Sticking with the Corpus Christi theme this week, I thought I'd post a bit of a debate I had regarding the Eucharist. A Protestant friend I met while praying outside Planned Parenthood sent me this two-part "dissertation" by a Baptist pastor from Ohio. In it, he uses Scripture in an attempt to discredit the Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
He claims his defense is unanswerable, but I gave it a shot anyway. Below is Part 1. My responses are in red.
The Eucharist or Communion Part 1 -- body & blood or “in remembrance of”Pastor [of a Baptist community in] OHThe title of this message is “The Eucharist or Communion” it can also be subtitled “Is it the body & blood of Christ or in remembrance of”I’ll be showing you what God says in the Bible on this subject. I’ll be giving you a lot of scripture references so you will need paper and pen or pencil.So you believe the Bible is God-breathed? Great, so do I! But why? Let's take the New Testament. I assume you believe Scripture contains 27 books, no more, no less. Why? There were hundreds of early Christian writings/letters? Why these 27? I accept these books as Scriptural because the authority of the Catholic Church declared them so in AD 382. You find yourself in a conundrum: you accept these books as inspired, but then claim to reject the only authority that declared them so. What gives?We obviously believe that we have communion in remembrance of what Jesus did on the cross to pay our full sin debt to God the FatherOn the other side, you have the Roman Catholics, Episcopals (Anglican/Church of England), Eastern Orthodox religions (Greek, Russian, etc.)They believe in Transubstantiation - that the elements become the body & blood of ChristTransubstantiation was defined by Pope Innocent III in the year 1215
Notice that it does not go all the way back to Christ or the Apostles Notice what, your slight of hand?
The question I pose to you today is this. If you were challenged to defend your position, could you do it from a Biblical perspective? Yes. I also know the Bible itself says the pillar and foundation of truth is NOT the Bible - it's the CHURCH. (see 1Tim. 3:15)Do you know what verses to use in context with a proper commentary on each verse so that you can defend God’s position? Yes, do you... in context?This is a two fold message. First, it’s to teach those on our side of this issue how to defend our position using our verses and giving answers to verses used by the other side. It doesn’t do any good to defend your position unless you can refute all of the points made by the other side. Second, if you’re listening to this and you believe the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ, please consider this message as a response to what you have been taught. Any problems I my have with your side are not with the average person setting in the pews of your Churches. They are with the hierarchy of your denomination.I hope you’ve got your pen and paper ready? Lets get started.1Pet 3:15 (paraphrase) always be prepared to give a defense for your faith with meekness and fear - that’s a righteous fear of God.God has written us a love story in the Bible (Yes!) - all the answers are right here in this Book. No, actually it says the answers are in both Scripture AND Tradition (1Cor 11:2; 2Thess 2:15, 3:6) and everything Jesus said is NOT in Scripture (Jn 21:25). If you believe in sola scriptura (that "all matters of faith and morals are found in the Bible alone"), then sola scriptura must be taught by the Bible too, right? So where is it?You can’t be “perfect” meaning mature or “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” without it - 2Tim 3:16-17God expects us to study His Word to show ourselves approved - 2Tim 2:15.That means studying the Bible with meekness and a righteous fear of God so the Holy Spirit can give us God’s answers to our questions. Yes, we should study Scripture - "ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ" (St. Jerome). But Scripture is NOT "a matter of personal interpretation" (2Pet 1:20), as "there are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction" (2Pet 3:15). We cannot fully understand without a guide, just like the Ethiopian eunuch needed (Acts 8:31).... So the Holy Spirit is now inspiring tens of thousands of different Christian "denominations" with vastly different answers to our questions? How is that possible?2Cor 13:1 says “In the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses shall every word be established” - Not only every idea but every word. I will be giving you multiple Bible references that make the same points and rhetorical questions you can ask those on the other side.We are going to go on the defense first. Both sides can’t be on the offense at the same time because it then becomes your verses against theirs. We need to knock down their foundation by showing them how their verses are out of context first and then invite them to do the same with our verses. We’ll get to the offense in Part 2.We’re going to start with the Catholic’s favorite verses in Jn 6:53-57. There’s a lot in Jn 6. We will be spending all of Part 1 responding to these 5 verses.READ -- Jn 6:53-57What you will hear back from them may go something like this:“You fundamentalist tell us not to take a verse out of context.. Here are 5 verses that say the same thing.5 times Jesus says you’ve got to eat My body -- 4 times He says you’ve got to drink My blood - what part of that don’t you understand?There is nothing more clear in the Bible than Jn 6:53-57and/or they might say:We’re the only Church started by Jesus Christ. We have an infallible Magisterium. The Catholic Church is never wrong!”I‘ve had these answers in that tone of voice. Now, not everyone is that demeaning. But, if they are, ignore their attitude. Focus on the issue. Agreed, because I can tell you all about the attitudes and tones of voice from your side too.Back to the verses. If that’s all that was in the Bible, you know what, it’s checkmate, they’re right and we’re wrong - we don’t need to go any farther. Lucky for our side, God has more to say about it. I’ll be giving you 100 or more verses depending on how you want to count them.The initial question is - Are those 5 verses in context or could they have been written as one because they are presenting the same thought?Side note: Please don’t call Catholics cannibals. You don’t get anywhere with insults. Instead, you can politely say “I’m know that I’m not a cannibal and I don’t believe you are either.” and let them defend cannibalism if they want to. So far, I’ve never had anyone do it.You may feel the need to let them know that this will be a long explanation and you will be asking them questions as you go. If they want you to accept their explanation than they will have to answer your questions.
Notice the word “and” verses 53, 54 & 56:
53 -- “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man AND drink his blood, ye have no life in you”54 -- “Whoso eateth my flesh AND drinketh my blood, hath eternal life”56 -- “He that eateth my flesh AND drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him”-- In 1414, the communion cup was forbidden to the laity by the Council of Constance - only the priests drink itQ: Catholics, do you drink the cup? (most don’t) The implication here in vs 54, using their verses their way - literally, is that if you don’t drink the cup, you don’t have eternal life - You’re not going to Heaven.Their answer: blood is in the flesh just like an uncooked steak. Response: Jesus said “drink” in all 3 of these verses. The body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ is present in one tiny piece of the consecrated bread or one drop of the consecrated wine. This distinction is irrelevant.-- The terms “eateth” and “drinketh” are both present tense participles, signifying that, if Jesus was talking literally, the disciples were to be eating His “flesh” and drinking His “blood” at that very time, and continue doing so. We don’t necessarily get that understanding in English because it’s lost in the translation. A literal rendition would read: “He who continues eating My flesh and drinking My blood?” The disciples were not eating and drinking our Savior’s flesh and blood then or ever Yes, they began doing so at the Last Supper. Later, you will see that they didn’t understood what he was saying. This is the explanation why.Now we start our response. I’m going to be giving you 7 things that Jesus says in 6 other verses. It shows that Jesus was talking spiritually not literally. But, I’ve got to go about it in a backwards way. Whenever you discuss the Bible with someone on the other side of any issue, you have to start with their verses or the other side will say that you’re avoiding the question. I always like to start at the beginning which, in this case would be verse 22. But, to satisfy them, we have to start in the middle and work outward in both directions. So, I’m going to start in vs 58 and then go back to verses 51-52 on the front side.58 -- READ “not as your fathers did eat Manna and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever” Yes, this bread is the new manna. In every other NT fulfillment of an OT prefigurement, the New is greater than the Old. But somehow you think the old manna is greater than the new? The old manna was miraculous, but the new manna is merely symbolic? it’s all a metaphor. It’s a different kind of bread. It’s not literal, it’s spiritual.Q: (live forever) Can you show me anyone, not just a Catholic, that’s alive today who ate the body and blood of Christ 2000 yrs ago? Yes, all the saints in heaven and purgatory.Q: What lives forever, your physical body or your spirit and soul? Refers to supernatural life. Soul for now, body will rise after the Second Coming.50 -- READ “eat thereof and not die”Q: What does not die, your physical body or your spirit and soul? See above.51 -- READ “live forever . . . life of the world” - He did it on the cross not in the Eucharist Jn 3:15-18 He says this bread is his flesh, and even clarifies! ...the flesh that he gave "for the life of the world." So did he give his literal flesh or metaphorical flesh? Did he really shed blood on the cross or not?Q: What lives forever, your physical body or your spirit and soul? See above.52 -- READ already confused No - why? We will be coming back to this question later.Now we have book ends around their verses to show that Jesus was not talking literally.
Let’s go back a little further.
35 -- READ “I am the bread of life ... shall never hunger ... believeth on me shall never thirst” The Bread of Life discourse is divided into 2 parts: v35-47 and v48-58. In this first half Jesus invites belief in Him. Notice the Jews didn't yet question why He calls Himself bread, but rather how He can claim to be from heaven (v42).Q: Have you had to eat or drink since your “First Communion? Have you had to eat or drink since you professed belief in Him?Q: So, was Jesus talking literally or spiritually? In this first half he was talking about literal belief leading to salvation or literal supernatural life.Q: Is belief a physical thing or a spiritual thing? It's mental, then spiritual with Baptism (or vice versa in the case of baptized infants), then physical (with works of love demonstrating this belief).48 -- READ “I am the bread of life”Q: Was Jesus talking literally or spiritually? Literally. You have your definition in vs. 35. No, in v35-47 He was speaking of belief (again, see the Jews reaction). Beginning in v48, that changes, and the literal is quite obvious to his audience, given their reaction. After they grumbled, he even switches his verb use from the common word for eating, "esthio" in the Greek, to almost a crude connotation, "trogo", meaning chew or gnaw, which he repeats 4 times (v54, 56, 57, and 58). If he were speaking metaphorically, his words would echo a Hebrew idiom where consuming flesh and blood refers to the brutalities of war (Deut 32:42; Ezk 39:17-18).
Q: Isn’t Jesus saying that He’s talking to them “spiritually” not literally? No, he's saying that faith, granted by the Spirit, will allow us to believe these hard sayings about literally eating his literal flesh, which gives literal supernatural life to the world.These are the 7 things Jesus said spiritually, not literally, in 6 verses [35 (2x),48,50,51,58 & 63] and they didn’t understand.Q: Do we agree that the people did not understand what Jesus was saying? No, they understood perfectly, which is why they left him - they couldn't accept it! Peter and the Apostles believed Christ based on faith (saying basically, "Lord, if you say so!"), even though they couldn't wrap their heads around it yet.You might get the response: Yes, and you’re the ones that are wrong. Jn 6:66 - The only place in the Bible where you have 666, You guys are Anti-Christ because you have walked away from the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Chapter and verse #’s were created by man, not God. Agreed.You may want to go through these verses showing how the people didn’t understand what Jesus was saying:
READ Jn 6:41 - The Jews then murmured because he said I am the bread of life No, here they murmured about the "came down from heaven" part, not the bread of life part. See v42.READ Jn 6:42 - how is it then that he saith I came down from Heaven? They should have understood from Dan 9:24-27... but they obviously didn't.READ Jn 6:52 - The people don’t understand and ask “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
READ Jn 6:60 - Many said this is an hard saying; who can hear it?
READ Jn 6:66 - From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
Now that I’ve pointed out the things to look for, lets read it all in context starting in verse 22
Notice 3 things from Jesus:
His death on the cross to save the world
Salvation by grace - the words “belief” and “believing”
Eternal security in verses 37 - 40
The people’s response -- they’re confusion, they don’t understand & they leaveAnd why didn't Jesus call them back and say, "Hey, don't worry, I was only speaking figuratively"??? Because he meant what he said?Chapter setup:
Feeding the 5000
Jesus walking on the water
The multitude comes to him
READ 6:22 - 71
The references to partaking of the Lord’s body and blood are figures of speech. Jesus is talking in metaphors.
Jesus is down to the 12 of them. There are two questions:
1. Why did all the others leave.2. Is there any other Biblical proof that Jesus taught everyone, other than the 12, in parables so they couldn’t quite grasp what He was saying? Jesus' parables using everyday life were clear enough; the underlying truths remained obscure only to the faithless.
Jesus had 3 ways of teaching:
To the Pharisees, He condemned them (Woe unto you, hypocrites, vipers in Mat 23:13-39)
To the people in parables
To the 12, He explained everything. sooner or later.
Mat 13:10-17vs. 10 - Why speakest thou unto them (the public) in parablesvs. 11 - because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven ... but to them it isnot given. Exactly! This private instruction reflects Jesus' intention to arrange His Church hierarchically.vs 13 - Therefore I speak to them in parables ... they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand
vs 14 - Jesus quotes Elijah’s prophecy in Is 6:9 which he stated in vs 13
vs 15 - this people ... dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed
vs11 - Unto you it is given to know ... but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables
vs 12 - seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand
vs 10 - Unto you it is given to know ... but to the others: ... seeing they might not see, and hearing mightnot understand
Without a parable he taught them nothingMat 13:34-35 Mk 4:33-34
So what does this have to do with John 6? What points to John 6 as a parable? It has none of the characteristics of a parable. Notice from where all your quotes about parables come: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Why? There are no parables in John!There’s one question in Jn 6 left to answer “Why did all the others leave in verse 66?
They knew the Levitical Law
It was because He said they had to drink His blood. That violated the Law.
The other side will say “That’s talking about animal blood . We’re talking about God’s blood.”
Jesus put on human flesh so we are actually talking about human blood.
It’s true that there are verses about animal blood in the OT
Lev 3:17 -- 6:30
But, there are 3 places that reference “any manner (kind) of blood”. I’m going to read the most important on last.
READ -- Lev 7:26-27 This is the one commentaries usually refer to.
READ -- Lev 19:26
READ -- Lev 17:10-14
Lev 17:10-12 - to make an atonement for your soul
Lev 17:14 - Ye shall eat the blood of no manner (kind) of flesh.Yes, drinking the blood of animals is forbidden under the Old Covenant. To do so is to consume "life" that is merely natural and of a lower order than human life. Jesus' injunction to drink his blood does not fall under these prohibitions. The "life" he imparts is not natural but supernatural; it does not pull us down to the level of animals; it elevates us to become sharers in his divine nature (2Pet 1:4).ALL FLESH -- 1Cor 15:38-39 Here, Paul is illustrating the different gradations of glory that will characterize the bodies of risen believers. So I don't see the connection to the following line of questioning.Q: Does Jesus have a “kind” of blood? Sure, so?Q: Don’t Satanist drink blood to mock God? Exactly! Don't they also desecrate the Eucharist? If it's only a symbol, why bother? They believe in the Real Presence!
Q: If we’re saved by the Eucharist, why did Jesus die on the cross? It's one in the same. Jesus transformed the Passover meal into the Eucharistic meal by extending the Last Supper until he drank the 4th Cup of wine on the cross. He inserted his sacrifice into the meal as the unblemished male lamb with no broken bones. The Israelites were saved from slavery by the blood of the lamb (and had to eat its flesh). In the New Exodus, we are saved from slavery to sin by the blood of the Lamb of God (and we must eat His flesh!).Q: Didn’t Jesus make that atonement for our soul on the cross? For our sins, yes.Another one of their responses could be -- “That’s the Old Testament. We’re not under the Law.” Yes, Jesus fulfilled it (Mt 5:17; Rom 7:6).READ -- Acts 15:19-20 - “and from blood” not “things strangles and from their blood”
READ -- Acts 15:28-29 - “and from blood” not “meats offered to idols and from their blood”
[Citation: Ignatius Study Bible]This Apostolic decree was a temporary discipline (not doctrine) to facilitate unity among Jews and Gentiles in the early Church. The binding force of its food restrictions was relaxed once the ethnic circumstances that made them necessary passed away. What does this have to do with the Eucharist?Also, lets go to 1Pet 1:18-19 and see what their first pope had to say said.READ -- 1Pet 1:18-19 See above about the New Exodus, the Lamb of God, etc.Jesus did that on the cross, not in the Eucharist. If it’s the Eucharist, why did he go to the cross. You can’t have it both ways. In heaven, Jesus perpetually offers Himself as the Paschal victim (see Rev. 5:6). Heaven is outside of time, so the Mass is God's way of making present to us (inside of time) the New Exodus (i.e., one true sacrifice on the cross). This is exactly what the Israelites believed about the old Passover meal: it made present the Old Exodus (i.e., the original Passover when they escaped slavery in Egypt). See Exodus 13:8.
[UPDATE: Part II is now posted here.]