Prelude to Light
The Heresy of Symbolism in Communion:
Symbolism conceals the Truth.
Concerning Holy Communion, my suggestion for all pastors, especially those who espouse Calvin's Doctrine, is that they need to read much further into what the audacious 26 year old John Calvin actually wrote, and not rely on hearsay. Calvin indeed writes of a symbolism, initially speaking only of the bread and wine, but he also speaks of his mind not comprehending the greater sacred 'mystery' within communion, of which he mentions about 29 times in his thesis, "The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 17".
Again quoting Calvin; "I say then, that in the mystery of the Supper, by the symbols of bread and wine, Christ, his body and his blood, are truly exhibited to us, that in them he fulfilled all obedience, in order to procure righteousness for us,— first that we might become one body with him; and, secondly, that being made partakers of , we might feel the result of this fact in the participation of all his blessings."
According to Calvin, if the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly exhibited to us by faith, then the mystery of the Communion Supper remains a mystery of God, and not just an external symbol of man's theology. Witness further samples of Calvin's thoughts. "I hold then (as has always been received in the Church, and is still taught by those who feel aright), that the sacred mystery of the Supper consists of two things—(first) the corporeal signs, which, (second) presented to the eye, represent invisible things in a manner adapted to our weak capacity, and the spiritual truth, which is at once figured and exhibited by the signs". The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 11. The incongruities of Calvin's rhetoric, leaves God's Holy Communion rightly as an enigma to the human mind.
Listen again to Calvin's 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". The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 4, Chapter 17, Section 7.
Although my brothers and sisters may have a love for the Lord, many pastoral ministers, by their learned unbelief, are instructing their congregations to "take the elements", as a relative gratuitous gesture of faith. In saying, "take the elements", these ministers, who profess to teach the whole counsel of faith in the true Word of God, negate faith with their trite words, and appear to be spiritually challenged by their education, being exemplified through their mock tradition concerning Communion.
Pertaining to the nature of Holy Communion, generally, the teachers of faith in the non liturgical Protestant churches, have left the “Rhema” spoken Word of the Lord of the universe as purely symbolic, without God's universal power over all substance, seen and unseen. Whether they know it or not, these pastors have made the Word "Rhema" of the WORD "Logos" appear to be a lie, and at best to have superficial insignificance. The New Covenant in His Blood, which Jesus Christ the Word of God speaks of, is left off, to be no more than red or black ink print on white paper pages. The unbelief of the people of the pews is perpetuated by unbelief from the pastors of the pulpit. However, there is a time, when the supposed metaphoric symbology attributed to communion within the WORD of GOD Jesus Christ, Who incidentally was made flesh of the elements of the earth, becomes true spiritual substance with reality in the heart and mind of the believer of the true Faith.
Justin Martyr a second century martyr for the faith, writes in his apologetics: "This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for remission of sins for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink: But as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word, took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer, which comes from Him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus". First Apology, Chapter 66 A.D. 148 thru 155.
Within our flesh, the root of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil condemns all of us, for the Light of the Word says, "If we say we have no sin, then we lie and do not do the Truth". But the Power of the Universe, Whose Word upholds all things in existence, says 'This is My Blood of the New Covenant that is shed for many for the remission of sin." The New Covenant is not in the expressed base elements, but in the WORD declared sanctifying Blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the elements are no longer just the elements of God's creation, but have become through The WORD and Heart of the Father, the spiritual substance of the unseen Truth of the WORD Jesus Christ, Who upholds the New Covenant in His shed Blood.
"As a man thinks in his heart, so he becomes". ---> And the Lord Jesus says "Do this in remembrance of Me" ---> "This is My Body" ---> "This is My Blood of the Covenant poured out for many for the remission of sin". Therefore, God's covenant people, in full remembrance of the Love/Agapao of Jesus Christ's and His suffering and death for our sins, will with our active participation in His Word of Truth through the Communion Blood of our Lord, continually discover through God's Grace that: I am now dead to sin, and "It is no longer I who lives, but Christ Jesus Who lives with in this body temple," to the Glory of God the Father, Who is absolutely faithful to His Living WORD of Truth.
Now, not with standing the sanctifying rejoicing faith of some of God’s priestly children sitting in the pews of these congregations: If the elements remain in our minds, only the stated elements, then where is the unleavened Bread of Heaven, which speaks to our hearts of our individual and collective wholeness in Jesus Christ. Because of the hollow tradition of men, the bread we serve is ALL leavened and puffed up with air pockets of division and doctrines of men, and does not presently demonstrate our completed unity and devotion to God, through the New Covenant Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ. If spiritual truth is leavened as a result of the blind, uninspired reasoning of man, then where is the covenant Blood that puts away our guiltiness for sin, conceived within our flesh? If the wine and bread are left as lifeless external symbols, then again, where is God's covenant assurance that speaks of relationship, and enables us to come into a deeper intimacy within the LOVE and Mercy of God? God's New Covenant Love and Mercy are not merely symbolic elements, but are composed of the ultra-dimensional substance of His Word of Life through God's Holy Spirit, leading us into the abundance of godly faith, which always enables us to come into a real intimacy of knowing the heart of God.
St Augustine writes in his treatise, Enchiridion, On Faith, Hope, and Love: "Among us, on the other hand, 'the righteous man lives by faith'. Now, if you take away positive affirmation, you take away faith, for without positive affirmation nothing is believed. And there are truths about things unseen, and unless they are believed, we cannot attain to the happy life, which is nothing less than life eternal."
Unfortunately, because of the unbelief among its leadership, the fundamentalist evangelical church in general, is fed -- leaven, and leaven is associated, well let's say symbolic with hidden sin, and this leaven of unbelief, pollutes the unadulterated spirit of affirmation, contained within God's Covenant Word. If you say you have not sinned, then you have grossly deceived yourself, and the Truth is not in you. (1st John 1 verse 7 thru 10.) Your glorying is not good. Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the Unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth. (1st Corinthian 5 verse 6 thru 8.) All that is not of loving, trusting faith in God, is the leaven of sin; and only the New Covenant Blood efficaciously cleanses the pollution, once the darkness of sin and the ignorance of the holy is exposed to the Light of God's Word through verbal confession!
I understand the great difficulties in leadership, however many fundamentalist Protestant Pastors have their own controlling agenda of flock maintenance, based on their own self perception of their need to preach a new word, and to be seen as a man of the current word. Maintaining appearances has become part and parcel to the evangelical Protestant traditions of pulpit worship, supplanting the need for an altar. These learned traditions of pastoring, are fostered through the intellectual pride of the flesh, and satisfies the desires of the flesh to be recognized as a spiritual man of God, with the real down to earth truth. Can I hear another, "Amen"?
While we remain satisfied in our flesh, all of us are ignorant to the infinite holiness, and the glorious power of the WORD of GOD. For the redeemed, all of God's goodness is encompassed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, given to us by the Father of creation. It is Jesus Christ, one in holiness with God, Who came in the flesh to die for our faithless ignorance, and with His victory over our sin and death, is now resurrected in the Eternal's power, being seated with all authority and revelation at the right hand of the Father. Unfortunately, the Evangelicals, who deny their ignorance, protest almost everything associated with Catholicism, both the bad as well as the good. In their prejudices, they have also unwittingly protested the Word of God concerning the dynamic provisions of Holy Communion. This persistent view, veiled in darkness, will not permit evangelical protestant pastors to see the dire necessity for themselves and for their congregations, to be relieved of their entanglements of sin, with its prejudicial judgments, and to receive the grace of the Father's empowering sacrificial Love in Christ Jesus. With the denial of their need, the leadership also fails to understand that the unseen Spirit of Holiness, would be taking the faithful in union within the living Body of Jesus Christ, into the very presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy, Father God Almighty. The heart of God, desires to fulfill our hearts desires, with the power of His love that is one with His Son. The possibilities of entering into this spiritual encounter with true Holiness, is only made possible because of the New Covenant Blood of God's Son, which cleanses each of us from our confessed sin, thereby enabling us to enter into His presence through the unity of the unleavened Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. (see Hebrews 10 verse 19 thru 25.) It is written in Scripture that, Man does not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Jesus (Yeshuah), is quoting Deuteronomy 8 verse 3. Is this not the expressed WORD of GOD the Father? And the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us. And the WORD said: Unless you eat of My Flesh and Drink of My Blood you have no Life in you. The Salvation of mankind, Jesus Christ, is the same creative Word of Power yesterday, today and forever, and we look into Him for God’s unfailing love and mercy, and the agape to emulate His will.
But it seems that we of the earth, with our limited understanding of God, are in a state of confusion in trying to understand who we are in Jesus (Yeshuah), verses the on going battle with the old man of self. We all struggle with the metamorphism of our single life from a carnal person, into what we individually perceive as a truly spiritual person. It is truly embarrassing when we fail ourselves and others, when our flesh has its solitary way. Please remember Paul’s self-illustration of his double minded identity crisis. For the good that I would do, I do not, but the evil which I would not do, that I do! (See full context Romans 7 verse 14 thru 25.)
The evangelized adult babes, in beginning faith, are baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection, but are slipping and falling the moment they step out of the tub. In the next week or months, they are back in fear at the next altar call, to receive new salvation. It appears in their mind, because of their failings that the first attempt didn’t seem to take. No doubt, the evangelist or pastor is pleased within himself, that even an inert message and or altar call, sparked so great a repentance. Also, while looking on, the vast majorities of those who remained in the pews, take special gratification in their flesh, that they have arrived, and are in no further need of circumcision, — that is of the heart.
From the adult babe in the Lord, being immersed into the Water of Life, and to whomsoever has arrived in their own mind to be that self perceived spiritual person, we all have failed, or will fail in God's walk of sacrificial love. The demands of sin in the flesh, are centered in the exaltation of self, and this self will resist the call of the Spirit. When our flesh has gotten the best of us, then it is for sure, that we have all forgotten the daily cross, and the denial of our selfishness. Then what do we do with the failure and the accompanying guilt? Do we wait for the next altar call? Typically, the embarrassed flesh of Adam will hide the sin, or justify it without seeing the need for the Divine remedy.
It certainly is not my intention to make light of altar calls. No indeed, they are essential to encourage the unredeemed through evangelizing, to publically come forward and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and then at an appropriate time to be baptized into the Lord's Body, and encouraged to remain in Communion with Him, and the members of His Body. Altar calls, prior to Communion, may also provide an avenue for humility for the repentant soul, who is a church member, to confess their gross sin, and to be fully restored to the Body. Even so, the Lord instituted His most appropriate altar call, for the whole of His redeemed Church to participate together in His wonderful Table of Grace, with the Provision of His LOVE, that is within His Son Jesus Christ. When the church comes together, then it is through Holy Communion, that the individual heart should be made assured of God’s unfailing love, and care. Revival and continued maintenance of hearts is always available at this Altar Table. With Holy Communion the individuality of God's People are made One in the Bread of Life, cleansed through the Savior's Blood with the riches of God's Love and Grace within Christ Jesus. Seeing our great need for our God of Salvation, now is the time for the Body to go boldly before God's throne of Grace. Now is the time to worship God in Spirit and Truth, and to be filled with His Spirit. Following a devoted time of true worship and adoration of God, then bodily ministry through prayer is appropriate before our attentive God. But, wait on the Lord, again I say wait!
What is Faith, but the substance of that which is not seen, but is hoped for! Is it not the substance of the Lord's holiness and the heart of Jesus Christ, Whom we seek to know? And if we know Him, then we know of the LOVE of the Son, Who loved the Father, and for our sake was obedient even in the violence of His death. I can assure you that in spite of the heretical doctrine of symbol in Holy Communion, that there are many of the faithful of the pews, when holding the bread and the fruit of the vine in their hands, that when hearing the Word's of consecration and remembering Jesus Christ and God's sacrificial love, they have indeed consecrated in the substance of their hearts and minds, the so called symbols to be for them the true spiritual or unseen substance of the real Body and Blood of their Savior. Now it should be understood: If even a spiritual lie is repeated often enough, as truth, it may simply be accepted without justification, and what will be the fruit of it? Let every man be a liar, and let God be True, for He is Holy, Holy, Holy and His WORD is Holy, Holy, Holy. And THE WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and TRUTH. (John 1 verse 14.) And in redundancy, remember: "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there of", and He has redeemed the believers by the power of His Eternal Word, whereby He holds all things into existence; (See Hebrews 1 verse 3.) and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist". (See Colossians 1 verse 17.)
"And they shall overcome the evil (accuser) by the BLOOD of the LAMB, and the Word of their testimony, and they loved not their life unto the death." (Revelation 12 verse 10.)
To proceed to the next chapter, please click on Setting the Communion Table Straight.
Robert Glenn Pratten
Robert Glenn Pratten