Eschatology: The Image and Mark of the Beast

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This series on Christian Eschatology discusses the aspects of Daniel and Revelation least affected by speculation. The most significant problem with Christian Eschatology is arbitrary interpretation, rooted in writer’s opinions or church traditions. This series derives conclusions from only two things: scripture and the historical record. No tradition is permitted.

The complete series:

The Whore of Babylon
Ten and Three Horns
The Seven Kings
“The Image and Mark of the Beast” (this part)

The Image and Mark

The mark of the beast is, arguably, the part of Revelation that everyone is most familiar with. Even many non-Christians know about it. The mark of the beast is often portrayed in popular media as a computer chip that is put under the skin. Many thought the COVID vaccines contained computer chips that would be injected into each person without their knowledge, forcing them to take the mark of the beast and thus damning the whole world as per scripture. But, as this series has shown, appealing to tradition or popular culture to explain scripture is the wrong approach and ends up blinding you.

In “Reviewing Wright’s Universal Apologia: Part 9“, I discussed the image and mark of the beast at length, including an identification of the second beast (or False Prophet) of Revelation 13:11-17, 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20 and 20:4. Some of that information is presented here, but this will focus only on scripture and more detailed historical records, as pertains to the both the image and the mark of the beast. We begin by reading about the image and mark in John’s apocalypse:

Revelation 13:14-17
And [the second beast] will deceive those who live on the earth by the signs that were given him to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who had the stroke of the sword and lived. And it was granted to him to give life to it, even to the image to the beast, so that the image of the beast could both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he will make everyone, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, so that no one will be able to buy or to sell unless he has the mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name.

The image and mark of the beast are also mentioned in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20 and 20:4. Revelation describes the following signs of the image and the mark:

  • The image will come alive
  • The image will speak
  • The image will be worshiped
  • Those who do not worship the image will be killed
  • The mark is received on the hand or forehead (13:16, 14:9, 20:4)
  • The mark is received when the image is worshiped (14:9,11)
  • No one without the mark will be able to buy or sell.
  • Ugly and grievous sores on those who received the mark (16:2)

Identifying the Image and Mark

We start by observing that an image is an idol. It is an object—or representation—made by human hands. Idolatry is the worship of that object—the image—made by the hands of man. For example, Daniel 3 records Nebuchadnezzar making an image of gold and commanding that it be worshiped. Even the idolatrous greedy man[1] worships his money and possessions. So, to identify the image of the beast, we are looking for an object, made by the hands of man, that is worshiped.

Next, we observe that the mark of the beast is received when the image is worshiped. This is why a vaccine cannot be the mark of the beast. While it is made by human hands, it is not worshiped. Being forced to receive a thing against your will is not worshiping it. You can be deceived into worshiping the the image, but you can’t be forced to against your will, and like all idolatry, you can repent.

The next clue to the identity of the image is found in the mark itself, which is received on the head or forehead. What does this mean? It is an ancient Mosaic figure-of-speech. There are three things that can yield a mark on the head or forehead. The first is the use of unleavened bread of Passover (in Exodus 13:6-9), the second is the redemption of the firstborn (in Exodus 13:12-16), and the third is teaching God’s word to our children (in Deuteronomy 6:6-8 and 11:18). The first is described thus:

Exodus 13:6-9
For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.

Of the three, only this is an act of receiving something that is made from the hands of man. Moreover, it is the Passover bread[2], the very thing that Jesus used when he instituted communion at the first Lord’s Table and instructed us to repeat in remembrance of him. The image of the beast that we seek is the unleavened Passover bread of the eucharist. The term eucharist (meaning ‘thanksgiving’ or ‘praise’) was adopted alongside “The Lord’s Supper”, in part because of the offering of prayers of thanksgiving and in part because the food for the meal was taken from the thanksgiving tithe offering. To wit:

The Collapse of the Eucharist, Part 1

At the conclusion of the thank offering—the Eucharist—the congregation said “Amen.” Bread and wine were then taken from the tithe for the Lord’s Supper to be Consecrated for a memorial meal. That was the ancient liturgical order: Dismissal. Eucharist. “Amen.” Consecration. The Lord’s Supper. For three hundred years, the early Church celebrated it that way.

Citation: Timothy F. Kauffman, “The Collapse of the Eucharist, Part 1.” (2020)

The liturgical order of the Roman Catholic Eucharist does not follow that of the early church. This alteration reflects the change in meaning of the Lord’s Supper, and so also the meaning of the unleavened bread.

The bread of the Roman Catholic Eucharist is the image of the beast. It can be nothing else. Taking this bread in an act of worship is idolatry and causes one to be marked. The Roman Catholic religion claims that it transforms into the ‘Host’, the actual body of Jesus, by process of transubstantiation. But it is just bread made by human hands. To worship something made by human hands is idolatry. Thus is the mark of the beast received when the Roman Catholic Host is received during the Roman Catholic Mass and worshiped as if it were Christ himself.

What then about the other five signs? Can we confirm that they apply?

The Signs

When has the image of the beast come alive? 

On August 18, 1996. The story is relayed here.

At seven o’clock in the evening on August 18, 1996, Fr. Alejandro Pezet was saying Holy Mass at a Catholic church in the commercial center of Buenos Aires. As he was finishing distributing Holy Communion, a woman came up to tell him that she had found a discarded host on a candleholder at the back of the church. On going to the spot indicated, Fr. Alejandro saw the defiled Host.

he placed it in a container of water and put it away

On Monday, August 26, upon opening the tabernacle, he saw to his amazement that the Host had turned into a bloody substance. He informed Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Auxiliary Bishop at that time), who gave instructions that the Host be professionally photographed. The photos were taken on September 6. They clearly show that the Host, which had become a fragment of bloodied flesh, had grown significantly in size. For several years the Host remained in the tabernacle, the whole affair being kept a strict secret. Since the Host suffered no visible decomposition, Cardinal Bergoglio decided to have it scientifically analyzed.

And what was the result?

On October 5, 1999, in the presence of the Cardinal’s representatives, Dr. Castanon took a sample of the bloody fragment and sent it to New York for analysis. Since he did not wish to prejudice the study, he purposely did not inform the team of scientists of its provenance.

Zugiba testified that, “the analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves…The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken…since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest.” [It was at this point that Dr. Zugiba informed the research team that police authorities should be notified because a violent crime had likely occurred. It is also worth noting that the sample’s condition is consistent with the effects of death by crucifixion].

This is one of the better documented of the many claims of Eucharistic miracles where the host comes to life, one authenticated by the current Roman Catholic Pope.

Has the image of the beast spoken?

As with the Eucharistic miracle of the Host coming to life, there are many more cases of the Host speaking, especially to Roman Catholic mystics. Examples include Clare of Assisi, Anna Maria Taiga, Paul of the Cross, and Alan de la Roche (Timothy F. Kauffman, If This Bread Could Talk).

Has anyone who refused to worship the image been killed?

The Roman Catholic religion’s violent responses to heresy are well-attested (see: The Martyr’s Mirror). During the 1,260 year period where the Roman Catholic used the civil power of the sword to persecute Christians, many were killed for refusing to take the bread. The Waldensian Christians were massacred in 1655 for their heresy, including not believing the bread was the real body of Christ. In the early 13th century, the Albigensian Christians (Cather) were murdered in a Crusade for their heresy. The refusal to take the bread was a primary feature of the Medieval Inquisition. Here are some examples:

Inquisition

Although the king was willing and able to protect individuals when their views seemed to him orthodox, the growing scale of Protestantism in France and the assault on a number of doctrines that Francis I held to be absolutely essential to religious orthodoxynotably the doctrine of the Eucharist—diminished the king’s role over the next several decades and heightened that of parlement and the faculty of theology at Paris. The king himself appears to have followed the custom in France since the late thirteenth century of appointing an inquisitor-general from the Dominican Order.

Citation: Edward Peters, “Inquisition.” pg. 141-142.

…and…

Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont

Jacob Birone, a schoolmaster of Rorata, for refusing to change his religion, was stripped quite naked; and after having been very indecently exposed, had the nails of his toes and fingers torn off with red-hot pincers, and holes bored through his hands with the point of a dagger. He then had a cord tied round his middle, and was led through the streets with a soldier on each side of him. At every turning the soldier on his right hand side cut a gash in his flesh, and the soldier on his left hand side struck him with a bludgeon, both saying, at the same instant, Will you go to mass? will you go to mass? He still replied in the negative to these interrogatories, and being at length taken to the bridge, they cut off his head on the balustrades, and threw both that and his body into the river.

Citation: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Further Persecutions in the Valleys of Piedmont, in the seventeenth Century

Has anyone who refused to worship the image been unable to buy or sell?

Yes. When the Roman Catholic Church didn’t kill heretics outright, it banished them and forbid commerce with them. For the “heresy” of the Albigensians, Pope Alexander II declared:

Council of Tours, Canon 4

That the Albigensian heretics are to be shunned. … Commercial trade with them is forbidden; neither the sale nor the purchase of things may be undertaken with them, in order that that source of comfort to mankind might at least force them to see the errors of their lives to return to their senses.

Citation: Pope Alexander II, “Canon 4.” Council of Tours (1163)

History thus attests.

Has anyone who received the mark also received sores?

Yes, the stigmata.

Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of Saints

The ecstasy and sufferings usually began for the Saints who suffered stigmata starting on Thursday and ending on Friday afternoon around 3 or 4 o’clock. All the recipients of this mystical wounding suffered dreadfully. Many of the stigmatics experienced cruel rejection and suspicion before their wounds were authenticated. Saints who suffered stigmata were carefully watched day and night so that tampering with the wounds could not be performed. When these methods were used, a number of false stigmatics were exposed. Sometimes this stigmata became invisible on express request and prayers by the Saints who suffered them.

Citation: Joan Carroll Cruz, “Mysteries, Marvels, Miracles in the Lives of Saints.” ISBN 978-0-89555-541-0 (Retrieved from catholic.org, “Stigmata“)

At least ten Roman Catholic Saints suffered from the stigmata, as well as others who received the mark. There are countless examples of the Stigmata. Although not all can be authenticated, many are. Their association with the Host—from Thursday to Friday afternoon, the times when Jesus was on the cross—is undeniable. The suffering that these people receive for worshiping the image is quite real as well.

Other Evidence

The Roman Catholic Church is not the only one that believes in transubstantiation. Others include the Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, and Assyrian Church of the East. But it is only in Roman Catholicism that the five signs are fulfilled.  Of particular noteworthiness, the Stigmata only afflicts Roman Catholics and of those usually one in a Roman Catholic Order, those who are especially devout in their zealousness to the church. It also occurs frequently among Catholic mystics, those who are most open to the influence of the spirits. Many stigmatics become obsessed with the Eucharist.

Though worshiped as an image in these other churches, the bread is not the image of the beast because the beast only refers to Papal Roman Catholicism. These miracles only occur in Roman Catholicism because it is the beast, not because worship of the Host is idolatry. It is through the fulfillment of these signs that we can infer the identity of the beast, rather than be unclear which church or churches it applies to.

There is no ambiguity or subjectivity in determining how the signs might apply. There is only one possibility and nothing else comes close to satisfying the conditions. To be completely sure, John gave us five signs, so that we wouldn’t have to worry if we applied a one or two incorrectly. For example, whenever someone is forbidden from buying or selling by a government or business, someone may bring up the mark of the beast, but they can never satisfy the other four signs, nor the reference to the “hand and forehead”, nor explain how idolatry is involved. And of course, all five signs have already been fulfilled. Rejecting fulfilled signs to look somewhere else for something more palatable is an intentional act of self-deception (see below).

Scripture and History

The most significant impediment to identifying the image and mark of the beast is tradition. Unlike many of the prophecies contained in Revelation, this one is both the clearest and the most important.

The return of Jesus will likely be a surprise to most people who experience, but it matters little. What matters is being ready, and you don’t need to know when Jesus will return to do that. If you are a Christian, when Jesus returns you won’t care that you missed the signs. Similarly, if you mistake the historical events that involve the seals, trumpets, and bowls, this is unlikely to impact your life unless you are unlucky enough to experience one of them personally.

But the identification of the antichrist matters. If you get that wrong, you stand a huge chance of being deceived, even embracing the antichrist and taking his mark. Your very soul is at risk. What this series has shown is that the identity of the antichrist is solely a matter of scripture and knowledge of history. There is no need to speculate on what you do not know. There is no need to derive complex eschatological formulae. No esoteric knowledge is required.

Self-Deception

Without any sense of self-awareness, Roman Catholics confronted with these facts may simply assert that the future antichrist will be so convincing at imitating the true church that its signs will be nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, except for those true Catholics who know what they are looking for. Such is the impact of self-deception of trusting a church over the Word of God.

Consider the absurdity. Will the antichrist cause the unleavened bread of Passover to come alive, to pulse and bleed and come up on scientific tests as heart muscle? How could this miracle be in any way distinguished from the Eucharistic miracles experienced by Roman Catholics? The answer is that it can’t be. Will the followers of the antichrist get sores on their hands, exactly like their Roman Catholic counterparts? How will anyone know if someone receiving the Stigmata is a true Roman Catholic or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? They cannot know, for the signs are identical. The fulfillment of the signs is not an imitation, it is an exact prophetic match.

The purpose of signs is to act as identification. If the antichrist of Revelation and the Roman Catholic church are so similar that the signs match each one, then they are not meaningfully different enough to distinguish between them. Either the signs are of no use whatsoever, or the signs match the Roman Catholic Church and condemn it.

Because they do not believe in the primacy of Word of God alone, their chosen axiom prevents them from identifying any errors inside the church, as by definition no such errors can occur. So long as they cling to this axiom, detection of the antichrist will always remain out of reach, for it is the Word of God that defines the antichrist. Such confirmation bias is self-imposed blindness.

 

Footnotes

[1] Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5

[2] Jesus broke the unleavened bread of Passover and gave it to his disciples. Then he instructed them to repeat it in remembrance of him. For the Christian, the Passover took on new significance in Christ’s fulfillment. The referent of the modern Lord’s Supper remains the Passover feast that Jesus celebrated with the disciples. The use of unleavened bread has remained in Roman Catholicism.

18 Comments

  1. Grey

    Stigmata has always been something I rejected as of the devil. It is not in the character of miracles of God to cause arbitrary suffering.

    I wouldn’t put it past the covax to be a type of mark though. Worship means to beleive in the power of a thing. The covax has absolutely fanatical worshipers.

    The papal states coveted Milan for a long time, and made war on the HRE for it. More than that, desire to claim Milan was the cause for many romanish dogmas that rule them today. There was a line of popes determined to get it by sword or swindle.

    It’s interesting you write about Milan being the principle Italian diocese in the early church.

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      If you reject the Stigmata, you need to also reject the sacrament of penance. Penance is “the ordinary means appointed by Christ for the remission of sin.” Ultimately it is justification by works.

      Many things can be idolatry, they just are not the specific idolatry that comes with the Antichrist and the Image of the Beast. All idolatry is sin.

      Yes, there is some evidence that a lot of dead bodies were left behind in the Bishop(s) of Rome’s push for primacy. Certainly a lot of money and power was involved.

      Milan was the principle Metropolis in the (civil) Diocese of Italy. Since Diocletian’s civil reorganization in the late 3rd century, the church more-or-less tried to copy the civil jurisdictions into the ecumenical context. That’s why when Oriens split, Alexandria just got the whole of the Diocese of Egypt and Antioch got the whole of Oriens (minus whatever Jerusalem got), regardless of whether or not it was equivalent to the previous setup. The church councils were largely practical. They didn’t want to have to deal with neverending jurisdictional conflicts, so they generally gave the church at the chief Metropolis power over every other church in the Diocese, unless there was more than one Metropolis in a single diocese, then they used the “custom of Rome” to carve out provinces for the lesser Metropolis.

  2. Grey

    I do reject pennence as a salvific sacriment, but I don’t see that it’s for the same reason I reject the stigmata. Assisi as a whole looks like a massive showboater and a lot of very bad ideas came from him and his followers. I contrast him with the other poor monk Domanic, and Domanic is far more level headed. Of course Waldo and his poor men of Lyons are even better.

    If at the end of all things the Papacy was the special antichrist of Revelation it would shock me little. But there are many antichrists in the world. I don’t wonder that the current pope has tight ties to the WEF etc, it’s plain.

    Worse than the bodies is the twisting of Christian doctrine, it harms the soul. Rome aggressively twisted doctrine to their advantage over and over. That gets me even worse than the pile of bodies.

    Good information in that last paragraph, thanks for it.

    When I looked it up it appeared the blessing of the bread and oil was a seperate blessing from communion, but I’m not sure at the quality of the translation I found. Did it seem to you it was the same?

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      The Didache Chapters 9, 10 and 14 describe the Eucharistic thank offering (the tithe), which concludes with the prayer of thanks and the “Amen”. No one could participate that was not a baptized believer and also had no unconfessed sins. The church to whom Didache refers had a meal from out of the Eucharist offering, but all of this took place before the Consecration (epiclesis) and the Lord’s Supper. The Didache includes the Dismissal, Eucharist, Prayer and Amen, but no mention of the Consecration or the Lord’s Supper. In other words, lots of “Eucharist”, but no “Communion”.

      Hippolytus also describes a Eucharistic meal that omits any reference to the Consecration.

      Justin Martyr wrote that the Consecration (“This is my body” and “This is my blood”) took place after the Eucharist.

      All of these have served to befuddle Roman Catholics who don’t understand why they didn’t mention the Consecration. This has led to the belief that the thanksgiving prayer itself implies the consecration, and that the consecration does not require Christ’s words of initiation. This is, of course, eisegesis.

      It is worth noting that the Didache matches the Last Supper: The disciples had been eating and drinking before Christ gave the thanksgiving blessing. In other words, prayers of thanksgiving were given after the meal, in thanks for what they had just received, but before the Consecration (“This is my body” and “This is my blood”).

      Now, not all churches included a meal with the eucharistic tithe, since people could eat before coming to church, but the advantage of this was that it made sure that the poor in the church were fed.

    2. Derek L. Ramsey

      The reason the stigmata is accepted is because it is considered suffering on the same level as penance. If penance is required of all men for their sins, then anyone receiving the stigmata should embrace it just as they would any penance. It’s just another way to pay the cost. But if you don’t draw that connection, I don’t think it really matters.

  3. Grey

    It’s taking me time to get back to you on this.

    Hippolytus you had seemed to inferred blessed oil and cheese alongside bread and wine for the Eucharist. It seemed to me those were separate blessings. But I see your research is a little more complicated than that. Thank you for your work.

    Oh I understand your point about stigmata now. No I didn’t make that connection at first.

    Frankly I don’t like your conclusions, the notion that ‘this is the mark and that’s that’ grates on me who is used to eschatological mysteries. Not that merely disliking it means much.

    There’s been something bugging me for years that’s semi relevant here. Tell me what you think or what you know about it.

    Christ’s body is now glory incorruptible, physically its not something that can be broken, harmed, or digested. The scholastics knew this and their explanation as to the mechanics of transsubstantiation were built around that.

    Now for normal protestant explanations, like cosubstantiation, the physical sivstance of the bread and wine is comingled with the spiritual substance of Christ. The physical bread is broken down, the spiritual substance of Christ received, and you have Real Presence within the communicant. That all works well and the east is similar when they explain it at all.

    But transsubstantiation demands the physical substance of the bread is replaced with the physical substance of the body of Christ. So the whole thing is broken up into a series of miracles to explain. Aquinas puts the number at 4.

    In any case, the last miracle is always an undoing of the previous miracles. And it always happens before the host enters the communicant.

    The communicant never actually receives Christ. That union is quite explicitly wisked away by a ‘miracle’ the very moment before it would be received.

    This shocked me. To me it’s a great deception.

    The mechanics of communion difference is that per the papist formula communion straight up doesn’t work, it doesn’t happen.

    So, with that on my mind coming here I have to take your claims seriously even if I don’t really want too.

    Plus your scholarship is top notch, good work, very faithful.

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      “The communicant never actually receives Christ. That union is quite explicitly wisked away by a ‘miracle’ the very moment before it would be received. This shocked me. To me it’s a great deception.”

      I’ll be honest, I have not spent any time delving deep into the details of how the transubstantiation is supposed to work. It is the fact that the bread is worshiped (latria) that triggers the fulfillment of the sign in Revelation. The details of precisely how the false doctrine works is like arguing about which rotten apple in the pile is the best one.

      I’m refuting transubstantiation indirectly. By showing that it is a non-apostolic doctrinal development and that it matches the signs of the image of the beast, I don’t actually have to refute it directly. All I have to do is show that it is worshiped and fulfills all of the signs.

      More widely, if you can defend the notion that Roman Catholicism does not exist in the Patristic writings before 350AD, then it really doesn’t matter what the church did after that point. I utterly reject historical revisionism. So I’ve read very little of anything between 400AD and 1100AD, only touching writings in that period occasionally. My main concern there is with apostolic continuity between the heretics of the 4th century until the Waldenses on the 12th century. This will change over time, but that’s how things are for now.

      Regardless, you seem to have done much more work on this topic, so if you could cite some good sources, I’d appreciate it. It’s always good to approach the issue from multiple angles.

  4. Grey

    It’s from chapter 66 of summa contra gentilis. I’ll try to cut down to the relevant bits, it’s long…

    “But a very great difficulty appears regarding the generation and corruption which seems to take place in this sacrament.” The body of Christ can’t be corrupted via digestion. That would be sacrilege.


    They hold thus: When this sacrament happens to be converted into flesh or blood by nutrition, or into ashes by combustion or putrefaction, the accidents are not converted into substance; nor is the substance of the body of Christ converted; but by a divine miracle the substance of the bread which was there previously returns, and from it are generated the things into which we find the sacrament converted.”

    The miracle is undone before it is received.

    Later

    “it would follow, therefore, that simultaneously present there would be both the substance of the bread and the substance of the body of Christ. ”

    The logical solution to all this is the protestant position.

    But I hadn’t noticed before the whole thing is hand waived off at the end:

    ‘Therefore, it seems better to say that in the consecration itself, just as the substance of the bread is miraculously converted into the body of Christ so this is miraculously conferred on the accidents’

    Actually, that’s a bit worse than I remember. I’m transubstantiation christ is miraculously made corruptible. That assertion is repeated again in the following chapter about breaking the bread and pouring the wine… Papist eucharist is actually just sacrilege.

    It must have been another schoolman that said it was undone before it was digested. None could just admit what eventually would be the protestant position, and evidently was the default position before Rome.

    https://isidore.co/aquinas/english/ContraGentiles4.htm#61

    Honestly though you talk about Wikipedia, but the internet as a whole doesn’t have anything like the permanency that it appears too. I’ve taken to downloading things, so many important papers have been disappeared even from the internet archives.

    You’re right to disprove it all at the root. Sola scriptura is right. I had just seen this problem year’s ago and the implications seemed serious.

    If it is the mark is is very serious, and that study helps me accept the things you say here. Everything works together for those who seek Him right?

    1. Derek L. Ramsey

      I have not studied the words of Aquinas (who lived in the 13th century), though I acknowledge that he was highly influential in the development of church doctrine. My problem with his description of transubstantiation is that it contradicts the later official declaration of the church:

      “CANON II.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.” — Council of Trent, 13th Session, 1517

      It’s not clear why, by the church’s standards, Aquinas isn’t a heretic, since he denied that the species only remains:

      ““it would follow, therefore, that simultaneously present there would be both the substance of the bread and the substance of the body of Christ. ””

      My guess (though I do not know) is that Aquinas’ view was considered an early development that just happened to be wrong by no fault of his own, thus the need to have it clarified at the Council.

      “I’ve taken to downloading things, so many important papers have been disappeared even from the internet archives.”

      I’ve been doing this to some extent, but I need to be more diligent about it.

      “You’re right to disprove it all at the root. Sola scriptura is right. I had just seen this problem year’s ago and the implications seemed serious.”

      As someone who isn’t immediately hostile to Christian mysticism, I have never been strictly sola scriptura, but rather leave open the possibility for direct revelation, either publicly by prophets or privately in individuals. But I don’t believe that direct revelation can contradict scripture, so I suppose that might still qualify. In any case, my research is pushing me towards sola scriptura, not away from it, a result I didn’t expect. You mentioned how uncomfortable some of this makes you, and it’s been like that for me. The more I learn, the more I am dragged into conclusions I didn’t know I needed to make.

      1. Grey

        To clarify, Aquinas says that cosubstantiation is the logical solution to all thid, but cannot be accepted per Catholic dogma, therefore the body of Christ must miraculously be made corruptible.

        So his final statement is Roman, but his logic is not. There are a number of places where Aquinas does this. Notably also with purgatory. Aquinas notes the logical solution, (which is usually what protestants ultimately accepted) or the illogic of papal dogma, than then states the church teaching with no further elaboration.

        Sola scriptura says scripture covers everything nessisary for salvation and nothing can be added too those requirements. Unless you’re claiming mystics can add to what is needful for salvation then mysticism has nothing to do with it. Scripture is ‘all the essentials’ not at all ‘every act of God’. Private revelations that do not contract scripture are fine.

        1. Derek L. Ramsey

          “[He states] the illogic of [insert doctrine here], then states the church teaching with no further elaboration.

          Ah, I understand. This is just the Roman Catholic axiom of sola ecclesia (the church alone) shining through. No matter what the evidence or argument, the assertions of the church are true. Once you know to look for it, it is everywhere.

          “Unless you’re claiming mystics can add to what is needful for salvation then mysticism has nothing to do with it. Scripture is ‘all the essentials’ not at all ‘every act of God’. Private revelations that do not contract scripture are fine.”

          My view is wider than that, but as with all things mysticism, hard to describe using the language of reason. I start with the belief that the Holy Spirit is God, thus anything it reveals to a person logically must have the same authority of scripture, at least to the individual receiving it (and possibly to the church).

          I’m convinced—after reading 1 Kings 13 many times—that when God tells you something, you must obey and will be held to it. It doesn’t matter what you think is in Scripture or what anyone in authority thinks. The only exception and the most important role of scripture is, therefore, to test the spirits to see if they come from God.

          What I’ve found conspicuously missing from spiritual visits, be it apparitions of Mary (e.g. Fatima), Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuits and was visited by a serpent that was exceedingly beautiful, or my series on John C. Wright’s catholic apologia, is that these spirits are not tested.

          When public or private revelations are disclosed, the very first thing that should be done is to verify that the procedures to test the spirits have been accomplished. But if this is done, it is rarely, if ever, disclosed, and certainly not front and center when these events are reported upon. This is deeply concerning!

          I believe that if the spirits are tested and found to be true, new public revelation on the order of scripture is possible. But, and this is key, I’m not aware of any new public revelation that has been properly tested. Indeed, I’ve grown to become very suspicious of mystics and prophets who are not bound to a church, especially if what they say deviates from scripture.

          This is why I am not a proponent of sola scriptura, because I don’t believe that public revelation is closed as a matter of theology. But, as I said, I’m not sure if a year from now I will still believe that. The view is being challenged and I’m not sure how it is going to turn out.

        2. Derek L. Ramsey

          Note that Justin Martyr used the term “transmute” in “First Apology” to refer to the digestion of the bread and wine as it nourishes the flesh. Roman Catholics like to say “see, this is transubstantiation!” It’s a bad example because “transmute” means to completely change (in substance and species, as it were), which is not compatible with Roman Catholicism.

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