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There Are Four Separate Articles on this Page
 

 Is John 6:66 Evidence of Transubstantiation?

Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood

Eucharistic Adoration: Worship or Idolatry?

Is The Roman Catholic View of the Eucharist Supported by the Historical Evidence?

 

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Introduction
"do this in remembrance of Me" - Luke 22:19

If priests indeed have the exclusive power to change finite bread and wine into the body and blood of the infinite Christ, and, if indeed, consuming His body and blood is necessary for salvation, then the whole world must become Catholic to escape the wrath of God. On the other hand, if Jesus was speaking in figurative language, then this teaching becomes the most blasphemous and deceptive hoax any religion could impose on its people. There is no middle ground. (Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood. by Mike Gendron)

ďThere is no indication in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper that the disciples thought that the bread and wine changed into the actual body and blood of Christ. There simply isn't any indication of this. Should we say that the disciples who were sitting right there with Jesus, actually thought that what Jesus was holding in his hands was his own body and blood? That would be ridiculous...

...The Mass is supposed to be a re-sacrifice of Christ. Therefore, the body and blood represented in the Mass become the broken body and shed blood of Christ. In other words, they represent the crucifixion ordeal. But how can this be since Jesus instituted the Supper before He was crucified? Are we to conclude that at the Last Supper, when they were all at the table, that when Jesus broke the bread it became His actual sacrificial body -- even though the sacrifice had not yet happened? Likewise are we to conclude that when Jesus gave the wine that it became His actual sacrificial blood -- even though the sacrifice had not yet happened? That would make no sense at allĒ. (Matthew Slick Transubstantiation and the Real Presence.
 

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Is John 6:66 Evidence of Transubstantiation?
Jason Engwer

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst....It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." - John 6:35, 6:63

Catholics often claim that John 6 is a passage about the eucharist, and that Jesus was teaching transubstantiation by telling people to "eat His flesh and drink His blood". Typical is the April 22, 1998 edition of Mother Angelica Live, a television program on the Roman Catholic network EWTN. The guests on the program, Bob and Penny Lord, argued that Jesus wouldn't have let people leave Him, as some did in John 6:66, if His statements about "eating My flesh and drinking My blood" were not to be taken as actual eating and drinking of flesh and blood. Supposedly, Jesus allowing those people to leave Him is evidence that He was teaching transubstantiation, and that He was unwilling to compromise that teaching in order to have more followers. Surely He would have explained to the people in John 6:66 what He really meant if He wasn't referring to actual eating and drinking of flesh and blood, right?

Actually, there are some problems with the Roman Catholic interpretation of John 6. In verse 35, Jesus identifies what the "eating and drinking" are. They represent coming to Him and believing in Him. Trusting in Christ, not participation in Roman Catholic mass, eliminates a person's hunger and thirst. Throughout John 6, statements about faith in Christ are interspersed with the statements about "eating and drinking" (verses 29, 35, 36, 40, 47, 64). As Jesus often did, He was using an analogy to illustrate a point. In this case, He was illustrating a true faith, a faith that involves a person coming to Christ, believing in Him, and then never hungering or thirsting again as a result. This is why Jesus told people that He is the bread of life, and that they are responsible for eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He said these things before the Last Supper. People were just as responsible for eating His flesh and drinking His blood before the eucharist was instituted as they were after.

Not only does the Catholic interpretation of John 6 miss the theme of the passage, but it also rests on some bad assumptions. Did Jesus really let the people in John 6:66 leave Him without a clarification of what He meant? No, He didn't. In verses 35 and 63, Jesus reveals that He isn't referring to actual eating and drinking of flesh and blood. If some who heard Him missed or forgot what He was saying in those verses, that was a problem with them, not with Jesus.

And was it even the concept of actual eating and drinking that motivated the people in John 6:66 to leave Jesus? Possibly not. The immediate context of their departure is Christ's teaching about His own foreknowledge and predestination (John 6:64-65). Catholic apologists often overlook the verses immediately before verse 66, and go back to what Jesus was saying earlier in the passage. Why should we do that? We really don't know all of what was motivating the people in John 6:66. For all we know, they may have left because what Jesus said in verses 64-65 convicted them that they didn't truly believe in Him.

It's also possible, of course, that they did think Jesus was referring to actual eating and drinking of flesh and blood. Does it follow, then, that Jesus would have tried to keep those people from leaving Him if He really wasn't referring to actual eating and drinking? No, it doesn't. He knew that these people had never really believed in Him (John 6:64). And contrary to what Catholic apologists suggest, Jesus didn't always clarify His teachings to those who rejected Him. In Matthew 13:10-17, Jesus explains that He purposely kept some people from understanding what He was teaching. In John 2:19-22, Jesus refers to His body as a "temple", which many people misunderstood as a reference to the actual temple in Jerusalem. He didn't explain to these people what He really meant. We read in Mark 14:56-59 that some people, long after Jesus had made the statement in John 2:19, were still thinking that He had referred to the actual temple in Jerusalem. And in John 21:22-23, we read of another instance of Jesus saying something that was misunderstood by some people, with the misunderstanding leading to the false conclusion that the apostle John wouldn't die. Yet, Jesus didn't clarify the statement. It was John who clarified it decades later in his gospel. (Any suggestion that John didn't clarify chapter 6 in his gospel only begs the question. How do Catholics know that passages such as John 6:35 and 6:63 aren't clarifications of what Jesus meant?) When Catholic apologists claim that it would be unprecedented for Jesus not to further clarify His message to the people in John 6:66, if He wasn't referring to actual eating and drinking, they're mistaken. He could have been following the same pattern we see in Matthew 13:10-17, John 2:19-22, and John 21:22-23. To this day, people continue to disagree about what Jesus meant by some of the parables in Matthew's gospel, for example.

Catholic apologists sometimes argue that the metaphorical concept of eating somebody's flesh and drinking his blood always had a negative connotation among the Jews. They point to passages of scripture like Psalms 27:2 and Revelation 16:6. Therefore, if Jesus was using such terminology in a metaphorical way, He would have been telling His listeners to do something negative. Since Jesus wouldn't have done that, He must not have been speaking metaphorically. The problem with this Catholic argument is that it's erroneous in its first claim. While metaphorically eating flesh and drinking blood did sometimes have a negative connotation, it also sometimes had a positive connotation (http://www.christian-thinktank.com/hnoblood2.html#john6). And since Jesus gave us a positive definition in John 6:35, there's no need to look for any other definition.

We're told by Jesus and the apostle Paul that the bread and wine of the eucharist remain bread and wine even after consecration (Matthew 26:29, 1 Corinthians 11:26-27). The Roman Catholic view of communion is filled with errors, some of them undermining fundamental doctrines of scripture. Citing John 6, or citing John 6:66 in particular, doesn't change that.
 


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Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood
by Mike Gendron

Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). Are these words of Jesus from John 6:53 to be taken literally or figuratively? The Roman Catholic Church teaches the context of John chapter six is to be interpreted in a literal sense and thus believes Jesus is giving absolute and unconditional requirements for eternal life. The Vaticanís literal interpretation forms the foundation for its doctrine of transubstantiation ó the miraculous changing of bread and wine into the living Christ, His body and blood, soul and divinity. Each Catholic priest is said to have the power to call Jesus down from the right hand of the Father when he lifts the wafer and whispers the words "Hoc corpus meus est." Catholics believe, as they consume the lifeless wafer, they are actually eating and drinking the living body and blood of Jesus Christ.

    In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.1

The partaking of the Eucharist is essential to their salvation and a doctrine they must believe and accept to become and remain a Catholic.

    The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenent are necessary for salvation.2

Prior to consuming the Eucharist, Catholics worship the wafer as if it were Jesus Christ being lifted up.

    "Worship of the Eucharist. In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord." 3 "The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself." 4

If priests indeed have the exclusive power to change finite bread and wine into the body and blood of the infinite Christ, and, if indeed, consuming His body and blood is necessary for salvation, then the whole world must become Catholic to escape the wrath of God. On the other hand,

if Jesus was speaking in figurative language, then this teaching becomes the most blasphemous and deceptive hoax any religion could impose on its people. There is no middle ground. Therefore we are left with a question of utmost importance: Was the message Jesus conveyed to the Jewish multitude to be understood as literal or figurative? There are at least seven convincing biblical reasons why this passage is to be taken figuratively.


Counterfeit Miracle
No where in the Bible do we ever see a miracle performed where the evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. Yet, after the priest performs his super natural act of transubstantiation, the wafer and wine look, taste, smell and feel the same. It has the appearance of a counterfeit miracle because no noticeable change has occurred. When Jesus changed water into wine, all the elements of water changed into the actual elements of wine.

    Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. [5]

Drinking Blood Forbidden

The Law of Moses strictly forbade Jews from drinking blood. A literal interpretation would have Jesus teaching the Jews to disobey the Mosaic Law. This would have been sufficient cause to persecute Jesus. [6]

    Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for oneís life. [7]

Biblical Disharmony

When John 6:53 is interpreted literally it is in disharmony with the rest of the Bible. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you," gives no hope of eternal life to any Christian who has not consumed the literal body and blood of Christ. It opposes hundreds of Scriptures that declare justification and salvation are by grace through faith in Christ.

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithóand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godónot by works, so that no one can boast. [8]


It Produces A Dilemma
It is stated that the "eating and drinking" in verse 6:54 and the "believing" in verse 6:40 produce the same result - eternal life. If both are literal we have a dilemma. What if a person "believes" but does not "eat or drink"? Or what if a person "eats and drinks" but does not "believe?" This could occur any time a non-believer walked into a Catholic Church and received the Eucharist. Does this person have eternal life because he met one of the requirements but not the other? The only possible way to harmonize the interpretation of these two verses is to
accept one as figurative and one as literal.


It Was Figurative in the Old Testament
The Jews were familiar with "eating and drinking" being used figuratively in the Old Testament to describe the appropriation of divine blessings to oneís innermost being. It was Godís way of providing spiritual nourishment for the soul (Isaiah 55:1-3; Ezekiel 2:8, 3:1).

    When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heartís delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty. 9

Jesus Confirmed It To Be Figurative

Jesus informed His disciples there were times when He spoke figuratively and He often used that type of language to describe Himself. The Gospel of John records seven figurative declarations Jesus made of Himself: "the bread of life" (6:48), "the light of the world" (8:12), "the door" (10:9), "the good shepherd" (10:11), "the resurrection and the life" (11:25), "the way, the truth and the life" (14:6), and "the true vine" (15:1). He also referred to His body as the temple (2:19).

    "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 10


His Words Were Spiritual
Jesus ended this teaching by revealing "the words I have spoken to you are spirit" (6:63). As with each of the seven miracles in Johnís Gospel, Jesus uses the miracle to convey a spiritual truth. Here Jesus has just multiplied the loaves and fish and uses an analogy to teach the necessity of spiritual nourishment. This is consistent with His teaching on how we are to worship God. "God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). As we worship Christ He is present spiritually, not physically. In fact, Jesus can only be bodily present at one place at one time. His omnipresence refers only to His spirit. It is impossible for Christ to be bodily present in thousands of Catholic Churches around the world. When Jesus is received spiritually, one time in the heart, there is no need to receive him physically, over and over again in the stomach.

Jesus began the discourse by saying whoever comes to Him and believes in Him will not hunger or thirst. Thus the eating and drinking are symbolic of coming to Him in faith.

    Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 11

There is another serious problem for Catholics who insist on a literal interpretation. They must realize that after they have consumed the physical body of Christ, it then decomposes during the digestive cycle. This goes against Godís promise to never let His Holy Son see decay (Acts 2:27).

In conclusion, it is clear from the Scriptures that the words referring to the eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus are to be understood in a spiritual or symbolic sense and not literally. Worshipping a wafer carries the same consequence for Catholics as worshipping a golden calf did for the Israelites. 12

Footnotes:

    1 The Catechism of the Catholic Church, (San Francisco, CA, Ignatius Press, 1994) para. 1374

    2 Ibid 1129

    3 Ibid 1378

    4 Ibid, para. 1324

    5 The Gospel of John, Chapter 2, verses 8-11

    6 The Gospel of John, Chapter 5, verse 16

    7 Leviticus 17:10-11

    8 Ephesians 2:8-9

    9 Jeremiah 15:16

    10 John 16:25

    11 John 6:35

    12 Exodus 32

 

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Eucharistic Adoration: Worship or Idolatry?
by Mike Gendron

Eucharistic adoration has increased dramatically in Roman Catholic Churches throughout America due to the urging of Pope John Paul II. Chapels have been set up in churches where Catholics can worship the real presence of Jesus. Some chapels offer Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration whereby the consecrated host is exposed and adored in a monstrance without interruption 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Parishioners commit themselves to a specific day, and time (one hour) every week. When they look upon the Sacred Host, they believe they are looking upon Jesus, the almighty God, who created heaven and earth.

The monstrance is a silver or gold stand with rays depicting a sunburst and a circular window where the Eucharist is placed. It comes from the Latin word "monstrare" to show or to expose to view. They vary in sizes, but one of the largest is the Monstrance of Toledo, Spain. It measures over 8 feet, has 15 kilos of pure gold, 183 kg. of silver, many precious jewels and 260 small statues. The total weight is 218 kg.

The words of Paul reflect how ungodly this practice of idolatry has become within the Roman Catholic Church. He wrote: "We ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man" (Acts 17:29). The prophet Jeremiah, speaking for God, also renounced this practice by saying: "Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; in the time of their punishment they will perish (Jer. 10:14-15).


Benefits of Adoring the Eucharist
Pope Pius XI associated the worship of Christ in The Blessed Sacrament with expiation for sin. The Angel at Fatima and the Blessed Mother taught us to adore the Blessed Sacrament and make reparation for our sins. 1

John Paul II said "all the evils of the world could be overcome through the great power of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The devil is put to flight wherever Jesus is adored in the Most Blessed Sacrament." 2 He asked, "How will young people be able to know the Lord if they are not introduced to the mystery of his presence?" 3 Pope Paul VI proclaimed, "How great is the value of conversation with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for there is nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road of holiness!" 4

Catholics can now enjoy all these benefits by adoring the Eucharist on the Internet. A site has been set up using a "web cam".

Catholics view transubstantiation as the greatest of all miracles. Almighty God, who once humbled Himself to become man, now transforms Himself into lifeless, inanimate wafers. "Every consecration, is a miracle, greater by far than any other, really: for God to come into matter and transform it into himself is far greater than His creating that matter in the first place." 5 "The body and blood...soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ...is truly, really and substantially contained" in the Eucharist. 6 Since each Eucharist contains the whole Christ, and since upwards of hundreds of wafers are consecrated during each mass, hundreds of Jesus Christs become physically present. Although the Vatican would never acknowledge it, this is a form of polytheism, the worship of many gods.


God Is Worshipped In Spirit
Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [which is invisible] and truth" (John 4:24). After Jesus ascended into heaven, Paul said true worshippers are those "who worship in the Spirit of God" (Phil. 3:3). The eternal, immortal King is invisible to those on earth until He returns (1 Tim. 1:17). Christians are called to look on "the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). The Eucharistic god of the Catholic Church is thus a temporal god and a false Christ. Jesus warned us not to believe anyone who says, "Here is the Christ" (Mat. 24:23). Jesus Christ, the Eternal God, is now physically present at the right hand of the Father (Luke 22:69). He will not return to the earth until after the tribulation (Mat. 24:29-30). Clearly, the worship of the Eucharist is idolatry. To worship any image in the place of God provokes Him to anger. God has this to say to idolaters: "they have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols" (Deut. 32:21). The Roman Catholic Church has "exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image " and "exchanged the truth of God for a lie" (Rom. 1:23-25).

To teach that the incorruptible, almighty and holy God is contained in a corruptible wafer that can be handled, eaten, digested and expelled is indeed the most irreverent, desecrating and profane form of idolatry. When Isaiah was confronted with Godís holiness he cried out, "Woe is me, I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips..." (Isaiah 6:5). When asked what happens to Jesus after the Eucharist is consumed, priests try to explain the unexplainable by suggesting the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus departs from the Eucharist as it is being digested.


Idolatryís Punishment Is Death
Worshipping the Eucharist is a violation of the 2nd commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..." (Exod. 20:1-5). Catholics who worship the Eucharist can be closely compared to the Israelites who worshiped the golden calf as their true God (Exod. 32:4). Their punishment imposed by God for this most serious sin was death (Exod. 32:27-28).

God is too awesome and glorious to be captured in any image, let alone a wafer. The prophet Isaiah declares Godís immeasurable greatness and then asks, "To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him?" (Isaiah 40:18). Any image of God is therefore an insult to His glorious holiness and majestic perfection.


Idolatry Is A Pagan Practice
From ancient times only pagan religions used images in the worship of their deities. This type of idolatry is just one of many pagan practices that crept into the Roman Catholic Church over time. Catholics must know that the Lord God does not dwell in the inner substance of a wafer but in the very bodies of born-again Christians. The Apostle Paul asked: "What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ĎI will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My peopleí" (2 Cor. 6:16). Paul warned us that those who practice idolatry will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21). Yet Pope John Paul II proclaims: "We will show the Sacrament of Christís presence to all. In this bread the Almighty, the Eternal, the thrice Holy has made Himself close to us."7


What Should Roman Catholics Do?
"Flee from idolatry" (1 Cor. 10:14). "Hear the word of God and observe it" (Luke 11:28). Take heed of Godís warnings! "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs" (Jonah 2:8, NIV). Godís elect are commanded to come out of any religion that practices the sin of idolatry. "Come out of her, my people, that you may not participate in her sins" (Rev. 18:4). Those who remain will also participate in her punishment. Those who come out and turn to Jesus Christ, as He is so gloriously revealed in Scripture, will be set free. They will no longer be slaves to the Eucharist which by nature is not God (Gal. 4:8). Roman Catholics must do as the Thessalonians didóturn from idols to serve the living and true God and wait for His Son from heaven (1 Thes. 1:9-10). May God help them to do so! And may Christians everywhere, be moved with compassion, to speak the truth in love to Roman Catholics, in the hopes of rescuing some from Godís punishment.

End Notes:

1 History of Eucharistic Adoration

2 Eternal Father Eucharistic Adoration Chapel

3 Lumen Gentium

4 Mysterium Fidei

5 Eucharistic Adoration: Window to Heaven by Father R. T. Gawronski, S.J.

6 www.monksofadoration.org/chapel.html

7 www.perpetualadoration.org/

 

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Is The Roman Catholic View of the Eucharist Supported by the Historical Evidence?
Jason Engwer

There aren't many subjects Catholic apologists like to discuss more than the eucharist. Even if their arguments about the papacy are refuted, even if the evidence they cite for the Immaculate Conception, Purgatory, and other doctrines isn't convincing, they still think they have a strong argument in the doctrine of the eucharist. They'll quote John 6 and the passages of scripture about the Last Supper. They'll quote centuries of church fathers referring to the eucharist as a sacrifice and referring to Jesus being present in the elements of the eucharist. They'll point out that even Protestants like Martin Luther have believed in a eucharistic presence. How, then, can evangelicals maintain that the eucharist is just symbolic, that there is no presence of Christ? Are evangelicals going to go up against 1500 years of church history?

This sort of reasoning seems to have had a lot of influence on evangelicals who have converted to Catholicism. Some converts to the Catholic Church even cite the eucharist as the primary issue, or one of the most significant issues, in convincing them to convert. But is the argument as compelling as so many Catholics think it is?

There are a lot of problems with this popular Catholic argument. The argument isn't even a defense of Catholicism. It's a defense of something like what the Catholic Church teaches. The Council of Trent made it clear just what the Catholic position is on this issue (emphasis added):

    Since Christ our Redeemer said that that which he offered under the appearance of bread was truly his body, it has therefore always been held in the Church of God, and this holy Synod now declares anew, that through consecration of the bread and wine there comes about a conversion 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. And this conversion is by the Holy Catholic church conveniently and properly called transubstantiation. (session 13, "Decrees Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist", chapter 4)

According to the Catholic Church, transubstantiation is the view of the eucharist always held by the Christian church. Some Catholics try to redefine this claim of the Council of Trent by saying that what Trent meant is that there was always some sort of belief in a presence in the eucharist, which was later defined more specifically as transubstantiation. While it's true that Trent doesn't claim that the word "transubstantiation" has always been used, Trent does claim that the concept has always been held by the Christian church.

There are two sentences in the quote above. The first sentence refers to a view of the eucharist always being held by the Christian church. The second sentence says that this view is transubstantiation. The way in which Trent describes the view always held by the Christian church makes it clear that transubstantiation is being described. The council refers to the whole substance of the bread and the whole substance of the wine being converted. That's transubstantiation.

Why do Catholic apologists attempt to redefine what the Council of Trent taught? Because what Trent said is false. Let's consider just some of the evidence that leads to this conclusion.

Though Catholics often cite some alleged references to their view of the eucharist in the Bible, the truth is that there's no evidence of the Catholic eucharist in scripture. John 6 is often cited as referring to eating Christ's flesh and drinking His blood by means of a transubstantiated eucharist. There are a lot of problems with the Catholic view of John 6, however, such as the fact that Jesus speaks in the present tense about how He is the bread of life and how people are responsible for eating and drinking Him. Jesus doesn't refer to how these things will begin in the future, when the eucharist is instituted. Rather, He refers to them as a present reality. And John 6:35 identifies what the eating and drinking are. The passage is not about the eucharist. (See http://members.aol.com/jasonte2/john666.htm for a further discussion of the problems with the Catholic interpretation of John 6.) Likewise, the passages about the Last Supper don't prove transubstantiation. They could be interpreted as references to a physical presence of Christ in the eucharist. That's a possibility. But they can also be interpreted otherwise.

There's no evidence for the Catholic view of the eucharist in scripture, but there is some evidence against it. In Matthew 26:29, Jesus refers to the contents of the cup as "this fruit of the vine". It couldn't be wine, though, if transubstantiation had occurred. And Jesus refers to drinking the contents of the cup with His followers again in the kingdom to come. Yet, the eucharist apparently is to be practiced only until Jesus returns (1 Corinthians 11:26). If the cup in Matthew 26:29 contained transubstantiated blood, then why would Jesus refer to drinking that substance with His followers in the future, at a time when there would be no eucharist? And if the eucharist is a sacrifice as the Catholic Church defines it to be, why is there no mention of the eucharist in the book of Hebrews?

The author of Hebrews is silent about the eucharist in places where we would expect the eucharist to be mentioned, if it was viewed as the Catholic Church views it. This is acknowledged even by Catholic scholars. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990) is a Catholic commentary that some of the foremost Catholic scholars in the world contributed to. It was edited by Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmyer, and Roland Murphy. Near the end of the section on the book of Hebrews, the commentary admits:

    If, as it seems, the author [of Hebrews] does not speak of the eucharist either here or elsewhere, the reason may be that he did not consider it a sacrifice. (p. 941)

There's nothing wrong with viewing the eucharist as a sacrifice in the sense of thanksgiving and praise (Hebrews 13:15). Some of the church fathers referred to the eucharist in such a way. For example, Justin Martyr wrote the following in response to the followers of Judaism who claimed to be fulfilling Malachi 1:11 (emphasis added):

    Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him. But He utterly rejects those presented by you and by those priests of yours, saying, 'And I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is glorified among the Gentiles (He says); but ye profane it.' Yet even now, in your love of contention, you assert that God does not accept the sacrifices of those who dwelt then in Jerusalem, and were called Israelites; but says that He is pleased with the prayers of the individuals of that nation then dispersed, and calls their prayers sacrifices. Now, that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit. For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God which He endured is brought to mind, whose name the high priests of your nation and your teachers have caused to be profaned and blasphemed over all the earth. But these filthy garments, which have been put by you on all who have become Christians by the name of Jesus, God shows shall be taken away from us, when He shall raise all men from the dead, and appoint some to be incorruptible, immortal, and free from sorrow in the everlasting and imperishable kingdom; but shall send others away to the everlasting punishment of fire. But as to you and your teachers deceiving yourselves when you interpret what the Scripture says as referring to those of your nation then in dispersion, and maintain that their prayers and sacrifices offered in every place are pure and well-pleasing, learn that you are speaking falsely, and trying by all means to cheat yourselves: for, first of all, not even now does your nation extend from the rising to the setting of the sun, but there are nations among which none of your race ever dwelt. For there is not one single race of men, whether barbarians, or Greeks, or whatever they may be called, nomads, or vagrants, or herdsmen living in tents, among whom prayers and giving of thanks are not offered through the name of the crucified Jesus. And then, as the Scriptures show, at the time when Malachi wrote this, your dispersion over all the earth, which now exists, had not taken place. (Dialogue with Trypho, 117)

These arguments of Justin Martyr are contrary to what the Catholic Church teaches. According to Justin Martyr, the eucharist is a sacrifice only in the sense of being a means by which Christians offer prayers and thanksgiving to God. Justin Martyr not only says nothing of the eucharist being a sacrifice in the sense Catholics define it to be, but he even excludes the possibility of the Catholic view by saying that the eucharist is a sacrifice only in the sense of prayers and thanksgiving being offered through it. Justin Martyr seems to have had Biblical passages like Hebrews 13:15 in mind, which is a concept that evangelicals agree with. The eucharist is a sacrifice in that sense.

Some church fathers defined the eucharist as a sacrifice differently than Justin Martyr, including in ways that are similar to the Catholic view. But Justin Martyr illustrates two things. First, it's false to claim that all of the church fathers viewed the eucharist as the Catholic Church views it. Secondly, the eucharist can be referred to as a sacrifice in numerous ways. It's not enough for Catholic apologists to cite a church father referring to the eucharist as a sacrifice. What type of sacrifice did the church father believe it to be? And how convincing are that church father's arguments?

Even more than they discuss the concept that the eucharist is an atoning sacrifice, Catholics argue that there's a presence of Christ in the eucharist, and that the church fathers agreed with them on this issue. Some Catholics will even claim that every church father believed in a presence in the eucharist. They'll often cite a scholar like J.N.D. Kelly referring to the church fathers believing in a "real presence" in the eucharist. But what these Catholics often don't do is quote what Kelly goes on to say. As Kelly explains, the church fathers defined "real presence" in a number of ways, including ways that contradict transubstantiation. Some of the church fathers were closer to the consubstantiation of Lutheranism or the spiritual presence of Calvinism, for example.

See the section titled "The Church and the Host" at:
http://www.aomin.org/JRWOpening.html

Also see the historian Philip Schaff's comments in section 69 at:
http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/2_ch05.htm

And section 95 at:
http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/history/3_ch07.htm

I also recommend consulting Schaff's footnotes, since the notes cite additional passages from the fathers and cite other scholars confirming Schaff's conclusions.

The church fathers held a wide variety of views on subjects such as how to interpret John 6 and Christ's presence in the eucharist. For example, Clement of Alexandria wrote the following about John 6 (emphasis added):

    Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: "Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood," describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,--of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle. (The Instructor, 1:6)

In another passage, Clement contradicts transubstantiation. He writes the following about how Christians should conduct themselves when drinking alcohol (emphasis added):

    In what manner do you think the Lord drank when He became man for our sakes? As shamelessly as we? Was it not with decorum and propriety? Was it not deliberately? For rest assured, He Himself also partook of wine; for He, too, was man. And He blessed the wine, saying, "Take, drink: this is my blood"--the blood of the vine. He figuratively calls the Word "shed for many, for the remission of sins"--the holy stream of gladness. And that he who drinks ought to observe moderation, He clearly showed by what He taught at feasts. For He did not teach affected by wine. And that it was wine which was the thing blessed, He showed again, when He said to His disciples, "I will not drink of the fruit of this vine, till I drink it with you in the kingdom of my Father." [Matthew 26:29] But that it was wine which was drunk by the Lord, He tells us again, when He spake concerning Himself, reproaching the Jews for their hardness of heart: "For the Son of man," He says, "came, and they say, Behold a glutton and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans." (The Instructor, 2:2)

Clement, like evangelicals, cites Matthew 26:29 as evidence that Jesus drank wine. If Clement believed that wine is what was drunk at the Last Supper, he didn't believe in transubstantiation.

Similarly, Irenaeus denies transubstantiation in his writings. He seems to have believed in consubstantiation rather than the Catholic view of the eucharist. For example (emphasis added):

    For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity. (Against Heresies, 4:18:5)

    For this reason, when about to undergo His sufferings, that He might declare to Abraham and those with him the glad tidings of the inheritance being thrown open, Christ, after He had given thanks while holding the cup, and had drunk of it, and given it to the disciples, said to them: "Drink ye all of it: this is My blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of the fruit of this vine, until that day when I will drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Thus, then, He will Himself renew the inheritance of the earth, and will re-organize the mystery of the glory of His sons; as David says, "He who hath renewed the face of the earth." He promised to drink of the fruit of the vine with His disciples, thus indicating both these points: the inheritance of the earth in which the new fruit of the vine is drunk, and the resurrection of His disciples in the flesh. For the new flesh which rises again is the same which also received the new cup. And He cannot by any means be understood as drinking of the fruit of the vine when settled down with his disciples above in a super-celestial place; nor, again, are they who drink it devoid of flesh, for to drink of that which flows from the vine pertains to flesh, and not spirit. (Against Heresies, 5:33:1)

Irenaeus describes the eucharist as consisting of two realities, one that comes from Heaven and another that's from the earth. He refers to the eucharist as an example of drinking wine, the same substance that people will drink in Christ's future kingdom, after the eucharist has served its purpose (1 Corinthians 11:26). Irenaeus, like Clement of Alexandria, contradicts transubstantiation. Though Irenaeus does seem to have believed in a presence in the eucharist, it isn't transubstantiation.

Other examples could be cited, and other examples are cited in the article I linked to above. It's a historical fact that the church fathers held a variety of eucharistic beliefs, including some that contradict what the Catholic Church teaches. This fact is contrary to the Council of Trent's claim that transubstantiation had always been the view held by the Christian church.

It should be noted, also, that many evangelicals believe in a presence in the eucharist. Some believe in consubstantiation. Some believe in a spiritual presence. Evangelicals don't even have to hold to any specific view. Jesus and the apostles told Christians to celebrate the eucharist. A Christian can do so without knowing whether there's any presence of Christ in the eucharist or what type of presence there is. For an evangelical, this issue isn't too significant. The reliability of our rule of faith (the Bible) isn't dependent on proving that Christ is present in the eucharist in some particular way. Catholics, on the other hand, must defend the Catholic Church's allegedly infallible teaching of transubstantiation. They must also defend the Council of Trent's claim that transubstantiation is the view always held by the Christian church, as well as Trent's claim that every other view is unacceptable. Evangelicals just don't carry the same burden of proof that Catholics carry on this issue. Catholics can't say that this is unfair, since the claims of the Catholic Church itself are what create the added burden of proof for the Catholic apologist. If you don't want to have to carry such a burden, then tell your denomination to quit making such weighty claims.

In summary:

    ∑ The Council of Trent taught that transubstantiation is the view of the eucharist always held by the Christian church. Trent also taught that every other view of the eucharist is so inaccurate as to cause the advocates of those views to be anathema. Therefore, Catholics must defend transubstantiation, not just some vague concept of "real presence".

    ∑ There is no scriptural evidence of the Catholic view of the eucharist, while there is some scriptural evidence against the concept (Matthew 26:29 as compared with 1 Corinthians 11:26, silence about the eucharist in Hebrews, etc.).

    ∑ Concepts like the eucharist being a sacrifice and Christ's presence in the eucharist were widespread among the church fathers, but were defined in numerous ways, including ways that contradict Catholic teaching.

    ∑ Many evangelicals believe in some form of presence in the eucharist, and they don't even need to hold any particular view on the subject if they don't want to. Just as the Roman Catholic Church allows Catholics freedom to believe what they want to believe or to not reach any conclusion on some issues, Christ's presence in the eucharist is an issue where evangelicals have freedom. We can be silent, or allow a variety of viewpoints, where scripture is silent. Catholics don't have this option, since their denomination has made so many claims about the subject in allegedly infallible proclamations.

The eucharist is another issue that illustrates how anachronistic, misleading, and false many of the claims of the Catholic Church are. Some Catholics seem to ignore or minimize their denomination's errors on issues like the papacy and the Immaculate Conception, because they think that the Catholic Church is at least closer to the truth than evangelicalism on other issues, like the eucharist. But such reasoning is fallacious. For one thing, all it takes is one error to refute Catholicism. Since the Catholic Church teaches that its traditions are just as authoritative as scripture, an error on one subject also disproves what the Catholic Church has taught on other subjects. If the Immaculate Conception doctrine is contrary to the evidence, for example, that isn't just problematic for the doctrine that Mary was immaculately conceived. It's also problematic for the doctrine of papal infallibility, since Pope Pius IX allegedly was exercising that power when he declared Mary to be conceived without sin. When the Catholic Church is shown to be wrong on the eucharist, the Immaculate Conception, or some other issue, that has implications for far more than just that one doctrine.

With regard to the eucharist, consider one of the larger implications of the Catholic Church being wrong on that subject. If it's true that the church fathers held a wide variety of eucharistic beliefs, and that they also held a wide variety of beliefs on a lot of other subjects, what does that tell us about early church history? It tells us that it's unlikely that the church fathers were part of one worldwide denomination headed by a Pope. What's more likely is that the church fathers disagreed with each other so much because they belonged to churches that were governmentally independent of one another, and they interpreted the scriptures for themselves. In fact, many of the church fathers specifically said as much. The fact that there were so many differing views among the church fathers, including views that contradict what the Catholic Church teaches, suggests that they weren't Roman Catholics.

If the Catholic Church isn't reliable, what are we to conclude about the eucharist, then? What do we do if we can't trust Catholicism to tell us what to believe? We ought to go to the scriptures. And if the beliefs of the church fathers and other sources are relevant in some way, we should also consider those things. We should study the issue ourselves instead of just uncritically accepting whatever an institution like the Roman Catholic Church teaches. When we go to the scriptures, we find that a number of eucharistic views are plausible, but transubstantiation isn't one of them (Matthew 26:29). The concept that the eucharist is an atoning sacrifice is unacceptable. Trying to continually offer Christ's sacrifice as an atonement for our sins, and offering it as a further atonement of the temporal portion of sins already forgiven, is contrary to what's taught in the book of Hebrews, such as Hebrews 9:12-10:18. For example, in Hebrews 9:25-26, we see the author distinguishing between Christ's sacrifice and the offering of that sacrifice. Not only was Christ only sacrificed once, but He also offered that one sacrifice to God only once. Catholics acknowledge that there was only one sacrifice, but they argue that the one sacrifice is offered repeatedly through the eucharist. This claim of the Catholic Church is contrary to scripture. And there are a lot of other contradictions between what scripture teaches on these subjects and what the Catholic Church teaches, especially in the book of Hebrews. We can reasonably arrive at a number of different views of the eucharist, but the Catholic view isn't one of them.

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