Rome Newsroom, Feb 8, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).
In a 2018 essay published after his death, Pope Benedict XVI said a Protestant-like understanding of the Eucharist and strong calls for intercommunion are often found together.
Commenting on the current situation of eucharistic life in the Catholic Church, the pope emeritus said: “One process of great impact is the almost complete disappearance of the sacrament of penance.”
There is also the understanding of Communion as merely “a supper,” he added. “In such a situation of a very advanced Protestantization of the understanding of the Eucharist, intercommunion appears natural.”
Benedict’s essay on the Eucharist is part of a series of texts the pope emeritus wrote after his resignation in 2013. The essays, letters, and reflections have been collected into a single volume, “What Is Christianity?,” which was published in Italian last month.
[CWR Editor’s note: The book is being published in English by Ignatius Press; it is tentatively titled What is Christianity? A Spiritual Testament and is expected to be available in late summer 2023.)
According to Vatican journalist Sandro Magister, Benedict XVI had arranged for the writings to be published after his death.
The Italian magazine L’Espresso published an excerpt of one the essays, a 17-page text on “the meaning of Communion,” which was finished in June 2018, when the Church in Germany was debating intercommunion: whether Protestant spouses of Catholics could receive the Eucharist at Mass.
In his essay, Benedict recalled other moments in Germany’s history when there were calls for intercommunion and said that today, sometimes those same calls are based more on outside forces than on the desire for unity in Christ.
“Especially during the years of the war, in the evangelical camp a division developed between the Third Reich and what were called the ‘deutsche Christen,’ Christian-Germans, on one side, and the ‘bekennende Kirche,’ the confessing Church, on the other,” he explained.
The split led to a new accord between evangelical Christians and the Catholic Church, he said. “One result was a push in favor of common eucharistic Communion between the confessions. In this situation there grew the desire for a single body of the Lord that today, however, risks losing its strong religious foundation and, in an externalized Church, is determined more by political and social forces than by the interior search for the Lord.”
The pope emeritus described another time, shortly after the reunification of Germany, when a eucharistic act, drinking from the chalice, was used “as an essentially political act in which the unity of all Germans became manifest.”
“Thinking back on it, still today I feel anew with great force the estrangement of faith that came from this. And when presidents of the Federal Republic of Germany, who at the same time were presidents of the synods of their Church, have regularly called aloud for interconfessional eucharistic Communion, I see how the demand for a common loaf and chalice may serve other purposes,” he said.
Benedict XVI also noted a growing support, starting from Protestant exegesis, for the opinion that Jesus’ meals with sinners prepared the way for the Last Supper, in which he instituted the Eucharist.
It is argued that the Last Supper, then, is only understood on the basis of Jesus’ other meals in the New Testament, “but [it] is not so,” he said.
“The offering of the body and blood of Jesus Christ has no direct connection with the meals with sinners,” the pope emeritus explained, adding that “Jesus celebrated Passover with his family, that is to say with the apostles, who had become his new family.”
“Thus he complied with a precept according to which pilgrims who went to Jerusalem could join together in companies called ‘chaburot,’” he said. “The Christians continued this tradition. They are his ‘chaburah,’ his family, which he has formed from his company of pilgrims who travel the road of the Gospel along with him through the land of history.”
“Thus celebrating the Eucharist in the ancient Church was from the beginning linked to the community of believers and with this to strict conditions of access,” he said.
Benedict, in the essay, also comments on the language used by Catholics and Protestants.
“In the ecclesial communities arising from the Reformation, the celebrations of the sacrament are called ‘Supper,’” he said.
“In the Catholic Church the celebration of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ is called ‘Eucharist.’ This is not a casual, purely linguistic distinction. In the distinction of the denominations there is manifested instead a profound difference tied to the understanding of the sacrament itself.”
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I think that shortly we will see the establishment of the breakaway German catholic church. It will put the seal of approval on many things not in harmony with genuine Catholic thought and belief. There will be women priests, gay marriages, approval of transgender surgeries. Protestants who do not believe in the real presence will be permitted to receive in their churches anyway,as will divorced and remarried couples, because you know, the need to be nice trumps all rules.After initial euphoria in thinking they have won the day in a big way, the German church will suffer a loss of members and then revenue. They will find themselves swirling down the drain after their low membership Lutheran and methodist counterparts, whose doors are closing by the day. This situation could have been prevented by a Catholic hierarchy which might have put it’s foot firmly down some time ago, in plain and clear words, but has refused to do so.Corruption of the Catholic view of the Eucharist is but one of the final nails in the coffin.
Could the German Church join the Anglican Communion? The C of E has decided to bless same-sex “unions.”
A remembrance of our Lord and Saviour. Honouring what He did for us. Awaiting His return.
Is it also a metamorphosis of bread and wine into flesh and blood?
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
2 Peter 1:16-18 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. …
“A remembrance of our Lord and Saviour. Honouring what He did for us. Awaiting His return.”
Brings back many memories of the regular communion service we had in the Fundamentalist Bible Chapel that I grew up in (my father was a founding elder). We made a big deal about how it was simply a remembrance, completely unaware that such teaching was just a Protestant falsehood that flowed from the more radical (Zwingli, etc) stream of the Protestant Revolution.
Of course, Jesus says: “Take, eat; this is my body” and “this is my blood of the covenant,” and Paul takes pains to repeat this and to expound on this in his first letter to the Corinthians, saying: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”
And John, writing some 25-30 years later—after years of the Christians celebrating Eucharistic liturgies!—recounts Jesus explaining FIVE times that his followers will “eat my flesh and drink my blood.” And, of course, when the leaders and others have a fit over this and leave, Jesus in no way backs down or says it’s just a metaphor, etc.
And then there is the fact that no Christian prior to the “pre-Reformers” (Hus, Wycliffe) denied the Church’s teaching and belief that the Eucharist really is the true Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Unless you want to say the gnostics, Manicheans, etc. were true Christians (and I doubt you want to do that).
“Is it also a metamorphosis of bread and wine into flesh and blood?”
Paragraphs 1373 and following of the Catechism are worth looking at if you are truly curious and not just trolling.
But, to paraphrase Chesterton, here is a question that you must answer if you truly are all about honest argument. Which is more astounding and remarkable: that God “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and remains fully God and full man for all of eternity, or that having done so he now offers his glorified Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine just as he said he would?
I await your answer.
Thank you for your fulsome response, it is appreciated. You honour the “faithfully Catholic perspective”. Obliged for the Catechism verses (well worded and Insightful).
Transmogrification is an important element in the Catholic Church. Please know that I respect this standpoint, even if I may not accept it. You rightly ask for an “honest argument”. To honour God, we must speak truth. We must bare our soul and seeks God’s meaning in all that we say or do. Difference of opinion will happen, yet consideration must be given to the other man’s viewpoint.
We ask if this i an allegory? Peter had considerable anguish over this saying of Jesus! Others will take blessed exaltation in the words. Should we try to destroy ones faith on this matter? The short answer is no. I have too much respect for fine Catholic men and women that feel uplifted and closer to Jesus through these words of His.
Paul advises believers to avoid disputations. Perhaps this is one of those?
Be blessed dear brother, God is using CWR in a mighty way.
Three things to consider:
(1) “Transmogrification” is not the right word or understanding, as that applies to a change in form (often to something grotesque). In the West, the term “transubstantiation” is used (it is Scholastic in nature) because the change that takes place by the power of the Holy Spirit is to the substance, not the form: “by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.” (CCC 1376)
(2) It is not allegorical, poetic, or metaphorical, precisely because Jesus never says, “This cup is a sign of my blood” or “This is like my body…” And the witness to this among the early Church Fathers, Councils, etc., etc. is 100%. Be mindful, for example, that St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyrs around 110, stated (on the way to his death): “They [i.e. the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not confess that THE EUCHARIST IS THE FLESH OF OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in his goodness, raised up again…” Many more examples here.
(3) John, in fact, does not mention Peter specifically, but states: “Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this?'”
You do seem to take offense to the words of Jesus. Why?
Here’s the thing: if you are right, then Catholics (and Orthodox) have been committing idolatry for 2,000 years. But if the Catholics and Orthodox are correct, then Protestants have been teaching and holding to falsehoods for 500 years.
Which makes more sense?
Dear Brian and Dear Carl,
Your learned exchange, though it is well argued, seems to merely revisit unresolved arguments that have been fully exhausted in church history.
Two points: first for Brian. No one can escape God’s clear instruction – “For My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink.” John 6:55. For a Christian of any stripe to maintain otherwise is, in simple terms, blasphemy.
Then for Carl. Our Catholic teachers have largely misconstrued: “Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me and I in them.” John 6:56.
Jesus Christ teaches us: in receiving Holy Eucharist, we are incorporated in His Person. Christ’s Person is enormous in every good way. Billions of years old, larger than this universe, the author of all material, biological, & spiritual reality; whose sacrificial death and resurrection destroyed the power of evil, sin, & death. He is the perfect image of The Father, the One who baptizes us in The Holy Spirit, The Head of The Church that is His Body, and we, through eucharistic good faith, become part of His Flesh and Blood.
Incorporation in the Body of King Jesus Christ – that is our salvation. That is love of God. That makes us able to love one another; even to lay down our lives for one another. That is our everything, eternally!
The Lord’s emphasis is on us being taken into HIM. Sadly, most Catholic eucharists (out of about 4,000 I’ve participated in, in many countries) major exclusively on the idea of Christ, taken into US.
Are there are clericalist reasons for that error of emphasis . . ?
It is true that incorporation into the enormous majesty of the risen, reigning Christ is signified by our swallowing the consecrated bread and wine (that are then mixed with our microbiome and digested with all our other food and drink).
Eucharistic celebrants need much better training in explaining the glory of the One into whose Flesh and Blood we are incorporated, and its massive significance in terms of our personal and collective self-image and behavior.
This is not a small matter, for one might wonder if the horrors of the splits in Christianity derive largely from a clericalist over-emphasis on the reality of the Body & Blood of Jesus in US; and a subordination or even elimination of the Lord’s own emphasis on us being in HIM.
Is it not a great tragedy when we Catholics don’t humbly acknowledge our part in the many tragic splits in The Body of Christ on earth.
Is it possible that a Catholic self-serving clericalist partial exegesis of John 6:56 been a stumbling block to many who would otherwise be excellent members of the Church?
Is it too late to begin to emphasize that our Holy Eucharist is more about our incorporation in Christ that it is about Christ’s incorporation in us?
There is sometimes tension between Catholic Eucharistic devotion and John 14:23 – “If you love Me you will obey My teaching. My Father will love you and We will come to you and make Our home with you.”
For Catholics and other Christians, who through loving obedience already have The Father & The Son living in them, receiving Holy Eucharist is manifestly more about incorporation in Christ’s Flesh & Blood, than about receiving what they already have in their hearts.
Carl & Brian, please forgive my daring to intervene in the conversation of two such learned scholars. Yet, if there be anything of use in my humble comments, please receive that & disregard what may not seem helpful.
Ever in the love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty
“Your learned exchange, though it is well argued, seems to merely revisit unresolved arguments that have been fully exhausted in church history.”
Well, first, although Brian indicates that we are fighting or somehow getting out of line, that’s not the case. I’m merely presenting basic facts that I’m quite sure he has never heard or at least seriously engaged with. I had to work through all of these nearly twenty years, which included reading numerous works of history, theology, etc., in order to get to the truth. It is only “unresolved” in the sense that there will always be some people who will not accept the Catholic (and Orthodox) teaching about the real presence, etc. But we must present the basics, as there are countless people who either have serious misconceptions or simply know nothing at all about the Catholic teaching.
Secondly, I appreciate the focus of your comments here. But, as helpful as they are, they are based on what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist–and Brian doesn’t accept that teaching. Neither does he seem willing to really engage with it. That’s his right, of course, but I keep challenging him to follow the truth of Scripture, history, etc., rather than just give us Fundamentalist talking points that I, for one, have heard for decades (from the time I was a young boy!).
25 years ago, in the course of becoming Catholic, I had this conversation several times with a good friend, an Evangelical Protestant. He finally said the most astounding thing: “Well, I don’t think it really matters. You believe it is the Body of Christ; I think it is a symbol. What’s important is that we believe in God.” That is a travesty, and I told him so. Precisely because we must love and pursue truth because Christ Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Such arguments are important. And I appreciate that Brian is respectful and civil; that speaks to his character. But I’m challenging him to challenge his own preconceptions, hermeneutics, and notions, because love for Christ demands it.
Well said, Carl.
Perhaps the writers of the New Testament should have consulted more broadly before offering their witness in writing? But, Christ did not say “this Bread is…,” but rather “THIS is my Body…”
Take away the sacramental Real Presence and the apostolic succession, and are we not stuck with sola Scriptura as a one-eyed perspective? Not totally unlike egalitarian Islam and its fixation on the Qur’an as the “uncreated” and “dictated” (not inspired) expression and very “essence” of Allah, the (a bit Protestant-like?) “word made book,” in place of the “Word made flesh” which is generously gifted even to us latecomers in the consecration of the Eucharist: “DO THIS in remembrance of Me.”
Expanding the Reformation’s sola Scriptura “transmogrification”(!) from the sacramental/mystical body of Christ, other similarities between Islam and original Protestantism were also proposed by a recent intellectual literate in fourteen languages (and who also happened to be Catholic—say what?!):
“There is something decidedly Islamic is original Protestantism, with its idea of an all-controlling hidden God and His infallible Prophet, its secularization of marriage, its Puritanism and messianism. Even today some of the survivals of original (i.e., pre-liberal) Protestantism in remote parts of Scandinavia, Holland, Scotland and the United States have, at least culturally, more affinity with the Wahhabis than with Catholics from which they stem [transmogrification?]. It must be borne in mind that not so much the authoritarian organization but the liberal theology of Catholicism was the target of the reformers” (Eric von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, “Liberty or Equality,” 1952).
What may one say? Best that yours truly say nothing!
Yours in Christ,
This reasoning from Brian: “shut up, he explained!”
And in support of Dr. Martin James RIce (further up), this from St. Augustine: “You will not change me into yourself, as you change food into your flesh, but you will be changed into me” (Confessions, Bk. 7, Ch. 10).
In response to your second salvo!
Had a good laugh at myself at changing transubstantiation into transmogrification!
You cite the authoritative St Augustine, eminent theologian and philosopher. As much as he gave to world, a few aspects of his work fall on rocky ground. Some may argue the quote you provided may be in that category?
You previously mentioned that some in the Catholic Church are “allergic to Scripture”. This was helpful to gain perspective and worth ruminating on! Though allergies aren’t contagious, some that have it want to propagate the idea.
Our Creator lovingly speaking to us, yet some shut their ears and say, “we have church tradition and that is more than enough”. All the same, scripture can be quite taxing as it humbles mankind!
We who have been saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit have an obligation to give the Good News to others. We are not to be hoarders but, planters of godly seeds.
Join me in prayer for the work done at CWR. A very worthwhile forum in these days of disturbance in the church.
God bless you,
Don’t we have fun! Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves what we can to to protect the church by honouring God’s word instead of lesser points on the compass?
Is the Eucharist the problem facing the Catholic Church today? No it is not. I admired Pope Benedict and wanted to add a small point of discussion. it seems I got more than i bargained for!
You’ve kindly invited me to delve deep into the matter, yet allow me to say no, on this one. Who knows, it may surface in the future, however side effects from a bout with Covid has left me in a state of fatigue and lessened my desire for a arduous 12th round!
Thank you for your frame of reference and desire to aid in understanding.
Beloved brother Brian Young.
PLEASE don’t push yourself and maybe end up with long covid. Take a break. Much rest; regular lite exercise; gargle with ‘Listerine Total Care’; have good medical advice; take anti-virals (?); and know that the prayers of so many of us are with you, for the healing power of Jesus Christ to set you free from covid and any other affliction.
Even if you need several weeks to become completely strong & well, Brian; no worries. We’ll rejoice & re-engage when your insightful comments eventually re-appear.
Be blessed; be healed; rejoice at all times that Jesus Christ IS our Lord.
With kindest regards from marty
Belief in the real presence well presented by Carl Olson in context of the enduring doctrine of transubstantiation.
What Christ the eternal Word declares as truth, we either accept or we don’t, we either have faith in his words or we don’t. To call his words symbolic means we don’t believe, do not have faith in what he said. When he says I’m the truth, the resurrection, and the life he means that exactly. When he says This is my body, the bread becomes his body. If we truly believe Jesus is fully God as well as man we must believe he can do what he says.
Benedict XVI was and remains correct in identifying the Protestantization of the Holy Eucharist within Catholicism by Catholics who have compromised the faith, adopting Martin Luther’s disbelief. Luther’s revised theology said Jesus is ‘under’ the species bread, whereas true faith in the words of Christ is that the bread and the wine become the body and the blood of Christ, the species retaining their form as bread and not their substances, which are changed into that of the living Christ.
When believers leave the Catholic Church [the Orthodox have separated in the juridical form of their faith not in substance since they retain the true understanding of the sacraments] they always leave something behind. In every instance it’s the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Our Catholic faith in the centrality of the Holy Eucharist assures us that it’s the living Word himself that remains with us and within us, that enables us to withstand any assault by the enemy be he man or demon.
Dear Dr Marty:
A joy to hear from you and to have your insight. You are always a welcome guest that brings the love of Christ. The Lord has blessed you and Carl. You have not buried the talents God has given!
You state, “unresolved arguments” continue, your eye view is a welcome one. God gave man magnificent minds. The Lord shares natural resources, the range of science and math with us so that we may be of aid to our fellow. Knowledge is a blessing, we must always recognize who the giver of life and insight is!
To be able to praise God and do our best to honour Him is a great gift. This you understand, your walk with the Lord blesses the readership. Carl and I are more fractious, yet the Lord uses his talents in a special way. He is in my daily prayers, for his task is a fulsome one.
Thanks and blessings,
Dear Fr Peter:
Any discussion that you embark on gives us insight.
Yours truly believes the Word of God fully.yet discerning the precise meaning can be challenging at times! To reflect on what you say is a blessing, even though we may arrive at a different conclusion.
Thank you for your unstinting service.
What I admire in you Brian is your gentlemanly willingness to discuss differences, absent of rancor, always as such a sharing of knowledge.
Thank you for the concise but conclusive defense of the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Let us pray that it’s enough for the Holy Spirit to draw Brian to this essential, seminal, indispensable truth.
After all, in his heart, Judas betrays Jesus immediately after Jesus’ insistence that the Eucharist is his actual Body and Blood.
As we see in John Chapter 6:
* * *
67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
* * *
The timing of Jesus’ statement that Judas was of satan could not have been coincidental.
Because that exchange took place immediately after Jesus’ definitive Bread of Life discourse.
@ Dr Martin James Rice and whoever may be concerned it’s not a matter of invoking tired, old, disputed arguments. That attitude is superficial sagacity.
Added to the conversation on the Holy Eucharist, we also must understand that we’re dealing with a mystery known by faith, and attempting to better comprehend the mystery in human terms within the limitation of our human intellect. Insofar as such a human intellectual limitation I have yet to come across a better, more definitive diagram for confirming the real presence.
Dear Fr Peter:
The object of our faith is Jesus Christ, His words and work on the cross. We know too that faith comes by hearing. At times, our faith is tested, yet it is anchor for the soul. God has given us intellect to discern His will and yet, mysteries are part of the journey.
Mans fallen nature causes conflict. As you hear confession and provide pastoral counselling you have great insight into the matter. In all our struggles we seek God’s guidance and comfort. We try to aid one another by means of His precepts. In many ways and at many times I fall short, yet you know He understands our dilemma and Christ is the propitiation for our sins.
In the peace that is Jesus Christ,
Brian, St Thomas Aquinas on transubstantiation doesn’t intend to prove the real presence of Christ, that is a matter of faith, faith the evidence of what we hope for and believe. Rather, it is to explain for human consumption the manner in which he is really present. God’s gift of intellect and reason [to be used not buried].
Dear Fr Peter:
The excellence of St Thomas Aquinas! We do well to consider his thoughts. God raises up men of caliber and perception to challenge our aims and endeavours. If we come away with a greater understanding of God’s love for us and the path He has prepared for us to walk on, we become better conformed into His image. We consider great men of belief, for God has imbued them with discernment.
If the fundamentals of our faith are in place, we walk according to Christ. Other maters that divide us may not edify and bring us to unity. This is a sadness, however, another consequence of the entry of sin into the world.
“God’s gift of intellect and reason [to be used not buried].” I agree with your statement, all the same, transubstantiation is a difficult one to ascertain for many. Are we straining to find something spiritual that may not be required? This is asked in essence of understanding and peacemaking.
In the love that is Jesus Christ,
What if more gifted than “required”? In addition to the “gift of intellect and reason,” the overflowing gift of Self? Our accepting the Peacemaker in person even more than the peace. And, faith even more than understanding…
Back to St. Augustine: “Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” Yours truly proposes that these times are more Augustinian than Thomistic (yet these are complementary), now that so much in “the world” is unraveling into that abyss.
Note: Luther was an Augustinian monk before he decided to eliminate the ordained priesthood and all the other sacraments except baptism, and the Eucharist as he redefined it (impanation rather than transubstantiation).
But, why stop there? Today we redefine even the scientific(!) and substantial reality of the unborn child, the substance of “marriage,” and generally, we even switch the nature of “good” and “evil” actions according to the calculus of outcomes (proportionalism, conseqentialism, and the overriding Fundamental Option). Instead, we cannot do evil that good may come of it (Romans 3:8).
Perhaps Brian it’s more visible to reason if we approach the real presence of Christ from the vision of our sentient nature. That we say God is love, a reality we share, love is expressed emotively for humans, and in a higher form in God. Christ revealed that in his human nature when he wept over the death of the widow of Nain’s only son. He alludes to it in the father’s love for his prodigal son rushing toward him to embrace and kiss him. This isn’t insignificant sentiment.
His desire to remain with us, to be intimately in contact with us through the Holy Eucharist is emblematic of that sentient love. Evoking in us the tender love exchanged with Christ, his blessed mother, the saints.
A topic that will not rest! It has unleashed the Papal Bull in you. Yet, it has now become a red rag of sorts to yours truly. All matadors at the ready.
From time to time Jesus would use hyperbole or irony to underscore a point. To identify the ludicrous, should be the aim of anyone. Common sense, understanding the Law of Moses and discerning prophetic intent should be the goal of the follower of Christ. One will point out that we are now under the promised Covenant of Grace, indeed we are.
The Law is good and Jesus came not to abolish it but, to fulfill it, so to usher in the Covenant of Grace of which we are partakers.
Jeremiah 19:9 And I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his neighbour in the siege and in the distress, with which their enemies and those who seek their life afflict them.’
Ezekiel 5:10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers. And I will execute judgments on you, and any of you who survive I will scatter to all the winds.
Deuteronomy 28:53-57 And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns.
These are harrowing matters, they seem appalling to us! Yet God has the grace to tell us the good and, the bad so we might choose His hand of mercy and protection.
Allow yours truly to break this response to you into sections!
We continue. The following verses underscore Jesus ‘s use of hyperbole.
Mark 9:43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.
Extreme examples used to demonstrate we are now born of the Spirit. Jesus asks us to examine our spiritual walk, for those born not of spirit are doomed. Is this correct? Does not Holy Scripture give us the pathway to life? Yes Jesus uses severe illustrations to get us to think! Jesus asks us to strive with Him spiritually on these perplexing verses:
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
Perhaps a pause is necessary. Nevertheless we have not touched on the origin of Transubstantiation, Church Dogma and Tradition as well as the Catechism.
Blessings as we seek to honour our Lord and Saviour,
Dear Fr Peter Morello, PhD, and other Catholics,
While gathered with fellow devout Catholic to read and discuss Catholic writings on the Mass, all of a sudden we came to a three to three split on believing in Real Presence in the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Three believe there was no Real Presence at the Last Supper, and I, along with two others believe, What On Earth!, Yes! Of Course there is Real Presence in the Eucharist at the Last Supper!
The three opposed to Real Presence in the Eucharist at the Last Supper, believed that Jesus had not died and Resurrected yet at the time of the Last Supper, so no Real Presence could flow from Jesus’ future Passion. I believe that our Spiritual God exists outside of the physical realm, including physical time which God Created. Jimmy Akin talks about this as God Spiritually existing in an ‘Eternal Now’. So I believe that, The Last Supper, Christ’s Passion, and every Mass celebrated since, are all Spiritually connected in a Spiritual ‘Eternal Now’ by our Spiritually ‘Eternal Now’ God who exists outside of physical time.
From the Exodus till the Fall of the House of Judah in 587 B.C., God had His Presence on earth residing in the Arc of the Covenant and then in the Jewish Stone Temple. The only way Sons of Aaron Priests could enter before God, was to first cleanse themselves of their sins in an animal sacrifice. I believe that even Old Testament, cleansing of sins, sacrifices would as well have to be Spiritually tied to Christ’s Passion through God’s ‘Eternal Now’ Spiritual, outside of physical time, existence as well.
The second Psalm indicates that Jesus is Eternally Begotten of God upon His Resurrection. The big Catholic Crux mystery which we believe to be true, is that Jesus was both, fully Eternal God incapable of sin, and fully free-willed man, capable of choosing to sin, yet never chose sin, during His Life in the flesh on earth. Well, if Jesus is Spiritually Eternally Begotten of God upon His Resurrection, into our Spiritually ‘Eternal Now’ God’s existence, where Jesus now lives as Spiritual Eternal God, Spiritually from Eternally before Creation to Spiritually Eternally beyond the end of physical realm time, this would solve the Great Catholic Crux.
“I have given you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Do you now, Father, give me glory at your side, a glory I had with you before the world began.”
1 Peter 3:18
He was put to death insofar as fleshly existence goes, but was given life in the realm of the spirit.
I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.
3 Views of Time and Eternity by Jimmy Akins
Yes, Steven, Akin is right, that God lives out of physical time. And at the Last Supper, he, the all powerful God was really present to the Apostles in the consecrated bread. God does not deceive. He means what he says. “And when Judas had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him” (Jn 13:27). This account indicates that Judas committed a sacrilege when he consumed the consecrated bread. An apparent sacrilege because he was living in sin, a premeditated betrayer, and as bursar a thief who stole.
To be clear, although what’s said during conversation allows for a certain fluidity, it nevertheless isn’t fully correct to speak of his presence ‘in’ the consecrated bread. The consecrated bread ‘is’ Christ, as is the consecrated wine. They become Christ at the priest’s words of consecration given us by Christ. This is my Body, this is [the chalice of] my Blood.
The Eucharist, our spiritual food transforms us into the spiritual likeness of Christ, drawing us, and other recipients into the unity of his Mystical Body.
Thank you Fr. Peter and Marty, I will relay it to my classmates.
I was so upset with people telling me how Jesus was Eternal God and that He could never have sinned. No! I would tell them. The Glory of Jesus is that He too, like us, had human free-will, and it is through Jesus’ human free-willed obedience to God the Father, in His perfect obedience to death on the cross, that Jesus Loves God The Father so tremendously! Jesus was not a robot or a rock simply doing God’s Will with no other option. Jesus freely chose to die on the cross, out of Love for God the Father, and love for us. Jesus’ obedient Love to God the Father, is Jesus’ greatest Glory! We should go and obey likewise.
In my “I love You, God”, one of my chapters is “Jesus Loves God”. I quote all the scriptures, which all point to Christ’s Resurrection as the time in which Jesus was Eternally Begotten of God for all Eternity; both all Eternity into the past as well as all Eternity into the future, and that this allows for Jesus’ capacity to choose human free willed love during His life in the flesh.
Don’t forget to Tell Jesus “Happy (Spiritual) Birthday!” this coming Easter Sunday!
“The Father loves me for this: that I lay down my life to take it up again. No one takes it from me; I lay it down freely.”
“Father, if it is your will, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.”
This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Good work, dear brother Steven Merten,
Your description of the supra-universal Christ is authentically Apostolic, as can be seen in Revelation 13:8b, in the original Greek text- “. . agniou esphagnmenou apo kataboles kosmou.” Literally “. . the lamb slain from (for) the creation of the universe.” This is consonant with many other texts, e.g. 1 Peter 1:19,20.
What we saw on Calvary and what we see in every genuine Holy Eucharist is The Lamb who eternally gave Himself for us – “Worthy is The Lamb that was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
This perspective is able to sustain a strong and comprehensive worldview that reconciles theology, science and human experience; concluding that there would have been no space-time/energy-matter universe if there were not first The Lamb. A humble start has been made on that enormous project and is freely available on the web:
(3) (PDF) Ethical Ontology Harmonises Science, Revelation and Human Lives: Physical Temporality Yields Supra-Universal Ethical Distillates (researchgate.net)
For an extensive development of this, also free on the web, see:
Ethical Encounter Theology: An Inter-Disciplinary Consonance (griffith.edu.au)
If you’d like to converse, you can reach me via email@example.com
Blessings on all who love & believe & obey King Jesus Christ; from marty
Congratulations to Ignatius Press for securing the rights to publish in English this posthumous title from one of the most deeply unconfused men of our time.
The Protestantization of communion is the by product of all that has been done to to deemphasize the sacredness of the Holy Eucharist which includes the elimination of communion rails, reduction in the fasting time required before receiving communion, allowance of receiving communion in hands, deemphasis of confession and being in the state of grace before receiving communion, etc.
The effort to dismantle the Protestantization of the Church would be helped by the removal of the statue of M.Luther in the Vatican Garden. Is there another Alexander Tschugguel?
Cannot wait to read the book.
Also think “What is Christianity?” is a title in need of an editor. Clunky.
It’s sad, but the same line Satan used on Eve is still alive today….did God really say? He’s still at work today convincing sinful men to twist Gods’ word to fit their narrative. The one big take away here is that Catholics use the reasoning from mans’ feeble mind compared to Christians who use the scriptures of the all powerful, all knowing Creator. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law in Jesus’ day were the the highly learned men of their day (like Carl and Co.) but failed to see their Savior who they saw face to face. They were the ones instrumental in crucifying the Savior they were longing to see. The biggest problem is that they were looking for a savior that would set up his kingdom on earth by defeatiing their biggest enemy at the time…the Roman Empire. The other reason is that Jesus was always knocking them off their pedestal they elevated themselves on and their pride was damaged and exposed. History does repeat itself after all! It is very clear that God, before He created the universe, has made some for honorable use and others for dishonorable use. Romans 9:21
Brian, you wrote:
“…Catholics use the reasoning from mans’ feeble mind compared to Christians who use the scriptures of the all powerful, all knowing Creator.”
You’ve created a false dichotomy.
As a friend who’d escaped from fundamentalism used to say, “Jesus died to take away your sins. Not your brains.”
The attack on the Eucharist comes from all sides and inside and outside because the demons know so very well the enormous power of the Holy Eucharist in the True Catholic Church. Without it, Jesus Himself, the Church becomes just another enabler False Respectability Trojan Horse for Satan and his associates, like all Protestant Denominations are.
They will surely go after Protestantizing (nullifying) the Sacrament of Confession next. Learn to make Spiritual Communions and Confessions, we may need them for a while if the Eucharist goes through the Protestantizing nullifying treatment after the Sin-od of Sin-odality. Pray and fight! Viva Cristo Rey!
Brian Young, I put to you again what I told you before, that Protestants yourself included have a way like Muslims, saying among themselves on their own standing, for their own upliftments and self-assurance, “God can’t do this” and “God can’t do that”.
Of course anyone can have an attitude, specialized qualification and attainments such as being Protestant or Muslim is not necessary.
You put positive limits as well as the negative, “God must do it this way” and “God must do it that way” to satisfy yourself with the metaphoric and hyberbolic in God’s Name.
A meeting of the minds is facilitated by what God has to say to us. Godly matters are adjudicated through and by God’s word.That you align yourself with Church Dogma would be a product of your training. I respect your position and yet, your own Catechism proclaims the supremacy of Holy Scripture.
While a man may disdain what God says to him, what is the benefit? That one eschews Holy Scripture is one’s choice. What though, can be the gain? What do the following verses mean to you if you will comment?
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
John 10:35 —and Scripture cannot be broken—
John 8:47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Here in John 8:47 we are asked to examine ourselves. No words are minced, we either are or we are not.
Let us join our hearts in praying for the Church and godly men and women that love the Lord and His bride.
God bless you,
Hi, dear brother Brian.
Most of what you stated to Elias, with confidence, is simply interpreted.
For example, the common exegesis of 2 Timothy 3:16 that you cited to Elias involves adding a word (“is”) that is not present in Paul’s Greek text. It is also most unlikely that such a thoughtful scholar as Paul would be so careless as to instruct us, well before there was an Old Testament canon approved by the Church, that every Hebrew and Aramaic scriptural text is breathed by God. They are very variable.
A less problematic exegesis, in line with Paul’s actual Greek: “Every scripture, when used by Holy Spirit-filled (Theopneustos), godly persons, equips them to teach, reprove, correct, and instruct in righteousness, furnishing them for every good work.”
That is true today. Holy Spirit-filled exegetes divide The Word of God correctly.
Am also worried when you tell Elias that the Church is the Bride of Christ. In Revelation 21:9-27 beloved Apostle John given us a wonderful glimpse of The Bride of Christ, that is The New Jerusalem, our most blessed home for all eternity.
It seemed worthwhile raising this, dear Brian, as these are not minor points.
Like you, I love sharing the Word of God; for it is The Living Bread that Jesus Christ told us to ask Our Father for every day.
Much love in the LORD (& hoping you’ve recovered from covid); blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty:
Thank you for responding and offering your standpoint. When you speak, it is always worth listening, for your intent is noble and God honouring.
Your kind note regarding my health is appreciated. Dear Carl O prodded me to offer my conviction and my response has not been well received! 🙁 Differences of opinion are part of life, yet what binds us together is the love of Christ and desire for the best interest of the Catholic Church.
Over the centuries fine minds have wrestled with the theory of Transubstantiation. So who am I to offer my two cents worth?
Allow me to share Matthew Henry’s interpretation on this complex subject as a counterpoint!
John 6: “Verses 52-59 The flesh and blood of the Son of man, denote the Redeemer in the nature of man; Christ and him crucified, and the redemption wrought out by him, with all the precious benefits of redemption; pardon of sin, acceptance with God, the way to the throne of grace, the promises of the covenant, and eternal life. These are called the flesh and blood of Christ, because they are purchased by the breaking his body, and the shedding of his blood. Also, because they are meat and drink to our souls. Eating this flesh and drinking this blood mean believing in Christ. We partake of Christ and his benefits by faith. The soul that rightly knows its state and wants, finds whatever can calm the conscience, and promote true holiness, in the redeemer, God manifest in the flesh. Meditating upon the cross of Christ gives life to our repentance, love, and gratitude. We live by him, as our bodies live by our food. We live by him, as the members by the head, the branches by the root: because he lives we shall live also.”
Forgive me for not speaking directly to your points, alas strength is not there to do them justice.
God bless you dear brother, you lift the spirits of those who love the Lord,
First, Brian, be assured of my prayers for you this week, especially at Divine Liturgy, as you fight your way back to good health.
I’m mindful that you are not feeling well, so I will try to make two succinct points, one personal and one theological.
I was raised in an anti-Catholic, Fundamentalist (“Bible only!”) Bible chapel that my father co-founded when I was five years old. I was reading and memorizing Scripture at the age of four. I attended church 3 or 4 times a week, read the Bible every day, took Bible correspondence courses (from Moody Institute), attended numerous Bible studies and several related conferences, then attended Bible college for two years. I earned an associates degree in biblical studies, learned Koine Greek (I was top of my class), graduating with honors, etc. Those two years were pivotal, because I learned how much I didn’t know (imparting some small measure of humility), and raised a number of questions that were never really addressed in my various classes. Those questions were about early Church history, Church authority, and especially John 6. Some of my full story can be read here; I’ll just give this pertinent quote:
To sum it up, without hyperbole, I became Catholic because of the witness of Scripture and history. Christianity is deeply historical, as you know; it did not arise in a vacuum, but rather flows from and is rooted in the Incarnation, and the death and Resurrection of Christ. And so we have an obligation to take seriously the words and deeds of the early Christians. And those Christians were not Protestant, they were not “Bible only” believes, and they would have been deeply bothered by your quote from Matthew Henry.
Which brings me (again) to my theological point. I am well aware of Henry; I’ve read (and own, part of my 30,000 volume personal library) countless Protestant commentaries on John 6. Most of them give some variation of what Henry says: “Eating this flesh and drinking this blood mean believing in Christ.” There is much irony here, one being that John 6 so powerfully states, in Christ’s words and actions, that believing in Him requires us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. And in case you think I’m putting words in his mouth:
“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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
I realized, as a young man, as an Evangelical Protestant, that there was a reason I never heard sermons on these words of Christ. Because, as the disciples admitted: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”
Well, apparently not Matthew Henry, a noncomformist Protestant. Much easier to dismiss the challenging, ancient, and biblical teachings than to admit the dreaded Catholic Church is correct.
Which beings me back to the one question I’ve asked before (taken from Chesterton). Why is it that Henry will describe Jesus Christ as “the redeemer, God manifest in the flesh,” but then deny the very words of the Redeemer, the Incarnate Word? Put another way: what is more scandalous and amazing–that God became man, suffered, died, and rose again, or that now, having done so, he offers his flesh and blood to us for our salvation? (Hint: to deny the latter is to question the reality and efficacy of the former, and the accept the former without the latter is to deny the very words of God.)
Thank you for the link. Had forgotten that I had commented on the subject!
You wrote, “In one aspect you come off like the Muslims, who declare that “God could never become man” and “therefore” it follows that “God can have no son let alone a Divine Son”.
With all due respect, you have misread me. My aim is to help Muslims find the God of Jacob which we locate in the New and Old Testaments. I am very interested in the spiritual welling being of the Muslim. Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life and I have desire to help as God gives me wisdom.
In the Name of Jesus,
Thank you Brian Young.
Neither Catechism nor Church gives the Bible the paramountcy you want to put with it. You often split Catholic teaching and/or the Christian message in order to use some separated elements that could show like they suit your turn in spite of Catholicism; and among other things it’s always incomplete exegesis.
Likewise again, Islam also bends Scripture to its purpose, as for example holding that Jesus sending “another counselor” refers to Mohammed; but that it was the Church that “changed the original” text on this, “re-authoring the Bible”.
I put to you that you didn’t answer and can’t answer what I have said, above February 10 2023. In fact, what I posited there applies to everyone whether or not Catholic or religious minded. It covers agnostics and atheists.
By including you with the Protestants I do not mean to rule out anything, about you; nor mislead anyone. It just happens it holds true for all types of loyalties!
Twice already I noted that you have not shared what your religious affiliation is. What I said covers YOU, should it turn out that you are not formally Protestant or that you are Catholic even. This remains unaddressed and is a drag on your position in more ways than one.
You could be a Calvinist making as a Lutheran with the hopes ultimately of spreading Calvinism. You could be some stripe of Luther, leaving you free to change footings. You could be a Catholic with over-weaning adolescent-type sympathies for Protestants arguing their best case for them. You could be a synodist-facilitator, rapporteur type, one whose aim is to generate and give body and expressions to the new talking-and-walking “witness of faith”.
Pope Francis names this new way as “style” as if there is some singular, unique and definitive get-up that goes with evangelization that is always elegant. And you would seem to be falling right in with it and bringing it along very determined.
On further levels, your amorphous position is fundamentally flawed and could be straight dishonest. It means we never get to specific points in your affiliation while you are free to throw compliments around at folks at the table under a guise that “everyone is validly searching” and “we are all respecting our places”; going like it’s okay for things to be tentative and/or under questioning forever.
Bible frowns on that actually. Whatever it is you are doing multiplies unsatisfying answers and draws in many more questions.
At first blush we appear to be engaged in ten rounds of polemics! The fault must be mine. it will happen that men will disagree yet, do know that that I respect you.
May the Lord bless you,
Dearly beloved brother Brian,
It’s not possible to improve the excellent counsel given by many faithful Catholics, particularly the powerful life history of Carl Olson. Yet, as a lowly, fellow lover of God’s Word, I’m asking if you’ve considered Christ our Passover Lamb in cosmic history, manifest in Old and New Covenants, then in the eternity of The New Jerusalem (the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God).
Revelation 13:8b – “. . The Lamb that was slain from (for) the creation of the universe.”
Exodus 12:8 – “. . the flesh (of the Passover Lamb) is to be eaten . .”
1 Corinthians 5:7 – “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed . .”
Revelation 5:12 – “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain . .”
For billions of years the primal, Self-Sacrificial Lamb has oversighted cosmogenesis, on a scale beyond scientific observation and relying on mechanisms that confound even the greatest science teams today.
Moses was given a shadowy understanding of the power of The Slain Lamb.
Jesu Christ of Nazareth revealed that primal power in His miracles & in His willing sacrificial death.
Finally, the resurrected and ascended Christ is revealed as The Lamb Slain, sharing God’s Throne, worshipped by all of the heavenly beings’ the Light who draws us to an eternity in the New Jerusalem.
This is the GREATEST SAGA of all of existence. Entirely beyond humanity’s grasp.
Yet, in His unparalleled mercy, even the lowliest of us can receive the actual Lamb Slain, in Holy Communion. That’s how close this infinitely generous, AWESOME BEING wants us to be. Totally one with His Body and Blood and hence with one another.
At Holy Mass this morning, crowds of us lowly Catholics, of all sorts, only dared to approach Jesus’ saving feast once the priest had announced: “Behold The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Incorporated in Christ, living now as His Flesh & Blood with Him as our Head, we can take on the world and all the powers of hell, until we see Him face to face.
All I can say dear Brian, is why would anyone want to miss out on THIS?
Ever in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty:
Thank you for sharing your desire to enlighten and bless. You are not alone in your conviction and some salient points have been made by others (as well) on this discordant passage of scripture. Who is right? Of course God is right and we desire to understand His message and will in the matter. There has been a genuine level of helpfulness from respondents, yet we haven’t come to any consensus as yet.
God wants us to strive with Him. Yes, He wants us to argue out matters (to use our powers of reason) that He has blessed us with.
Carl O wrote a poignant reply to yours truly, yet didn’t want a response! One wonders why? Matthew Henry’s reading of the passage didn’t address the matter to his satisfaction. It got me to thinking, so read D A Carson’s insightful analysis on the topic. Carson looks at both sides of the discussion to decode and clarify the subject. It will be too long for most, yet the CWR readership searches for understanding and some will take the task under their wing.
D A Carson’s Commentary on the Gospel of John ‘Bread of Life’ discourse (6:22–58)
“Three disputed matters have governed much recent discussion of this discourse: the unity of the
passage, the meaning of the discourse, and the origin of the argument.
(i) The unity of the passage. Those who deny the unity of the passage commonly point to two
features. First, the recurring refrain ‘and I will raise him up at the last day’, or something similar (6:39,
40, 44, 54), is taken to reflect futurist eschatology inconsistent with the thrust of the rest of the book;
second, vv. 51c–58 are understood to refer to the eucharist (i.e. the Lord’s supper, or holy communion:
different wings of the church prefer different labels), and are judged heavily sacramentarian in a book
judged largely anti-sacramentarian. Therefore sections like these must have been added by a later
Neither argument withstands close scrutiny. Although John lays more stress on realized eschatology
than on apocalyptic or futurist eschatology, he certainly does not abandon the latter. The resurrection
from the grave on the last day has already been mentioned (5:28); Jesus’ promise to come back and
bring his own to the place he has prepared for them is best taken as a reference to the second advent
(14:3); the final chapter records a specific reference to Jesus’ personal return (21:22). Critics of a more
sceptical turn try to excise all these passages from the alleged original document, understanding them to
be late additions as well. But in fact, the futurist references are too widely scattered to be dismissed so
arbitrarily. The references in John 6 to resurrection on the last day are part of an eschatological
perspective that the Evangelist is quite unwilling to abandon.
Similarly, the argument that vv. 51c–58 are out of step with the alleged anti-sacramentarian stance of
the rest of the Gospel presupposes that the verses in question are profoundly sacramentarian. Reasons
will be advanced (below) for thinking that, just as it is doubtful John is vigorously ‘anti’-
sacramentarian‘, it is even more doubtful that vv. 51c–58 are profoundly sacramentarian. Moreover, on
stylistic and rhetorical grounds there is no reason for analyzing the chapter into discrete, identifiable
In the notes that follow, we shall try to show that these verses provide a striking metaphor
that makes the teaching of the previous verses more vivid, but can scarcely be taken to introduce
fundamentally new (and ‘sacramental’) meaning.
(ii) The meaning of the discourse. Although there are numerous ‘minority reports’, such as the one
that attempts to understand these words as Christian equivalents to pagan magic, the dominant
approaches to this discourse today are three. The first interprets this discourse in fundamentally
sacramental terms, especially (but not exclusively) vv. 52–59. This passage, it is argued, is talking about
how the Christian ought to view the eucharist, the ‘sacrament’ (cf. Extended Note) of the Lord’s supper.
The very strong language of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood is taken to support this. Many
think that early Christian readers, for whom the eucharist was a central rite, could not have failed to
interpret the passage that way. Moreover Ignatius, who probably knew the Evangelist, and who wrote
between twenty-five and forty years after this Gospel was published, adopts a sacramentarian stance:
Stand fast, brethren, in the faith of Jesus Christ, and in His love, and in His passion, and in his
resurrection. Do ye all come together in common, and individually … breaking one and the same
bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote which prevents us from dying, but
a cleansing remedy driving away evil, [which causes] that we should live in God through Jesus
Christ (ad Eph. 20:2; cf. ad Rom. 7; ad Smyrn. 7:1).
If John was not a sacramentarian, how could so near a contemporary and (presumably) a disciple use
Let us pause and reflect before continuing!
“Carl O wrote a poignant reply to yours truly, yet didn’t want a response! One wonders why?”
Where did I say that?
You seem to read things that I didn’t write, while not paying attention to what I did write.
I’ve posed two or three basic questions for you, several times, and you are either coy or deflecting in response. That’s a shame.
If there was no “Reply” at the end of your message, what is one to assume? Some times my attempts at humour are as effective as the lead ballon.
Growing up, respect for others faith was an important value at home. Our parents were hospitable and had a number of Catholic friends that they would regularly invite to diner or to their monthly parties. It was always a pleasure to see them and over the years I have been blessed to have Catholic friends as well.
Please know that I was not being dismissive of you, rather respecting your desire not to take the matter further. It appears I was mistaken. Please take no offence.
Poor concentration and lack of energy prevent me from the full dialogue your comments deserve.
Man will always disappoint us in some way, yet the Son of Man is always trustworthy.
We are sharing our faith and this is what God asks us to do. People have great struggles and God is aware and compassionate. I do not dismiss your testimony, instead it is a blessing, however allow a respectful difference of opinion from time to time.
Thank you for your prayers, it means a great deal!
Yours in Christ,
The “Reply” function on WordPress isn’t something that can be added/deleted, as far as know. What I do know is that the “Comments” functions in WordPress are often annoying and frustrating.
Dear Dr Marty:
“But the argument is not convincing. Ignatius betrays a number of shifts that take us beyond anything
the New Testament says. For instance, he introduces us to monarchial bishops who oversee several
churches, though there is no evidence of such an office in the New Testament. He insists that where the
bishop is, there is the church, though the New Testament writers would be unhappy with such a
statement. In this and several other areas, Ignatius can be no sure guide to what John thought. Anyone
who has followed theological developments in the twentieth century, let alone the sixteenth or the first,
does not need convincing that major changes can be introduced in the space of twenty years, even by
disciples of a revered leader. In any case, it is quite possible that even Ignatius is a great deal less
sacramentarian than his language might at first suggest: cf. discussion in Morris, p. 375, n. 118.
Moreover, if the Evangelist’s intent is to provide sacramentarian theology, the language of John 6
misses several fine opportunities to echo the institution of the Lord’s supper. In the unambiguous
witnesses to the institution, we read ‘this is my body’, not ‘this is my flesh’; John, however, speaks only
of flesh, not of body (vv. 51ff.). Further, if John were so committed to sacramentarian theology as some
suppose, it is passing strange that he fails to record the institution of the eucharist at the appropriate
place in John 13,
244 and that he specifically draws attention to the fact that Jesus himself did not baptize
people (4:2). What is promised to the person who eats Jesus’ flesh and drinks his blood is eternal life
and resurrection at the last day (6:54), and such things are elsewhere in the Fourth Gospel promised to
those who believe in the Son, or receive him. It begins to sound as if the language should be taken
metaphorically, not sacramentally (in the most theologically ‘loaded’sense of ‘sacrament’).
Most contemporary writers who find the sacrament in John 6 do not worry about the built-in
anachronism such an interpretation presupposes, as they do not give the chapter very high marks for
authenticity anyway. The chapter, they suppose, represents John’s theology, not that of Jesus. But
however much the Evangelist has cast the discourse in his own terms, to argue that he created so much
out of so little assumes he is such a dullard that he does not mind introducing blatant anachronisms,
when in fact he is constantly drawing attention to what was understood in Jesus’ day over against what
was understood only later (e.g. 2:19–22; 20:9). Nor does it help to suggest that the material is basically
authentic, but that Jesus himself meant to refer to something that could be understood only later,
namely, the eucharist. In other passages where Jesus is understood only later (e.g. 2:19–22), his
utterance is plain enough in its ostensible historical context once what he has been referring to is made
clear after the resurrection. The same cannot be said for a eucharistic interpretation of this passage.
Does not 6:63 itself insist that ‘the flesh counts for nothing’?
These considerations lead some to adopt a second interpretation. The language of John 6, they say, is
metaphorical, and the theology is anti-sacramentarian. In many respects this argument is sound. Eating
the flesh of the Son of Man is a striking, metaphorical way of saying that the gift of God’s real ‘bread of
life’ (v. 35) is appropriated by faith (v. 47). We must appropriate him into our inmost being. Indeed, as
Beasley-Murray (p. 99) points out, we are more familiar with this kind of ‘eating’ metaphor than we
may realize: we devour books, drink in lectures, swallow stories, ruminate on ideas, chew over a matter,
and eat our own words. Doting grandparents declare they could eat up their grandchildren. On the very
face of it, ‘The theme of John 6 is Christology.’
But that John 6 is understood in a metaphorical, non-sacramentarian fashion does not mean it should
be read as anti-sacramentarian polemic. That presupposes we know far more about John’s addressees
than we do. If the Gospel is understood to be written for Christians (which is the majority view, though I
judge it unlikely), we must assume that informed Christian readers might well detect overtones of the
eucharist in this chapter. That in turn suggests that the Evangelist could scarcely have written such words at the end of the first century without reckoning with the fact that Christian readers would be
tempted to see an allusion to the eucharist.”
We pause! Comes the final instalment if anyone hasn’t jumped ship!
Dear Dr Marty;
Yours truly is a bit mixed up as the first part of this pertains to a different part of the Gospel John. Perhaps it is best left to the decision of the reader to look up what Carson has to say on Transubstantiation!
Thanks for your patience.
Carson’s tired arguments and dubious assertions (not to mention sophistic flourishes) are par for the course. I read Carson many moons ago, along with a host of other Evangelical theologians, biblical scholars, commentators, etc., re: John 6, and found them to be underwhelming, to put it nicely.
Nearly 25 years ago, in April 1999, I interacted at length with two Evangelical scholars and professors in Eugene, Oregon, about John 6, the Eucharist, etc. I wrote a 10 page response to their various points, assertions, etc., many of them identical or very similar to what Carson asserts. It went nowhere, precisely because they refused to deal with basic questions about authority, sola scriptura, early Church practice and belief, etc., etc. They worked, as does Carson, from so many assumptions that they dare not challenge or question.
But, that said, I’m certainly happy to be reminded of how certain Carson is that he understands what John really intended in writing his Gospel, and what Ignatius of Antioch really believed. And especially edifying is his arrogant and nonsensical statement that Ignatius had to be wrong about the Eucharist because Carson doesn’t see the office of the bishop in the New Testament, as though the apostolic authority given by Christ to the Twelve (Mt 16 and 18, etc) would not, in fact, take an authoritative form reflecting kingly aspects precisely because Christ is King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Good grief.
And it’s good to know that we can ignore the incredibly consistent and comprehensive witness of Western and Eastern Christians for 2000 years on the basis of what a 20th-century American Protestant theologian claims–even though he does admit that he’s in the minority in his truly strange assertion that the Gospel of John was not really written for Christians!
As Ronald Knox pointed out so many decades ago, the mind-boggling aspect of Protestantism in its many forms is that it takes as a given the authority of Scripture–which rests upon the reality of the living Church, “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15)–but happily jettisons the reality of sacred Tradition, the sacraments, etc. It’s simply “pick and choose your flavor,” which is, ironically, what we also find at the end of John 6, when so many walked away from Christ, precisely because they didn’t like what they heard.
Here is a small part of what I wrote back in 1999, addressing the tired and completely unconvincing claim that Jesus is using a metaphor at the end of John 6:
Thanks so much dear Brian. Your extended responses are revealing.
D. A. Carson: “God is a talking God, and thus you must come to wrestle with him. You must wrestle with what he said.”
How sad is this! Largely ignoring the gentle wonders of Jesus Christ, Immanuel, the One & Only God WITH Us, the Light of The New Testament & the Church, The Lamb Slain, Carson and company resile to the primitive para-pagan understanding of Jacob/Israel.
Rather than joyfully submitting to Jesus’ lite yoke and His easy burden, affirmed and strengthened by Jesus’ own holy Flesh & Blood in us, we are told by this famous modern Pharisee to ‘wrestle with God’!
D. A. Carson, together with many other Protestant teachers are actually wrestling against unshakeable Catholic dogmatics (consistent from 1 Corinthians 11:23-27 to this very day). They will obstinately equivocate crystal clear Scripture, such as John 6, simple to distinguish their brand of religion from Catholicism.
Is this not more about marketing sectional religion than about truth . . .
The end result is awful. Millions of lowly little ones, the poor, uneducated, marginalized, needy who King Jesus Christ prioritizes are told that their Communion is not the flesh and blood of The Lord. Their comfort in knowing that despite everything, the glorious Son of God loves them so MUCH as to feed them on His own Body & Blood, is destroyed. Is that not a wicked theft . . .
They are told you must: “Wrestle with God”. Cold comfort indeed.
Is this not a classic example of Protestant destructive individualization?
Well did Paul exhort the Church at Colossae: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow & deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic (deceptive) principles of this world, rather than Christ.”
OK, dear Brian, that diagnoses the illness; now what about the cure.
Find a friendly parish, Brian, and tell the priest that you don’t believe in The Real Presence, but you are willing to participate in Sunday Mass for a year, so as to settle matters by experience, rather than maintaining a controversial position built on the speculative dogmatics of theologians with sectional agendas. My prayer is that you’ll give Jesus a chance to show you.
Ever in the grace & mercy of The Lamb; love & blessings from marty
Dear Dr Marty:
It appears that I have lost the debate! The question I first asked seems to have galvanized good Catholics into one voice. Know that your perspective and desire to enlighten is well received. Carl O has expended time and energy offering his view and allegiance to the Catholic position. He is a faithful son of the Church.
Sometimes it is better to let matters rest. You are a peacemaker and use God’s word to bless people.
I have too much regard for you to be like a dog with a bone. The bone will be buried and thanks to everyone who offered their observations.
Blessings upon blessings,
Your total acceptance of fault for any polemics seems almost genuine…
We’ve all seen videos showing a playful cat chasing the mark of a pen laser point all over the living room carpet. In circles! Again, and again! How does this differ, if at all, from the way you seem to be gaming the readers and editor of CWR?
So, why not kick the dust from our feet? That’s also scriptural! Are too many electrons being decoyed and squandered from the real business of this website? This is not a litter box…
Might we consider a moratorium for, say, at least a year? Genuine dialogue could begin when it’s clearer that a laser pen is not in play.
As for Elias’ reference to Muslims, perhaps the meaning is that Muslims, too, evade real dialogue by defaulting to their own version of sola Scriptura, the result of another and pre-modern (and pre-Reformation) version of “cloture”–self-imposed during a 9th-century Baghdad street riot (rather than 15th century Europe). But, that’s another story…
You are right about the disconnect between the Christian “Word made flesh” and the Islamic “word made book.”
Some men disagree on most matters.Though you and I don’t find concordance on a number of subjects, your education and the articles that you have presented at CWR are to be regarded. When you rebuke me, I consider it an honour because it causes one to think.
My goal is to encourage Catholics. History tells us the Catholic Church has been a blessing and as other mainstream church’s go on wayward paths is it not good to come along side and encourage the faithful to be resolute. When we disagree, the aim is to help and give perspective. Is that wrong?
There are many topics that invite discussion. If yours truly doesn’t respond, it doesn’t mean that the idea doesn’t have merit, instead it is left to others to comment on.
God bless you,
“My goal is to encourage Catholics.” Is there no limit to your condescension?
Identify yourself! Spock!…the Klingon deflector shield is impenetrable!
Today there is continuous outcry regarding the leadership of the Catholic Church. Faithful sons and daughters of the church decry decisions or lack thereof. Some past remarks from your chair, indicate your own displeasure with various turn of events.
When you say, “Is there no limit to your condescension?” you misread my intent and yet, it does not come as a surprise. When you apply a incorrect narrative to yours truly, time and again, is not a corrective in order?
No rancor is directed to you, however despite our differences, can we not pursue mutual respect?
Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
How can one be any rancor from a hologram? Spock, beam me up, the mirage refuses to either stand still or identify itself.
The Last Supper was a Passover Seder. Christ as the new Moses was instituting a new Passover during the Last Supper. In the Passover you had to eat the sacrificial lamb. Christ was the sacrificial Lamb of His new Passover. We partake of Christ, the sacrificial Lamb, when we partake of the Holy Eucharist. Also, at the Passover Seder four cups of wine are consumed. At the Institution of the Eucharist Christ used the third cup, the Cup of Blessing. Christ then announced that He would no longer drink of the fruit of the vine and the Last Supper Seder was left incomplete. It was not until Christ was near death on the Cross that He was given common wine vinegar on a sponge when He said that it was finished. This wine vinegar on the sponge was the fourth cup of the Seder, the Cup of Consummation. The Last Supper and Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross were one continuous event.
Dr. Brant Pitre Has a presentation on the Eucharist on YouTube titled “Jesus & the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” where he shows the Jewish roots of the Eucharist.
He also has a video about the fourth cup titled “The Fourth Cup and the New Passover (A Preview)”
A subject close to your heart and to the hearts of others.
Thank you for your latest response and articulating your views. You have given considerable thought (along with others) on this matter.
It is a subject not for the faint of heart and the Catholic perspective has been well articulated from your chair. I have caused grief to some and and that doesn’t sit well with me.
The end of the matter is that you have clarified the Catholic position for the faithful.
God bless you,
Brian Young, Job had to give up in the end, it didn’t all go his way or as he expected. So patience isn’t meant to be vain, it’s meant for God’s purpose.
Most definitely patience isn’t meant for delusions about Scripture. You would have to be very hard on yourself to remain consistent in the light of it.
James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries and Carl would make a wonderful and eye opening dicussion on this topic.
When I first entered the Church, in 1997, I engaged in a number of mostly written debates with various Fundamentalists and Evangelicals. And, of course, my first book, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”?, addressed some key beliefs of certain (not all) Fundamentalists/Evangelicals. But public debates has never really been my thing, and that part of my life, in some ways, feels (I purposefully use that word) ancient. When I was editor of Envoy magazine from 2002-04, my then boss, Patrick Madrid, had several debates with James White, some of them lasting hours (do a search for both men and the video links will come up). I recommend folks interested in these topics to check out those debates/videos.
This article seemed to be lost from sight, just stumbled on it now.
Did google Patrick Madrid/James White debates. Patrick sure can talk and in 7th gear no less! You two must have had some interesting chats. Thanks for the suggestion.
It may feel ancient, but would be a great way to defend the Catholic church and its’ teachings and be an inspiration to the flock. I know a lot of people at CWR respect your intellect.