Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #3

Today, we continue our series examining and responding to Catholic apologist and philosopher, Peter Kreeft’s book, “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic” (2018). Thanks for joining me.

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Claim #3: I am a Catholic because Jesus is really, truly, personally, literally present in every consecrated host in the world.

In this chapter, Kreeft touches upon the Roman Catholic church’s doctrine that its priests supernaturally transform bread wafers (and wine) into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. For Kreeft, consuming Jesus via communion is an all-important component of his faith. “I need Him,” writes Kreeft (p. 13). Surplus Jesus wafers are stored above Catholic altars in locked boxes called tabernacles. A red candle (designated the “sanctuary lamp”) perpetually burns near every Catholic altar signifying Jesus wafers are present in the tabernacle.

Catholics come to church on off hours to reverently worship the “hosts” locked away in the tabernacle box. Kreeft likens the sanctuary lamp to the beckoning candle he imagines the father in the parable of the prodigal son placed in his window as a symbol of love and forgiveness to his wayward child. Kreeft challenges skeptics of the “real presence” to visit a nearby Catholic church and to pray a prayer asking Jesus if that is really him locked up in the tabernacle box. Kreeft is satisfied that God will reveal the truth of the real presence to sincere supplicants.

Response

Roman Catholicism grievously misinterprets John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels to mean a literal eating of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of eating His body and blood as a metaphor for accepting/trusting in Him as Savior. We see that “believe” is used nine times in the “Bread of Life” discourse in John 6. Belief/trusting in Christ as Savior is the thing, NOT physically eating him. Catholics line up at mass every Sunday to allegedly “receive” Jesus into their mouths, while they have never received Him as Savior by faith alone.

Catholicism runs into all types of problems with this literal interpretation. What about prior to the standardized manufacture of communion bread wafers, when the Lord’s Supper consisted of communally-shared loaves of bread, with Jesus bread fragments and Jesus crumbs flying all over the place? What about when a sick Catholic involuntarily vomits up the Jesus wafer? See here. What about when a Catholic church building catches on fire and the Jesus wafers face immolation? See here. What happens to the Jesus wafer as it descends down the digestive tract and into the toilet? See here. Billions of Catholics have “received” Jesus Christ via communion over the centuries with no evidence of any change in their life.

Kreeft suggests that the truth of the “real presence” will be revealed to sincere supplicants. We cannot go by subjective feelings and affirmations regarding important religious truths. Every devout Mormon will swear to a subjective “burning in my bosom” regarding the alleged truth of the Book of Mormon. As in the first two chapters, Kreeft provides no Scriptural references to defend his belief in the “real presence.” Rather than using God’s Word as their authority, Kreeft asks seekers to use his communion-rail prayer.

Receiving Jesus means believing/trusting in Him as Savior by faith alone. Scripture makes this clear:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.” – John 1:12

There are Scripture verses that certainly teach we are to remember the Lord with reverence and worship as we take the Lord’s Supper, symbolic of His broken body and shed blood sacrificed for believers (e.g., 1 Corinthians 11:17-34), but God did not intend that we are to worship the piece of bread!

God’s Word tells us that Jesus Christ presently sits at the right hand of God the Father as Mediator for all those who trust in Him as Savior by faith alone. He is NOT a victim on Catholic altars or locked away in hundreds of thousands of Catholic tabernacle boxes all over the world.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrew 10:11-14

I am NOT a Catholic because I do NOT believe in the bogus “real presence” of Jesus Christ in the faux Jesus wafers. Catholicism substitutes this spiritually deadly doctrine of allegedly eating Jesus in the place of genuinely trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. This is such sad and sickening delusion, folks.

Next week: Claim #4: I am a Catholic because the Catholic religion is from God, not just from man.

29 thoughts on “Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #3

  1. The more this Jesus wafer is described, the more delusional it seems. One need not study witchcraft too long to see the ritual and supernatural beliefs embedded here. Special candles, red lights, encantations, object adoration – very creepy.
    One thing seems true, that when people prefer false over true, something is accommodating their flesh. Funny you mentioned Mormons. Someone I had mentored in the Lord was wooed by Mormons. She left the true faith for them, having such a “great feeling of love” blah, blah, blah.
    Thanks for another thought provoking post – looking forward to #4! I can’t believe Kreeft actually has 40!!
    Have a good weekend brother!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for the good comments, Lisa Beth. All appropriate. Too bad about the convert to Mormonism. It doesn’t make sense that a person is genuinely born again and enjoying spiritual freedom in Christ but then opts for religious chains and slavery.

      Thanks and you have a good weekend, too!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Well, the problem for Kreeft is that Gelasius explicitly denied a change in substance of the elements, the Jesuit Kilmartin commenting that this was the belief of the 5th century Church of Rome.

    Ironically, it’s Romanist scholars like Kilmartin who helped me see how unbiblical and ahistorical the doctrine of transubstantiation really is. 🙂

    Pope Gelasius I, Bishop of Rome (492-496): Surely the sacrament we take of the Lord’s body and blood is a divine thing, on account of which, and by the same we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance of the bread and wine does not cease to be. And certainly the image and similitude of Christ’s body and blood are celebrated in the action of the mysteries. (Tractatus de duabus naturis 14 [PL Sup.-III. 773]) See Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 3, p. 479 (XVIII.xxvi.xx).

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: According to Gelasius, the sacraments of the Eucharist communicate the grace of the principal mystery. His main concern, however, is to stress, as did Theodoret, the fact that after the consecration the elements remain what they were before the consecration. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J. : The teaching of Gelasius on the subject of the sacraments of the Eucharist has often been explained as being in line with the teaching of the Council of Trent. But, as a matter of fact, Trent rejected it on two counts. In canon 1 of the thirteenth Session (1551), the council taught that the Eucharist not only signifies but contains ‘the totum Christum’. The explanation of Gelasius does not include, and indeed seems explicitly to exclude, a doctrine of the somatic real presence of the ‘whole Christ’. Secondly, Canon 2 stresses the patristic notion of ‘conversion to avoid the notion of the union of the substance of bread and wine with the substance of the humanity of Christ. This concept was already found in the list of propositions attributed to Reformers formulated in 1547: ‘There is in the Eucharist indeed the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but with the substance of bread and wine, so that there is no transubstantiation, but a hypostatic union of the humanity and the substance of bread and wine’. Canon 2 was formulated precisely to avoid the idea that a rigid parallel exists between the unique hypostatic union of Logos and humanity and the sacrament of the Eucharist. But precisely this viewpoint is central to the Eucharistic theology of Pope Gelasius. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J. : Catholic scholars have recognized the similarities between Theodoret and Gelasius, but traditionally interpreted him as not excluding the real conversion of the eucharistic elements’. More recent scholarship has drawn different conclusions. For it is, in fact, quite clear that Gelasius, no less than Theodoret, appeals to the experience of the senses to prove that the nature of the bread and wine remains unchanged. And yet these elements function as holy symbols in virtue of a divine sanctifying activity by which they gain a real relation to a divine reality. The motivation is the same in both cases: to refute the monophysite thesis that the body of Christ is changed into the divine essence in virtue of the glorification. Both theologians argue from the correspondence, which amounts to a strict parallel, between a theology of the Eucharist and the hypostatic union, in order to confirm the dogma of the Council of Chalcedon. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 284.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J. : The theology of the sacraments of the body and blood taught by Pope Gelasius is reminiscent of the Augustinian point of view. However, it is in fact borrowed from the Antiochene theology of the fifth century which had abandoned the more realistic fourth-century teaching of that tradition. To this extent it differs from the Ambrosian eucharistic doctrine of the somatic real presence which is dependent on the earlier, fourth-century Antiochene version. Gelasius’s theology of the sacraments of the Eucharist reflects the actual situation of the official Roman theology of the Eucharist at the end of the fifth century. However, scholars have paid little attention to it until now. That is why we give so much more attention to it than to the teaching of the other authors discussed in this chapter. Edward J. Kilmartin S.J, Robert J. Daly S.J., The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology, Liturgical Press, 1998, Pg 31

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Re: John 6

    Augustine said those who thought of it carnally received it foolishly, quoting John 6:63 to interpret John 6:53, saying to understand the discourse spiritually.

    Clement literally said John 6:53 was a metaphor, and Cyril said to understand it spiritually. So much for the Romanist appeal to the fathers. 🙂

    Augustine (354-430): It seemed unto them hard that He said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:” they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, “This is a hard saying.” It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood. NPNF1: Vol. VIII, St. Augustin on the Psalms, Psalm 99 (98), §8. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 960-961

    Clement of Alexandria (150 – c. 215) : Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: “Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood;”[John vi.53] describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,—of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle. And when hope expires, it is as if blood flowed forth; and the vitality of faith is destroyed. ANF02, The Instructor, Book I, Chapter 6—The Name Children Does Not Imply Instruction in Elementary Principles, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 472

    Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386) : 4. Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Except ye eat My flesh and drink My blood, ye have no life in you [John vi. 53]. They not having heard His saying in a spiritual sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh. NPNF2, Vol 7, The Cathechetcal Lectures of S. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, Lecture XXII, (On the Mysteries. IV.), On the Body and Blood of Christ, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 390

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  4. Did I really read this? I have NO words, well yes I do but you know what I mean! The whole candle thing is a farce and if Kreeft knew anything about Jewish tradition he would know that what he said about the father and the prodigal is completely false. “Home is wherever Jesus is, and He is there. That is why I have to go there: because I need to fall at His feet in repentance and adoration and unutterable joy” (p. 14). Has Kreeft defined what “home” is? I mean, is home the church building or Mass? The Triune God is everywhere. I can fall on my knees in repentance and adoration anywhere in the world. David does a great job in Psalm 139 telling us about God’s Omnipresence, Omniscience and how there is nowhere that we can go to escape Him.

    Ok, I asked too soon, so it is the Catholic Church building. Not to sound snarky, but is one Church building better than another? I am genuinely confused by Kreeft’s experiment: in one breath he is saying, “don’t let me be a Catholic” and the next “Make me a Catholic.” Honestly, I just do not understand this prayer at all!

    His three reasons for not praying this prayer are ridiculous! Arrogance, indifference and fear are his three reasons for not praying this prayer. How ridiculous!!!! There is nothing true about anything that he wrote in this chapter. This is all manmade religious tradition. Nowhere in Scripture does it say about lighting candles, kneeling specifically at altars in prayer. I look forward to reading more about what a “consecrated host” actually is!!!!

    I totally missed the part about Communion and the Jesus Wafer, sorry about that! I really did read the chapter! I was having a hard time dealing with the candles. It is still bizarre/unconscionable to think that people actually come at “off-peak” times to worship the Jesus Wafer, I just do not get it! I am thankful that I can enter the real presence of the Triune God anytime day or night. I am thankful for this series Tom. Praying for you at work today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for all of your good comments, Mandy! I must be brief because I’m soon off to work. The Catholic church is all about the physical: the church building, the red candle, the priest, the altar, eating the wafer. The RC church teaches its members are already indwelt by the Holy Spirit (received at baptism and sealed at confirmation) so why the great fuss about the Jesus wafer? Gregg Allison does an excellent job of examining the materiality of Catholic “spirituality” in his “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment.”
      Thanks for your prayers! Hope you have a good weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One see once more that Kreeft isn’t driven by exegesis.Good work calling out the wrong interpretation of John 6. You also raised serious questions about what happen to the wafer consumed…yeah I’ll end right there…yikes

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Jimmy. I listened to a talk by Kreeft in which he related that his parents were evangelicals (Dutch Reformed) and said critical things of Catholicism, but when he was a child they took him to see St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York City and he was extremely impressed by the “grandeur” of the place and that was the start of his “conversion.” He thought to himself, “How could the RC be bad if it creates something so beautiful as this cathedral.” He expounds on that reasoning in one of the upcoming chapters.

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  6. “Kreeft challenges skeptics of the ‘real presence’ to visit a nearby Catholic church and to pray a prayer asking Jesus if that is really him locked up in the tabernacle box. Kreeft is satisfied that God will reveal the truth of the real presence to sincere supplicants.” . . . That made me laugh! I probably shouldn’t have because it’s such a serious matter and so many are being led to an eternal hell because they are believing ‘another gospel’ and worshipping ‘another Jesus’.”

    Mandy… Re: “It is still bizarre/unconscionable to think that people actually come at ‘off-peak’ times to worship the Jesus Wafer, I just do not get it!”

    Such is the nature of deception Mandy. I remember going to the “adoration of the blessed sacrament” when I was a Roman Catholic. 🤦‍♀️ I was so blind that I thought I was doing a good thing and getting closer to God. I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how blind I was to the truth until Jesus yanked me out of that evil devilish system. Makes me feel like crying as I think about it. I am and will be forever grateful that Jesus saw me lost in sin and shame and saved me. 33 years later and I’m still in awe of what Jesus did for me. 🙌❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was Romanist scholars, ironically, that showed me how unbiblical and ahistorical this blasphemous doctrine of transubstantiation really is. Peter Kreeft is seriously deluded or bewitched and deceived.

      Liked by 2 people

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