Rome claims her view is historical. We will now examine if the early church writers taught transubstantiation of the bread and wine as well as the Mass being seen as an expiatory and propitiatory sacrifice. Rome has erroneously claimed her modern view has always been held by the historic church. At the Council of Trent Rome taught her belief was affirmed by “all our forefathers” (Thirteenth Session, Chapter 1, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H. J. Schroeder, [TAN Books and Publishers, 1978], p. 73), that is, church fathers. Trent also claimed, “because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God” (Thirteen Session, Chapter 4, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, trans. H. J. Schroeder, [TAN Books and Publishers, 1978], p. 75). We will therefore test Rome’s claims historically.
Rome’s idea ahistorical & based on Aristotelian concepts adopted late by the church. Rome’s doctrine of transubstantiation is dependent on the pagan Aristotle’s philosophical idea of accidents and substance. Modern Rome’s specific view as espoused by the Fourth Lateran Council and the Council of Trent, as well as other papal documents, that the substance of the elements change into the body and blood of Christ, while the appearance, taste and smell remain bread and wine is dependent on the Aristotelian categories of accidents of substance. Aristotle theorized that substance makes something what it is, and that the accidents give to it its external appearance etc. So Rome followed in this thinking in defining her teaching. What must be understood then is that since medieval Rome’s late specific teaching is dependent on Aristotle’s philosophical categories, the early church fathers who were not familiar with his philosophy could not have believed in later Rome’s specific defined teaching. Moreover, the fact Rome would base her specific view on the opinions of a lost unregenerate pagan like Aristotle instead of the Word of God says a lot in and of itself. Because everyone’s mind, including Aristotle’s, is tainted with sin, this means our reasoning, unless it is subordinate to God’s biblical revelation, is untrustworthy and inclined towards sinfulness and error rather than righteousness and truth (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:4, 11; 1 Cor. 1:21; 3:18-21; 1 Jn 3:20). In Scripture we’re warned to not lean on our unreliable understanding but submit instead to God’s wisdom as revealed in Scripture (Prov. 3:5; 28:26). As a matter of fact, Holy Scripture reveals that reasoning from within and apart from submission to God’s written revelation results in false teachings and ideas (Mk 2:6-8; Luk 3:15-16). Thus, Rome’s reliance on Aristotle here is problematic.
There were four views of the Eucharist in the early church. In his magnum opus, History of the Christian Church, historian Philip Schaff (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], pp. 241-245; Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], pp. 494-500) documents the four views the early church held in regards to the way in which Christ was associated with the bread and wine. You had the (1) mystical view of Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Cyril of Jerusalem which said the body and blood of Jesus are mystically in union with the elements leading to a sort of repetition of the incarnation, though no change in substance actually takes place as in later Romanism; (2) the symbolic view of Tertullian, Cyprian, Eusebius, Gregory Nazianzen, Macarius the Elder, Theodoret, Augustine and Gelasius which said the Eucharist symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus and is a commemoration, not Rome’s literalistic transubstantiation; (3) the allegorical or spiritual view of Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Athanasius which said the believer receives the spiritual but not physical blood and life of Jesus at Mass; and (4) the literalistic view of Hilary, Ambrose and Gaudentius which affirmed the bread and wine as being the literal transformed body and blood of Jesus which is basically in line with the modern Roman Catholic system. The Roman view is in the minority, while the symbolic and mystical views seem to be the most primitive and popular.
Jungmann admits early Christians didn’t offer mass as propitiatory sacrifice. In admitting the earliest fathers such as those who wrote the Didache, Ignatius, Clement, Justin Martyr, Aristides, Athenagoras and Minucius Felix did not teach the mass was the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, Catholic Jesuit scholar and priest Joseph A. Jungmann notes, “before Irenaeus . . . no offering was recognized in the Church except that which consisted in thanksgiving. . . . ‘God does not demand an offering of victim or drink, nor of any visible things’ [Aristides, Apology, 1]. He requires ‘not blood-oblations and drink, not the order of flowers or of incense, since He is the perfect perfume, without want or blemish.’ The highest sacrifice one can offer Him is to acknowledge Him and tender Him our spiritual service [Athenagoras, Legatio, c.13]. The only honor worthy of Him is to put His gifts to use for ourselves and for the poor, and to ‘be thankful and by our spirit send heavenward songs of praise and hymns of glory for our creation. . .’ [Justin Martyr, Apology, 1.13]. For this reason, the apologists explained, the Christians had no alter and no temple’ [Minucius Felix, Octavius, c. 32, 1]” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], pp. 24-25 brackets mine).
Stages in the development of the sacrifice of the Mass. Philip Schaff explains the stages of development which took place in the early church in regards to the Mass being seen as a sacrifice. He notes that at first the church regarded the Mass as a “thank-offering” (e.g. New Testament, Didache), and notes “the ante-Nicene fathers conceived [of it] not as an unbloody repetition of the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, but simply as a commemoration” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 245 brackets mine). Then came the idea of the Mass being a self-sacrifice of the believer, or a “believers’ sacrifice” (e.g. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus). Schaff notes that this entailed a “renewed self-consecration to Christ in return for his sacrifice on the cross” and that it “differed . . . from the later Catholic mass, which has changed the thank-offering into a sin-offering” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], pp. 245-246). Then came the idea that the Mass is an actual sin-offering (e. g. Cyprian, African fathers et al) which expiated sin (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 247). This error being introduced into the church helped Rome’s later idea gain a foothold. The scholar Ernest Bartels affirms this same basic evolutionary assessment (Ernest Bartels, Take Eat, Take Drink: The Lord’s Supper Through the Centuries, [Concordia Publishing House, 2004], p. 77).
The Didache and transubstantiation. The Didache is a late first century or early second century Christian instruction manual written by elders/bishops. Certain Catholic writers falsely claim it affirms the real presence or the Roman view of transubstantiation. For example, in his work The Lamb’s Supper, Scott Hahn lists the Didache as proof for his erroneous claim that “The clergy, teachers, and defenders of the early Church were united in their concern to preserve the Eucharistic doctrines: the Real Presence of Jesus’ body and blood under the appearance of bread and wine” (Scott Hahn, The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, [Random House LLC, 2002], p. 30). They sometimes cite the following words of the Didache to support this kind of claim: “But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs” (Didache, 9). However, this does not establish the real presence or transubstantiation since the Eucharist being considered a holy meal of thanksgiving (Didache, 9) does not prove it is holy because it is the alleged literal body and blood. We must not read into the text. In fact Catholic scholar Ludwig Ott implicitly admits this document does not establish transubstantiation since he claims that “The oldest clear traditional proof of the Real Presence derives from St. Ignatius of Antioch (about 107)” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, [TAN Books and Publishers, 1960], p. 375), and not the Didache. Ott does not even cite the Didache at all as patristic proof for transubstantiation. We will cover Ignatius next and refute Rome’s common misuse of his statements. Now, in his massive and detailed study of the Didache, Roman Catholic scholar and theologian Aaron Milavec admits, contra certain Roman apologists, it does not teach the real presence or transubstantiation: “In contrast to this ‘real presence,’ the Didache community would have been inclined to speak of the ‘real absence’ of Jesus. True, Jesus was the revered servant of the Father who revealed, just a few decades earlier, the knowledge of the true God to the gentiles and the Way of Life championed by this Father. For the moment, however, Jesus was felt to be absent, and many or most of the Didache community might have seriously considered he ‘must remain [absent] . . . until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets’ (Acts 3:21). In this regard, interested persons ought to consult Brawley 1990” (Aaron Milavec, The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E., [Paulist Press, 2003], p. 383). In fact Henk Jan de Jonge argues the Didache community did not even believe the bread and wine stand for the body and blood of Christ!: “The congregation thanked God not only for material food and drink, but also for spiritual food and drink: knowledge, faith, immortality, and eternal life. It is not stated in these prayers of thanks that the bread and wine stand for Christ’s body and blood. The Didache therefore did not interpret them as representations of his body and blood, and consequently it does not see the meal as a way of becoming one with Christ. It does, however, regard eating and drinking them as an anticipated, proleptic participation in a future salvation, namely the coming kingdom of God. According to 9:2 the wine represents the vine of king David, God’s servant; according to 9:3 the bread symbolizes the unity of the church gathered into God’s kingdom” (Henk Jan de Jonge, The Community Supper according to Paul and the Didache: Their Affinity and Historical Development, eds. Jan Krans, L. J. Lietaert Peerbolte, Peter-Ben Smit, Arie W. Zwiep, Paul, John, and Apocalyptic Eschatology, [BRILL, 2013], p. 34).
The Didache and propitiatory sacrifice. Now, Catholics will also claim the Didache establishes the Eucharist was seen to be a propitiatory sacrifice, a representation of the actual sacrifice of Christ, when it says, “every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice” (Didache, 14). Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 264) asserts this position but does not argue for it convincingly. The best argument he can muster up is that the same word the Didache uses for “sacrifice” (Didache, 14) is used in Hebrews 5:1 etc., to refer to Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus he concludes the Didache proves the Roman Catholic Eucharistic propitiatory sacrifice. However, the same Greek word, thusia, is also used in the New Testament to refer to believers’ sacrifices such as doing good and praising (Hebrews 13:15-16) and giving to others (Philippians 4:18). There is simply no indication the Didache presents a re-doing of the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ as opposed simply to a believers’ sacrifice similar to how prayers, gifts, and the lives of the worshipers were seen as believers’ sacrifices as the Bible speaks of (Psalms 51:17; 141:2; Isaiah 66:20; Hebrews 13:15-16; Philippians 4:18; 1 Peter 2:5). This is the eminent historian Jaroslav Pelikan’s view of what the Didache means here by “sacrifice” (Jaroslav Pelikan, Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1, [University of Chicago, 1971], p. 146). It’s indicated since while the Didache identifies the Eucharist as a meal of Thanksgiving (Didache, 9) and a believers’ sacrifice (Didache, 14), it never says it is a literal representing of Jesus’ sacrifice which propitiates God’s anger, remits sin or is a repetition of the actual sacrifice of Christ. Such theology is simply not in the Didache.
Ignatius and transubstantiation. Ignatius of Antioch was a first century bishop of Antioch. Catholics appeal to his writings in order to try to prove transubstantiation and the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice. In regards to transubstantiation, Catholics often cite his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7 which says: “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again” (Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 7). Patrick Madrid cites this text as alleged proof for transubstantiation in his book Why is That in Tradition? (Patrick Madrid, Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], p. 126). Here Ignatius is combating early proto-Gnostics known as the Docetists who denied Jesus was a real man but was instead a phantom. However, the debate is not if Ignatius called the bread and wine the body and blood of Jesus. The New Testament does that too. The debate is: what did he actually mean by that? Did he mean the elements actually transform in substance to the body and blood, or did he believe something else? There is much evidence it is symbolic and mystical, though spoken of strongly in the context of refuting the Gnostics, since in the rest of his writings he speaks very symbolically and mystically about the elements. For instance, in his Letter to the Romans he speaks of Jesus’ blood as “incorruptible love and eternal life” (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, 7). In his Letter to the Philadelphians he says the flesh of Jesus is the gospel (Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians, 5). In his Letter to the Trallians he says Jesus’ flesh is faith and his blood is love (Ignatius, Letter to the Trallians, 8). William Barclay correctly notes, “It is clear that Ignatius has no cut and dried theological theory of how the bread and wine are the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. They are for him the symbols of love and faith and the food of eternal life” (William Barclay, The Lord's Supper, [Westminster John Knox Press, 2001], p. 67).
Ignatius and propitiatory sacrifice. In regards to Ignatius supposedly affirming the Eucharist as a propitiatory and expiatory sacrifice, Catholics cite his Letter to the Philadelphians where he mentions an “alter” in connection with the Eucharist: “Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth ] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons” (Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians, 4). Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis argues, “For the word ‘alter’ Ignatius uses the Greek θυσιαστήροιν, the same word used in Hebrews 13:10 and 1 Corinthians 10:18 in referring to the alter of which the Eucharistic consecration is performed” (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 275). However, Hebrews 13:10 is not talking about a literal alter where Eucharistic consecration is performed. The alter it mentions which “we have” is in reference to us going to Jesus spiritually (v. 13), offering metaphorical sacrifices of praise and acknowledging him (v. 15), and doing good and sharing (v. 16). These are the symbolic sacrifices Christians do and the metaphorical alter mentioned in v. 13 Sungenis mentions must be understood in light of them. The same is the case with 1 Corinthians 10:18 in regards to the bread and wine symbolizing Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. The error of the Catholic is that he jumps to concluding that because sacrifice and alter are in the equation here, that Paul must be teaching the Supper is itself a sacrifice and does not simply celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice whereby believers have fellowship with God, that is, they participate with him, and with each other uniting together (i.e., “we who are many are one body” v. 17) through the commemorative meal (vv. 16-17). Roman Catholic Joseph A. Jungmann agrees with me that in Hebrews 13:10 and 1 Corinthians 10:18 it is not speaking of a literal alter of Eucharistic consecration in his massive study of the history of the Mass (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 25 n. 16). Moreover, we know Ignatius does not refer to a literal alter for Eucharistic consecration since at this point in history they did not exist. As Joseph A. Jungmann further admits, “In Ignatius of Antioch, it is true, θυσιαστήριον is not yet the material alter of sacrifice” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 25 n. 16). What then does Ignatius mean when he refers to an alter in connection with the Eucharist? Joseph A. Jungmann explains, “in Ad Philad., 4, the expression is used in connection with the Eucharist: The Flesh of Jesus Christ and the chalice of His Blood form a θυσιαστήριον to which the Christians gather” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 25 n. 16). Ignatius never calls the Supper a sacrifice or offering as later Rome does, but only the “Eucharist” which means “thanksgiving” or “grateful” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 22). We are never told by Ignatius that a literal sacrifice of Jesus is happening during the Eucharistic meal. Hence, he does not support modern Rome at all.
Clement of Rome and propitiatory sacrifice. Clement was a first century secretary for the bishops of the early Roman Church. He also functioned as one of the bishops. What is interesting is he never once, in his massive letter to the Corinthians, affirms the bread and wine are the literal body and blood of Jesus. Catholics don’t even argue that he did. However, what Catholics do argue is that his reference to sacrifices or offerings prove he believed in the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice of Christ such as modern Rome believes. In his Letter to the Corinthians he states, “it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites” (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 40 cf. where 44 where the bishops are said to have “offered its sacrifices”). Roman apologist Robert Sungenis cites this passage as proof for the Mass being a propitiatory sacrifice (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 247). However, Clement speaks of offering prayers and the Eucharist as sacrificial gifts to God (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition, [HarperOne, 1978], p. 196), not the re-sacrifice of Christ in a propitiatory manner. Catholic scholar Joseph A. Jungmann notes that rather than Clement’s mention of sacrifices referring to a propitiatory re-sacrifice of Christ, it instead refers to gifts in the Eucharist being offered to God: “there are found from the very beginning other phrases which not only declare the eucharist [thanks-giving] was pronounced over the bread and wine, but which speak plainly enough of gifts which are sacrificed to God in the Eucharist. . . . in the Eucharist not only do prayers of thanksgiving rise from the congregation to God, but that at the same time a gift is offered up to God” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 25 brackets mine). In regards to congruous information at the time and in the culture which further confirm this was taking place, Jungmann also notes, “How much this thought coincides with the notion of εὐχαριστία is manifest from the fact that already in Philo, εὐχαριστία does not mean only thanksgiving but a sacrifice for the purpose of rendering thanks” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 25 n. 18). This concept has nothing to do with the Mass being seen as a sin-offering or propitiatory sacrifice. Rather, it is a gift sacrifice of thanks which is totally different. This is why when Clement mentions the Corinthian bishops “. . .who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices” (Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, 44), the actual Greek word he uses for “sacrifice” here is actually “gift.” They offered it as a gift. Again, its not a sin-offering which propitiates God’s anger or expiates the sin of believers but a gift offering
Justin Martyr and transubstantiation. Justin Martyr was a second century apologist. Roman Catholics often quote his work First Apology, 66 as proof he believed transubstantiation: “And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist/thanks-giving]. . . . For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66 brackets mine). Patrick Madrid cites this passage as patristic proof for transubstantiation and the real presence (Patrick Madrid, Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], pp. 126-127). On its face this can give the appearance of supporting Rome’s later teaching. Although Justin speaks of the bread and wine as Jesus’ body and blood, the question again is: what is meant by that? One must examine all of what Justin Martyr said and then it’s discovered that he held to the mystical view which said the body and blood of Jesus are mystically in union with the elements leading to a sort of repetition of the incarnation, though no literal change in substance actually takes place. We see this in First Apology, 66 since he, as Schaff notes, “compares the descent of Christ into the consecrated elements to his incarnation for our redemption” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 242). Schaff also explains why the reference in First Apology, 66 to our blood and flesh being nourished by transmutation has nothing to do with transubstantiation at all: “according to the context, this denotes by no means a transmutation of the elements, but either the assimilation to the body of the receiver, or the operation of them upon the body, with reference to the future resurrection” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 242 n. 1). The historical theologian Jaroslav Pelikan posits “the transformation of the human body through the gift of immortality. . .” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1, [University of Chicago, 1971], p. 169) as a possible meaning of this “transmutation” Justin mentions. Pelikan also notes that Justin never actually “specified a process of substantial change by which the presence was effected” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1, [University of Chicago, 1971], p. 167) which should caution Catholics in their bold claim that Justin taught transubstantiation was that process.
Justin Martyr and propitiatory sacrifice. Catholics will quote Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho, 41 as alleged prove he believed the Mass was a propitiatory representation of the sacrifice of Christ. It says, “Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: 'I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it.' Malachi 1:10-12 [So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]” (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 41). The Catholics Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 281) and Madrid (Patrick Madrid, Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], pp. 120-121) quote this in favor of the Roman doctrine. However, Justin is not here teaching the Mass is the same sacrifice of Christ being expiatory and propitiatory in nature. Rather, it was a gift sacrifice of thanks. Malachi 1:11’s mention of pure offering is explained in the New Testament, using the same word Greek word for “sacrifice” as the LXX of Malachi 1:11 does, as “sacrifice of praise to God . . . [doing] good and to share what you have” (Hebrews 13:15-16) and that giving gifts is a sacrifice (Philippians 4:18). Justin is teaching eating the sacrament is a thank-you sacrifice or gift from the believer to God. Commenting on Justin’s work Dialogue with Trypho, 41, Roman Catholic scholar Joseph A. Jungmann notes that Justin did not teach a propitiatory re-sacrifice of Jesus in the Mass, but rather “What was received in Communion was designated the ‘Thank-you gift’ . . . . Justin says . . . Christ gave us ‘the bread of the Eucharist’ as a memorial of His passion, and ‘that through it we might thank God, both for freeing us from the evil in which we were born and, through Him who had willingly undertaken to suffer, entirely destroying the Powers and Forces” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 23). Historian Philip Schaff notes, “The writers of the second century kept strictly within the limits of the notion of a congregational thank-offering. Thus Justin says expressly, prayers and thanksgivings alone are the true and acceptable sacrifices, which the Christians offer [Dialogue with Trypho117]” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 246 brackets mine). Hence, the Mass is to be seen as thank-offering to God. In that sense it is a sacrifice. It is not to be seen as the same sacrifice of Jesus being offered for the expiation of sin. That is absent from Justin’s writings.
Irenaeus and transubstantiation. Irenaeus was another second century apologist who wrote towards the end of that century. Roman Catholic apologist Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 276) quotes the following texts in Irenaeus for alleged support of transubstantiation: “He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, This is My body. . . . the bread over which thanks have been given is the body of their Lord, and the cup His blood” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.17.5; 4.18.4). Papal apologist Patrick Madrid also quotes the former text in Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], p. 121. However, although in combating Gnosticism Irenaeus did say the bread and wine are the body and blood, the problem with interpreting this as transubstantiation is that he actually posits two views in different places: the symbolic view and the consubstantiation view. On the symbolic view, the historian Schaff notes, concerning Irenaeus’s Against Heresies 4.18, “he calls the bread and wine, after consecration, ‘antitypes,’ implying the continued distinction of their substance from the body and blood of Christ. . . . the connection, and the usus loquendi [word usage] of the earlier Greek fathers, require us to take the term antitype in the sense of type, or, more precisely, as the antithesis of archetype. The bread and wine represent and exhibit the body and blood of Christ as the archetype, and correspond to them, as a copy to the original. In exactly the same sense it is said in Heb. 9:24–comp. 8 : 5–that the earthly sanctuary is the antitype, that is the copy, of the heavenly archetype” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 2, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], pp. 242, 243 brackets mine). Moreover, in Against Heresies, 4.18.5 Irenaeus states that “For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and Spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly. . .” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.18.5). Here Irenaeus notes the Eucharist consist of two realities: bread and Jesus’ body. Hence, the substance has not been changed to Jesus’ body whereby it is no longer bread as Roman teaching has it. Since both realities are still present, Rome’s view is denied and a view more comparable to the Lutheran “consubstantiation” is observed. Consubstantiation says Jesus’ body comes “along with” the bread. Robert Sungenis takes issue with this argument and claims that by saying “two realities, earthly and heavenly” are present, Irenaeus means the two realities are “gifts originating from the earth” and Jesus’ body (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 275). He says this because in other areas Irenaeus speaks of gifts of thanks being offered up to God along with the Eucharist. However, this is eisegesis since Irenaeus makes it clear that the two realities consist of actual bread and Christ’s body, not gifts of thanks and Christ’s body. We know this because in the very same sentence Irenaeus speaks of the “the bread, which is produced from the earth.” Thus, the Eucharist consists of the earthly reality (bread which is produced from the earth), and Jesus’ body (which is heavenly). Hence, Sungenis is wrong and one must reject the idea that Irenaeus taught transubstantiation since for him the substance of the bread was not changed to Jesus’ body. Instead, Jesus’ body was “along with” the substance of bread.
Irenaeus and propitiatory sacrifice. Patrick Madrid (Patrick Madrid, Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], p. 121) and Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 279) both cite the following passage of Irenaeus in trying to prove he believed the Mass was the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ: “He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, This is My body . . . He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant . . . which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand . . . indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.17.5). However, this passage says nothing about the Mass being the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. Instead, for Irenaeus the Eucharist was a thank-offering “over which thanks has been given” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4.18.4). He taught believers place their thanks onto the Eucharist and then offer the Eucharist up to God as a sacrifice of thanks similar to what we see in the New Testament regarding sacrifices of praise to God (Hebrews 13:15). Never does he say it’s the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, however. He also taught, as Catholic scholar Joseph A. Jungmann notes, “we offer the firstlings of creation. At the last Supper our Lord took ‘bread growing out of creation’ and a ‘chalice coming from our creation.’ Spoke the words over them, and thus taught His disciples the new oblation of the New Testament. He had therefore commanded the disciples ‘to offer up to God the firstlings of creatures, not because He needed them, but that they themselves might not be sterile and ungrateful.’ These words show that for Irenaeus no less than for his predecessors, it was the inner intention, the offering of the heart that was decisive before God, and that only the Eucharist of the body and blood of Christ presented the clean oblation of which Malachias had spoken. For only Christ is all creation gathered together and sacrificed to God. . .” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 1, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 27 brackets mine). This is not at all the same thing as modern Rome’s idea of a re-sacrifice of Christ on the cross in a propitiatory nature.
Tertullian and transubstantiation. Tertullian was a second and third century Christian writer. Roman apologists Ludwig Ott (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, [TAN Books and Publishers, 1960], 377) and Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 290) quote the following words of his to try to prove he believed transubstantiation: “. . .the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God” (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 8). Ott also quotes Tertullian’s comment that “the Jews laid hands on Christ once only, these violate His body daily” (Tertullian, De idolatria, 7). However, once the totality of Tertullian is consulted, a literalistic interpretation of his view of Jesus’ body and blood being the bread and wine can not be sustained. For example, in his work Against Marcion he affirms the bread and wine were figures of the actual body and blood, and that Christ truly meant to symbolize the bread and wine as His flesh and blood since, contra Marcion’s Gnosticism, Jesus was not a phantom, but a real man: “Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, This is my body, that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure. . . . But why call His body bread, and not rather (some other edible thing, say) a melon, which Marcion must have had in lieu of a heart! . . . And thus, casting light, as He always did, upon the ancient prophecies, He declared plainly enough what He meant by the bread, when He called the bread His own body. He likewise, when mentioning the cup and making the new testament to be sealed in His blood, affirms the reality of His body. For no blood can belong to a body which is not a body of flesh” Tertullian, Against Marcion, 4. 40). Commenting on Tertullian’s use of “figure” here, William Webster aptly observes, “Some theologians have claimed that the ancient usage of the words ‘figure’ and ‘represent’ suggested that the symbols in some mysterious way became what they symbolized. But Tertullian uses the word ‘represent’ in a number of other places where the word carries a figurative meaning. For example, in Against Marcion 4.40 he says ‘He represents the bleeding condition of his flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red” (William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, [The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995], p. 119). Thus, we see justification for taking Tertullian’s remarks as meaning the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Jesus as figures in a metaphorical way. Moreover, in interpreting John 6 Tertullian refutes the idea that Jesus was speaking literally about the Jews eating His flesh contra Rome: “Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth;’ and then added, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing,’ meaning, of course, to the giving of life. . . . He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith” (Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, xxxvii). No amount of whitewashing can erase the fact that Tertullian here rejects transubstantiation and affirms that to eat Christ’s body and drink His blood is a metaphorical and symbolic thing where we desire, hear, and have faith in him.
Tertullian and propitiatory sacrifice. In arguing Tertullian taught the mass was the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, Robert Sungenis quotes the following from Tertullian. In regards to the Eucharist Tertullian said “Will not your Station be more solemn if you have withal stood at God’s alter? When the Lord’s Body has been received and reserved, each point is secured, both the participation of the sacrifice and the discharge of duty” (Tertullian, On Prayer, xix). And, again concerning the Eucharist he says, “we make offerings [sacrifices] for the dead as birthday honors” (Tertullian, The Chaplet (De Corona), ch. iii). However, for Tertullian the Eucharist was a sacrifice insofar as gifts of charity and a broken and contrite heart were joined to the Eucharist as an offering to God. He did not view the Eucharistic sacrifice as the propitious and expiatory re-sacrifice of Christ on the cross. These are totally different concepts. Commenting on Tertullian’s work An Answer to the Jews, ch. 5, William Webster correctly notes, “Tertullian argued that the true sacrifices offered to God were not of a carnal, physical kind, but the spiritual sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart before God” (William Webster, The Church of Rome at the Bar of History, [The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995], p. 125). Moreover, in citing Tertullian’s work De exhort. Cast., c. 11, Roman Catholic scholar Joseph A. Jungmann says, “In Tertullian we see the faithful bringing their gifts, and their action is described as an offerre directed to God” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 2, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 2). In citing Tertullian’s work De or., c. 28, Jungmann also notes, “such gifts of Christian charity were joined to the offering of the Eucharist” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 2, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 3).
Cyprian and transubstantiation & propitiatory sacrifice. Cyprian was an African church father who wrote during the mid third century. The following quotes of his were provided by Roman apologist Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 251) in order to attempt to demonstrate this father held to later Catholic teaching of transubstantiation: “Also in the same place: ‘Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall not have life in you.’ That it is of small account to be baptized and to receive the Eucharist, unless one profit it both in deeds and works” (Cyprian, The Treatises of Cyprian, xii, Third Book, Testimonies, 25, 26). And: “when He offered sacrifice to God the Father, offered the very same which Melchisedech had offered, namely bread and wine, which is in fact His Body and Blood!” (Cyprian, Epistle to Caecilius, 62, 4). Again this can appear to support Rome only if the totality of Cyprian is not consulted for context. Cyprian held to the symbolic view of the Eucharist. As Ernest Bartels explains, “Cyprian called the wine an allegory of Christ’s blood. He felt the words of institution were to be interpreted symbolically. For Cyprian, the mixing of the water with the wine was essential [Cyprian, Epistle 63, 13], because this symbolized the union of Christ with the church. The wine represented Christ’s blood. The water represented the people” (Ernest Bartels, Take Eat, Take Drink: The Lord’s Supper Through the Centuries, [Concordia Publishing House, 2004], p. 80 brackets mine). At this juncture it should be noted that certain mid to late third century writers such as Cyprian began to switch from the primitive practice of the Eucharist being a thank-offering and believer’s self-sacrifice, to it being a “sin-offering” where, as Cyprian notes, “the Lord’s passion is the sacrifice which we offer” (Cyprian, Letter 62.17). However, the primitive sacrificial views nevertheless still continued in various streams in the church, and it would be a while before a literalistic view of the elements emerged, similar to what we find in Roman transubstantiation.
Eusebius of Caesarea and transubstantiation & propitiatory sacrifice. Eusebius was a third and fourth century Christian historian and polemicist. There’s no evidence Eusebius believed the mass to be a propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. He’s classified by various historians as holding to a symbolic view of the bread and wine. And it’s interesting that neither the Roman scholar Ott or the Roman apologist Madrid quote Eusebius as affirming transubstantiation or the mass being the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ. However, Robert Sungenis mentions how Eusebius in one place states believers are fed the body and blood of Christ (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 268). That this is symbolic, however, is evidenced by the fact that, the historian Philip Schaff notes concerning Eusebius’s works Demonst. Evang. 1, c. 10 and Theol. Eccl. iii. C. 12, he “calls the Supper a commemoration of Christ by the symbols of his body and blood, and takes the flesh and blood of Christ in the sixth chapter of John to mean the words of Christ, which are spirit and life, the true food of the soul, to believers” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 495). Moreover, J. N . D. Kelly observes that Eusebius viewed the bread and wine as anti-types or the likeness of the body and blood of Christ, not the literal thing. He notes, “So Eusebius of Caesarea, while declaring [De solemn. Pasch. 7.] that ‘we are continually fed with the Savior’s body, we continually participate in the lamb’s blood’, states [Dem. Ev. I, 10, 39; 8. I. 380] that Christians daily commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice ‘with the symbols (διά συμβόλων) of His body and saving blood’, and that He instructed His disciples to make ‘the image (τὐν εἰόνα) of His own body’, to employ bread as its symbol” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition, [HarperOne, 1978], p. 441).
Gregory Nazianzen and transubstantiation & propitiatory sacrifice. Gregory Nazianzen was a fourth century Archbishop of Constantinople. If Rome’s views are apostolic and represent the ancient and constant belief of the historic church, then surely we should find evidence he taught them. Papal apologist Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 272) quotes him saying “. . .in an unbloody cutting you cut the Body and Blood of the Lord, using your voice for a sword” (Gregory of Nazianzen, Letter to Amphilochius, 171). Yet, this is to be viewed symbolically and metaphorically, not literally. For, commenting on Nazianzen’s work Orations xvii. 12; viii. 17 and iv. 52, Philip Schaff explains he “sees in the Eucharist a type of the incarnation, and calls the consecrated elements symbols and antitypes of the great mysteries. . .” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 496). In reference to Orations 2, 95 J. N. D. Kelly notes that Nazianzen viewed the Eucharist as “an outward . . . sacrifice which represented as antitype the mystery of Christ’s offering on the cross” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition, [HarperOne, 1978], p. 452).
Macarius the Elder on transubstantiation & propitiatory sacrifice. Macarius was an Egyptian monk and hermit of the fourth century. While there is no evidence he taught transubstantiation or the mass as a propitiatory sacrifice, there is evidence he believed in a symbolic understanding of the bread and wine. Philip Schaff observes that he “belongs to the same symbolic school; he calls bread and wine the antitype of the body and blood of Christ, and seems to know only a spiritual eating of the flesh of the Lord [Macarius the Elder, Hom. xxvii. 17]” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 497 brackets mine).
Theodoret and transubstantiation. Theodoret was a fourth and fifth century theologian. Robert Sungenis (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], p. 293) quotes him saying “Even though thou believe the body of Christ to be real and bring it to the alter for transformation. . .” (Theodoret, Dialogues II). Sungenis then objects to Philip Schaff’s argument that what Theodoret meant by “transformation” was not transubstantiation but a transformation of the elements in dignity without involving a change in substance (Robert Sungenis, Not by Bread Alone, [Queenship Publishing, 2000], pp. 293-294). Sungenis claims one would have to prove this from Theodoret’s own writings. However, there is clear proof. In Dialogues II Theodoret also says “The mystical emblems of the body and blood of Christ continue in their original essence and form, they are visible and tangible as they were before [consecration]; but the contemplation of the spirit and of faith sees in them that which they have become, and they are adored also as that which they are to believers” (Theodoret, Dialogues II). Although Catholics such as Sungenis want to limit Theodoret’s language concerning the elements remaining the same to merely the “accidents” or outer appearance, he clearly says they remain the same in both essence/substance and form, not merely the latter. Hence, Schaff’s thesis that the change in which Theodoret does speak of concerns change in dignity, in the minds of Christians, is supported. Finally in Dialogues, I he explains: “He . . . dignified the visible symbols [bread and wine] by the appellation [name/title] of the body and blood, not because He had changed their nature, but because to their nature He had added grace” (Theodoret, Dialogues I brackets and italics mine). J. N. D. Kelly confirms out view: “. . .the conversion theory lent itself to exploitation at the hands of the monophysites, some of whom concluded that the bread and wine were changed into a different substance after the epiclesis just as the Lord’s body was transformed into His divinity after His ascension. Hence, we are not surprised to find the moderate Antiochene, Theodoret, leading a reaction against it. It is not the case, he urged, that after the consecration the oblations lose their proper nature . . . Since he admitted, however, that the bread was now called body and habitually used realistic language of the sacrament, he was faced with the problem of explaining what the consecration effected. His explanation was that, while a change (μεταβoλή) certainly took place, it did not consist in the transformation of the substance of bread and wine into that of Christ’s body and blood, but rather in their being made vehicles of divine grace” (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition, [HarperOne, 1978], pp. 444, 445). Historical theologian Geoffrey William Hugo Lampe agrees when he notes, “. . .Theodoret, in the interests of his argument against Eutychianism is equally anxious to deny the idea of a ‘conversion’ of symbol into body” (Geoffrey William Hugo Lampe, Christian Theology in the Patristic Period, ed. Hubert Cunliffe-Jones, A History of Christian Doctrine, [Continuum, 2006], p. 179 italics mine).
Theodoret and propitiatory sacrifice. In trying to prove Theodoret believed the mass to be the same propitiatory sacrifice of Christ, Sungenis quotes him saying, “. . .we do not offer another, distinct sacrifice; but ours is the recalling of the one saving sacrifice” (Theodoret, Homilies on Hebrews, 8, 4). One wonders why Sungenis cites this since Theodoret is clearly saying his sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist is actually a recalling or remembering of Jesus. As the Catholic Joseph A. Jungmann’s rendering says, “we offer no other sacrifice (than that which Christ offered), but celebrate the sole and sanctifying memory of it (μνήμην ἐπιτελοῦμεν)” (Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Volume 2, trans. Francis A. Brunner, [Christian Classics, 2012], p. 219 n. 5 italics mine). Indeed this is a symbolic sacrifice of Jesus’ passion which simply celebrates the memory of it. Since, as we have shown, he did not believe transubstantiation, he could not have therefore believed the mass was the literal propitious and expiatory re-sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
Augustine and transubstantiation. Augustine was a fourth and fifth century theologian. Patrick Madrid (Patrick Madrid, Why is That in Tradition?, [Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2002], p. 129) quotes the following words of Augustine to prove he believed transubstantiation: “Christ was carried in his own hands when, referring to his own Body, he said, ‘This is my Body.’ For he carried that Body in his hands” (Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms, 33:1:10). In order to ascertain if Augustine is truly speaking literally and not symbolically in passages such as this, it is important to examine the tenor of his writings on the issue. Although his mentor Ambrose held to a literalistic view, it is clear he fell short of doing so. Hence, Augustine’s pupil Facundus, in faithfully interpreting Augustine and carrying on his teaching stated the consecrated bread, “is not properly the body of Christ, but contains the mystery of the body” (Facundus quoted in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 500). That Augustine did not teach the bread and wine become the physical body and blood of Jesus in substance, but that Jesus majesty is present is evident by the following evidence. In his work Tractates on the Gospel of John he affirms the church is deprived of the bodily presence of Christ, something he would not say if he believed with modern Rome that his bodily presence becomes the bread at every mass. Instead he believed Jesus is present in His majesty only. He interpreted John 6 symbolically and stated: “He ascended before their eyes into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of the Father; and He who was judged is yet to come as Judge of all: let them hear, and hold fast. Do they reply, How shall I take hold of the absent? How shall I stretch up my hand into heaven, and take hold of one who is sitting there? Stretch up your faith, and you have got hold. Your forefathers held by the flesh, hold thou with the heart; for the absent Christ is also present. But for His presence, we ourselves were unable to hold Him. But since His word is true, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world, He is away, and He is here; He has returned, and will not forsake us; for He has carried His body into heaven, but His majesty He has never withdrawn from the world” (Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 50.4 italics mine). When Augustine asked how he should take hold of Christ who is absent, he should have, if he were Roman Catholic, say “by taking the Eucharist.” However, he does not do so because he did not believe transubstantiation. A little later he says, “The poor ye will have always with you, but me ye will not have always. The good may take it also as addressed to themselves, but not so as to be any source of anxiety; for He was speaking of His bodily presence. For in respect of His majesty, His providence, His ineffable and invisible grace, His own words are fulfilled, Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. But in respect of the flesh He assumed as the Word, in respect of that which He was as the son of the Virgin, of that wherein He was seized by the Jews, nailed to the tree, let down from the cross, enveloped in a shroud, laid in the sepulchre, and manifested in His resurrection, ye will not have Him always. And why? Because in respect of His bodily presence He associated for forty days with His disciples, and then, having brought them forth for the purpose of beholding and not of following Him, He ascended into heaven, and is no longer here. He is there, indeed, sitting at the right hand of the Father; and He is here also, having never withdrawn the presence of His glory. In other words, in respect of His divine presence we always have Christ; in respect of His presence in the flesh it was rightly said to the disciples, Me ye will not have always” (Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John, 50.13 italics mine). If Augustine believed the bodily presence of Christ to be the bread in the mass then he would not say the church would always be deprived of Christ’s bodily presence but only have his majesty, that is, his providence and grace. Augustine also said, “Understand spiritually what I said; you are not to eat this body which you see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify me shall put forth. . . . Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood” (Augustine, Expositions on the Psalms, 99.8). Commenting on this passage, historical theologian Gregg R. Allison remarks, “Augustine denied that the body and blood of the Lord’s Supper are identical with Christ’s historical body, as seen in his interpretation of thee words Jesus spoke to his disciples at the institution of the Supper” (Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology, [Zondervan, 2011], pp. 640-641). The eminent historical theologian Jaroslav Pelikan noted that even certain theologians who claim Augustine taught transubstantiation “have been obliged to acknowledge that ‘certain formulas are found in Augustine which can hardly be explained easily” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1, [University of Chicago, 1971], p. 305). He also notes, “. . .he [Augustine] does seem to have had it [Eucharist] in mind when he asserted that Christ, in ‘explaining what it means to eat his body and drink his blood,’ intended that ‘for a man to eat this food and to drink this drink means to abide in Christ and to have Christ abiding in him’ [Aug. Ev. Joh. 26.28 (CSL 36:268)]. Similarly he could speak of the ‘figure [figura] of his body and blood’ as the content of what Christ had committed and delivered to his disciples in the institution of the Lord’s Supper [Aug. Ps. 3.1 (CSL 38.8)]. It is incorrect, therefore, to attribute to Augustine either a scholastic doctrine of transubstantiation or a Protestant doctrine of symbolism, for he taught neither. . .” (Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1, [University of Chicago, 1971], p. 305 brackets mine).
Gelasius I. Gelasius I was a fifth century bishop of Rome. Surely if transubstantiation was an apostolic teaching handed on to the church being received by all the fathers then we would expect this pope from the fifth century to affirm the doctrine. However, he said, “The sacrament which we receive of the body and blood of Christ is a divine thing. Wherefore also by means of it we are made partakers of the divine nature. Yet the substance or nature of the bread and wine does not cease to be. . . . Thus, as the elements pass into this, that is, the divine substance by the Holy Ghost, and none the less remain in their own proper nature. . .” (Gelasius I, On the Two Natures of Christ). Thus as Ernest Bartels confirms: “Although the term [transubstantiation] itself has not yet been coined, by A. D. 496 Pope Gelasius I condemned the root idea behind the theory. . .” (Ernest Bartels, Take Eat, Take Drink: The Lord’s Supper Through the Centuries, [Concordia Publishing House, 2004], p. 82 brackets mine).
Conclusion. Although certain later fathers such as Hilary, Ambrose and Gaudentius affirmed a literalistic view quite similar to modern Rome’s transubstantiation, we have seen the most primitive and popular views were the symbolic and mystical views of the Eucharist. Moreover, although certain writers opted for a literalistic view, we still observe many continuing to affirm the symbolical and other non-literal views very late in history. We saw that the primitive fathers did not believe the mass to be the same propitious sacrifice of Christ, but that this developed from the novelty of the 3rd century North Africans who said it was a sin-offering. The earliest fathers believed in a thank-offering and believers’ self-sacrifice. All in all, once the data is assessed it is clear the primitive church did not believe transubstantiation or Rome’s view of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Hence, not only was Trent wrong to claim her teaching always existed in the historical church, but we have shown her doctrines were not delivered by the apostles to the church as part of the first century faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), since, the earliest extrabiblical material contradicts modern Rome’s teaching.