The Roman Catholic Church claims that the sacrifice of Calvary and the Mass are the same, ‘one single sacrifice’. She teaches, ‘the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist arc one single sacrifice: “The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different.” “This divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.” ‘1 this is an unscriptural teaching. Jesus Christ was the one time sacrifice for all. He finished his work of salvation, and sat down at the right hand of God (Heb 10:12). He sat down because his work of salvation was completed and finished. For any man to teach that there is a way to continue to after his sacrifice is to say that Christ Jesus’ sacrifice was not sufficient.
Furthermore she teaches that in the Mass the body and blood of Jesus Christ is really present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine, her official words are, ‘this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance his blood. “This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.” ‘2
What was the Origin of the Mass?
Radbertus a Benedictine monk first proposed the idea of the Mass in the ninth century. In the year 831 he published a treatise, ‘Concerning the Body and Blood of Christ’. In this, he held that the bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper were, by consecration, converted into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and were actually the same body and blood as was born of the Virgin Mary. The teaching however did not become an official part of Roman Catholic doctrine until so pronounced by the Lateran Council of 1215 under the direction of pope Innocent 111. It was strongly reaffirmed by the council of Trent in 1545 in which any denial of the Mass is anathematized.
The idea of the Mass as promoted by Radbertus was opposed by Berengar (1000-l088). Berengar was canon and director of the cathedral school in Tours. Later he became the archdeacon of Angers. He was esteemed as a man of considerable learning and consistent piety. By study of the Scriptures and the Church fathers Berengar during the years 1040 to 1045 came to the conclusion that the notion that the bread could be turned into the literal flesh and blood of Christ (transubstantiation) was contrary to biblical teaching. Indeed he believed it to be a vulgar superstition. He shared his views among his pupils in France and Germany Much interest and debate was stirred up. Eusebius Bruno, bishop of Angers, to whose diocese Radhertus belonged, sided with him but the majority opposed him. Berengar’s opposition to transubstantiation became known in Rome. That spelled trouble for him. He was tried before a Synod of Tours in 1054 under Leo IX but escaped through the help of Hildebrand who presided as papal representative. Hildebrand was satisfied with the admission that the bread and wine are in a spiritual sense the body and blood of Christ. Hildebrand invited Berengar to Rome for a final settlement.
The outcome was an unhappy one. Berengar appeared before a Lateran Council held in 1059, under Nicolas II. Berengar likened this assembly to wild beasts who would not listen to his contention that the Lord’s Supper is spiritual and not a literal eating of the flesh of Christ. A violent and bigoted Cardinal Humbert in the name of the Synod forced upon Berengar a formula of recantation. Berengar did not possess the courage of a martyr. Out of fear of death he recanted.
This defeat did not deter Berengar who skillfully reasoned that Christ’s body is now in heaven, which renders it impossible for that same body to be multiplied by priests here on earth. There is only one sacrifice of Christ and only one body of Christ. He called the doctrine of transubstantiation an absurdity. He pointed to the fact that Scripture calls Christ a lion, a door, a vine, a corner stone and a rock but these are all metaphorical.
Since he did not cease in his campaign against the Mass Berengar was summoned to Rome for a second time. He was threatened with excommunication and punishment if he did not withdraw his views on the Lord’s Supper. Berengar was terrified with the prospect of the worst of deaths. Under coercion he again recanted.
He returned to France despondent and decided to give up the contest as hopeless. Bullying did not change his views. He deeply regretted his weakness and compromise and begged the Lord to pardon him as he had pardoned Aaron and Peter. He was now an old man and he decided to spend the rest of his life in strict ascetic seclusion on the island of Saint Come near Tours where he died in peace in 1088.
What is so wrong with the Mass?
1. The Mass is a denial of the finished and perfect work of Christ
The book of Hebrews teaches that all sacrifices and offerings are at an end because the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ has been made once and for all (Heb 10:10). ‘Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people’ (Heb 9:28). ‘By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy’ (Heb 10:14). In summary form we can say with absolute confidence that the offering of Christ once made provides propitiation and satisfaction for all his elect people from the beginning to the end of time. There is no other acceptable sacrifice for sin anywhere to be found. When Jesus cried out on the cross, ‘It is finished!’ he proclaimed that his work was complete. It is absurd to go on sacrificing Christ as though his work were incomplete.
2. The Mass claims to give supernatural power to priests
When the priest utters the words ‘this is my body’ over the bread, and the altar boy rings a bell, in that moment a miracle is supposed to take place and the bread is changed into the literal flesh of Christ.
This means that God is supposed to be under the control of priests using a man made ritual. The Catholic priest John O’Brien expresses the teaching in these words, ‘While the Blessed Virgin was the human agency by which Christ became incarnate a single time, the priest brings Christ down from heaven, and renders him present on our altar as the eternal Victim for the sins of man - not once, but a thousand times! The priest speaks, and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priest’s command.’ 1
It is absurd to propose that Almighty God is subject to human control. Turning again to Hebrews we find that sacrificing priests are abolished. They are no longer necessary (1-leb 10:8-14). Jesus is our high priest. He does not need anyone to repeat any further sacrifice. ‘But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of’ God.’ (Heb 10:12).
3 The Mass is used for financial gain
The Irish have a saying, ‘High money, high Mass; low money, low Mass; no money, no Mass!’ There are different Masses. Votive Masses are made for the relief of those suffering in purgatory and for those recovering from sickness but also for success in business ventures, safe journeys, protection against storms, floods and droughts. Requiem or funeral Masses are performed on behalf of the dead. Nuptial Masses are said at marriages. All these have a price tag. The most popular Mass is the Votive Mass, which is supposed to alleviate or end the suffering of souls in purgatory. Over the centuries vast sums of money have been made though the Mass. There is nothing in the Bible to warrant the idea of purgatory and certainly nothing, which supports the idea that repeated sacrifices of this kind achieves anything.
Article 31 in the Thirty-nine articles of the Church of England describe the Mass as ‘blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits’. These are well chosen words. A fable is a story or a fiction, which has no substance in reality. That exactly describes the Mass. It has no foundation in Scripture. Moreover it is blasphemous because it grossly misrepresents the character of God as though he can be used in the hands of priests ad nauseam. It is a deceit because it deceives souls by diverting them away from the one and only source of salvation. It is dangerous because the Mass is the opposite of justification by faith alone. In other words the partaker puts his or her trust in the sacramental power of the element and not in the actual completed and perfect work of Christ.
4 The Mass is hostile to the truth of assurance
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that no one can have assurance of salvation. Indeed it teaches that those who claim assurance of eternal life are presumptuous. The Council of Trent even pronounced a curse upon anyone who presumed to say he had assurance of salvation. Personal assurance of salvation is the very essence of biblical Christianity. Christ by his perfect life and atoning death has secured everything needful to salvation (2 Peter 1:3). His perfect righteousness is imputed to the believer who is thereby justified by God the Father. All sin is atoned for. But with the Mass one has to return over and over again in the attempt to deal with sin. The experience of Martin Luther illustrates the futility of seeking assurance of salvation on the basis of performing good works. The routine of confessing sin at the confessional box does not lead to salvation. The never ending round of rosary prayers and of attending Mass brings no assurance. Even after the last rites have been performed for a dying person and the sacrament of extreme unction applied, according to Roman Catholic teaching, the departing soul faces purgatory.
In the sixth chapter of John’s gospel Jesus teaches that physical eating of bread does not save. The Israelites ate the manna that was supernaturally provided day by day in the desert and they perished in the wilderness. It is not eating chemical substances that saves. Rather it is ‘the Father will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day’ (John 6:40).
As believers we come to a table to celebrate a finished work. ‘This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till he come.’ (I Cor 11:25-26) We do not come to an altar to witness another sacrifice. We gather round a table of fellowship together to remember the once and for all sacrifice.
Concerted efforts, especially in America with ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together), are being made to establish unity between evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics. The doctrinal differences impeding such unity are immense. There is the problem of human tradition displacing the supreme authority of Scripture. A great obstacle is the heresy of baptismal regeneration. There is the outrageous claim of the Pope who claims to take the place of Christ on earth. There is the problem of the worship of Mary, prayers to the saints and prayers for the dead, Furthermore we must address the subjects of the confessional, purgatory, indulgences and enforced celibacy for the clergy. But first on the list is the Mass because this touches the central truth of the atonement. Many have preferred martyrdom, even to be burned at the stake, than to deny the perfect and complete work of Christ on the cross for our salvation.
1 Catechism of. the Catholic Church, 1994, Paragraph 1367.
2 Ibid 1376
The story of Berengar’s resistance to the Mass is described in detail in Philip Schaif
History of the Christian C volume four. page 554 if.
‘ John O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the catholic Religion,
(Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1963, 1974) pp. 255-256
An example is the book, Your Word is Truth, a series of essays dealing with the subject of Scripture and Tradition edited by Charles Colson and Richard Jolm Neuhaus, 168 pp.,
Eerdnians, 2002. Contributors include Timothy George and 7 1 Packer.
This was sent to me as a word document via email a couple yrs ago. I saved it but I do not remember who sent it to me. I have no idea who wrote this. This is not my work. If anyone knows the Author of this, please email me..
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