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More on Confusions…

Posted by Remy on April 18, 2009

  • Nobody says that the water is transubstantiated into the Holy Spirit.

They are mercifully inconsistent in this. But just as the bread is the body of Jesus, so are we baptized with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is notoriously ignored in our theology, perhaps this too is a mercy, perhaps we’d be even goofier had we applied the same daft thinking to the Spirit as we do to Jesus. As for holy water, it isn’t the same. The whole idea of holy water is a direct element of the Old Covenant, in which you have unclean, clean, and holy things.

  • Nobody says that the Bible is transubstantiated into Jesus.

But He is ever bit the Word as He is the Bread. Transubstantionists therefore exalt the Eucharist at the expense of the Word.

16 Responses to “More on Confusions…”

  1. This is perhaps too old to be read:

    Regarding Baptism: But the Bible never says that the Water is the Spirit, or anything like that. Perhaps an argument similar to the one for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist could be made regarding the Spirit and Baptism, but such an argument would be a couple of removes further from the text than the argument for the Local Presence of Christ is.

    Regarding the Word: though that criticism could perhaps be made of Catholic practice, I don’t think it works for Catholic Doctrine, Orthodox doctrine, or Lutheran doctrine. Catholics, for instance, would indeed say that the Word of God is indeed the Word of God. No, of course, not that the pages of the Scriptures are Christ, but that Christ is equally present in the Word as in the Sacrament. When we hear the Scriptures read, we hear the Voice of God, and that voice is Christ. Lutherans too believe that the Word of God is the Word of God–for instance, Bonhoeffer in Christ the Center insists that just as we must confess that the Bread is the Body of Christ, full stop, and that the Man Jesus Christ is God, full stop, so we must confess “the Scriptures are the Word of God, full stop.”–and indeed Lutherans often collapse the Sacrament into a Word.

    The Second Helvetic Confession also teaches that the Scriptures are the Word of God, and even that the Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God. Therefore the same charge could be made in reverse. Reformed theology exalt the Word at the expense of the Eucharist.

    And if I wanted to be daft, I could even say that Liberalism is an application of Reformed Sacramentology to the Reading of the Word of God. For Liberalism, the Scriptures, as Chris Schlect points out, cease to be the Word of God, and become the words of God, not containing in themselves any efficacy, but communicating the Word of God to us through the power of the Spirit.

  2. Remy said

    Regarding your first comment, I disagree. We are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Late Protestantism has separated the water from the Spirit, but this is neither Biblical nor historically accurate.

    As to the second comment, it is my point exactly. Christ is equally present, but they do not transubstantiate the pages, or transubstantiate the audio waves. If the Roman church is going to be so hoity on the blueprints they should at least recognize the inconsistency.

    As to your third comment, I think it is safe to say that Protestantism in general exalt the Word at the expense of the Eucharist. But that’s different from saying that Helvetic II does the same.

  3. Why, in heaven’s name, would there be a parallel between transubstantiating the pages and transubstantiating the Bread? The real parallel would be between transubstantiating the Chalice and the pages of the Bible. But no one ever claims the Chalice becomes the Body of Christ, only its contents.

    You can’t see that the Second Helvetic Confession exalts the Word more then the Eucharist? You charge that Catholics say the Eucharist is the Word, the Scriptures only convey the Word, thus exalting the Eucharist at the expense of the Scriptures. But the Second Hevelitic Confession makes exactly the same sort of distinction, but in the other direction: The Word is the Word, the Eucharist conveys the Word. If the first denigrates the word, the second denigrates the Euchariist.

    Regarding Baptism: You are correct that separating the water and the Spirit isn’t historical or Biblical (not that the first means anything to you), but the split is already present in Aquinas, and reflected in Heidelburg. Nevertheless, there is not so clear a connection. When we baptize, we do not say “this water is the Holy Spirit, may He wash you into the Name of the Father and the Son” or anything like that. And Scripture not only says that Christ Baptizes with the Spirit, it also says that the Spirit baptizes. Etc.

  4. Remy said

    So why aren’t the sound waves transmographied into Jesus? If “bread” means bread* then “word” ought to mean Word*, right?

    Sorry, I meant to point out that I don’t know Helvetic II well enough to say. I’ll take your word for it, because I certainly see that result in the protestant wing.

    The first certainly means a great deal to me. The Reformers were the experts in the ancient church and recovered much of what they believed. But if you only meant to say that the historical record doesn’t mean as much to me, then that is true. Historical practice is secondary to what the Scriptures teach.

    Scripture not only says that Christ is bread, but also that we are bread. I don’t think mentioning other referents for the elements in the sacraments change the nature of those elements in the ritual.

  5. Perhaps we should revere the sound waves as Theotokos.


    I don’t think that a dislike of the current Church, disguised as love for the early church is healthy. Not that you are there, and not that the Reformers didn’t have ample grounds for reacting like they did, but it surely is a Protestant tendency to mock and dislike the Church as she is, in favor of the Church as she was. But the Church not only was the Body of Christ, she is. And we should no more delight in showing her faults and than Shem and Japheth in seeing Noah’s nakedness. Nor should we be quick to judge her as wrong, but should approach her as our mother.

  6. Remy said

    I like the Church intently, which is why I hate to see her fraudulently divided. But this is why a return to Christ’s table is the first step and not the last. We have union in Christ, we start there and work our way out. Any attempt to start somewhere else is destined to failure.

  7. Then work together with them, respecting their positions, particularly their positions on the necessity of Bishops. They look to Christ as much, if not more, than you do.

    And Catholics and Orthodox hate the divisions in the Church as much as you. But they believe Bishops are an essential part of the Church. From their perspective, to leave the Bishop is to leave Christ. It’s the LCMS and OPC and WELS who have the real problem with shutting out the Baptized, for they do it based merely on doctrinal grounds.

  8. On the first issue: I’m serious about calling the sound waves Theotokos. Jews do reverence the paper the Torah is printed on in a way that strikes Christians as very odd, and Robert Jenson conjectured that this is because our veneration is directed to the Theotokos. But still, the pages of the Bible wouldn’t really be Christ–and neither would the ink or even the letters–but Theotokos.

  9. Remy said

    I don’t object to Bishops. I’m for them in fact. Doctrine is essential too, but our unity is in Christ. That’s where we start. From that unity we can proceed the rest of the way in likemindedness. Any other starting point is bogus and sinful.

    I think things get a little crackpot when talking about the Theotokos. I’m not sure we could get anywhere on this unless you want to lay aside the perpetual virginity of Mary. But I’m open to discussing it.

  10. I believe in the perpetual virginity, but it’s not that important a point for me. It would be rather odd however, if I set it aside, but it was still a point, so you’d have to do so too.

    However, my point isn’t that we should reverence the Theotokos, but that all the things you refer to are to Christ the Word in Scripture as the Theotokos is to Christ in the flesh. They bear God, but they are not God.

    here’s the passage from Jenson.

  11. Remy said

    So you would reverence the pages and ink and soundwaves and mp3 files and earlobes, et cetera et cetera as much as you would Mary? Okay.

  12. and earlobes?

    Yeah, that’s more or less my point though. I don’t know about “as much as”–the Theotokos person is surely greater than theotokos stuff, but at least “in the same sort of way.”

    Though of course I probably don’t reverence them like I ought.

  13. Oh, I see what you mean by ear lobes.

    I don’t actually have any idea what reverence for sound waves would look like–it doesn’t seem quite like a coherent concept to me–maybe it would be falling quiet when someone reads the Bible, not doing other things etc. But reverence for the sound waves just doesn’t seem psychologically possible.

    Also, I’m not sure I’d like someone reverencing my ear lobes any more than a woman would like someone reverencing her body parts. But reverence for the person who has heard the Word? Sure. Perhaps more so for the person who has listenend to the Word though, but that then gets into questions of works righteousness.

  14. Remy said

    Hey, you start talking about bowing down to people and I’m with you all the way.

  15. I’m not sure how serious you’re being.

  16. Remy said

    I’m serious. Bowing to man-made objects is an old world pagan thing and I don’t see anything in the new covenant that would change that.

    Bowing to people however is fine, more than fine, it’s healthy and glorious. As the image of God there is not a thing wrong in the world with it.

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