Brandon's Notepad

September 21, 2014

Crucifying Jesus All Over Again

Short URL: http://goo.gl/XJKoAO


Have you ever been told that the Roman Catholic Church crucifies Christ over and over again with each celebration of the Mass? I really don’t mean to rant, but…


I’m tired of hearing other Christians preach that Catholics crucify Jesus ‘again’ in the celebration of the Mass. After all, it is plainly stated in the Bible that Jesus died on the cross once for all for the forgiveness of sins, and that no new sacrifice can be made. (Hebrews 6-10; yes, read it all) I think these other Christians would do well to read the first seven books of Leviticus, where they would learn that not all sacrifices decreed by God were for the atonement of sin. If the Mass (specifically, the Eucharist) was intended to be a sacrifice for atonement, then I would agree that the Church missed the mark somewhere along the way; however, the Mass is not a sacrifice for atonement at all, but one of thanksgiving. That is what the Greek word eucharsitia means. Atonement could only be made by Jesus, but we celebrate in the sacrificial feast at his command.

In reading these chapters, they might also learn that sacrifices are not simple affairs. A fellowship offering, for example, can include not only an animal sacrifice (Lev 3), but also an offering of loaves of bread (Lev 7:11-21). Two Jewish celebrations that together commemorate their liberation from slavery in Egypt, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, fit this pattern. The Paschal Lamb must be eaten on the night of the sacrifice, but the feast is perpetuated for seven days through the consumption of bread prepared for this purpose. Likewise Jesus died on the cross to free mankind from the bondage of sin, and perpetuated for all time the feast at the last supper using a very special bread (c.f. John 6). It must be perpetuated for all time because it is the final atonement. Paul asks rhetorically, “is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ [and] is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16 NIV) Indeed, the sacrifice of Jesus is complete; therefore, let us keep the feast.

Addendum
For anyone who has never encountered anti-Catholic rhetoric on a grand scale, please read The Mass Insults Jesus Christ. The author relies heavily on the same chapters from Hebrews that I reference above, though the verses have been taken out of context and contorted to “support” his thesis. Of all of the holes in his argument, I will expound upon one for the sake of illustration. Toward the bottom of the first large section, Hebrews 6:6 is quoted (I love how he makes sure the reader knows that the text is from the NAB, as though he caught Catholics contradicting their own Bible). This quote is then followed by his own analysis (emphasis retained):

Notice, in this last Scripture, St. Paul’s statement that repentance is impossible for anyone who is continually recrucifying Jesus Christ again and again! Jesus Christ died once and for all [eternally]. He is not to be recrucified again and again for any reason. As long as He is being so recrucified, it is impossible to come to repentance. Therefore, any person who continually practices the Mass cannot be saved as long as they continue!!

Read that same passage (which actually begins with verse 4, by the way) in the NIV translation (used heavily by Protestants) and you will find that it obviously means something totally different from what the author suggests. The falling away refers to apostasy. True repentance of sin is impossible for he who had once been filled with the Spirit and the fire of Christ but who has since rejected him altogether (e.g. became atheist or something other than Christian). In other words, it’s not possible to reignite that fire genuinely if it has been purposely put out once already. To try is to crucify Jesus again. And while I understand that the author considers Catholicism as a “falling away” from “true enlightenment”, his analysis of the text is just plain wrong. There is no mention of the Mass whatsoever (except perhaps the reference to tasting the heavenly gift in verse 4), nor is there any word indicating that the recrucifying is a “continual” process (yes, I checked the Greek to be sure). What’s more, the tone of finality in the passage doesn’t jive with the author’s notion that (reading between the lines here with tongue planted firmly in cheek), if those Catholics would just stop going to Mass, then maybe some of them could finally repent and be saved!


June 23, 2011

Sacrifice

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 3:34 pm
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Home > My Research > Christianity > Theology > Basic Concepts > Sacrifice


One cannot study Jewish or Christian culture without understanding the concept of sacrifice.


Etymology

The word comes from the Latin word sacrificium. The prefix sacra- is the root for our word “sacred”, and facere means “to do” or “to perform”. To put it plainly, to sacrifice means to do something sacred, which is the function of a priest in both Jewish and Christian contexts (and probably many others). According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word first appears in the mid-thirteenth century, but not until the 1590s is it used to mean “something given up for the sake of another”. Wikipedia adds that the word is now used to mean ‘doing without something’ or ‘giving something up’.

Ritual Killing

The most common image associated with the word sacrifice is that of a slain animal or human. This is the most dramatic form of sacrifice, and in the case of human sacrifice, the most extreme. The commonality of this image should be no surprise, as it is a central concept in Judaism (Korban) and Christianity (the Mass), and is practiced in Islam (Dhabihah/Qurbani). Thanks to authors of fiction, a modern American can hardly conjure a mental image of a “primative” tribe without seeing the handful of (usually caucasian) adventurers tied to a stake, about to be burnt alive as a sacrifice to the gods. As explained in the etymology section above, the word has a much more general meaning.

Categories

Olah Burnt offering
Shelamim Peace offering
Hatat Sin offering
Asham Guilt offering

Sacred Scripture

Gn 4:3-5 The first sacrifices recorded in Scripture are those made by Cain and Abel. Abel’s sacrifice came from the firstlings of the flock, which was pleasing to God, whereas Cain’s came from his excess “in the course of time”. It is noteworthy that these sacrifices were made well in-advance of the prescription of sacrifices in the Law. Also, there is no indication as to how the sacrifices were made (or even if the animal offered by Abel was killed) or for what purpose (e.g. for atonement or just for worship).

More to come…

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacrifice
http://www.answers.com/topic/sacrifices-and-offerings


April 30, 2010

The Book of Leviticus

Home > My Research > Christianity > Sacred Scripture > Summaries & Commentary > Leviticus


Synopsis

The book of Leviticus provides many of the rules by which the Israelites were supposed to live. It covers rituals, sacrifices, the priesthood, and feasts, as well as behaviors. These laws were designed to establish and foster a way of life for the people that was pleasing to God.

Authorship

Jewish Tradition, supported by Scripture, ascribes the authorhship of the Torah to Moses, though some Jewish and Christian scholars accepted that additions, such as the account of Moses’ death, were added by later authors including his successor, Joshua. Modern scholars believe that the Torah probably evolved through the work of many authors and editors. See the Wikipedia entries for the Torah and the (Wellhausen) Documentary Hypothesis for more details.

This book is from the Priestly source. (NAB Intro to Leviticus)

Organization

New American Bible. The NAB divides Exodus into five parts. They are: “Ritual of Sacrifices” (1:1–7:38), “Ceremony of Ordination” (8:1–10:20), “Laws Regarding Ritual Purity” (11:1–16:34), “Holiness Laws” (17:1–26:46), & “Redemption of Offerings” (27:1–34). (NAB Intro to Leviticus)

Nelson.

Summary & Commentary

Sacrifice [Lv 1:1-7:38] The first seven chapters describe the ways in which acceptable sacrifices may be made to God. The text contains a lot of repetition, so it has been distilled significantly here:

  • The types of sacrifice and reasons for making them include:
    • Wholly-burned animal sacrifices (“holocausts”) are complete gifts to the glory of God. (NAB, Lv 1:3 fn.)
    • Partial animal sacrifices are made to fulfill a vow (“peace” offerings). (NAB, Lv 3:1 fn.)
    • Partial animal sacrifices are made to remit sins of ritual uncleanness.
    • Cereal (grain) sacrifices are made as reminders (“token” offerings). (NAB, Lv 2:2 fn.)
  • All animal sacrifices share some common elements:
    • The type (bovine or ovine) and gender of the animal is dictated by the type of sacrifice.
    • The animal must be without blemish.
    • The one offering the sacrifice places his hand on the animal’s head and then slaughters it.
    • The priest performs that sprinkling or splashing of blood on the altar.
    • Only the fatty portions and some organs are burned in partial sacrifices. The meat belongs to the priests for consumption. The only exception is when the priest is offering the sacrifice for himself, in which case the remainder is burnt up in a clean place outside the camp.
  • Bird sacrifices involve preparation by the priest alone. The bird is split but not separated, certain parts are discarded, the blood is squeezed onto the side of the altar, and the remains burned.
  • Cereal sacrifices must conform to the following guidelines:
    • The sacrifice consists of fine flour, oil, and frankincense.
    • All of the frankincense, but only a handful of the flour and oil is burned. The remainder of the flour and oil belongs to the priests for consumption. The only exception is when the priest is offering the sacrifice for himself, in which case the whole offering is burnt up.
    • The flour and oil may be baked, fried, or deep-fried. Grits are used for a first-fruits offering.
    • No other ingredients are permitted. Leaven and honey are forbidden explicitly.
    • All cereal offerings are seasoned with salt. Salt is a symbol of friendship. (NAB, Lv 2:13 fn.)
  • “Sin offerings” are made to atone for ritual uncleanness (NAB, Lv 4:2 fn.), and the particulars depend on the person(s) having committed the sin:
    • Priests: makes the people guilty; bull; blood on temple veil and horns of altar; remains burnt.
    • Community: same details as for priest, but offered by the elders of the community.
    • Prince: male goat; blood on horns of altar.
    • Private Persons: female goat or lamb; blood on horns of altar.
  • The consumption of certain portions of animals and birds was forbidden:
    • The Israelites were forbidden from eating the fat of animals that can be sacrificed, not all fat whatsoever. The fat of other clean animals was not forbidden. (Lv 3:17; Lv 7:22-25)
    • Blood appears to be strictly forbidden. (Lv 7:26-27)
  • More to come…

Ordination [Lv 8:1–10:20]

Purity [Lv 11:1–16:34]

Holiness [Lv 17:1–26:46]

Redemption [Lv 27:1–34]


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