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, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, 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.

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