Christian Fundamentalists and Idolatry

I was having a very nice conversation with a Christian Fundamentalist about religion…until he found out I was Catholic. The conversation went down-hill quickly as soon as he accused me of idolatry.

Idolatry is the worship of something other than God.

One of his many charges was basically that I am guilty of idolatry because I believe the Catholic teaching that the Holy Eucharist ceases to be bread and wine at the moment of consecration, instead becoming the body and blood of Jesus while retaining the appearance of bread and wine. If the Eucharist is not what the Church says it is, then my Fundamentalist buddy is right; I would be guilty of idolatry.

This guy was very polite in his accusations, so I returned the favor and responded this way:

In the Bible (specifically John:6) Jesus is surrounded by his followers who, just the day before, watched him turn a meager amount of food into enough to feed 5,000. At this point in the scripture, the crowd is hoping for another miracle. Instead, Jesus tells them they must “eat his flesh and drink his blood.” The crowd before him is disgusted by this and they leave…except for the Apostles. They remain. Not because they understood what the others could not, but because they had faith.

At the “Last Supper’” Jesus celebrates the Passover for the last time with his Apostles. He holds up bread and wine and says “This is my Body/This is my blood,” and Jesus himself becomes the new sacrificial lamb. Like the Passover of the Old Testament, the lamb had to be eaten for death to “pass over” the household. (Exodus:12, 8,11)

When a Catholic receives the Eucharist, the priest holds it up and says “The Body of Christ.” The receiving Catholic says “Amen,” which means “I believe.” And I do believe this. Not because I perceive any change in the bread and wine, but because I have faith that when Jesus held the bread and wine and proclaimed it be his body and blood, that he meant it.

One could look at it as a test of faith. If faith is indeed a test, then the Eucharist is the pass or fail bonus question. You can’t just receive it and be indifferent. St Paul warns against this in 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29.

Then there is the issue of history. Most modern Christians know that their ancestors were thrown to the lions (actually, they were wild dogs) by the pagan Romans, but many do not know exactly why, other than a general belief that Romans disapproved of Christianity.

One charge made against the Christians by the Romans was the charge of cannibalism, because of the early Church belief that the Eucharist was the actual body and blood of Jesus. Justin Martyr, an early Christian apologist explained it this way:

“Not as common bread or common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nourished, . . . is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus”

Those words were written in the second century. There is a plethora of quotes from early Christian writers, written both before and after the quote I’ve given here, and while they may differ in the language they use to describe this miracle, they are all unanimous in the belief that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the body and blood of Jesus.

I know that’s hard to believe. Sometimes I have trouble with it myself. Like the disciples in John:6, I left when I thought it was all a bunch of ****. I was an atheist for more than 15 years, but that 15 years gave me a lot of time for reflection. If you accept that Jesus is who he says he is, and then compare the ancient understanding of this belief to your own, I don’t see how you can continue as a fundamentalist Christian.

That was my response to my new internet buddy’s charge of idolatry. He had other complaints about Catholicism, but we have not addressed those yet. I look forward to answering those as well. :slight_smile:

Peace. :thumbsup:

You answered well :thumbsup::thumbsup:


Thanks James. I like your quote about grace. That’s pretty cool. :slight_smile:

God bless.

Ya done good, Jon_S. Don’t forget the resources here to help you explain your faith. Click on the Faith tab way at the top of the page and click on the Library tab from there, Lots of good stuff to read in there.

Another way to respond to the charge would be to kindly tell him his words about the Eucharist are blasphemy ;).


Your response was great.

I wanted to mention blasphemy, but I was afraid he would have tuned out at that point. :slight_smile:

Yeah, it would seem only fair, considering he mentioned “idolatry” to mention blasphemy ;). But what’s fair tends not to always be what’s helpful, and it’s not our place to judge. And I know, being a former Protestant myself, that mentioning blasphemy would not have been helpful :D.

Agreed. also i dont see how, if you read the church fathers
you can remain a protestant or fundamentalist. I have a very good friend that was a baptist
minister, and after studying the church fathers he could not remain so. he became a priest
in the anglican church. the only reason he did not convert to catholicism was his british
heritage. but its my understanding that eventually the rift may be repaired between the catholics and anglicans. i also converted from protestantism. after reading the church fathers and also finding a prophecy in the old testament (Malichi 1:11), i could come to no other conclusion than the Catholic church is the true church set up by Christ. not going to go into other reasons they are too personal and border on the mystical. Suffice to say,
every thing the church holds is from the Lord and his apostles. he truly has not left us orphans.

I’m a former evangelical Protestant (not fundamental, although we believed in the Five Fundamentals of Christianity, as do Catholics).

I think you did well. What impressed your fundamentalist friend is that you actually knew something about the Bible. Many Catholics don’t even know where the Gospel of John, the book of Exodus, and the first letter to the Corinthians are located in the Bible. You actually quoted verses with references (addresses)! Way to go!

THAT knowledge of the Bible will impress fundamentalist and evangelical Christians more than anything you actually say. Evangelicals and fundamentalists revere the Bible.

It would be even better if you used a Protestant Bible, especially your friend’s Bible, to do this. Many evangelical and fundamental Protestants believe that the Catholic Bible is totally different than their “true” Protestant Bible. For almost a year, I brought my Bible to Mass to compare the readings in that Missallette to my “real” Bible!

My sister in law, a very close-minded evangelical Protestant, looked through my Catholic Bible seeking differences in verses like John 3:16 and John 14:6. (I think she wanted to see something like, “The Catholic Church is the Way, the Truth, and the Life–no one gets to heaven without being Catholic.” She didn’t find that in the Bible.)

You have tweaked your friend’s interest. He may actually get more hostile toward you or other Catholics in the future, as more and more of his long-time, sure-fire beliefs crumble. It is a frightening thing to be on the edge of a cliff that is is sloughing away, taking you over the side. I wish that all Catholics understood this–for Protestants, a belief in Catholicism means rejecting everything they’ve been taught and relied upon since childhood. You know you’re going to have to start over, lose all your friends, possibly lose your family. This is very scary.

So above all else, be kind. Your friend needs to know that when he does accept the Catholic Church as the Church of Jesus Christ, that friendly people like you are waiting to welcome him home.

He seemed like a nice enough guy. I don’t doubt that his concern for the state of my soul was genuine.

We’ve been discussing the Papacy over the last few nights. Apparently there are non-Catholic Christians who think Catholics worship the Pope. Ha-ha. It seems so silly that it’s barely worth discussing, but the conversation has been very civil and respectful so I’ll stick with it. :slight_smile:

Lol. Wow :). Yes, I can imagine this.

May God bless and guide the discussion!

I always find it amusing that we can have a perfectly civilized conversation about the trinity, and all things pertaining to faith, and things always go swimmingly…until we admit to be being cathoic. Drived me nuts. If they judged us on the merits of our beliefs, they can never really find any faults. But when we tell them we are catholic, they judge us on what they perceive we believe.

I actually did a social experiment once. I went to a bible study where I didn’t reveal I was Catholic. I went for several weeks, discussing faith, and things were going great. Then I dropped the “C” bomb, and it was a matter of weeks before I had the whole group tearing at everything I said like a pack of wild dogs. I could have said “Jesus is Lord.” and they’d twist my meaning of it somehow to argue with me because they just couldn’t agree with ANYTHING I said, or it would make them dirty somehow. Weird, eh?

It’s the result of Satanic lies spread throughout the world from the time of the Reformation all the way up to today. These are extremely old, deeply ingrained lies about Catholicism that have existed for centuries. They are embedded in the minds of the people and passed on from century to century, generations passing them on and growing up in them. I hate these lies. I hate them with all my heart, because of how they tear at the Body of Christ. How can most Protestants help believing these untruths, when it is all they know, and it is what they’ve been brought up believing? It’s not even their fault, or at least not much, and not usually. That’s why Cardinal Ratzinger says many Protestants cannot be accused of the sin of heresy, because they never left the Catholic Church of their own wills, but rather have been seeking God as best they can and growing in Him insofar as they are able.

This does not mean they are not heretics, but it does mean they may not have personal guilt for all their beliefs, and that they deserve greater mercy. Yet there are deeply entrenched lies amongst them, lies that can destroy souls, if allowed to. God help us and God help them. :frowning:

It’s so cold and harsh . . .

There are many lies spead about Catholicism that tend to circulate among Evangelical churches today. I think this has to do with most Evangelicals being just lazy, pure and simple. While this is tragic, what is even more tragic is the notion of a biblical basis for transubstatiation. Can you honestly tell me that the disciples, schooled in the commandments of God would have understood Jesus to be instructing them to go directly aginst these commandments? The drinking of blood was forbidden to anyone (Lev. 3:17). Further, shortly after this alleged ingesting of literal blood (as Catholics claim), why would Peter have said, “I have NEVER eaten anything unholy and unclean.”?? (Acts 10:14) The fact is, Peter would have never said this had he thought he ingested the actual, literal body and blood of Christ. Not to mention, Jesus spoke figuratively OFTEN…and this was certainly no exception. The bottom line is that Christ’s instruction regarding the intended meaning of the Lord’s Supper was to “do this in REMEMBERANCE of me.” (Luke 22:19) He was not saying “do this to INGEST me.” The word rememberance means to bring to mind not to ingest into the stomach. So much more could be said…

Jesus said exactly what he meant when he said, “Eat my Body and drink My Blood.” That is why so many of his followers left, because they were repulsed by the thought. Jesus did NOT chase after them and say, “Hey, wait a minute - I was only speaking figuratively!” Instead, He turned to His disciples and said, "Will you leave, too?"
Certainly Jesus spoke of figurative things, but the Eucharist is not one of them.

Narrow Path, have you ever read the writings of the Early Church Fathers? More than anyone else, they were in the best position to know what the apostles, and what Jesus, originally meant by their teachings. They certainly were better positioned to know what the Bible meant than we are, when we interpret it on our own from 20th century vantage points, two thousand years after the documents were written. Our society is completely different now than it was in Biblical times. So much has changed.

Ignatius of Antioch is one of the best Early Church Fathers to read, as he discusses doctrine a good deal, and he is one of the very earliest writers. He was likely a disciple of the Apostle John and was ordained by St. Peter himself. Early writers also identified him with the child Jesus picked up in Mark 9 and said, “be like one of these.” To fill out your understanding of Biblical history, it is best to read these early writers, rather than the Bible alone.

St. Ignatius had some beautiful and powerful writings. He wrote his 7 letters to the churches on his way to martyrdom in Rome. Troops were taking him to the arena while he wrote them. There is no dispute over the passion of his faith, and his connection to the apostles makes him an especially powerful witness to Early Christian thought, the thought that went into the writing of the Bible in the first place.

Here’s a link to his writings. He and his writings are in this list of links to writings of the Early Church Fathers, which is presented in alphabetical order:

Are you saying Jesus body and blood is unholy and unclean? You should re-think your position regarding this verse and your interpretation of it.

Peter never would have said this if he thought that Jesus body and blood was unclean. This is why I referred to John 6 in my original note. Many of the disciples were disgusted at the thought of eating flesh and drinking blood, but the ones with true faith stuck it out.

Actually, it is the exception. Jesus repeated the command to “eat his flesh and drink his blood” three times, each time using a more graphic description.

You are using a modern understanding of the word “remember” to make your point. In the time of Jesus, the word “remember” meant “to make reality present.”

Put yourself in the scene at the Last Supper. What do you suppose Jesus and the Apostles did with the bread and wine after Jesus blessed it? Did they leave it on the table, or did they eat it? If they consumed it (and you know they consumed it) then what you are left with to contemplate is “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” Turning you back on the Eucharistic miracle is exactly what the disciples in John 6 did.

You’re right. There would be no reason to justify his figurative language to the people who were certainly capable of understanding. The problem that you and every other Catholic that holds to transubstantiation has is that it contradicts many other portions of Scripture. You have been taught ot believe a handful of Catholic “proof texts” which in fact when examined are no proof at all. If you were to keep reading with the passage in John 6 you would understand that in verse 63 Jesus clarifies his figurative language: “It is the SPIRIT who gives life; the flesh profits NOTHING. The words I have spoken to you are SPIRIT and life.” So, Christ does not claim nor did he intend for his listeners to understand that He is the Eucharist of eternal life; rather; the WORDS He speaks give life and the flesh profits NOTHING.

I respect people like yourself although I must admit this is a typical rabbit trail that Catholics often veer off track with. Sure, there is much we can learn from the church fathers - there’s no doubt about that. But to place our faith and trust in their interpretation of Scripture is where you and I differ. Right now, we are standing on the shoulders of giants that have gone before us. We have a tremendous advantage of hindsight. I believe we should use this to our advantage instead of simply taking the fathers word for it. not because we are any smarter, but because we have been placed in a time of history that provides this advantage for us. They would have done the same. I also noticed that the Biblical data was ignored in your answer…but that’s ok…you have fallibly chosen to believe a supposed infallible interpreter of Scripture - and that’s your decision.

That is incorrect. When Jesus uses that phrase he is telling the disciples that they need supernatural faith to understand this teaching. Jesus uses the “spirit/flesh” comparison in other places in Scripture to convey this very meaning. (Mark 14:38)

John 6:48-51
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh."

If Jesus was only being figurative, was the Crucifixion also figurative? Right here, Jesus says that the flesh he is talking about in John 6 is the same flesh that dies on the cross.

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