A time for requiems: 11-11-09
Fixing bad funerals: 11-13-09

An old charge refuted: 11-12-09

In recent days various commenters here have been talking about the Christian sacrament of Holy Communion and raising the question of whether this amounts to cannibalism.


It's an ancient and ridiculous charge, but perhaps it's not surprising that early critics of Christianity -- to say nothing of modern-day critics -- have raised the charge, given the Christian idea that in the Eucharist (another name for the sacrament, as is the Lord's Supper), participants are said to be fed the body and blood of Christ in a foretaste of the great heavenly banquet of reconciliation.

Mostly it's Catholics nowadays against whom the charge of cannibalism is made, so today this Presbyterian is going to defend the Catholics against the accusation and explain in some detail why it's a wrongheaded argument. Much of it has to do with the Aristotelian science on which the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation is based. More on that in a minute.

For help in this task, I am indebted to the late Dr. Hugh Thompson Kerr, a great Presbyterian, who once wrote this:

"Perhaps the situation may be clarified by an illustration taken from the life of one of Scotland's greatest preachers, Dr. Alexander Whyte, of Edinburgh. Dr. Whyte had a sincere admiration for Cardinal (John Henry) Newman and sent him his "Commentary on The Shorter Catechism." In that handbook, Dr. Whyte, in commenting on the words, 'Not after a corporal and carnal manner, but by faith, made partakers of his body and blood,' said, 'This is directed against the Popish doctrine of transubstantiation. According to that doctrine the bread and wine are changed into the very flesh and blood of Christ, so that all communicants literally and physically eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ.'

"Cardinal Newman was not satisfied with this statement, and wrote a most interesting letter: 'December 15, 1883. My dear Dr. Whyte -- I thank you for your Commentary. . .it rejoices me to meet with so much in it which I can sympathise and concur in, and I thank you heartily for the kind references you make to me in the course of it and for the words you have written in its first page.

"But it pains me that so large a heart as yours should so little enter into the teaching fo the Catholic Church, let alone agreeing to it. Thus you say that we consider that we physically eat our Lord's flesh and drink His blood in the Holy Eucharist. We consider the substance of His body and blood to be in the Sacrament, and thereby to be given to us. Excuse this outbreak of controversy, and believe me to be, Most truly yours, John Card. H. Newman.'

"In the second edition of the Commentary, Dr. Whyte substituted for his former statement these words: 'According to this doctrine, the substance of the bread and wine is converted into the substance of the very flesh and blood of Christ, so that all communicants literally and substantially partake of His flesh and blood.'"

One might take issue still with Whyte's use of the term "literally," but at least he got the right focus on substance.

As I said, this goes back to science that grew out of Aristotle, who divided the world into "accidents" and "substance." By accidents he meant the texture, color, taste and appearance of a thing. So some bread is spongy and white and has a rough feel. By substance, he meant the core essence of something -- for bread, it would be its "breadness." Thus in the Eucharist, the substance of bread and white is changed into the substance of Christ's body and blood even though the accidents of bread and wine remain the same.

So one physically eats bread and drinks wine even while consuming the substance of the body and blood of Christ. And since substance is not a physical attribute, the charge of cannibalism is unfounded.

All of this may seem like theological dancing on the head of a pin, but it has caused a long split in the church -- and it's a split I believe must be healed if the church ever is to live up to Jesus' desire "that we all may be one."

* * *


In the aftermath of the Fort Hood murders, a Washington Post writer has done this good piece about Muslims in the U.S. military. I will have more to say here this weekend about this week's visit to Kansas City by Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, but I liked his answer when he was asked about what happened at Fort Hood. In part he said: "The extremists of all traditions belong to one tradition, the tradition of extremism." He said those extremists should thus not be honored by being included as a member of any religion. And if they try to tell you they are acting in the name of Islam or Christianity or Judaism or any faith, simply say you don't believe them because people of those faiths don't act that way.

* * *

P.S.: After mid-morning today, I almost certainly will have no chance to post your comments until tomorrow. And then until Monday my Internet access may be unreliable. Thanks for your patience. Bill.


Dolores Lear

"God does not know everything which will happen. For starters, He leaves the *choice* of whether or not to believe Him up to you. He leaves the choice of whether or not to decide to decide to follow Him up to you."

No One gets a Choice of whether or not to Believe in God, until they are grown. It depends on, Who our Parents are, Who their God is, and the Environment where we were raised. When a Child is Brainwashed up to Teenagers, as to the Way they should go, and Which God they will Believe in.

With Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth, Humans will continue Brainwashing our Children, until they are Adults, and then they can make their Choices.

Especially Christians who have so Many Divisions Since the Catholic Christian Religion began in 300. Who were the Gods before then? Man-Made Father, Mother, and Son?

Since the Population Explosion on Earth, from 1 Billion to 7 Billion Humans, in 100 years. How many new Religions resulted? Why do Humans Divide the One GOD into so many Man-Made Gods, in our Human Image? Who or What is the One True GOD?

"The only people who have been trapped in obvious logical error on this blog are those who have claimed that they have choices in life, and yet believe that everything which will happen can be explained by Science."

Life began with High Tech Science Colonization. Human Beings, were Reproduced by High Tech Science, the Female from the Male Rib. None of this is Supernatural Today.

With all the Nuclear Weapons around the Planet the Supernatural End Times 'Arm'ageddon has Arrived as Predicted.

Our Planet is covered with All types of Toxic Pollution and oil Spills, and Nuclear Waste on land and sea. The Judgment Day Fire is ready to Ignite, and is not Supernatural Today, but Literal Scientific Fact.

So God/Us our High Tech Ancestors in Genesis, do Know what happens on a Planet, when Purebred Human Clones start Reproducing Impure Killer Humans, with Death and Destruction from their Fallen Lifestyle is inevitable.

Lynne - www.kcfreethinkers.org

JT, by definition if God can't predict the future then God is NOT all knowing. The idea that God is all knowing is a central tenet of Christianity, so I don't know how you could possibly get out of the corner you've painted yourself into.

To all - I've answered all of the questions that some of you claim "atheists" have not answered here.

adam harrison

Actually, Lynne, unfortunately you have NOT answered the questions, and you continue to make the same assertions...such as about Cannibalism... while ignoring the refutations.

1. You have not given an example of something that COULD, in PRINCIPLE, provide you acceptable proof of the existence of God, given your presuppositions.

2. You have not given an example of something that COULD, In PRINCIPLE, provide you acceptable proof of the validity of prayers.

3. You have not answered Just Thinking's primary challenge, to provide an example of something you could do that "Science" does not predict.

4. And you have mischaracterized JT's argument about God not be able to Predict the future...the fact that he might NOT do it does no mean he COULD NOT do it.

And several others, but we will start with those.


Thank you for the spelling correction Red. I'm sorry I don't see the "changes" you speak of.

The Passover also celebrates the passing over their houses of the angel of death who spared the first born of the Isrealites on the eve of the Exodus. God told the Jews to sacrifice and eat the lamb and put its "Blood" on the doorpost.

You don't sacrifice and eat a lamb without blood bro... that's how the sins were atoned for throughout the Old Testament.

Christ in His Passion is the Lamb of God who's sacrifice was the one final sacrifice for all time so that those who eat His flesh and drink His blood would 'passover' from "death" to life as well... and it was bloody. Started at the last supper... consumated on the Cross... re-presented in the Mass/EuchArist (Seder is obsolete). Nothing symbolic about it. He came not to abolish the old covenant but to fulfill it.

Jesus also declared all foods clean too.. It's not what goes into a man that defiles him but what comes out.

Just Thinking

Lynne, your version of Christianity is not grounded in the Bible. No, there is no claim in the Bible of anything such thing. God sees what is going on, and God can intervene, but God does not know whether you will choose to believe Him or not. He tells you that there are choices *you* need to make for yourself. And He holds you accountable for those choices. But He doesn't say that He knows which one you'll choose. That's not something he dictates. He gave people free will and the ability to chose for themselves.

People often throw around words like 'all-knowing' etc., without knowing what they mean by such terms, and without it being grounded in proper theology. Your version of Christian belief is to real theology what popular mechanics is to real Science. You can keep insisting that you know what you're talking about, but you don't.

You see, Lynne, if everything were determined ahead of time, then why would Jesus come? That would nullify any reason. No, God makes his *appeal*, but *you* must decide.

Just because you make these claims over and over again doesn't make them true. Your assertions about such things are not true. Honestly, you don't know what you're talking about. You can go back months ago and see where I have consistently argued against such errant beliefs. Unfortunately, such non-sense creeps into the popular culture, but it's not correct and it's not backed up by anything. It didn't come from Jesus any more than the errant Catholic beliefs that you could sell indulgences to pay for sin in advance.

Dolores Lear

"Dolores, the present leader of Iran has repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
Before the present leader of Iran has 3 or 4 nuclear weapons, he may not be the leader.

With our Military Base in Iraq, and our many nuclear weapons, how can he Compete. Our Secret Service should find a Way to keep track of their Progress.

Pakistan already has Nuclear Weapons and we have Soldiers next door in Afghanistan. So are we getting ourselves in a mess or What? Is Pakistan an enemy of Israel also?

GOD or God/Us gave the USA the Free Will, to be the Ruler of Planet Earth. Does GOD or God/Us approve of Killer Humans? Did GOD or God/Us Guide the USA and the Christian Majority, to have the most Nuclear Weapons? Or did Fallen Humans do this? Why?

Because the Killing Nature of Body Birth Unequal Humans?

It is Time to Start looking at all the enemies of the USA and Israel, and see if we are Outnumbered?

Revelation 18:1. KJV. "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory."

This Light was from a Spaceship landing.

Revelation 18:2,3. "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth was waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies."

Sound like the USA?

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