Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does John 6:63 Refute the Real Presence?

Early Christian depiction of the Eucharist from the C
A couple of my Evangelical friends were recently talking with me about John 6 and the Eucharist. If you haven’t read it recently, you should. In it, Jesus states repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, that He is the Bread of Life, that our eternal salvation is tied to eating His Body and drinking His Blood, that His Flesh really is true Food and His Blood really is true Drink. The question that I asked when we were going through the passage was, “If Jesus was trying to say that the Eucharist is really His Body and Blood, what more could He have said?”

Even more striking, the Jewish audience listening to Him doesn’t initially take Him literally. Their initial reaction to His claim, “I am the Bread come down from Heaven” is to be shocked that He claimed to come from Heaven (John 6:41-42). At this point, Jesus clarifies how literally He means the “Bread” part: “I am the living Bread that came down out of Heaven; if anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and the Bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My Flesh.” (John 6:51). It’s only at this point that the crowd becomes shocked by the Bread imagery (Jn. 6:52).

In other words, it’s not as if we have Jesus using a metaphor, and the crowd naively assuming that He means it to be literal.  It's something nearer the opposite: we have the crowd initially assuming Jesus is speaking metaphorically, and Jesus going out of His way to make sure that they don’t think that. And after the crowd protests, “how can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Jesus answers (Jn. 6:53-58), by explaining six different times that He means this literally in the span of six verses:
  1. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in yourselves.” (Jn. 6:53)
  2. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day.” (Jn. 6:54)
  3. For My Flesh is True Food, and My Blood is True Drink.” (Jn. 6:55)
  4. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in Him.” (Jn. 6:56)
  5. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” (Jn. 6:57)
  6. This is the Bread which came down out of Heaven; not as the fathers and died; he who eats this Bread will live forever.” (Jn. 6:58).
And to top all of this off, this discourse occurs at Passover time (John 6:4), one year prior to the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper (Mt. 26:20-29).

My friends acknowledged how Eucharistic the passage appears to be, but wanted to know what to make of John 6:63. Because after Jesus says all of this, and the crowd is outraged (Jn. 6:60), He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” One of my friends said, “I agree that if you read the prior verses 53-58 literally, it seems to support the idea of Real Presence. But doesn't verse 63 prove that He's speaking figuratively?”

Anton Raphael Mengs, Christ on the Cross (1768)
It’s a very good question. But the typical Protestant understanding of the passage is dangerously wrong: taking John 6:63 literally like that would discredit not only (a) the Eucharist, but (b) everything Christ just said about the necessity of eating His Flesh, (c) the Incarnation, and (d) the Passion of Christ. Because if Christ's Flesh is worthless, then His taking on Flesh is worthless, and His sacrificing His Flesh on the Cross is worthless.

But these conclusions can't be right (as any Christian would recognize). Instead, Christ means that the flesh profits nothing in isolation, that it needs to be quickened by the Spirit. Here are Augustine's own words:
What is it, then, that He adds? It is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing. Let us say to Him (for He permits us, not contradicting Him, but desiring to know), O Lord, good Master, in what way does the flesh profit nothing, while You have said, Except a man eat my flesh, and drink my blood, he shall not have life in him? Or does life profit nothing? And why are we what we are, but that we may have eternal life, which Thou dost promise by Your flesh? Then what means the flesh profits nothing? It profits nothing, but only in the manner in which they understood it. They indeed understood the flesh, just as when cut to pieces in a carcass, or sold in the shambles; not as when it is quickened by the Spirit.

Wherefore it is said that the flesh profits nothing, in the same manner as it is said that knowledge puffs up. Then, ought we at once to hate knowledge? Far from it! And what means Knowledge puffs up? Knowledge alone, without charity. Therefore he added, but charity edifies. [1 Corinthians 8:1] Therefore add to knowledge charity, and knowledge will be profitable, not by itself, but through charity. So also here, the flesh profits nothing, only when alone. Let the Spirit be added to the flesh, as charity is added to knowledge, and it profits very much. For if the flesh profited nothing, the Word would not be made flesh to dwell among us. If through the flesh Christ has greatly profited us, does the flesh profit nothing? But it is by the flesh that the Spirit has done somewhat for our salvation. Flesh was a vessel; consider what it held, not what it was. The apostles were sent forth; did their flesh profit us nothing? If the apostles' flesh profited us, could it be that the Lord's flesh should have profited us nothing? For how should the sound of the Word come to us except by the voice of the flesh? Whence should writing come to us? All these are operations of the flesh, but only when the spirit moves it, as if it were its organ. Therefore it is the Spirit that quickens; the flesh profits nothing, as they understood the flesh, but not so do I give my flesh to be eaten.
If enemies of Christ had overwhelmed Him against His will, killing Him and cutting His Body to pieces, would that have saved anyone? No. The Passion works only because Christ voluntarily lays down His Life (John 10:11). That is, for the Passion (and the Eucharist) to work, Jesus must be both the High Priest (Heb. 4:14) and the Sacrifice (1 Cor. 5:7). Or put another way, the Spirit and Flesh must be operating in union.

This distinction is an incredibly important one. It's both what separates the Eucharist from cannibalism, and what separately Christianity from something like human-sacrificing pagan cults.

So in summary, I'd say a few things:
  1. “Spirit” doesn't mean “metaphor.”
  2. If Christ wanted to describe His words as metaphoric in John 6, He could easily have done so. He seems to have gone to great lengths to do the opposite (see esp. John 6:55). I'd be incredibly cautious of (a) overlooking all of John 6:25-60, for the sake of v. 63; or (b) reading v. 63 as somehow negating the rest of this Chapter.
  3. If Jesus literally means that His Flesh is worthless, this would destroy all of Christianity, not just Catholicism.
  4. Compare this passage with Romans 8, talking about living according to the Spirit, not the Flesh. That's not a denial of the Incarnation, or a condemnation of the flesh, but of our sinful natures, or living like animals. (I think most Protestants agree with this point, since the alternative is dualism).
  5. Catholics don't think that the Eucharist works apart from the operation of the Spirit (which is why we call upon the Spirit at every Mass, and consider this a necessary part of the Eucharistic Rite).
(By the way, sorry for the sporadic posting this week - I've been travelling; I'm actually posting this from a rest stop in Ottawa).  

64 comments:

  1. I'm reading Keating's "Catholicism and Fundamentatlism" and it's a fascinating view on the climate between Protestants and Catholics 25 years ago. Regarding the Eucharist, two arguments I noticed used against Catholic understanding are:

    1. When Jesus said "this is my body", Protestants argue that the Greek meant "represents". Is this still an argument used today or has that been put to rest?
    2. They argue that if the Eucharist is really the flesh of Christ, Catholics are cannibals. You mentioned this. Would you elaborate on the distinction? Is this still a popular charge against Catholicism?

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    1. I won't address the first objection, since I'm not knowledgeable in Greek ;)

      The second argument is what is called 'polemics.' It does not address the truth of Catholic teaching directly, it merely smears it with a derogatory term that has an immediate negative connotation in the minds of those who hear it. If one cannot stomach the fact that Jesus Christ, who is God, and the New Creation, might have created a way of utter union with Himself that is both physical and spiritual, and that is utterly beyond all of our ability to fully understand it, then what you have is a problem with the will, with the willingness to follow Jesus Christ wherever He leads. Which is ironic, really, since a popular passage in Protestant circles is the Proverb, "Lean not on your own understanding," ie separate from clear obedience to Christ.

      Addressing the polemic itself, it is worth noting that the manner in which Catholic teaching states that we consume the whole Christ is not a carnal manner, but one in which the spiritual assumes the physical up into itself. We are made one with the glorified Body and Blood, and Soul and Divinity of Christ, in a singularly unique manner. It's not accurate to describe in such carnal terms. At any rate, it's the orthodox Faith, and always has been since the turn of the second century.

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    2. Since I know Attic/Koine Greek, I'll happily chime in here, and provide a response to the first objection...

      The Greek term that some Protestants state should be translated as "represents" is the Greek word "εστι" "esti". It is a form of the verb "to be" For any other grammar or linguistic junkies lurking out there, this word is:

      Third person, singular, present tense, active voice, indicative mood.

      This verb is referring to a he, she or it, it refers to one thing, that thing is happening right now in the present, it didn't happen in the past, nor will it happen in the future, that thing is not being done passively to another, and it is a statement of fact, not a command.

      It means "is".

      Everywhere else in Sacred Scripture it is translated as "is" and it would be inappropriate to translate that word as "represents" in those other places, ergo, it should also be translated as "is" in the phrase "this is my body..."

      "τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου..." Luke 22:19 for just one example.

      The verb in question is in bold.

      (Literally, word-for-word, it reads "this is the body of mine..." with the genitive of possession for "my body".)

      Now, to take a totally random example from scripture to further prove my point:

      Mark 6:15 "And others said that it is Elias..."

      "ἄλλοι δὲ ἔλεγον ὅτι Ἠλίας ἐστίν" The verb in question is again in bold.

      (Literally the Greek reads: "others but/and said that Elias (it) is..." with the word "it" implied but not supplied in the Greek, "it" is referring back to "Elias" and English needs "it" for it to make sense which Greek doesn't required, and the word "δὲ" means either "but" or "and" depending on the context. -- You should see me with Egyptian Hieroglyphs :-)...)

      Now, switch the wording around to:

      "And others said that It represents Elias..."

      Doesn't really make much sense now, does it?

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    3. the 'is' equals 'represents' argument was put forward by Zwingli during the early days of the Reformation. Luther rejected the idea utterly & so they fell out. Part of the long & sad history of schism engendering schism ...

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  2. gmart, I read in the notes relating to this passage in the New American Bible that the classical Greek word used in the Bread of Life Discourse for "to eat" is the animal sense of eating, so literally, "to gnaw" or "munch." In modern Greek, there isn't a distinction. Since the oldest scrolls are written in classical Greek, that's the meaning we should use. I don't see how we are supposed to munch on something that "represents" Christ. And Jesus goes to a lot of trouble to point out that He IS the Bread of Life. I don't think an argument for "representing" holds water.

    I can't elaborate on #2.

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    1. I second this! Already missed here, hope travels are going well!

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  4. Thank you JonathanCatholic and Amy.

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    1. here is a good paper that answers your question on the Greek : http://www.totustuus.com/ThisIsMyBody.pdf

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  5. gmart here is a good paper that answers your question on the Greek : http://www.totustuus.com/ThisIsMyBody.pdf

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  6. Dear, Loving, Merciful, Jesus Christ, what do humanity want You to do to convince them that You are truly Present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist????? Since the Luciano Miracle over 1,300 years ago - which is still ongoing - and many others after, why do Protestants still deny Your Real Presence in the Consecrated Bread and Wine???? To those who are Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy, we have Saint Faustina who saw you many, many times in the Blessed Eucharist. But we faithfully follow Your Divine Teaching...."Blessed are those who did not see but yet believe...". We do not need the miracles to unshakably believe that at the time of Consecration You, Yourself, in the person of the Priest offer Yourself to our Heavenly Father and at the same instant become physically Present in the species of Bread and Wine. This is Your Divine Gift to us - this is truly Emmanuel - God with us. How blessed are we to kneel or sit, praying, meditating and listening to You before us in the Adoration Chapels of the world where You are exposed....oh, how blessed are we, who, after You wash our sins in Your Tribunal of Mercy, are made less unworthy to receive You in the Eucharist.....You, our Loving Saviour Present in the Eucharist are the Heart and the Soul of our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church....now until The End of Time. Thank You, Jesus for this Sacrament of Love and Mercy which is the Source,the Life and the Centre of all the other Divine Sacraments.

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  7. Very good examination and refutation! I recently started an apologetic themed blog my self and one of my very first post delt with this very matter! One of the most understated things in Jn 6, is Jesus' use of the word "sarx" when he explains that you have to eat His flesh. Many protestants claim that He uses the word "soma" which means body but, in the Greek, John deliberately replaces soma for sarx that is, He replaces the word body for flesh.

    Additionally one must also take into consideration the use of the word "eat" in Jn. 6 as it changes from "phago" (to eat) to "trogo" (to chew, naw, crunch). Verses 54-58 literally have Jesus saying that we have to "trogo" His "sarx," that is, we have to chew upon His flesh. See here: http://prounafides.blogspot.com/2012/04/catholic-youtube-singers-comments-need.html

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    1. No, no... See here http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2009/07/something-you-may-have-missed-from.html

      Ah these new readers... always thinking they can tell Joe something he hasn't already posted about...

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  8. To above,

    The Greek work used in John 6:55 ("My flesh is true food") and in Luke 22:19 ("this is My Body") is 'estin', the third-person present form of the Greek verb for 'to be'. Every language has this word, and it means what it means. Can your Protestant interlocutor point to any usage in the New Testament of 'estin' (or other form of the verb) that MUST unequivocally mean 'represent'?

    The pagan Romans accused the early Christians of cannibalism, too. Same misunderstanding of the same data. Who was right?

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  10. All through chapter John 6, Jesus insists that we have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to have eternal life. yet some "Christians" inssist that he did not mean it literally even when Jesus keep using more graphic languagae to make his point.Is Jesus lying ? Is Jesus a hypocrite ? If the Jesus is a liar and a hypocrite, why should we worship him ?

    My interpretation of John 6:63 is this. Jesus was the logos incarnate. Jesus flesh is that of a mortal man, but his spirit is that of the Word (logos). The Roman was able to scourge and killed Jesus' mortal flesh on the cross. It was the spirit of God that raised Jesus mortal flesh from the dead. When we eat consecrated host (the Eucahrist), it is bread infused with the Spirit of God.

    This is made clear in Romans 8:9-13:
    "9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

    10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

    12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live."

    In some culture, people eat the flesh of their enemy thinking it will give them life, but that is not true. Eating Jesus's mortal flesh (before the resurrection) without his spirit will profit nothing. However, once Jesus institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper, eating his resurrected flesh with his spirit through the Eucharist and consecrated wine do give us internal life.

    It's interesting that the Bread of Life Discourse happened after the multiplication of bread and fish, and when Judas refused to believed in the Eucharist, he was separated from Jesus and Satan enter him and influence him to betray Jesus. Judas betrayal happen shortly after Jesus institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

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  11. What century does that art depiction of the Eucharist come from? Where could I see a bigger version? Are there any other similar ones?

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  12. C'mon, it's all metaphoric. It's powerful enough as a metaphor. It's not actually human flesh and blood. (Wouldn't that be cannibalism anyway?)

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  13. C'mon, it's all metaphoric. It's powerful enough as a metaphor. It's not actually human flesh and blood. (Wouldn't that be cannibalism anyway?)

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    1. I'm afraid you haven't responded to any of the points of the article. In your opinion, which bit of Joe's analysis is incorrect?

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  14. John 6:63 is my favorite book of the bible because once I understood it properly, I came home to the Catholic Church. Praise God.

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  15. What a great article and responses. I enjoyed this discussion.

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  16. Great post, Joe! I would also add that the Protestant interpretation of v. 63 would also render the resurrection of the body unnecessary as well...given the fact that they believe that Jesus is saying his flesh is of no avail!!!

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  17. Great Post! It is interesting that the Gospel of John would support this because John often comes out with Jesus saying what he is really thinking. The Synoptic Gospels do not have Jesus saying or teaching as clearly as he does in John. There are many parts of John that still challenge us today (Catholic, Protestant, Agnostic, and everyone). I believe that many scholars have downplayed or completely dismissed John with the use of the "Two-Source Hypothesis" because John's theology is challenging, which may be intentional or unintentional. I love the Gospel of John, and this is another reason why.

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  18. James Cardinal Gibbeons demolishes Protestant objections with one argument:

    "If the Eucharist were merely commemorative bread and wine, instead of being superior, it would really be inferior to the manna; for the manna was supernatural, heavenly, miraculous food, while bread and wine are natural, earthly food."

    Check Mate.

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  19. If what Jesus taught was a metaphor then what He was really saying was that "unless you persecute and assault me you would have no life in you" for "to eat someone's body and to drink someone's blood" as a metaphor is used Psalms 26:2, 2 Kings 23:17, Micah 3:3 Rev 17:6etc and it means to persecute and assault as Messrs Burnham and Wood point out in San Juan Catholic Seminars "Beginning Apologetics

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  20. I always saw Jn 6:63 as referring to the truth that the Spirit allows one to accept the truth that Jesus teaches in this matter, the flesh (man's unaided mind) is of no avail.... As he says, "the words I have spoken are spirit and life; but there are some of you who don't believe."
    This would be similar to his words that no one can come to him unless the Father draws him.

    This being said, Augustine's interpretation makes sense, too. Hmmmmm.....

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    1. That's what I understood it to mean also.

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  21. I would agree with the author that John 6:63 does not serve as a refutation of transubstantiation. However, it seems to me,that the "real presence" doctrine stands rather awkwardly next to the fact that Jesus instituted this practice while he was bodily present with his disciples. It is implausible that the disciples were cannibalizing the flesh of Jesus and drinking his blood while the Lord was still with them in body. Also we see all kinds of metaphors like these throughout Scripture (1 Corinthians 10:31; Galatians 4:25), so that one can plausibly understand communion in non-literal terms. Not to mention that we, as Christians, believe that Jesus has a glorified resurrection body. How do you eat the literal glorified body of the literal Son of God? To me this seems sacrilegious, at best. But, again, I agree that the John passage referenced does not serve as a refutation of the transubstantiation doctrine.

    Sincerely Eric Miller

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    1. Excuse me I meant 1 Corinthians 10:4, not 1 Corinthians 10:31.

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    2. How does the infinite God become a finite man, the uncontainable in a womb?

      God said let there be light, and there was.

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    3. Eric,

      The doctrine of the Real Presence is, along with the concept of the Eucharist as a Sacrifice, one of the most orthodox and well-attested teachings in the Early Church Fathers. They are simply unanimous in their literalism about the Eucharist being more than simply bread, but an actual communion with the whole Christ. To deny such an orthodox teaching of Christianity simply because you don't understand it in your mind, understand how it could have happened, or because it seems repulsive to you ("cannibalizing") is to be unorthodox in the highest degree, as well as to fall into the trap of rationalizing Christianity away. This is the same sort of path that those who deny other miraculous aspects of Christianity walk down: they rationalize Christianity away by saying, "how could that be so?"

      I think we need to remember that God becoming man is just about as radically hard to imagine as anything else. If you believe that God became a man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, was an Infant in her arms, suffered, died, and raised Himself on the third day, and ascended *bodily* into Heaven, then my goodness you can believe that God can do just about anything, whether you understand it or not.

      My advice would be to study two things: the Early Church Fathers testimony of the Eucharist, and the Scriptural typology regarding the Eucharist. Take, for instance, the typology of the Eucharist being the fruit of the Tree of Life, the fruit of the Cross. Or the typology of the Eucharist being the sacrifice of Cain (fruit of the earth) and transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Sacrifice of Abel (the Lamb). Or the typology of the Eucharist being the Sacrifice of the Lamb necessarily eaten, cf Exodus. Or the typology that it is Christ coming down in the Eucharistic elements to satisfy our hunger and our thirst for Him in this struggle and battle we wage, as the Israelites moved through the desert, being fed with the Incarnate Word and not with mere bread and water. Or the typology of the hidden Manna, mentioned in Revelation. Or the typology that Christ is *literally* our Spouse and just as our bodies and spirits are all His, His Body and Divinity is completely ours. We *belong* to each other.

      Testimony from the Church Fathers comes from the Didache, St. Ignatius of Antioch (with St. Polycarp of Smyrna since he approved of Ignatius' teachings), St. Justin the Martyr, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Hippolytus, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Augustine, and St. John Chrysostom, and finally, the Fathers of the Council of Ephesus. That's a witness stretching from AD 80 to AD 430, and if you're going to reject that interpretation of what Holy Communion means in the Scripture, then you've given up all claim of orthodoxy and might as well reject Christianity, since Christianity has because simply subjective and rationalized.

      Sincerely,

      Jonathan

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    4. Jonathan, many of the Western Fathers understood communion in symbolic terms, nonetheless, for someone who believes that the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice in the Church, what Scripture says is my final authority.

      Cannibalism seems repulsive to everyone. You can doctor it up this way and that way, but at the end of the day it is what it is. This vice was widely considered a sign of terrible times and punishment throughout the Old Testament, so to make it into a Christian practice seems naive at best.

      I would agree with you that this is a matter of understanding, but not, not understanding. It is precisely because I understand the doctrine of transubstantiation that I reject it.

      Taken cumulatively I think that Christians have good reason to reject transubstantiation (notice that you didn't really answer any of points against transub. but simply appealed to extra-biblical tradition).

      Eric

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    5. Eric: What is cannibalism? If defined as humans eating a dead human, then the Eucharist is neither of those; for we are eating a live human but not just a human, but the fully-divine, fully-human Christ.

      Joe has presented to you in this article clear support for the Eucharist in John 6, and then Jonathan presented to you typology (from Scripture), and referenced the Church Fathers--disciples of the people who _wrote_ the Bible, I mean literally penned the documents that are such a pillar of the Faith. (what better commentary do you need?).

      What else is left for you? Would you believe in Eucharistic miracles, of which there are many. Perhaps the best thing is to pray openness to the Holy Spirit.

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    6. "Jonathan, many of the Western Fathers understood communion in symbolic terms"

      Exclusively symbolic terms so as to deny Jesus' Real Presence? Who are you thinking of here? All the Patristic evidence I've seen is overwhelmingly in favour of the Catholic position.

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    7. Eric, like 'I am not Spartacus,' I would like to know which Western Fathers you are citing. Keep in mind that we have to be carefully specific what we mean by *symbolic.* It is entirely possible for Holy Communion to be both symbolic and literal, if symbolic means typological fulfillment and the representation of various themes that find their greater fulfillment in the fact that Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the Eucharistic elements. So for you to prove that the Western Fathers contradicted their peers *and* the unanimous teaching of the Eastern Fathers you would have to prove that they were flatly denying the reality of Christ present in the Eucharist, and not simply highlighting the symbolic and typological reality while keeping mum on the other side of the Church's teaching of the time. To do anything else is to argue from silence.

      Now, about cannibalism. Let me quote from the Council of Ephesus, the third Ecumenical Council in A.D. 431, to show you what I mean when I say that Catholic teaching has never regarded the Holy Eucharist as cannibalism:

      “We will necessarily add this also. Proclaiming the Death, according to the flesh, of the only-begotten Son of God, that is Jesus Christ, confessing his Resurrection from the dead, and his ascension into Heaven, we offer the unbloody Sacrifice in the Churches, and so go on to the mystical thanksgivings ("Eucharisting"), and are sanctified, having received his holy flesh and the precious blood of Christ the Savior of us all. And not as common flesh do we receive it; God forbid: nor as of a man sanctified and associated with the Word according to the unity of worth, or as having a divine indwelling, but as truly the life-giving and very flesh of the Word himself. For he is the Life according to his nature as God, and when he became united to his flesh, he made it also to be Life-giving."

      To call the Eucharist, sublime and beautiful in its presentation, cannibalism strikes me as just as misunderstanding and just as against the Truth as unbelievers who liken the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross to human sacrifice. Both are disliked and repulsive buzzwords that evoke horror, both could be applied somewhat reasonably by those who only are partially aware of the sublime teachings of Christianity regarding both, but one of them you would understand through Christianity to be beautiful *due to the sin that it remits and, above all, the Life that it gives us;* namely, the Cross. Try to understand the Eucharist as Catholics understand it, pray for wisdom, and have an open mind and an open heart. Don't fall into the habit of using cannibalism and transubstantiation as buzzwords to reject Catholicism, the way to find the Truth is to dig into the teachings of the Fathers, and surrender to the mystery of Christianity as one cohesive whole in the first, second, and third centuries. If you do that, rather than rely on a word employed in the thirteenth century, you will discover the heart of the Church in the Eucharist, if you are open to it.

      Now, as to what you said about not answering the points you made to the teaching of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I did answer them. Here are your questions:

      'How could the disciples have been partaking of the body and blood of Christ while He was present in their midst?'

      'How do you eat the literal glorified body of the literal Son of God? To me this seems sacrilegious, at best.'

      Both of these are *intellectual* objections, i.e. being incredulous or disbelieving of how God could accomplish this. They rationalizing objections, and as I said before, it is a grave mistake to object to an orthodox teaching of Christianity from the first and second centuries based on rationalizing attitudes.

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    8. This is not the Christian way, in fact, it is the way of those who eventually doubt things like the literalness of the Incarnation and the Resurrection. For after all, how did God become man? How did He raise Himself from the dead? How did He cure blindness using His spit and mud? Surely they're metaphoric stories! Surely they are glossy, beautiful, non-literal myths.
      None of these objections are far off from how you're responding to orthodox Christianity; beware of that mindset. Trusting the teachings of 2000 years of orthodoxy in both East and West is far more humble, and far more Christian than pseudo-German rationalism. Those are your objections and I have indeed answer your points; here's my answer: With God, all things are possible.
      Finally, about your point about Scripture being your final authority and the Bible being the only rule of Faith, I have cited you Scriptural types of the Eucharist already. There is a rich tapestry of typological fulfillment woven throughout the whole of Scriptures, of which I offered you only a small start. The fact of the matter is that this is a perfect example of the consequences of Sola Scriptura as a teaching: if you don't feel like acknowledging that there are legitimate Scriptural indications of the Eucharist as the Church as understood it in all times and in all places, then you don't have to. If you don't personally feel convinced that the case is "strong enough," you can reject an orthodox teaching out of hand, simply because you don't see it as having a strong enough case in the Bible. I could point to many other typological truths of the Eucharist, and you would dismiss them in the name of the Sola Scriptura teaching. That's unorthodox, my friend. Again I have to say, where does orthodoxy end and heresy begin in your system of looking at things? How far may we question and eat and destroy orthodoxy before we have become unorthodox? It is dangerous indeed to reach deep into the Church history and reject teachings present in that mysterious time of the second century. Doing that is paramount to starting to reject elements of the orthodox doctrines on the Trinity, such as eternal Sonship, the three distinct Persons, non-Trinitarian Baptism, and other heresies.

      I would recommend a sincere, thoughtful, and open-hearted reading of G.K. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy.
      I also apologize for the lengthiness of my response, but fast typing + an active mind + a love of the Triune God and my Faith = more-than-occasional long-windedness ;) Blessings, friend!

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  22. Eric Miller,
    Remember that the disciples understood Jesus literally. That is why they ask "how can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and when Jesus reiterates the teaching with even more explicit and literal greek. Some of Jesus' disciples actually walk away and no longer follow Him. Ask youself if Jesus would have allowed that to happen over a misunderstanding. He lets it happen and even asks Peter and the others if they will also leave. He does not lessen the teaching or make it figurtive. He stands by it.

    “They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again.”
    Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Smyrnaeans, 7,1 (c. A.D. 110).

    St. Ignatius was a collaborator of St. John the Evangelist. He was a friend of St. Polycarp who was also a student of St. John. St. Ignatius was also the very child lifted into the arms of our Blessed Lord as read in Mark 9:35 and because of this was referred to as ho Theophoros or 'carried by God'.

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    1. it was 9:35 in the Douay Rheims but Mark 9:36 in the RSV CE

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  23. ... many of the Western Fathers understood communion in symbolic terms...

    Name them please and source that assertion of yours with their quotes

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  24. Eric Miller.

    It is interesting to note that St. Luke and St. Matthew made up a brand new Greek word for the Eucharistic bread... "Epiousios" which is supersubstantial or necessary for daily existence. The Eucharistic bread is of the same essence as God, so St. Luke and St. Matthew demonstrated this by creating a unique word(hapax legomenon) not found anywhere in Greek literature to call out the Miracle of the Mass.

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    1. Eric, I am not an intellectual giant but just a simple 73-year old Cradle Catholic widow who believes what my One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church teaches me. Now, Eric, you state above :


      "Western Fathers understood communion in symbolic terms, nonetheless, for someone who believes that the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice in the Church, what Scripture says is my final authority."


      You then proceed to say this "...........I would agree with you that this is a matter of understanding, but not, not understanding. It is precisely because I understand the doctrine of transubstantiation that I reject it."

      Now this is what you emphatically state... "the Bible is the only rule of faith and practice in the Church, what Scripture says is my final authority."


      If so, would you please tell us what do you make of the following very emphatic Bible Statement in John 6:67-69 "As a result many of his disciples.........no longer accompanied Him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?...."

      It is unambiguously clear that Jesus IS NOT talking figuratively, since he is ready to lose His Apostles as well if they cannot accept His Divine Teaching, especially when He categorically states "UNLESS YOU EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD YOU DO NOT HAVE LIFE IN YOU" John 6:52..


      Eric, this is NOT symbolic language. Jesus since Jesus was ready to lose even His Twelve Apostles if they rejected this Divine Teaching. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is the Centre, the Heart and the Soul of the Catholic Faith. It is from this Divine Sacrament that all the other Sacraments and all God's Graces spring from. It is the Source of their Divine Sanctifying Power. At the moment of Consecration, Jesus takes the place of the Priest and offers Himself to His Heavenly Father while He at the same time becomes Present for us in the Bread and Wine which at the transubstantiation which you reject.


      Jesus is God, He speaks God's Truth regarding His Real Presence and we believe He is present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. We also believe, as I state above, that at the moment of Consecration the consecrated Bread and Wine is Jesus Himself Whom we receive in Holy Communion and Whom we worship, adore and pray to in all the Catholic Churches' Tabernacles and Adoration Chapels in the world where He is exposed. This is our Faith, Eric....In the Eucharist, Jesus is truly "Emmanuel"....God With us.

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  25. Question:::

    What is the purpose of the Eucharist?
    What happens to those that don't practice it?

    God Bless

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    1. Hey Alex, I'll try to answer your question as best I can.

      To understand the Eucharist, you have to understand the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The Death of Jesus Christ was a unitive action, it united God and man physically and spiritually in the Person of Jesus. The action of the Cross towards God was a Sacrifice, it satisfied the justice of God's infinite perfection, while extending God's mercy to us. To us, it was God joining Himself to our sufferings and our imperfections, and taking them all upon Himself, even death, while uniting us and our nature to God. The purpose was to unite God and man by removing all obstacles in between, including sin. After satisfying justice and taking up all our weakness, He rose again from the dead, guaranteeing our Resurrection and uniting us forever with God, and conquering all evil forever.

      The Eucharist is everything that the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is, because it is He Himself, the Living One who once was dead, but is alive again, coming into the midst of His Church to make present His Death and Resurrection, and to unite Himself to man personally. The only difference is that the Death and Resurrection of Christ is under a different mode; that is, it is made present under the appearance of Bread and Wine. He is made present among the Christians for our salvation, for making us holy, and for uniting us to God. It is the action of a lover, God, toward His beloved. It is the proof that God is a Spouse who longs to pour out His love on His bride, His People.

      The world is called to this intimate Communion with the God who is their Loving Spouse, and Christ longs to be united to all the world. It is an open invitation. We can say nothing certain about those who are not near the Eucharist, offered in the Church of God and given to Christians, since their souls are in the hand of God and it is between God and them what their destiny is. All we can say is, along with God the Father in Matthew 22, "Come to the Wedding Feast, all from every corner of the world, the poor and the bedraggled; come to the Marriage, all who are hopeless, and you will be saved and fulfilled." Here, in the Eucharist, God is present and waiting all hearts to come to Him, for He loves them. We have seen His salvation.

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    2. So, by reading the POST and all the answers this is my understanding:::

      Catholics;

      The Presence of God is within the Bread and Wine while it's being celebrated.

      Evangelicals:

      They do it in remembrance of God.


      But Based on the Bible what are the consequences of those that don't practice it ?

      Thanks God Bless

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    3. If Catholics are wrong, they commit idolatry.
      If Protestants are wrong, they commit sacrilege.

      Those are big consequences.

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  26. So, by reading the POST and all the answers this is my understanding:::

    Catholics;

    The Presence of God is within the Bread and Wine while it's being celebrated.

    Evangelicals:

    They do it in remembrance of God.


    But Based on the Bible what are the consequences of those that don't practice it ?

    Thanks God Bless

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    Replies
    1. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." 53 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56* He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58* This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."- John 6:48-52; 53-58

      Based on the Bible, based on Jesus' words, He said that those who do not partake of Him in the Eucharist will not have His Life in them, and they will not be united to Him.

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    2. According to this :

      "Based on the Bible, based on Jesus' words, He said that those who do not partake of Him in the Eucharist will not have His Life in them, and they will not be united to Him."

      Most of the Children will perish if they don't do this, so If a baby dies he/she will not be united to Him nor will have His life in them?

      Thanks God Bless

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    3. P Alex, see my post below... Does that help?

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    4. I'm still not clear at all, It seems to me that Catholics want to win an argument as well as Evangelicals. I think both Churches have things that are not Based on the Bible but the understanding of a Man "not the Holy Spirit speaking to our hearts".

      If they're all saved what's the point of arguing if Jesus is on the Bread/Wine or the other ones do it in remembrance of Him?

      I think it's more important to bring lives to the feet of Christ instead.

      According to the Bible how can we become a Saved Soul? what do we need to do?

      God Bless , thanks for the info !!

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    5. P alex, one of the problems based on what you have said is the question of even knowing the bible. It seems you are genuinely seeking truth, the Church is the only one ble to provide that in its totality. As for. What it matters, if we deny Christ's real presence in the Eucharist then we are, in effect, denying Christ. This is not to say that all who are not Catholic are damned but those who know and reject this truth are. Again the problem comes that we can not truly know the interior of any individual nor call a specific man damned based on his practices in life alone (ie not taking the Eucharist or becoming catholic).

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    6. Sorry for typos I'm on an iPad. As to the scripture point, how do we follow scripture without knowing what makes up scripture? Luther for example wanted to get rid of James as canonical because it didn't fit his interpretation of faith alone. If we don't have an external way to designate scripture, we run into similar problems.

      In Christ
      Cary

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    7. I agree, Maybe Luther wanted to remove James, but why do we add things to it?

      Like the 3 different Churches according to Catholic church??...What I'm saying just like we're capable of pointing the mistakes of other PEOPLE "you can call it: religion, doctrine, teaching etc" we should also be able to point out things that aren't right on our own.

      Let's say I dislike a lot the fact some Evangelical Churches are forcing their people that gets on an altar "or stage" (place where the teaching/preaching is given) to dress the way they want to...so you can understand it, in some congregation women are not allow to wear a jean/pant/sweat pants not even at home..where do we find that on the Bible? nowhere !!! Bible says:

      Deuteronomy 22:5

      5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.

      Now if you tell me that back then they had Levis and Calvin Klein pants I'd understand,but they did not, that is being religious, David was chosen last because his parents never expected him to be the one God will pick, while we look the exterior God is looking straight to our hearts.

      Catholics, it's easy for them to say that they are not Praising nor Worshiping Idols, that Evangelicals don't understand the difference between Praising/Worshiping and to venerate/reverence. Exodus 20, Psalm 115,say something completely different,in 1 Samuel 5 when the Philistine took Ark after the battle, bible said that it was placed in the room of Dagon, God got so tired that He ended up destroying it not because there were people giving Praise to it, just because He is God alone and does not share his Kingdom with anybody else, He had no need to see people on their knees praying to it or "venerating /reverence" in order for HIM to dislike the fact that it was an image.

      So I support Evangelicals but I cannot take away the fact that Thanks to Catholicism the names of Christ is being glorify around the World as well. It's Ok to speak when we see things that are wrongs, the main issue is MEN, we need to allow the spirit to Lead us, and to take control. Jesus should be our only God.


      If we pray, prayer must be lifted up to him only, if we get on our knees it's for Him only...what the Church needs to do is to become one body and to teach what's written, I believe in having revelations given by God if you have a good base on the Bible, meaning that you need to understand the language they used to write it, the culture, circumstances and place.

      A lot people don't even know that Jesus was Jew and that we must honor God's people and pray for them as well. Genesis 12:2 is clear about this.

      God Bless and Thanks

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    8. P. Alex,

      Are you claiming that Exodus 20, Psalm 115, and 1 Samuel 5 are proof that God forbids not only idols but all images?

      If so, how do you get around the fact that God orders religious images to be made throughout the Old Testament in places like Exodus 25:18-22, Exodus 26:1, Numbers 21:8-9, 1 Kings 6:29-36, etc.?

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    9. Psalm 115

      1 Not to us, Lord, not to us
      but to your name be the glory,
      because of your love and faithfulness.

      2 Why do the nations say,
      “Where is their God?”
      3 Our God is in heaven;
      he does whatever pleases him.
      4 But their idols are silver and gold,
      made by human hands.
      5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
      eyes, but cannot see.
      6 They have ears, but cannot hear,
      noses, but cannot smell.
      7 They have hands, but cannot feel,
      feet, but cannot walk,
      nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
      8 Those who make them will be like them,
      and so will all who trust in them.

      Well this looks very clear to me, allow me to quote your comment:

      "If so, how do you get around the fact that G O D O R D E R S religious images to be made throughout the Old Testament in places like Exodus 25:18-22, Exodus 26:1, Numbers 21:8-9, 1 Kings 6:29-36, etc.?"


      G O D O R D E R S RIGHT? Take the time to read your Bible verses and notice that HE'S BEING SPECIFIC ABOUT IT RIGHT. He's telling you what to build, how to build it, and even how they have to look like, could you PLEASE quote me right here the Bible verses where God is telling you to SCULPT a Jesus with a Bleeding Crown and with HIS hands and feet wounded, or HIS Mother or any other Saint. God never told Israel the get on their knees to Pray, God never told them to create a prayer for them, God never told them give them praise, or to carry them around your town showing them to everybody.

      Prove all this to me with Bible verses and translation from Hebrew, Greek or Aramean with the meaning and I will understand you. Just like you try to prove a point by saying that Jesus is in the Church/Bread/Wine when Eucharist is happening by bringing up translation from the OLD Greek or modern and I will be convinced.

      Bible is clear and I see people kneeling down to those Images and still out of the 613 commandments I still have not found one that allows this.

      Excuse my writing and spelling..English is not my first language...

      God Bless you GREATLY

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    10. You have a misconception, P. Alex. We as Catholics do not pray to the religious sculptures or works of art, we are in communion with the ones whom they represent. For example, if I pray before a sculpture of Jesus Christ, I am not praying to the statue, I am praying to Jesus; however, teh statue is used as a reference.

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    11. P Alex,

      My point was that when you read or interpret the scriptures how do you know that they are scripture? The answer is because Christ founded a Church on Peter as the rock and that the Holy Spirit has been given to work through the Church (Catholic) and protect her from error. All of this however side steps the issue of the Eucharist. If things seem "plainly obvious" then how do you get around "this is my body...this is my blood"? I do appreciate your charity.

      In Christ
      cary

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    12. JonathanCatholic,

      Wow, how can you overlook the fact that it is an Image??? How can you get around that? regardless of you praying to it or not? we see what we want to see, you forgot to mention all the Saints Images and Mary as well !!!

      http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/saints.htm

      Check out this link and read it....

      Jesus said Matthew 6:7 But when ye pray, use not v a i n r e p e t i t i o n s, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

      We pray to the Lord with a unique prayer, not something that we repeat and repeat and repeat....

      scredsoxfan2,

      By your comment I assume to Catholics forgot to read the Jewish Tanakh before deciding what's right and what's wrong, like I said we see what we want to see:

      You said: then how do you get around "this is my body...this is my blood"?

      When you do it does it taste like a NICE STEAK and BLOOD? Umm I highly doubt it...Jesus goes above that, Jesus had the need to do such a thing for He said:::

      Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

      God Bless guys !!!

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    13. P Alex,

      Sorry, I just saw this. I would like to clarify that the steak and blood comment is rather inflammatory. I don't think you meant it uncharitably but it fails a basic understanding of what the theological beliefs on the Eucharist are, specifically about the difference between substance and accident.

      To the interpretation point, you are right on, people can interpret scripture in many different, contradictory and false ways. We know there is only one truth, and particularly on the Eucharist or unity we don't have a choice because if we want to follow Christ we must do what he says. Therefore, these arguments are not arguments at all, as a brother in Christ I want you to know this great gift given by the Lord to make us one with Him and with each other and I want to share the truth with everyone.

      But even if we can interpret scripture differently how do we know what is scripture? How do we know which books make up the bible?

      In Christ
      Cary

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  27. I think however that it is important to consider the catechism and what holy mother church has taught us especially about the saved. There may be those who through no fault of their own are separated from the fullness of the faith in the catholic church but are still saved. Even those who are not baptized could be saved. See especially paragraphs 846-848 but also 811-870 on the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

    One cannot not be saved however if they knowingly reject truths they have encountered. I know this is ambiguous but the reality is that only God knows the depths of each persons heart and culpability so while we know that these things are neccesary for those with knowledge of them, we don't know the extent to which each person has knowledge and is culpable for acting, or not acting, upon them.

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  28. In addition to writing about the verbs in Greek, Jesus uses to emphasize even more. There is another argument that dismantles the idea of ​​metaphor: Jesus in this discourse refers to the Ascension:

    63.If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

    Does the Ascension of Jesus is a metaphor?
    Protestants shy away from answering it.

    Hugs from Brazil

    Vanderley

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