New Kingdom Blog has recently released a flurry of videos and blog posts on the topic of the Eucharist, especially against the doctrine of transubstantiation. Although I am agreed with him in a rejection of transubsubstantion, I found the mode of argument and representation of our Roman Catholic brothers to be poor. What I wish to do here is to clarify the Roman Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation and to show how the arguments presented do not follow.
Many may ask “why do this if you agree with his conclusions?” I believe that there are two extremely important reasons to endevor in such a task. First, because I love those theologians who formulated this doctrine. One of my favorite theologians in church history is St. Thomas Aquinas. He labored greatly and served the church with zeal. Since I love him, so, as a brother of Christ, I take any injustice done to him, to be an injustice done to myself (as I would to any of my brothers in Christ). Since my beloved brother in Christ has been misrepresented, I desire to clarify what he actually believed. Even when I disagree with him, I wish to show him charity.
Second, because of polemics. If we wish to defend Anglicanism, we cannot give bad arguments or misrepresent our opponents. First, I would be doing a disservice to my Anglican brothers. My Anglican brothers deserve to know the truth, and it is my duty to tell them the truth and to equip themselves to defend themselves. When they encounter an intelligent Roman Catholic and present the arguments which New Kingdom Blog presented they will get ripped to shreds. When they accuse Roman Catholics of believing what was presented, they will get corrected. Second, I would be doing a disservice to my Roman Catholic Brothers. If we believe that we have the truth, we need to bring others into the truth. I cannot do that with a faulty view of my interlocutors, or with faulty arguments built on those presuppositions.
What is Transubstantiation?
The Roman Catholic View of Transubstantiation is as follows. First, we have the elements of bread and wine. At consecration what happens is that the Substance of the host undergoes a transformation. The substance does not pass away, but it becomes the substance of Christ’s body. The appearances, or accidents, of the bread remain and inhere, not in the new substance of the bread, but by divine power. A common way of describing this state is as St. Thomas Aquinas quoting St. Ambrose says "When the consecration takes place, the body of Christ is made out of the bread."
Now, the mode of Christ’s presence. Christ’s is wholly contained under the species (accidents) of bread and wine. By concomitance the body, blood, soul, and Divinity is contained under both species (bread and wine) individually. Christ’s dimensive quantity of Christ is nevertheless not present in the sacrament by the power of the sacrament, as Aquinas notes,
“By the power of the sacrament the dimensive quantity of Christ's body is not in this sacrament; for, by the power of the sacrament that is present in this sacrament, whereat the conversion is terminated. But the conversion which takes place in this sacrament is terminated directly at the substance of Christ's body, and not at its dimensions; which is evident from the fact that the dimensive quantity of the bread remains after the consecration, while only the substance of the bread passes away.”
What is locally present in the sacrament and the dimensions in the sacraments (physicality) is the remaining accidents of bread and wine. He is not present in the sacrament as in a place, but in the “manner of substance,” as Aquinas says,
“Christ's body is in this sacrament not after the proper manner of dimensive quantity, but rather after the manner of substance. But every body occupying a place is in the place according to the manner of dimensive quantity, namely, inasmuch as it is commensurate with the place according to its dimensive quantity. Hence it remains that Christ's body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance, that is to say, in that way in which substance is contained by dimensions; because the substance of Christ's body succeeds the substance of bread in this sacrament: hence as the substance of bread was not locally under its dimensions, but after the manner of substance, so neither is the substance of Christ's body. Nevertheless the substance of Christ's body is not the subject of those dimensions, as was the substance of the bread: and therefore the substance of the bread was there locally by reason of its dimensions, because it was compared with that place through the medium of its own dimensions; but the substance of Christ's body is compared with that place through the medium of foreign dimensions, so that, on the contrary, the proper dimensions of Christ's body are compared with that place through the medium of substance; which is contrary to the notion of a located body. Hence in no way is Christ's body locally in this sacrament.”
How New kingdom Blog gets it Wrong
First, the description of Transubstantiation as “Physical presence.”
There is a popular misunderstanding which is propagated in the articles/video. Roman Catholics do not affirm a “physical presence,” as we would think, but what is physical in the sacrament is the bread and wine.
Second, the attribution of “local presence” to Transubstantiation.
Further, it is inaccurate to say that there is a “local presence” in the sacrament. Rather, Christ is locally present at the right hand of the Father. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is a substantial presence. St. Thomas describes it thus, “ The same points give a solution to the objection about the inequality of the body of Christ to the place of the bread. For the substance of the bread is directly converted into the substance of the body of Christ, but the dimensions of the body of Christ are in the sacrament by natural accompaniment, and not from force of conversion, since the dimensions of the bread remain. In this way, then, the body of Christ is not related to this place with its own dimensions as medium, so that the place need be equated to those dimensions, but His body is here with the persisting dimensions of the bread as medium, and to these the place is equated. Therein, also, the solution is open to what was objected to about the plurality of places. For the body of Christ in His own dimensions exists in one place only, but through the mediation of the dimensions of the bread passing into it its places are as many as there are places in which this sort of conversion is celebrated. For it is not divided into parts, but is entire in every single one; every consecrated bread is converted into the entire body of Christ.”
Third, “the substance of Christ’s body and blood go away, and are replaced with the substance of Christ’s body.”
This may be a minor point, but it is still an inaccuracy. He describes Transubstantiation as the destruction of the substance or “passing away” of the substance of the Body and Blood and replacement with the substance of Body and Blood. This is inaccurate, the substance of the bread is rather converted into the substance of the body, as described by St. Thomas, “Since Christ's true body is in this sacrament, and since it does not begin to be there by local motion, nor is it contained therein as in a place, as is evident from what was stated above, it must be said then that it begins to be there by conversion of the substance of bread into itself."
The Bad Arguments Against Transubstantiation
First, Transubstantiation has bad Christology.
This argument does not follow. It postulates that since Christ is locally present in multiple places at once, it must predicate a mixing of attributes. This does not follow for two reasons. First, Roman Catholics do not predicate a local presence of Christ in multiple locations. Second, the Roman Catholic view, as opposed to the Lutheran view, does not necessitate a communication of attributes to the human nature of Christ, whereas it is a miraculous transformation of the substance of bread and not a natural attribute of the human nature of Christ. In fact, counter-reformation apologists argued against Lutheran ubiquity because of the very thing he accuses Rome of affirming.
Second, the depreciation of Aristotle.
This is an extremely dangerous and ahistorical argument to make. For, the arguments of the Reformed were not “hey, you are using Aristotle,” but, “hey, you are going against Aristotle.” The post-reformation scholastics were thoroughly Aristotelian and objected against Rome because they believed that they where not being consistent with an Orthodox Metaphysics, one only needs to read the Disputations of Peter Martyr Vermigli to see this.
In conclusion, I do not write this to convince New Kingdom to agree with Transubstantiation (I myself disagree with it), but I wish to inspire better arguments against it, based on what Transubstantiation is. I hope that this inspires a deeper reflection on discovering good arguments against Transubstantiation. For, I will stand side-by-side with New Kingdom and argue against Transubstantiation, just not in the way presented by him.