Clement of Alex. interprets John 6 symbolically?!


#1

I am presently reading Clement of Alexandria’s *The Instructor. *Overall it is a good book, but there are a few passages that seem to unnerve me more than a little because they tend to favor the figurative Protestant interpretation of John 6, rather than the literal interpretation used by Catholics.

Here is a link to the book:

newadvent.org/fathers/02091.htm

The discussion of the “flesh” and “blood” in John 6 covers a few paragraphs, but it really begins about 1/3 of the way down the book with the paragraph beginning with, “Thus, then, the milk which is perfect is perfect nourishment, and brings to that consummation which cannot cease. Wherefore also the same milk and honey were promised in the rest.”

Could you please pay special attention to the following and tell me what you think:

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.

Thus in many ways the Word is figuratively described, as meat, and flesh, and food, and bread, and blood, and milk. The Lord is all these, to give enjoyment to us who have believed on Him. Let no one then think it strange, when we say that the Lord’s blood is figuratively represented as milk. For is it not figuratively represented as wine? “Who washes,” it is said, “His garment in wine, His robe in the blood of the grape.” In His Own Spirit He says He will deck the body of the Word; as certainly by His own Spirit He will nourish those who hunger for the Word.

Personally I have difficulty exactly understanding what Clement is trying to get across in these passages. He clearly references John 6, but he makes no comment on the Real Presence, or of the Eucharist. Could someone maybe explain what is going on here?


#2

[quote=Madaglan]I am presently reading Clement of Alexandria’s *The Instructor. *Overall it is a good book, but there are a few passages that seem to unnerve me more than a little because they tend to favor the figurative Protestant interpretation of John 6, rather than the literal interpretation used by Catholics.

Here is a link to the book:

newadvent.org/fathers/02091.htm

The discussion of the “flesh” and “blood” in John 6 covers a few paragraphs, but it really begins about 1/3 of the way down the book with the paragraph beginning with, “Thus, then, the milk which is perfect is perfect nourishment, and brings to that consummation which cannot cease. Wherefore also the same milk and honey were promised in the rest.”

Could you please pay special attention to the following and tell me what you think:

Personally I have difficulty exactly understanding what Clement is trying to get across in these passages. He clearly references John 6, but he makes no comment on the Real Presence, or of the Eucharist. Could someone maybe explain what is going on here?
[/quote]

I am not an expert on early Alexandrain theology but the school was noted for some Unorthodox teaching and specialized in symbolizing past the literal meaning of scripture.
Noitce that Clement of Alexandria is not a saint and his student was not only not a saint he created a heresy of course that would be Origen. Clement and Origen played with interpretation using symbols and signs for John 6 but our Cathechism does this as well it does not take away from the primary meaning and in other passages both Clement and Origen admit to the same literal interpretation of the eucharist that we have. From the little I know Alexandrians interpreted the Bible in 2 senses the literal which I have shown below and symbolicially almost a gnosis approach that only the school of Alexandria could interpret many times this got them in trouble. This is the approach that you are quoting.

"For the blood of the grape–that is, the Word–desired to be mixed with water, as His blood is mingled with salvation. And the blood of the Lord is twofold. For there is the blood of His flesh, by which we are redeemed from corruption; and the spiritual, that by which we are anointed. And to drink the blood of Jesus, is to become partaker of the Lord’s immortality; the Spirit being the energetic principle of the Word, as blood is of flesh. Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both–of the water and of the Word–is called Eucharist, renowned and glorious grace; and they who by faith partake of it are sanctified both in body and soul."
Clement of Alexandria,The Instructor,2(ante A.D. 202),in ANF,II:242


#3

John 6 is Eucharistic, Maccabees. You are 100% correct. That is why there are “five” loaves and “two” fish.

To understand how, you have to understand the Old Testament, but you have to begin that trip with Paul.

At 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul essentially gives Christ the title, “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin.”

What does that mean?

It refers to the fact that Christ, though sinless, atoned for our sins by suffering and dying, to pay the price for our sinfulness exacted by God’s own perfect justice. By this means, Christ ultimately ended-up being treated as though He were sin, itself.

So, Paul calls Him, “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin.”

This is symbolized throughout the Bible, by symbolizing Christ with SIN symbols!

So, in the Book of Numbers, we see Moses saving the Israelites from snake bites by having them gaze upon a bronze serpent on a pole – a picture of people being saved from sin by having faith in “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin” on the cross.

Well, the same thing occurs with fish.

The Abyss, and analogs like ocean and lake, are “the sea of damnable souls” in the Bible.

Fish in the Abyss and oceans and lakes in the Bible are “damnable souls” in the sea of damnable souls.

So, just as we see Christ, in Luke 8:22-23, falling asleep in a boat during a storm, we see Jonah, in Jonah 1, falling asleep in a boat during a storm, and he is awakened an tossed into the sea, where he is swallowed by a fish – a picture of Christ “becoming sin.”

In the Book of Tobit, at Tobit 6:3+, we see the Jesus Fish – Jesus “made to be sin” – coming up out of the river and symbolically removing Tobiah’s sins by trying to bite off his dirty feet, and then being captured, killed and eaten – eating the actual flesh of the sacrificed Jesus.

Well, that is what the folks are doing in John 6 – eating the actual flesh of the Jesus fish – Jesus in the form of “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin.”

There are “two” of them because “two” means “Church” in Bible symbology.

This is “Church Jesus fish” – the flesh of “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin” from the Church.

Juxtaposed with the flesh of “Him-Who-did-not-know-sin-Who-was-made-to-be-sin” in the story is bread – five loaves.

This is called “Identification by Juxtaposition” – two things are laid side-by-side to tell us “A = B” – the five loaves are the “same stuff” as the Jesus fish.

The fact that there are “five” loaves confirms this.

In Bible symbology, “five” = “Jesus.” This bread, in other words, is “Jesus stuff.”

So, believe me, you are right – John 6 is utterly Eucharistic.


#4

Maccabbees:

Noitce that Clement of Alexandria is not a saint and his student was not only not a saint he created a heresy of course that would be Origen.

I would challenge this point most vehemently.

Origen NEVER challenged Church teaching on ANY point of doctrine.

An amazing thinker, many of his thoughts and beliefs were later contradicted by the Church. It was impossible for him to retract these controversial perspectives when the Church ruled on them, however, since he died in 232 A.D.

There were heresies formulated in his name (“Origenism”) many years after his death. Those who held to these perspectives AFTER the Church had ruled contrarily, were indeed heretics.

Origen was always contrite and humble, offering at one point to be apprised of any teaching that the bishop opposed, so that he might retract it. His worst nightmare was to be separated in any way from the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

From New Advent at:

Origen

In accordance with those principles Origen constantly appeals to ecclesiastical preaching, ecclesiastical teaching, and the ecclesiastical rule of faith (kanon). He accepts only four Canonical Gospels because tradition does not receive more; he admits the necessity of baptism of infants because it is in accordance with the practice of the Church founded on Apostolic tradition; he warns the interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, not to rely on his own judgment, but “on the rule of the Church instituted by Christ”. For, he adds, we have only two lights to guide us here below, Christ and the Church; the Church reflects faithfully the light received from Christ, as the moon reflects the rays of the sun. The distinctive mark of the Catholic is to belong to the Church, to depend on the Church outside of which there is no salvation; on the contrary, he who leaves the Church walks in darkness, he is a heretic. It is through the principle of authority that Origen is wont to unmask and combat doctrinal errors. It is the principle of authority, too, that he invokes when he enumerates the dogmas of faith. A man animated with such sentiments may have made mistakes, because he is human, but his disposition of mind is essentially Catholic and he does not deserve to be ranked among the promoters of heresy.

Please be charitable to those men and women “born before their time” who NEVER denied the Church’s authority or any proclaimed doctrine of the faith.

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#5

Hi Madaglan,

I would not let Clement get you down too much. There were many Church fathers who interpreted John 6 figuratively.

Augustine on John 6:
“If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,’ says Christ, ‘and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.’ This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.” - Augustine (On Christian Doctrine, 3:16:24)

Basil on John 6:
“He that eateth me,’ He says, ‘he also shall live because of me;’ for we eat His flesh, and drink His blood, being made through His incarnation and His visible life partakers of His Word and of His Wisdom. For all His mystic sojourn among us He called flesh and blood, and set forth the teaching consisting of practical science, of physics, and of theology, whereby our soul is nourished and is meanwhile trained for the contemplation of actual realities. This is perhaps the intended meaning of what He says.” - Basil (Letter 8:4)

Tertullian on John 6
"He says, it is true, that ‘the flesh profiteth nothing;’ but then, as in the former case, the meaning must be regulated by the subject which is spoken of. Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, ‘It is the spirit that quickeneth;’ and then added, ‘The flesh profiteth nothing,’–meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: ‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’ In a like sense He had previously said: ‘He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.’ Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appelation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, we ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith. Now, just before the passage in hand, He had declared His flesh to be ‘the bread which cometh down from heaven,’ impressing on His hearers constantly under the figure of necessary food the memory of their forefathers, who had preferred the bread and flesh of Egypt to their divine calling." - Tertullian (On the Ressurection of the Flesh, 37)

Just because f few Church fathers do not interpret a Scripture the way the Catholic Church does, does not necessarily make the Catholic Church wrong. The best thing to do is to let all voices be heard and respected, then make a decision according to the best evidence.

Michael


#6

Now, Tertullian…there was a genuine heretic.

From New Advent at:
Tertullian

It was after the year 206 that he joined the Montanist sect, and he seems to have definitively separated from the Church about 211 (Harnack) or 213 (Monceaux). After writing more virulently against the Church than even against heathen and persecutors, he separated from the Montanists and founded a sect of his own. The remnant of the Tertullianists was reconciled to the Church by St. Augustine. A number of the works of Tertullian are on special points of belief or discipline.

Many of his writings that pre-date his departure from the Church are very worthwhile to read.

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#7

Bible reader , no offense but ur earlier post does not deal with what was aked. He asked you why clemet interpreted JOhn 6 symobollically? He knos John 6 is Eucharistic. ANyway so Clement in one particular passage interprets John 6 as symbolic…THis does not necessarily mean he denied the real presence or saw JOhn 6 entirely symbolic…It is clear that whenever someone publicy denied the a cartholic teaching there was outrage…Council were called…people were publicly reprimanded etc…It is alo cler that for almost 11 centuries NOONE DENIED THE REAL PRESENCE—Berengarius of tours was the first and then he quicly recanted and acceped the true teaching


#8

[quote=michaelp]Hi Madaglan,

I would not let Clement get you down too much. There were many Church fathers who interpreted John 6 figuratively.
[/quote]

With all due respect, this is a gross misrepresentation of the ECF’s. We have to take more into account just the words, but to understand why the Father’s wrote what they wrote. I find it irresponsible to suggest just because one text expounds a “symbolic” interpretation, his belief in the Real Presence is summarily denied. Ludwig Ott makes a very good point:

The Eucharistic doctrine expounded by St. Augustine is interpreted in a purely spiritual way by most Protestant writers on the history of dogmas. Despite his insistence on the symbolical explanation he does not exclude the Real Presence. In association with the words of institution he concurs with the older Church tradition in expressing belief in the Real Presence . . .

[font=Arial]When in the Fathers’ writings, esp. those of St. Augustine, side by side with the clear attestations of the Real Presence, many obscure symbolically-sounding utterances are found also, the following points must be noted for the proper understanding of such passages: (1) The Early Fathers were bound by the discipline of the secret, which referred above all to the Eucharist (cf. Origen, In Lev. hom. 9, 10); (2) The absence of any heretical counter-proposition often resulted in a certain carelessness of expression, to which must be added the lack of a developed terminology to distinguish the sacramental mode of existence of Christ’s body from its natural mode of existence once on earth; (3) The Fathers were concerned to resist a grossly sensual conception of the Eucharistic Banquet and to stress the necessity of the spiritual reception in Faith and in Charity (in contradistinction to the external, merely sacramental reception); passages often refer to the symbolical character of the Eucharist as ‘the sign of unity’ (St. Augustine); this in no wise excludes the Real Presence.

[/font]

To illustrate my point concerning Augustine, also take these quotes into account:

The bread which you see on the altar is, sanctified by the word of God, the body of Christ; that chalice, or rather what is contained in the chalice, is, sanctified by the word of God, the blood of Christ.
(Sermo 227; on p. 377)

Christ bore Himself in His hands, when He offered His body saying: “this is my body.”
(Enarr. in Ps. 33 Sermo 1, 10; on p. 377)

Nobody eats this flesh without previously adoring it.
[font=Verdana](Enarr. in Ps. 98, 9; on p. 387)

The Sacrifice of our times is the Body and Blood of the Priest Himself . . . Recognize then in the Bread what hung upon the tree; in the chalice what flowed from His side.
[font=Verdana](Sermo iii. 1-2)

(quotes are from Ott, “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”

[/font][/font]

[quote=michaelp]Just because f few Church fathers do not interpret a Scripture the way the Catholic Church does, does not necessarily make the Catholic Church wrong. The best thing to do is to let all voices be heard and respected, then make a decision according to the best evidence.

Michael
[/quote]

I think the real issue here, is that the ECF’s interpreted John 6 in both a literal and symbolic way. There are many who argue against the Church’s position, by simpling taking the symbolic language apart from the literal and saying “See, this Father also believed the Eucharist was symbolic”. This, of course is quite misleading, and serves a pretty clear agenda. Without delving too deep into Clement’s writings I’d say this is the case as well.

Actually, glancing at the Catholic Answers tract on the Real Presence, we find this by Clement:

“’Eat my flesh,’ [Jesus] says, ‘and drink my blood.’ The Lord supplies us with these intimate nutrients, he delivers over his flesh and pours out his blood, and nothing is lacking for the growth of his children” (*The Instructor of Children *1:6:43:3 [A.D. 191])


#9

With all due respect, this is a gross misrepresentation of the ECF’s. We have to take more into account just the words, but to understand why the Father’s wrote what they wrote. I find it irresponsible to suggest just because one text expounds a “symbolic” interpretation, his belief in the Real Presence is summarily denied. Ludwig Ott makes a very good point:

With due respect to you as well (!), I was not talking about anything but the interpretation of John 6. Although the Eucharist is relevant for the RC interpretation of John 6, it was only the indirect subject of this thread. The interpretation of John 6 was the direct subject. I was just responding saying that many people in the early Chruch did not see John 6 as literal, as I don’t. But this is not a final death blow to your understanding of the Eucharist.

My point is that the opinion of these particular Church fathers about non-literal interpretation John 6 may be wrong. The regula fidei did not include an interpretation of John 6 since there is division. So, ultimately, you have to look at the context of the book, while respecting the views of the Fathers on this issue, and make a decision.

Michael


#10

[quote=Salmon]Maccabbees:

I would challenge this point most vehemently.

Origen NEVER challenged Church teaching on ANY point of doctrine.

An amazing thinker, many of his thoughts and beliefs were later contradicted by the Church. It was impossible for him to retract these controversial perspectives when the Church ruled on them, however, since he died in 232 A.D.

There were heresies formulated in his name (“Origenism”) many years after his death. Those who held to these perspectives AFTER the Church had ruled contrarily, were indeed heretics.

Origen was always contrite and humble, offering at one point to be apprised of any teaching that the bishop opposed, so that he might retract it. His worst nightmare was to be separated in any way from the Church that Jesus Christ founded.

From New Advent at:

Origen

Please be charitable to those men and women “born before their time” who NEVER denied the Church’s authority or any proclaimed doctrine of the faith.

Peace in Christ…Salmon
[/quote]

The church councils are always right my friend Origen went beyond Orthodox speculation he was the founder of his own heresy. I did not say he was a heretic he died in good standing with the curch he never left the church like Tertullian but some of his teachings were later to be ruled unOrthodox. I am sure he would have retracted his former opinions as he was loyal child of the church. There is little doubt that our friend Origen is in heaven as he loved God and the Catholic Church but I am sure he would admit his mistakes as a theologian.


#11

[quote=Maccabees]The church councils are always right my friend
[/quote]

Yes, they are and you are correct. The question remains:

Were Origen and Origenism anathematized? Many learned writers believe so; an equal number deny that they were condemned; most modern authorities are either undecided or reply with reservations.

…taken from the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia article supplied earlier.

Pope Vigilius opposed convening the council that condemned Origen. If the Pope opposes the council, does that make it a “Church council”?

From the same article:

It is a fact that Popes Vigilius, Pelagius I (556-61), Pelagius II (579-90), Gregory the Great (590-604), in treating of the fifth council deal only with the Three Chapters, make no mention of Origenism, and speak as if they did not know of its condemnation.

It gets a bit murky as more shenanigans are uncovered. Please keep in mind that this has been a controversey for more than 1500 years. I’m not certain we can sort out all the facts at this point.

[quote=Maccabees] Origen went beyond Orthodox speculation he was the founder of his own heresy.
[/quote]

It is on this point that we disagree. While it is true that long after Origen’s death, many of his speculations were obstinately held as truth by some heretics after the Church had ruled against them.

I remember having been taught as a young boy about “Limbo” as the destination for unbaptized babies.

This falls into the category known as “theological speculation”. If the Church definitively rules at a later date that “limbo” does not exist, can we retroactively condemn those who taught it as “founding heresy”?

I would contend that one cannot promulgate heresy unless one holds to beliefs that contravene Church teaching. Origen NEVER did that.

I cannot find any example of his erroneous speculations that flew in the face of dogma. In those cases where he was found to be incorrect (for example the pre-existence of the soul prior to conception), the Church only defined the dogma that contradicted Origen much later (usually after his death).

[quote=Maccabees]I did not say he was a heretic
[/quote]

Correct. You said:

he was the founder of his own heresy.

in truth, “Origenism” came to be centuries after his death as his speculations were held as truth by genuine heretics after the Church contravened those teachings.

[quote=Maccabees]he died in good standing with the curch he never left the church like Tertullian but some of his teachings were later to be ruled unOrthodox. I am sure he would have retracted his former opinions as he was loyal child of the church. There is little doubt that our friend Origen is in heaven as he loved God and the Catholic Church but I am sure he would admit his mistakes as a theologian.
[/quote]

Perhaps this is the most important aspect of the whole affair, and we do agree on this point.

I appreciate your time and input.

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#12

Originally Quoted by mtr01: Ludwig Ott makes a very good point:

Could you please give me a source? It looks like this book might interest me. :cool:


#13

[quote=Madaglan]Could you please give me a source? It looks like this book might interest me. :cool:
[/quote]

http://shop.catholic.com/online-store/scstore/B0154.JPG

available here: Ludwig Ott at Catholic Answers

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#14

[quote=michaelp]With due respect to you as well (!), I was not talking about anything but the interpretation of John 6. Although the Eucharist is relevant for the RC interpretation of John 6, it was only the indirect subject of this thread. The interpretation of John 6 was the direct subject. I was just responding saying that many people in the early Chruch did not see John 6 as literal, as I don’t. But this is not a final death blow to your understanding of the Eucharist.

My point is that the opinion of these particular Church fathers about non-literal interpretation John 6 may be wrong. The regula fidei did not include an interpretation of John 6 since there is division. So, ultimately, you have to look at the context of the book, while respecting the views of the Fathers on this issue, and make a decision.

Michael

[/quote]

I understand your point, but I think you misunderstand my point. Picking a single text from a Church Father that favors a symbolic interpretation, and then declaring that said Father therefore believed in a symbolic interpretation only, is misleading. This is why I made the statement about understanding why a certain Father wrote in that way. It is also why I posted 3 or 4 quotes by Augustine demonstrating he undoubtedly believed in a literal interpretation of John 6. The fact is, the Fathers who wrote of the symbolism of John 6, did so as one aspect of its interpretation. They also write of the face-value literal interpretation as well, as is evidenced by Augustine and Clement.


#15

[quote=mtr01]IThis is why I made the statement about understanding why a certain Father wrote in that way. It is also why I posted 3 or 4 quotes by Augustine demonstrating he undoubtedly believed in a literal interpretation of John 6.
[/quote]

Those quotes did not have anything to do with John 6. (BTW: I agree with those quotes from Augustine). I just don’t read them through Catholic eyes!


#16

[quote=michaelp]many people in the early Chruch did not see John 6 as literal . . . The regula fidei did not include an interpretation of John 6 since there is division. So, ultimately, you have to look at the context of the book, while respecting the views of the Fathers on this issue, and make a decision.
[/quote]

The above reflects wishful thinking by anti-Catholics.

“the early Church took John 6 literally. In fact, there is no record from the early centuries that implies Christians doubted the constant Catholic interpretation. There exists no document in which the literal interpretation is opposed and only the metaphorical accepted.” (Christ in the Eucharist)

Your challenge, michaelp, is to produce such a document.


#17

[quote=stumbler]The above reflects wishful thinking by anti-Catholics.

“the early Church took John 6 literally. In fact, there is no record from the early centuries that implies Christians doubted the constant Catholic interpretation. There exists no document in which the literal interpretation is opposed and only the metaphorical accepted.” (Christ in the Eucharist)

Your challenge, michaelp, is to produce such a document.
[/quote]

This was exactly my point, stumbler. In every instance that I find of and ECF discussing a symbolic interpretation, it is inevitably accompanied by a literal interpretation as well. Michaelp didn’t like my Augustine quotes because they didn’t mention John 6 explicitly (I can’t figure out how someone could adhere to a metaphorical interpretation of John 6, and still believe in the Real Presence). Perhaps he’ll like this one better:

I am the living bread, which came down from heaven." For that reason "living,’’ because I came down from heaven. The manna also came down from heaven; but the manna was only a shadow, this is the truth. “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.” when did flesh comprehend this flesh which He called bread? That is called flesh which flesh does not comprehend, and for that reason all the more flesh does not comprehend it, that it is called flesh. For they were terrified at this: they said it was too much for them; they thought it impossible. “Is my flesh,” saith He, “for the life of the world.” Believers know the body of Christ, if they neglect not to be the body of Christ. Let them become the body of Christ, if they wish to live by the Spirit of Christ. None lives by the Spirit of Christ but the body of Christ. The body of Christ cannnot live but by the Spirit of Christ. It is for this that the Apostle Paul, expounding this bread, says: “One bread,” saith he, “we being many are one body.”(2) O mystery of piety! O sign of unity! O bond of charity! He that would live has where to live, has whence to live. Let him draw near, let him believe; let him be embodied, that he may be made to live. Let him not shrink from the compact of members; let him not be a rotten member that deserves to be cut off; let him not be a deformed member whereof to be ashamed; let him be a fair, fit, and sound member; let him cleave to the body, live for God by God: now let him labor on earth, that hereafter he may reign in heaven.

Trac 26:14 on John


#18

Something I was reflecting on earlier: In the early liturgies and practiced among the Eastern Church until recently, all catechumens and other non-Christians were excluded from that latter part of the liturgy during which the Bread and Wine were sanctified and became the Body and Blood. If these early liturgies reflect the mindset of the early Christians, then we know that the Eucharist was in many ways a secret. Hence you read early on of false accusationsn that the Christians are cannibals. Perhaps the early Christians not to write in detail about the Eucharist because it was central to their worship, and because they did not want the mystery to be abused by it becoming known to the pagans. Instead they decided that only those spiritually mature enough in (after properly taught as a catechumen, being baptized and becoming a member of the Church) could one accept the Eucharist. It seems to me that the Eucharist is described most clearly in those cases in which the fullness of the faith must be shown, such as when Justin Martyr in his first apology needs to set the facts of Christianity straight with the emperor

Another insight. The Catholic Church is not the only Church that believes in the Real Presence. The Orthodox and other schismatic Christians in the Orient also believe in the Real Presence. If the Western Church invented the Real Presence (among other beliefs) during the Middle Ages, as many Protestants claim, then why do these different religious traditions in different cultures, “untainted” by the West, still hold to these “Catholic” beliefs?

Is it likely that various “Churches,” in many ways theologically separated, would result in essentially the same so-called “erroneous” understanding of the Eucharist, whereas Protestantism, which historically did not begin until the 16th century, should have the true, apostolic understanding of the Eucharist?


#19

[quote=mtr01]This was exactly my point, stumbler. In every instance that I find of and ECF discussing a symbolic interpretation, it is inevitably accompanied by a literal interpretation as well. Michaelp didn’t like my Augustine quotes because they didn’t mention John 6 explicitly (I can’t figure out how someone could adhere to a metaphorical interpretation of John 6, and still believe in the Real Presence). Perhaps he’ll like this one better:
[/quote]

Hi mt,

I have a question for you. Are you saying that the only lesson that Jesus was trying to teach in John 6 was that the disciples need to participate in the meal of bread and wine?

Jeff


#20

[quote=jphilapy]Hi mt,

I have a question for you. Are you saying that the only lesson that Jesus was trying to teach in John 6 was that the disciples need to participate in the meal of bread and wine?

Jeff
[/quote]

Hi Jeff,

What I’m saying is that it makes no sense to me that someone who interprets John 6 only symbolically or metaphorically (i.e. Our Lord didn’t really mean for us to eat his flesh and drink his blood) would also believe in the Real Presence (i.e. the bread and wine truly becomes the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ for us to eat and drink) in the Eucharist.

Logically, if one believes in the Real Presence, they must believe in the literal, face-value meaning of John 6.


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