Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Transubstantiation: Is Christ in the Eucharist?

I desire two things from this writing. For born-again Christians, I hope this will better equip you with a knowledge of Catholic belief and how to witness to Catholics you know. For those who are Catholic, I challenge you to truly take an impartial look at your beliefs. Don’t let emotions or the fact that you were raised this way stop you from properly examining your religion. If indeed you find problems with this teaching, examine further and do not hesitate in reaching out to me. If beliefs don’t make sense, nothing is worth holding on to them.

The belief in transubstantiation is a sacred one in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It is elevated as a sacrament and one of the most important parts of the religious devotion of their members. The physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist is believed (in the Catholic Catechism, which I have studied more extensively since I have a number of Catholic friends) to be powerful in a number of ways, including the ability to keep from sin and even help the dead gain quicker entrance into Heaven.

For those unfamiliar, allow a brief explanation. The Catholic Church teaches that when a priest blesses the bread and wine, the bread becomes the literal body of Jesus and the wine the literal blood of Jesus. The bread and wine, however, maintain their appearance and taste. Those who partake in communion, therefore, are believed to partake of Christ Himself.

The Catechism describes it this way:

“The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: ‘Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change 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. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.’” –CCC, pg. 347, #1376

The belief in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is based off of the words of Jesus in John 6:

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” –John 6:53-57

Taking these words alone, transubstantiation would seem to be, well, substantiated. However, there are very obvious reasons as to why I take issue with this. As it is a very sacred doctrine of the Catholic Church, I will attempt to tread lightly. It must be noted, though, that this teaching is exactly as it appears: Catholics weekly or even daily cannibalize Jesus.

First, the context of John 6 does not at all indicate that Jesus meant that we are to literally eat His flesh and drink His blood. This immediately follows the feeding of the five thousand, a well-known event in Jesus’ ministry. Jesus now has a mass following of people who are not following Him because they believe His message, but because they want more free meals:

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” –John 6:26

Jesus, as He often did, uses figurative language to explain a heavenly principle:

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” –John 6:27-34

Sound like a prior passage? Recall when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman:

“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” –John 4:10-15

Earlier Jesus had called Himself “Living Water”, using that as an example because He was at a well. The same opportunity came when people followed Him for food. In Samaria, the woman sought water when she needed “Living Water”. In Capernaum (where the people found Him), the crowd sought bread when they needed the “Bread of Life”. This is simply a figurative comparison, not a literal truth. No one blesses water to make it become Jesus.

Jesus later continues:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” –John 6:47-51

How do we know this is figurative? The many disciples of Jesus were confused and even angered that Jesus said they must eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53-57):

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” –John 6:60-65

Jesus directly states that “the flesh profiteth nothing”. His words are “spirit”, not literal. The intent was not to state that He is present in the Eucharist, but that it is only Him that satisfies – not a temporary meal. Not all of His words were meant in a literal way. I’ve brought up before to Catholics that there should also be a doctrine of literally cutting our right hands off and plucking our right eyes out when they offend us (Matthew 5:29-30). Not everything is meant literally.

There are a number of other problems with transubstantiation.

Communion, chronologically, is not instituted until John 13. How would the disciples have known that the specific practice of communion is what was meant when Jesus said to eat His flesh and drink His blood? Couldn’t He have meant something else? Or maybe He meant it was a perpetual thing, like every time they ate and drank?

The Catechism states:

“The Eucharistic presence of Christ…endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” –CCC, pg. 347, #1377

It might sound ridiculous, but when does this cease to be Christ? Is it after He is eaten? Is it not until the chemical change in the digestive system changes Him into something else? Or do those that partake of communion actually excrete Christ? It may seem humorous, but this presents a problem that needs answered. We would certainly need to properly dispose of whatever is the body and blood of Jesus. If the bread and wine are transformed into Christ, how long do they remain Him?

As mentioned before, these words were merely figurative. We do not say that Jesus is also in our well water because He said He is living water. In John 10:9, Jesus said, “I am the door.” So Jesus is literally a door, right? Or is it every door that we bless becomes Jesus, even though it retains all the properties of a door? It sounds absurd because it is. Paul calls Him the “chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20) and the “spiritual Rock” (I Corinthians 10:4). Jesus says He is the “vine” and we are the “branches” (John 15:5). And while we’re at it, that must mean that Christians are literal “salt” and “light” (Matthew 5:13-14). None of these things were meant in a literal sense, and deep down we know that. They are metaphors that are used frequently in the Bible. Why have we pulled out one metaphor, misinterpreted it, and built a sacred tradition around it all while overlooking the other metaphors?

Did Jesus forget what the law said?

“And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.” –Leviticus 17:10-14

“Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.” –Deuteronomy 12:23-24

The law not only prohibits consuming blood, but makes it a capital offense. Most of Jesus’ disciples were Jewish. If He is commanding them to drink His blood, He is blatantly commanding them to break the law in a very serious way.

Furthermore, Jesus also partook of the elements during the Lord’s Supper. One, this means (under the Catholic belief) that Jesus cannibalized Himself. Two, this means that Jesus broke the Mosaic law.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” –Matthew 5:17-18

This would present a stunning contradiction. Jesus, who claims He came to fulfill the law, broke the law by drinking His own blood. This makes Jesus a liar, and thus someone not really worth following anyway. It would also have given the Jewish religious leaders legitimate grounds for His execution and the executions of His disciples.

It must also be remembered that, at the time of Jesus’ statement in John 6 and the Lord’s Supper, Jesus had not been crucified yet. How could Jesus be resacrificed in the communion elements if He had not yet been sacrificed at all? The initial sacrifice was not even there yet.

The Eucharist claims that communion is not the resacrificing of Christ, but rather the same sacrifice on the cross is present in the Eucharist:

“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice.” –CCC, #1367

However, this would still be contrary to what Hebrews says:

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” –Hebrews 9:12, 24-28

If this sacrifice is showing up on a daily basis in locations across the world, how could it not be considered multiple sacrifices? The Bible makes it clear that Christ was ONCE offered. Catholic communion could rightfully be compared to the sacrifice of animals. Partaking must be a regular thing because doing it just once is not good enough. This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews wrote against.

Rick Jones, a former Catholic and author of Understanding Roman Catholicism: 37 Roman Catholic Doctrines Explained, wrote this in his comparison of the Eucharist to what the Bible says:

“…Can you knowingly partake in this practice now that you know the truth?
‘Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’" –James 4:17

Jesus said in the very passage that transubstantiation mistakenly comes out of that “he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” –John 6:40

It is not the participation in communion or any other sacraments that brings peace with God. Salvation is not through a church; it is through the blood of Jesus alone.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” –Titus 3:5

Put faith in the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. Don’t put trust in tradition that is contrary to scripture.

“Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” –Mark 7:7-9, 13

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sara's Story

Over a year ago, I delivered the story of Elyssa, a young woman who was almost killed at the hands of an abortionist. It is still one of my most popular posts. I have since heard another equally astounding pro-life story. One that must be told.

A young woman in Mexico, sixteen years old, ultimately dreamed of going into business. But like countless other women, her career plans were derailed by an unplanned pregnancy.

This was Sara’s mother. I randomly encountered Sara for the first time at a new student orientation in the summer of 2014. I was working the table for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) over the summer at Northern Kentucky University. In charge of bringing in freshmen to our ministry, I had the job of spreading the word to as many as I could. I was walking around and felt led, in the way that only the Holy Spirit can, to stop and talk to a couple freshmen sitting against a wall. One of them was Sara.
Sara and I at the BCM at NKU

When she came into the BCM building for the first time, I didn’t recognize her. Too many faces over the summer. Pretty soon, though, she became one of the regular people around the ministry.

Sara has been one of the few people interested in pro-life functions that I attend. I wasn’t sure why at the time. Finally, on the bus to the March for Life, I heard her story.

Her mom was in a bad spot. She really didn’t want a baby. She didn’t want her family to know. Her boyfriend was about to enter the army and didn’t want a baby. And so the aunt of Sara’s mother’s boyfriend took charge to help “fix it”.

Mexico is much different than America when it comes to abortion. Today, only Mexico City has legalized abortion; even then, it was an elite group that got the law passed. Generally, public opinion is against it. The last Forty Days for Life campaign (spring 2015) saw two of the three abortion mills in the city shut down. In 1996, the year Sara was born, only one in forty Mexican women had an abortion by age 40. In the U.S. today, that number is about one in three.

But like the U.S., the criminalization of abortion did not entirely stop it from happening. Sara’s mom, with help from her boyfriend’s aunt, went through several home remedies to attempt abortion. In a third-world country with no legal abortion options, this was the way to go.

The first attempt was with a special tea mix that induces a miscarriage. A fellow blogger on Blogspot, may God deal with her justly, gives these rather crass and chilling instructions:

You will need:

Fresh parsley (preferably organic...I don't want pesticides in my vagina, so I go organic)
500 mg pills/capsules of Vitamin C (Try not to get pills with Bioflavonoids such as Rose Hips. These PREVENT miscarriage.)

The treatment can last 3 days: DO NOT EXCEED 3 DAYS!! This will work or not within 2/3 days.

1. Insert a fresh sprig of parsley as far as possible into the vagina. (parsley induces contractions, yum) Change every 12 hours. When soft, it may be difficult to remove, but this is not dangerous.

2. At the same time, drink parsley infusions. 2 to 6 tablespoons 4 times a day.

Making an infusion: use 2 1/2 cups of boiling water for every ounce of parsley (If you buy it at the store, minus 2/3 stems (for sprigs) this should be the amount of water used to make the tincture). Add parsley to boiling water, remove from heat and cover. Very important that you remove from heat IMMEDIATELY upon adding the parsley. Boiling the water with the parsley in there will make the infusion less effective. Let it steep for at least 20 minutes (the longer it steeps, the more potent it will be. I usually let it steep for 2 hours.

3. During the 3 days (or until your period starts) take high doses of Vitamin C orally. Ideally, take 500 mg every hour up to 6000 mg. You can continue using the Vitamin C for up to 6 days. Vitamin C can bring on menstruation even 3 weeks after a "late" period. you can begin taking Vitamin C immediately after unsafe sex, or if the condom broke, etc.

If successful you should start to bleed in 2 to 3 days.
-You may have cramps (I get 'em bad after doing this) and you can take whatever you usually take for cramps or make a ginger infusion and take that.
-The chances of success are less if you regularly take high doses of Vitamin C
-High amounts of Vitmain C can cause loose stools. No one I know has experienced this, but is has been known to happen.
-Do not use if you have kidney problems.
-Watch for signs of Toxicity Specific to Parsley: Nausea, hallucinations, vomiting, vertigo, hives, paralysis, liver swollen and
painful, urine scanty and darkly colored, and tremors.

The simple fact is, this is abortion. The intended goal is to kill a growing human inside the womb, call them what you may.

But somehow, Sara survived.

Next was an injection into the uterus. From Sara’s description, it sounds similar to a Prostaglandin abortion that induces premature labor and kills the child through the trauma of premature birth. (Prostaglandin abortion is usually around four to eight month’s gestation, though.) It is suggested that the woman have intercourse to help induce labor, but this, thankfully, was not an option in the strained relationship.

But Sara’s mom didn’t go into labor. Sara survived.

After that was a pill to cause a heavier menstrual period, similar to the RU-486 pill in the U.S.

Though Sara’s mom did have a heavier period, Sara was not killed in the process.

Sara survived.

The aunt of Sara’s mom’s boyfriend even recommended the teenager fall on her stomach, although she did not try it. These methods seem primitive, but they are common practice in poor areas of Mexico, where doctors are few and doctors performing abortion are much fewer.

It didn’t appear anything was working. So, after these failed abortion attempts, Sara’s mom was already showing and believed she was three months along. So, after attempting to avoid it, she had to tell her mom that she was pregnant. The one only other person who had any choice in Sara’s very existence said that it was the teenager’s choice as to what to do with her baby. Sara’s mom went to a doctor that performed abortions.

After checking her out, the doctor determined that she was actually four months along. So, while any abortion is immoral, a fetus looks like this at four months:

The doctor witnessed this teenager have a nervous breakdown from stress and fear. In a strange act of mercy, he told her, “A child is always a blessing,” and asked her to consider keeping her daughter.

Despite the confusion in her life, Sara’s mom did just that.

Sara survived.

The times to follow were no less straining. Aside from the strain of a crisis pregnancy, Sara’s mom and her mom were broke. Truly broke. So the next few months involved moving from friend’s house to friend’s house, sleeping on couches. Sara’s grandma used the little money she had to buy yarn to knit a dress to put on Sara when she was born.

But it was at this time that Sara’s mom made a vow to care for Sara’s needs, to make sure she was never wanting and would grow up to have character. The depression that the teenager was dealing with from the pregnancy and rejection was ended. Living for someone else made life worth living.

A few weeks later, a lady gave Sara’s mom a bag full of 0-4 year-old clothes. She didn’t have to buy clothes until Sara was five.

“God always, always blessed me,” Sara told me.

When she was almost seven, Sara and her family immigrated to the United States. It was there that she came to church for the first time. For some reason, Sara liked it. One day she asked her mom to come with her, because “all the other kids have their mom there.” And so she did. Ultimately, both of them came to Christ. A woman who wanted nothing to do with religion and a girl who according to abortion advocates should not be here are both daughters of God.

Sara spent years not knowing the circumstances of her birth. It was just recently that she got all the details, which she then shared with me.

“Even with all that, I’ve never felt unloved,” she said, adding that she has never had bitterness towards her mom.

I asked her what made this story an important part of her testimony. “The first time I heard it, it had me in tears over God’s love…Why am I so special? God wanted me alive for some reason, how can I not spend every moment serving him?”

Sara has survived three attempts on her life and escaped the hands of an abortionist. If she would have already been born, the story would have made national headlines. Yet in the United States, access to murder those in Sara’s position is protected. Encouraged. Celebrated.

Let’s think this through. Let’s say I approached Sara’s mom a few weeks after Sara is born and give her the option to pay me to kill Sara. Let’s say her mom accepts, and I dismember Sara (in a sanitary environment, of course). Then let’s say that outside is a group of liberals and feminists that are yelling encouragement to myself and Sara’s mom. And let’s also say that there is a group of people that peacefully try to stop Sara’s mom from going into the building where I am planning to dismember her young daughter. What would we think of each of these characters?

Mind you, this is after Sara is born. So most would consider me a murderer and Sara’s mom fully complicit in Sara’s death. Society would expect both of us to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. If the group of liberals and feminists were not criminally guilty, they would at least be considered evil. The group of people trying to stop Sara’s death would be commended for their effort.

But back it up a month before Sara is born, and suddenly we have a heroic woman with a good doctor. We have a group outside standing for women’s health. And we have an anti-choice extremist group that is to be demonized.

My God, where have we went astray?

Not only do abortion advocates believe that women should be allowed to make the “choice” to kill those like Sara before they are born, but they believe it is a great wrong that there is not equivalent abortion access in nations such as Mexico. They think the United States should be pressuring these nations to fund abortions.

To sift through the liberal rhetoric, Sara should be dead.

Let’s be real: there is no fundamental difference between a newly formed zygote and an infant. Sara did not suddenly become human when she was born. She didn’t become human when at four months gestation her mother decided to keep her. She has never changed species. She was human when she was first fertilized, and she is the same person with the same DNA and same humanity at age nineteen that she was when she was a zygote.

No true liberal will deny that women should have the choice to take their child’s life before birth. When God is working His plan, however, no person or celestial being can stop Him. And He has a great purpose for Sara.

I’ve mentioned in pro-life circles before that no one will likely see the end results of our work. But someone does. We will likely never meet the children that were saved through our witness (on Earth, at least) in front of abortion mills. But someone will. We may never know that a woman in college sees the violent, bloody reality of abortion on signs and decides to never have an abortion. But the life of her children in the future will testify to that. In the same way, I will never meet the doctor that told Sara’s mom “a child is always a blessing.” But I see the fruit of it. He may not even know if the teenage girl decided to keep her daughter. But those of us that know Sara know the end result.

What of the other children? What of all those that were not saved because no one put forth the effort to reason with their parents?

We have blood on our hands.

Collectively, as a nation, we have the blood of 56 million on our hands.

Individually, you have the blood of every person you did not save through your apathy. You treat the pro-life movement like any other fanatical thing, but when you look down your hands are stained red. That should concern you. It probably doesn’t.

If you are pro-choice, it is worse. You have the blood of every child that has died since you’ve held the belief that a born human is worth more than a preborn human. Every single one, because you defend the accessibility to take their lives.

There are people out there like Elyssa. Like Sara. Like other abortion survivors and people saved from abortion. Take a look at them. They look human to me. Since the absurd idea that we evolve while we’re in the womb has long been proven false, they were human from the very beginning. So were all of us.

Their lives are not worth less now because they were born to single parents. Why, somehow, are their lives worth less before they are born?

Pro-choice people, shed your delusion. You are defending the ability to take innocent human life.

Christians, shed your apathy. You are doing nothing to end the slaughter of innocent humans.

There are millions upon millions of people that have been savagely murdered in the United States because of fools who believe it to be okay because the circumstances are hard, and equally foolish people who are against it in conscience that refuse to act.

It doesn’t matter the circumstances. I know people who grew up in single-parent homes. People that went through foster care. People that were abused. I have yet to meet one that has said they wish they had never been given the chance to continue living. Where is the choice for those like Sara? Where is their value?

Value doesn’t come from being “wanted”. I’m looking at you, Planned Parenthood. Value is intrinsic to humanity. It cannot be divorced based on a formula. If you know a Sara, it’s time to stand up and confront the greatest human rights violation of our time. If you care about her life, you should care about the lives of those like her.

If this has touched you in some way, share this story. Subscribe below to follow my blog via email. And most importantly, find some way to be involved in the pro-life movement. If you aren’t sure how, drop me an email or comment below.