Apologetics in Action: To Llondy, On the Real Presence (Introduction)

Original Post and Comment

My new comments will be in red and italicized in an effort to maintain the llondy’s formatting so as to show full context.

Good luck reading and following. As usual, those wishing to offer feedback and/or suggestions are always welcome. Enjoy:


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Christ with the Eucharist, Vicente Juan Masip, 16th century. Image via Wikipedia.

My Catholic friend’s comments will be in italics. I do have many Catholic friends that I can discuss these issues with in a cordial manner and I hope this continues to be the case. [Most certainly.]

In commenting on my post, the Protestant “llondy,” attempted to clarify how Jesus’ own words were “only symbols and seals of what Christ has done for us.” This for me is tantamount to blasphemy as this Protestant’s position is to make the Lord a liar and a person who speaks against His very own nature. Allow me to expound:

I hope your exposition of this is well done, because to accuse of blasphemy is a serious charge. We all know that not everything the Lord said was literal and when we interpret as such, as in the case of Jesus referencing the vine in John, we are not calling Christ a liar if He is not a vine.

[The rest of Llondy’s comment are directly tied to the orignal aspect of my posts, the Holy Eucharist, that is – the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In an an attempt to prevent any continuity issues for the reader, I will address each of Llondy’s points as they occur.

First is the argument that because not everything that Jesus said was to be understood literally thus we cannot take the Jesus’ word in John 6 literally. The example used for this is the passage in John 15 known as “Jesus, the True Vine:”

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:1-11)

To appeal to this passage, or any other passage where Jesus is clearly using metaphorical language demonstrates a lack of contextual memory. The Bread of Life Discourse is the only passage where Jesus does not clarify the meaning of His words – instead He reiterates the very words even more forcefully. Jesus wishes to impact the listener.

The Protestant heresy of denying the Truth of the Real Presence Christ in the Eucharist dates to around 1517 and the Judas-like invention of the Swedish Protestant Zwingli. Before then, no person ever denied the fact that the practice of Christianity centered on the Eucharist: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Certainly there were other heretics before Zwingli that denied either the divinity of Christ (Arianism) or the humanity of Christ (Gnostics). But no one ever denied the fact that Christians believed in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

So unique is this belief to Christianity that during the Diocletian persecution Christians were accused of ritual cannibalism because we “eat the flesh” of Our God:

The chief accusations urged against the early Christians by their antagonists were atheism, cannibalism, and incest. These charges were made very early. Justin Martyr (Apol. 1. 26) mentions them, and Pliny in his epistle to Trajan speaks of the innocent meals of the Christians, implying that they had been accused of immorality in connection with them. (Compare, also, Tertullian’s Apol. 7, 8, and Ad Nationes, 7). In fact, suspicions arose among the heathen as soon as their love feasts became secret. The persecution in Lyons is to be explained only by the belief of the officer, that these and similar accusations were true. The Christians cornmonly denied all such charges in total, and supported their denial by urging the absurdity of such conduct; but sometimes, as in the present case, they endeavored to exonerate themselves by attributing the crimes with which they were charged to heretics. This course, however, helped them little with the heathen, as the latter did not distinguish between the various parties of Christians, but treated them all as one class. The statement of Eusebius in the present case is noteworthy. He thinks that the crimes were really committed by heretics, and occasioned the accusations of the heathen, and he thus admits that the charges were founded upon fact. In this case he acts toward the heretics in the same way that the heathen acted toward the Christians as a whole. This method of exonerating themselves appears as early as Justin Martyr (compare his Apol. I. 26). Irenaeus also (I. 25, 3), whom Eusebius substantially follows in this passage, and Philaster (c. 57), pursue the same course. (NPNF2-01 Eusebius 493)

The mere fact that many, even pagans, thought that early Christians participated in ritual cannibalism is a testament to the faith these believers held in the Holy Eucharist. Denying the very substance of the Consecrated Host is to deny the very existence of Christ and the omnipotence of God as evidenced by what Jesus Himself stated, instituted and even instructed personally to St. Paul. is to deny His command to “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). In this latter case, what weight is given to Paul’s words if the Jesus Christ is not Truly Present in the Eucharist?

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

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. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another — if any one is hungry, let him eat at home — lest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

How can one “be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” if the Lord Himself is not substantially present? How can one “eat and drink judgement upon” themselves by eating and drinking the Body and Blood without properly discerning it?

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
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.” (John 6:53-59)

On this God’s Word is clear.]

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