Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Friday, October 03, 2008

    Catholics, Communion, Real vs. Spiritual Presence, ... The Time was Coming

    Everyone knew the time was coming and now it has not only arrived but officially been recognized... yes, the day when the teaching of the "real presence" of Christ would be put to the test and the communion elements (i.e., "Christ himself" in the view of Catholics) would not only be carried off and used as fodder for those who relish in any supposed blasphemous action, but also used in such a way as to raise legitimate theological issues concerning Christ along with his present presence, power, and reign.

    It is reported here that Catholic clergy are calling on YouTube to immediately remove all videos depicting the desecration of Catholic hosts. Apparently, about forty videos show the hosts being "abused" through such acts as being urinated upon or flushed down a toilet.

    While it's true that Christ in his estate of humiliation was subject to blasphemous and murderous abuse, desecration, and ill treatment by his enemies, is he personally subject to this in his glorified position and estate of exaltation? According to the Catholic view of the mass, apparently so; however, this is inconsistent with the Scripture which teaches in the resurrection Christ rose with a spiritual body and in session at God's right hand possesses full rule, power and dominion (which though has been established is yet to be consummated).

    Additional issues arise as well. What about unbelievers who partake of the mass? Is it really received according to flesh (such that even unbelievers could partake of Christ who is eternal life), or is it as protestants declare that just as with the waters of baptism the effectual nature of the sacrament is received only through faith?

    What's interesting is the response of the Catholics, who rather than reexamine their doctrine on this matter, only look to reverting back to former restrictions in regard to methods of dispensing and receiving, of extending the fast preceding the event (so people will be hungrier?), of exercising additional crowd control, and of ultimately being left with the weak plea to their mockers asking them to "please not do this." Besides, this, there's consideration of reinstituting "kneeling" to the mass, which not only would require worship of an element rather than the creator, but would prove an ineffective method of stopping would be hecklers and abuser from continuing their practice.

    Where's the solution? In the doctrine of the "spiritual presence" of Christ in the sacrament, which is declared in Scripture and practiced by protestants (particularly those of a reformed-Calvinistic persuasion).

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