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Thread: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

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    Lightbulb Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Hello! I have three questions:
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics?

    (3) Does this Reformed Protestant approach to theology lead out of and away from Biblical Christianity?

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    Question Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Let me start with the first question.
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?


    I was confirmed in the PCUSA and went to an Evangelical Christian school. We were taught that the Communion meal was "only" a symbol of Jesus' body, and did not have Jesus' spiritual presence (like Lutherans and Anglicans claim), and especially was not actually Jesus' physical body as Catholicism teaches.

    The only reason I remember that the "Reformed" Protestants gave me was that Jesus said to take the communion meal in "memory" of him. But actually when I think critically about this reason, it looks weak. Just because Jesus says to do something in his memory does not mean that He is not present in it. In other words, it seems perfectly to reasonably that if Jesus were in the Communion meal that you would eat it "in His memory."

    Another response the Reformed Protestants give is to debunk Catholicism's reasons. Catholicism says that because Jesus says in John's gospel that you must eat His body, then the communion meal must be his body. The Reformed Protestants argue back that Catholics take this too literally. My reaction is that it's true that Jesus spoke in parables and symbols sometimes, but other times he really did mean things literally and physically like the resurrection of his body. So just because the Reformed Protestants show possible weaknesses in Catholicism does not actually directly show that the "Reformed" version must be right. In other words, just because Catholicism hasn't proved its case doesn't mean that the Reformed side has either.

    Typically when we want to find out what some religious community thought, we look at their writings. And the early Christians of the 1st to 2nd centuries AD - the time of the apostles or right after it - did produce writings commenting on religion. Does Reformed Protestantism have any solid, direct basis from these writings to show that they believed the Communion meal was "only" a symbol?

    It seems instead that the first clear, recorded interpretation of Communion as "only" a symbol and not physically or even spiritually Jesus' body was made in the era of Reformed Protestantism's beginning - about 1400 years after Jesus' and the apostles' time. It looks rather then that this position is a "modern" or Enlightenment Age re-interpretation of what Jesus said and not actually something that the apostles wrote or passed down.

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Ok, well I'm not sure I quite know what you're asking, but I'd like to correct a seeming misconception. Calvinists believe the Sacrament of communion and it is more than a symbol. They do not believe in a physical presence of Christ (Query: how can Christ be physically present at hundreds of churches across the globe at the same time? His Body isn't omnipresent! also, if the bread where really His body, wouldn't we re-sacrifice him every time we partook?) Calvinists believe in a spiritual presence (the part of Christ that IS omnipresent). the bread and wine do not change, but Christ is spiritually with each believer that partakes and imparts grace to them.
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    ~James 1:17

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    #1) why would Christ need to be in the communion when His lives in each one of us by The Holy Spirit?

    #2) we worship the Creator, not the created

    #3) Theres only one Church, the one Jesus is building
    Little faith will take your soul to heaven, big faith will bring heaven to your soul



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    Red face Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Hello, Tinuviel!

    According to the Center for Reformed Theology, Calvin did not teach the "real presence" or "local presence" of Christ's body in the Eucharist, and he opposed Martin Luther on this point. Instead, he only taught a descent of the Holy Spirit into this supper, and he said that by communing with Jesus we unite with His body. That is, Calvin's own "take" on the Communion meal was the body of Christ was not in that location physically like Catholics teach or spiritually like Lutheranism taught.

    Calvin rejected any notion of a local presence of Christ in the Supper. Labeling the Lutheran notion of the ubiquity of Christ's body a "phantasm,"...

    Calvin's opponents, Westphal and Tileman Heshusius, accused him of ambiguity and subtlety. They sought a sacramental theory in concrete language but did not find it in Calvin. ...

    Calvin avoided the language of "physicality" employed by the Lutherans. Christ's body and blood were to be "understood in terms of Christ's act of reconciliation, not in themselves." Although the believer, through the Supper, possesses a true communion with Christ's natural body and blood, it is not in terms of substantiality but rather in terms of the spiritual, redemptive benefits inherent in the resurrected and ascended body of Christ. Hence, for Calvin, a local presence is not necessary. The body of Christ remains in heaven.

    ...
    Although, on one hand, Calvin denies the descent of Christ's body to us (absentia localis), he paradoxically speaks of such a descent by the Holy Spirit as the source of real presence (praesentia realis) in the Supper.
    Antithesis at Reformed.org

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by dalconn View Post
    #1) why would Christ need to be in the communion when His lives in each one of us by The Holy Spirit?
    Hello, Dalconn.

    My question is whether the Reformed Protestants have any direct basis from the early Christian writings to say that it was only a symbol.

    I see that you are trying to use reasoning like "the Holy Spirit is enough, so Christ doesn't have to be in the Eucharist."
    So is that what Reformed teachings are based on? They just used their personal reasoning, like Occam's Razor, in the 16th century without any actual direct basis in early Christian writings to decide that the bread just totally stays bread without Jesus being in it like He said?

    Jesus says that He is in the Eucharist, and the church community taught that in 100-300 AD, and so did Luther and the Anglicans, but we can use Occam's Razor to show that it's just a symbol only?

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinuviel View Post
    Calvinists believe in a spiritual presence (the part of Christ that IS omnipresent). the bread and wine do not change, but Christ is spiritually with each believer that partakes and imparts grace to them.
    Hello, Tinuviel,
    Roughly speaking, Christ said that the bread at the Last Supper was his body and the Catholics and Lutherans believe that physically or spiritually. But the Reformed and Calvinists just think that body is present in the believer, not present in the elements of the meal itself, right?
    So my first main question is whether the Reformed based this on something Jesus or the early Christians said directly to that effect, or if it was a new teaching they decided on in the 16th century based on their own reasoning.

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    the Reformed and Calvinists just think that body is present in the believer, not present in the elements of the meal itself, right?
    So my first main question is whether the Reformed based this on something Jesus or the early Christians said directly to that effect, or if it was a new teaching they decided on in the 16th century based on their own reasoning.
    Christ was both Man and God, right? His body isn't divine (if it had been people would have died when they saw him). His spirit is divine, and able to be everywhere at once. Physically, he cannot be everywhere. The Calvinists don't believe in a bodily presence at all. Christ's body is in heaven, his Spirit is what communes with us here on earth.
    Last edited by Tinuviel; January 24th, 2016 at 12:22 AM.
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    ~James 1:17

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    I should say that they don't believe in a bodily presence on earth after the ascension.
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    ~James 1:17

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinuviel View Post
    Christ was both Man and God, right? His body isn't divine (if it had been people would have died when they saw him). His spirit is divine, and able to be everywhere at once. Physically, he cannot be everywhere. The Calvinists don't believe in a bodily presence at all. Christ's body is in heaven, his Spirit is what communes with us here on earth.
    Tinuviel,

    As I understand it from the passage I quoted, Calvinism may teach that Christ's spirit communes with people, but that spirit is not actually in the Communion food, correct?

    I could use logic and Bible passages to argue with you that Jesus' body is both human and divine (hence it ascended into heaven unlike nondivine bodies), but that is not my purpose. I am very simply trying to find out where did Reformed Protestants get their idea that Christ's spirit is not in the Communion food like more traditional Christians think. Was this an idea that they found in early Christian writings, or was it just a theology that they arrived at 1500+ years later based on their own faculties of reason?

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    Senior Member Tinuviel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Correct! (the fact that His body is divine doesn't make sense, Elijah wasn't divine, but still ascended in a manner similar to Christ).
    From reading Calvin's works I'm pretty sure that the idea was around before the Reformation-period, but I never remember him saying where it came from, so I'm afraid I am very unhelpful.
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    ~James 1:17

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Hello! I have three questions:
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics?

    (3) Does this Reformed Protestant approach to theology lead out of and away from Biblical Christianity?
    Reformed doesn't deal with tradition at all. We deal with the Bible as a whole, as the word of God, and aim to let him do his will through us.

    You're missing the meaning of "Protest"estantism -- we protested the RCC's ever-changing "traditions" and went back to the beginning -- God. The only reason we don't protest Catholicism anymore is because everyone knows where we stand, including the Catholics, so why repeat?

    As for what you grew up with -- PCUSA? There's your problem. You didn't grow up in a reformed church. You grew up in a church that trusts in humanism, not God. That's like assuming professional wrestlers on TV can teach you Roman-Greco wrestling.
    Lynn

    Still woman, but no lady.

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28

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    Smile Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinuviel View Post
    Correct! (the fact that His body is divine doesn't make sense, Elijah wasn't divine, but still ascended in a manner similar to Christ).
    From reading Calvin's works I'm pretty sure that the idea was around before the Reformation-period, but I never remember him saying where it came from, so I'm afraid I am very unhelpful.
    Tinuviel!

    Naturally it can be said that Christ's body took on divine qualities after the resurrection, as it was able to pass through closed doors or walls(John 20), become immortal, disappear, become unrecognizable, breathe God's spirit on people, etc. Elijah ascended too, but it was by a chariot carrying him.

    In any case, I am not sure whether relying on logical arguments one side can convince the other on the topic of the "local presence". In this thread, I am really interested in whether there were any clear early Christian portrayals of the Communion food being symbols only that lacked Christ's spiritual or physical presence in them, and whether such possible early portrayals were a basis for the Reformed theory of a symbolic meal only.

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Thanks for writing back, Depleted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Depleted View Post
    Reformed doesn't deal with tradition at all. We deal with the Bible as a whole, as the word of God, and aim to let him do his will through us.
    ...
    As for what you grew up with -- PCUSA? There's your problem. You didn't grow up in a reformed church. You grew up in a church that trusts in humanism, not God. That's like assuming professional wrestlers on TV can teach you Roman-Greco wrestling.
    I attended an Evangelical school. I am not aware of PCUSA teaching humanism as the best method.

    Also, it appears that you are simply saying that that the Reformed method does not involve tradition. It sounds like you are saying that if the early Christians of the 1st-3rd centuries who knew and were appointed by the apostles and by their apostles taught something about the Communon meal being really Christ's body, it would not matter because that would be Tradition and the Reformed don't follow that?

    So instead, Reformed follows the Bible as God's word. But in practice how does that work so that the Reformed reach a very different conclusions than Lutherans who follow "Sola Scripture" yet who also claim that the Communion meal has Christ's body's "real" and "local presence"?
    It seems rather that the Reformed movement, which started in the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason does follow "Reasoning", like asking rhetorically: "How could Jesus' body be in the meal if it is above in heaven?"
    Naturally, the Reformed can also try to see how the Spirit is leading them, but the Lutherans and Quakers have done that too and yet come to very different conclusions.

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Now let's move on to the next question:

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics?

    If we could find a robe of Jesus or garments worn by Paul and Peter, I presume that the Reformed Tradition would not believe that these physical items could heal Christians? Or if you could stand near a holy person or apostle, or find their bones, I presume that the Reformed would teach that standing near them or touching them is not something that could cause you to get healed. Certainly the Reformed Tradition would look down on someone who had Paul's garments or something like that and displayed them so that people could get healed after touching or kissing it, correct?

    If so, why? Was there a teaching in the 1st-3rd centuries AD by the Christians that says not to do this or that relics would not be involved in healing people as the Catholics use them?

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Would anyone have more ideas on this?

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Hello! I have three questions:
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics?

    (3) Does this Reformed Protestant approach to theology lead out of and away from Biblical Christianity?

    Thus speaketh the Horned One.

    1a.jpg

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Hello! I have three questions:
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?Yes.

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics? No idea what you're asking, (and I'm reformed.)

    (3) Does this Reformed Protestant approach to theology lead out of and away from Biblical Christianity? Who cares as long as it doesn't lead someone away from God himself vs. some whatever-you-want-it-to-mean PC phrase?
    ​BTW, Methodism is against reformed, and "evangelicals" is connected to reformed like libertarians are connected to either liberals or conservatives. You can be evangelical, but that doesn't have to mean you are also reformed. It doesn't mean you aren't either. So you might want to learn a bit about what reformed means before asking these kinds of questions.
    Lynn

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    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Thanks for writing back, Depleted.



    I attended an Evangelical school. I am not aware of PCUSA teaching humanism as the best method.

    Also, it appears that you are simply saying that that the Reformed method does not involve tradition. It sounds like you are saying that if the early Christians of the 1st-3rd centuries who knew and were appointed by the apostles and by their apostles taught something about the Communon meal being really Christ's body, it would not matter because that would be Tradition and the Reformed don't follow that?

    So instead, Reformed follows the Bible as God's word. But in practice how does that work so that the Reformed reach a very different conclusions than Lutherans who follow "Sola Scripture" yet who also claim that the Communion meal has Christ's body's "real" and "local presence"?
    It seems rather that the Reformed movement, which started in the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason does follow "Reasoning", like asking rhetorically: "How could Jesus' body be in the meal if it is above in heaven?"
    Naturally, the Reformed can also try to see how the Spirit is leading them, but the Lutherans and Quakers have done that too and yet come to very different conclusions.
    Yeah, PCUSA slowly left reformed and didn't bother telling anyone. Somewhere along the way a person should be able to figure it out though.
    Lynn

    Still woman, but no lady.

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28

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    Default Re: Can "Reformed" Protestantism's approach to theology lead out of Christianity?

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    Hello! I have three questions:
    (1) Does "Reformed" Protestantism (Calvinism, the Methodists, Evangelicals, etc.) have a real basis in early Christian traditions and writings to claim that the Communion meal is "only" a symbol and to reject Jesus' real presence in it?

    (2) Does Protestantism have a real basis in early Christianity to reject the special respect and claimed miraculous properties of holy relics?

    (3) Does this Reformed Protestant approach to theology lead out of and away from Biblical Christianity?

    Lots of Reformed folks believe in the Real Presence.

    The belief that communion is just SYMBOLIC comes from ZWINGLI...not Calvin.

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