Seven Sacraments?

Since things are not numbered together unless they belong in the same category or possess certain shared characteristics, the theological basis of the claim that there are seven and only seven “sacraments” can only be understood if we know what is being signified by that term. My pre-Orthodox perception was that if “sacrament” in the RC tradition and “Holy Mystery” in Orthodoxy were completely synonymous terms, then the claim that there were only seven such “mystical” acts within the Church plainly contradicted Scripture and Holy Tradition; for this reason I was comforted by the fact that Fr. Thomas Hopko was in agreement with this observation:

The practice of counting the sacraments was adopted in the Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholics. It is not an ancient practice of the Church and, in many ways, it tends to be misleading since it appears that there are just seven specific rites which are “sacraments” and that all other aspects of the life of the Church are essentially different from these particular actions. The more ancient and traditional practice of the Orthodox Church is to consider everything which is in and of the Church as sacramental or mystical.

The Church may be defined as the new life in Christ. It is man’s life lived by the Holy Spirit in union with God. All aspects of the new life of the Church participate in the mystery of salvation. In Christ and the Holy Spirit everything which is sinful and dead becomes holy and alive by the power of God the Father. And so in Christ and the Holy Spirit everything in the Church becomes a sacrament, an element of the mystery of the Kingdom of God as it is already being experienced in the life of this world.
(The Orthodox Faith, emphasis added)

The definition of sacrament presupposed by the claim that there are only seven is explicated in the Catechism of the Council of Trent:

In order, therefore, to explain more fully the nature of a Sacrament, it should be taught that it is a sensible object which possesses, by divine institution, the power not only of signifying, but also of accomplishing holiness and righteousness. Hence it follows, as everyone can easily see, that the images of the Saints, crosses and the like, although signs of sacred things, cannot be called Sacraments. That such is the nature of a Sacrament is easily proved by the example of all the Sacraments, if we apply to the others what has been already said of Baptism; namely, that the solemn ablution of the body not only signifies, but has power to effect a sacred thing which is wrought interiorly by the operation of the Holy Ghost. (COTC, Introduction to the Sacraments)

Since only those acts that meet the defined criteria as understood within the Augustinian tradition are properly called sacraments, it makes sense that Protestants do not affirm that there are seven sacraments for (1) they possess a different understanding of grace and (2) only signify with that term practices explicitly commanded by God. Certainly the following is conclusive evidence of the fact that there is a considerable lack of correspondence between RC and Orthodox terminologies:

Reply to Objection 6. Holy Water and other consecrated things are not called sacraments, because they do not produce the sacramental effect, which is the receiving of grace.

I trust that I am not the only one who has trouble with the claim that Holy Water is graceless, but the above only confirms my main point, which is that one must be very careful appropriating theological terms from other traditions.

67 Responses to Seven Sacraments?

  1. JNORM888 says:

    I am also interested in Joshua ‘s question.

    I love any topic dealing with grace and free will.

    You asked a good question Josh.

    JNORM888

  2. Ken Hendrickson says:

    > however, the Eastern Orthodox Church
    > forbids those who are not illumined and
    > I caution you not to approach the chalice
    > in an Orthodox Church.

    I am not as familiar with the canon law of the Orthodox churches as I am with the canon law of the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. But I suspect they are very similar.

    Non-Catholics are forbidden from receiving the sacraments at Catholic churches, except in cases of grave necessity when the priests may make the sacraments available to the Orthodox.

    Catholics are forbidden from receiving the sacraments at non-Catholic churches, except in cases of grave necessity, when they may receive them from the Orthodox.

    I am not sure, but I would be surprised to find that the canon law of the Orthodox churches was significantly different.

    Glory to Jesus Christ!
    Glory to Him Forever!

    Ken Hendrickson

    PS I look forward to the day when the Catholics and Orthodox have open communion between them, just as all of the Orthodox have amongst themselves, and just as all the Catholic Rites have amongst all Catholics. That day cannot come soon enough.

  3. handmaid says:

    Ken writes: “And if you can receive the Eucharist, *Taste* everything.”

    I cannot speak to the RCC or the “ByzCath” churches position on “open communion”; however, the Eastern Orthodox Church forbids those who are not illumined and I caution you not to approach the chalice in an Orthodox Church. The priest will turn you away, as he rightly should. Closed Communion is not a rejection of individuals, it is an embrace of correct belief in what Communion with the Lord actually means/is…
    By all means, attend a Divine Liturgy – what Ken says is correct (except for “tasting”).
    Christ is Risen!
    Indeed He is Risen!
    the handmaid,
    Mary-Leah

  4. Berny says:

    Ken and Rob G, thank you.

  5. Rob G says:

    Berny — here’s another one to try…

    http://www.oca.org/DIRlists.parish.asp?SID=9

  6. Joshua W. says:

    Photios and Mr Valentine,
    Have you read G. L. Prestige’s book, God in Patristic Thought? If so, what did you think of it (from your Orthodox perspective)?

    Reading what you wrote above about Palamas and his understanding of Christian anthropology, does it leave room for natural theology at all? Is that theology possible, or is it completely an act of grace, from start to last? I’m imagining that there isn’t room for natural theology, because that would allow us some knowledge without God’s work and lead, perhaps, toward some type of Pelagianism, but I’d appreciate some clarity regarding Palamas and natural theology. Thanks very much.

    Regards,
    Joshua
    http://lowlysongs.wordpress.com

  7. Ryan says:

    This is an intense blog! (my first time visiting)

    Berny: yes, there are several places where you can watch a Divine Liturgy online. In my experience, the best place is Youtube.

    This one is a bit old (from when Pope Benedict XVI visited Constantinople. Some traditional Orthodox may not like it because the Pope is there, but it’s a complete Divine Liturgy, so there you go):







    That’s seven parts.

    The following is the Creed from an OCA Liturgy, that sounds a bit different, just for your comparison:

    Hope that helps!

    If you do searches for “Divine Liturgy” and like terms you will find additional videos.

  8. Ken Hendrickson says:

    I encourage you to find a parish near you, either Byzantine Catholic or Orthodox (it is the same Divine Liturgy), and *GO THERE*. Be physically present. See everything. Hear everything. *Smell* everything. Feel everything. And if you can receive the Eucharist, *Taste* everything.

    The Christian Faith is Incarnational. God has become one of us — Emmanuel. God has taken human nature to Himself. He was (and *IS*!) literally and physically present among us.

    Seeing a recording of the Divine Liturgy is a pale imitation of the Real thing. Go and pray. Be there. Go make yourself present where God is.

    Start here:
    http://www.ByzCath.org/index.php?option=com_sobi2&catid=24&Itemid=112
    or here:
    http://www.GOArch.org/en/parishes/

    Christ Is Among Us!
    Ken Hendrickson

  9. Berny says:

    Photios or whoever,

    Is there anyway to watch an Orthodox liturgy online? If so, can you point me in the right direction? Thanks.

  10. Fr. Maximus says:

    Photios,

    Christ is risen!

    It seems to me that St. Maximus refers to contemplating the logoi in two somewhat different senses. The first, and lower, is a kind of φυσική θεωρία which can be contemplated by anyone, even someone who has not yet been purified from the passions. The second, which is more properly the contemplation of the logoi, is unattainable by anyone who has not yet been purified by the passions. As one is purified of the passions, gradually he views things more and more as existing in Christ and inseparable from their telos (vis-a-vis us) which is in Christ. Thus the first leads to the second, although the second is only known through God’s grace, not as a result of a permanently active natural human capacity.

  11. Photios,

    I just started way my way thought that Tome, fascinating material. You or Perry thought about posting on your blog anytime soon? Look, I know my post was lame, but I was swamped with homework and I couldn’t bear to see this fine blog collecting dust day after day…

  12. Do you have a copy of GHD? I would also suggest looking at Dr. Farrell’s early chapters on St. Clement of Rome and the relationship between Creation and Redemption (look for the discussion on the cycles of day and night and how they prefigure the resurrection, standing in Christ looking backward in history, at creation).

  13. Photios,

    I believe so. Without dogma, there is no certain knowledge or ultimate truth as any move beyond sensible appearance presupposes that some steps of faith have been taken. The restriction of knowledge to sensible appearance is nihilism; the attempt to move beyond it without faith is empty speculation (constructivism), but a successful move beyond it presupposes some kind of personal relationship that permits access to revelation.

  14. photios says:

    Its telos, its purpose, and its Architect and Fashioner. You have to be careful when quoting a text like John of Damascus’ that we can know God exists based on an examination of the world and then thinking that this is independent from God’s grace. For John it is the rational principles of the Logos that give us knowledge of such things that are implanted in our nature (this is grace). This is not “unaided reason” as the Scholastics imagine. Notice how he starts off Chapter I, after stating that this knowledge is implanted in our nature, he says “All things, therefore, that have been delivered to us by Law and Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists we receive, and know, and honour, seeking for nothing beyond these.” NPNF II, Vol. 9, p. 1b. Otherwise, a knowledge that seeks apart from these is left to its examination dialectically as the philosophers, and that is wholly speculative. And one is no longer doing Orthodox theology but is being a speculator. Now speculation for speculation sake is harmless if accepted as such, but it can never have any kind of dogmatic import. We seek after those things that are certain, those things are delivered to us. Everything I have, I have receieved from above.

    Does this help? Does this make sense to you?

  15. “St. Maximos, Gregory of Nyssa, and Athanasios, don’t think the world is intelligible apart from an understanding of who Jesus is.”

    Intelligible in what respect?

  16. photios says:

    Yes, but here’s the key to unlocking that argument, and one that is soooo overlooked. St. Maximos, Gregory of Nyssa, and Athanasios, don’t think the world is intelligible apart from an understanding of who Jesus is. In other words, the Logos is the key to unlocking the rational principles of nature: the logoi. The logoi are not only the principles of deity but also the principles and powers of man and the created kosmos. Only when we understand who Jesus is can we then grasp God as “Fashioner” and “Creator” of the world and man. There’s no dialectic between nature and grace here, because grace is naturally inherent in man (which is why the God-man can recapitulate and renew man’s nature…this grace is not something appropriated outside of Christ’s human nature). There’s not something I know by nature and then something else I understand by grace.

    Photios

  17. MG says:

    Photios–

    I might also add alongside Neo’s examples that Athanasius and Maximus make arguments from the intelligibility of the world to the conclusion that God exists. Its not natural theology in the Catholic sense, because the conclusion come to is one about God’s names (energies) such as “Creator” and “Designer”, but not about God’s essence. But nevertheless, it is theistic arguments of a sort–not necessarily something yielding proof or certainty, but it sure looks like they’re saying “hey, see these various phenomena of your experience? If ya think about it, God is behind that stuff”.

    By the way, Neo, I haven’t forgotten about your request for an analysis of St. John’s argument… I will try to get to that in the next two or three days.

  18. Photios,

    On (1) I have in mind arguments that posit theism/creation as a necessary condition or the presupposition of some accepted truth or characteristic of reality. On (2), I do have in mind Gregory of Nyssa but also St. John of Damascus (Ch. III of the Exposition.)

  19. Neo,

    On (1) I’m not sure what you have in mind and on (2) I’m not sure who you have in mind. On (2) I suspect you might have in mind Gregory of Nyssa.

    Photios

  20. Photios & T.R. Valentine,

    (1) What about transcendental arguments against philosophies that explicitly or implicitly idolize nature or humanity?

    (2) What about the Patristic arguments from the intelligibility (not apparent design) of the universe to a pre-existent creative intelligence or the argument from the necessarily finite past of the visible world and rational beings to the fact of creation?

  21. Lucian says:

    It is necessary for us to discuss these one by one, since the blessed apostle Paul himself, following the example of his predecessor John, writes by name to only seven churches in the following sequence: […], yet it is clearly recognizable that there is one Church spread throughout the whole extent of the earth. For John also in the Apocalypse, though he writes to seven churches, nevertheless speaks to all. (‘The Muratorian Canon’, Rome, ~150 AD).

    The fact that there are more than one lists of the ‘Seven’ Archangels (leading up to about a dozen names or more) might also be enlightening to the discussion, I think.

  22. photios says:

    Procopios (Michael Vasquez) you’ve been warned about posting here and I believe Perry banned you. I honor is banishment. Please go troll somewhere else. You’re only interested in nagging and harrassing people here. The internet is a big place. You should be able to find a home somewhere else with those of your cause.

    As for me, the filioque is a heresy. And I will separate myself from those “Orthodox” that do not think so and make ship wreck our Fathers of the Faith.

  23. What’s with the smiley faces? I prefer not to explain myself there. I don’t see the need to do so.

    Gnosticism, rather than propositions and systems of belief, is a careful and subtle technique of subversion. It is highlighted by ad hominem against the opposition, prohibition of questions, and (as I hinted at already) giving old terms new meaning.

    An example of the latter would be the Patristic doctrine of Real Presence in the Eucharist, and then the gutting of that meaning and keeping with the same terminology and plugging in a new meaning like Transubstantiation. Philosophy and more precisely Dialectical opposition with its either/or framework is usually the deconstructive method used. I firmly and unequivocally deny Transubstantiation.

    NeoPlatonic “god” is shorthand around here for those “theologies” that say we can make dogmatic claims about the God of scriptures based on reason apart from and prior to reflecting on Christ’s Incarnate economy and revelation. This is why Jews, Muslims, and Catholics could all do theology proper together in Moorish Spain, because they all took as a starting point an agreement on the philosophical simplicity. Gregory Palamas teaches (contra Augustine) that man not only cannot love God apart from grace (both agree here), but that man cannot KNOW anything about God apart from grace. This is because Gregory doesn’t think you can abstract our understanding about nature apart from grace, because nature would no longer be nature. And in some sense, for St. Augustine there is no “ungraced” human nature or an idea of pure nature (even hypothetically), but that is a different take than what the Post-Augustinian west dialectically twisted and turned to understand its own relationship between nature and grace.

    To illustrate a difference of method, for Gregory and patristic theology in general, the only kind of “proof” for the existence of God is horizontal, rather than vertical. The works of God from creation uniting a people to himself (through the covenants) and working to bring about the His Incarnation that He willed from the Foundation of the World. It’s demonstrative rather than adherence to speculations that are not verifiable. Try reading St. Ambrose’s exegesis of Romans 1, it’s quite illuminating. 😉

    On another note, since you like asking so many questions.

    Why do you post anonymously on my blog? What are you hiding from? Please don’t do so.

    Photios

  24. Procopios,

    If you don’t like what I said and you wish to conform me to something I don’t believe by way of some sort moralism about a Holy Week that isn’t your own, I think I find your complaint rather hollow. I’m certainly not above error as your pope imagines for himself and could be surely wrong about lots of things, but claiming that I am doesn’t amount to much. The Orthodox Church judges the filioque as a heresy, and St. Photios the Great judges it as a footnote of EVERY heresy. If that is unloving during Holy Week, it is only definitional of how we define the meaning of truth and love, and at that it becomes merely descriptive of our differences.

    I’m not an ecumenist in any way shape or form (nor do I support ecumenist activities that forsake the truth in sake of “unity”) in the way that Rome tries to gather all the religions of the world under a new gnostic umbrella. I believe Romanism to be one of the greatest subversions and distortions of the truth, and I make no apology for believing such, nor am I intimidated by those who wish to conform others to ecumenical committees and dialogues, and as such, I’m aware of the attempt to make people like myself out to be inhibiting their “program.” You might be more successful here with others with that program but not with me. I politely tolerate it as an owner of this blog to allow others to feel free to express their views. Surely, on my own blog, I am accorded as such about my own views and opinions. 😉 I mean this IS an ORTHODOX blog, and one that is firmly committed to the Orthodox dogmas as their celebrated in the liturgical life, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, and the Synodikon in which no compromises will be found.

    As you point out, the liturgical witness of the West is strong and high in some venues, particularly in the old Mass. Many of their prayers are quite traditional. However, under the new interpretation of dogma, and the gnostic style of giving “old terms new meaning,” what you have is a legacy in today’s West (or more like yesterday’s west, before the 60’s). An aftermath of prayers and beliefs that are reminiscient of Orthodoxy and not Orthodoxy itself.

    Photios

  25. procopius says:

    trvalentine-

    actually, if you were to make even a casual examination of the actual prayer/liturgical practice of the west, you wouldn’t find any of what you’ve written.

    Please read some history, some writings, of the leading theologians/ saints/ contemplative writers, from Eriguna to Aquinas to John of the Cross to Therese of Liseux to Edith Stein, ( from the Catholic side), and from Luther to Wesley to C.S. Lewis on the Protestant side- you won’t find what you’re describing there either.

    You’re a victim of highly biased information, highly biased views- those views don’t accord with reality- they’re wrong.

    Holding those views while ignorant is excusable- holding them while one has the intellectual capacity and resources to find the actual state of the situation is not.

    Being Orthodox does not require being ignorant of the truth, nor does it require that only “Orthodox” possess the truth-

    What was written was wrong, deeply wrong and an insult to the truth. That it was written during Holy Week makes it even more egregious.

  26. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — Berny wrote:
    > not everyone holds to the interpretation of …

    Sadly, this is very true. Arius did not hold to the Apostolic Tradition either. And Arius was not the only heretic.

    I am not suggesting that you are a heretic. I don’t have the authority to do so. But it does seem to me that we hold very different faiths. Lord Have Mercy!

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  27. Berny says:

    Ken,

    Since the apostles were the church’s teachers, whose authority came from Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit, and gave both inscripturated revelation as well as oral revelation to the church, we would expect any text that has to do with authority to contain some kind of a reference to both types of normative instruction.

    But the apostles eventually died. Since we’re not Jedis, we don’t believe that the apostles continue post-mortem to instruct us orally. What is left? Scripture.

    But this is an old debate that won’t be settled here.

    For your own information, not everyone holds to the interpretation of 2 Thess. 2:15 that you do. Check the following: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/10/hold-fast-traditions.html

  28. trvalentine says:

    to thePatristic, Biblical, and Orthodox view of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

    Rather harsh language in the middle of Holy Week, ( I held off commenting until now).

    I agree the language was harsh. But the content was not the least incorrect.

    Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ that can be known through ‘natural reason’. Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ established by the ‘ontological argument’, the argument from ‘first mover’, the argument from ‘uncaused cause’, the ‘teleological’ (design) argument, ‘moral’ arguments, arguments from special events, or any other rational argument. In short, Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ that is the product of human ratiocination.

    Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ who’s essence can be known. Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ who’s essence can be seen. Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ who is a relation of oppositions. Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ who lacks distinctions. Orthodox Christians do not worship the ‘god’ who’s being, existence, nature, activity, and will are indistinguishable.

    I could go on, but I trust the above is sufficient to make the point.

    Thomas

  29. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — Berny wrote:
    > You reject the authority of the apostles by
    > elevating the authority of the successors to
    > a status on level with the apostles.

    To the contrary, I am following what I learned while I was a Protestant. I learned, as a Protestant, to *always follow the Bible*, no matter where it leads — because it leads to Truth.

    I am following, as closely as I can, among other things, Paul’s command to the Christians in the Church at Thessaloniki. Recall what Paul wrote about following Tradition:

    % Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the
    % traditions which you have learned, whether
    % by word of mouth, or by our epistle.
    % (2 Thess 2:15)

    Note carefully that we are *commanded* to obey the Traditions of the Apostles, both those traditions passed on only orally, as well as those passed on in scripture!

    This must mean that the bishops who followed the Apostles had real authority, from Jesus Himself, in order to accurately communicate that Holy Tradition.

    If I were to refuse to follow the followers of the Apostles, it would be like abandoning the Apostles themselves. If I were to refuse to follow the Apostles, it would be like abandoning Jesus Himself.

    I won’t comment on the rest of your comments, except to say that my miserable history of not being able to communicate the Faith to Protestants is sadly continuing. Either that, or you do understand me, but you are rejecting what I am saying. Lord Have Mercy!

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  30. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — PseudoThomas wrote:
    > Actually, the former is almost exactly
    > what the priest says in the both the
    > Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom
    > and St. Basil.

    Apparently, when you and I hear the prayers in the Divine Liturgy, we hear two different things.

    I didn’t look up and compare your posting with the translation into English that we use, because what you posted seemed to be so close to what I experience at every Divine Liturgy that I accept your wording.

    But I do not hear the priest saying, “*Jesus said*, “This is my body.”” In other words, I *always* hear a shift away from third person past tense to first person present tense.

    The Divine Liturgy *makes present to us* the salvific events of history which occurred that one week in Jerusalem almost 2000 years ago. As I mentioned in a previous post, we are present in the Upper Room with Christ and we hear Jesus say those words. We are present at the foot of the cross with the Theotokos, and we see Christ crucified. We are present at the empty tomb with the myrrh-bearing women, and we see the empty tomb. All of this is the Sacramental Reality made Present to us in the Divine Liturgy.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  31. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — s-p wrote:
    > Jesus did not do something “supernatural”
    > but “truly natural”. The state in which we
    > live with creation is unnatural, having to
    > subdue it like we do.

    S-P:

    I find your comments (all of them in your above post — not only the comments I quoted) to be a strong affirmation of the same Faith which I hold, and which I believe (having read the Church Fathers) was the same Faith which the earliest Christians held.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  32. procopius says:

    “You need to gut yourself of the NeoPlatonic “god”of Romanism and come back to thePatristic, Biblical, and Orthodox view of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

    Rather harsh language in the middle of Holy Week, ( I held off commenting until now).

    It certainly doesn’t accord well with St. Ephreim.

    And…I certainly would like to know what, who this NeoPlatonic “god” is.

    If this is your understanding….you should really think it over.

  33. s-p says:

    Christologically, Jesus functioned as priest of creation as the second
    Adam. Anthropologically, this refers back to our intended role in creation.
    Jesus’ incarnate relationship with creation shows us how Man was to be (in St.
    Maximos’ terms) “transparent to creation”, ie., in total harmony/communion with
    creation … when the disciples said “Who is this man that the
    winds and the waves obey him?” And Jesus walked on water, etc., this demonstrated
    the “Natural” state of man, the sacramental union of the human being with
    creation in God. Jesus did not do something “supernatural” but “truly natural”. The state in which we live with creation is unnatural, having to subdue it like we do.
    I think the point I’m getting at is that there was no discontinuity
    between creation and man in the person of Jesus Christ, the Adam we were supposed
    to be. The sacramental view of creation acknowledges that the material world is
    more than utilitarian to support the survival of the biological life of man (which is a post lapsarian state) and more than merely a signpost back to God’s “spiritual
    existence”. “Holy water” is not water that is changed into something that it was not, but realized as what it truly IS. Hence ALL creation can indeed be equally sacramental when recieved with a pure heart and a full awareness of the Giver. The “grace of baptism” is “merely” water and our flesh from God, in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, which is how our flesh was to receive water from the beginning.

  34. PseudoThomas says:

    “then remember that the priests in the Divine Liturgy never say, “Jesus said, This is My Body”. No, they say, “This is **My** Body”!!”

    Actually, the former is almost exactly what the priest says in the both the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.

    The priest, while addressing God the Father says:

    “Priest (in a low voice): Together with these blessed powers, merciful Master, we also proclaim and say: You are holy and most holy, You and Your only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You are holy and most holy, and sublime is Your glory. You so loved Your world that You gave Your only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. He came and fulfilled the divine plan for us. On the night when He was betrayed, or rather when He gave Himself up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy, pure, and blameless hands, gave thanks, blessed, sanctified, broke, and gave it to His holy disciples and apostles saying:

    Priest: Take, eat, this is my Body which is broken for you for the forgiveness of sins.

    People: Amen.

    Priest (in a low voice): Likewise, after supper, He took the cup, saying:

    Priest: Drink of it all of you; this is my Blood of the new Covenant which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, emphasis mine.)

    AND:

    “For when He was about to go forth to His voluntary, ever memorable, and life-giving death, on the night on which He was delivered up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy and pure hands, and presenting it to You, God and Father, and offering thanks, blessing, sanctifying, and breaking it:

    Priest: He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles saying: Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you and for the forgiveness of sins.

    People: Amen.

    Priest: Likewise, He took the cup of the fruit of vine, and having mingled it, offering thanks, blessing, and sanctifying it.

    Priest: He gave it to His holy disciples and apostles saying: Drink of this all of you. This is my blood of the new Covenant, shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins.” (Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, emphasis mine.)

    And unless I’m mistaken, the Roman liturgies with which I am familiar follow suit (although it’s been awhile since I’ve attended a Roman mass – for some reason I’m thinking of the words “He took the bread, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take, eat,'” etc.).

    Just my two bits…back to lurking…

    Blessed Pascha to all!

  35. Berny says:

    “Do not confuse the word (small-w) of God (the Bible) with the Word (capital-W) of God (Jesus Himself).”

    Oh, don’t worry, I’m not.

    Let’s see, I make a reference to the primacy of the Scriptures in God’s “sacramental economy”–to borrow a term from your own–and you take the opportunity to reveal, in a most ironic way, your Gnostic de-valuing of the apostolic deposit.

    It was the Gnostics who deviated from the authority of the apostles by invoking their own authority through private revelation. They rejected the authority of the apostles and the authority of the successors to the apostles. You reject the authority of the apostles by elevating the authority of the successors to a status on level with the apostles. They rejected the apostolic deposit, yet so do you.

    All this talk about being in communion with the apostolic tradition is brazenly tendentious.

    I don’t pit the written Word of God against the personal Word of God. They are different, yes–for one the term is intended literally while for the other it is intended figuratively. Yet when I speak of the primacy of Scripture I’m not lessening the importance of Jesus Christ as the central figure of our doxology; rather, I am establishing him as the central figure.

    You think of Scripture as words on a page that tell us about Christ. Yet this is an error I’ve seen many RC’s and EO’s commit. Scripture for Protestants isn’t purely an informational construct; it isn’t brute data. It is the agent of the Holy Spirit; it is the means the Holy Spirit utilizes to inform, convict, renew, and indeed, to bring us closer to Christ (among other things). And this isn’t done strictly through an apprehension of knowledge qua knowledge. The Reformed doctrine of regeneration is a robust exegetical position describing the spiritual rebirth that takes place in the spirit of man. This doesn’t happen through knowledge, as though our anthropological position is that man is neutral rather than radically depraved, but through the efficacy of the Word as the truthful account of Christ’s death and resurrection in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

    When I say that Scripture is of prime importance, I don’t say that because brute knowledge of Christ is what I find to be most important, but because Scripture is the Holy Spirit’s instrument in uniting men to Christ. Since you reject the primacy of Scripture, or at least de-center its role, you confuse the written Word of God with the personal Word of God in a way Protestants never do.

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

    Were you going anywhere by citing this verse? If so, I suggest you provide your exegesis of it rather than simply quote it as though it glories forth your interpretation of it all on its own.

    “This is an error that all Protestants seem to make, and it leads directly to the sin of making an idol of the Bible. You can call it Bibliolatry. It leads to the sin of paying more attention to mere words on a printed page than to the Incarnate God Who feeds us with Himself.”

    False dichotomy. “Mere words” is your description, not mine. Try to engage my position rather than a strawman.

    Sin is a biblical category. Furthermore, so is idolatry. Care to explain how you arrived at biblical conclusion without biblical support? Wherever are you getting the idea that you can say things like “It leads to the sin of…” and “It leads directly to the sin of…” without making the exegetical connection between what sin is in Scripture and what you believe to be sin?

    “But ultimately, as Pope Benedict said last week, Truth is a *Person*. And that Person, the Divine Logos, the Divine Verbum, has become one of us.”

    Are you interested in being sophistical or in actually dealing with a position on its own terms? Pick up any Reformed systematic theology and see for yourself what Reformed believe about the Bible. I assure you it’s more than “mere words on a page.”

    A classical definition of truth leaves room open for both biblical revelation as well as personal revelation to be Truth. Scripture tells us who God is and what he is like. Jesus does the same (Heb. 1).

    “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. (John 6:53)”

    As much as I revere the Bible, there are no such statements made about Bible reading, in the Bible.”

    Who is saying anything about “Bible reading”? You don’t seem to have a clue about my position yet you’ve entered the fray like a wild cowboy shooting the place up. When I say that Scripture is central to the church and to the life of the believer I don’t have in mind personal devotions. I have in mind the efficacy of gospel in the preaching of the Word in the hands of the Holy Spirit. It is the main instrument God uses for the growth of his people.

    Your reading of John 6:53 misses some key things. Notice that verse 40 says the following: “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Sound familiar? Yet no “Eucharistic primacy” there. I could argue that eating the flesh and drinking the blood is a metaphor for verse 40, not a literal amplification of it. This argument is bolstered when one considers the fact that verse 40 cannot be stretched to fit a metaphorical mold, yet verse 53 could.

    Funny enough, Carson cites Augustine’s words on this passage, “Believe, and you have eaten.”

    If one takes vv. 53-54 and atomizes them into the sole prescription of salvation (which is what the passage necessarily indicates), then it contradicts the earlier verses in the same passage. It is more likely that vv. 53-54 is an extended metaphorical amplification.

    For these reasons and more, I reject your literalistic, anachronistic, and acontextual reading of John 6.

    “The difference between your comments and mine illustrate beautifully the difference between the Incarnational Reality which is the True Faith, once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), and the mental construct which is Protestantism, with all its Gnostic tendencies.”

    You’re obsessed with your “Incarnational” terminology. Yet I’ve shown you’re closer to the Gnostic undermining of Scripture than Protestants are. You, having displaced Scripture’s prime role in the hands of the Holy Spirit, look to other means to edify the house of God. Yet there are no substitutes. Your claim that for Protestants faith is a mental construct goes against the literature on the subject. Warfield has given a standard definition to saving faith, of which notitia is only one third of the construct. Try again.

  36. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — Fr. John wrote:
    > Also, Orthodox do NOT ‘confect’ the
    > sacrament! That is one of the great
    > ERRORS of ROME. That is also why the
    > Orthodox are clear that the Epiclesis in
    > the Eufcharistic Sacrifice state that it is
    > GOD VIA THE H.S. that makes the Bread
    > and Wine into the Body and blood, not
    > via some ‘ex opere operato’ of the Priest.

    As I said before, I am but an amateur theologian.

    That being said, let me make the following comments.

    I am perfectly willing to agree with you that it is God the Holy Spirit who changes the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus for us. I am even perfectly willing to accept that it occurs at the Epiclesis; after all, the Epiclesis is such an essential part of *all* Christian Liturgies!

    But here, I think Rome is right and Orthodoxy is wrong, *if* you accurately and authentically represent the Orthodox Tradition, *and if* I have understood you correctly. Let me explain.

    It seems to me that there is really *Something* to the idea of the Incarnational Reality I have been talking about. The priest is the vicar of Christ in the Divine Liturgy. The priest sacramentally *is* Christ.

    Recall the writing of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and then remember that the priests in the Divine Liturgy never say, “Jesus said, This is My Body”. No, they say, “This is **My** Body”!!

    This is either blasphemy, or the priest is sacramentally Christ! It is yet another example of the Incarnational Reality.

    There is a very Real sense in which a priest *is* Christ. There is a very Real sense in which the congregation is Present in the Upper Room at the Last Supper. Some of us are Judas, but hopefully most of us are faithful. Just like Peter, we will deny Christ, but we shall be restored.

    We, the Church, the Body of Christ, are an Incarnational Presentation of Christ to the world. The bishops, even more so. We are making the world holy, just as the Eucharist is making us holy. All of creation is being healed.

    If you insist upon the interpretation that the priest does not confect the sacrament, then you do damage to this Incarnational Reality of which I speak. You implicitly deny that the congregation is Present in the Upper Room, along with the twelve (including Judas). You implicitly deny that the congregation is literally hearing Jesus say, “This is My Body.”

    I do not think you accurately represent the Orthodox Tradition. I believe, as a Byzantine Catholic, that I am fully within the Orthodox Tradition. I believe, because it was eastern Church Fathers who converted me to the Faith, and who so strongly impressed upon me this Truth concerning the Christian Religion, that this Incarnational Reality to Whom I refer is just as much a part of the Orthodox Tradition as it is mine as a Byzantine Catholic.

    Unless and until some bishops in authority over me correct me, I am sticking with what I believe is the Christian Faith — the Incarnational Reality which permeates everything — and raises every thing it touches to divinity.

    Just like Jesus sanctified water itself in His baptism, He sanctifies us in the Eucharist. When you come in such close contact with God Himself, you are either made just and holy, or you are destroyed.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  37. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — Berny wrote:
    > The table, essential though it may be,
    > must give way to the pulpit. I am thinking
    > of a supporting role here, not an either/or
    > between the two.

    Do not confuse the word (small-w) of God (the Bible) with the Word (capital-W) of God (Jesus Himself).

    % In the beginning was the Word, and the
    % Word was with God, and the Word was God.
    % (John 1:1)

    This is an error that all Protestants seem to make, and it leads directly to the sin of making an idol of the Bible. You can call it Bibliolatry. It leads to the sin of paying more attention to mere words on a printed page than to the Incarnate God Who feeds us with Himself.

    Note that I am *not* saying anything negative about the Bible. I believe all of it. It is the word (small-w) of God. It is inspired. It is true.

    But ultimately, as Pope Benedict said last week, Truth is a *Person*. And that Person, the Divine Logos, the Divine Verbum, has become one of us. And He keeps on becoming part of His creation on the altars of Christian Churches everywhere, in order to feed us with Himself. The Incarnation continues.

    As for your comment, using a euphemism for the Eucharist (the table), “essential though it may be”, consider the words of Jesus about just how essential it is:

    % Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man,
    % and drink his blood, you shall not have life
    % in you. (John 6:53)

    As much as I revere the Bible, there are no such statements made about Bible reading, in the Bible. (Although St. Jerome did say, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is Ignorance of Christ”.)

    The difference between your comments and mine illustrate beautifully the difference between the Incarnational Reality which is the True Faith, once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), and the mental construct which is Protestantism, with all its Gnostic tendencies.

    If you can see this difference, then you have caught a glimpse of the Great Incarnational Reality to Whom I refer, and which is the Faith.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  38. Ken Hendrickson says:

    > what you said about Protestantism being
    > a set of logical propositions could equally
    > apply to the Roman Catholic Church.

    Absolutely not!!

    I have once again failed to communicate. That is, sadly, my long record. I have been absolutely unable to communicate the Christian Faith to any Protestants in the same way that St. Cyril of Jerusalem communicated it to me in his “Lectures on the Sacraments”.

    The Christian Faith is not merely a set of logical propositions to which you must agree. It is also a Presentation (in the sense of something [Someone!!] being *made present*), and a Participation in Christ Himself. The Christian Faith is Incarnational.

    When we hear a priest say, during the Divine Liturgy, “This is My Body”, we are actually in the Upper Room on that Holy Thursday, hearing Christ say those words.

    When the priest breaks the consecrated host, we are literally right there at the foot of the cross. We see our Lord crucified.

    When the priest drops a piece of the Body of Christ into His blood, we are are there at the empty tomb with the women, and we see Jesus raised from the dead.

    We don’t just observe those events. We *participate* in them. Those events in history are made Real and Present to us. The historical events, so essential for our salvation, are made Incarnate for us. Those events of history put on Flesh, and we participate in them.

    This is also the case with the Roman Catholics (although I am not a Roman Catholic).

    My brothers in the Faith, the Romans, literally *eat* their God, just like I do.

    They were saved by baptism, just like I was, and just like Noah and his family, and Moses and all of the Israelites as they passed through the Red Sea.

    God works through physical stuff. The most awesome example of this is the Incarnation itself. But all of the rest of the Christian Religion is Incarnational as well. We humans are called to literally partake of the Divine Nature.

    > They too are more “western” in this regard,
    > yet you are in union with them. How can
    > you critique Protestantism here but not
    > Rome?

    Rome is full of grace, overflowing with the sacraments. Rome is teaching and preaching, and *imparting Knowledge* of the True Faith. Please interpret this in exactly the same sense that you would interpret the Hebrew idiom “to know”. I *know* the Church. The Church *knows* me. The Church is *imparting Knowledge* of God. It is as much an Incarnational act as when the womb of the immaculate virgin contained Him who cannot be contained.

    Protestantism (as I see it) lacks this vital Incarnationalism. Neither Rome nor Byzantium do. Both Rome and Byzantium have an intimate Incarnational relationship with the Incarnational Reality Himself.

    Compared to this, Protestantism is a pale Gnostic shadow of the Incarnational Christian Faith. But it is so thin that it is hardly even a shadow. Saint Peter’s shadow actually healed people. The shadow of the Faith that is anti-Incarnational Protestantism doesn’t have nearly the substance that Peter’s shadow had.

    Please read the Church Fathers. Find out what the earliest Christians believed and did. Then go thou and do likewise.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

  39. Ken Hendrickson says:

    > So, when you say “sacramental real presence,”
    > if you mean the actual changing of the
    > elements, then yes, no Protestant believes
    > that. But does it really matter?

    St. Ignatius of Antioch thought it mattered:

    % “Take note of those who hold heterodox
    % opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ
    % which has come to us, and see how
    % contrary their opinions are to the mind
    % of God. … They abstain from the Eucharist
    % and from the prayers because they do not
    % confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of
    % our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which
    % suffered for our sins and which that Father,
    % in his goodness, raised up again. They
    % who deny the gift of God are perishing in
    % their disputes.”
    %
    % Ignatius of Antioch,
    % Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1

    Notice those words: “is the flesh of”.

    Justin Martyr thought it mattered:

    % Not as common bread or common drink
    % do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ
    % our Savior was made incarnate by the
    % word of God and had both flesh and blood
    % for our salvation, so too, as we have been
    % taught, the food which has been made
    % into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer
    % set down by him, and by the change of
    % which our blood and flesh is nourished, …
    % is both the flesh and the blood of that
    % incarnated Jesus
    %
    % Justin Martyr
    % First Apology 66:1–20

    Notice those words: “by the change of which”.

    Theodore of Mopsuestia thought it mattered:

    % When [Christ] gave the bread he did
    % not say, ‘This is the symbol of my body,’
    % but, ‘This is my body.’ In the same way,
    % when he gave the cup of his blood he did
    % not say, ‘This is the symbol of my blood,’
    % but, ‘This is my blood,’ for he wanted us to
    % look upon the [Eucharistic elements], after
    % their reception of grace and the coming of
    % the Holy Spirit, not according to their
    % nature, but to receive them as they are,
    % the body and blood of our Lord.
    %
    % Theodore of Mopsuestia
    % Catechetical Homilies 5:1

    St. Paul thought it mattered. To the Corinthians, some of whom actually died because they didn’t believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he wrote:

    % For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks
    % judgment to himself if he does not judge
    % the body rightly. For this reason many
    % among you are weak and sick, and a
    % number sleep. (1 Cor 11:29-30)

    Finally, Jesus thought it mattered:

    % Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat
    % the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His
    % blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53)

    > As a Presbyterian, when I partake of the Table
    > at my church, I am receiving the true body and
    > true blood.

    I wish what you said was true. But the Church has always taught that only a priest can “confect the sacrament”, and only a priest with Apostolic Succession. No Protestant minister has this power.

    > Yes, I believe the elements are
    > still bread and wine, but they are so
    > connected to the reality that by faith I am
    > raised to heaven to partake of my Lord’s
    > natural body and blood.

    You are closer to the Catholic position than I ever was when I was a Protestant.

    > Furthermore, the Reformers saw the
    > sacraments as tied to the Word.

    Do not confuse the word (small-w) of God (the Bible) with the Word (capital-W) of God (Jesus Himself; see John 1:1). The Eucharist, especially, is tied quite closely to the Word of God. The elements *become* the Word of God.

    > We see the preaching of the Word as the
    > highest means of grace; but we see the
    > Eucharist as inseparable from it.

    Indeed, the Eucharist is inseparable from the Word (capital-W) of God.

    > Also, do you consider Anglo-Catholics then
    > to be close to you?

    I was once an Anglo-Catholic Anglican, and by that time, I was fully theologically Catholic. I know some Anglo-Catholic Anglicans who are also fully theologically Catholic. Indeed, I know some Roman Catholics who worship at an Anglo-Catholic Anglican parish, because they have some difficulties with the Novus Ordo.

    Some Anglican priests probably have valid orders, as can be seen with the cases of Msgr. Leonard Graham and Fr. John Jay Hughes.

    Anglicanism is so loose (and is busy self-destructing) that one cannot really talk about what Anglicans believe. One must deal with individual Anglicans on an individual basis.

    I am no longer close to any Anglicans. I have been Byzantine Catholic now for more than 12 years. I’m now in the Church, and I can never go back. To whom would I go? It is the Church that has the means of eternal life.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Ken Hendrickson

    PS Anglicanism is a side issue. I don’t want to focus on them. I would much rather focus on the Eucharist, and what the Church has always taught and believed.

  40. Berny says:

    “Furthermore, the Reformers saw the sacraments as tied to the Word. We see the preaching of the Word as the highest means of grace; but we see the Eucharist as inseparable from it. Word and Sacrament go together. You have to have both.”

    Bingo. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for this recovery.

    The table, essential though it may be, must give way to the pulpit. I am thinking of a supporting role here, not an either/or between the two.

  41. Fr. John says:

    “Only a priest, in Apostolic succession, can confect the Eucharist, changing mere bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Orthodox have valid priests, and the Catholics do also, but Protestants do not. Protestants do not even call their ministers “priests” (except the Anglicans). [Anglicans are a special case, but they are busy self-destructing as fast as they can, so I will leave them out of this discussion.]”

    But you can’t. If one is wiling to look at Protestantism objectively (warts and all) the historic Anglican position had MUCH MORE affinity to the Orthodox than the Roman, BEFORE Newman and the whole ‘poping over’ gobbledygook of the XIXth Century.

    Also, Orthodox do NOT ‘confect’ the sacrament! That is one of the great ERRORS of ROME. That is also why the Orthodox are clear that the Epiclesis in the Eufcharistic Sacrifice state that it is GOD VIA THE H.S. that makes the Bread and Wine into the Body and blood, not via some ‘ex opere operato’ of the Priest. In that instance, the Protestants ALSO are on the side of the Orthodox, rather than the Medieval Scholastics.

    I came to Orthodoxy VIA the Anglicans, who were MOST helpful in making me see that their own Rite, “The St. Tikhon Rite” had BEEN GIVEN LEGITIMACY BY THE RUSSIAN SYNOD, before St. Tikhon Belavin was butchered by the Bolshies. Lancelot Andrews, George Herbert, and even CALVIN, in their writing on Eucharistic piety, express such love, awe, and wonder over the gift of Christ in the Eucharist, that to state they do NOT believe in something (versus a mere memorial, or nothing as the ‘crackers and grape juice crowd’) is disingenuous, in the extreme.

  42. JNORM888 says:

    Josh Brisby,

    As a former Baptist and Episcopal myself….I can truely say that Anglicans can believe whatever they want about the Sacraments.

    I was Anglo-Catholic and many Anglo-Catholics believed in Transubstanciation.

    Also even before the Oxford movement you had Anglicans that believed something happened….they just couldn’t explain how.

    You will find many Lutherians who will believe the same. They will not tell you how it happens.

    Many of the Baptists I knew…….as well as myself at one time ……only believed that it was symbolic.

    Many conservative Presbyterians reject the idea of “Mystery”, “Transubstancation”, Consubstanciation, “supernatural”……..ect.

    They only accept the view of it being “spiritual”. And in a generic low sense at that.

    JNORM888

  43. JNORM888 says:

    I saw something on youtube, that is saying the samething.

    JNORM888

  44. Josh Brisby says:

    Ken,

    Also, since you are a Byzantine Catholic, what you said about Protestantism being a set of logical propositions could equally apply to the Roman Catholic Church. They too are more “western” in this regard, yet you are in union with them. How can you critique Protestantism here but not Rome?

  45. Josh Brisby says:

    Ken,

    Thank you for answering. I appreciate the cordiality of your answer.

    Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians do not believe the elements “change into” the Body and Blood; Presbyterians hold that we spiritually partake of the real body and blood through the elements; Lutherans believe that the body and blood are “in, with, and under” the elements; and Anglicans seem to be kind of in between this.

    So, when you say “sacramental real presence,” if you mean the actual changing of the elements, then yes, no Protestant believes that.

    But does it really matter? As a Presbyterian, when I partake of the Table at my church, I am receiving the true body and true blood. Yes, I believe the elements are still bread and wine, but they are so connected to the reality that by faith I am raised to heaven to partake of my Lord’s natural body and blood. This is what Calvin rightly called a mystery. Indeed, misterium sacramentum!

    Furthermore, the Reformers saw the sacraments as tied to the Word. We see the preaching of the Word as the highest means of grace; but we see the Eucharist as inseparable from it. Word and Sacrament go together. You have to have both.

    Also, do you consider Anglo-Catholics then to be close to you? I ask since you mentioned “Anglo-Catholics excepted.”

  46. Ken Hendrickson says:

    — Josh Brisby wrote:
    > But Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians
    > all have the real presence.

    I disagree. So does my Church.

    Because Protestants have severed Apostolic Succession, they do not have the *Sacramental* Real Presence of Christ. Only a priest, in Apostolic succession, can confect the Eucharist, changing mere bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The Orthodox have valid priests, and the Catholics do also, but Protestants do not. Protestants do not even call their ministers “priests” (except the Anglicans). [Anglicans are a special case, but they are busy self-destructing as fast as they can, so I will leave them out of this discussion.]

    > Do you consider those Protestant
    > denominations your brothers?

    The Protestants are baptized, so they *are* Christians. But they are very imperfectly connected to the Church. They have no sacramental connection to the Church after their baptism. They have no visible connection to the Church. And in keeping with the Gnostic and anti-Incarnational tendencies of Protestantism, their only connection is a few beliefs [mental constructs] which they hold in common with the Church.

    > Is there something else needed from your
    > perspective?

    Yes. The Christian religion is liturgical, sacramental, and incarnational. So participating in the liturgy and the sacraments is essential. And Incarnationality is also absolutely essential!!

    The Protestant religion is essentially composed of assent to a set of logical statements of truth. It is a religion which exists almost entirely in the mind. But we humans are more than mere minds, and the True Christian Faith reflects that reality. We have physical bodies. Therefore, the True Christian Faith addresses our bodies. We get wet when we are baptized, and that baptism saves us. We literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of the same God who created the universe, and thereby receive eternal life. Our priests are priests by the laying on of very physical and human hands. When we pray, we kneel, sit, stand, prostrate ourselves, smell smells, and see icons. We do not only hear the word of God, we eat the Word of God.

    The various Protestant denominations (high-church Anglo-Catholic Anglicans excepted) fail the test of Incarnationality. Their religion is not Incarnational.

    I do not know how to communicate this concept of Incarnationality very well; I have failed to communicate it to most every Protestant I have ever talked to. But let me try again with the word “communicate”.

    You can “communicate” a disease. A “commune” is a group of people living together in close physical proximity. An archaic definition of “communicate” is to administer the Eucharist. Another meaning is to partake of the Eucharist. Yet another definition is to be physically connected. All of these definitions allude to the Incarnationality to which I refer. There is much more to communication then merely transfering immaterial mental ideas from person to person, and there is much more to the True Christian religion (because it has this Incarnationality) then mere mental assent to a set of logical statements.

    Unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.

    Lord Have Mercy!
    Ken Hendrickson

  47. Josh Brisby says:

    Photios,

    I know what you guys believe on your website. My question was for Hendrickson b/c I know you guys differ with him here.

  48. Josh,

    Yes, lots more.

    Starting with the most obvious problem. You need gut yourelf of the NeoPlatonic “god’ of Romanism, and come back to the Patristic, Biblical, and Orthodox view of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    Photios

  49. Josh Brisby says:

    Just a curious question for Ken Hendrickson from a Protestant:

    Mr. Hendrickson, you mentioned that it was enough for you to have the real presence. But Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians all have the real presence. Do you consider those Protestant denominations your brothers? Is there something else needed from your perspective?

  50. Roland says:

    Even if one restricts the list of sacraments to those designated as such by Rome, it is still not clear to me that they are seven in number. Are baptism and chrismation two sacraments or one? Do holy orders constitute one sacrament or three?

    The notion that the sacraments are seven in number first appeared in a medieval catechism. The catechism was so successful that entire generations of children learned the Catholic faith from it. When they grew up, the bishops and theologians had never heard any other formulation of the sacraments than what they learned from that catechism, so the seven sacraments became de facto doctrine by default, just because everyone (in the West) already believed it uncritically. The philosophical rationalizations of “the seven sacraments” were all invented ex post.

  51. procopius says:

    Yes. It was confirming a centuries old tradition that was not considered to be fixed and still “open” to other views.
    The Reformation-Counter-Reformation unfortunately had that effect, of solidifying aspects of trafition that need not have been.

  52. Procopius,

    These categorizations were not prompted by the Reformation; the council of Trent was merely confirming a centuries-old tradition in this regard.

  53. procopius says:

    True. There shouldn’t be the importation of terminology or concept from one tradition to the other witout some very deep examination of the origins of that terminology or concept and its applicability to the importing tradition.

    With regards to sacraments, ( which…as a result of ressourcement is acknowledged to have its term originate from mysterion), the RCC just makes a distinction that, probably owing to cultural context, needed to be made, ( it was during the period of the Reformation).

    Most of the differences aren’t “error” but just differences due to culture and language.

    Why should there be the need to impose uniformity rather than unity?

    If uniformity is the paramount virtue, then there would be no Tri-Une God.

  54. My post is no critique of Catholic sacramentology nor does it even assume any errors in the teaching of the RCC; it’s only a remark on the confusion resulting from a borrowing of terminology from another tradition.

  55. Ken,

    While I must always leave open the possibility that an irrational attachment to my own opinions & spiritual inexperience are somehow blinding me from the truth of this particular matter, my claim that Rome remains in deep error is based on the assumption that the clear, consistent teaching of the revered saints throughout the history of Holy Orthodoxy is in fact true. It is also equally possible to have a soul-enriching experience of God somewhere and yet be mistaken about its meaning, theological significance, and doctrinal implications. Certainly, both of our fallible claims to revelation assume that this holds for an innumerable number of people.

    Perhaps it is self-evident to the both of us that Reformed teaching is in error and that modern Protestantism is deficient in many respects, but we’ll have to appeal to something more than self-evidence if they ask why we hold that opinion. I’m glad that Eastern Catholics do not have to recite the Filioque, but like the other theological distinctives of the Roman Church they are still bound to accept it. The ultimate presupposition of the Eastern Catholic position is that either the same one underlying substance is being faithfully expressed under different forms or that the existent differences are not of sufficient significance to justify severance of communion. I respect persons who have come to these conclusions, but I have not and do not forsee myself ever doing so.

    Peace,

  56. Ken Hendrickson says:

    You’re way past my level of theological expertise.

    In my Church we *never* say the Filioque.

    If Rome was willing to have us back in the 1600s, with the original form of the Creed, then I’m willing to have Rome.

    I note, as an eastern Catholic, that there is far more support for the primacy of the Roman pontiff amongst the eastern Church Fathers, than amongst the western.

    For me, it is enough to recognize the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. You have it. The Orthodox have it. We have it. The Catholics have it. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, an eastern father, saved me from Protestantism. I am eternally grateful. Literally!!

    I am but an amateur theologian.

    I dined on Christ yesterday in a funeral, and remarked at how wonderful it was that a bunch of unfaithful Romans heard over and over that Christ was Risen, and that He conquered Death by Death, and that He granted Life to those in the tombs. That was exactly what they needed to hear as they were mourning the death of a vibrant 29-year old woman who died suddenly with no warning, of totally non-understood causes. I pray that those Romans come back soon to our parish. We can feed them!

    I dined on Christ today at the Divine Liturgy of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus tasted just as Good as He always has. He is sweet!

    It is so obvious to me that all of the Catholics, even those of the Novus Ordo (nervous ordeal?), and all of the Orthodox, are my brothers and sisters. It is as plain as the nose on my face. It is self-evident.

    It is also obvious to me, because of my history as a Protestant, that the Protestants have been blinded by the evil one.

    What the Protestants need, more than anything else, is a united One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If they were to see us as the brothers and sisters which we really are, they might be persuaded to join us at the Holy Altar, humble and prostrate themselves, and eat the medicine of immortality.

    What the non-Christians need, more than anything else, is a united One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. If they were to see us all as the brothers and sisters which we really are, they might be persuaded to join us at the baptismal font, and put on Christ!

    Lord Have Mercy!
    We certainly need it!!!

    Ken Hendrickson

  57. Ken,

    Your desire for unity certainly resonates with me and speaking only from my short investigations into the matter there appears to be a unity of Faith amongst the Chalcedonian & Coptic Orthodox beyond the terminological confusions, but I am not convinced that the formal teaching of the RCC is faithful to apostolic teaching or mistakenly condemned as heterodox by my Church. It is not “obvious” to me that the traditional stance of the Orthodox on the ecclesiology of Vatican I and the Filioque is wrong or that these items are of such minor significance that one body which proclaims it as dogma and another which condemns it as error can remain in communion with one another.

    Are these apparently major disagreements in reality only “petty differences?” Perhaps, but one must produce more evidence than an appeal to self-evidence for that claim, especially given the fact that throughout history such a great number of saints and revered bishops in our Church have consistently held a passionate and principled stance against it.

    PS: I know Copts and Eastern Catholics here in Pittsburgh if that’s worth anything.

  58. Ken Hendrickson says:

    Tonight, I attended Vespers at a Coptic Orthodox Church. I was struck by the beauty. I was in awe of their antiphonal chanting, Arabic style, 12 times in a row before each of the 12 Gospel readings, of the liturgical closing to the Our Father (Matt 6:13), while the opposite side of the Church *silently* said the Our Father. It is clearly the most recognizable portion of the Coptic Vespers, just as “Lord Have Mercy” is the most recognizable portion of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom in the Byzantine Catholic Church.

    I have never been to the Vespers at a Coptic Church before, but I will be there, God willing, for the next 6 days.

    It is so clear to me that the Copts, the Orthodox in general, and the Catholics share the Same Faith, once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)

    It is high time for those of us who hold to the True Faith to heal the schisms and faults, due to our own sins, and help bring about the Unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in a clear and visible and unmistakable fashion.

    As a theologian, I am an amateur. As a sinner, I am the chief. I’m a convert to Byzantine Catholicism (from Protestantism) by God’s grace.

    While I will not deny the importance of deep thinking and accurate speech and description about important matters such as sacraments and sacramentals, we cannot let petty differences divide us. A house divided against itself will not stand.

    Christ Is Risen!
    Christos Voskresse!
    Ken Hendrickson

    PS I was also amazed by how much of the Coptic language I think I understood, with my minimal knowledge of Greek.

  59. STK,

    Does Christian teaching (on creation, the Holy Mysteries, the presence of God in His Name, sexuality, etc.) imply that certain visible-material realities (including human operations) possess an INTRINSIC symbolism (inner meaning) that is discovered-recognized rather than constructed by individual human agents?

    I have thinking about the implications of this simple idea for everything from political theory to sexual ethics. For instance, many modern Christians are functionalists with respect to the state and essentialists with respect to the family unit; whereas members of the LGBT community are full functionalists not only with respect to these two institutions but of the distinction between the sexes itself. The essence of this position is that the formless void of reality is only what individual wills choose to form out of it. Postmodernity is this principle consistently applied across the board (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, truth, etc.)

  60. Although I did not mention it in my previous post, icons are also mysteries, because they contain divine energy.

  61. As an Eastern Christian I hold that there are more than seven mysteries (sacraments):

    1. Baptism

    2. Chrismation

    3. Eucharist

    4. Confession

    5. Crowning

    6. Holy Orders

    7. Prayer Oil

    8. Tonsure (of monk or nun)

    9. Blessing of Theophany Water (Agiasmo)

    10. Consecration of Church

    11. Anointing of Monarch

    12. Funeral Absolution

    This list was given to me by an Orthodox priest, and he said that it was not meant to be exhaustive.

  62. procopius says:

    The argument, that everything is sacramental, would imply that everything is equal in sacramentality.

    Therefore, the blessing of food is sacramentally equal to Baptism.

    I don’t believe that, of course. But not clarifying this can lead to such a conclusion, ( especially for people who think too much :)).

  63. Procopius,

    Certainly I agree that eating blessed bread and being baptized do not accomplish the same thing, but I would like you to please explain what point you’re attempting to make with this question and what is signified by “equivalent.”

  64. procopius says:

    The distinction is really only a clarification. After all, do you think that the blessing of food is equivalent to Baptism?

  65. Procopius,

    I agree that I have much to learn and am often mistaken, but I do not believe that I have erred here. The purpose of my post was to point out that “sacrament” in RC theology indicates quite a narrow category such that to completely identify it with what the Orthodox call the Holy Mysteries results in confusion. The article you link to actually agrees with what I have asserted above:

    “Sacramentals do not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit in the way that the sacraments do, but by the Church’s prayer, they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it.”

    Holy Water is a “sacramental” that bears a “resemblance to the sacraments” and exists to “prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments;” this is exactly what is asserted in the Summa.

  66. Procopius –

    I’m not sure that the CotCC is contradicting what was said above. In fact, it is clear that “sacramentals” are different to “sacraments”. Take, for instance, the first few sentences on the page you linked:

    “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”

    I don’t think that NeoChalcedonian was saying that Roman Catholics view things such as Holy Water as being completely unhelpful, but that they are not grace-carrying in the way the “sacraments” are. The above quotation seems to confirm this.

  67. procopius says:

    You really need to do some basic research;

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c4a1.htm

    Holy Water is a sacramental.

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