A while ago, I was embroiled in an online “debate” (?) with a friend of a friend, who is violently Roman Catholic, over very many of their putrid dogmas. As the Roman Catholic system claims that it is infallible, if one error is found in its teachings the whole system is proven to be false. This is being the case, I wrote up a brief refutation of the heresy of transubstantiation. This was, of course, to no avail, as heretics will not be persuaded by sound, valid reasoning. Nevertheless, I found it to be a help to the elect saints. This being so, I have recently decided to write my argument in a clearer manner for any who are dealing with Romanist apologetes.
The argument, moreover, will illustrate the indispensability of the laws of logic which I have written on previously.
I. The Ontological Dilemmas:
In 1st Corinthians 15, Paul the apostle, in addressing critics of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, states that the body is sown in corruption but is raised to incorruptibility.
What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (vv.42b-49)
This absolute distinction between Christ’s natural body and His spiritual body is, arguably, hinted at in places like Luke 24:36-40 & John 20:19-23, but in the above quoted passage the Holy Spirit makes it very clear that what was sown in weakness (i.e. The natural body of Christ susceptible to falling sick, being wounded, and dying) was raised in power (i.e. The resurrected body of Christ which is not at all susceptible to the effects of the fall – e.g. Pain, sorrow, sickness, weakness, death).
This is an insurmountable problem for the Romanist doctrine of transubstantiation. For if Christ has been raised from the dead, then He is no longer subject to bodily & spiritual suffering, let alone death. And if He is not subject to bodily & spiritual suffering, or death, then it impossible for Him to be offered up as a propitiatory sacrifice for sins.[ See, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1365-1367] Consequently, if the papacy teaches transubstantiation, then the papacy is not infallible, for transubstantiation contradicts the Word of God.
Therefore, either Christ has been raised to incorruptibility and the Roman mass, via implication, is false; or Christ has not been raised to incorruptibility and the Roman mass, via implication, is correct. The Romanist can either (a.)believe the Scriptures and repent of his heresy, or (b.)reject the Scriptures and continue believing in the heresy of transubstantiation. There is no third option.
In addition to this, however, we must note further that if Christ’s body and blood are truly offered up as a propitiatory sacrifice in the Roman mass, then Christ is still subject to suffering, pain, and death. And if this is the case, then it follows that Christ is still under the curse of the Law. And if Christ is still under the curse of the Law, then Paul is mistaken when he teaches that “…the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives [on earth]…”[ Rom 7:1b] Therefore, either Christ has died and is no longer under the curse of the Law and transubstantiation is false, or Christ has died and is still under the curse of the Law and transubstantiation is true. There is no third option.
In both arguments, it is plain to see that the Scriptures destroy the Roman Catholic heresy of transubstantiation. Christ died and is no longer under the curse of the Law; therefore, the Roman mass cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice, for sacrifices suffer and die – and Christ’s resurrected body, by definition, is not susceptible to either suffering or death. And Christ died and was raised to incorruptibility; therefore, the Roman mass cannot be said to be a propitiatory sacrifice, for He is no longer subject to pain, suffering, or death. As it is written:
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.[ Heb 10:11-14]
II. The Moral Dilemmas:
In addition to the abovementioned arguments, the Scriptures further refute the doctrine of transubstantiation. Christ was born under the Law,[ Cf. Gal 4:3-5] fulfilled the Law in His perfect obedience to it,[ Cf. Matt 5:17-20; Rom 10:4] and is now no longer under the Law (as the subject of divine judgment) for He has born the wrath of God completely for His people.[ Cf. Rom 8:1-4] These facts are insurmountable difficulties for transubstantiationists.
[i.] Christ’s Perfect and Perpetual Active Obedience to the Law of God
Firstly, Christ Himself states that His purpose is not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it,[ Cf. Matt 5:17] and this Law includes prohibitions against the consumption of blood (human and animal).[ Cf. Lev 17:10-14] Therefore, if Christ came to live obediently under the Law for His people’s salvation and yet commanded them, prior to going to Calvary, to eat His literal flesh and drink His literal blood, then He was commanding His disciples to break His Law and, consequently, proves Himself to be neither Yahweh nor Messiah, for it is sin to command others to sin.
Thus, if transubstantiation is correct, then Christ broke the Law by teaching His disciples to break it (by commanding them to eat human flesh and drink human blood), and He is neither God nor the Messiah. However, Jesus is God and Messiah; therefore, it was not possible for Him to sin by commanding others to sin; therefore, Christ never commanded His disciples to eat His literal flesh and drink His literal blood; therefore, transubstantiation is false.
[ii.] The Perfect Passive Obedience of Christ Unto Death
Secondly, Christ’s death on the cross is the apex of His obedience to God. This is called His passive obedience (i.e. His obedience to God in serving as the recipient of God’s wrath in the place of His people).[ Cf. Phil 2:4-8] Thus, He has fulfilled the positive demands of the Law, and in His death He satisfies the punitive demands of the Law.[ Cf. Col 2:13-14] And if He has satisfied the punitive demands of the Law, then the Roman mass cannot be a propitiatory sacrifice, for Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice of Himself was the apex of His passive obedience unto death. Therefore, if the Roman mass is correct, then Christ did not satisfy the punitive demands of the Law. Therefore, either Christ satisfied the wrath of God and the Roman mass is false; or the Roman mass is correct and Christ did not satisfy the punitive demands of the Law of God. However, Christ did satisfy the punitive demands of the Law; therefore, transubstantiation is false.
Thirdly, consider: If Christ commanded His disciples to eat and drink His literal flesh and literal blood, then why do His apostles, subsequent to His ascension, command Gentile converts to “abstain…from blood…”[ Acts 15:29]? This command, moreover, is given approval by the Holy Spirit, as the apostles clearly state in Acts 15:28, and is not made with any qualifications/exceptions respecting the Lord’s Supper. Hence, even if we ignore the first irresolvable moral dilemma, we face another which is equally irresolvable. For if Christ commanded His people to eat and drink His literal flesh and literal blood, and the Holy Spirit, through the post-ascension leadership of the apostles, commanded Gentiles to “abstain from blood,” and He did not make any qualifications/exceptions to this command, then the Holy Spirit was either contradicting Christ’s command or was not aware of Christ’s command and so authored confusion in the church by not making any qualifications/exceptions respecting the Lord’s Supper! However, it is impossible for God to contradict Himself, God is omniscient, and God is not the author of confusion; therefore, the Holy Spirit did not contradict Christ; therefore, the Holy Spirit was not ignorant of anything Christ taught; and the Holy Spirit did not author confusion in the church; therefore, Christ never commanded His people to eat and drink His literal flesh and literal blood; therefore, transubstantiation is false; therefore, Rome is not infallible.
Lastly, we note again that Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice was an act of obedience to the Law of God. Taking into consideration, therefore, the fact that “..the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives [on earth]…”[ Rom 7:1b]and Christ died to the Law (and we His church die to it as well through Him),[ Rom 8:4-5] it cannot be the case that the Roman mass is a propitiatory sacrifice. For a propitiatory sacrifice is an act of obedience unto death when performed by Christ, and Christ died to the Law’s positive demands and punitive demands. The Law, therefore, has no hold on Christ – for Christ is neither under probation nor the subject of the wrath of God; therefore, transubstantiation is false. The dilemma, then, to state the matter simply, is this: Either transubstantiation is correct and the Scriptures are wrong when they state that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives; or the Scriptures are correct, and transubstantiation is false. The Scriptures are correct; therefore, transubstantiation is false.
III. Concluding Remarks
The Scriptures do not teach the heresy of transubstantiation, as we have observed. Nowhere are the people of God commanded to eat the literal flesh and literal blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such an abominable act as the consumption of another human being’s flesh and blood, in fact, is the fruit of abject rebellion against God’s covenant. As the Lord tells His people through Moses:
…if…you will not listen to Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I will walk contrary to you in My fury, and I Myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.[ Lev 26:27-29]
Transubstantiation is, to be blunt about the matter, cannibalism, and as such is the mark not of God’s blessing but of God’s judgment. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is infallible; yet consider the above arguments from Scripture! The doctrine of transubstantiation is just one of many of Rome’s pernicious heresies which is quite easily refuted by the Scriptures. Yet in spite of this, popery continues to adhere to abominable practices which implicitly (and explicitly!) deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, the active and passive obedience of Christ, the deity and messiahship of Christ, the omniscience of the Holy Spirit, and the infallibility of the Bible. If you are a Roman Catholic – repent and be forgiven of your sins. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and truly receive absolution from the only Priest who can absolve sinners, who ever lives to intercede for all who turn to Him in repentance and faith: Christ Jesus, the One and Only perfect substitutionary sacrifice for sinners.