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Roy Doyle wrote:

Hi, guys —

In Acts 17:25 it says neither is God worshipped with men's hands.

25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

  • How can we justify the Eucharist with this statement?
  • Also, concerning ecumenical movement, doesn't the Bible say not yoke with unbelievers?

Roy

  { If Acts says worship with no hands, can we justify the Eucharist and why share with unbelievers? }

John replied:

Hi Roy,

Let's take your last question first.

The text you quote about being yoked to unbelievers, first and foremost, refers to marriage but it can also apply to covenant and contractual relationships. Secondly, the Ecumenical movement, is a dialogue (not a yoking or binding) between believers.

St. Paul is talking about believers marrying pagans. When we discuss matters of faith with fellow Christians, it is a discussion amongst believers and it is called ecumenical, because it pertains to the Church. All those who are baptized into Christ, in some way, are part of the Church, even if they are in an imperfect communion with Her.

When we:

  • discuss matters or faith
  • cooperate in acts of charity, or
  • get involved with civic affairs with non-Christians

this is not a ecumenical, but an inter-faith event. In none of these cases are we being yoked.
Being yoked means intertwining your life in a covenant relationship. Paul admonishes against this because if you don't share faith in Christ, you will find yourself pulling in different relationships. Nevertheless, the Church will allow a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic with a dispensation from the local bishop.

If we were to take this verse too literally as a doctrinal position, rather than a pastoral provision, than no Christian should do any business whatsoever with non-Christians but again, the Ecumenical movement is simply a discussion and sharing of the faith. It is dialogue to see where we actually agree on things and where certain semantics may have kept us apart for a while.

Now with respect to Acts 17:25, Paul is talking about idols. The word worship there is actually better translated served. It is the Greek word θεραπεύεται (pronounced therapeuetai ).
We get the word therapy from this word. Look at the whole sentence.

We don't serve or worship Him with human hands as though He needs anything. The key to understanding this verse is the last phrase: as though He needs anything. So in context, Paul is saying, we didn't make God and He doesn't need us to serve Him for His Own Sake. We don't need to Feed Him, Wash Him, Maintain Him, or Fix Him when He's broken like you would a statue. Again, look at the whole context of Acts 17. Paul is talking about Idolatry.

The Eucharist is God. It is not a what, it is a Who. Yes, human hands make the bread and wine but, once consecrated, the Holy Spirit changes the substance of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and although the Eucharist appears to be bread and wine, it is now Jesus Christ and therefore we worship Him.

When looking at the Scriptures, we must always keep them in the context of the argument that the human author is making and find the inspiration and revelation in the meaning of the text. Let me give you another example: In Numbers 23:19, it says God is not man, that He should lie.

  • Well if you lift that text out of context, then you can argue that Jesus is not God, Right?
  • Doesn't the Incarnation violate that verse?

Well on the surface, it appears to. That is if you don't get the point of what is being said. In this case, when the author of Numbers chose to write, God is not man. He's talking about the frail, deceitful nature of man. He's not making a dogmatic statement that God could not become man.

That said, it is immensely important, when reading the Scriptures, not proof-text, but rather look at the meaning of the argument being made and keep the whole argument intact, rather than trying extrapolate a different argument and apply it to an unrelated topic.

I hope this helps,

John

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