I am having a discussion with a protestant friend of mine about the Eucharist. When we started to talk about it he didn’t know anything about it at all. Now he has gone from seeing his view on the Eucharist as merely symbolic to Jesus being spiritually present at his protestant communion. So I guess you could say he is coming around in a way.
Here is the question I have. I showed him the statements from St. Ignatius of Antioch about the Eucharist in the second century, and he is trying to explain it away…
**From Ignatius, Letter to the Romans.
Highly figurative all the way through the letter. Arguing for martyrdom, to be done with this world, to
die to self. So he says his “passionate love has been crucified” and “I take no pleasure in corruptible
food or the pleasures of this life.” Then, immediately, he says that he wants to “the bread of God, which
is the flesh of Christ who is of the seed of David, and for drink I want his blood, which is incorruptible
love.” Here the flesh stands for the bread of God, spiritual sustenance, and the blood stands for
heavenly, Christ-like love. Highly symbolic. He may be referring to actually wanting to take communion,
though that seems like an odd reading, considering he probably took it many times. In the context, he
seems to me to be wanting to lose himself in Christ and probably isn’t even thinking of the actual
Also look at Ignatius’s Letter to the Smyrneans. You can find it at:
Download the first volume.
Note that this copy has both the shorter and longer version of his letters. Apparently, most scholars
accept that he wrote the shorter versions and another person(s) “glossed”, or expanded upon, that
version, making the longer version. Either way, you will see that the context for the bolded excerpt
from this letter is that he was strongly denouncing the heretics who said that Christ never had physical
flesh, and therefore they would not take the Eucharist. Taking this into account allows ample leeway for
understanding his words the way Protestants understand his words: that the Eucharist represents the
physical body of Jesus broken for our sins. The point Ignatius was making was not that the flesh is the
literal flesh of Christ, transformed by the hands and prayers of the priest, but that Christ’s flesh was
actual physical flesh just like the bread. His overwhelmingly primary point has to do with the physicality
of Jesus—that Jesus was not mere incorporeal spirit.
So anyone have a good response to this? Anyone have some great knowledge on this specific topic?
Thanks in advance!