Bread of Life

BREAD OF LIFE
 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (john 6: 50)
The miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded. Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church—with the whole community of Catholics around the world…and in heaven.

THE REAL PRESENCE

Why does the Catholic Church believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist?
The Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence is the belief that Jesus Christ is literally, not symbolically, present in the Holy Eucharist—body, blood, soul and divinity. Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist because Jesus tells us this is true in the Bible:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ So Jesus said to them,

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” - John 6:48-56
Furthermore, the early Church Fathers either imply or directly state that the bread and wine offered in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is really the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the doctrine of the Real Presence that Catholics believe today was believed by the earliest Christians 2,000 years ago!

This miracle of God’s physical presence to us at every Mass is the truest testament to Christ’s love for us and His desire for each of us to have a personal relationship with Him.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE SCOTT HAHN CONVERSION STORY - AN EXCERPT ON SOLA FIDE

The Scott Hahn Conversion Story:

But the more I studied, the more I came to see that for the ancient Hebrews, and in Sacred Scripture, a covenant differs from a contract about as much as marriage differs from prostitution. In a contract you exchange property, whereas in a covenant you exchange persons. In a contract you say, "This is yours and that is mine," but Scripture shows how in a covenant you say, "I am yours and you are mine."

Even when God makes a covenant with us, He says, "I will be your God and you will be my people." After studying Hebrew, I discovered that 'Am, the Hebrew word for people, literally means, kinsman, family. I will be your God and father; you will be my family, my sons and my daughters, my household. So covenants form kinship bonds which makes family with God.

I read Shepherd's articles, and he was saying much of the same thing: our covenant with God means sonship. I thought, "Well, yeah, this is good." I wondered what heresy is involved in that. Then somebody told me, "Shepherd is calling into question sola fide." What! No way. I mean, that is the Gospel. That is the simple truth of Jesus Christ. He died for sins; I believe in him. He saves me, pure and simple; it's a done deal. Sola fide? He's questioning that? No way.

I called him on the phone. I said, "I've read your stuff on covenant; it makes lots of sense. I've come to pretty much the same conclusions. But why is this leading you to call into question Luther's doctrine of sola fide?" He went on to show in this discussion that Luther's conception of justification was very restricted and limited. It had lots of truth, but it also missed lots of truths.

When I hung up the phone, I pursued this a little further and I discovered that for Luther and for practically all of Bible Christianity and Protestantism, God is a judge, and the covenant is a courtroom scene whereby all of us are guilty criminals. But since Christ took our punishment, we get his righteousness, and he gets our sins, so we get off scot-free; we're justified. For Luther, in other words, salvation is a legal exchange, but for Paul in Romans, for Paul in Galatians, salvation is that, but it's much more than that. It isn't just a legal exchange because the covenant doesn't point to a Roman courtroom so much as to a Hebrew family room.

God is not just simply a judge; God is a father, and his judgments are fatherly. Christ is not just somebody who represents an innocent victim who takes our rap, our penalty; He is the firstborn among many brethren. He is our oldest brother in the family, and he sees us as runaways, as prodigals, as rebels who are cut off from the life of God's family. And by the new covenant Christ doesn't just exchange in a legal sense; Christ gives us His own sonship so that we really become children of God.

When I shared this with my friends, they were like, "Yeah, that's Paul." But when I went into the writings of Luther and Calvin, I didn't find it any longer. They had trained me to study Scripture, but in the process, in a sense, I discovered that there were some very significant gaps in their teaching. So I came to the conclusion that sola fide is wrong.

First, because the Bible never says it anywhere.

Second, because Luther inserted the word "alone" in his Germantranslation, there in Romans 3, although he knew perfectly well that then word "alone" was not in the Greek.

Nowhere did the Holy Spirit ever inspire the writers of Scripture to say we're saved by faith alone. Paul teaches we're saved by faith, but in Galatians he says we're saved by faith working in love. And that's the way it is in a family isn't it? A father doesn't say to his kids, "Hey, kids, since you're in my family and all the other kids who are your friends aren't, you don't have to work, you don't have to obey, you don't have to sacrifice because, hey, you're saved. You're going to get the inheritance no matter what you do." That's not the way it works.
So I changed my mind and I grew very concerned. One of my most brilliant professors, a man named Dr. John Gerstner, had once said that if we're wrong on sola fide, I'd be on my knees outside the Vatican in Rome tomorrow morning doing penance. Now we laughed, what rhetoric, you know. But he got the point across; this is the article from which all of the other doctrines flow. And if we're wrong there, we're going to have some homework to get done to figure out where else we might have gone wrong.

I was concerned, but I wasn't overly concerned. At the time I was planning to go to Scotland to study at Aberdeen University the doctrine of the covenant, because in Scotland, covenant theology was born and developed. And I was eager to go over and study there. So I wasn't particularly concerned about resolving this issue because, after all, that could be the focus of my doctoral study.

2 comments:

Sheila Deeth said...

Seems like whenever we say "sola" we're restricting what's always "This and more." Can't measure relationships in steps, though we may describe them that way. I enjoyed this post.

Michael Gormley said...

Thanks, Sheila, and thanks for being a follower!

God bless you
Michael Gormley