This one exist also in norwegian. I wrote this in norwegian, and translated it. So it might not be very good.

I stumbled across a discussion about the core of the Reformation in av Catholic discussion board, and read an interesting comment (I’m not sure if you can read it withou being a mamber.) The person starting the thread, a Catholic, mentioned a letter by Tolkien where he claimed that it wasn’t “faith or works” which was the real core of the Reformation, but the Mass and the Eucharist. Tolkien in fact claimed that the discussion about “faith or works” was a red herrin, and not the real reason behind the Reformation.

Zwingli, who was a Catholic priest, started his “reformation” one year before Luther, by slowly but surely “eliminated all the references to the Mass as a sacrifice, and then eradicated all references to Transubstantiation, and so on and so forth.” (from the above mentioned discussion)

It is in fact interesting to see that in one of the few places where Christ’s followers abandon Him — except before his Passion — is in John 6, where he talks about the Eucharist (see the end of this article.) And the big controversial issue between the reformators was indeed the Eucharist. Luther and Zwingli became almost enemies because of it.

But why is people, who claim to hold to “the clear teachings of the Bible,” som against the Eucharist as it is understood by Catholics? Let me take a look at Luke 22:19. It contains three interesting words:

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (NKJV)

Let me take a look at the emphasized words:

  1. “[Gave] thanks…” The greek word is eucharisteo.
  2. “Do…” The greek word is poieo
  3. “Remembrance…” The greek word is anamnesis

1/2. “Do this…”

The greek word is also uses in the greek OT (Septuaginta), in Exodus 29:38. As it si translated in the NKJV: “Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually.” (emphasis added)

What Christ says, is; “Offer this in remembrance of Me.” But what is an offer, a sacrifice? When you sacrifice something, you set it aside for God, makes it holy. We see this in the actual word sacrifice, which is derived from sacred, holy. The problem is that people seem to think that sacrifice means blood.

Some people might also point to Matt. 9:13: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” But this is a paraphrase of Hosea 6:6, a text from the OT: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

And if you use Matt. 9:13 as a “proof” that offerings and sacrifices are ruled out for Christians, than why not for the Old Testament Jews, since the quote is from the OT? Why didn’t God remove the sacrifices right there and then?

The point is that sacrifices is not bad in and of themselves, but that one should always meet it with the right attitude. We see this quite literally in the NT:

“Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24)

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1. Cor. 11:27-29)

This sacrificial aspect can also be tied to the first word in Luke 22:19. We see therefor that the Eucharist is a offer of thanks, we we remember the death and ressurection of Christ by re-presenting His sacrifice on Calvary. Vi thank God, and we do this by actually invoking christ to be strengthened by Him. To the next word.

3. “Remembrance…”

The greek word anamnesis is found amongst others in Plato (and we cannot totally rip a word from its historical context.) Let me quote from an article on St. Paul and Real Presence:

You’ll notice that in the passage quoted the word for begins [1 Corinthians 11:26] just after the phrase containing the term anamnesis. Verse 26 explains the meaning of doing this in memory. It says that anamnesis involves a proclamation of the Lord’s death in this act of consecration. But how does eating and drinking proclaim the Lord’s death as verse 26 says? Proclaiming a message usually involves preaching, teaching or speaking in some form. But recall the old saying that “actions speak louder than words.” I suggest that it is through anamnesis that the Lord’s death is proclaimed. The eucharistic actions of the Church proclaim the Lord’s death by making the Lord present to the worshiping community of faith. (…)

In Greek culture, anamnesis was a term used to denote the movement of an abstract idea into this material world. Plato, for example, used it as one of his key ideas. For him, knowledge was an act of anamnesis, or “remembering,” whereby the realities of the world of forms (ideas) came to people in this world. So, anamnesis meant more of a process in which something in another world came to be embodied in this physical world. (…)

The Corinthians lived in a Greek culture and it would have been natural for them to understand anamnesis as describing this transfer from the heavenly world to the material world. Even more importantly, if Jesus used Hebrew or Aramaic at the Last Supper, Paul (or whoever first translated the words of consecration into Greek) chose the term anamnesis. By doing so, he was allowing that anamnesis could have the meaning that Greek-speaking people associated with that term, namely, a transfer from the heavenly world to this earthly, material world. (…)

Remember that Paul was a Jewish Pharisee (cf. Phil. 3:5), and very possibly a rabbi (cf. Acts 22:2) before his conversion. All this means that when he used anamnesis, he may have used it with a Hebrew meaning as well as a Greek one. The Hebrew word for “memorial” is zikaron and it has a similar connotation to anamnesis in Greek culture. It is more than mental recollection. The celebration of the Passover was believed to involve a participation in the original exodus from Egypt. The purpose of this being an annual and perpetual event for the children of Israel was that every generation could experience the liberation from slavery that the first generation in Egypt had experienced. Thus, zikaron connotes a participation in an event of the past rather than simply a mental recollection of that event.[1]

Plato’s idea was that we remember, and in fact really invoke, the Forms, and this was taken a bit further by Aristotle. Aristotle thought that Plato was too dualistic. Aristotle stand right between (i) Plato’s hard realism, were material things doesn’t really exist, and (ii) a hard materialism, which denies the existence of anything immaterial. This aristotelian teaching, which distinguishes between form/essence and matter, is one of the back drops of Transubstantiation, which tells us that even though the matter or species is the same (bread and wine), the form or essence is changed (body and blood.) This is not just philosophical speculation, but a way of explaining how Christ could pick up a piece of bread and say; “This is My body.”

So, we can cay that in the Eucharist we invoke Christ in a concrete way, and we can therefor say that; “This is the body of Christ” and “This is the blood of Christ,” just like He said “This is My body.” He did not say; “This is an image of My body.”

I believe that the Reformation churches should double back on this, especially since they (claim to) follow Sola Scriptura, “Scripture alone.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”(Jesus, John 6:53-58)

Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?” (…)

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:60-61.66-69)

Notes & references:

1. Howell, Kenneth J., “Does Paul Teach the Real Presence of Christ?” (This Rock, Vol. 15, no. 2, 2004) (August 8th 2007)