A Critical Response to “The Church Fathers on Transubstantiation”

September 29, 2015

RefutedI was recently made aware of a website called, Called to Communion,” in particular to an article written by a gentleman named, Tim Troutman. The article is titled, “The Church Fathers on Transubstantiation.” Mr. Troutman’s objective was to prove that the early church fathers affirm a change in substance of the elements of the Eucharist into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, though admitting that it is not expressly stated in any patristic source.

In his introduction he points to a type of evidence which he states is a “simple identification of the consecrated species with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.” He goes on to explain, “Because unconsecrated bread is not called the Body, and consecrated is called the Body, this directly implies a belief that a supernatural change has taken place at the point of consecration.” It seems much could be implied from approaching the early church works from this viewpoint. I would say it implies that they referred to it as the Lord’s body and blood simply because the Lord Himself did, and for no other reason than that. In fact, we will see from the first quote used by Mr. Troutman, that this is exactly what we find. But Mr. Troutman’s first claim is the most important; the claim that the early church fathers affirmed a change in the elements. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rome and Preeminent Authority in the Ante-Nicene Church

December 28, 2010

Preeminent – the word garners attention whenever it is used, suggesting to the reader or hearer that something or someone is held in the highest regard. And when the word is used by a respected early church father with regard to the church, its meaning demands attention. And when the word is used in connection to a specific church, the church in Rome, attention it will get. Such is the case regarding a certain passage from the works of a beloved second century bishop named, Irenaeus.

Any Roman Catholic that has heard of Irenaeus will tell you that in his works against heresies, he explicitly referred to the church in Rome as being preeminent. “For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church [the church in Rome], on account of its pre- eminent authority.” For Roman Catholics, this statement is proof positive that the second century church regarded the church in Rome as preeminent to all the others. The problem for Roman Catholics, however, is that the “proof” falls apart when the quote is reunited with its context. Read the rest of this entry »


If you are considering Catholicism, consider this first.

September 9, 2010

“If anyone comes and tells me they’re the church and I know that they’re not teaching the same thing as the church of 2000 years ago then I know it’s false.” (Dr. Sungenis)

The above quote is the philosophy of Catholic apologist Dr. Robert Sungenis who made this comment during a debate with Evangelical apologist, Matt Slick this past July.

Apparently Dr. Sungenis never applied his philosophy to his own beliefs, because if he did he would find his own church to be false. This is because none of the “oral [T]raditions” of the Catholic Church that Catholics are required to believe were known in the ancient church nearly 2000 years ago. And what are Catholics required to believe? Dr. Sungenis answers that for us:

“Any oral teaching inspired by the Holy Spirit to the apostles is our Oral Tradition that we must be obedient to.” (ibid)

So for anyone that might be considering joining the Catholic faith, here is a non-comprehensive list of doctrines Catholics are required to believe that did not exist in the apostolic and Ante-Nicene church; doctrines that according to Dr. Sungenis, were received by the apostles from the Holy Spirit and passed down to the church by oral tradition.

  1. The Immaculate Conception
  2. The assumption of Mary
  3. Transubstantiation
  4. Confessing sins to priests
  5. Holy days of obligation
  6. And the requirement to believe that the Roman bishop is infallible in regards to his proclamations concerning faith and morals.

I would love to hear from Catholics on this, especially apologists. Is Dr. Sungenis wrong, or is the Catholic Church teaching false doctrine?


Why Catholics should stop listening to their apologists and read the Bible

February 20, 2010

The following was posted on the Catholic Answers forum on the topic of Peter as the foundation of the church. This quote represents fairly well the Catholic understanding of what the foundation of the church is. Out of everything discussed on that particular thread, this, believe it or not, was the most in-depth any Catholic ever got.

Thou art Peter [Kipha, Cephas] and on this rock [Kipha, Cephas] I will build my Church, cannot be understood save of building the Church on this man Peter (Cephas), otherwise the point of the phrase disappears. Jesus was called the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20), but He could not be indicating Himself here: it would have been rather like a bad joke, if I may venture to say so: Thou art Peter, but it is on quite another Peter that I am going to build! Some try to return indirectly to this superannuated Protestant interpretation by making out the Rock to be Peter’s faith in the Messiahship of the Lord. It was indeed Peter’s faith that introduced the promise, but the promise is given to the person whose faith has just been displayed. If the building is a group, the foundation is their head: Jesus, says St. John Chrysostom, exalts Peter’s declaration, He made him pastor. The position of Peter in the Church is that of the rock on which the building is erected; thanks to this foundation the building will stand firm; thanks to this head the community will be well ruled.

Read the rest of this entry »


Response to Martignoni’s “Biblical Evidence” for the Catholic Mass (Part 1)

January 6, 2010

Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, in his latest newsletter asks his readers (of which I am one) to respond to an email he received from a non-Catholic. The email Mr. Martignoni received was rather brusque and only offered someone else’s article as a response to his earlier newsletter. Martignoni’s objection to his challenger’s email was that it did not address the Scripture references he cited in his previous newsletter on the sacrifice of the mass. So my response will be to address those references in this and forthcoming blog posts. Read the rest of this entry »


The Truth behind Catholic Answers Early Church Quotes: Irenaeus on Apostolic Tradition

November 4, 2009

irenaeus

This is the second post in a series on Catholic Answers apologetics tracts. This week’s post continues in the topic of “Apostolic Tradition.” The second early church quote from Catholic Answers Apostolic Tradition track is from the second century bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus. The quote appears as follows.

“As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority [import] of the tradition is one and the same” (Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).

Just as in their previous quote from Papias, there is nothing here to indicate what the tradition is, just that there is vitally important tradition occupied and guarded by the church. The presupposition of a Catholic will automatically trigger thoughts of ‘sacred tradition,” tradition that according to the Catholic Church was handed down from the apostles orally to church leaders. After all, that is the message Catholic Answers is trying to send. Sacred tradition refers to doctrine that is either not found in written Scripture or is not easily deduced from it. It is considered to be equal in authority to Scripture. But as much as reading this quote from Irenaeus might go a long way in promoting sacred tradition for those who are presupposed to believe it, it is isolated; and it fails to show anything of substance. But if we go and read the quote in context we find that Irenaeus does not fail to explain what the tradition is. In the paragraph just prior to the one Catholic Answers posted on their website, he said this.

Previous paragraph to C.A. quote:

The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickedness,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory. (Against Heresies 1:10:1)

He continues with what we find on the Catholic Answers website.

As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same.

When brought into context it is easy to see that the tradition of which Irenaeus was referring was pure basic Christian doctrine. No mention or hint of any doctrine not fully and easily supported by the written word.

Here is another quote from Irenaeus that appears on the Catholic Answers Apostolic Tradition page.

“That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?” (ibid., 3:4:1).

What Catholic Answers does not provide is what Irenaeus said next…

“To which course many nations of those barbarians who believe in Christ do assent, having salvation written in their hearts by the Spirit, without paper or ink, and, carefully preserving the ancient tradition, believing in one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all things therein, by means of Christ Jesus, the Son of God; who, because of His surpassing love towards His creation, condescended to be born of the virgin, He Himself uniting man through Himself to God, and having suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rising again, and having been received up in splendor, shall come in glory, the Savior of those who are saved, and the Judge of those who are judged, and sending into eternal fire those who transform the truth, and despise His Father and His advent.” (3:4:2)

Sound familiar? Irenaeus continues:

“Those who, in the absence of written documents, have believed this faith, are barbarians, so far as regards our language; but as regards doctrine, manner, and tenor of life, they are, because of faith, very wise indeed; and they do please God, ordering their conversation in all righteousness, chastity, and wisdom…Thus, by means of that ancient tradition of the apostles, they do not suffer their mind to conceive anything of the [doctrines suggested by the] portentous language of these teachers, among whom neither Church nor doctrine has ever been established.” (ibid. 3:4:2)

Irenaeus is teaching that in the absence of written Scripture, the faith of the church is preserved in tradition, which was handed down from the apostles and carefully guarded. This tradition literally mirrored the written Scriptures because it essentially was the written Scriptures.

The next Irenaeus quote on Catholic Answers is this:

“It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors to our own times—men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about.” (ibid. 3:3:1)

Now that we know what the tradition is we can sympathize with Irenaeus’ sentiments concerning doctrines that were never taught by the apostles, or those approved men to whom they charged with the care of the faith.

Here is one more interesting quote taken from Book 3 of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies:

“When, however, they [heretics] are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: [word of mouth].” (ibid. 3:2:1)

Irenaeus’ description of the heretics is not at all unlike that of the Post-Nicene Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church places tradition on equal ground with Scripture. “Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence” (82).

However, this would not be such a big deal if only the tradition they were referring to was what Irenaeus presented; tradition that actually did equal Scripture. But unfortunately, the traditions the catechism is referring to is more akin to what the heretics preached; false doctrines that are unascertainable from Scripture.

There is one additional quote from Irenaeus that appears on the Catholic Answers Apostolic Tradition page, but it lends itself better to the topic of the papacy. And since the quote appears in that topic as well, I will leave it for a future post.


The Truth behind Catholic Answers Early Church Quotes: Papias on Apostolic Tradition

October 28, 2009

The following is a first in a series of posts aimed at exposing the severe lack of credibility at one of Catholicism’s most popular apologetics websites, Catholic Answers. Over the years I have been inundated with quotes taken from Catholic Answers and used by Catholics as proof that the early church taught and believed all the “Sacred Traditions” of the Catholic Church. What I have found from reading those quotes over the years is that they are highly selective, unfairly edited, and deliberately misleading. If there is one admirable thing I can say about Catholic Answers it is that they provide references, which makes their culpability for fairness equally shared with those readers who fail to validate their claims. To understand what I am talking about, I am going to begin this series by examining a single quote from Papias, the first and oldest reference that appears on Catholic Answers in defense of “Apostolic Tradition.”

The early church quote from which Papias’ is the first, are prefaced by this following statement on the (Catholic Answers Apostolic Tradition page:

“The early Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, recognized the necessity of the traditions that had been handed down from the apostles and guarded them scrupulously, as the following quotations show.”

The Papias quote is taken from Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History and appears on the Catholic Answers website as follows:

“Papias [A.D. 120], who is now mentioned by us, affirms that he received the sayings of the apostles from those who accompanied them, and he, moreover, asserts that he heard in person Aristion and the presbyter John. Accordingly, he mentions them frequently by name, and in his writings gives their traditions [concerning Jesus]. . . . [There are] other passages of his in which he relates some miraculous deeds, stating that he acquired the knowledge of them from tradition” (fragment in Eusebius, Church History 3:39 [A.D. 312]).” Catholic Answers; Apostolic Tradition) (Emphasis mine)

Now read the same quote from Ecclesiastical History:

“And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings. These things we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.
But it is fitting to subjoin to the words of Papias which have been quoted, other passages from his works in which he relates some other wonderful events which he claims to have received from tradition.”

Where Eusebius says Papius mentions Aristion and John by name, and gives their traditions in writings, Catholic Answers inserted “concerning Jesus.” Eusebius didn’t say or even imply that the traditions Papias recorded were from Jesus,” something Catholic Answers dubiously added. By doing that, they created the premise that Papius’ writings revealed unwritten teachings of Christ.

The only thing one can ascertain from the quote is that Papias recorded some sort of tradition dating back to apostolic times. But what that tradition is Catholic Answers does not say. So it’s up to the reader to find out.

When read in context from Ecclesiastical History, one can see that Eusebius never mentions any so-called Sacred Tradition. He does, however, talk about a particular belief that Papias claims came from unwritten tradition. This is found in paragraphs 11-13.

11 The same writer [Papius] gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Savior, and some other more mythical things.

12 To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures.

13 For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Iranaeus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.”

Papius claims to have received unwritten tradition from Aristion and John that proclaims a 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth after the resurrection. But Catholic doctrine expressly rejects this view. Even on Catholic Answers own website one can find the evidence that they disagree with Papius:

“As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been ‘amillennial‘” (Catholic Answers; The Rapture)

The apostolic tradition Papias actually recorded, according to Eusebius, contradicts Catholic teaching, yet Catholic Answers passes it off as support for Catholic tradition. I wonder how many times people have pulled this quote from Catholic Answers to defend Catholic Tradition in discussions on forums, blogs, and emails, not knowing that it actually supports doctrine they oppose?

In light of Papias’ support of millennialism, let me once again share Catholic Answers preface to his quote:

“The early Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, recognized the necessity of the traditions that had been handed down from the apostles and guarded them scrupulously, as the following quotations show.”