On Friday 30th October was the annual Reformation Symposium. It is hosted by Messiah’s Church (RPCNA) in Clay, New York. This year attendees were treated to a beautiful harvest moon in the sky overhead, meaty presentations by two gifted speakers, and individually packaged refreshments to fuel them for their ride home! There were about 45 guests present. Some came from as far north as Oswego, others as far south as Endicott and everywhere in-between. The event was also live-streamed on Messiah’s Church YouTube channel, which expanded the audience even further.
Coombs and Shingler
Messiah’s Pastor, Brian Coombs, spoke on the topic of “Transubstantiation.” The second speaker was Pastor Michael Shingler of Hope Presbyterian Church (Orthodox Presbyterian Church), who did a presentation on “The Sacrifice of the Mass.” Subsequent to each talk, there was ample opportunity for questions from the audience.
Transubstantiation and the Sacrifice of the Mass
Pastor Coombs addressed the topic of “Transubstantiation” by first defining it and then explaining historically how it came to be. He acknowledged that the writings of some of the early Church Fathers could, at first glance, be construed to be teaching Transubstantiation, but also showed that within the total context of their writings, they understood Jesus’ words of consecration to be not literal but figures used to signify spiritual food and spiritual drink. He also demonstrated rationally, theologically, scripturally, and personally how the Roman doctrine on this matter is in error.
Pastor Shingler undertook an explanation of “The Sacrifice of the Mass” seeking to answer the question of whether the sacrament contained within it was an “Altar of Sacrifice” or a “Table of Communion.” He presented the Catholic teaching on this from their own documents – especially their Catechism and pronouncements from the Council of Trent. By comparing their doctrine to Scripture, especially the Book of Hebrews, he showed it to be based on flawed arguments and a failure to account for the magnitude of the transition from the Old to the New Testament. His conclusion was that the sacrament is a “Table of Communion” accompanied by “sacrifices” of praise, thanksgiving, and service.
Conclusion: In Christ Alone my Hope is Found!
Both pastors concluded their talks by discussing the issues at stake in these false doctrines. They both agreed that “Transubstantiation” and the “Sacrifice of the Mass” not only denigrate the glory of Christ but also result in idolatry. Additionally, they rob Christians of the assurance of Jesus’ finished work of atonement on their behalf. Both Pastor Coombs and Pastor Shingler ended with a pastoral appeal to the congregation to focus their attention on our risen and glorified Lord Jesus who is in heaven, communing with His Real Presence through the power of His Holy Spirit, and trusting in the things signified in the Lord’s Supper and not in the signs themselves.
It was a blessed evening to be reminded of these wonderful truths!
Written by Franki Fuhrman, a retired civil servant who lives in Syracuse, NY. She has been a member of Messiah’s Church since its organization in 2005.