Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

"You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!" – Matthew 23:24

The irony in the following was too good for me to pass up.  My favorite (I mean that. He’s a nice fellow when not on his soap box.) Bible thumpin’, street preachin’, Jack Chick resemblin’ Fundamentalist, Rand, had an unpleasant exeperience at a church he recently visited.

"We visited a Brethren Gospel Hall on the Lord’s Day and we enjoyed the sermon. There was however, a weird moment, at the Lord’s Table. The problem was with one of the elements. It was the bread. They distributed a loaf of bread; a loaf of leavened bread that you would find at any bakery."

The following day he explained why that was wrong.

…Indeed, leaven, in Scripture is a picture of corruption and sin:

"Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." (Matthew 16:6&12)

"Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)


First, let’s set a bit of ground work. Without a doubt, the bread the Lord Jesus Christ used at the Last Supper was unleavened. I can say this with 100% certainty because the Last Supper was a Passover meal (see Exodus 12). More precisely, check out:

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land." (Exodus 12:18-19)

[T]he Passover is all about Christ. The sacrifice of a lamb for the atonement of the Israelites, the unleavened bread, every aspect of the Passover was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He would do on the Cross of Calvary. That is why the bread was unleavened. Leaven being a type of sin, could not be added to bread which symbolized the body of Christ, since His body was uncorrupted by sin. And how so many of you can claim that this held importance in the O.T., but not in the N.T. is beyond me. I mean, maybe that’s what you think, but what part of Scripture do you base this position on?


At best, one could say that in the N.T., we are not specifically commanded to use unleavened bread, so who knows if we are obliged to regard it or not. But to categorically claim that, for sure, it doesn’t matter??? I think that’s somewhat presumptuous. Actually, I think that’s SERIOUSLY presumptuous!!! Anyone who has spent any time at all in studying the Passover and the Lord’s Table comes to the understanding that the bread is unleavened. Why not stick with it? It is the safest course of action. None of you can, from strict Scripture, prove that the Lord is pleased with leavened bread being used at the Lord’s Table; none of you can, from strict Scripture, prove that the Lord is displeased with using unleavened bread at the Lord’s Table. Why risk it?

So far, my Baptist buddy and I are in agreement.  One addition I’d make though, is that the Lord’s Supper is not only a perfection of the Passover sacrifice, but of all Jewish sacrifices.  Of particular importance is the todah. Ancient rabbis made a significant prediction regarding the todah. ‘In the coming [Messianic] age, all sacrifices will cease except the todah sacrifice.This will never cease in all eternity’. (Pesiqta, I, p. 159)  Todah, like the Greek Eucharist, means "thanks offering".

After passionately arguing for the use of unleavened bread, Rand does a 180.

In his comment, Scott points out that since most evangelical churches have "substituted wine for grape juice" in the Lord’s Table, he suggests that using leavened bread is a non-issue. The problem with Scott’s premise is that I don’t believe for one second that there was ever a substitution. I do not believe that wine was used at the Lord’s Table, I believe it was grape juice.

Say what now? First of all, history records that the unbroken practice, until the Reformation that is, was to use fermented grape juice, i.e., wine.  Why would that be the case if unfermented grape juice had been used? Secondly, the Eucharist is not only prefigured by Jewish temple sacrifices, it is also typified the bread and wine offered by the priest Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18).  Indeed, Christ is "a priest forever, in the line of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:6, Psalm 110:4).  Lastly, it makes good sense for the drink to have been wine.  When Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to Gesthemane to pray, they fall asleep.  They were expecting Jesus to be arrested at any moment; why would they be falling asleep on guard duty? There are several cups of wine consumed at a Passover meal, seven IIRC, and alcohol is a depressant.  It’s easier to cut those apostles some slack for their laziness if they drunk, or at least very sleepy, from the wine.

Now I’m sure some of my readers have been bouncing in their seats thinking, "The hypocrisy of rejecting leavened bread and accepting unfermented grape juice isn’t the biggest irony here!"  They’re right.  Rand is being a little haphazard about what he takes literally from Scripture. He’s swallowed a camel by totally missed the fact that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  His reasons can be found here. Rather than retype arguments that have been already been made a thousand times, I’ll just point you to these quotes from Teaching Truth By Signs and Ceremonies (a book I whole-heartedly recommend).

The Real Presence

Before you run off to Rand’s blog to comment, you should know that you’re not welcome there.

Well, I’ve made my decision. In this post, I asked you all what I should do about homepage links in the comment box that direct my readers to ungodly webpages (romanist, queer, left-wing wack-o… etc)…

Indeed, I want to post my views on various issues here in an attempt to edify God’s people, and I would love the opportunity to answer the questions of honest Truth seekers. The problem is that we have regular commentors here which are anything but honest Truth seekers, and while answering the occasional nay-sayer is alright, their constant nagging usually ends up aggravating me. Then we have the HOMEPAGE link [in comments] which acts like free advertising for their wicked views, and that ON MY VERY OWN BLOG!

So my decision is clear: no more links to sites that are antagonistic to the views of A Form Of Sound Words. I considered removing the HOMEPAGE link completely, but I do want to offer my brothers and sisters a chance to promote their sites. I also considered Jake’s contention about not always being able to remove HOMEPAGE links when posting a comment, that is why I will assume complete responsibility in editing all comments on my blog.

Also, be advised that my commenting rules will be more vigorously enforced. Debates, apologetics, contentions from commetors that oppose the standard of this blog will be deleted and repeat offenders will be banned. It won’t be a "three strikes, you’re out", it will be "do once, get deleted… do twice, get banned". If these rules seem unreasonable to any of you, so long, and have a great life. This blog’s purpose is to glorify God and to be a blessing to God’s people; not to be a center for useless, profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so-called. (1 Timothy 6:20)

If you attempt to comment or trackback to Rand anyway, don’t say I told you to. I disagree with a lot of what Rand says, but he’s a Christian brother and I do not wish to be a stumbling block for him (explanation 1, explanation 2).

If you’d like to interact with a nice fellow who’s not going to block or ban you, check out Jungle Pop.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

One thought on “Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

  1. Jungle Pop

    Hey Eric, great post! You say it much better than I did. And yes, you and your readers are more than welcome on my blog. I get increasingly ecumenical with each passing year – and more so with cross-cultural experience. It’s a big world, and a big Church, and plenty of room for everyone!

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