"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Hocus Pocus Ordinances

The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 taught that at consecration the substance of the bread and the wine at communion is replaced by the substance of Christ's actual body and blood, thus the word transubstantiation.

When the average parishoner would ask the priest, "But why does the bread and wine still taste like bread and wine and not taste like flesh and blood?" the priest would answer, "It is not essential that it taste like blood or flesh to actually be blood and flesh."

Some of the laypeople became a little skeptical of the priest's explanation. In fact, some even felt the priests were pulling a fast one on the church. As a result the archaic phrase "hocus pocus," which means "to trick someone," was derived from the priest's words, in Latin, "hoc est (this is) the body and blood of Christ."

We must remember that God's people demand reasonable, Biblical explanations for the ordinances and will not settle for man's traditions or instititional pontifications.

A good reminder for us Southern Baptists.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

12 comments:

vicki a. davis said...

too agree that God's word must be our ultimate authority and not the words of men. We can learn a lot from Great Christians in history.

I am praying for you and have been. I've also been writing about you too.

lynn myers md said...

My long experience as a Christian has taught me to trust only in Jesus and his word. As for churches, for pastors, and for denominations they will fail. All are subject as I am to the flesh and in the end will fail. None are perfect. None are even close to perfect.

None are worthy of our worship. To do so is idolatry.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
You wrote, “We must remember that God's people demand reasonable, Biblical explanations for the
ordinances and will not settle for man's traditions.”
This agrees with Jesus, (Mark 7:9) “You are trampling under your feet God’s laws for the sake of
tradition.” Catholics gave tradition equal authority with the Bible in 1545. Where did they get this traditional stuff for ordinances? It wasn’t from Peter’s warning not to tempt, correct, test, question, or “make God angry by placing a heavy BURDEN
on these followers?” (Acts 15:10) Catholic tradition has its roots in Acts 15:21, “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish
synagogues in ever city on every Sabbath for many generations.” This verse is saying these laws are
tradition. Someone posted if you have a weak argument, you shout it to make it believable. Better
than that is to claim God wants it that way as brought out in Acts 15:28, “For it was the Holy
Spirit’s decision--and ours--to put no greater BURDEN on you than these necessary things.” WHAT! (Note this is a loud yell.) If verse 10 said it would make God angry to put a burden on the
Gentiles, why did the Holy Spirit put a burden on them in verse 28? I think someone was fibbing and
it wasn’t Peter. If their ordinance had not omitted Peter’s words of salvation being a gift, there would have never been Catholics...only Baptists. Just my
opinion of course.
Rex Ray

scott m said...

I've long had an interest in etymology and both ancient and medieval cultures and thought. Something in the characterization of the questioning of lay people struck me as off-kilter for the medieval mind, so I did a little quick research.

The Online Etymology Dictionary traces hocus pocus back to the early 1600s (post-medieval). A little more research turned up this more detailed look at its history, including a picture of the page with its first printed use. As both sources indicate, it was John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was hardly a lay person. It had more to do with their dispute with Rome than anything else. Even today, the Anglican tradition contains those who hold a view similar to transubstantiation (the name of which is taken from an Aristolian philosophy of Substance and Accidents, not our more typical present-day understanding of substance), those with a view more like the consubstantiation of the Lutheran tradition, and a number of other ways of affirming the Real Presence. One of the things they certainly reject is our purely symbolic and commemorative observance, which they term the Real Absence.

Out of curiosity, I did a little research into the "symbolic" perspective we follow, since I knew the way we interpret it would have been foreign to both the ancient and medieval mindsets. Interestingly, though it's often attributed to Zwingli (who certainly had a lot of influence on our tradition), the clearest explicit link seems to be to Faustus Socinus. Both lived in the 1500s, though the latter certainly strikes me as a heretic. Outside the way he approached, conducted, and wrote about communion, he promoted a number of clear heresies. He denied the Trinity, denied that Jesus was God, and similar views.

I did also find it interesting that transubstantiation was adopted as an effort to reject a particular heresy, but had at best mixed success. It was an attempt to translate the ancient understanding of communion into something that fit into the medieval mindset and philosophy.

Anyway, I know that's a complete digression from your central point, but thought I would share some of the things I ran across. Things are often more complex than not.

Also, I do appreciate your work and efforts as a trustee of the IMB. Thank you.

Ronnie Thompson said...

I am thankful for Pastors who understand how important it is to get it right. What an overwhelming responsibility.

It occurs to me however, that even though I don't pastor a church, I am the pastor of my family. It is also important that I get it right. Wow, what an overwhelming responsibilty. As weak as I am, what an opportunity to experience God's grace and power and love.

James said...

This point is funny to me, since Catholics would also say that they are taking Jesus at his word (more literally than we are), when he said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). And when he said, "This is my body" (Matt. 26:26). That's "hoc est meum corpus" in Latin (I think) and is the phrase that was jumbled into "hocus pocus" (so I've heard).

Let's be honest in our arguments and attempt to understand a view before we disregard it--thank you Scott M. Perhaps we should better define what we mean by a literal interpretation of Scripture, or else criticize the Roman Catholic church on a different point!

Anonymous said...

Wade,
I agree with vicki a.davis saying. “to agree that God's word must be our ultimate authority and
not the words of men. We can learn a lot from Great Christians in history.”
I believe the Bible with all my heart. God’s word is perfect anyway you look at it. The Bible also records words that are not His, but are from the devil, ignorant, uninformed, stupid, and lies from men. The Bible is like a camcorder recording
events that take place. So many times the Bible
does not point out who is wrong, but Jesus said the
Holy Spirit would teach us. That’s where faith must
rule over the wisdom of hard-headed men. The
difficult part is separating ‘wisdom’ and the Holy
Spirit. Paul tells us the key: “Study to shew thyself
approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2
Timothy 2:15) “word of truth” is the Bible. Why
does Paul say we must divide the Bible unless he is
saying we must divide the words of God from the
words of men, or divide truth from untruth?
Another key is to study the Bible through the eyes
of Jesus and that is the most important. Jesus is
everything. Paul could not pound this truth through
the thick sculls of Jewish Christians. Laws were so
ingrained in their minds, they could not see that
Jesus fulfilled the law. They could not see the
freedom in Christ as shown by Glatians 2:4 “Some
so-called Christians there--false ones, really--who
came to spy on us and see our freedom in Christ
Jesus. They wanted to force us, like slaves, to
follow their Jewish regulations.” Their regulations
came alive in Acts 15 with the greatest victory the
devil ever had in confusing his greatest defeat...what
God did on Calvary.
I was disappointed you did not print my post. I
didn’t attack anyone by name, but maybe you
thought I was doing worse...attacking the Bible. I
feel I am trying to make God’s word stronger by
revealing words of men from His. That’s why I
wrote the above. You may say as Agrippa, “Do you
think you can make me [believe as you] so
quickly?” Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I
pray to God that both you and everyone here in this
audience might become the same as I am, except for
these chains” of Moderate hung around my neck.
You see, Wade, I believe myself to be a true
conservative that believed “enough is enough” a
long time ago. I’ll try this post again even if is only
you who knows how I feel.
You wrote, “We must remember that God's people
demand reasonable, Biblical explanations for the
ordinances and will not settle for man's traditions.”
This agrees with Jesus, (Mark 7:9) “You are
trampling under your feet God’s laws for the sake of
tradition.” Catholics gave tradition equal authority
with the Bible in 1545. Where did they get this
traditional stuff for ordinances? It wasn’t from
Peter’s warning not to tempt, correct, test, question,
or “make God angry by placing a heavy BURDEN
on these followers?” (Acts 15:10) Catholic
tradition has their roots in Acts 15:21, “For these
laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish
synagogues in ever city on every Sabbath for many
generations.” This verse is saying these laws are
tradition. Someone posted if you have a weak
argument, you shout to make it believable. Better
than that is to claim God wants it that way as
brought out in Acts 15:28, “For it was the Holy
Spirit’s decision--and ours--to put no greater
BURDEN on you than these necessary things.”
WHAT! (Note this is a loud yell.) If verse 10 said
it would make God angry to put a burden on the
Gentiles, why did the Holy Spirit put a burden on
them in verse 28? I think someone was fibbing and
it wasn’t Peter. If their ordinance had not omitted
Peter’s words of salvation being a gift, there would
have never been Catholics...only Baptists. Just my
opinion of course.
Rex Ray

Kevin said...

Wade
I was in a new church start a few years ago and in less than 9 months we already had traditions that would sometimes dictate to us about who we are. The SBC and it affiliates need to make sure that those "traditions" don't become the most important thing.

keep reminding us what is.

Kevin

Bry said...

Wade, you have brought up an interesting subject to me and ne that I am quite passionate about. There are more understandings of the Lord's Table than the Roman view and the symbolic view.

For the first thousand years of Christian history, when the Church was visibly one and undivided, the holy gifts of the Body and Blood of Christ were received as just that: His Body and Blood. The Church confessed this was a mystery: The bread is truly His Body, and that which is in the cup is truly His Blood, but one cannot say how they become so.

The eleventh and twelfth centuries brought on the scholastic era, the Age of Reason in the West. The Roman Church, which had become separated from the Orthodox Church in A.D. 1054, was pressed by the rationalists to define how the transformation takes place. They answered with the word transubstantiation, meaning a change of substance. The elements are no longer bread and wine; they are physically changed into flesh and blood. The sacrament, which only faith can comprehend, was subjected to a philosophical definition. This second view of the Eucharist was unknown to the ancient Church.

Not surprisingly, one of the points of disagreement between Rome and the sixteenth-century reformers was the issue of transubstantiation. Unable to accept this explanation of the sacrament, the radical reformers, who were rationalists themselves, took up the opposite point of view: the gifts are nothing but bread and wine, period. They only represent Christ's Body and Blood; they have no spiritual reality. This third, symbol-only view helps explain the infrequency with which some Protestants partake of the Eucharist. This is a true of all the Baptist churches I have been a part of. Because of our low view of Christ's Body and Blood in the Lord's Supper we do not take this command very serously. I pray this may change but I don't see any trend in that direction. It is a shame that I as Baptist must attend the Episcapal Church just so I can have communion.

Anonymous said...

To Bry,
One thing I like about Wade’s blog is the great majority of what is said is true. But you
said, “For the first thousand years of Christian history, when the Church was visibly and undivided.” How do you define ‘undivided?’ The largest division of the Christian
church took place at the First Church Counsel. One side said salvation was through
Christ and obeying the Jewish laws as shown by Acts 21:20, “You see, brother, how
many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the
law.” The other side was Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and company who said salvation was a
gift. Division causes persecution. Paul was persecuted by Christians: “...I have faced
grave dangers...from men who claim to be brothers in Christ” 2 Cor.11:26 “We who are
born of the Holy Spirit are persecuted by those who want us to keep the Jewish laws.”
“...if I preached ...Jewish laws are necessary for the plan of salvation, I’d be persecuted
no more.” “Those teachers...who are trying to convince you to be circumcised are doing
it to avoid the persecution they would get if they admitted the cross of Christ alone can
save...” Gal. 4:29 5:11 6:12,13 “...with tears in my eyes, there are many who walk along
the Christian road who are really enemies of the cross of Christ.” Phil. 3:18
Bry, the division got so bad in the year 251, a small group withdrew from the group
that started baptizing babies for salvation. They said, ‘enough is enough.’ The large
group that were named Catholic in 313, called the small group the hated name of
Anabaptist. ‘The Trail of Blood’ by J. M. Carroll shows they were the roots of Baptists
today.
What disturbs me most about your post is your saying, “Because of our low view of
Christ's Body and Blood in the Lord's Supper we do not take this command very
seriously. It is a shame that I as Baptist must attend the Episcopal Church just so I can
have communion.”
You are wrong in saying the Lord’s Supper is a command. The Great Commission is
a command to do at every opportunity. To love one another is a command to do
constantly. Jesus said of the Lord’s Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.” It does
not mean to do it every time we think of Jesus. It is not to becomes routine or an idol.
The Lord’s Supper is special. Making it special is not making it a low view. Part of the
communion is the fellowship of companions. There were no strangers in the room with
Jesus. To go to a strange church for the Lord’s Supper blows my mind. Wonder if
anyone says, “Here comes that guy again.”
Rex Ray

Bry said...

Bro. Rex,

Good response and I appreciate what you have to say. It would be beyond my desire or ability to answer all the things you brought up in your response. I believe you are reading some erroneous history in the Trail of Blood. I have read this booklet but it has been many years ago. We would only be bumping heads in trying to convince the other of our views. I am not sure but I do believe Jesus said do this often in remembrance of me. Maybe this isn't a command but it sounds like one to me. The early church took communion every week on the first day of the week. I don't think there is much argument about that. As to my attending an Episcopal Church to take communion more often was a bit of hyperbole. I have attended a small Episcopal Church for years on various occasions because I have in-laws who go there. It is usually on special occasions and I know all the people there. It is special however to take communion with these folks. It is always the highlight of their services and not an after thought.

Bry

answer-man said...

Just dropped in to read your blog. We are reading what others have to say and are introducing ourselves as well. We are intoducing The new Holy Bibles King James Versions and New Living Translations and especially The New Children's Bibles on DVD and invite you to stop by and visit us at: **BibleMediaDvd.Com**

We hope you don't mind our comment on your site and do so repectfully.
Thank you and God Bless.