How does a Catholic respond to this, John 6:53 literal or figurative?


#1

How does a Catholic refute this assertion? I’m sure I could come up with a definitive response perusing through my apologetics links as well as this site, but what would be yours?

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John 6:53 - Unless you eat My flesh

Unless You Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and Drink His Blood You Have No Life In You

Are these words of Jesus from John 6:53 to be taken literally or figuratively? The Roman Catholic Church teaches the context of John chapter six and the above headlined verse 53 are literal. Thus Jesus is giving absolute and unconditional requirements for eternal life. In fact, this literal interpretation forms the foundation for Rome’s doctrine of transubstantiation – the miraculous changing of bread and wine into the living Christ, His body and blood, soul and divinity. Each Catholic priest is said to have the power to call Jesus down from the right hand of the Father when he elevates the wafer and whispers the words “Hoc corpus meus est.” Catholics believe as they consume the lifeless wafer they are actually eating and drinking the living body and blood of Jesus Christ. This is a vital and important step in their salvation and a doctrine they must believe and accept to become a Catholic.

If priests indeed have the exclusive power to change finite bread and wine into the body and blood of the infinite Christ, and if indeed consuming His body and blood is necessary for salvation, then the whole world must become Catholic to escape the wrath of God. On the other hand, if Jesus was speaking in figurative language then this teaching becomes the most blasphemous and deceptive hoax any religion could impose on its people. There is no middle ground. Therefore the question of utmost importance is – Was the message Jesus conveyed to the Jewish multitude to be understood as literal or figurative? Rome has never presented a good argument for defending its literal interpretation. Yet there are at least seven convincing reasons why this passage must be taken figuratively.

Here are his reasons pro-gospel.org/01/ea-019.php

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#2

This ought to be a fun topic!

Here’s the 7 reasons our brothers don’t agree with us. Enjoy:

Counterfeit Miracle

                 *There is no Biblical precedent where something supernatural occurred where the outward evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. (The wafer and wine look, taste and feel the same before and after the supposed miracle of transubstantion). When Jesus changed water into wine, all the elements of water changed into the actual elements of wine.*

                 ***Drinking                      Blood Forbidden***

                 *The Law of Moses strictly forbade Jews from drinking blood (Leviticus 17:10-14) A literal interpretation would have Jesus teaching the Jews to disobey the Mosaic Law. This would have been enough cause to persecute Jesus. (See John 5:16)*

                 ***Biblical                      Disharmony***

                 *When John 6:53 is interpreted literally it is in disharmony with the rest of the Bible. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you," gives no hope of eternal life to any Christian who has not consumed the literal body and blood of Christ. It opposes hundreds of Scriptures that declare justification and salvation are by faith alone in Christ.*

                 ***Produces                      Dilemma***

                 *It appears that the "eating and drinking" in verse 6:54 and the "believing" in verse 6:40 produce the same result - eternal life. If both are literal we have a dilemma. What if a person "believes" but does not "eat or drink"? Or what if a person "eats and drinks" but does not "believe?" This could happen any time a non-believer walked into a Catholic Church and received the Eucharist. Does this person have eternal life because he met one of the requirements but not the other? The only possible way to harmonize these two verses is to accept one verse as figurative and one as literal.*

                 ***Figurative                      In Old Testament***

                 *The Jews were familiar with "eating and drinking" being used figuratively in the Old Testament to describe the appropriation of divine blessings to one's innermost being. It was God's way of providing spiritual nourishment for the soul. (See Jeremiah 15:16; Isaiah 55:1-3; and Ezekiel 2:8, 3:1) *

                 ***Jesus Confirmed***

                 *Jesus informed His disciples there were times when He spoke figuratively (John 16:25) and often used that type of language to describe Himself. The Gospel of John records seven figurative declarations Jesus made of Himself -- "the bread of life" (6:48), "the light of the world" (8:12), "the door" (10:9), "the good shepherd" (10:11), "the resurrection and the life" (11:25), "the way, the truth and the life" (14:6), and "the true vine" (15:1). He also referred to His body as the temple (2:19).*

Notworthy

Continued


#3

… Continued

Words Were Spiritual

                  *Jesus ended this teaching by revealing "the words I have spoken to you are spirit" (6:63). As with each of the seven miracles in John's Gospel, Jesus uses the miracle to convey a spiritual truth. Here Jesus has just multiplied the loaves and fish and uses a human analogy to teach the necessity of spiritual nourishment. This is consistent with His teaching on how we are to worship God. "God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). As we worship Christ He is present spiritually, not physically. In fact, Jesus can only be bodily present at one place at one time. His omnipresence refers only to His spirit. It is impossible for Christ to be bodily present in thousands of Catholic Churches around the world.*

                  *When Jesus is received spiritually, one time in the heart, there is no need to receive him physically, over and over again in the stomach

*Notworthy


#4

I would expect that the following fact hasn’t registered with our brethren:

The Last Supper was a celebration of the Jewish Passover. The Passover was not complete until you ate the sacrifice of the Lamb. In the first Passover, if you failed to eat of the Lamb, you would wake up the next morning to find your first-born son dead, so it was vital that you eat of the sacrifice. All of this pre-figured Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice - it was just a shadow of things to come.

Just as today, Jesus our participation at the Feast is incomplete if we don’t eat the sacrifice.

Notworthy


#5

I really enjoy the appeal to the hundreds of scriptures declaring salvation is by faith alone. Last I checked, such scriptures didn’t exist, and Catholics don’t subscribe to the sola fide argument anyway, so it’s not convincing any Catholics. Also, regardless of whether the bread is bread or flesh, Jesus said you had to eat it to have life. You can reasonably assert that the “This is my body” part is figurative, but you can’t assert that eating it is figurative. Then it just becomes silly.


#6

As for the supposed dilemma produced, the Bible makes a lot of statements like this. What if someone “believes in [his] heart that Jesus is Lord,” but doesn’t “confess with [his] mouth that God raised Him from the dead”? Is one of these statements figurative, too? What about those countless verses linking salvation with whether or not we follow Jesus’ commands? Are we to figuratively follow His commands? Obviously, the answer can’t possibly be to look at the whole of Scripture in context and realize that salvation is a process involving many aspects of God’s grace.


#7

And, for the first two:
There’s no Biblical precedent for the miracle of the Incarnation either. That’s kind of a ridiculous argument. Just because something is without precedent doesn’t make it false. Rather, I’d say that it made it special. (Hrm… perhaps the Incarnation is a precedent for Transubstantiation. After all, did the “accidents” of Christ’s body differ from any other human body? And yet, he was divine, too…)

As for violating Levitical law, I actually posted a question about that awhile back and got some good answers: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=69628


#8

[quote=Catholic29]How does a Catholic refute this assertion? I’m sure I could come up with a definitive response perusing through my apologetics links as well as this site, but what would be yours?


No catholic (no faithful Christian) has any business downplaying John 6.

I liked the way Ch 6 goes on to say

60
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

66
As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

Notice it does not say, as a result many of His disciples decided to partly follow Him. It says they just did not.

So this teaching IS hard, and it is one of the largest ways you can see who the faithful really are and who serves himself in his own way of life.

It’s one thing to say, Jesus couldn’t have meant that, no way. It is another thing to say, He did say this and He said it with emphasis, and He meant it, and as illogical as it seems to me perosnally, I am not God and do not get to decide how things are. I just follow.
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#9

[quote=Catholic29]How does a Catholic refute this assertion? I’m sure I could come up with a definitive response perusing through my apologetics links as well as this site, but what would be yours?


Well First of all the language used in the Link you gave is all messed up. It is full of error left and right.

First of all it qotest John 6:63 like this: “Jesus ended this teaching by revealing “the words I have spoken to you are spirit” (6:63).”

But this has been extremely shortened, ( hiding their eyes and minds) from what it actually says. Here is what this line actually says “
[font=Arial][font=Verdana]63”(A)It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; (**(“http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/#cen-NASB-26321B”))the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.[/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Times New Roman]Note: this says the “Spirit who gives life”. There is only one spirit that gives life, and that is GOD. So when he goes on to say “the words I have spoken to you are spirit and are life”, he is saying that his words are of GOD. Remember the beginning of John, Jesus is the “Word of God made flesh”. He is just reaffirming here that he is the word of GOD, and that he is speaking the truth.[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Times New Roman]The flesh profits nothing: he is talking about our flesh, as opposed to the spirit of GOD. His flesh nailed to the cross profits us tremendously. So when Jesus stated this passage, he was simply telling the Jews that he saying the truth, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Times New Roman]Aaww. This post is getting to long, otherwise I would attempt refute the rest of the post.[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Times New Roman]Chipper[/font][/font]
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#10

During the time of Jesus the “figurative” meaning in Hebrew of eating ones flesh meant to destroy and crush that person. Therefore, to say that Jesus meant this figuratively is to say that He was telling His disciples to hate, condemn, and destroy Him. :whacky:

Also, after John 6:66 when his supposed loyal followers turn away from his teaching because it’s too harsh, does Jesus in any way try to soften what He said or explain to his Apostles that it was only a parable or figurative, like He had in other instances? NO!

Instead,** Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” **

This “harsh” teaching is fully realized in the 26th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel when our Lord institutes the Eucharist:

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins


#11

Aren’t the Protestants the ones who normally take the bible literally? I don’t really have any constructive apologetics to offer here, but to me it seems like they only take the bible figuratively when they need it to fit their views - which is exactly the same thing they accuse us of doing. They say “why shouldn’t you take it literally? Only to support the views of your Church?” (about all kinds of issues from tithing to salvation). Well we can say the same thing right back to them. If they are serious about taking the bible literally then they should start coming to Catholic Church to receive the Eucharist. If they’re not serious about it, then lets tell them to rack off and stop trying to use the bible to refute our beliefs!


#12

Isn’t it funny how this is the only passage protestants don’t take literally.


#13

Appears I found Catholic Answer’s definitive tract on this issue, if any Protestants care to take a swipe at it here it is catholic.com/library/Christ_in_the_Eucharist.asp

As well as other notable tracts I have found

bringyou.to/apologetics/a57.htm

davidmacd.com/catholic/eucharist.htm (This one is great!!!)

catholicapologetics.org/ap060500.htm#ap060503


#14

[quote=Catholic29]When John 6:53 is interpreted literally it is in disharmony with the rest of the Bible. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you,” gives no hope of eternal life to any Christian who has not consumed the literal body and blood of Christ.
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This is, quite simply, false. Christ chooses His words very carefully. Here’s what He says:

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.

The critical distinction here is that there are three sets of people involved in this discussion. The first is those to whom Christ is speaking. It is to these particular people that He says “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”. That is, to those whom the the command to eat and drink is given, refusal to obey results in the loss of eternal life.

The second group is much more universal. It is anybody who eats and drinks (but it must be done worthily, per Paul). Of these people Christ says “he (that is, any person) who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

So far we have a particular group (those to whom truth has been revealed, and who reject it) who will not have life. Then we have the general group of those who eat and drink (worthily) who will have eternal life. This leaves us with a third group, those to whom the truth has not been revealed. The passage says nothing about them. It does not say that they will have eternal life, or that they will not. It does not address this third group at all.

So, if the truth of the Eucharist has been revealed to a person, their response to this truth determines whether they have eternal life. If the truth has not been revealed, then they cannot of course have any response.


#15

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