You’ve waited for weeks. It’s finally here! Part 4 of my review of Dick Blackford’s book!
As I said in my previous post, the greater portion of Blackford’s book is polemical. Beginning with chapter 6, excepting chapter 11, the remainder of the book contains a series of chapters in which Blackford attempts to refute various false teachings about the Supper, either real or imagined. To keep this post to a reasonable length, I’ll focus on just a few of them.
Chapter 6 is entitled “Denominational Ideas about the Elements.” Bro. Blackford uses this chapter to address “the doctrines of the mass, transubstantiation, consubstantiation, substitution, addition, and subtraction.”
Now, for starters, you may be asking yourself, “What the heck are addition and subtraction?” Good question, so let’s get to it.
1. The Mass
Blackford offers fairly conventional arguments against the mass — nothing really new to point out. What bothers me, and hopefully any other reader, is the sheer superficiality of it all. Blackford focuses in on the Mass as sacrifice and forgiveness of sins coming through the celebration of the Eucharist. His main source for Catholic teaching on the Mass is a text from 1876, along with two other inadequately cited documents that couldn’t be tracked down independently with the citations that he has provided. I get the sense that, if I were to give Bro. Blackford’s description of the Mass to a practicing Catholic, she probably wouldn’t recognize what she was reading. This is because Bro. Blackford doesn’t seem to really understand the Mass himself.
This is probably the most painfully embarrassing portion of the chapter for the reader. Bro. Blackford’s source here is Webster’s. Instead of attempting to understand Catholic teaching on its own terms, Bro. Blackford only to betrays the essentially Zwinglian perspective on the LS that he himself is (probably unconsciously) locked into. He writes,
“Did Jesus mean that the bread and fruit of the vine become his literal body and blood? Did he really teach cannibalism? This view fails to recognize a figure of speech known as a metaphor. A metaphor ‘makes an implied comparison between things which [sic] are not literally alike’… When he said ‘this is my body’ and ‘this is my blood,’ he meant the elements represent his body and blood.” (pp. 29-30)
You might think that if Jesus had meant “represent” he would have just said represent. It’s a good thing that we have men like Bro. Blackford to tell us exactly what Jesus meant!
More soon (yeah, I’m still not done…)
P.S. Let me know what you think of the new format. I’m not totally sold, just testing it out. I’ve quickly come to see, for instance, just how ungainly link categories can be.