The Gospel of Rome
Part 15: Transubstantiation:

The doctrine of transubstantiation is often misunderstood by both Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Very, very few people know what the Catholic Church actually believes and teaches concerning [transubstantiation], and I am convinced that even fewer Catholics realize themselves what they are taking part in. [103]

Transubstantiation teaches that the bread and wine of communion actually and physically transform miraculously into the actual and real flesh and blood of Jesus. The bread and wine are no longer present.

Pope Pius IV taught:

I profess, likewise, that in the Mass there is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead; and that in the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist there is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is made a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood, which conversion the Catholic Church calls Transubstantiation. [104]

According to this Pope, the Eucharist, that is, the bread and wine, "is truly, really, and substantially, the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The Council of Trent taught:

If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. [105]

If anyone says that in the sacred and, holy sacrament of the Eucharist the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular change of the whole substance of the bread into the body and the whole substance of the wine into the blood, the appearances only of bread and wine remaining, which change the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. [106]

Trent was very unambiguous that all Catholics must believe that the bread and wine actually and physically become the flesh and blood of the Savior, or suffer the condemnation of the church.

Matthew 26:26-28:

Matthew 26:26-28 is one of the passages a Roman Catholic might cite to argue the case for transubstantiation.

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Roman Catholic Church claims that Jesus was establishing the Mass, and teaching that the bread and wine are his actual body and blood.

Matt. 26:26 and 28: "This is My body ... this is My blood." Catholics base their whole religious system on their interpretation of these two verses. They adamantly teach that right here Jesus is pronouncing the first priestly blessing that mysteriously changes the bread and wine into His body and blood. The absolute folly of such a conclusion is proved by this one observation: He was literally still there before, during, and after they had partaken of the bread and the cup! He was not changed into some liquid and bread. His flesh was still on His bones, and His blood still in His veins. He had not vanished away to reappear in the form of a piece of bread or a cup of wine!

Let's look closer at His words. No one can deny that here we have figurative language. Jesus did not say touto gignetai ("this has become" or "is turned into"), but touto esti ("this signifies, represents" or "stands for") (the New Testament was written in Greek.) It is obvious that Jesus' meaning was not literal but symbolic! And He wasn't the first in the Bible to claim figuratively that a glass of liquid was really "blood."

One time, David's friends heard him express a strong desire for water from the well of Bethlehem. In spite of extreme danger, these men broke through the enemy lines of the Philistines and brought the water to him. When David found out that these men had risked their lives in this way, he refused to drink the water, exclaiming, "Is not this the blood of the men who went in jeopardy of their lives?" (II Sam. 23:17.)

Throughout the gospels we find similar metaphorical language: Jesus referring to Himself as "the Door," "the Vine," "the Light," "the Root," "the Rock," "the Bright and Morning Star," as well as "the Bread." The passage is written with such common language that it is plain to any observant reader that the Lord's Supper was intended primarily as a memorial and in no sense a literal sacrifice. "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19.) [107]

John 6:48-57:

John 6:48-57 is another passage that the Roman Catholic Church often uses to support its doctrine of transubstantiation.

"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me" (John 6:48-57).

Rome argues, "Jesus said we must 'eat the flesh of the Son of man' and 'drink his blood!' See!?! Transubstantiation!"

Keith Green exposes the error of finding transubstantiation in these verses better than I could, so I quote him:

Catholics are taught here [John 6:54-55], that Jesus is explaining how He is literally offering them His flesh and blood, so that they may have eternal life by physically eating Him. With just a little study of the whole passage (vs. 27-71), it is clear that Jesus was not talking about physical, but spiritual food and drink.

Food is eaten to satisfy hunger. And in verse 35 Jesus says, "He who cometh to Me shall never hunger." Now, Jesus is not promising eternal relief from physical hunger pains. He is, of course, speaking of the spiritual hunger in man for righteousness and salvation. And He promises to those who will "come to Him" that He will satisfy their hunger for these things forever, therefore, to come to Him is to "eat!" (See also Matt. 5:6, 11:28, John 4:31-34.)

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4:31-34

We drink also to satisfy thirst, and again in verse 35 Jesus tells us, "He that believeth on Me shall never thirst." Therefore, to believe on Him is to "drink!" (See also John 4:13-14) No one can say that here Jesus was establishing the eating and drinking of His literal flesh and blood to give eternal life, for in verse 63 He says, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Thus Jesus makes clear what we should be eating and drinking to have eternal life! (See also Matt. 4:4.)

"Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 4:13-14

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matthew 4:4 [108]

John MacArthur argued against finding transubstantiation in Jesus' words:

Jesus' reference here to eating and drinking was not referring to the ordinance of communion for two significant reasons:

  1. communion had not been instituted yet, and
  2. if Jesus was referring to communion, then the passage would teach that anyone partaking of communion would receive eternal life. [109]

The New Geneva Study Bible says:

6:51-58 Jesus' hearers continue to misunderstand His statements, taking them on a purely physical level (cf. v. 34). Understood literally, what Jesus said would be highly objectionable since it would involve cannibalism and a use of blood that was strictly forbidden in the Law (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26, 27; 17:10-14; Deut. 12:23, 24). Jesus uses the language of eating and drinking to illustrate the intimacy of the union between Christ and the believer. This spiritual union, by which Christ imparts new life to the believer, is portrayed later in the Gospel as the union of a vine and its branches (15:1-8). It is sometimes called the "mystical union," and is a recurrent topic in Paul's letters (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:3-14). [110]

Norm Geisler and Ron Rhodes handled this passage in their book, When Cultists Ask: A Popular Handbook on Cultic Misinterpretations:

JOHN 6:53-54? What did Jesus mean when He said we should eat His flesh?

PROBLEM: Evangelical Christians believe in taking the Bible literally. But Jesus said, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). Should this be taken literally too?

SOLUTION: The literal (i.e., actual) meaning of a text is the correct one, but the literal meaning does not mean that everything should be taken literally. For example, the literal meaning of Jesus' statement, "I am the true vine" (John 15:1) is that He is the real source of our spiritual life. But it does not mean that Jesus is a literal vine with leaves growing out of His arms and ears! Literal meaning can be communicated by means of figures of speech. Christ is the actual foundation of the church (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20), but He is not literally a granite cornerstone with engraving on it.

There are many indications in John 6 that Jesus literally meant that the command to "eat His flesh" should be taken in a figurative way. First, Jesus indicated that His statement should not be taken in a materialistic sense when He said, "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). Second, it is absurd and cannibalistic to take it in a physical way. Third, He was not speaking of physical life, but "eternal life" (John 6:54). Fourth, He called Himself the "bread of life" (John 6:48) and contrasted this with the physical bread the Jews ate in the wilderness (John 6:58).

Fifth, He used the figure of "eating" His flesh in parallel with the idea of "abiding" in Him (cf. John 15:4-5), which is another figure of speech. Neither figure is to be taken literally. Sixth, if eating His flesh and drinking His blood be taken in a literalistic way, this would contradict other commands of Scripture not to eat human flesh and blood (cf. Acts 15:20). Finally, in view of the figurative meaning here, this verse cannot be used to support the Roman Catholic concept of transubstantiation, that is, eating Jesus' actual body in the communion.

It is not necessary to take these phrases physically. Jesus' words need not be taken in the sense of ingesting his actual physical body and blood. Jesus often spoke in metaphors and figures of speech. He called the Pharisees "blind guides" (Matt. 23:16) and Herod a "fox" (Luke 13:32). Roman Catholic scholars do not take these terms literally. Neither do they understand Jesus to be speaking physically when he said, "I am the gate" (John 10:9). There is, therefore, no necessity to take Jesus in a literal, physical way when he said, "this is my body," or, "eat my flesh." Jesus often spoke in graphic parables and figures, as he himself said (Matt. 13:10-11). [111]

3 Conclusions of Transubstantiation:

Why have we spent so much time on transubstantiation? What does it matter what we believe about the bread and wine?

It matters because the doctrine of transubstantiation, as taught by the Roman Catholic Church, leads to three dangerous Theological errors:

  1. The Mass is an actual sacrifice
  2. The Eucharist is to be worshipped
  3. The priesthood is essential

We shall consider each of these conclusions one by one.

The Mass is an Actual Sacrifice:

When our Lord Jesus died on the cross, his spilled blood and broken body was an actual sacrifice. The Roman Catholic Church teaches, however, that since the bread and wine of communion are literally and miraculously transformed into Christ's literal body and blood, then every Roman Catholic Mass is every bit as much of an actual sacrifice as was when Jesus was crucified.

Trent said:

If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God; or that to be offered is nothing else than that Christ is given to us to eat, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. [112]

Vatican II said:

For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, 'the work of our redemption is accomplished.' [113]

Hence the Mass, the Lord's Supper, is at the same time and inseparably: a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated. [114]

These words from Vatican II are important for two reasons: one) Vatican II agreed with the many proclamations before it, that every Roman Catholic Mass is "a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated," and two) because many people naively believe that Vatican II changed this teaching. Vatican II in fact did not change any prior doctrine of the Church whatsoever.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very clear:

The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: 'The victim is one and the same: the same [Christ] now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the Cross; only the manner of offering is different.' 'And since in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered Himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the Cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner... this sacrifice is truly propitiatory. [115]

Please note the wording of this document. It says "The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice." It calls the bread and wine "the victim." And it says that the Mass "is truly propitiatory," (used to gain the goodwill of God.)

Reverend John F. Whealon, Archbishop of Hartford, wrote:

The Mass is thus the same as the sacrifice of the cross. No matter how many times it is offered, nor in how many places at one time, it is the same sacrifice of Christ. Christ is forever offering Himself in the Mass. [116]

According to this Roman Catholic Archbishop, "Christ is forever offering Himself in the Mass."

Every Roman Mass is a re-creation of Jesus' death for the sins of the world. Not a symbolic re-creation! But a literal, actual offering of the flesh and blood of the Lord to make daily atonement for all the sins that have been daily committed since Jesus was crucified almost 2,000 years ago. [117]

James McCarthy wrote:

Most Catholics do not seem to realize that the Church teaches that the Mass is a real and true sacrifice, that a prime function of the Catholic priesthood is to offer sacrifice, that an altar is a place of sacrifice, and that the word host is from the Latin word hostia, meaning "sacrificial victim." [118]

Reading through the gospels, one finds that Jesus said on the cross that "it is finished" (John 19:30). How then can the Roman Catholic Church teach that Jesus' sacrifice must be perpetually performed?

But here, in the words of a Roman Catholic priest, is the "true meaning" of the words "it is finished!" "These words do not declare that His sacrifice was finished, but that He had finished His former, normal, earthly life and was now fixed in the state of a victim... He then began His everlasting career as the perpetual sacrifice of the new law." ("The Sacrifice of Christ" by Fr. Richard W. Grace.) Hence, according to Rome, Jesus must be forever dying for sin, "perpetually." [119]

What the Bible Says About Jesus' Sacrifice:

We have seen that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christ's sacrifice is performed perpetually in every Roman Catholic Mass. The Bible, however, teaches that His sacrifice was unquestionably a one-time event in history.

"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Hebrews 9:12, emphasis mine).

Note the verb tense, "having obtained." The writer of the book of Hebrews is making it clear that Jesus' sacrifice was an event that happened and finished in the past.

"[Jesus] needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself" (Hebrews 7:27, emphasis mine).

Again, note the words "he did once" and also the verb tenses. "He offered up himself" is an action that started and was completed in the past.

"For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:24-28, emphasis mine).

This verse is even clearer. This passage is contrasting Jesus to the priests of the Old Testament. Under the old covenant, the human priests had to continually offer sacrifices over and over. In contrast to those earthly priests, Christ performed one single sacrifice. The Roman Catholic Church treats Christ's sacrifice like the imperfect Old Testament sacrifices.

"By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:10-14, emphasis mine).

Keith Green pointed out:

Notice that throughout these verses occurs the statement "once for all" which shows how perfect, complete, and final Jesus' sacrifice was! His work on the cross constituted one historic event which need never be repeated and which in fact cannot be repeated. As Paul says, "Christ, being raised from the dead dieth no more" (Romans 6:9.) Any pretense of a continuous offering for sin is worse than vain, it is blasphemy and true fulfillment of the Scripture, "Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6.) [120]

Despite the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus' sacrifice was a one-time event forever, the Roman Catholic Church continues to teach that through the Mass, Christ is sacrificed repeatedly. Remember, Vatican II said that every Roman Catholic Mass is "a sacrifice in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated."

Now why would the Pope want to change the Scriptures? Why would he want his readers to think that the Bible teaches that Christ "constantly 'enters into God's sanctuary thus obtaining eternal redemption'" instead of what it actually teaches, that Christ "entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption"? Why? Because Rome holds that Christ must be constantly re-presented in His victimhood to God through the Mass for our salvation. With each offering of the Mass, some 120 million times a year, the Church says that "the work of our redemption is continually carried out." The Pope, not finding Hebrews 9:12 to his liking, simply changed it. This was not a slip of the pen, but a calculated alteration of God's Word to make the Sacrifice of the Mass appear biblical. [121]

Worshipping the Eucharist:

The second conclusion one must draw from transubstantiation is the worship of the bread and wine. If this sounds too incredible, listen to the words of Vatican II:

All the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament the worship which is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is it to be adored by any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten. [122]

According to Vatican II, "this most holy sacrament" is to be given "the worship which is due to the true God." And this makes sense if one believes the error that the bread and wine actually and literally becomes the body and blood of Christ.

Pope John Paul II said:

Indeed, since the Eucharistic Mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship. And this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament, both when we visit our churches and when the sacred species are taken to the sick and administered to them.

Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition?short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)?eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses. [123]

This Pope said that in the Eucharist, Christ is "sacramentally present" and "worthy of thanksgiving and worship."

John Paul II continued:

A particular mention should be made at this point of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as an act of public worship rendered to Christ present in the Eucharist, a feast instituted by my predecessor Urban IV in memory of the institution of this great Mystery. All this therefore corresponds to the general principles and particular norms already long in existence but newly formulated during or after the Second Vatican Council... Eucharistic worship is therefore precisely the expression of that love which is the authentic and deepest characteristic of the Christian vocation. [124]

What, according to Pope John Paul II, is the "authentic and deepest characteristic of the Christian vocation?" Worshipping the Eucharist.

Jesus Christ does not cease to exist under the appearances of bread and wine after the Mass is over. Furthermore, some hosts are usually kept in all Catholic churches. In these hosts, Jesus is physically and truly present, as long as the appearances of bread remain. Catholics therefore have the praiseworthy practice of 'making visits' to our Lord present in their churches to offer Him their thanks, their adoration, to ask for help and forgiveness; in a word, to make Him the center around which they live their daily lives. [125]

Here Catholics are encouraged to visit Jesus during the week by visiting the Eucharist.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs:

In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. [126]

According to the Catechism, Roman Catholics are to genuflect, or bow to the bread and wine.

The Council of Trent declared:

If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolators; LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. [127]

Keith Green said of this canon:

In Canon VI, a rite of worship called "Latria" was spoken of. This is not just an "ancient custom," it is thoroughly practiced today in every Mass. After the bread has been supposedly "changed" into Christ by the priest, it is placed in a holder called the monstrance. And before this monstrance the Catholic must bow and worship (this act is called "genuflecting") the little wafer as God! Sometimes they have processions where they solemnly march, as the congregation bows and offers praise and worship to this piece of bread! [128]

The Ten Commandments:

The bedrock of Christian virtue is found in Exodus, chapter 20, commonly referred to as "The Ten Commandments."

However, if one looks up the "Ten Commandments" in both non-Roman Catholic and Roman Catholic sources, one will find two slightly different lists:

 

The Ten Commandments:

   

Roman Catholic Ten Commandments:

I) You shalt have no Other Gods   I) You shalt have no Other Gods
II) You shall not make any graven images or worship them   II) You shall not take the name of the LORD in vain
III) You shall not take the name of the LORD in vain   III) Remember the Sabbath
IV) Remember the Sabbath   IV) Honor your parents
V) Honor your parents   V) You shall not kill
VI) You shall not kill   VI) You shall not commit adultery
VII) You shall not commit adultery   VII) You shall not steal
VIII) You shall not steal   VIII) You shall not lie
IX) You shall not lie   IX) You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
X) You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or goods   X) You shall not covet your neighbor's goods

In the Roman Catholic list, the second commandment, "You shall not make any graven images or worship them" is removed, and the tenth commandment, "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or goods" is split up into two to keep the list ten.

Naturally, the Roman Catholic Church will argue that its list is the correct one, but the text in Exodus 20 speaks for itself. The Roman Catholic list leaves out three crucial verses:

"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:4-6).

It is very clear from the text in Exodus, that the commandment, "You shall not make any graven images or worship them" belongs in the list. It is this very commandment that Rome so often disobeys, as is evidenced by the worship of the bread and wine of communion.

Essential Priesthood:

The third conclusion that is drawn from the error of transubstantiation is that the priesthood becomes essential to the life of the Roman Catholic.

Vatican II said:

It is indeed the priest alone, who, acting in the person of Christ, consecrates the bread and wine, but the role of the faithful in the Eucharist is to recall the passion, resurrection and glorification of the Lord, to give thanks to God, and to offer the immaculate victim not only through the hands of the priest, but also together with him; and finally, by receiving the Body of the Lord, to perfect that communion with God and among themselves which should be the product of participation in the sacrifice of the Mass. [129]

And the Council of Trent said:

If anyone says that by those words, Do this for a commemoration of me, Christ did not institute the Apostles priests; or did not ordain that they and other priests should offer His own body and blood, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA. [130]

The Catholic Church teaches that through the miracle of transubstantiation we commune with God, and only the priest can perform this. Therefore the doctrine of transubstantiation gives tremendous power to the Roman Catholic clergy.

However, the Bible teaches that all believers are priests, and the only mediator we need to get to God is Jesus Christ!

"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:5-6).

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).

History of Transubstantiation:

The Catholic Church claims that the doctrine of transubstantiation dates back to Jesus and the apostles, but this is historically not the case.

The teaching of transubstantiation does not date back to the Last Supper as most Catholics suppose. It was a controversial topic for many centuries before officially becoming an article of faith (which means that it is essential to salvation according to Rome.) The idea of a physical presence was vaguely held by some, such as Ambrose, but it was not until 831 A.D. that Paschasius Radbertus, a Benedictine Monk, published a treatise openly advocating the doctrine. Even then, for almost another four centuries, theological war was waged over this teaching by bishops and people alike, until at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D., it was officially defined and canonized as a dogma (A "Dogma" is a teaching or doctrine that can never be reversed or repealed. It is equal in authority to the Bible) by Pope Innocent III.

Where did this teaching and practice really come from? Like many of the beliefs and rites of Romanism, transubstantiation was first practiced by pagan religions. The noted historian Durant said that belief in transubstantiation as practiced by the priests of the Roman Catholic system is "one of the oldest ceremonies of primitive religion" (The Story of Civilization, p. 741.) The syncretism and mysticism of the Middle East were great factors in influencing the West, particularly Italy. (Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, by Dill.)

In Egypt, priests would consecrate meat cakes, which were supposed to become the flesh of Osiris! (an ancient Egyptian god of the lower world and judge of the dead - Encyclopedia of Religions, Vol. 2, p. 76.) The idea of transubstantiation was also characteristic of the religion of Mithra whose sacraments of cakes and haoma drink closely parallel Catholic Eucharistic rites. (Ibid.)

The idea of eating the flesh of deity was most popular among the people of Mexico and Central America long before they ever heard of Christ; and when Spanish missionaries first landed in those countries, "their surpass was heightened when they witnessed a religious rite which reminded them of communion... an image made of flour... and after consecration by priests, was distributed among the people who ate it... declaring it was the flesh of deity." (Prescott's Mexico, Vol. 3.) [131]

Questions about Transubstantiation:

The following questions are legitimate ones that need to be asked about the doctrine of transubstantiation.

If the wafer and wine physically change into Jesus' actual flesh and blood, then:

  • 2 hours after Mass, does every faithful Catholic excrete our Lord in their bathroom?
  • What if one vomits?
  • What happens to the hosts that aren't eaten? Is the Lord stored in a pantry until the next day?
  • What if mice break in and eat it?

Please understand that I mean no disrespect with these questions. We've already seen that transubstantiation can not be supported in the Bible. The previous questions illustrate that transubstantiation also can not be support by common sense. This is why the Westminster Confession of Faith rightly concluded:

That doctrine which maintains a change of the substance of bread and wine, into the substance of Christ's body and blood (commonly called transubstantiation) by consecration of a priest, or by any other way, is repugnant, not to Scripture alone, but even to common sense, and reason; overthroweth the nature of the sacrament, and hath been, and is, the cause of manifold superstitions; yea, of gross idolatries. [132]

Next: Mary

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