"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
The Creed of Chalcedon Against Rome's Doctrine of Transubstantiation
The Church of Rome professes commitment to the creeds of the historical church. In fact, she elevates them to sacred tradition, a status not given to them by Protestants. Those are the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene (or Niceno-Constantinopolitcan) Creed, and the Creed (or Definition) of Chalcedon. This status is important: Rome gives the creeds the status of Scripture, and claims them as standards of her theology.
My assertion is that they fall short of that profession.
Part of the doctrine of Chalcedon (and I consider it to be biblically correct) is that Christ exited - and shall forever continue to exist - in His two natures, fully God and fully human: "the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man." So far, we have no problem. However, the Creed continues: "to be acknowledged in two natures,
inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no
means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved."
It is here that the problem arises. I agree with this sentence. Rome professes it, as well. However, Rome also professes the doctrine of communicatio idiomatum, or, in English, the "communication of attributes" of one nature to the other. This is also the doctrine of the Lutherans. It is the basis of the assertion of both that, therefore, the humanity of Christ is ubiquitous, that is, everywhere, because it receives that attribute from His divine nature. They apply this understanding in their respective doctrines of transubstantiation and consusbstantiation, that is, that the flesh and blood of Christ are, or are in, the elements of the Eucharist literally.
In contrast, the Reformed have always denied the iniquity of the humanity of Christ, and thus have held that a literal, corporeal presence of Christ in the elements is a violation of the Creed, for the straightforward reason that to give the human nature of Christ a divine characteristic is to make it thereby not human. That is, to assert transubstantiation or consubstantiation, traditional as it may be, is a denial of the creedal basis claimed by all three groups.
The Reformed do not by this reasoning make the Eucharist a mere ritual, nothing more than a memorial, as Baptists, for example, do. Rather, we believe in the Real Presence. the difference is that we believe that the body of Christ remains a human body, confined to a specific place, i. e., in heaven (Acts 1:11, Hebrews 1:3). However, we are connected to His humanity, not by its acting inhumanly, but rather by the Holy Spirit, who, as God, does have the divine attribute of ubiquity. We thus preserve the true humanity of Jesus.
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43