"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our Lord stands forever. Isaiah 40:8

21 August 2006

What Will You Do With Jesus?

My friend at work is still “seeking” out the truth about God and asking good questions. She reminds me a lot of myself right before I was saved, having an almost insatiable curiosity about God. I feel very encouraged that God is working on her and it is a joy to talk with her about the Lord.

Being still at a intellectual/logical pursuit of faith, my friend has rightfully placed Jesus at the center of her quest. He is the one that can not be so easily dismissed. As C.S. Lewis so eloquently put it in his book Mere Christianity:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Jesus’ claims to be God can not be extracted from his teachings. Ultimately everyone needs to determine what they are going to do with Jesus. His existence in history is undeniable, so every person needs to decide whether he is a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

If Jesus is indeed Lord, then his teachings need to be taken to heart. And let’s not deny that Jesus said some tough things:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matt 7:13-14

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matt 7:21

"Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matt 10:32-34

Jesus is the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice. His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sins – he is our Savior because he has saved us from condemnation if only we will believe in him.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.” John 3:16-18

What will you do with Jesus?

54 comments:

Ellen said...

Amen

e-Mom said...

Excellent! I've been wondering about your friend at work. I'm glad she's still asking good questions. You may have the privilege of "reaping a harvest" but even if you don't, you're sowing some healthy seed.

Tony said...

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Eat Him. :)

NikkiJ7890 said...

So what was your turning point that made you turn to Jesus? I don't know if you ever mentioned it or maybe I missed it in your postings.

Atlantic said...

Hi Carrie - I'm (another) Catholic who has been reading your blog for a while. I like a lot of this post very much, but I want to ask: is it considered normal in Evangelical circles to use a phrase like, "What will you do with Jesus?"

I mean, "What will you do with X?" is normally the sort of phrase one uses with things and people that are in one's power - inanimate objects, animals, prisoners, maybe students and children.

Not God.

It just seems weird to me.

Carrie said...

Atlantic,

No, I don’t think that the phrase is normal in evangelical circles. As far as I know, it is my own rendering.

It may not be the best way to phrase the question but I certainly don’t think it is blasphemous to say it that way (I know you didn’t say that). Jesus is the crux of Christianity and I know many people who would consider him a good moral teacher and maybe even a prophet of God, but that requires ignoring what he said about himself.

Hence the simple question, what will you do with Jesus? In other words, will you accept him as God as he claimed to be or will you consider him a madman. As CS Lewis said, great moral teacher is not an option.

I guess Tony’s answer didn’t bother you then?

Carrie said...

NikkiJ7890,

I talked a bit more about my personal conversion here:

http://ofchristianwomen.blogspot.com/2006/08/gospel-according-to-me.html

Atlantic said...

You're right, I don't think it's blasphemous. I thought Tony's response was an irreverently-phrased, mildly humorous response to an irreverently-phrased serious question.

Tony said...

I thought Tony's response was an irreverently-phrased, mildly humorous response to an irreverently-phrased serious question.

Atlantic, I guess you "got it". A little irrereverent the way it was phrased.

I'm always asked by non-Catholic Christians if I have "accepted Jesus into my heart". My answer is: "Of course I have, I've also accepted Him into my mouth, down my throat and into my tummy" :)

Carrie said...

My question was not meant to be irreverant in anyway. The phrasing may have been a bit informal in your opinion, but it was a serious question.

Therefore, I don't find the two irreverent responses funny in the least. I find them mildly offensive.

Atlantic said...

To me, it came across as irreverent, but probably not meant to be, which is why I asked.

Which was the other irreverent response?

Carrie said...

Tony's two comments. I can take a fair amount of informality, but eating and digesting Jesus is a bit too much for even me.

Atlantic said...

Tony's precise mode of irreverence is not exactly to my taste, but the concept is Scriptural - even if you are believe it is metaphorical as well. :)

Tony said...

but eating and digesting Jesus is a bit too much for even me

Once the accidents (bread and wine) are no longer identifiable as such, Jesus is no longer there. So He doesn't make it entirely through the digestion process.

Carrie said...

Tony, can I get a bible verse for that idea?

aquamarine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Atlantic said...

When Protestants participate in a commemoration of the Lord's Supper, where they consume bread and wine symbolising Jesus' body and blood, at what point (if any) do these substances stop symbolising Jesus' body and blood?

Carrie said...

Symbolizing and literally becoming are too very different things. I can't even answer that question based on that fact.

Tony said...

Tony, can I get a bible verse for that idea?

Carrie, I'm not Protestant, I don't need to.

phd4jesus said...

1Cor 11:23-29 23For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Atlantic, non-catholics do not think of the bread and cup as body and blood. The things most important about the Lords supper for non-catholics is that (i) we are called to remember what He did for us at Golgotha (verses 24, 25, and 26), (ii) we are called to look forward to His return (v. 26), and (iii) we are to examine ourselves (verse 28). If we are not walking with the Lord or if there is a dispute between us and someone else (even though we may not have caused the problem), we are not to partake in His supper until we have reconciled things as best as possible. Matt 5:23-24 is often used as further support:

23So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Atlantic said...

I know they're two different things, and I'm not asking that you take the Catholic view into any account at all. When does the bread, symbol of Jesus' body, stop symbolising his body?

Or, let's try an example of something that we agree symbolises something, but doesn't have any underlying Real Presence: An American flag symbolises the United States. Let us say a person wishes to dispose of one respectfully and therefore burns it.

At what point, if any, does the physical entity of the flag stop symbolising the US?

phd4jesus said...

The symbolism would end at the end of the service. The Lord's supper is the second to last thing to happen, a hymn would be sung, then we go home.

Atlantic said...

Atlantic, non-catholics do not think of the bread and cup as body and blood.

Eastern Orthodox agree with Catholics that the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ, although they prefer to think of it as a mystery rather than worry about details of transubstantion.

Lutherans believe that "that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise." (Augsburg Confession, Article 10). They don't believe in transubstantiation, but in something they call "the Sacramental Union", sometimes called consubstantiation.

Anglican have a wide range of views - most probably are similar to the Lutheran view.

No less a Methodist than Charles Wesley wrote a hymn that invites us, “Come and partake the gospel feast / be saved from sin, in Jesus rest; / O taste the goodness of our God, / and eat his flesh and drink his blood.” Even if he didn’t mean it literally, he certainly was thinking of the bread and wine as body and blood in some sense.

Similarly John Calvin, discussion John 6: “For if it were true that all who present themselves at the holy table of the Lord are made partakers of his flesh and blood, all will, in like manner, obtain life; but we know that there are many who partake of it to their condemnation… It is certain, then, that he now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation of this sermon.”

phd4jesus said...

Well it seems that you already know the answer to your question Atlantic. I guess I should have stipulated that the Protestant churches that I am familiar with do not take literally the bread and cup being the body and blood of Christ.

David B. said...

Phd4jesus,

"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself."

If Jesus was just speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in only a symbolic manner, why would Paul say that one could be guilty of "profaning the body and blood of the Lord" over a symbol? How do you discern the body of Christ at your communion service if it is merely a symbol? And why would Paul say one eats and drinks judgment on himself if he doesn't discern the body of Christ from a symbolic meal? This just doesn't make sense.

Atlantic said...

Well it seems that you already know the answer to your question Atlantic.

Only to the extent of your own response to it. My question was regarding the positions of Carrie and other readers here about the point at which such symbolism stops existing, not about Protestant views of the bread and wine in general.

Your position is The symbolism would end at the end of the service.

Can I get a Bible verse for that idea?

phd4jesus said...

Yo David B.
If Jesus was just speaking of eating His flesh and drinking His blood in only a symbolic manner, why would Paul say that one could be guilty of "profaning the body and blood of the Lord" over a symbol?

I don't think that Paul is talking about the body and blood as in the bread and cup. I think he is talking about the brutality and shed blood of Christ on the cross.

How do you discern the body of Christ at your communion service if it is merely a symbol?

I am not sure what you are asking but in an attempt to answer your question, in verse 25 He said the cup was the new covenant in His blood. So the only conclusion from that statement is that the cup is the new agreement, thus, in taking the cup, you are accepting that new agreement. The agreement is that Jesus once and for all paid our penalty as the sacrifical lamb.

And why would Paul say one eats and drinks judgment on himself if he doesn't discern the body of Christ from a symbolic meal?

He doesn't say that one eats and drinks judgment on himself if he doesn't discern the body of Christ. He says 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

"The body" is not refering to Christ's body but the participant in the Lord's supper. That was the problem with the Corinthians, they were doing some pretty harsh things and taking communion without batting an eye lash. Look at verses 30. He says for this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. They received judgement because they did not examine themselves as Paul says to do in verse 28.

So nothing in 1Cor 11:23-28 supports the literal eating and drinking of Christ's flesh and blood, repectively. And as stated above, Paul refers to the cup as a new covenant. As a matter of fact, a quick survey of the gospels shows that Jesus Himself does not call the cup His blood, but says that it is "my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt 26:28; Mark 14:24), and in Luke 22:20 He says "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood". From these verses, I think that the argument that the bread and cup are truely Christ's body and blood by transubstantiation is very thin at best.

My friend David B., that is the end of question and answer time.

phd4jesus said...

Matt 26:30 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

I'm guessing Atlantic that if the symbolism did not stop when they left, then some of Jesus' symbolic body and blood made their way into the trash and well, where ever they disposed of used wine.

Atlantic said...

That text doesn't show when the symbolism stops one way or another.

You may be interested to note that in a Passover seder, it is required that the cups of wine that are part of the service be finished, and the afikoman (ie, the second matzoh of three, the one that is broken, half hidden and then 'ransomed' at the end of the meal, then eaten as the very last food...ie the Christological matzah) also must be finished. Nothing of these is thrown away, the same as the Eucharist in a Catholic Mass.

phd4jesus said...

I must have missed that in Exodus.

Carrie said...

You may be interested to note that in a Passover seder,

Does that ritual come from the OT? Or is that just a tradition in the Jewish culture?

First of all, I would say that the Jewish culture is very ritualistic, some of which was instituted by God. However, the new covenant of Christ did away with most of those rituals, or at least, the need to have them.

Second, the real issue as you know b/w Prots and Cats is that the eucharistic is required for salvation. Yes, I think the idea of transubstantiation is not based on any biblical passage and I think that the literal eating of the body and blood is not supported by John 6, but I also don't think believing those things alone will damage anyone's salvation.

But, I don't believe those things are required for salvation so you are placing an unbiblical judgement on non-Catholics and putting an erroneous burden on Catholics. So, we don't have a problem with traditions, just traditions that conflict with the Word of God (ie adding works to faith for salvation).

As far as when does symbolism end, does it really matter? The Bible does not tell us the precise moment when symbolism starts or ends. I think that is up to the believer and where their heart and mind is in the moment. We don't place any value on the actual bread and wine, the value is in the believer remembering the sacrifice of Christ as a propitiation for our sin.

And when I say "we" I am talking about bible-based Christians like myself and not necessarily all Prots. I do not know all of the beliefs of all Prot denominations and there are some that I know I have conflicting beliefs with on more minor issues.

phd4jesus said...

Actually Atlantic, I meant no disrespect with that answer. God spent a lot of time talking about details of ceremonies. The description of this part of Passover certainly is not part of the Pentateuch. I don’t think it is unreasonable to consider this as yet another tradition of men that the Jews instituted. It is clear that the religious leaders of Israel made a "religion" out of the 10 commandments and lost site of what it was all about: God.

Carrie said...

Oops, I forgot one thing about the Eucharist. My understanding was that the Mass and the Eucharist are considered a sacrifice. That would push the tradition itself into unbiblical territory for me and no longer just a tradition that does not conflict with scripture.

Atlantic said...

Ooh, lots of interesting new issues to discuss! I’d like to first go back to the original point I was trying to make, though.

When Tony first mentioned the Catholic concept that the Real Presence doesn’t make it through the digestive process, Carrie asked for a Bible text to support this.

I then asked a question about the analogous Protestant symbolisation of Christ in bread and wine: when does such symbolisation cease to exist? Phd4jesus answered that it would end at the end of the service. When I asked for a Bible verse to support this, she quoted Mt 26:30, which simply states that Jesus and the disciples sang a hymn and went out, and then she later said that if the symbolisation had not ceased then, there would have been leftovers symbolising Jesus’ body in the trash. (As an aside, I disagree that there were leftovers at the Last Supper, and also there are IMO very good grounds for believing that that particular Passover service only came to an end on the Cross, but neither of those is relevant to my main point.)

I don’t think there are any Bible verses that specifically tell us whether such a symbolisation would come to an end at the end of the service or at any other time. I think Phd4jesus’ position with reference to contemporary Protestant communion services is quite defensible, although I haven’t actually given the issue much thought.

My point was that whether one is asking when the Real Presence ceases to exist, and when the symbolisation of Christ cease to exist, in neither case can this directly be supported from the Bible. However, the question is one that needs to be answered even by Protestants, since the practical issue of “What about leftovers?” arises whenever the Lord’s Supper is commemorated.

Just like the Church, Protestants don’t have a direct, specific Bible text for whatever position they take on this matter, but apply their reason.

(Just out of interest, the general teaching of Catholic theologians on this position, put very simply, is that Christ said that bread and wine, not any other substances, were His Body and Blood. Therefore, when the appearance of bread and wine ceases (whether by digestion or other processes), so does the Real Presence.)

Atlantic said...

As far as when does symbolism end, does it really matter?

I think it does. I don’t think you have to believe in the Real Presence to think that a symbol of something important should be treated with respect, just like an American patriot doesn’t desecrate the flag. What would you think of someone who took the bread and wine, but instead of eating it, threw it on the floor and stomped on it? Personally, I think that throwing away good bread and wine (of any type, at any time) is at least a small sin, but I would worry more about anyone who simultaneously believed that communion leftovers continued to symbolise Christ and could throw them in the garbage.

Tony said...

You may be interested to note that in a Passover seder,

Does that ritual come from the OT? Or is that just a tradition in the Jewish culture?


That was what Jesus celebrated with his Apostles during the Last Supper. Interesting part about the seder meal, Jesus was the fulfillment of the marital covenant that God instituted with Adam and Eve. He was also the fulfillment of the Old Testament passover covenant with the Jewish people.

If you are interested, I'll explain the symbolism. I think you'll find it fascinating.

Second, the real issue as you know b/w Prots and Cats is that the eucharistic is required for salvation. Yes, I think the idea of transubstantiation is not based on any biblical passage and I think that the literal eating of the body and blood is not supported by John 6, but I also don't think believing those things alone will damage anyone's salvation.

First, can you tell me where it's stated in official Catholic doctrine that the eucharist is required for salvation? This flies in the face of the Catholic assertion that the only requirement is baptism of water and the Holy Spirit. (Baptism of blood or baptism of desire can be substituted in some cases).

I was always taught that sacraments are somewhat like "fonts of grace" supplied by God that we can drink at whenever we wish. The only requirement I know of is the disciplinary requirement to Confess, and receive the Eucharist once a year. But that's only for Catholics.

Oops, I forgot one thing about the Eucharist. My understanding was that the Mass and the Eucharist are considered a sacrifice. That would push the tradition itself into unbiblical territory for me and no longer just a tradition that does not conflict with scripture.

Where, exactly, is the conflict. I make sacrifices every day.

Atlantic said...

I’m just going to respond briefly to the next two points, as they are standard points of dissent – we can talk about them at more length if you like.

Second, the real issue as you know b/w Prots and Cats is that the eucharistic is required for salvation….(ie adding works to faith for salvation)…..

Technically, receiving the Eucharist is normative, but not absolutely necessary for salvation. Catholic children don’t normally receive it until they reach the age of reason (at least) and if they die beforehand are not damned on that account. For other, if a person is unintentionally or invincibly ignorant of a particular commandment of God, this can remove the imputability of offending against it and therefore they may still be saved.

Jesus told us to commemorate the Last Supper. He also told us, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Never mind whether the Protestants or the Catholics are right over what exactly happens during this commemoration – I don’t see why anyone who loves Him would wish to disobey Him.

When Protestants object to “works” that are (in Catholic eyes) merely obeying Jesus’ direct commandments to us, I tend to get picture in my mind of someone saying to God “I love You! I have faith in You, and I know You will save me! But I’m not going to do anything You tell me to do, because that would be works!”

I don’t actually believe any Protestant actually thinks that – I’m sure there is massive misunderstanding going on with the whole faith/works issue – but that’s what this particular objection seems to be logically equivalent to.

My understanding was that the Mass and the Eucharist are considered a sacrifice. That would push the tradition itself into unbiblical territory for me and no longer just a tradition that does not conflict with scripture.

The Catholic view is that the Mass and the Eucharist are the same once-and-for-all sacrifice of Christ, made present to us at each Mass by following His commandment to commemorate the Last Supper.

Atlantic said...

You may be interested to note that in a Passover seder,

Does that ritual come from the OT? Or is that just a tradition in the Jewish culture?

That was what Jesus celebrated with his Apostles during the Last Supper.


Er, I think Carrie knows what a Passover seder is. I think she was asking about the detail of requiring that the wine and matzoh be finished.

I'll try to put together something about this and related issues later tonight.

Carrie said...

Just a quick comment. I think the use of symbolic here is confusing things. For at least my Prot background, the bread and wine aren't so much symbolic, the meal itself is symbolic.

Therefore I think all your concerns about when the symbolism ends are irrelevant, at least for me. The bread and wine are just that, bread and wine. We practice the "Lord's Supper".

phd4jesus said...

I would like to be clear that my original answer to you Atlantic was:

"Atlantic, non-catholics do not think of the bread and cup as body and blood."

When I said that "Jesus' symbolic body and blood made their way into the trash'', I was just jesting. The Lord's supper for protestants is like it was for the Corinthians, except it is not a full meal now like it was for them.

Carrie said...

First, can you tell me where it's stated in official Catholic doctrine that the eucharist is required for salvation?

1113 The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments.29 There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony.30

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51 "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.

Ellen said...

My point was that whether one is asking when the Real Presence ceases to exist, and when the symbolisation of Christ cease to exist, in neither case can this directly be supported from the Bible. However, the question is one that needs to be answered even by Protestants, since the practical issue of “What about leftovers?” arises whenever the Lord’s Supper is commemorated.

does the bread and wine symbolize the Body and Blood in the store? No.

Does the symbolism depend on the material or does it depend on the ones partaking?

that's your answer - if the symbolism is in the heart of the partaker, when the partaker is finished partaking, the symbolism is no longer needed.

Atlantic said...

For at least my Prot background, the bread and wine aren't so much symbolic, the meal itself is symbolic.

See, this is why I like talking to Protestants. It had honestly never occurred to me that someone would be so distanced from thinking of the bread and wine even as symbolic.

I'll have to think about that. Obviously you read Scripture through Protestant-coloured glasses and I read it through Catholic-coloured ones, but the bread/body, wine/blood element of the Last Supper seems so pronounced, I don't know how it can be ignored.

Isn't it true that the wine is - in some sense - a sharing in the Blood of Christ? Isn't the bread a sharing in the Body of Christ?

I'm going to post my comments on the seder anyway - you still might find it interesting.

Atlantic said...

When I said that "Jesus' symbolic body and blood made their way into the trash", I was just jesting.

Thank goodness. :)

The Lord's supper for protestants is like it was for the Corinthians

Well, obviously as a Catholic I think there's at least one key difference. :)

Tony said...

1129 The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.51 "Sacramental grace" is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.

Ellen said...

"for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation...

What is necessary for unbelievers to get into heaven?

Atlantic said...

"Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation." CCC 846-7

This is closely related to the concept of invincible ignorance:

"Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct. If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible...the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him." CCC 1792-3

(All emphases added.)

Invincible ignorance is that which cannot be overcome by the person in question applying moral diligence. What exactly this consists of in each individual case is up to God. People who literally have never heard of Christ (e.g. remote Third World tribes with no contact with the rest of the world) are an obvious example of invincible ignorance, but personally I think (and hope) that experiential and psychological barriers (among, say, Protestants :) ) can also lead to invincible ignorance about the Church.

Atlantic said...

Here's what I wrote about the Passover seder. I wrote most of it before reading some of the comments above, but maybe you'll find it interesting anyway.

I should just preface this by saying that the following is stuff I find interesting and illuminating, and it is (so far as I know) compatible with the Catholic faith, but it’s not essential to Catholic doctrine in any way. If Jews threw out leftover Passover matzoh and wine, it wouldn’t change anything about the Real Presence and treatment thereof – I just find the parallels fascinating.

Interesting preliminary fact: The Jews claim that at the same time that Moses was given that which he later wrote down as the Torah, he was also given the Oral Torah, which included details and interpretation not included in the written Torah. There is internal evidence for this in the Torah, most notably a number of details that are left unexplained in the Torah. After the fall of the Second Temple, when they felt the survival of Judaism was threatened, the Jews wrote down a good deal of the Oral Torah, but still retain the concept of an authoritative interpretive tradition. (You can see why Catholics think this is interesting. There exist ”sola scriptura” Jews, BTW, called Karaites, but there aren’t very many of them.)

The details of the Passover seder have changed over time, especially after the destruction of the Temple, but aside from the obvious elements found in the Torah, there are quite a few other parts that are known to be of ancient provenance. Most interesting from our point of view, it appears that some of the elements of the traditional seder liturgy not detailed in the Torah are in the Last Supper. The traditional seder has exactly the following elements at the end of the meal: the blessing, breaking and eating of the afikomen matzoh; the blessing and drinking of a cup of wine; and the singing of a hymn. Compare Mt 26:26-30.

Therefore, although we know that there are differences between the traditional seder and the Last Supper (not least some which are clearly instituted by Jesus), it appears that there are some elements in the traditional seder that are not detailed in the Torah but did occur at the Last Supper. It is therefore not unreasonable to assume that there might be others as well. This raises the possibility that the custom of finishing the matzoh and wine might be one of them.

I don’t actually know when the first written evidence of the requirement to finish the wine and the matzoh appears. However, it is suggestive that Scripture does give a requirement to finish something else: the Passover lamb:

and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbour next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Ex 12:4 That is, if the household can’t eat a whole lamb, you combine households. That implies that you shouldn’t plan to have Passover lamb leftovers.

And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. Ex 12:10. Explicitly, no Passover lamb leftovers! If you really can’t finish it, it must burnt, not thrown out. Similar admonishments to finish it all (with burning not mentioned – was that specially for the first Passover only?) are found in Exodus 34:25 and Numbers 9:12.

Now, I know lamb isn’t matzoh or wine. But it seems likely that the concept that one ought to completely consume other important elements of the Passover meal could have easily have arisen, or possibly could have been part of the Oral Torah all along. Personally, I think that the likelihood that this existed in the seder at the time of Christ, and would have been observed as a matter of course at the Last Supper itself, is quite high.

Moving on to the Christian era, a final point is added by the fact that Christ is our Passover lamb. “For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Cor 5:8. There are lots of potential ways to read this, and Paul is intertwining this with his moral exhortations and analogies, but these clear notes also appear: “…our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival [i.e., our Passover equivalent, noting that Passover itself was chiefly celebrated by eating the lamb] with … unleavened bread.”

Christ is our Passover lamb. God commanded the original Passover lamb – the foreshadowing of Christ’s sacrifice – not only to be sacrificed, but to be consumed, and consumed completely, not thrown away. We Christians celebrate the festival of our Passover Lamb with unleavened bread, which Our Lord commanded at a Passover where he, said about the bread, “This is My Body” – the body of our Passover lamb.

Completely aside from questions of the Real Presence, can you see why one might think the unleavened bread at the Last Supper was completely consumed?

Carrie said...

Okay, so where is it said that at anytime the matzoh and wine must be finished completely? Is this is a current practice today? You lost me on that one.

Are you simply saying b/c the lamb leftovers were burned at the first Passover that we can assume all the bread and wine at the later Passover celebrations were consumed completely?

Carrie said...

but personally I think (and hope) that experiential and psychological barriers (among, say, Protestants :) ) can also lead to invincible ignorance about the Church.

So,

1. If you are a Catholic, the sacraments are required for salvation.

2. If you are a non-believer that has never heard of Christ, you may be saved.

3. If you flat out reject the Catholic church, you will be likely be damned.

4. If you are ignorant about the Catholic church, you may be saved.

5. If you are a Protestant, you may be saved.

Did I miss someone?

So the requirements of salvation are different for each person and based on their knowledge and works but even then, it is all up to God and you never truly know if you will be saved or not?

Atlantic said...

Current Orthodox Jewish practice, which has a very long history of which I don't know the exact details, says to finish them (they say a lot more than that, actually - manner of preparation, minimum amounts required to be consumed, recommended method of consuming, and time allowed to finish, for example).

That same current Orthodox Jewish practice features details that are found in the Last Supper but not the Torah.

Given that both the Torah and current Orthodox Jewish practice feature the concept of finishing a central element of the Passover meal, and the Last Supper, I think perhaps the bread and wine at the Last Supper (which was also in a sense the Passover lamb), probably also were been finished.

I find it fascinating that this Jewish practice of finishing lamb/matzoh/wine, and not throwing it out, has a certain (though not exact) parallel with the treatment of the Host at a Catholic Mass.

That's all. It's not a huge, relevant point to the discussion, but I thought it was interesting.

Atlantic said...

Carrie, I've just read your latest question about salvation - I'm just too tired tonight to tackle them, especially as i think there's lots of potential for misunderstanding. I'll be back either Sunday or Monday.

Carrie said...

Don't worry Atlantic, I think the CCCs speak for themselves. My questions were more rhetorical, don't feel the need to answer.

You admitted that you "think and hope" which I appreciate, but obviously the possiblity exists according to your church that I will be condemned for I have clearly understood and rejected the RCC.

I'll stick with the Bible where I believe the salvation message is clear, simple and directly from God. Scripture is God-breathed, catechisms are from men - I'll take my chances with God ;).

Ellen said...

...but personally I think (and hope) that experiential and psychological barriers (among, say, Protestants :) ) can also lead to invincible ignorance about the Church.

does this reflect Benedict XVI's (and those who came before him) desire for greater understanding?

that those who rely solely on the Word of God "may" be saved?

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