Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 10, 2010 Response to Pastor Tobe's Pastor's Heart Blog Comment

Over the last few months, Pastor Tobe Witmer from Lighthouse Baptist Church (Newark, DE) and I have been in dialogue, both privately, through this blog, and also occasionally on his blog, "The Pastor's Heart."  A few days ago, in response to one of my comments, Pastor Witmer made this comment (click he link to go to the post and then scroll down).  Since my response is not actually related to the topic of Pastor Tobe's own blog post, I'm posting my response below, here on my own blog:


 Hi Pastor Tobe,

Thanks for making that clarification for your readers, and for pointing them to the Catholic Catechism. I encourage your readers, of course, to study these passages carefully and in context so that they do not misunderstand what they are saying.

In my previous comment, I was simply responding to the relationship of the three divine persons, and how, through being drawn into the relationship with God through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is able to minister through his mystical body, the Church, to you and to me.

As far as your comments on the Eucharist and the Mass, I would simply state the following points:

1) Jesus's sacrifice is one sacrifice, but this sacrifice has three parts: the Upper Room, Calvary, and the alter in the New Jerusalem (heaven) where Jesus is seen by John as a "lamb standing as though slain" offering himself sacrificially to God (Rev. 5:6). There is no other sacrifice for the salvation of man than this sacrifice, which plays out in three parts. The sacrifice of Calvary is the sacrifice of the Upper Room is the sacrifice being offered eternally before the Father in heaven. There is only one sacrifice by which man can be saved, and that is it.

2) Jesus's sacrifice occurs in two temporal dimensions: time (i.e. human history) and eternity. Thus, we can locate the sacrifice offered on Calvary (which actually began in the Upper Room) 2,000 years ago in human history. But also, we know that Christ was chosen as the Paschal Lamb of God "before the creation of the world." (1 Peter 1:20-21), and we can see Jesus offering himself as the Lamb standing as though slain in heaven, whose temporality is not that of human history but is eternal. When we are saved and forgiven of our sins, it is as if Calvary itself pierces through time and is made present to our souls so that its grace can save us.

3) In the Mass, we enter into the New Jerusalem, just like John did in the book of Revelation on "the Lord's Day" (Rev. 1:10). Through the Mass, we join with Christ, our mystical groom, in His once for all (eternity) offering of Himself before the Father for the sake of his bride, the church.

4) Hebrews makes the point over and over that Christ is a "priest forever in the order of Melchizedek" (5:6, 6:20, 7:17, and elsewhere). This not only reaffirms that Christ's priesthood exists "forever," but that his offering does as well, since Priests offer sacrifice. There is only one sacrifice, but it is being offered by our High Priest forever. The Melchizedekian priesthood was the only undefiled priesthood of the OT, and Melchizedek offered his sacrifice in the form of BREAD and WINE (Gen. 14:18). The psalms prophecy that Jesus would be of this priestly order (Psalm 110:4). The idea that Jesus is forever offering a sacrifice in the form of bread and wine fits perfectly with how Christians have always (since the Church's beginning) understood the Mass.

5) Malachi prophecied of a pure sacrifice that would be offered from the rising of the sun to its setting - in all times and places (Mal. 1:11). There is only one perfect sacrifice that has ever been offered: Christ's sacrifice. (All former sacrifices were but shadows of this one perfect sacrifice.) It is this one High Priest's one eternal offering that we enter into during the Mass, which has occurred from the rising of the sun to its setting in the Church since the beginning. Through the Mass, we mystically join Christ at table in the Upper Room, at Calvary, and also in Heaven before the throne of God.

6) So, we see that Christ offers his sacrifice eternally before the Father, but that this sacrifice is made present in human time through a sacrifice under the form of bread and wine, which Jesus claims in John 6:51 as "the flesh he will give for the life of the world."

7) Christians for two-thousand years, going straight back to the students of the apostles and their successors, have taught the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist and the Mass. Christians, for two thousand years, have celebrated the Lord's Supper, the "breaking of bread," on the Lord's Day (Acts 2:42) at Jesus's explicit command and modeling (Luke 22:19, 1 Cor. 11:23, Luke 24:1-35).

I'm uncertain how the above points could be considered Heresy, since they are straight out of the Bible and align perfectly with the teaching of the early church. The difficulty that you seem to have is the idea of Christ's sacrifice has an eternal dimension. No one denies that Christ's sacrifice had a once for all (time) component on Calvary. Christ will never have to endure a bloody sacrifice on the cross for our salvation ever again. However, your denial that this sacrifice has a once for all (eternity) component that Christians enter into during their worship seems contrary to Scripture and to the teachings of the early church, at least as I read them.

Can you point out anyone in the first five hundred years of Christianity that denies the Catholic understanding of the Mass and the Eucharist? Readers can begin their own investigation here:

Yours in Christ,


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