Church elders trying to stop me from "coming home" by refuting the Eucharist

Please forgive me if I need to post this in another forum, though I’m pretty sure this is the correct one.

I’m 90% I’m coming back to the Church. I’m just jumping through some hoops at my “reformed Baptist” church, as people are trying to talk me out of it and prove their case. Currently, one of the church elders is discussing (via email) the Eucharist with me, trying to disprove the real presence. He sent me a PDF from a book written by a “Schreiner,” entitled “Baptist Foundations: Church Governmant for an Anti-Institutional Age” which I’ll summarize here.

I know that there are good refutations out there for these but I can’t seem to figure them out or find any.

  1. If John 6:53-56 was talking about transubstantiation, it would also be saying that the Eucharist is necessary for eternal life, which is a thought found nowhere else in the New Testament. Further, Baptism, not the Eucharist, is the rite linked to conversion, and Baptism is not necessary for eternal life.

  2. There is a recurrent motif in John where Jesus will make a radical statement and his followers misunderstand what he is saying, taking him literally. See the temple destruction discussion (John 2:19-22), the discussion with Nicodemus on being born again (John 3:3-6), and his discussion about water (John 4:14-15).

Aquinas says (I’ve bolded the most important part):

Article 3. Whether the Eucharist is necessary for salvation?

Objection 1. It seems that this sacrament is necessary for salvation. For our Lord said (John 6:54): “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” But Christ’s flesh is eaten and His blood drunk in this sacrament. Therefore, without this sacrament man cannot have the health of spiritual life.

On the contrary, Augustine writes (Ad Bonifac. contra Pelag. I): “Nor are you to suppose that children cannot possess life, who are deprived of the body and blood of Christ.”

I answer that, Two things have to be considered in this sacrament, namely, the sacrament itself, and what is contained in it. Now it was stated above (1, Objection 2) that the reality of the sacrament is the unity of the mystical body, without which there can be no salvation; for there is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the Ark, which denotes the Church, according to 1 Peter 3:20-21. And it has been said above (Question 68, Article 2), that before receiving a sacrament, the reality of the sacrament can be had through the very desire of receiving the sacrament. Accordingly, before actual reception of this sacrament, a man can obtain salvation through the desire of receiving it, just as he can before Baptism through the desire of Baptism, as stated above (Question 68, Article 2). Yet there is a difference in two respects. First of all, because Baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, and the door of the sacraments; whereas the Eucharist is, as it were, the consummation of the spiritual life, and the end of all the sacraments, as was observed above (Question 63, Article 6): for by the hallowings of all the sacraments preparation is made for receiving or consecrating the Eucharist. Consequently, the reception of Baptism is necessary for starting the spiritual life, while the receiving of the Eucharist is requisite for its consummation; by partaking not indeed actually, but in desire, as an end is possessed in desire and intention. Another difference is because by Baptism a man is ordained to the Eucharist, and therefore from the fact of children being baptized, they are destined by the Church to the Eucharist; and just as they believe through the Church’s faith, so they desire the Eucharist through the Church’s intention, and, as a result, receive its reality. But they are not disposed for Baptism by any previous sacrament, and consequently before receiving Baptism, in no way have they Baptism in desire; but adults alone have: consequently, they cannot have the reality of the sacrament without receiving the sacrament itself. Therefore this sacrament is not necessary for salvation in the same way as Baptism is.

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says, explaining John 6:54, “This food and this drink,” namely, of His flesh and blood: “He would have us understand the fellowship of His body and members, which is the Church in His predestinated, and called, and justified, and glorified, His holy and believing ones.” Hence, as he says in his Epistle to Boniface (Pseudo-Beda, in 1 Corinthians 10:17): “No one should entertain the slightest doubt, that then every one of the faithful becomes a partaker of the body and blood of Christ, when in Baptism he is made a member of Christ’s body; nor is he deprived of his share in that body and chalice even though he depart from this world in the unity of Christ’s body, before he eats that bread and drinks of that chalice.”

  1. There is a recurrent motif in John where Jesus will make a radical statement and his followers misunderstand what he is saying, taking him literally. See the temple destruction discussion (John 2:19-22), the discussion with Nicodemus on being born again (John 3:3-6), and his discussion about water (John 4:14-15).

In those cases, there’s always a clarification. Not to mention that while the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ in substance, it is not in its accidents. That is, when we eat the host, we aren’t taking a chomp out of a hunk of human flesh made of sinews and nerves. The reason why it’s called a “hard teaching” in the next verses is because that might be what the confused potential disciples seemed to think he meant.

Then again, I’m not a Biblical scholar, so what do I know. The Aquinas stuff is on point though with the main, and I think stronger objection.

Well, they certainly offer their own interpretation of the passages in question. However, they ignore the writings of the early church fathers who were far closer to the apostolic sources and plainly state that they believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist…even as St. Paul does.

Hopefully this blog article of mine will help you some. Feel free to borrow/use anything else on my blog that you find helpful. :slight_smile:

Hang in there.

The Eucharist IS Scriptural


In these passages, Jesus is talking literally! Yes, his listeners misunderstand Him, but He really is making literal statements! When He says “destroy this temple”, he means it literally – destroy the temple [of His body] and He’ll raise it in three days." When he speaks to Nicodemus, He really does mean that we must be “born from above” (even if Nicodemus misunderstands and thinks He means he must be “born again”). In John 4, we see Jesus prefiguring His death – remember, John makes quite the effort to persuade us that blood and water really did come from Jesus’ side; and, in the Eucharist, we pour a little bit of water into the chalice – in other words, there’s the water that brings eternal life and causes it to well up in us!

So, each of these is not an instance in which Jesus spoke figuratively and was misunderstood – they’re instances in which Jesus is speaking literally and is misunderstood! Likewise, in the Bread of Life discourse, He’s speaking literally. (In fact, it’s the only place where Jesus, seeing that this teaching is difficult for His listeners, says to His apostles, “well, are you guys gonna leave, too?”… not, “hey guys, it was just a metaphor!” or “hey guys, it’s just a parable, like the guy who sows the field!”, but rather, “I’m serious – so, are you good with this, or are ya’ll leaving me, too?”…

The problem the baptist minister is having has a lot to do in how we need to read the Gospels.
Unfortunately he by choosing to interpret them himself without guidance from the appointed true teacher of Scripture has elected himself pope and sole arbiter of faith.

The Church has always understood that GOD cannot be placed in a box as much as we could try. Jesus has given us clear directives of how we are to be saved,
It is NOT like so many protestants claim “just accept Jesus as your lord and saviour” and whammm you are saved.
The Gospels give us many steps required for a “Christian” to be saved, he/she needs all of the Sacraments instituted by Christ to help in our salvation. And yet because GOD is who HE is no one can force HIM to stick ONLY to “Plan A” to save someone.
St. Paul speaks of this. And the Church has always held this teaching.
Baptism IS required for salvation. But GOD CAN choose to save someone who was not baptised.
Partake of the Eucharist IS necessary to have eternal life and yet GOD can choose to save someone who never tasted our Lord Flesh and Blood.
The Sacraments are there for us Catholic Christians to strengthen us and hopefully persevere to the end.
The goal of every faithful to endure as St. Paul himself stated.

In your case if you are convinced by Jesus words, powerful words on his discourse of the bread of life, you really have no choice do you?
Jesus could have corrected himself and not allow most of those who were following HIM to abandon HIM.
Nope not only did HE let them all go…BUT.

John 6:68 Therefore, Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 69 Then Simon Peter answered him: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. 70 And we have believed, and we recognize that you are the Christ, the Son of God.”

I believe Jesus was dead serious when HE spoke about this reality, this permanent and marvelous Miracle performed by HIM every time we attend mass.
He repeats himself 7 times about this truth. And we too need to take HIS words seriously. Jesus would NOT have repeated Himself so many times UNLESS what HE was talking about is of the utmost importance.
By the way St. Paul must have believed truly that the Eucharist was the true Body and true blood of Jesus, no one dies or gets sick from partaking in a symbolic act!
He says in

I Corinthians 11:29 For whoever eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks a sentence against himself, not discerning it to be the body of the Lord. 30 As a result, many are weak and sick among you, and many have fallen asleep.

“Fallen asleep” is an euphemism for “have died”
Once this conviction washes over you what other choice do we have? But to accept HIS words and welcome HIM inside us in a most personal and intimate way.
Talk about accepting HIM as our Lord and Saviour indeed! Have you?

It is very kind of you to offer to your 90%–former church elders the truth about the Eucharist; however, you do not need to convince them. They have no hold over you wrt where you go to church; those “hoops” are meaningless to you.

BTW, I hope someone has recommended the book *Home Sweet Rome *by Scott and Kimblerly Hahn. It is the book that brought me back to the Church :slight_smile: It explains a great deal about the theological differences and their basises (?) between Protestantism and Catholicism, is very easy to read, and also describes their personal reactions to their situation, where he wanted to convert and she did not.

If the people who knew Jesus and were his direct followers believed that Eucharist was the body and blood of Christ, then that would have to be considered. Here is a good collection of original sources that indicate that they all took the Eucharist for granted. It was understood. Note especially the source from 1 Corinthians, which IS in the bible.

Recall that John is writing the Gospel to explain what Jesus said and what he meant. Jesus did NOT leave us a written book. The bible did not fall from the sky. People understood Jesus’ meaning and are trying to convey it to US. Note that the author explains to us that the apostles did not understand what Jesus meant about the temple. The author then tells us the meaning, as he understood it. Then we have Jesus explaining to Nicodemus that he misunderstands the meaning of being born again. SO the author records this for us so that we can get to the meaning intended by the author - namely that being born again is baptism. Finally with John 6, if the apostles misunderstood the literal meaning, then the author would point it out for us. But instead, it is just the opposite. The author reinforces the literal meaning here.

These Jews believed that the blood contains the spirit. Therefore when Jesus tells them to drink his blood they know that this is the ONLY way that they can share in Jesus’ spirit and life. They must actually drink his blood to receive his spirit and life. They are shocked because this would kill Jesus. So he comforts them to let them know that they will be able to see him ascend to heaven body and all, even while he is able to give them his spirit and life through his blood. He will be fine! Even though they actually will be drinking his blood. How? They do not know yet.

There are no hoops to jump through. You made up your own hoops and chose to jump through them when you willingly entered into the debate.

Catholics don’t reason the faith and then join because it makes sense. We assent to the faith first.

**Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” ** (Mark 9:24)

We choose to believe. Understanding comes later. Forget about the Baptists. You have a choice to make.


It’s courteous to debate people and to offer a reason for your hope.

But you don’t have to be a great theologian with an answer for everything, or a great researcher who can quote everybody, in order to have an opinion or a hope or to join the Church. You don’t have to defeat anybody in debate, either.

The important thing is to do what you know is right. Have courage and hang in there.

Re: John, all the Gospels and the other NT books note a lot of different things that are essential to obtaining eternal life, just as they note a lot of different stuff that will bar you from eternal life if you keep doing it.

The Christian life isn’t a list of mutually exclusive things. Baptism is essential, the Eucharist is essential, receiving the Holy Spirit is essential, being sealed by the Holy Spirit is essential, doing good works and avoiding evil is essential, remaining a branch of the Vine is essential, being a tree that gives fruit is essential, being grain that grows and stays rooted is essential, being a grain of wheat that dies in order to have new life is essential, and on and on. There’s a pretty big to-do list in the Gospels!

I think Jimmy Akin has a list of all the stuff that Jesus says you gotta do. I will try and find it for you.

By the way, if you need ridiculously detailed and indexed answers for ridiculous numbers of debate questions, Dave Armstrong is the really really detailed research apologist. His blog is called “Biblical Evidence of Catholicism” and it’s over on Patheos now. He’s also on Facebook, so you can ask him questions and get answers pretty quickly.

He also has books and books worth of stuff to read, and his ebooks are super-cheap or free.

Thanks for the encouragement! I just feel like I need to convince people for some reason,and its a pretty big burden.

If you read the “part 1” of this situation, you may understand my difficulty. I want to be as prepared as possible to have an answer for the viscious anti-Catholic family members I am sure to encounter. I’m already getting a ton of push back.

This is actually correct. Although there is an implicit expectation that Baptized persons will participate in the Sacramental life of the Church, including Eucharist, only Baptism is required.

  1. There is a recurrent motif in John where Jesus will make a radical statement and his followers misunderstand what he is saying, taking him literally. See the temple destruction discussion (John 2:19-22), the discussion with Nicodemus on being born again (John 3:3-6), and his discussion about water (John 4:14-15).

Indeed, there is this motif, but that’s not what happens in John 6. Jesus digs in, and many leave him because of it.

Even one of the Twelve Apostles turns against Jesus because of this teaching. Check out the final verse of John 6.

Join the Church. Debate later.

That’s what the Sacrament of Confirmation is all about. It is your personal participation in Pentecost, when the disciples walked into the street and preached Jesus without fear of dying. You need to be confirmed.

Join the Church first. Everything else is secondary to that, a roadblock send by Satan to divert you from what you are trying to do.

Christ walked the road to Calvary with the Cross on his shoulder. The cursed him and spit on him along the way but he kept going in spite of falling three times and argued with no one. You do the same. Forget about debate and join the Church.



I think that’s wrong. I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people who would say that sort of leap of faith theology borders on Fideism. I don’t know if I agree with them, but some Catholic philosophers like Edward Feser actually believe this sort of emphasis on the Will over the Intellect beginning with Duns and Occam is what gave rise to the Reformation.

Yes, it all doesn’t make sense as a metaphor. Metaphors have to make sense. If Jesus says, “I am the Way,” or if He says “I am the Door,” these statements make sense as metaphors. You can imagine what He means. But when He says, his flesh, his blood? In what way are they metaphors? I can’t imagine how His flesh and blood can be thought of as metaphor. Therefore the only alternative is that they are literal.

Yes! That is a great way to put it. The Jews had a prohibition against drinking blood. The life of an animal was in its blood. Now, we get our life from Jesus, and Jesus’ life is in His blood, so we get our life from drinking his blood! The blood prohibition is over, and now we are not only permitted, but required, to drink His blood. No wonder Jesus says, “If you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.”

First, the bolded part *is only his *interpretation and theology.

We’ve been in a similar “debate” with a close family member and a close friend. Both have tried to refute the Eucharist saying pretty much the same thing as the church elder you are “debating” but, honestly, I don’t see how they even have an argument to stand on considering the following:

  1. Jesus’s actual words in John 6.

  2. Jesus’s actual words at the Last Supper narrative.

  3. Paul exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11:29 to “discern the body of Christ” and that not doing so brings judgment and condemnation.

  4. The writings of the early church fathers show a definitive belief in the Real Presence in the early church. Here’s a good link to the quotes: Real Presence

  5. ALL of Christendom believed in the Real Presence (Catholics and Orthodox) for 1,500 years until the Reformation.

  6. Even many of the Reformers believed in a type of real presence (not identical to transubstantiation but definitely NOT symbolic only).

I have a very hard time with any person or denomination who discounts the words of the early church fathers as irrelevant or wrong about essential beliefs of Christianity when these people were being fed to lions for their faith. :mad:

My favorite ECF quote is from St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 107 AD) who wrote to the church in Rome (on his way to Rome to be martyred):

*“Allow me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose means it will be granted me to reach God. I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.”

It’s interesting that he also wrote in his letter to the church in Smyrna:

*"Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead."

I mean, how do you argue with this? :shrug:

  1. Yes, it IS required, if we know His teaching on it. Of course, God can save people outside of His sacraments, but that doesn’t mean we get to ignore them or think we can get to Heaven without them (if we are aware of them). And Jesus Himself said we must be born of water and spirit (i.e. baptism). It’s funny how twisted they must make the Scriptures to fit their interpretation.

Jesus instituted the New Covenant. We must participate in this covenant. It has formal structure and required practices and duties we must uphold. Just a few of the requirements of the New Covenant from the NT…

we must be baptized,
we must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood
we must forgive others
we must clothe the naked
we must feed the poor
we must visit the prisoners
we must tend to the sick
we must take care of our families
we must take care of widows and orphans
we must pray
we must fast
etc etc etc

The New Covenant is not something you just mentally assent to and you’re done.

  1. As noted above, Jesus is literal in all those passages. His temple was destroyed, you must be baptized, water really did come out of His side, we really must eat His Flesh. And when people were confused, the Gospel writer cleared it up. Notice the gospel writer didn’t clear anything up in John 6. That’s because the people understood Him. They rejected His teaching, but they understood Him.

I’ve been thinking a lot about your problem…

The thing is, John was really concerned not just with Baptism (although his Gospel is pretty darned concerned with that, and some people think it was written in part to teach people more about Baptism), but with all the Covenantal things that Jesus was instituting and practicing. The whole idea of covenants in the ancient Middle East was not a contract, but a way of adopting people into your family so that there was peace between you.

The whole story arc of salvation history is that God is adopting humans into His family, to the point that eventually He got Himself incarnated and born as a member of Mary’s human family, and as Joseph’s adopted son. So it’s covenants everywhere in John’s Gospel, too, and the Sacraments all promote this in various ways.

Jesus was concerned with marriage and did his first miracle at a wedding, and declared Himself to be the Bridegroom. John the Baptist also named Jesus as the Bridegroom. Marriage is how two families are covenantally joined together; and marriage is the closest comparison to God and Israel, as well as to Jesus and the Church.

Jesus was concerned with the covenantal meal and sacrifice of Passover, so much that He set Himself up to be the once-for-all Passover Lamb and instituted the Eucharist at Passover time.

The Eucharist is a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb, as described in Revelation by John. (Or if you don’t think it was John, it was somebody trying really really hard to deal with Johannine themes in a Johannine way.)

Baptism is new birth, and Communion is celebrating the wedding of the One Who gives us new birth. They’re tied together, just like love, marriage, and the baby carriage in the jump rope rhyme.

I don’t know if this will be a helpful line of argument, though, as I don’t know how much your old church goes into the Church as Bride, or whether that’s not really talked about.

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