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If the reader has not read John Calvin on his views on Holy Communion, but have depended on filtered down hearsay, then you must click on the following link taken from Calvin's "The Institutes of the Christian Church".  There are fifty sections contained within this part of his treatise.  In the text, Calvin's view points on the significance of the 'sacred feast', as he rightly calls the sacrament, will be highlighted in green, as it references opinions that I might agree with in principle, especially those concerning the holiness of the sacred supper.  The red commentary within the text of the document will be mine.  In the search for the truth, you will find that for many evangelical fundamentalist Christian leaders, there is a false understanding or interpretation of young John Calvin's philosophical viewpoint on Holy Communion.  The common viewpoint, is that the bread and wine are purely symbolic and having a physical and yet unknown spiritual connotation of communion, but this is not what John Calvin exclusively portrayed in his writings.  Book 4, Chapter 17 Section 7

"It is not sufficient, while omitting all mention of flesh and blood, to recognize this communion merely as spiritual. It is impossible fully to comprehend it in the present life. I am not satisfied with the view of those who, while acknowledging that we have some kind of communion with Christ, only make us partakers of the Spirit, omitting all mention of flesh and blood.  As if it were said to no purpose at all, that his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed; that we have no life unless we eat that flesh and drink that blood; and so forth.  Therefore, it is evident that full communion with Christ goes beyond their description, which is too confined."

In the next paragraph Calvin falsely demurs' with his disclaimer:

"If, indeed, it be lawful to put this great mystery into words, a mystery which I feel, and therefore freely confess that I am unable to comprehend with my mind, so far am I from wishing any one to measure its sublimity by my feeble capacity.  Nay, I rather exhort my readers not to confine their apprehension within those too narrow limits, but to attempt to rise much higher than I can guide them. For whenever this subject is considered, after I have done my utmost, I feel that I have spoken far beneath its dignity. And though the mind is more powerful in thought than the tongue in expression, it too is overcome and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the subject. All then that remains is to break forth in admiration of the mystery, which it is plain that the mind is inadequate to comprehend, or the tongue to express.  I will, however, give a summary of my view as I best can, not doubting its truth, and therefore trusting that it will not be disapproved by pious breasts."

Here is another sample of Calvin's text, Book 4, Chapter 17 Section 43:

"All this mass of ceremonies being abandoned, the sacrament might be celebrated in the most becoming manner, if it were dispensed to the Church very frequently, at least once a-week.  The commencement should be with public prayer; next, a sermon should be delivered: Then the minister, having placed bread and wine on the table, should read the institution of the Supper.  He should next explain the promises, which are therein given; and, at the same time, keep back from communion all those who are debarred by the prohibition of the Lord.  He should afterwards pray that the Lord, with the kindness with which he has bestowed this sacred food upon us, would also form and instruct us to receive it with faith and gratitude; and, as we are of ourselves unworthy, would make us worthy of the feast by his mercy.  Here, either a psalm should be sung, or something read, while the faithful, in order, communicate at the sacred feast, the minister breaking the bread, and giving it to the people. The Supper being ended, an exhortation should be given to sincere faith, and confession of faith, to charity, and lives becoming Christians. Lastly, thanks should be offered, and the praises of God should be sung.  This being done, the Church should be dismissed in peace."

It is understandable that the substance of all of Calvin's heated rhetoric on Holy Communion, was certainly less than definitive, answering absolutely nothing that would advance the human comprehension, of what Calvin rightly calls the great mystery.  Indeed, when all is said and done, then and now, if all the rhetoric does not help to unify the Body of Jesus Christ, in the Truth of God's Word, then whether it is John Calvin, or I, or anyone else, we have all spoken far beneath the dignity of the great mystery, that the Word of God provides only through faith in the substance of that, which is not seen.

John Calvin produced a second writing on Communion in 1540, and was published in 1541.  Calvin entitled it, "Short Treatise on the Supper of the Lord".  Philosophically, when studying the entirety of Calvin's two writings on Communion, we can see that Calvin's adjusted finite mental understanding of the Communion Food of Christ Jesus, was not dissimilar to Luther, and his association with consubstantiation, as witnessed in John Calvin's, "Short Treatise on the Supper of the Lord": Section 16 to 17.

"Hence when we see the visible sign we must consider what it represents, and by Whom it has been given us.  The bread is given us to figure the body of Jesus Christ, with command to eat it, and it is given us of God, Who is certain and immutable truth.  If God cannot deceive or lie, it follows that it accomplishes all which it signifies.  We must then truly receive in the Supper the body and blood of Jesus Christ, since the Lord there represents to us the communion of both.  Were it otherwise, what could be meant by saying, that we eat the bread and drink the wine as a sign that His body is our meat and His blood our drink?  If he gave us only bread and wine, leaving the spiritual reality behind, would it not be under false colors that this ordinance' had been instituted?  We must confess, then, that if the representation which God gives us in the Supper is true, the internal substance of the sacrament is conjoined with the visible signs; and as the bread is distributed to us by the hand, so the body of Christ is communicated to us in order that we may be made partakers of it.  Though there should be nothing more, we have good cause to be satisfied, when we understand that Jesus Christ gives us in the Supper the proper substance of His body and blood:"

John Calvin did well enough in the first 33 sections of his short treatise, proclaiming our need for frequent Communion, and the Lord's essential presence and essence in the sanctified bread and wine.  But thereafter, in the following sections, Calvin errors in his corrections of others, giving no peace, but confusion to the hearer of his word.  In the end of the treatise, Calvin's egotism gets in the way of his attempt to be seen, as a peacemaker with sound wisdom.  Later, in his hypocrisy Calvin persecutes, and then puts to death those who differ with him.  It is tragically sad to say, that the fiery murder of Miguel Servetus, is a gross contradiction to Calvin's beginning communion theology, contained within his short treatise.  The Lord Jesus says: "You shall know them by their fruits".  Those who arrogantly defend Calvin’s actions, have only one defense against their error, and it cannot be ignorance. 

If the reader trusts in the ideologue John Calvin, and the whole of his theological doctrine, then let me suggest Stefan Zweig's 5th chapter "The Murder of Servetus".  This atrocious matter, orchestrated at the hand's of Calvin, is researched and documented within Zweig's writings "Right to Heresy".  The whole of Zweig's book is well worth the read.  Calvin's actions, similar to the Roman Catholic doctrines of anathemas, belies the strength of his reformed writings.  And the Apostle Paul says: "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  Follow my example as I follow Christ".  (1st Corinthians 10 verse 32 thru 33 and Chapter 11 verse 1.) If a man follows in step with Jesus Christ, then it is right to be in step with him.  If the man falls out of step with the Lord our Righteousness, then the man is guilty of his sin, and may loose his place of leadership; nevertheless we are to remain in full step with the Lord's leading by His way of the Cross, and the Communion Blood of our testimony.  If we condone the sins of another, then we are guilty of those same sins, even as the driver of the getaway vehicle in a robbery, is just as guilty as the person that perpetrated the crime.  Although the following verse, is a call to come out of the Babylonian Church, and her harlot sisters, it is appropriate for our contemplation.  Come out of her My people that you be not partakers [accomplices] of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues [judgments]. (See Revelation 18 verse 4.)

Now on the other hand, Huldreich Zwingli, a Swiss church reformer of the 1500's, was of the mindset that the Word's of the Creator concerning the partaking of His body and blood, was strictly of a symbolic gesture.  Where the whole of scripture was concerned, Zwingli was a literalist, but concerning the Words, "This is My Body, and this is My Blood", given by the Word of God, Jesus Christ, he is ambiguous and contradictory to his original premise, towards the use of literal Scripture.  He builds on nothing of the substance of faith, in the power of the Word of God, and unknowingly accepts the deception that comes from the Garden of Eden, where his intellectual pride builds upon: "Did the Lord God really mean what He said".  Sorry!  To me, Zwingli's faith was very small, and he believed in a small god, who was not sure of his own word.  For a certainty, his small faith was not centered in the Creator God of the universe, and the faithful God of the Everlasting Covenant, Who is able to confirm His Word with signs and wonders. Then again, perhaps if the man was not seeking the truth of this matter with all of his heart, then he would not have been privileged to have witnessed, and experienced the revelation, given to a member of the Lord's Body, through God's select call to His grace and purpose.  See also this web link on, Huldreich Zwingli's writings "On the Lord's Supper".

Pontius Pilate, a practical man of the earth, and set by Rome, to be the controlling governor of the people of Judea; questions the Lord at His trial, and in the end murmurs to Jesus Christ, "What is truth?"  Little did Pontius Pilate know, that he had come face to face with the embodiment of the absolute Truth of the universe, and the final Judge, of what is true in the heart of man.   Did the Lord God really mean; "This is My Blood of the New Covenant"?  What is the substance of Truth, and can the Truth change the substance of all matter?  If we, as believers, came face to face with the Truth, Who is the glorified WORD of GOD, how would we handle His Word of Truth?  In our interpretation of His spoken word, would we dismiss His Word of instruction, as a simple metaphor, to wrestle with in our mortal minds, or would we see with His faith, the power of the substance of His Truth to change the potential of all things?  How great is your God, or how great is your faith in your God?  Absolute Faith in God, reaches beyond human limitations and understanding.  The bread and the wine alone, by themselves may have symbolism, but symbolism without faith in the Word of God is left empty of the Life of the substance of the Truth, for by Him all things in the universe consist.  And the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God said: "My Flesh is real food, and My Blood is real drink."  (John 6 verse 55.)  What do you do, when the Truth tells you the Truth of His Word that came down as the Bread of Heaven to be made the Flesh of Man/Adam?

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the Communion of the Body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and One Body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1st Corinthians 10 verse 16 thru 18.)

We place more faith in the paper currency of a nation, than trusting in the substance of the Word of God.  You can not serve God and mammon.  The United States Dollar denominations are symbolic of the unseen, or perceived wealth of the nation, and allow the consumer to purchase tangible assets with the paper symbol.   Among all nations in the world's trading economy, the fiat paper and small coin currencies are arbitrarily set, depending on the supposed wealth of a nation's ability to pay.  Unfortunately, the fiat currency of the US Dollar, being the reserve currency of the world, is money that is created out of nothing, and is backed by nothing, being multiplied many times, as the US debt and the consumer debt continues to increase.  Reference link Money as Debt. With the potential failure of the banking system, perhaps we have the prelude to the mark of the beast, 666 which is already upon us!

Now then, what is your perceived faith value in the WORD of GOD, and His ability to make good on His Word?  Is it arbitrary, according to the word of man, or is it to be held at more than face value, with faith in the Holy One, Who promises Life with all of His eternal power and authority?

U235 is the atomic symbol for an isotope of enriched Uranium ore.  The alpha numeric symbol will not affect or kill you, but the unseen gamma radiation from the substance of the pure element, can bring about morphological changes to the flesh of those who are exposed to uranium U235's unseen lethal properties.  If an element is identified in truth as U235, and made known to you as U235, and you do not understand or know what you are doing with the handling of that specified rock, then it is highly conceivable that the unseen power of that metal may kill you.  Consider for your selves that Christ Jesus is the Rock, and we would do well to handle the Truth of His Word with great care.

Besides the power that is in the atom, there are many other illustrations that makes our point of unseen power and authority.  Can you see Satan or this entity's influence in sin?  What about the symbolism of the flag of a nation, the badge of a peace officer, the seal of a president, or any person of authority?  Is there blind and empty symbolism in a street stop sign, a traffic light, a grain of wheat, The Tree of Life, a drop of blood, or the WORD of GOD, through the Holy Spirit of God, Who is the Constant power, and final Authority in His own created Universe? 

Within the finite minds of blind Christian theologians, they present a false construction of pure symbolism in Holy Communion, leaving an anemic, if not an impotent metaphor, that fractures the substance of holy faith within God's people.  If the substance of our faith, becomes undermined by the doctrinal ambiguities of men, then that faith is less than holy faith, thereby challenging the infinite God and His Word of Power and dominion over all things in His own creation. That anemic indoctrinated symbolic faith, in the substance of Holy Communion, fails to comprehend the just consequences to our flesh, for not discerning the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  If the Word's of our Lord are just symbolic, as applied to the bread and wine, then the substance of God's Words is not real, His Spirit is not real, and the universe does not exist.  If the substance of the Word's of Jesus Christ are not the real, absolute Truth, then the question begs, why do the 'Communion Rite' at all?  Indeed, some have relegated 'Communion' to a basement position, pulling it out once a year, perhaps at the Passover meal.  Other religions have Communion as a back seat religious rite, that is brought forward quarterly, or at best once a month. Thus symbolism in Holy Communion, as it is communicated among the many evangelical Protestant religions, is not wise, for it is without the light of understanding, which is born of faith in the unseen spiritual power and authority, of the creative Word of God, imprinting and ruling within the submissive heart of man. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (In full context 1st Corinthians 11 verse 26 thru 30.)

Therefore, the proponents of symbolism, in fundamentalist reformed Protestantism, fail to fully discern the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and to convey the essential substance of Truth that is One with the Holy Spirit of God, and absolutely necessary for the collective unity of all members within the One Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ignorance of the Communion Body and Covenant Blood of Jesus Christ, will not preclude the sinner from judgment, for it is God's Gift of Faith that justifies the one who believes the Truth without questioning the Gift. 

The New Covenant Salvation is by God's Spirit of Grace, and yet we do not see the Spirit of Grace in the Water Baptism that initially separates us from our past sins.  Sanctification is by the Spirit of God, and yet we do not see God's Holy Spirit of Grace in the Communion Water and Wine that is the Life Blood that will cleanses the humble person of faith, and separates us from guilt of known and unknown sins.  Both Salvation and Sanctification are through God's Holy Spirit of Grace that is One with God, His Word and the fountain of Water and Blood that flowed from wounds of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man.  God's Spirit of Life is in our High Priest Jesus Christ, and He alone is the only Covenant Mediator between sinful man kind and Holy, Holy, Holy Yahweh Lord God Almighty.

To proceed to the next chapter, please click on Transubstantiation.

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Robert Glenn Pratten