We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On The Two Distinct Senses Of The Verb 'To Offer.'

From "Missarum Sacrificia.": Testimonies of English Divines.

It will be noted that Bishop Bedell acknowledges 'we do offer sacrifice for the quick and dead,' the statement being immediately guarded against misinterpretation by qualifying explanation.

So the Cologne Council of 1536, under Archbishop Hermann, had said: ' Immolamus hostiam pro vivis et defunctis, dum pro illis Patrem per Filii mortem deprecamur' (cap. xxvii., fol. xxix a. Col., 1538).

And so Jewel: 'Thus we offer up Christ, that is to say, an example, a commemoration, a remembrance of the death of Christ. This kind of sacrifice was never denied, but M. Harding's real sacrifice was yet never proved' (Works, P.S., ii., p. 729).

So also Brevint: 'We must also celebrate, and in a manner offer to God, and expose and lay before Him the holy memorials of that great Sacrifice on the Cross. . . . But that we should offer also Christ Himself, our Lord and our God, to whom we must offer ourselves; it is a piece of devotion never heard of among men, till the Mass came in to bring such news' ('Depth and Mystery,' p. 30).

So, too, Bishop Buckeridge: 'Though these be not idem sacrificium . . . yet it is idem sacrificatum . . . Christ crucified, that is, represented to God, and communicated to us. . . . In Baptism, in like manner ... we do as it were, offer up Christ crucified by way of representation' (quoted in Tract 81, p. 86).

And so Archbishop Wake (in even stronger language): 'Whilst thus with faith we represent to God the death of His Son for the pardon of our sins, we are persuaded that we incline His mercy the more readily to forgive them. We do not, therefore, doubt but that this presenting to God Almighty this sacrifice of our blessed Lord is a most effectual manner of applying His merits to us' (' Exposition of the Doctrine of the Church of England,' p. 63. London, 1687).

But the language of Bishop Bedell should be specially compared with the words of Ridley (spoken in reply to the statement that 'a council says that the priest doth offer an unbloody sacrifice of the body of Christ'). 'I say it is well said, if it be rightly understood. ... It is called unbloody, and is offered after a certain manner and in a mystery, and as a representation of that bloody sacrifice, and he doth not lie who saith Christ to be offered' (see Moule's edition of 'Brief Declaration,' p. 289). It is important to mark clearly the distinction between two senses of the verb to offer as employed by divines in this relation. (1) In the one sense it is used to signify 'the offering symbolically to view,' and is, therefore, nearly equivalent to pleading—pleading in the sacramental remembering, and showing forth the Lord's death. It indicates the mystical and representative pleading of the One Sacrifice once for all sacrificially offered and accepted for the remission of sins (see Goode, 'Divine Eule,' vol. ii., pp. 364, 365, 382, 398, 404). In this sense (however in prevalent use among the Fathers, after the time of Cyprian) it is not found in holy Scripture (nor in the Book of Common Prayer), but (with explanation and caution that it should be ' rightly understood') it has been frequently allowed and accepted by English divines as consonant with Protestant doctrine (see Waterland, Works, vol. v., p. 286, and especially pp. 129 and 183; and vol. 1, p. 206).

In this sense it was admitted by the Puritan Perkins, who wrote: 'In this sense the faithful, in their prayers, do offer Christ as a sacrifice unto God the Father for their sins, in being wholly carried away in their minds and affections unto that only and true Sacrifice, thereby to procure and obtain God's greater favour unto them' (' Demonstration of the Problem; Sacrifice of the Mass,' Works, vol. ii., p. 551. London, 1617).

In this sense it was accepted and used even by Baxter, who wrote: 'He hath ordained . . . that by faith and prayer they might, as it were, offer Him up to God—that is, might show the Father that sacrifice, once made for sin, in which they trust' ('Christian Directory,' Part II., c. xxiv., § 2; Works, vol. iv., p. 316. London, 1830). And in some such unsacrificial sense Bossuet would apparently desire to explain Christ's offering Himself up in the Eucharist, 'according to the expression of the holy Fathers of the Church' ('Exposition of the Doctrine of the Catholic Church,' p. 146; see also pp. 141, 135. Paris, 1672). But this is certainly not 'according to the expression' of the Council of Trent, nor of his own language (in its natural acceptation) as found in p. 137. It is, in fact, just explaining away what he there calls 'a most true and real sacrifice.'

Bossuet's book was never approved by the doctors of the Sorbonne, and was condemned as scandalous and pernicious by the University of Louvain (see ' Romish Mass and English Church,' p. 26).

(2) In the other sense it is used to signify the real sacrificial oblation of the hostia to God the Father on the visible altar by the action (in some sort) of the priest then and there. And this it is which (notwithstanding all minimizing explanations of its relation to the sacrifice of the Cross in the past) our Divines have so constantly and consistently regarded as the blasphemy of the Mass (see especially Calixtus, as quoted in Cosin's Works, vol. v., pp. 350, 351, A.C.L.).


  1. But if the Eucharist is anagogical, that is a sacramental sign of the eternal heavenly liturgy of the Lamb offered from the foundation of the world? Is there a third notion of sacrifice that both sides in the 16th C had forgotten? The Athanasian creed says that the Incarnation was not the conversion of Godhead into flesh, but the assumption of the Manhood into God... if one's theology of the Eucharist is upward, a theology of the assumption of the Church's offering into Christ's ascended & glorified body (rather than downwards, as a kind of recapitulation of the once only sacrifice), then is it true BOTH that Christ is really offered in the rite (because the ritual is truly united to the heavenly Archtype) AND that the ritual & priest are and remain on the level of sign (as sign and type of an Archetypal and hidden reality)?

  2. It is all very complicated and I claim no special purchase on the truth. See the latest entry, "The Idea of Sacrifice in the Christian Church."

    1. The latest piece is interesting; there are a couple of claims in there that would need a bit more evidence for me, e.g. the ancient Roman rite must have had an epiclesis. But more generally I am not so sure there is and was such a clear and neat division between the offering of the gifts and the body and blood. Perhaps the notion of "logike" service is a clue to what the thread of connection might be: both our offering and the body and blood are assimilated to the Logos who offers himself (& his creation through our participation in him). Interestingly Pusey's essays on typology emphasise that even the Incarnation & Cross are an Image (the "very image" of Heb 10:1) of a heavenly & eternal reality, and therefore the sacraments are an image of an Image. For what it is worth this seems to me to take the heat out of the need to work out an exact theology of how the OT and NT rites relate to the sacrifice of the Cross, because the reality even of the sacrifice of Christ (which is an Image) is in a celestial place, and rites or "logike service" can have a relation to that celestial reality "directly".