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Sunday, February 03, 2008

What's the Difference?

Question:
When I read the Bible I am being taught by the Word (Jesus Christ), is it correct that my Bible contains the presence of Christ? And if I ask Jesus to come dwell in my heart during prayer, He does come to me, correct?

So if those things are true then how
does receiving Holy Eucharist differ from and why is it better than what the Bible & prayer can do for me?

Jesus comes in His spiritual presence when you read the Scriptures or pray, but only through the Eucharist do you receive His substantial presence (which is NOT the same as His physical presence). Distinguishing between these three ways that God is present to us requires some careful thought and it doesn't hurt to have a grounding in philosophy.

Instead of going through the whole philosophy of Aristotle, let's see if we can boil this down a bit. Historically speaking, Jesus permits us to experience His presence in three different ways:
  • physically
  • spiritually
  • substantially

1) Let's begin by comparing the physical and spiritual presence:

Certainly we would agree that Jesus standing in front of us is a much different kind of presence than reading the Bible.

The opportunity to experience His physical presence - the touch of His hand, the sight of His face, etc. - is simply not the same as reading the Bible and imagining these things.

His physical presence includes our physical sensing of the Body He owns - the caress of His Hand, the sound of the air that He has formed into His Words, etc. When He is present to us in a physical way, our body physically experiences the five sensations produced by His human body (taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell).

It is clear that there is a big difference between the physical and the spiritual presence of God.

This is especially true since God does not have a body in the same way we do: although He owns a human body, that human body is not a necessary part of His divinity. Thus, even after the Incarnation, God doesn't have a physical presence in the same way we do - our physical presence is a necessary part of our identities, but God doesn't NEED a body in order to be God. This is why, even though the apostles experienced God physically, they did not immediately or fully understand that they were in the presence of the living God.

2) This leads us to our second comparison: the difference between the physical and substantial presence of God:
Even if I had had the honor of experiencing Jesus' physical presence, God Incarnate standing in front of me, that doesn't mean I would recognize the substance of divinity present.

I would see His flesh, feel His touch, smell Him, hear Him, perhaps even be physically healed by Him, but even with all of that, I would not necessarily fully understand that He is fully God, that I am physically in the presence of the substance of God, the substance of divinity. After all, pretty much everyone who met Him, with the possible exception of His parents, physically interacted with Him but didn't recognize the substance of divinity He is.

The Divine Nature *IS* God. Every time we encounter the substance of divinity, we necessarily encounter God in the core of His Being.

So, we can distinguish between the physical and the substantial presence of God as well.

3) Now, here's the question we need to consider: what is the difference between the spiritual presence and the substantial presence of God?

Since the encounter with the substance of divinity is God Himself, if God were substantially present in the Scriptures, then the Scriptures would - by themselves - necessarily *BE* God in exactly the same way that Jesus *IS* God.

Now, no one believes the Scriptures are such a thing, not even the most ardent supporter of Scripture. We recognize that the Scriptures are God-breathed, have immense authority, are inerrant, etc., but no one thinks the Scriptures *ARE* God in the same way that Jesus *IS* God.

And just as encountering the substance of divinity - even hidden behind the veil of human flesh - is really superior to reading the Bible, so receiving the Eucharist - Who is the substance of Jesus hidden behind the veil of bread and wine - is really superior to reading the Bible.

Now, it would be wonderful if we were able to experience the physical, substantial presence of Jesus in His glorified body as the apostles did after the Resurrection, but that is reserved for heaven. Here, we see as though through a glass, darkly. At His Ascension, He carried His human nature, including His human flesh and blood, with Him into heaven for the eternal, perpetual sacrifice He offers the Father.

His Ascension moved His glorified body "beyond the veil", as it were. So, instead of experiencing His physical presence, we experience the glorified Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the resurrected Christ, the substantial presence of God, *as He offers Himself to the Father in the heavenly temple*. Because our eyes cannot stand such glory, He presents this to us hidden behind the veil of bread and wine.

Even though His Body and Blood are truly present in the Eucharist, substantially present, He is not said to be physically present precisely because our senses do not perceive His Body as a physical human body. In fact, there is no physical (i.e., scientific) test that is capable of detecting His Body and Blood. The substance of His Body and Blood are present, but His physicality is not.

So, God opens the door to heaven through the veil of His own flesh, yet His flesh is itself veiled in Beth-le-hem (Hebrew for "the House of Bread"), it is veiled under the appearance of bread and wine.

This double veiling of the substance of His divinity corresponds to the double veiling aspect of the Tent of Meeting that Paul speaks about in Hebrews 9:1-5. The bread and wine veil the Body, Blood and Soul, which in turn veil the Divinity.

This is also why John talks about Jesus having "pitched His tent among us" (John 1:14). Jesus' tent (His Body) is not just the normal, single-veiled tent. Because He is God, He pitches among us the double-veiled Tent of Meeting - the Eucharist.

He took human flesh precisely in order to establish the Holy of Holies, He provided the Eucharist in order to create the outer tent within which the Holy of Holies is hidden.

And that's the difference between the Bible and the Eucharist. One is a God-breathed book, the other is God Himself.

18 comments:

bob14 said...

Outstanding explanation. Thanks for this and your RCIA talks posted at The Godpod.

Jordan Potter said...

We recognize that the Scriptures are God-breathed, have immense authority, are inerrant, etc., but no one thinks the Scriptures *ARE* God in the same way that Jesus *IS* God.

True, although some Protestants act as if they think that. (Indeed, it's instructive how many Protestant groups have statements of belief that begin with an affirmation of Sola Scriptura, and only then proceed to confess faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation.)

Irenaeus said...

Yup -- Jesus in Christianity is like the Koran in Islam. In Christianity, the Bible is a secondary witness to the primary locus of revelation, the Incarnation.

I'm a Catholic-respecting Prot. Could you unpack for me the notion of "substance" a bit more? I've always been confused by how the Eucharist affects human beings, because I can't wrap my head around the metaphysical and anthropological questions involved. Here's a post from my blog that went nowhere on the subject.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

There are some correspondences between the Torah, Jesus and the Koran - in each case, the respective faith tradition teaches that each has been with God from all eternity to all eternity.

However, Christianity is unique in the claim that the entity which has been with God from all eternity IS, in fact, God.

Substance is ontologically basic. In the case of the divine substance, it is the thing from which everything else is made, it is that by which everything is physically and metaphysically sustained.

The substance of a thing is independent and durable, in the case of the divine substance, absolutely so.

The substance is the bearer of properties, which are called "accidents".

Now, since God is spirit, since He does not have a body, we could not put Jesus to a test in which He empirically verifies that He is God.

Science does nothing but describe the quantitative relationship between objects. Religion, on the other hand, does nothing but describe the qualitative relationships between Persons and persons.

The two cannot be mapped onto each other, although certain harmonies exist between them (see this link for an MP3 that discusses the science-religion harmonies more thoroughly).

Since sacraments put us into direct contact with the divine substance - with God Himself - putting them to an empirical test is identical to putting God to an empirical test. It can't be done.

The sacraments change our relationship with God. This Person-to-person relationship change is non-quantifiable. For instance, how much do you love your wife? 38? 3.141759? How much do you love God? How much does God love you? These questions cannot be answered in a quantitative way, so science and empiricism in general are completely unable to deal with what sacraments do.

The Baptist sacrament of baptism has exactly the same ontology as the Catholic sacrament because it is the same sacrament. The same can be true of marriage (under certain circumstances).

None of the other sacraments have ontological counterparts in Christian faiths which do not have apostolic succession.

Evanston2 said...

Steve, I've never heard anyone ever claim that "my Bible contains the presence of Christ." Have you? Could you at least reference some publication or author or something before making this contention?

The Bible contends that God reveals Himself through His word, and that "thy word is truth" (John 17:17) and as you note is "God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16). The verse goes on to claim that Scripture is "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." I'm currently in a Bible study with a catholic friend that is going extremely well. When I told another catholic friend that we're in a Bible study, he said "Why would you do THAT?"

I mention this because there is no competition between the Eucharist and the Bible -- uh, how do we know about the Eucharist? Through studying the Bible, folks. And not, by the way, through Aristotelian or other philosophies of man.

Philosophy can certainly be analytically useful but take care with your comparisons. You mention the tent of meeting and Jesus' body as physical entities that veiled the divinity. Rightly so, the Bible explains them this way. Not so, however, for the Eucharist. Jesus was sitting in his body when he instructed the disciples that "this is my body" and "this is my blood." The Eucharist contains symbols that point to the person of Christ and the necessity of our partaking in His death and resurrection.

Jesus is really present during the Eucharist. But is He present inside the elements of the Eucharist? This is taking the teaching well beyond the words of Jesus when He established the Eucharist, or any other Biblical text.

Our faith is to be in Christ, how He lived and why He gave Himself for us and above all who He is. Christ is not contained in a wafer or a cup and while you are not strictly teaching this, how many catholics are steeped in physical rituals and a faith that has no content? When Moses asked to see God in Exodus 33, he was placed in a cleft and protected because we cannot directly apprehend God and live. I know you know this...but look at Exodus 34:6-7 when God DOES reveal Himself. How? By speaking of His character. My point? The Bible describes for us the real object and content of our faith -- His perfection.

In sum, I believe you have created a strawman when contending that anyone believes that the Bible "contains divinity." Further, by alleging the superiority and exclusivity of a certain ritual (asserting that "only through the Eucharist do you receive His substantial presence") you may inadvertently encourage catholics to have a faith that has no content. You may be pointing to elements instead of to Christ. To revisit 2 Timothy (v. 17), we study Scripture "...that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." Sounds pretty important to me.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Evanston,

I gave you the question precisely as it was received via e-mail. I did not change a word of it - straight cut-and-paste.

While the question's wording was not the best, I know perfectly well that the questioner did not mean to imply that Scripture IS Jesus.

That's why I specifically said, "Now, no one believes the Scriptures are such a thing, not even the most ardent supporter of Scripture."

God's words form reality. When God said "Let there be light," there was light.

When God holds up bread and says, "This is my Body" there is His Body.

When God holds up wine and says "This is my Blood" there is His Blood.

When God says "You must gnaw on my flesh to have eternal life," then I suspect you must gnaw on His flesh in order to have eternal life.

When God tells Jews - who think contact with blood is a sin - "You must drink of my blood," I believe you must drink of His blood.

Both the Gospels and the Pauline epistles testify that God did these things.

God was not fully revealed in the Old Testament. He was only fully revealed in the New Testament, in in flesh and blood - in the Incarnation.

We know about the Eucharist not just through studying the Bible, but by paying attention to what was passed down to us BOTH orally and through writing. Indeed, we wouldn't know what Scripture properly was except through the oral tradition.

Jordan Potter said...

Steve, I've never heard anyone ever claim that "my Bible contains the presence of Christ." Have you?

I've not heard it in precisely those words, but in my pre-Catholic days, in our fundamentalistical sect we liked to say, "Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and the Bible is the Word of God in print." We were really just a half step away from saying the Bible is God, and looking at our beliefs and practices and our faulty way of understanding Christianity, in effect the Bible was our god.

Jesus was sitting in his body when he instructed the disciples that "this is my body" and "this is my blood."

That doesn't prove the Eucharist is only symbolic of Jesus. Catholicism teaches that Jesus' body is in heaven, and yet God still mysteriously changes the substance of the Eucharistic oblations so that substantially they are Jesus' body. So there is nothing contradictory or absurd about Jesus' hands holding the substance of His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

The Eucharist contains symbols that point to the person of Christ and the necessity of our partaking in His death and resurrection.

The Old Covenant was the covenant of symbols and shadows that point to the person of Christ. The New Covenant is the covenant of the reality that the symbols pointed to. It's not symbols pointing us toward Christ's salvation that God gives us, but the reality of Christ's salvation. As Flannery O'Connor said, if the Eucharist is just a symbol, then to hell with it.

Patrick said...

I have non-Catholic people at work who believe this question as worded. The confusion comes from John 1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." They believe the New Testament is the Word of God, so they connect the two. (An interesting aside, they do not believe in the Old Testament because it was written by Jews.) They believe it is the most powerful Sola Scriptura argument they have. When you actually question them on this, they too believe that the Eucharist is only symbolic, even though Jesus is pretty specific about it being His body and not part of a symbolic story. So they believe God is with us like some ghost-type apparition/voice in our head only when we read the bible (that was the way it was described to me). Their argument becomes rather confused when you challenge them on it, but they have heard their pastors repeat it so often it works for them.

Evanston2 said...

Steve, thank you for addressing my concerns. I respect the fact that you're addressing some important theology, and I hope that my observations will not seem to be too unfair:
(1) You're trying to have it both ways on the question of whether anyone believes "the Bible contains the presence of Christ." You take this strawman and instead of immediately saying that no one believes this position, you hold it up so you can tear it down in your argument for the "superiority" of the Eucharist. This tactic does nothing but encourage folks like Jordan Potter. For him, when protestants say that "the Bible is the Word of God in print" they are "really just a half step away from saying the Bible is God." Hey, don't Roman catholics believe that the Bible is the word of God? Steve, it's not necessary to tear the Bible down to build up the Eucharist.
(2) You close your latest comment with the observation that "Indeed, we wouldn't know what Scripture properly was except through the oral tradition." Perhaps this is the real crux of your strawman regarding the Bible? If you're saying that the Roman church is the final authority over what constitutes Scripture, and what it means, then fine. Discussion over. The Roman church says the Eucharist is "better" so you agree. You have faith in an institution. The Jews put their faith in institutions and oral and ritualistic traditions as well. See Jesus' reaction in Mark 7.
(3) You're right, the Bible teaches that God creates with His word. But does He ever use symbolic language? You quoted Jesus about being bread and wine. OK. So when Jesus says "I am the door" in John 10:9, is he now a door with a handle? Further, your entire treatise about the Eucharist ignores the fact that Jesus Himself told us its purpose when he said "do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19) So I have a Scriptural basis to assert that the Eucharist brings to mind and heart what He has done, and is doing, for us. This is no small thing. I will comment further on the purpose of the Eucharist in a response to Jordan Potter's comments, shortly.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Evanston,

1) It never occurred to me that anyone would read the language in the question as anything but figurative, which is the primary reason I didn't point out the problem in the first line.

After all, the people who object to the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist typically insist that Christ is present spiritually during their own communion services, so claiming that Christ is spiritually present in Scripture is really the identical position, and that was the point of the question: isn't Scripture reading equal to communion reception?

Thus, if there is a straw man here, I really think you are the one who has constructed it.

2) My reference to the importance of oral tradition is merely an echo of St. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter." Surely you accept that Paul was correct?

3) Sure, Jesus uses allegory frequently. But when He does, He always uses allegory drawn from the Old Testament (e.g., shepherd, greater than Jonah here). So, if we want to say that "Eat my flesh" and "Drink my blood" are allegorical, then they have to be drawn from Old Testament allegory.

Try a word search on that sometime. You'll get passages like Is 49:26 "I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."

or Deut 32:42 'I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh - with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.'

The Semite idiom "eat the flesh and drink the blood" means to do someone serious injury, especially by slander; it is an idiom used by the writers of the New Testament: Rev 16:6 "For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink. It is their due!"

It is still used by Arabs today. If Jesus were speaking metaphorically or allegorically in John 6, He would be exhorting His disciples to slander Him, to cheat Him, to kill Him in order to gain eternal life.

Thus, if you are right, and Jesus was speaking allegorically there, then Judas is the only faithful apostle, because he was the only one who betrayed Jesus, as Jesus allegorically commanded all of them to do.

That can't be right. That's why His own disciples left Him. They knew Scripture well enough to know He wasn't speaking allegorically, they couldn't accept the literal meaning which they knew He intended, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So they left.

A further explanation of this can be found on my web page here.

Evanston2 said...

Jordan,
(1) Regarding the importance of the Eucharist:
(a) I repeat (from my response to Steve), Christ commanded us to remember Him this way.
(b) And as I said in my previous comment,"I believe that Jesus is really present during the Eucharist." I did not say that the Eucharist is "just a symbol." You quoted me but still managed to ignore the part about "...the necessity of partaking in His death and resurrection." This partaking is real. But even if the Eucharist were just a symbol, if you and Flannery O'Connor and others would therefore disobey Christ's command and say "to hell with it" then you have a major league problem in the obedience category. You point to the Old Testament and say that "The Old Covenant was the covenant of symbols and shadows." Rightly so. Yet were the Jews supposed to ignore the sacrificial system and the rest of the Law? No. So if Christ commands us to do something, we do it out of love for Him and trust in Him that it is indeed a blessing!

(2) When you say that Old Testament symbology points to the New Covenant and that "The New Covenant is the covenant of the reality" it would be useful if you explain what you mean by the New Covenant. Christ Himself said that he came to fulfill the Law, and many other citations (in Hebrews and elsewhere) show how all of Scripture points to Christ. So if by the New Covenant you mean the person and works of Christ, then yes, I agree. But I disagree if you're saying that salvation depends, strictly speaking, on participation in the Eucharist. I believe Roman catholic theology would disagree with you as well, but I defer to your expertise. Perhaps you or Steve would directly reference the catechism? I could do so as well, (it's online, after all) but I'm not going to tell a Roman catholic what "the Church" believes.

(3) In regard to your first comment on this thread, that "Indeed, it's instructive how many Protestant groups have statements of belief that begin with an affirmation of Sola Scriptura, and only then proceed to confess faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation." Uh, why don't you review your church history? Creeds regarding the nature of God were developed after debate in many church councils. The genesis of these debates was the language of Scripture, how it seemingly had paradoxes (for example, how can God be one but three?) and doctrines like the Trinity and the Incarnation properly sum up the teaching of the Bible. That is, the Bible is indeed the basis for these teachings. You seem to have a common misunderstanding of Sola Scriptura, that it means we ignore everything other than Scripture. Not so, it means that Scripture is authoritative. In a nutshell: when the reason of man or his traditions contradict what is taught in Scripture, then Scripture "wins." In practical terms, that means if I or you or the Pope or anyone else teaches something that contradicts Scripture, we are in sin. Now, if you believe that the Roman church has exclusive authority over what is or is not in the canon, and exclusive authority over the interpretation of Scripture, pardon me if I laugh when it points to Scripture (Matt 16:18-19Peter = Rock = Only Disciple who gets keys = Dies in Rome = Whoever is Bishop of Rome can decide what is or is not Scripture, and its interpretation) to prove it. That's a tautology, folks. The essential argument: "the Bible says that I (the Roman church)am in charge because that's what I say it says." Wow.

(4) You are certainly free to say that "...there is nothing contradictory or absurd about Jesus' hands holding the substance of His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the sacrament of the Eucharist." For the record, I haven't said it was absurd. I have asserted that there is a natural reading of Christ's own words, including the purpose of the Eucharist, that should be adequate for believers.
Your metaphysical speculations are, at best, unnecessary and at worst can lead to grave error. For example, Steve's commentary about substance being "ontologically basic" etc. relies strictly on Greek philosophy. By that same logic there is nothing contradictory or absurd about pantheists saying that God is in everything and everybody. But neither of us would assert that to consume a french fry means that you're receiving "the body of Christ."

So, what is it that makes the Eucharist special? Answer: Jesus commanded its observance, so no doubt it is indeed extraordinary, and it is a blessing to partake if you do so in a worthy manner.

(5) Did Jesus say that this is only true when a Roman catholic priest (or a priest from an "approved" church) provides the blessing? I ask this because it is evidently very important to you and Steve that the Eucharist be "superior" to the Bible. Could it be that (a) since the Eucharist is only valid if approved by the Roman church (though other churches like Orthodox are "approved") the Roman church thereby has exclusive dominion over this sacrament? (b) anyone can pray, so that doesn't lend itself to Roman control and (c) if anyone can read the Bible, the next thing you know they'll formulate their own "private interpretation" (as I have been accused of on the DawnEden blog) that disagrees with Rome. So it'd be best for Roman doctrine to assert that "the Eucharist is better than the Bible & prayer," right?
Historically this has been true. Popes and priests believed it'd be better to keep the Bible in Latin than to translate it into the common tongue, and torture and murder were OK to prevent this from happening. Your Bible, in English, was written with the blood of martyrs who violated your Tradition. Yes, this is strong language and you may believe it is off-point, but I am honestly at a loss to otherwise explain Steve's desire to claim that the Eucharist is "better" than the Bible. He's definitely right to rely on Tradition for this because it's an extraBiblical assertion. Question: other than in the Gospels when is the Eucharist/communion mentioned in detail? Answer: in I Corinthians 11, regarding unworthy partaking of communion. By the way, instead of speculating about the superiority of the Eucharist, perhaps teaching about unworthy partaking should have been a major point of discussion on this blog? But no, the focus is on the superiority of the Eucharist. Ignore the fact that "...anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." Just partake, dudes, it's superior! Further, did any of the apostolic letters say, "Hey, don't read my letter because it's really optional, just rely on Tradition and whatever you're told later on by our top guy when Rome becomes christian..." And "Hey, if you're still reading, don't forget to partake of communion because it's really better than Scripture." Talk about "absurd."

I'm honestly not trying to be a wiseacre here. It's good that you guys recognize the importance of Christ. I'll address Patrick's observations next and hopefully I'll be brief this time!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Evanston,

The problem with the authority of Scripture is precisely interpretation. Scripture is not subject to private interpretation, as Scripture itself explicitly witnesses.

Scripture itself also witnesses that if two believers have a disagreement about something, they are to talk amongst themselves and if that fails, they take it to the Church. When the Church rules on the issue, anyone who fails to obey the Church is to be treated as an outcast. (Matthew 18:16-18).

Now, for Jesus to make that command in justice, He must expect that the Church will ALWAYS rule correctly in matters of doctrinal dispute. That is, Jesus Himself describes an infallible Church.

So, we have a disagreement about meaning, you and I. So, I suggest we take it to the nearest Church which claims infallibility, for certainly if a Church is founded by Jesus, it would know it had such a charism.

Now, out of all the Christian denominations in the world which claim infallibility, you go ahead and choose which infallible Church we should submit this discussion to out of obedience to the Scriptures.

They will give us the infallibly correct way to interpret all the Scriptural problems you bring forward.

Choose.

Evanston2 said...

Patrick, there's no way I'll argue against your personal experience. I'll accept it as valid. If you've run into non-catholics who "believe this question as worded" (that 'the Bible contains the presence of Christ') then OK. It'd be nice if you could provide even a single link to an online article to that effect. There's a lot of stuff out there, just one guy/gal making that contention would be interesting.

Further, you've run into a species I've never seen: folks who don't believe the Old Testament "because it was written by Jews." I don't doubt it because antisemitism is a consuming passion for some people. I'm not asking for a link because there could be thousands. However, I've never heard anyone ever say this so I can't agree that this is a common belief -- comparing my experience to yours.

You'll have to slog through my other comments to see what I'm arguing regarding the Eucharist and its purpose. If the people you are talking to are hazy on the reasons, I'm not surprised. A majority, and perhaps most, self-identified "christians" are ignorant of the Bible. Whether their pastors made a Biblical argument, or not, is again impossible to say. They obviously didn't care enough to be able to learn it for themselves and explain it. That said, it's interesting that you expect protestants to be able to have an adequate explanation when it is impossible for them. Why do I say that? Well, if you're a good catholic then anyone who disagrees with "the Church" is automatically wrong -- they cannot possibly have an adequate explanation. Need an example? I'm about to respond to Steve's comment about 2 Thessalonians 2:15.(Yes, I finally have some free time tonight) A plain reading of the verse, and its immediate context, won't matter a whit. I disagree with Rome, therefore I'm wrong.

Jordan Potter said...

You take this strawman and instead of immediately saying that no one believes this position, you hold it up so you can tear it down in your argument for the "superiority" of the Eucharist. This tactic does nothing but encourage folks like Jordan Potter. For him, when protestants say that "the Bible is the Word of God in print" they are "really just a half step away from saying the Bible is God." Hey, don't Roman catholics believe that the Bible is the word of God?

Speaking of Straw Men . . . Evanston, if you're going to respond to something I said, it would help if you responds to what I actually said. I didn't say, "When Protestants say that 'the Bible is the Word of God in print' they are 'really just a half step away from saying the Bible is God.'" I said, "In my pre-Catholic days, in our fundamentalistical sect we liked to say, 'Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and the Bible is the Word of God in print.' We were really just a half step away from saying the Bible is God, and looking at our beliefs and practices and our faulty way of understanding Christianity, in effect the Bible was our god."

Yes, the Bible is the written Word of God, but it's not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Our old adage, "Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and the Bible is the Word of God in print," was in fact our way of elevating Scripture over Jesus (or rather, elevating our interpretation of Scripture over Jesus). But the Bible isn't the Logos, and it was born of the Virgin Mary, it didn't die for our sins and wasn't raised again the third day, and is not seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, not the Bible, is Lord.

Regarding the importance of the Eucharist:
(a) I repeat (from my response to Steve), Christ commanded us to remember Him this way.


Yes, I note that for you, the fact that Jesus commanded it is paramount. But then, if the Eucharist is not substantially the body and blood of Jesus, but is an outward sign of an inner reality that operates independently of the Eucharists, then the bare fact that Jesus said to do it is really about the only reason to do it.

(b) And as I said in my previous comment, "I believe that Jesus is really present during the Eucharist."

But Jesus is really present at all times and in all places. What's so special about the Eucharist if it's not substantially Jesus? We can enjoy a non-substantial, spiritual "real presence" of Jesus any day of the week, in church or out of church, or in a forest, or at the sea shore.

I did not say that the Eucharist is "just a symbol." You quoted me but still managed to ignore the part about "...the necessity of partaking in His death and resurrection." This partaking is real.

No, you didn't say the Eucharist is "just a symbol." However, you said the Eucharist "contains symbols" and denied that the Eucharist is substantially the body and blood of Jesus. Rather it contains symbols "that point to the person of Christ and the necessity of our partaking in His death and resurrection."

So, according to your words, the Eucharist is symbolic, and rather than being Christ substantially, it merely points to Christ, and rather than being our partking in His death and resurrection, it merely points to the fact that we need to partake of His death and resurrection.

But even if the Eucharist were just a symbol, if you and Flannery O'Connor and others would therefore disobey Christ's command and say "to hell with it" then you have a major league problem in the obedience category.

On the contrary, if the Eucharist were just a symbol, it would raise the question of whether or not there is any point in obeying someone who does not bring in the promised reality, but does nothing more than reorder the shadows and types allegedly pointing to him. Where is the advantage in following Jesus if He is just the author of a new and improved Old Covenant rather than the author of a New Covenant?

So if Christ commands us to do something, we do it out of love for Him and trust in Him that it is indeed a blessing!

Is He really the Christ if He can't give the Bread from Heaven?

When you say that Old Testament symbology points to the New Covenant and that "The New Covenant is the covenant of the reality" it would be useful if you explain what you mean by the New Covenant.

I mean the mystery of faith, the atoning work of Jesus at Golgotha whereby He reconciled mankind to God through the shedding of His blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant whereby sins may be forgiven. The Old Covenant was inaugurated with the blood of beasts, but the New Covenant with the blood of God's Son. The Old Covenant pointed to Christ. The New Covenant enables us to have a relationship with Christ, and thus with God. So the sacraments of the New Covenant cannot be merely typological and pointing to Christ, or else they would be no different and no better than the sacraments of the Old Covenant.

You seem to have a common misunderstanding of Sola Scriptura, that it means we ignore everything other than Scripture. Not so, it means that Scripture is authoritative.

If that's really what Sola Scriptura means, then you would be a Catholic instead of a Protestant, because Catholicism teaches that Scripture is authoritative. However, it is not, as Protestantism maintains, the sole rule of faith, nor does it even claim to be.

Now, if you believe that the Roman church has exclusive authority over what is or is not in the canon, and exclusive authority over the interpretation of Scripture, pardon me if I laugh when it points to Scripture (Matt 16:18-19 Peter = Rock = Only Disciple who gets keys = Dies in Rome = Whoever is Bishop of Rome can decide what is or is not Scripture, and its interpretation) to prove it. That's a tautology, folks. The essential argument: "the Bible says that I (the Roman church)am in charge because that's what I say it says." Wow.

You have misrepresented the line of argument (probably because you do not know what it is). The argument does not begin with, "The words in Matt. 16:18-19 are divinely inspired and inerrant." Rather, it begins with, "The words in Matt. 16:18-19 are reliable history and relate an authentic teaching of Jesus Christ." It is not a circular argument from infallibility to infallibility, but a complicated series of arguments from historical proofs to infallibility. The question of the divine inspiration of Matt. 16:18-19 is not a part of the argument, which is therefore not circular or tautological.

I have asserted that there is a natural reading of Christ's own words, including the purpose of the Eucharist, that should be adequate for believers.

The natural reading of His words is that the Eucharist is His body and blood.

Did Jesus say that this is only true when a Roman catholic priest (or a priest from an "approved" church) provides the blessing?

The testimony of Scripture is inconclusive, but longstanding Christian tradition that comes to us from the apostles says the Eucharist is to be offered by a priest. In faith we believe that is what Jesus said.

Popes and priests believed it'd be better to keep the Bible in Latin than to translate it into the common tongue, and torture and murder were OK to prevent this from happening. Your Bible, in English, was written with the blood of martyrs who violated your Tradition.

You need to study some history, Evanston. All you've done is repeat an old myth, an anti-Catholic Black Legend. The Bible was translated into the common tongue many times before the Protestants came along. It was Protestant Bibles that were seen as the problem, not Bibles in the vernacular. And when it comes to torture and murder, the Protestants were at least as good as the Catholics, if not better. So you'd best just not go there.

Evanston2 said...

Steve, you say that "claiming that Christ is spiritually present in Scripture is really the identical position" to claiming "that Christ is present spiritually during...communion services." Who, exactly, teaches that communion and scripture produce the same (alleged) spiritual presence? Then you assert (in the form of a question) "...isn't Scripture reading equal to communion reception?" Again, who teaches this? If you can't find a single teaching in the vast online content of the Internet, then at least demonstrate that your assertions are logically a necessary result of certain assumptions held by non-Catholics. I'm beginning to believe you have no idea what a strawman is...

Absolutely, I do accept that the writings (autographa) of Paul in the canon are correct. But your "echo of St. Paul" from II Thess 2:15 is rather incomplete. Paul refers to his letters. Where are these letters? In the Bible.

Further, reliance on "traditions you were taught...by word of mouth" was necessary because what we know as the New Testament was being written at the time. Now, you seem to be claiming in your "echo" that this "merely" gave a blank check to the Roman church to claim that any/all extrabiblical teachings are substantiated by oral tradition.

But does this passage validate your claim? Paul founded the church at Thessalonica during his second missionary journey. So when he refers back to what he taught, he is being rather specific, right? Look at the bulk of chapter 2. He is speaking against false teaching. Now, how do we distinguish false teaching from the truth? I have faith that God has preserved the essential teachings for us in Scripture and that any teaching that contradicts the Bible is false. My faith is consistent with what the Bible itself teaches about Scripture. You evidently need to stretch a passage far beyond any reasonable intepretation in order that you can have carte blanche to rely on Tradition.

Regarding your John 6 argument, it's interesting. In the web link you provided you discuss how Christ used "food metaphors." You describe how Jesus refers to bread metaphorically, then you assert in John 6:52 that "His Jewish disciples suddenly realize that He is not speaking metaphorically." Please, explain this. An assertion is not an argument and this really seems to be a logical leap. I looked at each Scripture you cite, then your observation on the text, and I truly don't understand how you are making anything more than an assertion.

Also, I'm confused about this statement: "If Jesus were speaking metaphorically or allegorically in John 6, He would be exhorting His disciples to slander Him, to cheat Him, to kill Him in order to gain eternal life." Oh really? This would only be true if Jesus were saying in a wooden, literal fashion that they must eat and kill him. And the point about Judas loses me completely. Jesus makes an observation about Judas. How did Jesus "command betrayal?" Metaphor makes sense here, wooden literalism does not.

Of note, your "God's words form reality" argument from an earlier comment disappeared. Jesus evidently is not a door, literally.
How convenient that these strong assertions appear, and then disappear...
So, when Jesus uses food metaphorically, as you say in regard to John 4:7-8, 31-38 "Christ explains exactly how the food imagery is a metaphor." But when Christ explains in Luke 22:19 that the purpose of the Eucharist is to remember Him, evidently this explanation is inadequate. Evidently when He says that the bread is His flesh and the wine is His blood when He's sitting right there "in the flesh" His usage isn't metaphorical. Why? Well, because now He's forming reality. Because you said so.

Finally, in your online article you say that "Christ has stated twelve times that He is the bread of life, the food that endures. He has stated six times that His flesh and blood are to be eaten. No other teaching in Scripture gets the emphasis this teaching gets." Really? What about "repent." Is that a subject of lesser emphasis? What about "The Kingdom of heaven...?" Is that a subject of lesser emphasis? What about salvation? Lesser? Or are you just counting the use of certain words? Or are you assuming that these other teachings are consummated in the Eucharist in order to prove...that these other teachings are consummated in the Eucharist? Like when you say "the mystery of the Eucharist is the central sacramental mystery of the Church."
What about baptism? OK, I'll leave that alone!!!

FYI, I saved your online article and learned from it. Thank you, sincerely, for taking the time to prepare it.

Evanston2 said...

Jordan,
I summarized the essential points regarding your "fundamentalist sect" days quite accurately. All you did in response was repeat them.
If you say that I was incorrect or misleading, get specific. Say exactly where I was wrong.

Further, you continue to relate your own personal stories about people who allegedly turn the Bible into “the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.” Well, how can I possibly argue that you are wrong about a story from your life? Perhaps you were in a cult – then good for you on getting out!
But if you are claiming in any way that this is a “fundamentalist” position, then in the great big world of the Internet why don’t you find an online article or snippet of any sort from anybody who says that the Bible is Lord?

Based on your “what’s so special” argument about the Eucharist, it is plain that obedience to your Lord is not paramount. Luke 6:46 comes to mind. What’s in it for you is paramount, and if it’s not particularly special, then by golly it’s not particularly worth doing, is it? As if anything Christ would ask us to do is not a blessing…

Regarding the reality of Christ’s presence you take my words, “really present” and then equate them to His omnipresence. So, are you saying that all Christ’s blessings are the same? Or are you just assuming that this is what I believe? I didn’t say anything about this. Why? First, the question that kicked off this whole discussion was whether the Eucharist is “superior” in some way to reading the Bible or prayer, and I reject the notion that this is some sort of either/or proposition. Steve agrees in that respect. Beyond that, I believe it is silly to argue that a practice that is commanded by Christ doesn’t provide a special blessing of some sort. If the blessing from the Eucharist were the same as prayer or Bible reading, then Christ wouldn’t have commanded its observance. Admittedly, this is an assertion on my part. But I doubt that you disagree with it.

No, instead you are hung up on the issue of whether Christ is “substantially” present or not. Well, feel free to argue for transubstantiation or consubstantiation or any –ation you want. But if you claim that Christ must be substantially present to provide a special blessing in the Eucharist, you are claiming a special level of knowledge about matters that are beyond our ken.

You try to summarize my position by saying “it merely points to the fact that we need to partake of His death and resurrection.” There is no “merely” there. You are really indulging yourself -- if I don’t agree with your “substantial presence” criterion, then the Eucharist is empty. I am saying that the Eucharist (or dare I say, “communion?”) is not an empty symbolic ritual like taking a bath in the Ganges river. Christ is really there and really provides a special blessing. Is that plain enough?

You ask, “Is He really the Christ if He can't give the Bread from Heaven?” Define what you mean by “the Bread from Heaven.” Do you mean salvation? Elsewhere you say “the atoning work of Jesus at Golgotha whereby He reconciled mankind to God through the shedding of His blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant whereby sins may be forgiven.” Great stuff. How then do you come up with this “He can’t be the Christ if He can’t give the Bread of Heaven” junk? Again, was His perfect life and work (death and resurrenction) insufficient for your salvation?

Regarding Sola Scriptura, why do you continue to offer your opinion about what it means? Your summary is silly, protestants do not claim that “it is the sole rule of faith.” Are you incapable of linking to an informed source? Or are you satisfied in quoting yourself ad nauseum?

Try following this example: Matt. 16:18-19 and Roman Catholicism. Reference: www.scripturecatholic.com. Text: “What Church? Scripture reveals this Church to be the one Jesus Christ built upon the rock of Saint Peter (Matt. 16:18). By giving Peter the keys of authority (Matt. 16:19), Jesus appointed Peter as the chief steward over His earthly kingdom (cf. Isaiah. 22:19-22). Jesus also charged Peter to be the source of strength for the rest of the apostles (Luke 22:32) and the earthly shepherd of Jesus' flock (John 21:15-17). Jesus further gave Peter, and the apostles and elders in union with him, the power to bind and loose in heaven what they bound and loosed on earth. (Matt. 16:19; 18:18). This teaching authority did not die with Peter and the apostles, but was transferred to future bishops through the laying on of hands (e.g., Acts 1:20; 6:6; 13:3; 8:18; 9:17; 1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6). “

You say that “The question of the divine inspiration of Matt. 16:18-19 is not a part of the argument.” I didn’t say that “divine inspiration” was a necessary part of the argument. You need to follow the bouncing ball.
I just gave you an example of Roman Catholic teaching of dips in to Scripture when it is convenient, on the grand march to prove that it is “The Church” and at the end it claims to be superior to Scripture (and thus can decide what is in the canon, and how to interpret it). This is a tautology -- it assumes its conclusion in order to prove it.

Get focused. I didn’t mention infallibility at all. You did. I was talking about authority -- dare I repeat that this is the crux of Sola Scriptura vs. Sola Verbum Dei? For something to be authoritative, it need not be infallible (or inerrant), but if you have a tradition that conflicts with Scripture, which is more authoritative? Episcopolians have decided that their human Reason is more authoritative than Scripture in regard to homosexuality. Sola Scriptura asserts that Scripture supersedes Tradition and so-called reason. But I have to admit you’re right, I am guilty of failing to adequately explain infallibility in twenty words or less (though that was not even what I was trying to do). Sorry to disappoint, why don’t you have a crack at it?

Finally, you again lack focus and threaten to invoke any sin ever done in the name of protestantism against me “So you’d best not go there.” I didn’t go there, Jordan. I mentioned torture and murder in connection to Bible translation on purpose. The whole point of this thread is supposed to be about the importance of the Bible and prayer in comparison with the Eucharist. Bible translations in the common tongue were suppressed. You claim that “the Bible was translated into the common tongue many times before the Protestants came along.” Really? What is “many times.” And when bits and pieces were translated in to “glosses,” why was this done? For priests whose grasp of Latin was imperfect? So says a Wikipedia entry (not that I find this to be a great reference, but you failed to provide one.) From what I’ve seen, the first catholic Bible was published in the 1600s. Martin Luther published his New Testament in 1522 and finished his German edition in 1534. William Tyndale was burnt at the stake in 1536 for translating the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew (instead of from the Vulgate) into English. At least in regard to entire collections of canon, it seems that the Catholic versions were a reaction to the release of protestant versions. But perhaps I am being unkind, unfairly repeating “an old myth, an anti-Catholic Black Legend.” Why don't you put out a little effort to substantiate what you say? Your failure to do so seems to be a habit.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Evanston,

My argument about God's word forming reality didn't disappear - I'm pointing out that the way in which Jesus spoke about His flesh in John 6 is not the way He speaks about Himself in the "I am the door/vine" passages. God can certainly intend metaphor, but John 6 cannot be taken metaphorically precisely because God expressed Himself quite differently in John 6 than He does in the "vine/door" passages.

But let's get back to resolving the whole problem once and for all.

Matthew 18:16-18. We disagree, we've talked about it, we can't resolve the differences, so we have a Scriptural duty to take the dispute to the infallible Church that can publicly rule on the dispute. According to Scripture, we must submit to the judgements of this Church.

You insist on Scripture - fine. I demand you adhere to its prescripts.

So, which infallible Church would you like to submit our dispute to?

Jordan Potter said...

I summarized the essential points regarding your "fundamentalist sect" days quite accurately.

No, you misstated my essential points. Your "summary" and what I said are not reconcilable with each other.

All you did in response was repeat them.

That was so you, and others, would be reminded of what my words actually were, as opposed to your misstatement of what they were. I was talking about the sort of notions that were current in a particular fundamentalistical sect, and you claimed I was talking about Protestants in general.

By the way, your words "fundamentalist sect" are not an accurate quote. I said "fundamentalistical." We were not a fundamentalist sect in the proper sense of the term, though we had a lot in common with fundamentalists and tended to approach the Bible in the same or similar way.

If you say that I was incorrect or misleading, get specific. Say exactly where I was wrong.

Sorry, I thought an invitation to reread what I actually said might be enough for you to see your error.

Further, you continue to relate your own personal stories about people who allegedly turn the Bible into “the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.”

No, I related no such personal stories. I've never met anyone who turned the Bible into the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and I never said I had.

Well, how can I possibly argue that you are wrong about a story from your life?

The point of my personal testimony was to show that bibliolatry, or virtual bibliolatry, is not unknown among adherents to the heresy of Sola Scriptura. You had expressed skepticism that there are those like that, but I was once one of them.


But if you are claiming in any way that this is a “fundamentalist” position, then in the great big world of the Internet why don’t you find an online article or snippet of any sort from anybody who says that the Bible is Lord?

Well, I obviously am not claiming that it's a fundamentalist position, nor did I ever say that anybody believes the Bible is literally the Lord. As you may recall, I referred to a belief and attitude that was a half step away from deification of the Bible. "Half step away" clearly means close but not the same as.

Based on your “what’s so special” argument about the Eucharist, it is plain that obedience to your Lord is not paramount.

Very true. What's paramount is faith, hope, and love. I'm a Christian, after all, not a Muslim.

What’s in it for you is paramount, and if it’s not particularly special, then by golly it’s not particularly worth doing, is it?

No, it's obvious that my words couldn't possibly mean or imply any such thing.

Regarding the reality of Christ’s presence you take my words, “really present” and then equate them to His omnipresence.

Unless the Eucharist is substantially the body and blood of Jesus, then the way Jesus is "really present" in the Eucharist is essentially the same as His omnipresence. He would be no more present in the Eucharist than He would be anywhere else, or in any other act of worship.

So, are you saying that all Christ’s blessings are the same?

No.

Or are you just assuming that this is what I believe?

No.

Beyond that, I believe it is silly to argue that a practice that is commanded by Christ doesn’t provide a special blessing of some sort. If the blessing from the Eucharist were the same as prayer or Bible reading, then Christ wouldn’t have commanded its observance.

You say the blessing of the Eucharist is in the fact that it contains symbols that point to the person of Christ and the necessity of our partaking in His death and resurrection. You also say the Eucharist brings to mind and heart what He has done, and is doing, for us. But we don't need to eat bread or crackers and drink wine or grape juice to be pointed to the person of Christ, or to think about the necessity of partaking in His death and resurrection, or to have what He has done and is doing for us brought to mind. Those are blessings we can and do get through prayer and Bible study and sermons and fellowship, without munching on a little holy hors d'ouevres during a prayer service. Since you say the blessings of the Eucharist must be different than the blessings we get from those other things, you must agree (I hope anyway) that the blessings of the Eucharist must be more than those other blessings -- something deeper, more intimate, more intense. But what could make it something more, if it's not the bare fact that Jesus told us to do it?

But if you claim that Christ must be substantially present to provide a special blessing in the Eucharist, you are claiming a special level of knowledge about matters that are beyond our ken.

Sorry, but Christians are not going to stop contemplating and meditating on the things that Jesus gave us just because some people think the answers and explanations are beyond our ken.

But really, it's no more special a level of knowledge than that by which we know that Jesus is both God and Man. Scripture affirms the Incarnation and testifies to the Two Natures, and Scripture affirms that the Eucharist is His body and His blood.

You try to summarize my position by saying “it merely points to the fact that we need to partake of His death and resurrection.” There is no “merely” there.

Sure there is. You didn't say, "Through the Eucharist, Christ gives us the blessing of partaking in His death and resurrection." You said it contains symbols that point to our need to partake of His death and resurrection. The word "merely" accurately indicates that what you affirmed is less than what I affirm.

You are really indulging yourself -- if I don’t agree with your “substantial presence” criterion, then the Eucharist is empty.

Empty of His substantial presence, yes. It would be only a type or sign of something else, a symbol, not the reality. Thus, it would not be empty of meaning, just empty of Christ's substantial presence. Which is quite a lot to be empty of.

You ask, “Is He really the Christ if He can't give the Bread from Heaven?” Define what you mean by “the Bread from Heaven.”

Jesus said, "I am the Bread which came down from Heaven." The Bread from Heaven is His glorified body, the earnest of the resurrection. The Fathers say the Eucharist is the medicine of immortality. It's not just a sign pointing us to eternal life -- it IS eternal life on which our souls feed.

Again, was His perfect life and work (death and resurrection) insufficient for your salvation?

Of course not -- and through the Eucharist we enter into His perfect life and work, because the Eucharist is Jesus. We don't separate His atoning work from the Eucharist -- we appropriate His atoning work through the Eucharist.

Protestants do not claim that “it is the sole rule of faith.” Are you incapable of linking to an informed source? Or are you satisfied in quoting yourself ad nauseum?

I'm sorry, Evanston, I didn't realise you were so ignorant of what Protestants believe. I've heard hundreds and hundreds of Protestants claim that the Bible is the "sole rule of faith" in those words. Here's just one example:

"The truth is this: since God’s written word alone is inspired, it and it alone is the sole rule of faith. It cannot be otherwise." -- Richard M. Bennett, Berean Beacon Ministries

http://www.christiananswers.net/
q-eden/sola-scriptura-bible.html

Really, I find it hard to believe you've never heard any Protestant claim that the Bible is the sole rule of faith. Are you sure you're a Protestant?

This is a tautology -- it assumes its conclusion in order to prove it.

I should have mentioned this last time, but you're confusing "tautology" with "circular reasoning" or petitio principii. A tautology is a purported explanation that is nothing more than a rephrasing of the question: the content of the question is effectively presented as if it were the answer to the question. Anyway, if you concede that divine inspiration of the Scriptures is not a necessary part of the argument, then there is no circular argument in the example you cited. You've just not parsed the argument correctly.

Get focused. I didn’t mention infallibility at all. You did. I was talking about authority

Whether you are talking about infallibility or authority, in the case of Matt. 16:18-19 the Catholic argument is not circular, for the reasons I stated.

For something to be authoritative, it need not be infallible (or inerrant),

True. The Jewish priests and kings and teachers were authoritative, not infallible.

but if you have a tradition that conflicts with Scripture, which is more authoritative?

If a tradition conflicts with Scripture, the tradition is spurious. The same if it conflicts with Apostolic Tradition.

Sola Scriptura asserts that Scripture supersedes Tradition and so-called reason.

It asserts rather more than that.

I mentioned torture and murder in connection to Bible translation on purpose. The whole point of this thread is supposed to be about the importance of the Bible and prayer in comparison with the Eucharist. Bible translations in the common tongue were suppressed.

No, there weren't. It's just Protestant or otherwise heretical translations that were suppressed.

You claim that “the Bible was translated into the common tongue many times before the Protestants came along.” Really? What is “many times.”

Oh, several hundred times at least. For example, there were Middle English Bibles, and not just the Wycliffite Bible either. Only those ignorant of Christian history still believe the old canard about the Bible being deliberately locked up in a language nobody could understand. Granted, there have been Catholics who have thought it better if the laity did not read the Bible, but St. Jerome ("Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ") and the Popes have never agreed with such a pernicious sentiment.

And when bits and pieces were translated into “glosses,” why was this done?

First of all, books back then, before the printing press, were tremendously expensive and took years to make. Even so, Catholics worked hard and diligently to circulate the Scriptures, or, because it was easier and less expensive, portions of the Scriptures. Of course, back then most people couldn't read, and those who could read usually could read Latin, and the literate who couldn't read Latin did what they could to get part or all of the Scriptures in a language they could read.

Here's an example: Protestants sometimes point to the medieval Waldensian Bible in "Gallic" (Provencal) as an example of a brave layman standing up against the Church's opposition so he could get the Bible in the vernacular. What they don't mention (because they don't know) is that Waldo commissioned the translation while he was still a Catholic in full communion with the Church, that he hired two priests to translate the four Gospels and later some other biblical books along with writings of the great Latin Fathers of the West. So, the Waldensian "Bible" wasn't the whole Bible, but was portions of the Bible bound together with patristic writings. It was only later that Waldo and his followers were excommunicated, not for having the Bible in the vernacular, but for presuming to preach without their bishop's permission. The Waldensians presented their "Bible" as a gift to the Pope at the Third Lateran Council in 1179 and asked the Pope to approve their activities. The book was accepted, but they were denied permission to preach after Walter Map easily exposed their ignorance of Christian doctrine and theology. Disappointed and embarrassed, they left the council, and soon returned to preaching without episcopal permission, resulting in their excommunication. So, the example of the Waldensians shows the kind of interest there was in circulating the Bible in the vernacular -- there was no opposition to it from the Church, but in fact it was two priests who translated the partial Bible of the Waldensians. And there were numerous other vernacular biblical works throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, in those places that could afford the great expense of producing them (Waldo was a rich merchant, so he could afford to commission a book.)

From what I’ve seen, the first catholic Bible was published in the 1600s.

No, the earliest Catholic Bibles that still exist are from the 200s and 300s A.D. You're probably talking about the first Catholic Bible to be printed -- that was the Gutenberg Bible, the first book ever to be printed, a Latin Vulgate Bible, printed in the 1400s. Or perhaps you mean the first Catholic Bible in the vernacular? The English Douay-Rheims New Testament was published in 1582, followed by the Old Testament in 1609-10. But as I recall, there were Catholic vernacular Bibles printed in other languages prior to 1582.

William Tyndale was burnt at the stake in 1536 for translating the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew (instead of from the Vulgate) into English.

No, he was burned at the stake because he was convicted of heresy -- he was a Protestant. His unauthorised and error-ridden translation of the New Testament didn't help matters for him (he never got a chance to finish his translation of the Old Testament, but the Coverdale Bible's Old Testament took up what Tyndale had left), but if he'd had authorisation for his translation and if his translation hadn't been motivated by a desire to attract people away from the Catholic faith (and thus didn't have so many dubious renderings), his translation would not have been condemned.

By the way, do you agree with William Tyndale's assertion that the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is an unbiblical, pagan deception, and that the dead are unconscious? That was one of the things that got him burned at the stake.

Why don't you put out a little effort to substantiate what you say? Your failure to do so seems to be a habit.

Pots and kettles, Evanston. Apart from the Matt. 16:18-19 thing, and your scripture cites, you've not substantiated or sourced a single one of your assertions.