A Closer Look at Transubstantiation
By David E. Lister
Transubstantiation is derived from the Latin term tansubsubstaniato, meaning ”change of substance”. This term was incorporated into the creed of the Forth Latern Council in A.D. 1215.
Transubstantiation is defined by the Roman Catholic Church’s Council of Trent as follows: “By the consecration of the bread and wine, a conversion (or change) is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.”
The Catechism of the Council of Trent expands this belief by stating: “In this sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ, and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ whole and entire”. It also explains, “Christ whole and entire, is contained, not only under either species, but also in each particle of the same species.” (Species = bread and wine)
The Church of Rome teaches that when the priest in the Mass blesses the bread, it is no longer bread but Jesus Christ himself and similarly the wine is Jesus Christ himself.
This poses a question? Has this Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation always been taught since the time of the Apostles? Has this doctrine that the bread and wine of communion actually transforms into the actual body of Christ, been understood and accepted by the early Christian laity and Apostles? In the book of Acts, Chapter 2, verse 42 and in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 10 verse 16, the term used for what we know as communion today was “breaking of bread.” The term communion seems to become the common vernacular by the Councils of Elura and Arles in A.D. 314 and again at Nice in A.D. 325. In A.D. 418, the term the Lord’s Supper is used in the notes from the Council of Carthage. Irenaeus used the term Oblation to agree with biblical terminology found in 1 Corinthians Ch. 11:20. Pliny uses the term Sacrament in a letter to Trajan and also to Tertullian and Cyprian. The original meaning of the term Eucharist, was simply thanksgiving and in this sense was used by Ignatius, Irenaeus, Origen and others. Justin Martyr, Origen, Eusebius and Chrysostom also call the communion ”Memorial”. The Latin terminology of the “Mass” originally signified the dismissal of a Church assembly. It then came to be applied to the assembly itself, as Eusebius uses it in his History of the Church, and from there it came to denote the Communion Service. It was not until Ambrose, that the term Mass was used to denote communion. At no time in the early history of the church was the doctrine of Transubstantiation used or employed to mean that the bread and wine turn into the body of Jesus. But we do know there seems to be an introduction of heresy that would affect how the Roman Catholic Church would eventually practice “communion,” in the 4th century when the queen of heaven, under the name of Mary, was beginning to be worshiped in the Christian Church, this ” unbloody sacrifice” was also brought in. Epiphanius states that the practice of offering and eating it began among the women of Arabia; and at that time it was well known to have been adopted from the Pagans. (Se Epiphanius, Adversus Hoereses, Vol.1 P 1054.)
With the passage of time and further introduction of pagan practices into Roman Catholicism, a friar named Anastatius, In A.D. 637, rejected the figurative language and employed the doctrine of ”Real Presence”. In A.D. 754, at the Council of Constantinople, John Damascene, a condemned image-worshipper wrote: “The bread and wine are supernaturally changed by the invocation and coming of the Holy Ghost into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and are not two, but one and the same” ¦ The bread and wine are not the type or the figure of the body and blood of Jesus Christ – ah, God forbid! – but the body itself of our Lord deified.” Pashus Radbert the Abbot of Corbie advanced this doctrine even further. In A.D. 818 he wrote a treatise, which finally overthrew both the Scriptural belief and the early church history. He stated, “What was received in the Sacrament is the same flesh as that which was born of the Virgin Mary, and which suffered death for us; and though the figure of bread and wine doth remain, yet you must absolutely believe that, after consecration, it is nothing but the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ.” This doctrine was further developed and finally made a dogma by Pope Innocent III.
However, it was not without opposition from within the Roman Catholic Church that this doctrine came to pass. Pashus Radbert writes ”that there are many that in these mystical things are of another opinion.” Others who were against this doctrine within the Roman Catholic Church were Aefric, Abbot of Malmesbury (A.D.905) and Berengarius, Peter Lombard (A.D.1150) and Bede in the 8th Century. The early church fathers opposed this doctrine. They never acknowledged any change in the elements or believed in any corporal presence. Tertullian stated “Christ, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, made it His body by saying, “This is my body’, that is, the figure of my body.” Even Orgien, acknowledges “that they (bread and wine) are figures which are written in the sacred volumes; therefore as spiritual not as carnal, examine and understand what is said. For if as carnal you receive them, they hurt, not nourish you.” Both Cyril of Jerusalem and Eusebius of Caesarea denied Transubstantiation. Cyril stated, “Under the type of bread His body given unto thee, and under the type of wine His blood given unto thee.” Eusebius qualifies communion as “Christ Himself gave the symbols of the Divine ceremony to His own disciples that the image of His own body should be made. He appointed to use bread as a symbol of His own body.” Furthermore, supporters of Rome and the papacy suggested that “there was nothing in the Gospels that may enforce us to understand Christ’s words properly, yea, nothing in the text (‘This is My body’) hinders but those words may as well be taken in a metaphysical sense, as the words of the Apostle, ‘the Rock was Christ'” ¦ That part, which the Gospel hath not expressed, viz., the conversion of the bread in the body and blood of Christ, we have received expressly from the Church.” Bellarmine, another Roman scholar admitted “there is no express place of Scripture to prove Transubstantiation without the declaration of the Church.”
Since Roman Catholic Church scholars cannot find a scriptural basis for this doctrine, is it any wonder that those who believe that the Bible is God’s word (and it is complete for instruction in life, doctrine and righteousness), also are unable to find a scriptural basis for Transubstantiation and therefore would reject it as a Truth from God and necessary for salvation. Therefore, as we have been given a sound mind and are instructed to search the scriptures to see what is true and then to hold fast to what is true, we find the doctrine of Transubstantiation illogical! The Lord Jesus at the Last Supper handed the broken bread to the apostles and stated, “This is my body”. However He was in his earthly body, 100 percent human. Yet this doctrine would destroy human nature by having the ability to be in multiple places at one time. Rome teaches that Christ is corporally on the altar but without any “accidents.” Accidents mean color, scent, form, and taste, the very things that make substances discernable. Yet again, we are to deny all logic and sensibility to believe that Christ is present upon the altar!
Christ warned that deceivers would come among us to deceive us and to tell us that He was here or there and that we were not to believe them. Christ also warned us that we were to be on guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, those who teach the precepts of man as the doctrines of God. Again, Rome is at variance with it’s own scholars and the early church fathers, as it teaches a doctrine (Transubstantiation) from men as the precepts of God. With this unbiblical form of teaching in the Roman Catholic Church, is it any wonder that they end up perverting the sacrament of communion by withholding the communion cup from the laity. The Council of Constance in A.D.1414 first formalized this doctrine. Pope Innocent III formalized it later and pronounced it a doctrine and then The Council of Trent (1537) confirmed his heresy. Even though the Council of Constance freely admits, “that the cup was received by all in former times,” they nonetheless go ahead and destroy the sacrament, this precious sacrament that the Lord Jesus Christ himself gave to us. “Do this in remembrance of me”
If you are Roman Catholic, we would ask you to turn to the Holy Scriptures and re-read the passages that teach about this sacrament and see if you can find the doctrine of Transubstantiation without the filter of the Roman Catholic Church. May God open your eyes and may the scales fall from them in order that you may come to His table and enjoy this sacrament, both the bread and the wine, in truth. Then ask yourself can there be salvation in a communion in which it is declared to be a fundamental principle, that the Madonna is ” our greatest hope; yea, the SOLE GROUND OF OUR HOPE ”? (The language of the late Pope Gregory, which is substantially endorsed by the present Pontiff) The time is come when charity to the perishing souls of men, hoodwinked by a Pagan priesthood, abusing the name of Christ, requires that the truth in this matter should be clearly, loudly, unflinchingly proclaimed.