Friday, December 16, 2011

John Calvin (1509-1564): The Apostasy.

This section is a long winded critique of the Catholic Church's form of the Lord's Supper. Calvin begins with a complaint of the symbolism that is advocated by the papists:

"By these and similar inventions, Satan ... blinded almost the whole world into the belief that the Mass was a sacrifice and oblation for obtaining the remission of sins." - Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV, Of the Popish Mass

The problem is that the Christian view is that there was only one sacrifice - the sacrifice of Christ on the cross - and the Lord's Supper is a celebration of this and a distribution of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Earlier Calvin condemns the doctrine of transubstantiation - the notion that the bread and wine become the literal flesh and blood of Christ when we partake of the Lord's supper.  With that error, however, the papists make it out that each Mass is a sacrifice anew of Christ, but this deprecates the one true sacrifice that was performed.  All the paraphernalia associated with this re-sacrifice of Christ is thus condemned:

 "Another iniquity chargeable on the mass is, that it sinks and buries the cross and passion of Christ. This much, indeed, is most certain,—the cross of Christ is overthrown the moment an altar is erected. For if, on the cross, he offered himself in sacrifice that he might sanctify us for ever, and purchase eternal redemption for us undoubtedly the power and efficacy of his sacrifice continues without end. Otherwise, we should not think more honourably of Christ than of the oxen and calves which were sacrificed under the law, ..."

Related to this is Calvin's complaint against the papists for presuming to set up a new category of priests:

"But those who sacrifice daily must necessarily give the charge of their oblations to priests, whom they surrogate as the vicars and successors of Christ. By this surrogation they not only rob Christ of his honour, and take from him the prerogative of an eternal priesthood, but attempt to remove him from the right hand of his Father, where he cannot sit immortal without being an eternal priest."

Some of the above relates to the belief that the flesh and blood of Christ are physically present at the Catholic Mass.  If Christ be one body, and is present being sacrificed at the mass, then how can he also be at the right hand of God in Heaven?  Much of this is new to me.  I had always assumed that the office of Catholic priest was a hangover from paganism, but had not considered that they were trying to symbolically crucify Christ again each time a Mass is performed, thus, needing a priest and an altar.  My description here is quite simplified compared to Calvin's actual practice of considering all known arguments, along with rebuttals, counter-rebuttals, ...

1 comment:

Delirious said...

Wow, I had never heard anything like that before about the Catholic church, but it makes sense about the altar and such.

We look at the sacrament as symbolic, and a reminder to us of His sacrifice. Taking it, for us, is a renewal of the covenants we made a baptism. Ah...but I think I made that eomment before.... I do tend to repeat myself alot. lol