IDOL KILLER

Destroying Sacred Cows for the Cause of Christ

The Apostles and their Disciples were faithful to teach and emulate Christ: the Word made flesh.
However, as we were warned in Acts 20:29, men soon arose teaching opinions and philosophy at odds with truth. Much of this has become revered doctrine within Christianity today - sacred cows that few dare question.

It's time to smash these idols, shine the light of truth and call everyone to return to the Sure Foundation.

 
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Understanding the Eucharist



The Eucharist, sometimes referred to as the Lord’s Supper, Communion, or Divine Liturgy is viewed among Christians as either an ordinance or a sacrament. Described in Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 & the Didache this rite was instituted by Christ Himself during the Last Supper.

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

Jesus instructed His followers to “do this in memory of me”. The Greek word ἀνάμνησιν (anámnēsis) often translated as memory or remembrance means an affectionate recalling. Coming from ἀναμιμνήσκω (anamimnéskó) meaning reminder, to recall, an admonishment – it is a compound word from aná meaning “upward” and mimnḗskō meaning “to turn the mind”.


Through this we see Jesus tell His followers to intentionally turn their hearts and minds upward in fond remembrance and celebration of Him. Declaring Himself The Way, this is at least in part a means of keeping your eyes on the right path.



Leavened or Unleavened Bread?


The use of leavened, “daily bread” during the Eucharist was the custom of the church for approximately the first thousand years. It wasn’t until around 1000 AD that Rome began using the less expensive, more compact unleavened bread in their rite. This would become somewhat of a controversy at the time. However, today Roman Catholics and Protestants largely use unleavened bread while Eastern Orthodox continue to utilize leavened bread.


Western Christians seek to recreate the Passover and view leaven as symbolic of sin, thus their preference for unleavened bread. However, Orthodox scholars point to the chronology found in John and that the word “artos” typically means regular daily bread, so they view leaven as symbolic of life and the risen body of Christ.


While each church tradition favors a particular type, it is assumed that the early church used whatever bread was available, most often leavened bread. However, rather than focusing on the type of bread, christians should be focused on what it represents.


Wine or Grape Juice?


As with the type of bread, differences can also be found regarding the wine. While the early church always used wine during the Eucharist, in the 1800’s the views on wine began to change. Some churches sought to combat alcoholism and others like the temperance movement despised alcohol entirely, promoting total abstinence.


In 1868 a dentist by the name of Thomas B. Welch became a communion steward in the Methodist Episcopal Church. A year later, Welch perfected a juice pasteurization process and began selling “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine” to churches seeking to begin performing an alcohol free communion. He also claimed in his advertising that the wine used in Galilee did not contain a single part of alcohol – an odd claim given the process of making such a beverage had only just been invented.



Welch’s grape juice was easily stored, inexpensive and played up the concerns of the day regarding alcohol - leading to widespread acceptance among most Protestant denominations.


Charles Welch, Thomas’ son, summarized his dad’s life work:

“Unfermented grape juice was born in 1869 out of a passion to serve God by helping His Church to give its communion the fruit of the vine instead of the cup of devils.”

Perhaps unaware, Charles’ comment served to condemn everyone including Jesus who partook of wine during the communion before his father invented practical grape juice. Despite Welch’s clever invention and hellfire and brimstone marketing, wine by definition contains alcohol and thus this change in the elements became somewhat controversial depending on Church affiliation.


The Elements of the Early Church



Based on the Biblical and historical texts the early church practiced their Eucharist with leavened, daily bread, and wine. While some seek to battle over these details, the differences between the Eastern and Western use of elements is now largely a matter of tradition and preference. Christ laid down no specifics other than that the blessing and consuming of bread and the fruit of the vine be done in remembrance of Him.


Understanding the Eucharist


The term Eucharist comes from the Greek ὐχαριστία (eucharistia) meaning “thanksgiving”.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

Typically, this occurred during a weekly agape (love) feast where believers would meet, dine, read from the Scriptures and tend to one another’s needs. This “thanksgiving” was a time to reflect on all that God had done to meet their needs, but with a special emphasis on remembering the incarnation, work and victory of Christ.


The Real Presence of Christ


This topic is perhaps most controversial of all. With the phrase “real presence of Christ” what is meant is that Jesus, the risen Savior, is somehow present in the Eucharist. This presence is not merely symbolic or a metaphor, but a reality.



Here at Idol Killer we strive to promote sound doctrine rooted in Scripture and the historic early church, while trusting the Holy Spirit for guidance. We understand with topics such as this that a careless word or phrasing may result in misunderstanding or error and in no way do we wish to contribute to promoting error. Likewise, we cannot remain silent in matters of truth. So as we seek to address this aspect of the Eucharist, we want to be as clear as possible.


While we do not believe the elements undergo a material change whereby they actually become the flesh and blood of Christ, so that those who partake in the Eucharist are engaging in cannibalism – we do affirm the real presence of Christ. Those who object, asserting that Jesus is seated in heaven and thus unable to be with us forget the words of the Lord:

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

Early Church


Clearly the Eucharist was viewed by the Apostles and early church as something transcending mere memorialism.

"Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ." Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians
"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus." Justin Martyr, First Apology

There is something deeply profound which occurs when we turn our hearts upward, focusing on Christ - laying our hands, tasting and experiencing, God’s promised resurrection in Christ through the elements.


Cannibalism


It was a misunderstanding of the real presence of Christ which resulted in the early church being accused of cannibalism. To the unbelieving world this thing called “Christianity” was new and unknown. To them the talk of eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood was taken literally. This misconception of the Eucharist resulted in slander and persecution by unbelievers.


Pliny the Younger was governor of Bithynia, a Roman province located in Asia Minor. In 112 AD, he wrote to the Emperor Trajan asking for direction on dealing with Christians. In his letter, Pliny describes Christians as criminals and accuses them of cannibalism – the result of not understanding the Eucharist.


Early Christian apologist Justin Martyr refuted such claims of cannibalism, while pointing out the hypocrisy and violence of Rome.

“For I myself, too, when I was delighting in the doctrines of Plato, and heard the Christians slandered, and saw them fearless of death, and of all other-things which are counted fearful, perceived that it was impossible that they could be living in wickedness and pleasure. For what sensual or intemperate man, or who that counts it good to feast on human flesh, could welcome death that he might be deprived of his enjoyments, and would not rather continue always the present life, and attempt to escape the observation of the rulers; and much less would he denounce himself when the consequence would be death?” Second Apology Chapter 12

Athenagoras, an Ante-Nicene convert and another well known Christian apologist also refuted such claims. In his treatise entitled “Plea for the Christians” he carefully refuted the claims of cannibalism, while showing Roman hypocrisy for celebrating Thyestean feasts – Thyestes, a man from Greek mythology said to have been tricked into eating his own children.


Today, the idea of Christians being a cult of cannibals is laughable. No one seriously thinks eating bread and drinking wine during the Eucharist is actually eating human flesh, but such rumors resulted in the persecution and death of many early on.


Practice


In the Scripture we read the words of Christ, instructing the faithful in the practice of the Lord’s Supper.

“And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

The early church adhered to this instruction, being careful not to allow unbelievers or those in sin to partake. Rather, the Eucharist was only open to baptized believers. In the Didache we read concerning the wine:

“We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child, which, thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child; to thee be glory for ever.”

Then concerning the broken bread:

“We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom, for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever.”

Then, having consumed each a prayer of thanks follows:

“We give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which thou didst make to tabernacle in out hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever.
Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name's sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child.
Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty. To thee be glory for ever.
Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever.
Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come! If any man be not, let him repent: Maranatha ("Our Lord! Come!"), Amen."

Invitation


If you believe in Jesus - the risen Messiah, Son of God, the Word made flesh - are committed to following Him the rest of your life and have been baptized, the next wonderful step in your journey is participating in the Eucharist.


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