I came across the blog of Catholic apologist and author, Steve Ray, where I found this question from one of his visitors, Wade Fowler, on March 11, 2015:
“Hey Steve….came across this blog….and I find myself perplexed and out of my league. I read Crossing the Tiber, but no longer have my copy… Can you help me reconcile what this blog is saying using the ECFs.
Here is the link. Please peruse it when you have time. I am very interested in your response.
Thanks and God bless.”
Steve Ray’s answer:
“Wade: These anti-Catholic websites twist the Fathers of the Church like they do the Bible. I would not waste my time reading them. I used to have time to respond in detail to them, especially on the Primacy of Peter in the See of Rome. You can see a lot of my debates here:
http://www.catholicconvert.com/resources. Look especially at Steve’s Writings then the sections on My Books and DVDs.
These guys say the Fathers referred to the Eucharist as a symbol. Yes, they did because it IS a symbol. But it is also WHAT it symbolizes. The Fathers of the Church recognized that it is a symbol AND the reality. These anti-Catholics only emphasize the former and ignore the latter.
Read my book Crossing the Tiber again, especially the last section which deals with all this in detail. Don’t be deceived by clever folks who “proof-text” the Fathers for passages that skew the intent of what the Fathers were writing and believing and practicing. The whole Church believed in the Real Presence and still does. The only ones that reject it are a small sliver of the Christian pie — the Evangelicals.”
I went to the link and read Ray’s article, “The Eucharist as Seen by the Early Church Fathers.” What do you suppose I found in that article? Big surprise; nothing but proof-texts. My article, “Early Church Evidence Refutes Real Presence,” was perplexing to Wade because for the first time he was seeing the early church in context. In the fourth paragraph I stated that many Catholics will be surprised by what they learn in the article. Wade is a perfect example of what I was talking about. He saw the context to the many quotes he had been reading on Catholic websites and was confronted with the realization that when understood in context, the early church evidence refutes the Roman Catholic doctrine of real presence.
I understand that no honest devout Catholic who loves the Roman system will change their opinion about the eucharist by reading my article. Instead what happens is that they turn to someone they trust to tell to them that the evidence I presented is not as it appears. Well, Wade did exactly that. He turned to someone who has written books on Catholic doctrine and is a perceived expert on the subject of the Eucharist and church history. So what did this expert tell him? He tells Wade that he doesn’t have time to respond to me, but what about responding to Wade? Ray evidently decided that all Wade needs is to be re-indoctrinated with catholic proof-texts, because that is the ONLY thing Ray can offer.
Ray is an ill-informed hypocrite who never gave Wade the curtesy of even perusing my article. Without any evidence he criticizes me of the very things he does himself. He relies on proof-texts, twists Scripture, and distorts the early church writings by hiding the context and manipulating the meanings and intent. In fact, Ray is the perfect example of why I wrote my article in the first place.
Ray’s article offers no insight, no context, and frankly little detectable knowledge of the subject he was writing on. Keep in mind that Ray is a well-known Catholic author and apologist. I don’t need to go through the points in his article as my article address almost all of them. However, I do want to quickly demonstrate Ray’s blatant disregard for facts using Clement’s letter to the Corinthians.
Here is a quote taken from Ray’s article where he quotes Clement:
“’In the same way, my brothers, when we offer our own Eucharist to God, each one should keep to his own degree (calling)’ (Letter of Clement to the Corinthians, 41).”
Here is the same quote from Clemet’s letter to the Corinthians directly from Philip Schaff’s translation.
“Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him.
It’s difficult to even recognize that the two quotes come from the same work. Ray knows that the word eucharist literally means to give thanks. Knowing this, he seizes the opportunity to use the word in order to influence his readers. Ray gave neither lead in commentary nor any follow-up to the quote; he simply did what all Catholic apologists do, he quote-mined. The truth is Clement never used the word, “Eucharist,” and he never even alluded to the idea of real presence. What we find from Clement is the same as what we find from other well-known early church fathers, and that is that Christian sacrifice is that of praise and the giving of thanks.
Clement quoted from Psalm 50:23 saying, “The sacrifice of praise will glorify me, and a way is there by which I will show him the salvation of God.” He goes on to say, “This is the way, beloved, in which we find our Savior, even Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings, the defender and helper of our infirmity.” (35-36)
That is about as anti-real presence as one can get. We do not find our Savior in the bread and cup of the Eucharist; we find Him in our hearts when our hearts are turned to God through faith in His word. Clement speaks of relationship with Christ who is our defender and helper, and in whom we are made righteous by faith.
Ray manipulated Clements letter in order to give the false impression that Clement believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of real presence. Doing this tells me two things 1) that Ray severally lacks integrity, and 2) in general Roman Catholics are completely ignorant of both Scripture and church history. How else could we account for Ray having any degree of success in his business as an apologist and author? Hopefully Wade was able to see through Ray’s deceit. I pray that the perplexity he faced when hearing for the first time the real context of the early church writings will convict his heart and turn him to Christ our Savior and His healing word.
”Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark those that cause divisions and offenses contrary to the teaching that you learned, and turn away from them; for such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly, and through good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Rom. 16:17-18)