified body of Christ “had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39) and everyone is in agreement that Mary did not give birth to a glorified, post-resurrected Messiah.

      So, run as fast as you can away from the RCIA.

    5. Has it changed to Christ's glorified body? If so, does that mean Christ's body, which apparently no longer exists in space and time, can regenerate itself each time bits of it are somehow transported into specific spatio-temporal locations during Mass?

      The substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist has no concurrent accident of "Being such-and-such a part of Christ's glorified body." To put it another way, one could not point at the risen Christ and say "We are eating this part of Christ's body right here." So, the question above doesn't even arise.

      Or is it God's substance that we consume? God is the subsistent act of being itself, to use Aquinas's formulation. What does it mean to consume such a . . . 'thing?'

      No, the Eucharist contains the subsistent presence of Christ's glorified body, which is not the same thing as the divine essence per se. Of course, as you mention, the divine essence in some sense exists in everything (or more properly, we participate in it), but that is not the same thing.

      In either case, what does the Eucharist actually do for the individual that could not be done by other means?

      I mean, it confers sacramental grace, which could in theory be done by direct infusion or through some other means. The reason it is the Eucharist through which this is done is because it is deemed by God to be most fitting. That probably has to do largely with Jewish sacrificial custom, which, among other things, I'm not terribly familiar with. Thus, I won't elaborate further.

      It doesn't appear to make anyone any more or less virtuous, judging by the majority of lives in whom this sacrament occurs. In other words, it doesn't consistently make people sin less or grow in sanctity.

      The graces work concommitantly with the will. So if one is in a state of mortal since, the sacramental graces will be utterly unhelpful. For those who persist in striving for virtue, however, then I would say that the sacramental graces do, in fact, help one to continue to grow in virtue. Now, for most people this growth is slow and difficult to measure, so determining where they would be without said Eucharist, at any given moment, isn't going to be particularly easy.

      Nor does it seem to grant one a better knowledge of Christ or Christian teaching, as I'm quite sure there are loads of material heretics who partake of the Eucharist.

      The Eucharist does not grant infused knowledge, though I'd be that it does prop up the sensus fidei which is a supernatural instinct allowing the faithful to have a sense for the rightness or wrongness of a certain teaching.

      Nor, lastly, does it grant one eternal life, first because humans still all die, and second because, whether I partake of it or not, I will end up alive for all eternity in either heaven or hell, the former of which it does not ensure. One could theoretically, and paradoxically, partake of the Eucharist all one's life and end up in hell or not partake of it at all and potentially end up in heaven, depending on individual in question.

      The Eucharist does not confer sanctifying grace in the same way that, say Baptism does. However, there are other graces involved which is does confer on a recipient in a state of grace. Still, when talking about eternal life, what Catholics mean is life in heaven with God, so the fact that we die a bodily death or that we can be extant in hell does not actually contradict Catholic thought on eternal life. As to your theoretical scenario, which it is, in theory, true, practically speaking, one ends up in heaven or in hell, and the Eucharist is definitely a boon to help you on your way to the former, even if it does not by itself determine where you will end up.

  14. Anonymous, I confronted a Catholic on the causal problem of the Eucharist, and his response was that God could do what He wanted. I told him that he just proved occasionalism. Thus the Eucharist violates causation and thus disproves Thomistic metaphysics and therefore validates Hume's assertions. This is why nearly all Catholics struggle with their faith. Their faith is riddled with logical contradictions, faulty metaphysics, and insipid sacraments.

    1. Anon

      I see why you are so confuse. If your source of information about Catholic doctrine is some catholic on the street obviously you won't get the best answer plus+ protestant ignorance about catholic doctrine and protestant's

      Now there is a more fundamental question that need first to be addressed: what's the authority? What's the rule of faith?

      And protestant doctrine Sola Scriptura is so retarded illogical so what's the authority Gerald?

    2. Sola Scriptura is completely logical.

      Sola Scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith for the church today (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Catholics reject this teaching because they claim that it is unworkable as a rule of faith because it has led to divisions, arguments, and disagreements in Protestantism. But is this sound reasoning? No one will deny that there are divisions within Protestantism. However, let us first focus on the hypocrisy of Catholics who claim that Sola Scriptura is false because of the divisions it has caused within Protestantism.
      The Catholic Church claims to be “one” yet there are also many divisions, arguments, and disagreements within her own ranks. Even the illustrious Dr. Feser is in violent disagreement with Rome regarding Capital Punishment. Catholicism is in violent disagreement with itself, as an example, pre-Vatican II church said there is no salvation outside of Catholicism and condemned homosexuality. Post Vatican II church now blesses homosexual unions. Thus Catholicism teaching is unworkable, inconsistent, and every varying.

    3. Oh God! Let's suppose you did not say that the argument against Sola Scriptura is that "it has led to divisions" and that your understanding of the Church being "one" is not so poor.

      Quoting from Ed Feser article

      "The idea is this. Summarizing an early Jesuit critique of the Protestant doctrine, Feyerabend notes that (a) scripture alone can never tell you what counts as scripture, (b) scripture alone cannot tell you how to interpret scripture, and (c) scripture alone cannot give us a procedure for deriving consequences from scripture, applying it to new circumstances, and the like"

      Ok, let's start with a real critique...

    4. "The Catholic Church claims to be “one” yet there are also many divisions, arguments, and disagreements within her own ranks"

      That is very different from what you find in protestant circles. In the Church there are doctrines you are not free to desagree with and if you do you, then, are at odd with catholic teaching ( even popes have been in this position when they do not speak ex catedra). On the contrary, when protestants desagree each other, their positions are equallly valid as they point to the same authority, Scripture.

    5. Paul reminds Timothy that ALL scripture is inspired of God, but he does not say that ONLY scripture is inspired of God. What is it with Protestants trying to sneak "only" into the Bible where that particular word does not belong?

    6. The Orthodox reject ex-Cathedra. Whose authority should I trust, the Orthdox, the Coptics, the Catholic, or some other source? Should I trust a church that says that using a rubber with my wife is mortal sin, while in the same breath blessing homosexual unions. Should I trust a church that claims that Muslims and Catholics worship the same god? BTW, the Orthodox excommunicated the bishop of Rome 1500 years ago. Does that mean Rome has no authority?

    7. @Lopez, You quote Feyerabend: That is down right funny. He rejected ALL religion, science, and philosophy. He was the ultimate skeptic.

      In reality Protestants are more united than Catholics. Why? It all rests in the art and science of heremenutics. Catholic have used contradictory hermeneutics throughout history and thus they cannot even agree if the flood of Noah is real or mythological. This is laughable especially since every church father claimed it was real. Once the heremeneutic has been defined then the Bible becomes very clear. The Bible is way more precise then the futile speculations of philosophy.

      Catholic natural law theologians said for centuries that sex was only for procreation. So as a result most Catholics are in mortal sin without realizing. So Catholicism is enslaved to futile philosophy and has strayed far from the simple and straightforward teaching of Scripture. So be careful what you wish for.

    8. Let's try again

      (a) scripture alone can never tell you what counts as scripture, (b) scripture alone cannot tell you how to interpret scripture, and (c) scripture alone cannot give us a procedure for deriving consequences from scripture, applying it to new circumstances, and the like"

      Please answer

    9. So, you defend protestant position by attacking catholic position? How that would establish protestant's??

    10. The short answer is that Scripture is self-interpreting. The Bible was written at a six grade level to mostly uneducated Jews. The Bible has ONLY one interpretation and many applications. Understanding the Bible is easier than understanding Catholic dogma, Catholic metaphysics, and Catholic Canon law. Seriously,how difficult is it to understand the 10 commandments?

      Jesus often chided his followers for not understanding plain, clear scriptures:
      • “Have you not read . . .?” (see Matthew 12:3, 5, 19:14, 22:31)
      • “Have you never read in the Scriptures . . .?” (Matthew 21:42)
      • “You are wrong because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29; see Matthew 9:13, 12:7, 15:3, 21:13; John 3:10).
      Not once did Jesus say anything such as the following: “I see that you have misunderstood the scriptures because they are not very clear on that matter,” nor did Jesus say: “I see that the scriptures are too difficult for you to understand.” Instead, whether speaking to scholars or uneducated masses, he blamed confusion on those who misunderstood or failed to accept what was written.

    11. Let's try again Gerald you can do it

      (a) scripture alone can never tell you what counts as scripture, (b) scripture alone cannot tell you how to interpret scripture, and (c) scripture alone cannot give us a procedure for deriving consequences from scripture, applying it to new circumstances

      “I see that you have misunderstood the scriptures because they are not very clear on that matter,” you see how retarded is Sola Scriptura? And frankly so are you?

    12. To answer your questions requires about 10 pages, which is beyond the scope of a blog post. But in short, Jesus and the Apostle referred to the Old Testament as Scripture. Peter referred to the writings of Paul and Luke as Scripture.

      Scripture was preserved because there were so many copies of the document created that we can reconstruct the Bible to 99.5% accuracy. Since doctrines are repeated we can be certain that we have a complete text of all the doctrine taught by Christ and the Apostle.

      The problem all rests with tradition. Historically, the leaders of Israel often led the people into apostasy by requiring them to obey the traditions of their elders or fathers. In the seventh century BC, the prophet Jeremiah wrote:
      And the LORD said, “Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them" The Jewish priests and elders taught the people false traditions. Similarly, the heretic created false traditions that led the church astray.

      1. Irenaeus (130–202): “They [heretics] gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures."
      2. Origen (185–254): “No man ought, for the confirmation of doctrines, to use books which are not canonized Scriptures” (Tract. 26 in Matthew).
      3. Athanasius (300–375): “The Holy Scriptures, given by inspiration of God, are of themselves sufficient toward the discovery of truth” (Orat. adv. Gent., ad cap.).

      Thus these fathe's support the principle of sola-Scriptura. This is why I became a Protestant and reject the syncretism of the Catholics (Christian+paganism+Aristotle) and Orthodox (Christianity +paganism + neo_Platonism).

      Good luck on your search. Gerald

    13. Once you have the foundation of Scripture, then the Holy Spirit lives in the born-again believer and guides that person in ALL Truth. I have yet to meet a born-again believer on this blog. This blog is filled with Christian want-to bes, but whose hearts are far from God. This is what Jesus will say at their judgment: "“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matt 7:21-23). Practicing a ministerial priesthood and sacraments are instances of lawlessness.

      You must remember in the NT the Judaizer believed in God but they perverted the teaching of the gospel and Paul declared them worse than unbelievers. This blog spends a lot of time trying to convince people that God exists, which if one studies formal logic one realizes it cannot do. Why? The Bible offers no proof for God because it would require something greater than God himself to prove that God exists. Thus it is impossible to PROVE that God exist. Scholasticism is not formal logic and at its best only provide a plausibility argument for God's existence. A weak one at that, because there are many holes in the A-T framework. Read Plantinga and he soundly refutes A-T. Study formal logic and one finds that A-T has no clothes. I have led many former Communists to Christianity by encouraging them to read the gospel of John three times. Do this and the Holy Spirit will reveal His truth to you. The Bible is a spiritual book and the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth if you are faithful to read it. Unfortunately, most Westerners reject my council and that is why I typically work with Asians because they have more sense about these things.

  15. Gerald, I would be a little more humble if I were you before accusing such a great thinker as Pascal of being logically contradictory and a believer in insipid sacraments:

    "On the subject of the Blessed Sacrament. We believe that, the substance of bread being changed and transsubstantiated into that of Our Lord’s body, Jesus Christ is really present in it: that is one of the truths. Another is that this sacrament also prefigures that of the Cross, and glory, and is a commemoration of both. Here we have the Catholic faith embracing two apparently opposing truths. Modern heresy, unable to conceive that this sacrament contains at once the presence and the figuration of Jesus Christ, and is both a sacrifice and a commemoration of a sacrifice, believes that one of these truths cannot be admitted without thereby excluding the other. They fix on the single point that the sacrament is figurative, and in this they are not heretical. They think that we exclude this truth, and hence raise so many objections about passages in the Fathers which attest it. Finally they deny the real presence and in this they are heretical."

    1. Pascal was an excellent mathematician, but no theologian. He died as a member of the Jansenism sect. Thus he was NOT a Catholic in good standing on his death bed. Maybe, you should study Pascal more closely.

    2. Well, according to Krailsheimer, "Pascal submitted unconditionally [to the Pope] and recognized himself incompetent to pronounce unilaterally on matters of faith." So, he did die a Catholic (and, with respect, perhaps you should study Pascal more closely). Anyway, this is beside the point, which for Pascal is that there is no contradiction between something's being real and a symbol, in this case the Eucharist.

    3. The Pensees was not completed in Pascal's lifetime. Thus it may have contained some of his earlier thoughts or were redacted by others. Consulting Pascal on theology makes as much sense as consulting the Pope on dark matter.

    4. I'm quite sure that the quoted words are Pascal's, but it doesn't matter either way: the point is that there is no contradiction between something's being symbolic or figurative and its being real. Moreover, Dr Feser's point is surely that the real presence in the Eucharist makes sense in a religion that recognises the physicality of the second person of the Trinity, namely, Jesus. Christianity isn't Buddhism or Gnosticism, and the physical isn't evil. Also, Jansenism was a movement within Catholicism, albeit one that was rejected, and not some separate 'sect', as you state.

    5. No Protestant thinks the physical is evil. This is typical of Catholics misunderstanding Protestants. Protestants reject the Eucharist not because of Christ's incarnation or thinking matter is evil. We reject Transubstantiation because it is unbiblical. That simple! Somehow Catholics cannot seem to understand this.

    6. Protestants, as a block, don't reject the real presence. The truth of the real presence isnselaris from the Catholic explanation of it called transubstantiation. Most of the great reformers, not to mention the Eastern Churches, affirm the real presence. You are pushing Zwinglian heresy as if it were the default Protestant position, or as if the real presence was some uniquely Roman Catholic doctrine.

    7. You misunderstand. ALL Protestants reject Transubstantiation and what it means. This has nothing to do with Zwingli. If you properly understood Catholic Eucharist theology, we reject the sacrifice of the Mass. All Protestants reject the sacrifice of the Mass. We find it repulsive, demonic, and undermining to the gospel message. As a Catholic you fundamentally do not understand your opponents position.

  16. An excellent video about the scriptural justification for transubstantiation can be seen here:

    1. Yep, listen to some Millennial pontificate on John 6. In typical Catholic apologist fashion, theological malpractice is being introduced. John 6 has NOTHING to do with the Last Supper. John 6 deals with manna, NOT the Passover of the Last Supper. Manna was something that related to Moses, and the disciples asked Jesus if He was greater than Moses. Why did the disciples ask this question? Simple, in John 6 He fed the 5000 and walked on water before the manna discourse. All three events prove He is greater than Moses. Feeding 5000 is like feeding people in wilderness, walking on water is like parting the Red Sea, and thus John 6 tells the disciples and followers He is greater than Moses. The Last Supper relates to the Passover. A Jew would understand the importance of keeping the typologies separate. A Catholic not so much. Conflating typologies is the mark of someone not properly equipped to study Scripture. Look what Peter writes: "His [Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16). Thus Catholics and some church fathers are ignorant, unstable, and distort the Scriptures to their own destruction.

    2. The typologies are not separate, because Christ united them when, at the Passover with His apostles He declared: this is My Body, this is My Blood, thus making it evident how they would be able to fulfill His commands in John 6. And while the typology of the manna is a different thing from the typology of the Passover, they are closely united in the Jewish mind, as no devout Jew could separate the manna from the Passover experience, and the manna is even recalled in the Passover prayers.

    3. @thefederalist, You have spoken like a true dilettante. You understand little about Judaism, hermeneutics, and the Bible.

    4. Gerald Haug 1: "nor did Jesus say: “I see that the scriptures are too difficult for you to understand.”"

      Gerald Haug 2: "Look what Peter writes: "His [Paul's] letters contain some things that are hard to understand" ..."

      So, Christ vs Peter?

  17. @thefederalist, spoken by a true non-academic. In one sentence you say they are not separate and then in another they are different. Thanks for confirming my model on Catholic intelligence.

    1. Can things that are different be put together so that they are not separate? Are you different from your wife? Did not Christ desire to unite Jews and Gentiles in one faith?
      What's wrong with being a non-academic? Wasn't the Bible written at a sixth-grade level?

    2. There is a difference between a first century Jew with a sixth grade education and a 21st century American. A Jew would know to keep the typologies distinct. Never forget the Bible was written TO the Jew but FOR the present believer. It is always important to read the Bible in within its cultural context.

    3. Your god is unjust (double predestination), so I don't owe him any worship. If he damn me, then that only makes him the cosmic Mao Zedong and you one of Mao's fellow coconspirators. You can take your conspiracy with your god and have it burn in Hell, so you don't have to.

    4. @Cogniblog, I totally reject double predestination. Augustine believed in double predestination and many other wrong theological concepts. Double-predestination rests on the metaphysical concept of monergism. Monergism is an idea from Greek philosophy and not the Bible.

      Catholic apologists have deceived Catholics into believing that double-predestination is what all Protestants believe. In reality it is a very small position of Protestants who believe in double-predestination.

      God will condemn you because you did not listen to His calling, went to a counterfeit Christian church, and did not repent for your sins and accept Jesus as LORD and Savior.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Everyone,

    Please stop responding to Gerald Haug. He clearly has a very bitter attitude to Catholics as he is saying we are liars and employ “theological malpractice”. I am not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like he believes all Catholics are deceptive and intellectually dishonest (what else could malpractice mean). I feel that the Catholics who have responded to him have given him enough information to at least demonstrate that they are not intentionally or negligently misinterpreting the Church Fathers and Scripture. His extremely polemical attitude makes me feel like he may have been hurt by the Church in some way in the past, or perhaps he feels guilty for struggling with some Catholic ethical doctrine (considering he believes Thomism is responsible for “Catholic guilt”). I really cannot say why he has such an uncharitable view of Catholics, but I do not believe our comments will help him come back to the Church, nor do I think it will help other readers. Let’s keep Dr. Feser’s comment section academic and disinterested. Please everyone pray for Gerald that he meditates on the doctrine of the Real Presence with an open mind and heart and pray that he comes back to the Church.

    1. "He may have been hurt by the Church..."

      Maybe, but in my experience people like this tend to "leak information." GH wrote, within a short span of time:

      "Should I trust a church that says that using a rubber with my wife is mortal sin.."

      and then

      "Catholic natural law theologians said for centuries that sex was only for procreation. So as a result most Catholics are in mortal sin without realizing."

      And of course references to the Catholic guilt thing. Some patterns just aren't that hard to recognize.

      Every. Single. Time.

      Angry and abusive reply about how Catholics always accuse ex-catholics of being hung up on sex in 3...2....

    2. Evangelicals glows mad at Ed's blog tonight
      Not a true fact to be seen
      A kingdom of awful hermeneutics
      And it looks like they're the queens
      Their wind is howling like the New Atheists outside
      Couldn't keep it in, no matter how hard they tried.

      Don't let them in don't let them see
      Don't be Catholic, with the Pope you cannot agree
      Obey don't think
      Don't ever read
      Well now I've reaaaaad

      Let it go, let it go
      Can't hold it back anymore
      Let it go let it go
      Turn away and slam the door
      I don't care
      what they're going to saaay
      Let their threats rage on.
      Their rage never bothered me anyway.

      It's funny how some Aquinas
      Made their words seem dumb
      And the fear that caused my shyness
      Suddenly went numb

      It's time to see what I can do
      To test my reason and break through
      Final causes and church authority
      I'm freeeeeeeee

      Let it go, let it go,
      I am one with the church and Queen
      Let it go, let it go
      I left the Reformed scene
      Here I stand
      And here I stay
      Let the threats rage on.

      My determination flurries through the air and through the ground
      My works are growing like frozen fractals all around
      And after all those questions that I have asked
      I'm never going back
      The past is in the paaaaaast!

      Let it go, let it go
      And I'll rise like the saints at dawn
      Let it go, let it go
      That "perfect" disciple's goooone
      Here I stand
      In the light of Rome
      Let the threats rage oooooooooon

      Their rage never bothered me anyway!

    3. To be precise, I have never been hurt by the Catholic church. One of my best friends is a Catholic, who reads this blog regularly. I remind him regularly that he is going to Hell for accepting the false gospel of Catholicism.

      I also remind him of the words of Paul, who echoed this sentiment when he wrote to Timothy about people who practice false religion: “Always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). This describes my friend to the 'T'. Like most Catholics when doubt about his salvation and guilt plague his conscience, he starts doubling down on the Eucharist. In short, Catholics believe greater devotion towards the Eucharist will excoriate the demons of doubt. I no longer struggle with doubt, because I have been delivered from the futility of Catholic dead religion and its bankrupt metaphysics.

      If my friends Catholic faith were dynamite, it would not be enough to blow his nose.

    4. One of Rome’s most repeated claims has been apostolic succession. Yet amazingly, the Catholic Church was forced to admit the following about the Apostolic Canons, which allegedly deal with how the Apostles dictated material to St. Clement of Rome:

      "A tradition (accepted because unexamined) long prevailed that these canons were dictated by the Apostles to St. Clement of Rome, who committed them to writing. Accurate research has dispelled this notion (Catholic Dictionary, pgs. 41–42).

      Thus the Catholic church admits and knows many of traditions are forgeries. This is common knowledge in Europe, but Americans have been somewhat slow to get the memo, so I want to help them.

      Without apostolic succession there is no guarantee of a valid ordained priesthood. As a result, Catholic sacraments are mere placebos, and cannot save, sanctify, or provide graces to the person practicing them.

      The Bible says it best: Matt 7:14--"Enter in through the narrow gate. For WIDE is the gate and broad is the way that leads to DESTRUCTION and many enter through it. But small is the gate and NARROW is the road that leads to LIFE, and only a FEW find it."

    5. Pope Haug has spoken!

    6. @Tom, Nice Poetry. Here is a fun fact.

      The only use of the title “Queen of Heaven” in Scripture is negative (Jeremiah 7:17–19; 44:16–27). This title referred to Ishtar (also called Ashtoreth and Astarte by various other groups), an Assyrian and Babylonian goddess. She was thought to be the wife of the false god Baal, also known as Molech.

    7. @Gerald Haug I read the Book of Jeremiah, and that's an apples-and-oranges comparison. Asherah was a demon and Mary isn't.

  19. I agree with Scott. Don't feed the troll!

  20. I have been reading Gerald Haug's posts, and frankly, they're mostly fiction. A few excerpts will prove my point:

    Did you know that Buddha was canonized a saint in the Catholic church? (see wiki on Barlaam and Josphat (sic))

    Here's Wikipedia on Barlaam and Josaphat:

    "Barlaam and Josaphat ... are legendary Christian martyrs and saints. Their life story may have been based on the life of the Gautama Buddha... Although Barlaam and Josaphat were never formally canonized, they were included in earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology (feast day 27 November)[15] — though not in the Roman Missal..."

    I went to a website from the Coptic church to see their teaching of the Eucharist. Nowhere do they mention the phrase "real presence".

    See here:

    "The Sacrament of Communion is a Holy Sacrament by which the believer eats the Holy Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, presented by the Bread and Wine."

    To be precise Catholics believe in a PHYSICAL presence of Christ. The Orthodox accept a SPIRITUAL presence in the Eucharist. This is a HUGE difference.

    Not so. It is the Calvinists, not the Orthodox, who insist that Christ is merely spiritually present:

    In the fourth century, both Cyril of Jerusalem and Eusebius of Caesarea denied transubstantiation.

    Here's St. Cyril of Jerusalem (see ):

    "These things having learnt, and being fully persuaded that what seems bread is not bread, though bread by taste, but the Body of Christ; and that what seems wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ..."

    That's transubstantiation. And no, you don't need Aristotelian metaphysics to affirm it.

    The words "priest" and "priesthood" are never applied in the New Testament to the office of the Christian ministry.

    The word "homoousios" is never applied to Jesus in the New Testament, either.

    Further Catholic fiction is that Peter was in Rome. Fact, the first mention of Peter in Rome was by Gnostics, NOT Christians.

    Not true. In his Letter to the Romans (A.D. 110), Ignatius of Antioch remarked that he could not command the Roman Christians the way Peter and Paul once did, such a comment making sense only if Peter had been a leader, if not the leader, of the church in Rome. (See )

    During the first five centuries of the church, no mention was made by the church fathers of the bodily assumption of Mary.

    No mention was made of TULIP, either.

    1. Dr. Torley,

      Thank you for your comments. I was thinking that it was ironic how these exegetical discussions (and disagreements) were so applicable to our discussion on the indeterminacy of matter as opposed to the determinacy of conceptual content from Dr. Feser’s last post.

      It certainly is something to think about.

    2. Also note that the English word for "priest" is derived from the German word "priester" which is in turn derived from the Greek word "presbyter". And of course the word for priest would not be applied directly to Christians in the context of the New Testament, for the simple reason that the New Testament was written prior to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and that word would have been taken to refer exclusively to the Jewish priests. But that of course means nothing of the sort that yahoos like Gerald try to extract from it. All you have to do is examine the role that the office of presbyter played, and the usage of the passages from Malachi in the 1st century liturgies to determine that the office of "presbyter" is exactly what we call a "priestly" office in todays parlance. Every single liturgical fragment of 1st century origin and every single 1st century text clearly delineate a priestly office within the early Church.

      Gerald Haug gives every evidence of being a mentally unstable autodidact who cannot tell the difference between established fact and his own private idiosyncratic fancies. It is pointless trying to correct him further, as he needs help of the spiritual and psychological kind. I suggest stop paying him any attention.

    3. Malachi is Old Testament, not New Testament. This is typical of misunderstanding the role of the Old Testament priest. Priest and Presbyter are two different functions because they are two different words in Greek. The Germans misunderstood the difference and thus conflated the ideas of priest and presbyter.

      I don't disagree that Peter and Paul had influence on the Roman church. Why? At Peter's first sermon in Acts 2 it says there were Roman visitors. These Roman vistors took the message of the gospel to Rome. This does not mean Peter was ever in Rome. Thus Mr. Torley fails in his analysis.

      • Not only did Paul want to establish the Church at Rome, but he emphatically explained that he never built upon another’s work. “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation” (Romans 15:20). If Peter had “founded” the Roman Church ten years before, this statement was a great insult to him.
      • At the end of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, he greeted no fewer than 28 individuals, but he never mentioned Peter.

      So Mr. Torley better study a little more carefully. The ministerial priesthood was never in the mind of Christ or the apostles. Without a priesthood there is no case for sacraments.
      In truth, the whole concept of “sacraments” is simply foreign to the New Testament. Jesus was a Jew. His disciples were Jews. The earliest Christians were Jews. The tradition underlying the New Testament is predominantly Jewish, and Judaism at its very foundation is extremely anti-sacramental. With this foundation, Christianity is also very anti-sacramental.
      This is why Jews always used the word ordinance or statue. Both words come from the Hebrew word chuqqah, implying statutes performed out of obedience to God and not as religious acts.

      Theological and metaphysically ordinances and sacraments are very different.

    4. Yes Mr. Torley, study more carefully. Or you could just assent to the magisterial teaching of Pope Haug.

  21. "Priest and Presbyter are two different functions because they are two different words in Greek. The Germans misunderstood the difference and thus conflated the ideas of priest and presbyter..."

    Are you even serious, Gerald? You clearly just made this up on the spot so as to appear to have the last word. Admit it- that's exactly what you just did. "The word is different therefore the role must be different." Give me a break.

    You are so far out of your depth it isn't even funny, and you have been called out repeatedly for asserting blatant and easily recognized falsehoods. Not wasting any more time with this nonsense, as I suspect most people with even a modicum of historical knowledge can see this for exactly what it is.

  22. @Anonymous, It one thing to be out of one's depth and its another to never had any depth. So let me school you.

    In the New Testament, the Greek word for priest is hiereus and is equivalent to the Hebrew word kohen. Other than Jewish priests (cf. Luke 17:14) and the priests of Zeus (cf. Acts 14:13), hiereus is only applied to Jesus (Hebrews 4:14) and to all believers (see 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6). It is never applied to any New Testament clergy. Neither Peter, Paul, or John were ever considered New Testament ministerial priests.

    The Greek word, presbuteros, which appears more than 60 times in the New Testament. Some might recognize the Latinized form this word as presbyter, meaning elder, which refers to seniority in leadership or age.

    In Ezekiel 7:26 elders are distinguished from prophets and priests, each having their own sphere of influence: “they will seek a vision from a prophet, but the law will be lost from the priest and counsel from the elders.”

    Just as a fun fact the word Synagogue and Church have the same root word in Greek: ekklesia. Synagogues were run by elders, NOT priests. Go visit a synagogue today and you will see this. The Catholic and Orthodox model their "church" after the Temple, while Protestants model their "church" after the synagogue. Synagogues do not offer sacrifices, thus the sacrifice of the Mass proves that Catholics and Orthodox are not part of the TRUE church, i.e. Ekklesia.

    So maybe you are referring to yourself when it comes to a lack of historical or biblical knowledge?

    1. Pope Haug the infallible has spoken!

  23. @ Gerald,

    Every post you make further reveals your intellectual dishonesty and makes reformed Calvinism less and less palatable. No wonder new Atheists can't stand Christians with mouthpieces such as this flinging their rhetorical poo at any combox they can find.

  24. @Anonymous, A few words of advice.

    "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." (Prov 20:1)

    "... nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor 6:10)

    1. Oh, the wisdom from your keyboard Pope Haug. The very mouth of God!

  25. I see that Gerald Haug was unable to respond to my points above concerning the beliefs of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the Copts and the Orthodox about the Eucharist, so he has decided to focus his attack on St. Peter' presence in Rome and whether Christ ever instituted a priesthood.

    St. Peter's presence in Rome is admitted by most scholars. There are a few dissenters, the best-known of whom is Otto Zwierlein, a retired classicist who argues that the belief that St. Peter died in Rome goes back no further than 155 A.D. A summary of his views can be found here:

    Here's a review of Zwierlein's 2009 book on the subject, by N.T. scholar James Dunn:

    Pieter W. van der Horst reviews Zwierlein's book here:

    To support his case, however, Zwierlein has to argue that 1 Clement is spurious and was composed around 125 A.D., and that Ignatius' epistle to the Romans is pseudonymous (as well as all the other Ignatian epistles). Both positions are minority views among scholars.

    Haug writes: "The ministerial priesthood was never in the mind of Christ or the apostles." Catholic writer Greg Dues has addressed this matter in Catholic Customs & Traditions, a popular guide (New London: Twenty Third Publications, 2007). He writes (p. 166):

    "Priesthood as we know it in the Catholic church was unheard of during the first generation of Christianity, because at that time priesthood was still associated with animal sacrifices in both the Jewish and pagan religions...

    "When the Eucharist came to be regarded as a sacrifice [after Rome's theology], the role of the bishop took on a priestly dimension. By the third century bishops were considered priests. Presbyters or elders sometimes substituted for the bishop at the Eucharist. By the end of the third century people all over were using the title 'priest' (hierus in Greek and sacerdos in Latin) for whoever presided at the Eucharist."

    OK, so it took more than 200 years for this doctrine to develop. But so what? The doctrine of the Trinity took an even longer time to develop. I suggest that Mr. Haug read Dale Tuggy's article, "History of Trinitarian Doctrines" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at

    See also his blog articles on Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Origen:

    What's more, the word "Trinity" (or its Greek equivalent, "Trias") goes back no further than 180 A.D., and even those who coined it were quite clearly subordinationists.

    As a reformed Calvinist, Haug presumably accepts the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381). Given that the Church, by this time, accepted the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood, I wonder why he places any credence in them. Why isn't Haug a unitarian?

    But if, like Newman, you accept the idea of the development of doctrine, the historical statements Haug makes will not shock you at all.

    1. Dr. Torley,

      Thank you for your references for other readers. However, I do not think your comments will be beneficial to Gerald.

      Out of curiosity. I know you are Christian, but do you belong to a particular denomination?

    2. Vincent Torley, Thanks for mentioning Cardinal Newman. The highly regarded nineteenth-century Catholic theologian Cardinal Newman explained that Constantine introduced many things of pagan origin:
      " We are told in various ways by Eusebius, that Constantine, in order to recommend the new religion to the heathen, transferred into it the outward ornaments to which they had been accustomed in their own . . . The use of temples, and these dedicated to particular saints, and ornamented on occasions with branches of trees; incense, lamps, and candles; votive offerings on recovery from illness; holy water; asylums; holydays and seasons, use of calendars, processions, blessings on fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure, the ring in marriage, turning to the East, images at a later date, perhaps the ecclesiastical chant, and the Kyrie Eleison, are all of pagan origin, and sanctified by their adoption into the Church (An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, 359–360)."

      In addition to this list, the sign of the cross, stations of the cross, the crucifix, holy water, vestments, holy oils, ringing of bells, lighting of candles, blessed palms, scapulars, the rosary, Agnus Dei, incense, medals, and ashes are of pagan origin.

      Yep, Cardinal Newman admits the Catholic church is built on paganism and quotes the first church historian Eusebius. This quote was instrumental in my leaving the Orthodox church. Furthermore Cardinal Newman was an effeminate sublimated homosexual buried in the grave of his lover Ambrose St. John. So, I would most certainly not trust an effeminate sublimated homosexual to make a claim about "doctrinal development" Paul writes:

      "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)"

      For the Protestant, doctrinal development means that the Bible alone is the sole source of God’s special revelation to mankind, and, as such, teaches all that is necessary for salvation and a godly life. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior and doctrine must be measured. This belief is commonly referred to as sola scriptura and is one of the important differences between Catholics and Protestants. Protestants believe that no doctrine can develop that cannot be implicitly or explicitly derived from scripture and, likewise, that no doctrine can contradict scripture. When reading the Bible, we must let the explicit passages of Scripture clarify the implicit ones. A doctrine that we infer from a text cannot be true if it contradicts the explicit teaching of another text.
      Catholics, on the other hand, appeal to scripture, church fathers, rule of faith, papal infallibility, ex-cathedra, or tradition when defining a new doctrine. For instance, the Assumption of Mary (the belief in the bodily ascension of Mary into heaven) has no scriptural support, and cannot be derived implicitly or explicitly, so Catholics appeal to an ex-cathedra proclamation by Pope Pius XII for defense. This is an example of illegitimate doctrinal development.

      The Catholic Priesthood is another example of illegitimate doctrinal development because Catholics admit that the NT ministerial priesthood and sacraments cannot be derived implicity or explicitly from Scripture. To the Catholic innovators and teachers of novel doctrine I give the warnings of Christ in Matthew 7:21-23:

      “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’"

    3. "The Catholic Priesthood is another example of illegitimate doctrinal development because Catholics admit that the NT ministerial priesthood and sacraments cannot be derived implicity or explicitly from Scripture."

      Catholics admit no such thing, and frankly I don't know what you are basing this assertion on. The sacraments are mentioned explicitly in scripture and the priesthood is implied by the explicit teaching about the sacraments. Catholics routinely distinguish between the formal and material sufficiency of scripture for doctrine, and they claim that scripture is materially sufficient for all doctrines taught by the Church but is not formally sufficient. The priesthood is *implicitly* taught by scripture because it follows from the doctrine of the real presence which has a sacrificial character. The doctrine of the real presence implies that the ministration of the eucharist is sacrificial and thus sacerdotal in character. From there you get the priesthood.

      You can claim that you don't agree with this interpretation of scripture but you can't go around claiming that Catholics do not base their doctrines on the implicit teaching of scripture.

    4. @Torley, Just because Stanford says the Trinity cannot be derived from the Bible explicitly does not make it true. I wrote a paper for my church that explicitly derives the Trinity using only the Bible. Stanford's scholarship is clearly second rate on this entry.

  26. I don't think I remember seeing someone more deserving of a Feser banhammer, then the yahoo who has been spewing his bigoted, anti-Catholic vitriol in this article.

    1. Yes when there are 120 comments, and about one third of them are from a single person and the other third are responses to that blogger, I think you have a textbook case of thread jacking.

      I really regret even responding to his initial comment about paganism on a Christmas post. I should have known better.

      But at least I did learn some interesting ways the Church Fathers can possibly be interpreted. I suppose it was not entirely fruitless.

      Sometimes prayer is the only solution.

  27. Looking the thread over, what does Gerald's case amount to? Not much.

    First, he claims that the real presence is a pagan corruption, because it superficially resembles theophagy. Similar reasoning could be used to show that the resurrection is a pagan corruption, because that too has parallels in paganism.

    Then he says that Judaism is anti-sacramental, and so there are no sacraments in Christianity either. But even if this is true, it shows nothing. Judaism is also ceremonially legalistic and anti-Trinitarian. But those elements of Judaism are clearly not normative for Christian belief or practice. So why would anti-sacramentalism be normative? Just because it was a feature of Judaism and the first Christians were Jews? The argument holds no water. You have to prove more than this to even begin to make a case against sacramentalism.

    He then claims that there is no Christian priesthood and so there is no Eucharistic. As Vincent Torley pointed out, the explanatory arrow runs the other way. The adoption of the doctrine of the real presence by the early Christians developed into the doctrine of the priesthood. The connection between the real presence and its sacrificial character is attested to as early as the writing of the Didache. Gerald's only counterargument is that the word for priest doesn't appear in the NT, which was refuted by another Anonymous who pointed out that this is because the term was at the time was used exclusively for Jews in the Temple. Gerald did not refute this at all, but simply repeated his claim about the absence of the term in the NT along with some arrogant linguistic pedantry. That claim, however, had already been acknowledged and adequately explained. He said nothing of substance in reply.

    So we have no arguments of any substance, lots of haughtiness, and some outright falsehoods. Gerald falsely clams the Orthodox believe in a mere spiritual presence in the Eucharist even though he claims he was once Orthodox! He falsely declared that the Coptics did not believe in the real presence. He falsely claims the Catholic church canonized eastern pagans that it clearly did not. He falsely claims that the Marian title "Queen of Heaven" is pagan in origin.

    So what do we have? All I see is a lot of arrogance, a lot of malice, no small measure of ignorance and probably some outright lying.

    Those are some fruits of the holy spirit, now aren't they?

    1. Barlaam and Josaphat found their way into the Roman Martyrology (27 November), and into the Greek calendar (26 August)-Source: New Advent. In other words, the legend of Buddha was taught by the Roman Church at one time.

    2. "In other words, the legend of Buddha was taught by the Roman Church at one time."

      No, Gerald, it doesn't say that. Even when the text is in front of you, you can't resist your malicious urge to slander. What it says is that those legends were speculated by some to have been based upon the Buddha, and that's hardly even definitive. Read what the text actually says and resist your urge to put the worst possible spin on it.

      The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

    3. In a previous post, I show that Cardinal Newman admits by quoting Eusebius that the Roman church is built upon paganism.

      Also, Zwierlein gives a strong case for why Peter was never in Rome. We might add, Eusebius (260–340), bishop of Caesarea, also known as the Father of Church History, quoted Hegesippus (110–180) who stated, “James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the apostles. He has been called the Just by all from the time of our Savior to the present day; for there were many that bore the name of James” (History of the Church, 2:23:4). Notice, no mention of Peter as being the head of the church.

      Unfortunately, many legends regarding Peter were created, some unwittingly promoted by well-meaning Church Fathers. For example, The Acts of Peter, a dubious apocryphal work written in the mid-second century, was a fictional “apostolic romance” of Leucius Charinus (who also penned apostolic romances about John, Paul, Thomas, and Andrew). In this exaggerated book, Peter supposedly performed miracles such as resurrecting smoked fish and making dogs talk. In addition, The Acts of Peter was the first to claim that Peter was crucified upside down. This is difficult to imagine; nearly 70 years old, Peter most likely would not even have survived the whipping and torture that always preceded crucifixion.

      1 Clement and Ignatius' epistles make no explicit mention of Peter being in Rome. They only allude to the influence of Peter, which is not surprising because Peter was sent to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Peter was in Antioch and this is why he was significant in Ignatius's mind. Much of what we know about Clement comes from Liber Pontificalis, which has been redacted many times and contains obvious forgeries. Furthermore 1 Clement was written anonomyously and that is why some date it as late as 140 AD.

      In short, the church fathers, Catholic Encyclopedia, and Cardinal Newman are why I left the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Catholicism is a syncretic religion mixing paganism, Aristotle, and Christianity. This is no different than the Old Testament Jews, who were cursed and condemned when they mixed paganism with Judaism. Catholics live under a similar curse of condemnation and this is evidenced with a large homosexual clergy, pedophilia, and high rates of alcoholism and depression among clergy and lay-people. Catholicism cannot save because it is apostate and counterfeit.
      Praise God that I am now a Bible believing, non-Calvinistic, non-sacramental, born-again Christian. Calvin and Luther were still trapped in Augustinianism and thus could not fully comprehend the error of double-predestination.

    4. "In a previous post, I show that Cardinal Newman admits by quoting Eusebius that the Roman church is built upon paganism."

      You showed no such thing. If you read the quote in context, you would know that Newman never says that Catholicism is "built" upon paganism- that is more of your malicious eisegesis. What Newman actually says is that Catholicism contains cultural elements that were adapted from the pagan culture that was eventually displaced by Christianity. He then goes on to show that many of these same elements are retained by all forms of Christianity, protestant and catholic alike. They are interwoven to such a degree that it is a fool's errand to try and propound a version of Christianity completely devoid of any elements from non-Christian and Jewish cultures. So you are putting words into Newman's mouth- That is more of your malicious eisegesis.

      And I see that you didn't respond to any of the other points made- you just keep doubling down on your previous claims with more arrogance and pedantry.

      "Gerald thanks you God, that he is not like other men."

      Get the plank out of your own eye!

  28. "Mary didn’t protest that she had never consented to being the vessel of the Incarnation."

    How come she didn't? She did it exactly then, by saying yes. Or do you imply that the angel only came to inform Mary that the Savior is already in her womb? I don't think the Church teaches that.

  29. Writing around 377, the church father Epiphanius of Salamis stated that no one knows the nature of Mary’s end. He added that Mary "the queen of heaven" should not be worshipped or adored.
    Mary should be honored, but the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit should be worshipped; no one should worship Mary. . . Even though “The tree is lovely” it is not for food; and even though Mary is all fair, and is holy and held in honor, she is not to be worshipped . . . And they drink impious drinks as the word of God says, “And the women grind flour, and their sons gather wood to make cakes for the host of heaven.” Such women should be silenced by Jeremiah, and not frighten the world. They must not say, “We honor the queen of heaven” (Epiphanius, Panarion, Section VII, 59 [79], 7.5–8.2).

  30. The title “mother of God” is not found in Scripture, nor is it implied. Interestingly, Jesus never called Mary his mother, but woman.

    From the cross, Jesus addressed her in this way: “Woman, behold your son.” (John 19:26). It seems Jesus omnisciently foresaw the system of “Mariolatry” that would be erected.

    1. "The title “mother of God” is not found in Scripture, nor is it implied. Interestingly, Jesus never called Mary his mother, but woman."

      And this proves absolutely nothing. You are assuming the following is true: "If Mary were the Mother of God, then the NT would record Jesus referring to Mary as 'mother' at least once."

      This claim is baseless, and without it you have no argument. The claim is not based upon logic, or scripture, or tradition, or history. And your reasoning in this case would apply with equal force to terms like Trinity and Homoousion which do not appear in the NT either.

      Another mere opinion, backed up by nothing.

  31. Was Mary sinless??

    World-renowned historian and scholar of early Christian doctrine J. N. D. Kelly reveals that second century church fathers Irenaeus and Tertullian recognized that Mary sinned:
    “Irenaeus and Tertullian recalled occasions on which, as they read the gospel stories, she [Mary] had earned her Son’s rebuke, and Origen insisted that, like all human beings, she needed redemption from her sins; in particular, he interpreted Simeon’s prophecy (Luke 2:35) that a sword would pierce her soul as confirming that she had been invaded with doubts when she saw her Son crucified” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, HarperOne, 1978, p. 493).

    Ludwig Ott, a 20th century Catholic theologian, in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, echoes the idea of Mary doubting Christ when he writes that some “Greek Fathers (Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity, doubt about the message of the Angel, and lack of faith under the Cross.”

    So, Mary’s lack of faith under the cross is evidence that she was as sinner, for the Bible’s words are quite clear, “everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23b).

    1. "Ludwig Ott, a 20th century Catholic theologian, in his book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, echoes the idea of Mary doubting Christ when he writes that some “Greek Fathers (Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity, doubt about the message of the Angel, and lack of faith under the Cross.”

      Nup. Otto doesn't "echo". He merely reports. Faithfully ... unlike some people around here.

      Here is the relevant paragraph:

      "While individual Greek Fathers (Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity, doubt about the message of the Angel, and lack of faith under the Cross, the Latin Patristic authors unanimously teach the doctrine of the sinlessness of Mary. St. Augustine teaches that every personal sin must be excluded from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the honour of God (propter honorem Domini.[De natura et gratia, 36, 42] St. Ephrem the Syrian puts Mary, in her immaculateness, on the same plane as Christ. (see Par. 3). According to the teaching of St. Thomas, the fullness of grace which Mary received in the active conception (according to modern theology, in the passive conception) implied confirmation in grace and therefore sinlessness [Summa th. III 27, 5 ad 2]"

      It's helpful to recall that only when the Church Fathers UNANIMOUSLY consent on a point of faith or morals do we have Catholic doctrine. But when there is division, we don't ... at that stage. The precise doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception - freedom from all stain of original sin, mortal, venial, imperfections etc - was only confirmed as infallible in 1854. The fact that some (not all) early Fathers believed Our Lady might have had venial personal faults is now as irrelevant as the fact that the apostle Thomas once disbelieved in the Resurrection.

      P.S. Where in scripture does it say Mary lacked faith under the cross? Sure, some early fathers speculated as such, but I thought we're supposed to be basing our beliefs on Sola Scriptura ???

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. [repost due to typos]

      Hugh, thank you for your excellent clarification and rebuttal to the Troll, in regards to exactly what Ludwig Ott was reporting.

      However, I would offer the following clarifications to your further comments in regards to the Church Fathers and Catholic Doctrine.

      Firstly, you may have mistakenly used the term "unanimously", when you meant "universally". It is not the case that there has to be a literal unanimous (meaning zero dissent) consensus of Church Fathers. Nor do individual Church Fathers determine irreformable/infallible Catholic Dogma/Doctrine.

      Many, but not all, of the Apostolic Church Fathers, Ante-Nicene Fathers, and Doctors of the Church were members of the Ordinary Magisterium. So, while on an individual basis they do not enjoy the charism of infallibility...they may proclaim a Dogma/Doctrine infallibly when in unity with the dispersed Bishops of the Church and the Pontiff:

      "Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they can nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly. This is so, even when they are dispersed around the world, provided that while maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with Peter’s successor, and while teaching authentically on a matter of faith or morals, they concur in a single viewpoint as the one which must be held conclusively. This authority is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church." -- Lumen Gentium 25

      Furthermore, the Ordinary Magisterium does NOT require a "unanimous" consensus. What is required, and what I think you meant, is that the Church considers teachings that are believed everywhere, always, by everyone (Quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est), as per the rule of St. Vincent, to be a necessary condition for infallible Dogma/Doctrine. In this case, "everyone" does not mean complete, absolute unanimity of all individuals, but rather overwhelming consensus.

      Again, just wanted to make a distinction between "unanimous" and "universal".

    4. Thanks, Tritium! I'm probably using the term "unanimous" in a sense that implies "universal" as you use it. This article by Jimmy Akin is helpful as to what Trent meant by "unanimous consent" and how it cashes out.

      Certainly Gerald is way off to cite a dissenting opinion of some fathers as if it were some sort of problem for Catholic dogmas such as the Immaculate Conception, when the most Trent said was that if the Church Fathers unanimously (however interpreted) ruled on a scriptural passage from a point of view of faith and morals, then that was to be understood as binding.

    5. The "unanimous consent" means undivided consent. That means if one does not have 100% agreement then one is divided. Seriously, if Jimmy Akin needs to redefine the word unanimous then he is practicing sophistry, and the very definition of a blind guide who is deceived and deceiving others.

      No wonder Catholics cannot understand the Bible, considering they cannot understand the simple definition of the word "unanimous".

    6. @Hugh

      Thank you for your reply and that link to the NCR article by Jimmy Akin. Looking at the further incoherent ramblings of the Troll, in response to our discussion, it is evident he is completely ignorant of how infallible/irreformable Dogma and Doctrines are discerned and proclaimed. Evidently, he still thinks absolute unanimity is a necessary condition. It is obvious that he would dispute the very fact of an infallible/irreformable doctrine...but that doesn't matter, as the Troll's actual point of contention involves the mistaken belief that absolute unanimous consent is required (irregardless of the fact that he doesn't consider it binding).

      The fact that he actually accepts and believes, with religious assent, the Dogmas and Doctrines defined by many of the Ecumenical Councils is quite ironic, actually. Just a few examples of such Dogmas/Doctrines would include:
      A) There is only ONE God
      B) In God there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each of the three Persons possess the One Divine Nature.
      C) Jesus Christ, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, is True God and True Son of God.
      D) Christ assumed a real body, not an apparent body.
      E) Christ assumed not only a real body, but a rational soul.
      F) The Divine and Human Natures in Christ are joined to each other in one Divine Person.
      G) Christ incarnate is a single, that is a sole (Divine) Person. He is both God and man at the same time.
      H) Each of the two Natures (Divine and human) in Christ continues unimpaired, untransformed, and unmixed with the other.
      G) Only the Second Divine Person became man.
      H) Christ was free from all sin, from original sin as well as from all personal sin.
      I) The Son of God became man in order to redeem men.

    7. (continued)

      But back to the main point of argument, how Dogmas/Doctrines are discerned and authoritatively proclaimed. The following excerpt from "The Procedure of an Ecumenical Council" from the Dominicana Journal puts payed to the issue. Here is described the final stage of an Ecumenical Council, and the formal and final voting on the Decrees (discussed, debated and final drafts decide upon in previous sessions):


      As at the other sessions so at the solemn public sessions prayers for enlightenment are said. After the High Mass, celebrated in the assembly hall, the open book of the Gospels is
      enthroned on the altar. The Holy Father intones the "Veni Creator Spiritus" and the verses of this sublime hymn are sung alternately by the choir and the assembly. Then the Sovereign
      Pontiff sings some special prayers and the Litany of the Saints is chanted according to the melodies of Gregorian chant. At this point of the services all those who do not strictly belong to the council are sent away and the doors are locked. And the work of the solemn public session is finished with only the
      officials of the council and the voters present.

      One of the secretaries of the council ascends the pulpit and reads the entire Constitution to be voted on. At the conclusion he asks: "Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers, do you approve
      of the canons and decrees contained in this Constitution?"
      Then beginning at the senior member of the council each one is called upon to stand in his place and vote. If he approves the decrees he answers, Placet; and if he does not approve he votes, Non placet. An usher standing near the voter repeats the "Placet," or "Non placet." Another usher standing close by does the same. And then the ushers send the vote echoing
      three times through the assembly hall. Thus there can be no mistake as to the vote, for not only the notaries, but anybody who wishes can keep a correct tally. At the conclusion of the
      voting there is a pause in which the notaries count the votes and then announce the results (Cf. Acta et Decreta Cone. Vat.
      Cap. XX).

      The Pope, being superior to a council, is in no way obliged to confirm the decisions of the majority. But since the reason a Pope convokes an ecumenical council is to call the bishops of
      Christendom to one place that they can assist him to pass judgments on matters pertaining to faith and morals the Holy
      Father generally confirms the decisions of the majority (maior aut sanior pars) of the bishops. And when the decrees and
      canons of a council receive the personal confirmation of the Holy Father they must be observed by the entire Church. This confirmation of the Pope is the official sanction given to the work of the council. It is the signature of the Vicar of Jesus Christ who said to the Apostles and their successors, "Who hears you, hears Me" -- Luke, X, 16.

  32. Now that we have established that Mary sinned. The Marian dogmas crumble into a pile of dust. The Rosary is pure nonsense and the mindless prayer of pagans.

    1. “Greek Fathers (Origen, St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria) taught that Mary suffered from venial personal faults, such as ambition and vanity, doubt about the message of the Angel, and lack of faith under the Cross.”

      Personal faults are not always equated with sin in Catholic theology, so this proves nothing. And these fathers aren't infallible, so their opinions cannot be taken to have proven anything.

      For the record, sin is an actual transgression of the moral law whereas personal faults are imperfections that can occur without the imputation of sin.

      So even if this quotation is taken at face value, and it need not be, it still doesn't show what you think it does.

      And for you to think you have "shown" a claim of this magnitude on the basis of such meager evidence as this reveals considerable self-deception and hubris.

    2. @Anonymous,
      All I can say is WOW! The level of raw ignorance you just demonstrated in this post just shows how clueless you really are. You said,"Personal faults are not always equated with sin in Catholic theology."

      Are you serious???? So in your estimation, if Mary suffered from vanity then she would still be sinless. All I can say is you don't even understand the very definition of sin and thus you are too ignorant for further debate. You demonstrate that you don't understand Catholic theology or even Christian theology. Therefore, you have effectively disqualified yourself from further debate. Good job!

    3. If you were paying attention to context, as opposed to just spouting off, you wouldn't be so dismissive.

      In defense of your claim Mary sinned, you quoted Ludwig Ott who presupposes a Catholic understanding of what personal faults are. So quoting him as stating that Mary suffered from personal faults is not equivalent to showing that Mary sinned in his opinion, which is what your quotation intended to show.

      So my point stands- your use of that quotation fails to show what you think it does.

      You are the ignorant one if you cannot understand the distinction between faults and actual sins, which is a real theological debate of historical importance. You are so blinded by pride you think everything you have never heard of is mere fiction.

      Since you didn't bother to argue, and went straight to accusation let me repeat in the hopes something will penetrate your pride-blinded intellect: faults understood as dispositional inclinations are not necessarily sins. Sins involve the use of the will. Faults do not. You can disagree, but for you to call me "ignorant" for referencing an obvious distinction like this reveals yet again just what a textbook Dunning-Kruger case you are.

  33. Gerald Haug's response to my previous post is weak and unconvincing. I asked him why he was not a Unitarian, given the clear evidence that the doctrine of the Trinity was not taught by any of the Fathers until the fourth century - well after the Church had decided to call presbyters "priests." In reply, Mr. Haug refers to an unpublished paper in which he claims to have refuted Dale Tuggy, a former Professor of Philosophy and currently an analytic theologian. Well, let's see the paper, Mr. Haug.

    Mr. Haug also claims that the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly taught in Scripture. Let me refer him to the following highly readable pamphlet by Henry Ware Jr. titled, "Outline of the Testament of Scripture Against the Trinity" (1832). It's pretty devastating. There's no way I'd argue for the Trinity based on the Bible alone. Here's the pamphlet:

    Not content with that, Mr. Haug endeavors to slur Cardinal Newman in an ad hominem attack, insinuating that he was a homosexual. The charge is baseless, as leading biographers of Newman have attested:

    Mr. Haug further argues that Mary sinned, citing various Greek Fathers who thought as much. But no Father or Doctor of the Church is infallible, and there were other Fathers (such as Ambrose and Ephrem of Syria) who taught that Mary was sinless:

    Incidentally, Catholics entirely agree with the teaching of St. Epiphanius of Salamis, that "no one should worship Mary." He was writing against a sect called the Collyridians who worshiped her as a goddess. Mary is a creature: she can do nothing on her own.

    "With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since he alone can say, 'I am he who is.'" (St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, Chapter I, para. 14.)

    By the way, when Jesus called his mother "woman," a better translation would be "Madam." It was a very formal term of address, but not a disrespectful one.

    Finally, Mr. Haug rejects the teaching of the Council of Ephesus (431 A.D.) that Mary is the Mother of God. I am astonished. Does he acknowledge Jesus to be a Divine Person. Yes or no? Does he acknowledge Mary as the mother of Jesus? Yes or no? If his answer is "yes" to both questions, then it follows that Mary is the mother of a Divine Person. And this (and only this) is what we mean when we call her Mother of God.

    How much does Dr. Haug really believe? Does he accept the Nicene Creed?



    In answer to your question, I am a Catholic.

  34. "Mr. Haug further argues that Mary sinned, citing various Greek Fathers who thought as much. But no Father or Doctor of the Church is infallible, and there were other Fathers (such as Ambrose and Ephrem of Syria) who taught that Mary was sinless"

    There was an interesting exchange between Dave Armstrong and the wildly anti-Catholic James White. White tried to invoke the Fathers as proof against Mary's sinlessness. Dave replied that you can't have it both ways. Namely, if a few Fathers disagreeing on a Marian doctrine disproves that doctrine, then the fact that none of the Fathers agreed on what books belonged in Scripture in the first place makes absolute mincemeat of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.

    1. James White plays fast and loose with Church History and with the Fathers, and he tends not to pay much attention to whether his arguments cohere with his own stated position. The arguments of his that are worth paying attention to tend to be the ones that he retools from the Anglicans George Salmon and Whitaker. If you are looking for a serious challenge, then go back and consult those authors directly as opposed to bothering with White, who is for the most part like an anti-Catholic Richard Dawkins or John Loftus- prone to overstatement and just a little bit unscrupulous in handling the evidence.

    2. @Scott W. Yet another troglodyte who does not understand the definition of Sola Scriptura. How do the Fathers prove or disprove Sola Scriptura? This is just ridiculous and shows yet again a Catholic who does not have a clue what he is talking about. Seriously, I have observed Catholics getting more and more ignorant over the years. All the Jesuit sophistry and brainwashing they receive has dulled their reasoning faculties.

      So Scott W, your homework is to properly define sola Scriptura.

    3. That's a lot of insult, but nowhere do you show that Soctt doesn't know what Sola Scriptura is. Nor do you even show it is relevant in this particular context, since he was talking about a debate he watched and not addressing the argument directly.

      Are you thinking before you post, Gerald, or is that amygdala of yours now completely in the driver's seat?

  35. Hi Scott,

    Good point. By the way, if anyone wants to listen to a really professional critique of Catholic claims, in contrast to Mr. Haug's piecemeal criticisms, they should check out this 40-minute podcast by Dr. Jerry Walls:

    Dr. Walls makes a very strong case that there was no single bishop of Rome until about 150 A.D. (In other words: the list of bishops of Rome enumerated by Irenaeus is bogus.) Pope Anicetus (157-168) is the earliest bishop of Rome we can reliably identify. Walls quotes from Catholic scholars, including Eamonn Duffy, author of Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes, who seem to agree with him on this point:,+indeed,+there+was+no+pope&source=bl&ots=zqo21OnoGH&sig=ZmdA_KIFSR1aM0Jrs-ek5-cENuQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjI4-GPwMXfAhUDurwKHeUDBu4Q6AEwAHoECAoQAQ#v=onepage&q=Duffy%20To%20begin%20with%2C%20indeed%2C%20there%20was%20no%20pope&f=false

    "To begin with, indeed, there was no 'pope,' no bishop of Rome as such, for the church in Rome was slow to develop the office of chief presbyter, or bishop...

    "There is no sure way to settle on a date by which the office of ruling bishop had emerged in Rome, and so to name the first Pope, but the process was certainly complete by the time of Anicetus, in the mid-150s, when Polycarp, the aged Bishop of Smyrna, visited Rome, and he and Anicetus debated amicably the question of the date of Easter."

    However, Dr. Walls labors under a few misapprehensions.

    (1) He seems to think that it's Catholic teaching that St. Peter died in Rome. It isn't. Nothing in Vatican I says that. It merely says that the bishop of Rome is Peter's successor. That could still be the case if Peter had died in Jerusalem (say) and on his deathbed declared that his authority would henceforth be wielded from Rome.

    (2) He seems to think that Vatican I's statement that "jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ the Lord" means that it was explicitly promised and that its meaning was clearly understood from the very beginning of Christianity.

    (3) He also seems to think that if there was no single bishop of Rome until 150 A.D., then the Pope cannot be the successor of Peter. But even if there was a group of bishops in the first few decades after Peter's death, the single bishop that subsequently emerged would still be their successor, and if they were ordained by Peter, then that bishop would be his successor too.

    Dr. Walls also exaggerates the strength of the case for the Resurrection, by quoting probability estimates of 97% made by Dr. Richard Swinburne. (For a critical discussion of this estimate, see here: )

    Anyway, it's a fascinating talk. See what you think.

  36. Further Proof that Mary sinned:

    The Roman Catholic Church claims that Mary never sinned. However, the Bible says that “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In Luke 1:46–47, Mary testified to her sinfulness by acknowledging her need for a Savior. Someone born without sin does not need a Savior.

    Further evidence refuting the alleged sinlessness of Mary is found in Mark 3:20–35:
    Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family [including mother] heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:20–21).

    In other words, Jesus’ natural family members came to take custody of Him because they thought he was crazy. Jesus responded as follows:
    “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Jesus asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33–34)
    Notice Jesus did not acknowledge Mary or her other sons in the slightest way as His mother and brothers. He showed them no special honor. In fact, he did not even talk to them at that point. Instead, He said:
    Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35).

  37. @Torley
    Regarding the Trinity. I am completely Trinitarian. In reality, I am more Trinitarian then you because I reject the Catholic concept of the Trinity. What is the difference you ask? Catholicism added the filioque without permission, without Church Council, to the Nicene Creed. So in reality you are the ONE who rejects the ruling of the Nicene Creed. In truth Protestant and Orthodox have the same belief in the Trinity, while Catholic innovated on the doctrine. Further evidence of Catholicism innovation and doctrinal aberrations.

    1. Gerald,

      I did a word search, and your name appears on this combox 79 times. Can you please stop threadjacking?

      If you are so convinced that we are all going to hell, why don’t you pray for us? We will do the same for you. I think enough points have been made about the Eucharist.

      You talking about the Trinity and Marian dogmas and shouting that Catholics are ignorant are not going to convert any souls, even if you were right.

      Furthermore, it is interfering with other people’s ability to learn from actually Eucharistic related comments on this blog.

      And finally, your attitude is likely to make Dr. Feser have to do considerable more work filtering comments to clean up his blogs. That prevents him from being able to do actually intellectually important work.

      Remember, this was a Christmas post about holiness, not a full-fledged presentation on the Catholic position on the Real Presence.

    2. I will stop posting, when people stop responding. You said, I could get the last word.

    3. @Scott, I have prayed for your eyes to be opened. I also need to show Catholics they should stop blinding drinking the swill that they get from their favorite apologist.

    4. You have no moral authority and no moral credibility. As our Lord says in Matt 12:34- "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."

      All that you have spoken here is slander, falsehood, and dripping with pride and arrogance. That is what comes out of you because that is what is inside of you.

      Get the plank out of your own eye.

    5. I have personally let you have the last word, but you are blowing up this thread. I have not responded to any of your theological, historical, or exegetical points since then. It is not reasonable to expect everyone in the entire world to refrain from responding to you. Maybe you should let someone else have the last word.

    6. @Anonymous
      Jesus called the religious leaders a "brood of vipers", Revelation talks about the "Synagogue of Satan", and Paul says, "One of Crete's own prophets has said it: "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." These are all valid rebukes. In the same way, I rebuke you for utter theological ignorance. You probably should be quiet and maybe learn something before you act as a "fool spouting folly" (see Proverbs 15:2).

    7. @Scott, I am not forcing you to read my responses to others. Your a big boy, stop reading my responses. In reality, your faith has been rocked, and much like my Catholic best friend, you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and now want to make all this anxiety go away. As I tell my friend, your Catholic cowardice is legion.

    8. @Gerald Haug

      LOL. It has been interesting, at the very least, to see the classic Troll pattern develop in your posts. It starts with seemingly cordial and respectful disagreements over a topic. It then devolves into an intellectually dishonest screed which is the equivalent to throwing crap at the proverbial wall and hoping something sticks. Finally, they enter the "crash and burn" phase in which the troll actively attacks and disparages specific individuals with childish insults and abusive language.
      It would be comical if it wasn't so pathetic.

    9. Tritium,

      Yes well this why I have been trying to ask Gerald to simmer down. He thinks I am intimidated by his superior arguments, but in reality I stopped paying attention to him when he failed to respond to many of my arguments and started calling Catholics liars and implying that they are negligently ill-informed.

      My sincere concern is that Dr. Feser begins reviewing the comments again before allowing them to be published. In light of this episode, it might not be a bad idea to reinstate that, but the downside is that it can delay and stilt conversation.

      I hope that Dr. Feser keeps it the way it is in one way, but I also do not want to see this blog combox turn into a troll-fest.

  38. @Torley, You link to the book written by the Unitarian is just laughable. Is the best a PhD in philosophy can offer?

    There are many Protestant books that prove the veracity of the Trinity using ONLY the Bible. Maybe you should start searching for them instead of some obscure book from the 1800s. My personal favorite is Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.

    It is so typical of Catholics to not properly understand the phase space of Protestant theology and make foolish strawman arguments about Protestants, like calling me a Calvinist. This shows that you don't understand the phase space of basic Protestantism.

  39. @Torley,
    You made claims that I slandered Newman. Your links gave me a good chuckle. Let me quote that last paragraph of one of your links: "My own reading of Newman is that, whatever his orientation, he almost certainly led a chaste life, since he clearly valued the spirit as well as the custom of celibacy". Thus the author of this article readily admits that Newman's sexual orientation was questionable.

    In contrast, before I was married, I was a non-practicing hetrosexual. It was very clear to everyone that I was a non-practicing hetrosexual. My orientation has always been hetrosexual. It is also clear that Newman was homosexual and effeminate in orientation. If he was chaste or not is not relevant to the discussion. I would never trust a man or a church that is homosexual in orientation or allows the ordination of homosexuals. It is that simple. Homosexuality is an abomination in the Bible, a very serious sin.

  40. Mr. Haug's response contains a mixture of strong, weak and irrelevant points. Before I continue, let me retract my previous assertion that Haug is a Calvinist. (I find it puzzling, however, that he quotes Calvinists like Wayne Grudem.)

    Re Cardinal Newman: Haug is now prepared to grant that Newman was chaste, but regards him as unsuitable for the priesthood because he was "homosexual in orientation." Well, I flat-out deny the reality of "sexual orientations." Sexual orientation is a pseudo-category, a Freudian invention - and Freud was a fake scientist. By the way, Mr. Haug, the correct spelling of "hetrosexual" is "heterosexual."

    Mr. Haug cites Mark 3:20–21, in an attempt to prove that Mary sinned. His argument, if true, proves too much. Haug really ought to read Bart Ehrman's article, "Does Mark's Gospel actually deny the Virgin Birth?" at . Dr. Ehrman uses the same passage to argue that "Jesus’ mother does not seem to know that he is a divinely born son of God. On the contrary, she thinks he has gone out of his mind," which would make no sense if "Jesus' mother knew anything about his having had an extraordinary birth." In fact, the passage merely asserts that Jesus' family collectively thought he was mad, without saying anything about Mary's opinions on the subject.

    Let me add that although Jesus had a human nature, He had no human personality. Had you met Him on the street and asked Him what His favorite color was, or whether He preferred brunettes or blondes, or which sport He liked best, you would have been disappointed to find that He lacked any of the individual quirks and preferences that distinguish one human person from another. He also had no particular attachments: while He loved His mother, for instance, He was not fond of her, as any normal son would be - hence He could seem almost aloof, in His dealings with His family, as He was in Mark 3.

    To be continued...

    1. Thanks for correcting my spelling of "heterosexual".

      The mark of a superior intellect is to understand the phase space of a discipline. Therefore, the mark of a solid Christian is to understand the Calvinism, Arminianism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Eschatology, hermeneutical frameworks, metaphysics, OT and NT history, typology, church fathers, figures of speech, and ecclesiology. Anything less will leave a person at the mercy of their favorite denomination.

      I like Wayne Grudem despite him being a Calvinist. His material is helpful on many topics. A superior intellect understands how to separate the wheat from the chaff, which something few can do.

      Most of the people that post on this blog, regardless if their theologians or philosophers are just out of their league. These dabblers are drawn to the cult of personality that they find in their favorite apologist.

    2. @Torley, you demonstrate the same level of unsophistication as my Catholic friend. Both Mary and John the Baptist had questions about Jesus Messianic nature, because it did not look like what they expected. This is no different than Catholics who have a false concept of what the church is. Without a proper understanding of Revelation it is impossible to properly understand the nature of the church. Thus quoting Bart Ehrman just exposes further ignorance.

      My fried loves to say to me that I "prove too much". I tell him, what you are really saying is that you have been checkmated and you have no rebuttal. This is the typical Catholic endgame, when they have no rebuttal to the plane testimony of Scripture.

      As a philosopher your theology has been tainted by your metaphysics, when in reality it should be the other way around. Theology comes before metaphysics and not the other way around. I say this because the Bible supports both occasionalism and powers-based metaphysics. Thus anyone trying to create the "unified theory of metaphysics" is running a fools errand. God is way more rich than the simplistic (pun intended) understanding of Thomism.

      Thus your comment on rejecting the category of "sexual orientation" is total reflection of your Thomistic background. I get that. Since, I have a very dim view of metaphysics, philosophers, I am not enslaved by the logical contradictions riddled throughout ALL metaphysical frameworks.

      In short, Thomism does not map to reality as much as Catholic philosophers want to contend. Philosophy is a handmaiden and not a queen like theology. Theology leads to both an understanding of reality and supernatural. Thus I cannot help your primitive understanding what constitutes the "impedance matching" of history, science, philosophy, theology, and literature.

    3. Gerald, after this latest salvo, I take back what I said about pride and arrogance- this is full blown narcissistic delusion!

    4. @Anonymous, let me quote you from Feser latest post:
      "Personally, I self-identify as 'being always right'. This has certainly made my life a lot easier.

      At first, I was planning on self-identifying as God. But then I figured, 'being always right' is good enough for now. (You know, baby-steps.)"

      WOW, these are basically the same words that Satan spoke before his fall. Now tell me who has pride, arrogance, and full blown narcissistic delusion?

  41. Back again.

    Finally, Mr. Haug refers me to Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology on the subject of the Trinity. Readers may peruse it here:

    However, nowhere does Dr. Grudem attempt to state what the doctrine means. He tells us that "God is three persons," but makes no attempt to define the term "person." This is what is called "leading with your chin" in boxing circles. Does "three persons" mean that God is three agents, three subjects of consciousness, three selves, three minds, three wills? Grudem's defense of the Trinity fails to even address these questions. (For the record, I would say that God has one mind, one will and one agency, but that the three Persons, being three "whos," are three agents and three subjects, who necessarily share the same thoughts and experiences, make the same choices and perform the same actions.)

    Furthermore, Grudem fails to address the argument, put forward by Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, that "in the New Testament ho theos, signifies the First Person of the Trinity." There are just six texts in which Christ is called theos, but there are none where "theos alone, without the addition of modi­fying clauses but with the article, [is] used to speak of Christ."

    Nor does Grudem address the Unitarian argument that the subordinationist passages in the N.T. vastly outnumber the Trinitarian ones. For instance, Jesus declares: "the Father is greater than I" (Jn. 14:28), he refers to the Father "the only true God," as distinct from "Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn. 17:3), and when speaking to Mary Magdalene, he refers to the Father as "my God and your God" (Jn. 20:17). And that's just John.

    The idea that a pious believer, armed with nothing but the ESV, could deduce the doctrine of the Trinity, is crackpottery of the highest order.

    Grudem also attempts to justify the canon of Scripture on independent, non-circular grounds, here:

    However, his argument is naive in the extreme. He assumes that "all of the Pauline epistles" were written by him, and that "Matthew; John; ... 1 and 2 Peter; ... 1, 2 and 3 John; and Revelation" were apostolic (p. 62), on the basis of Donald Guthrie's arguments in his 1970 work, New Testament Introduction. However, Guthrie's scholarship is hopelessly out-of-date, as a reading of Bart Ehrman's Forged will demonstrate:

    And when confronted with Hebrews, Grudem is content to argue that the book belongs in the canon because "the majestic glory of Christ shines forth from the pages of the epistle" (p. 62). This is an argument? Woolly-minded is what I call it.

    1. @Torley, Your definition of the Trinity violates even the teaching of the Catholic church. So yet, again I meet a PhD who fundamentally does not understand the Trinity.

      As I have said before, a superior intellect is not enslaved to what Wayne Grudem has to say. You have discredit yourself with your totally non-Orthodox understanding of the Trinity. Thus you flunk the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant test of the most basic understanding of the Trinity. If you don't understand or subscribe to Catholic teaching on the Trinity, why should I believe you regarding the Eucharist.

    2. By now, I think readers will be able to make up their own minds as to who has gotten the better of the other, in the foregoing exchange of views.

      Re my understanding of Trinitarian doctrine, here's what the Orthodox Church says about the Trinity:

      And on the Catholic side, here's Father Ryan Erlenbusch:

      I leave it to readers to decide whether I have misconstrued the doctrine of the Trinity.

      I have purposely said nothing about the filioque, as I believe most of the disagreements could be resolved by both sides simply agreeing to say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.

      And on that note, I'll sign off here.

    3. Your quote from Bart Ehrman is truly a classic. Let me show you the consequences of Ehrman's teaching. He claims that we can not be certain about the authorship of many of Paul and Peter's epistles. If this is true, then we can be even less certain about the veracity of many of the church fathers.

      As I said in a previous post, Aquinas quoted from 3 forged documents in the Summa. Having seen some of the original church father's documents, I can say they have been heavily interpolated. Think for example the long and short recensions of the Ignatian epistles.

      Therefore in your model we can have no confidence in the Bible and even less confidence in the Scriptures and thus the entire church is built on a faulty foundation. The Bible says the church is "built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (Eph 2:20)". So if we cannot be certain of the prophets( i.e Old Testament) and apostles (i.e. New Testament) then the entire foundation of Christianty is finished! (By the way notice there is ZERO mention of bishops, elders, priests, or clergy in Eph 2:20!)

      Apparently your questions are much larger than the nature of the Trinity. Such skepticism must really gnaw on your soul. Hey, I know it used to bother me. But as I have said, I have the entire phase space of metaphysics, science, eschatology, philosophy, archeology, hermeneutics, literature, history, ancient documents, and theology impedance matched and Ehrman is easily refuted. However, if you are stuck in the Thomistic/Catholic or Platonic/Orthodox model there is no solution to your niggling doubt.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. BTW, both of your links on the Trinity, reveal that both of these indivdiuals do not understand the hypostatic union. Their definitions of the Trinity are incorrect. To do this topic justice would require a long treatise, which requires a definition of nature(s), will(s), person(s), the nature of the Godhead, and the hypostatic union. As well as Biblical literary devices such as chiasm and synechdoche.

      For the layman this gets down to the debate of the ontological Trinity vs the economic trinity.

    6. Torley, Here is one example why your concept of the Trinity is in error. Remember the Orthodox do NOT have a centralized teaching authority and as such your link reflects the teaching of one particular strain of the Orthodox.

      Once claim of the Orthodox is that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father have one mind. Let me show you using Scripture that this is NOT the case.
      When discussing the Second Coming, Jesus says: "But about that day or hour [i.e.Second Coming] no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matt 24:36). This verse alone shows that the Father knew certain things that the Son did not; ergo the Father and Son have different minds; ergo this one example refutes the doctrine of simplicity.

  42. This was a wonderful Christmas post Dr. Feser, thanks for it.

    I am pretty confident that the holy father is more concerned about people developing an almost Pelagian or semi-Pelagian attitude towards the Eucharist, which would be very dangerous for Catholic faith and theology. The emphasis is always on God's initiative and grace: if people view the Eucharist as a prize or reward for their moral efforts, that would effectively make them Pelagians or maybe semi-Pelagians. Grace and forgiveness of sins is always a gift of God; and to be able to live without sin also a grace of God as well as any time we do what and choose what is right. That's pretty standard/traditional Catholic belief and Saint Augustine famously championed it against that sly fellow, Pelagius.

    1. Also, as regards the state of grace, which is a condition for receiving the Eucharist, even that we cannot be absolutely certain we are ever in. We know that God desires us to be and we can receive the Eucharist we a clean conscience (e.g. after making Confession) but the state of grace is not e.g. a reward for moral rectitude; again, we cannot claim to deserve it (ever, full stop): it is a gift of God. Hence the Catechism quotes St. Joan of Arc when her accusers tried to trap her into affirming either she was in a state of grace or not, which is a trick question, she simply answered that 'if she were not, may God place me there.' Her accusers marveled that she answered the question without falling into the trap of claiming to be in the state of grace.

  43. I am just curious...
    I wonder if there exists an equivalent class of ignorant, biased, blinkered and rabid anti-Protestant/anti-Evangelical Catholics, who pollute and derail comboxes related to articles published on Protestant/Evangelical-oriented websites or blogs? For some reason, I suspect this unfortunately is a phenomena that plagues sites that directly or indirectly sail the deep philosophical and theological waters of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    1. The Roman Catholic Church is neither One, think Church split with the East. Holy think about the pedophilia crisis, anti-Popes, forged documents, Papal wars, and over 30% homosexual clergy. She is not Catholic because she is not universal. She is not apostolic because she has strayed far from the apostles teaching, think sacraments, ministerial priesthood, Marian dogmas, filioque, apocrypha, traditions of man.

      No, the RCC is an instance of the Synagogue of Satan, Divided, Unholy, Incomplete, and Counterfeit. Remember, "doctrinal development" is equivalent with heresy, apostasy, and novel doctrine.

  44. @Patrick Magee @Tritium

    Found a blog post about whether or not essentially ordered series exist, and I'm still unsure of if this one brings up anything different from the Reddit post.

    My biggest problem with the blogger's argument is that, if true, it would clearly violate PSR, which I think makes for an incoherent philosophy. What do you two think about it, though?

    1. I don't find it particularly compelling. Neither of the two attacks he offers are at all novel, and both betray a pretty naive understanding of what a causal series is. The basic question still needs to be answered—if something does not have the power to be what it is by virtue of itself, it must get that power from an external source.

    2. Hello GermyClean,

      I read the post by "im-skeptical" in your above link. The author has either misunderstood or misconstrued the original arguments by his interlocutor, "Martin". Or, Martin did not provide a clear explanation and distinctions when explaining an essentially ordered series. Whatever the case, "im-skeptic" makes the following mistakes:

      A) "Im-skeptic" assumes that any effect in the causal chain of an essentially ordered series must be identified with a singular cause, acting alone and apart from any contributing causes. He uses the complexities of orbital mechanics as an example. In our physical universe, there is no such thing as a pure, 2-body gravitational interaction. While in many cases a 2-body solution can be used as an approximation, in reality there are a nigh infinite number of perturbations, caused by the inertial mass of all other matter in the universe, all of which affect the orbital mechanics of a given body. In GR, this is explained by the motion of a body along a geodesic in curved spacetime, with the local metric ("curvature") of spacetime being determined by the matter and energy density content.

      In addition to gravitational force, there might be other forces that influence the orbital mechanics of a body, causing it to actualize a potential to follow some unique trajectory. In any case, the cause was not "intrinsic" to the notional object. In other words, this notional object doesn't have a "built-in" explanation for why it actualizes a potential to follow a particular trajectory. Those causes are extrinsic to the "object", and themselves require causal explanation.

      B) "Im-skeptic" assumes an essentially ordered series requires that an effect be simultaneously concomitant and contemporaneous with its cause. This is not correct, and completely misses the point. An essentially ordered series simply requires that every member in the series (except the First) has only a derived causal power. In other words, a member in an essentially ordered series received (derived) the causal ability to actualize some potential from a prior member -- note that "prior" in this sense does not have a temporal sense, but rather a hierarchical sense. That is to say, from a member in the causal series that exists at a more fundamental (or lower) level.

    3. @Patrick Magee @Tritium

      Thank you for the quick and detailed responses! Sorry if I came off as anxious- lately, I've been trying to expose myself to as many objections to Catholicism as possible; atheists, materialists, Christ mythicists (mytherists?), and so on. It can be hard for me not to lose faith a bit sometimes, especially when the theists engaging with these objections can naturally, being fallible, not press their ideas enough or engaging in ad hominem or other poor debate tactics (as Martin seemed to have done a bit of).

      Another tidbit- on the "Quantum Thomist" blog, I read an exchange between Dr. Nigel Cundy (the blog's owner) and im-skeptical, in which im-skeptical seemed to repeatedly misconstrue Aquinas' fifth way and final causation. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean his arguments about essentially ordered series are wrong- that would be for other reasons- but it does show that, at least at times, he approaches Thomism without having substantial experience with it.

    4. @GermyClean,

      I just thought of another common "objection", which you have probably come across in your studies. The anti-Thomist / Materialists will often try to counter the existence of essentially ordered series by citing Newton's First Law. As if the citation of Newton's First Law somehow disproves the reality of an essentially ordered series. Obviously, they are trying to show that since an object in motion will remain in rectilinear motion at constant velocity, should no other forces act upon it. Yes, this indeed an empirical observation of our physical universe, and rightfully formulated by Newton into a fundamental Law of Nature. However, most people outside of the physical sciences, and Physics in particular, do NOT realize that Newton's First Law is a qualitative explanation of the mathematical expression of the Second Law. The Second Law is an idealization and approximation that never is absolutely realized in nature. It describes the motion of a particle by the vector summation of all external forces acting upon it. This mathematical expression (simplified here, as F = mA) is in turn a consequence of a deeper, more fundamental Law -- Principle of Stationary Action, which is the result of deeper variational principles, which in turn are the outcome of an even more basic, fundamental conservation "laws" --> Noether's Theorem.

      Now, this hierarchy of deeper and more fundamental laws is highly suggestive, in and of itself (vis-a-vis an essentially ordered series). However, one doesn't even have to understand the mathematics behind these laws, to note a consistent, if not surprising theme. The generalized Laws of Motion involve approximations of summations (limits) of multi-particle systems. There is no such thing as a material object (or an idealized point-particle) existing without being acted upon by the coupling forces (gravity) of other particles that make up the system...even if the particles themselves are extremely remote from one another, and the coupling forces are vanishingly small. Let's take things to a further extreme. Suppose there were only TWO point-particles in the entire physical Universe, they would act upon each other, and thus there is no such thing as a state of rest, nor constant rectilinear motion. Furthermore, "motion" is always relative. If there existed only a single solitary point-particle in the entire physical universe, how could you determine if it was in a state of "motion" or a state of "rest". Forget about translation through space. Let's posit a toy universe that contains a solitary object which is perfectly uniform and spherical. Let's further posit that, for arguments sake, we presume it to be stationary with respect to translation. Then, how would one determine if it was not actually rotating about an axis?

      For that matter, what maintains that solitary particle/object in existence? Nothing cannot come from nothing (ex nihilo nihil fit)...and since it exists, there must be some extrinsic cause of its existence. Furthermore, it needs a continuous cause for its existence, otherwise it would cease to exist, as it does not possess an intrinsic cause for its own existence.

      Anyways, more stuff to think about. :)

    5. @Tritium,

      I have come across this objection, and came to a similar conclusion. Cheers!

    6. @Trithium:

      "Yes, this indeed an empirical observation of our physical universe, and rightfully formulated by Newton into a fundamental Law of Nature."

      It is also false: there are easily constructed violations of it in GR. What is true is (as you say elsewhere), the principle of geodesic motion.

    7. Hello grodriques,

      Indeed, that is why I explained the more accurate (general) physical/mathematical models for the Laws of Motion, which would be SR and GR. However, the point is that Newtonian Mechanics is rightfully understood as a "Law of Nature", with the proviso that (like any physical theory) it is accurate within a domain of validity. For Newtonian Mechanics, that would be the cased in which for the energy-momentum relation, v << c. For classical (Newtonian) gravity, the domain of applicability would be where the local spacetime metric is Euclidean (flat) to the first approximation, as the limit case.

      In any event, GR (which incorporates SR) also has a domain of validity, which also breaks down at the extreme limit case, i.e. at very high energy densities and/or small scales.

  45. According to Protestants, no council was infallible. In the Institutes of Christian Religion, Calvin writes, “We must not obey blind guides; decisions of later councils faulty in the light of Scripture.” In his mind “even those of Nicaea and Chalcedon were defective” (see Institutes 4.9). Consequently, Protestants view ecumenical councils as guidelines but not doctrinally binding.

    Why do we say this, take a look at the "Three Chapters Controversy". This result in one council contradicting the declarations of a previous council. Thus councils are not always reliable. Though the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches agree on the first seven ecumenical councils, the Coptic church of Egypt only accepts the first three councils, while the Assyrian church only accepts the first two. The Orthodox accept the 8th council while Catholics do not.

    So who should one trust, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptics, Assyrians, or simply the authority of Scripture? As I tell my Catholic friend, "You have freedom of choice, but not the freedom from consequences."

    1. Gerald, I've not checked in for a few days and I'm amazed that you're still here! Do you ever eat or sleep or go for a walk, or is your entire life taken up with this anti-Catholic campaign of yours? Moreover, I would be careful about beginning a post with "According to Protestants ..." without narrowing it down from the thousands of versions of Protestantism on offer. After all, one can protest too much! Still, I wish you a happy New Year.

  46. OK, I will be more precise. ALL Protestants should believe that no council is infallible.
    Similarly, EVERY Catholic should believe that using a rubber or contraceptive when having intercourse with your wife is a MORTAL SIN.

    There are NO exceptions!

    Likewise, Andreas have a Happy New Year!

  47. Sola Scriptura proponents will refute any compelling argument against the doctrine by claiming such arguments ignore the actual "robust" version of Sola Scriptura. In my experience, this "robust" version has little to do with a supposedly healthy recognition of tradition. Rather, it's the version that fits the proponent's definition of the "clear testimony of Scripture" that is usually assumed rather than defended, in my experience. I eventually concluded that this pattern occurs because Protestantism, though rich and admirable in many ways, is essentially grounded in refutation of Catholics. This is what started my move from Protestantism (to Orthodoxy) years ago. Everything else is ad hominem, whataboutism, and question begging. This thread illustrates this quite well.

    1. I think you'd enjoy the called to communion blog with Brian Cross. They have excellent reformed/catholic dialogue that require attention to detail in argument and philosophical logic. The various Sola Scriptura articles are especially good. Rev Clum's approach to assert without proper logic wouldn't float boat there. The dialogues are required to be charitable, something Rev. Clum seems to lack.

  48. Zacharias, you have misunderstood the difference between the doctrine of sola Scriptura and the doctrine of perspicuity, which means the the clarity of Scripture. These two doctrines are MUTUALLY exclusive.

    The doctrine of perspicuity affirms that every ESSENTIAL article of faith and rule of practice is clearly revealed in scripture or can be deduced from it. Scripture was written for all to read, not just theologians; the least-educated Christian may learn immediately by reading. Consequently, Protestants affirm (and Catholics deny) that private and unlearned Christians may safely interpret scripture for themselves.

    Some may claim that the Bible is too difficult to fully understand, and while this certainly may seem to be the case in certain passages, the overwhelming majority of biblical content is easily manageable for the careful reader. Truly, the old maxim applies — the Bible is shallow enough for a child to swim in and deep enough that an adult can never touch bottom. There is always more to be received by those who will take the time and effort to swim in deeper waters.

  49. NO ONE IS LISTENING TO YOU. You have frittered away any quasi-credibility with your inability to respond to and/or defend rebuttals to your ludicrous positions -- but more due to your conduct and behavior on this blog combox.

    1. @Tritium,
      Maybe you did not get the Memo. I quote directly from the Catholic Encyclopedia that PROVES that the earliest fathers did not accept Transubstantiation. Here is the quote:

      "Regarding tradition, the earliest witnesses, as Tertullian and Cyprian, could hardly have given any particular consideration to the genetic relation of the natural elements of bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ, or to the manner in which the former were converted into the latter; for even Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation, so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism. (“The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” Catholic Encyclopedia)"

  50. Demonstrating sola scriptura from the Bible is not very difficult. Jesus used the Bible to counter the arguments of Satan, not tradition (Matthew 4:1–10; Luke 4:1–12). In debates with religious leaders, Jesus asked, “Did you never read in the Scriptures . . .?” (Matthew 21:42). Nowhere in Scripture did Jesus appeal to any ecclesiastical body, the priesthood, or tradition.

    The Sadducees, the priestly group that controlled the temple, denied the doctrine of the resurrection and hoped to trap Jesus with a question that seemed to have no rational or biblical answer. Jesus could have manufactured a legitimate and satisfactory answer without appealing to scripture, yet he did not. Instead, he told them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Jesus rejected ecclesiastical opinion — represented by the Sadducees — in favor of sola scriptura.

    When reasoning with the Jews, what standard did Paul use? According to “Paul’s custom . . . he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2). Paul, who claimed apostolic authority (Romans 1:1, 11:13; 1 Corinthians 9:1; Galatians 1:1), did not rebuke, but commended, the Berean Christians for examining “the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Notice that the Bereans were like Paul in assessing doctrine through reasoning from Scripture.

    Could a Roman Catholic put the pope on the spot in that way? Could a Catholic challenge church doctrine with an appeal to the Scriptures? Probably not!