I posted a similar question to this in another forum. Hopefully someone here can help me. I am debating the Bread of Life Discuorse with a friend of mine who is a Calvinist Presbyterian. He is pretty knowledgable, especially when it comes to anti Catholic claims.
His basic point is that Christ words were Spiritual, not literal and that the bread is, of course, representative of His Body, but not actually it.
He has made a pretty good case, and being a beginner, I am not able to answer it on my own. I was able to get him to read through some of the early Father’s writings, but he found Tertulian using the word “represents” one time. While it was out of context, for him, that discounts all that all of the fathers had to say.
Below is his latest response.
OK, So now I am supposed to tell you why Christ let some people walk after he told them they were to eat his flesh? Now Geoff, you know ANY answer I give other than “cause they did not want to eat real flesh” will be wrong so I am not gonna even bother! You know I am right there. Since the passage does not say, you nor I have any proof to back either of our ideas. But, I will offer my paraphrase on the text on the build up to that point. Once again, context is important and the whole chapter revolves around the theme of Bread. Remember, this starts out 1 day earlier with the loaves [BREAD] and fishes feeding 5 thousand men… Quite a miracle. The 12 sneak out at night, Christ comes to them in the middle of the sea that night and they all land on the other side of the lake. The 5000 [or some of them] wake up and follow Christ over to the other side where he says “you follow me only cause you want the bread”. NOT real followers , wouldn’t you agree? Then he says this bread makes you hungry , but the bread from heaven . when you eat it you will never hunger again. CLEARLY, they now hear this as “physical bread” but we all know it is NOT that cause we , as Christians DO hunger physically. They quickly ask for this bread instead. He is talking spiritual now and they do not get it. He says the famous “I am the bread of heaven” and hits them [wrongly interpreting as they do] you must eat my flesh and drink my blood. “
NOW, This kind of teaching in NOT KNEW from Christ. He says, if someone wants to be his disciple, they must HATE their father , mother and family otherwise they cannot be his disciple. Do we teach we must hate our parents to be Christians? He taught we are to cut off our hands if they cause us to sin. Do we cut off body parts after we sin? We are to come as little children to Him. Do we get on our knees and crawl into church? We are to be born again…?
So when he says “we are to eat his flesh” there is MUCH precedent that what he is teaching is not on the surface. Back to the story. The not so dedicated followers who were after a meal of physical bread split. The disciples then go to him [the dedicated ones] and ask him to explain himself cause he just said they are to break the jewish law by drinking blood. Christ then says “my words are spirit and life”… Now he did not say from the “Spirit” and the Spirit is not capitalized and it is NOT a member of the trinity he is referring to. He said they are spirit. Get out your thinking caps, but I am of the persuasion that – and a child can easily understand this interpretation- that he says he is teaching a spiritual principle. Just as being born again, “hating your father, cutting off your eyes”,etc. He has taught like this MANY times before. All of a sudden we abandon his pattern and take him literally? That is out of context to me!. Out of context with how he has taught previously. Why did he let those go? They were not true followers, he tells them that while they are there.