Mormons, Please Explain Your Thoughts on the Eucharist!

To those of you Mormons on Catholic Answers,

I do not, in any way, intend on insulting you for your religious beliefs, and I sincerely hope all forum members will also pledge not to insult or demean those of you who reply to this request. We should all be willing to listen to each other with kindness and respect on these important theological issues.

I would like to know how the LDS Church, or any other branch of Mormonism, deals with the issue of the Real Presence of the Eucharist. I know Mormons in the LDS Church do not believe in the Real Presence, but this is because you believe it is a later creation, one that came after the apostles were dead. From what I understand, many of you also believe it is apart of the “Great Apostasy.”

But, all of the evidence I have seen suggests the Real Presence, which is obviously very important for Catholics, was a theological belief and central tenet of the earliest form of the Church.

For instance, below is a post provided to me by “Rolltide” here on Catholic Answers with quotes from Ignatius of Antioch, one of the earliest Church fathers who was actually trained by John the Apostle and ordained by St. Peter himself:

“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

“Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).

Doesn’t this prove that Joseph Smith was wrong, at least about this one thing? It can be part of the “Great Apostasy” if apostles are actually teaching this, can it?


We believe that Christ was not suggesting that those who partake of the sacrament have it literally turn into his flesh and blood. If it was to be so, then it would have been more clear. It makes little logic and makes more sense to see this as a spiritually symbolic of a commitment. By changing this into literally flesh and blood you are literally sacrificing his body over and over again.

There are no scriptures that teach that the bread and wine when blessed literally become the Flesh and Blood of Christ. None. Not even the references you have given can mean it literally becomes the flesh and blood of Christ. It is refering to those who have disassociated themselves from the church. When it was taught there were those who left church. It did not become doctrine until the 12th century.

Thanks for replying! I do have r to disagree with your opinions on the quotes though. You could be hypothetically correct about the second quote but the first has nothing to do with you r response. Could you possibly address that quote as well?

He is speaking about the worldly food. That is not the food that gives eternal life. Christ refered to himself as the food, but you surely do not think he was saying that we were to eat him and drain his blood for eternal life. His gospel is the food, his teachings are the food. Christ taught, “Search the scriptures for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” In other words the Jews thought that the scriptures were going to bring them eternal life. They are not. They are to bring them to Christ. Christ goes on and says, “And they are they which testify of me”. Meaning look you dim wits I am right before you. Search the scriptures and they testify of me. Of course they just did not get it.

“I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible” (Letter to the Romans 7:3 [A.D. 110]).

With all due respect, I can’t agree. You may be right about Jesus taught, I wasn’t there so it is hypothetically possible. But you are definitely wrong about Ignatius. He even starts the quote with “pleasures of this life.”

Not to mention, you are denying the entire view of Jesus being a sacrificial lamb, in the same way lambs were literally slaughtered in the Temple and then eaten by the faithful. Whether you believe in the theology or not, your arguments about what Ignatius is saying is completely false.

This is why I am skeptical of Joseph Smith. He teaches that there was an apostasy away from what early Christians believed, but this teaching seems to be what early Christians believed. It’s written right there! You don’t have to believe in what the early Christians believed, but you can’t tell me that in the time of Ignatius, there weren’t people in the Church teaching the modern notion of the Eucharist.

While we’re on this topic, another interesting question to my mind is why the LDS church (to my knowledge) uses water instead of wine or grape juice for communion. The problems with using water for the Eucharist are manifold:

  1. The Last Supper, the first Eucharist, was modelled on the Seder. While the Seder uses water in its ritual, the main drink is wine. Therefore the main drink at the Last Supper was most likley wine.

  2. Christ explicitly refers to the drink in the Cup as “the fruit of the vine”. Now “fruit of the vine” could arguably refer to wine, or arguably to unfermented grape juice. There is no way it could refer to water.

  3. Water is the necessary element in the other basic sacrament, ordinance, whatever, baptism. It is the symbol of the new birth in Christ. To make it also a primary element in the other basic sacrament or ordinance, communion, would be to confuse the important symbols in the essential Christian rites. Christ wouldn’t do that.

  4. The drink used at the Last Supper was at least symbolic (if not more) of Christ’s blood, to be given at the cross. Red wine or grape juice is certainly more appropriate as a visible symbol of Christi’s blood than water.

Finally, a very plausiable alternative, one not very flattering, presents itself: water is used simply to be “different”.

Were they eaten raw? And the sacrifice of the lamb is SYMBOLIC. Everything about the sacrfice is symbolic.

So if God wanted to use water instead of wine, he could not do it? And what is the percentage of water in either of them? It is symbolic.

Not at all.

*I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Then* the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”*

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (John 6:43-60)*

If, as you claim, the teaching was only symbolic, why did the followers claim it was a “hard teaching” and many stopped being his disciples at that point? Why would Jesus let them go if he meant it to be only symbolic? He didn’t call them back with a qualification that it wasn’t to be taken so literally. He let them go and in fact repeated what he said in even stronger language.

See also

From a Mormon perspective, none of these things matter because a prophet (Joseph Smith) said God changed this requirement to water for them for a particular period of time, initially due to the fear of being poisoned by anti-Mormons.

No the sacrifice of the lamb was not symbolic, it was actually thought to be a literal sacrifice. That was the Old Testament teaching; it was never a symbolic act but an actual act.

Now, if I were you, and I wanted to defend the Mormon position, the best course of action would actually be to approach it from the “Passover” meal perspective. Jews celebrated the Passover (and still do) and Jesus was celebrating the Passover (very likely and widely agreed upon) during the Last Supper. Now the entire act of the Passover was itself a symbolic remembrance of the Passover in Egypt, when the Jewish first-born males were spared by God by smearing blood on their doorways (See Brant Pitre’s INCREDIBLY good book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper).

That is, in my opinion, the best pro-Mormon argument I know of (I was hoping this forum would help me find a better one).

However, that largely symbolic remembrance came after the very real (from the Jewish perspective) sacrifice of an unblemished lamb at the Temple in Jerusalem.

This is a very, very strong theological point. However, the one flaw in it is that the Catholic Church compiled the Bible and John was a later writing relative to the other Gospels, so the argument could be made this whole thing was a later invention of the Church (especially if you believe, as many do, that John was not written by John the Apostle).

You would also have to ignore all of Paul’s writing on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

The OP asked:

I would like to know how the LDS Church, or any other branch of Mormonism, deals with the issue of the Real Presence of the Eucharist. I know Mormons in the LDS Church do not believe in the Real Presence, but this is because you believe it is a later creation, one that came after the apostles were dead. From what I understand, many of you also believe it is apart of the “Great Apostasy.”

And I think he got his answer. Not sure, but I don’t think he meant this to be a debate/theological discussion. I think this has the potential to turn nasty.

Just my $.02.


John, not being written by John, is agreed upon by Bible scholars. When I teach “where we got the Bible” in RCIA, I teach that it came from a group of people (“Johannine community”) who were following John as his disciple, and had written down what they had been taught and were practicing, as taught to them by the Apostle John.

Unlike Mormonism and Fundamental Evangelists (of whom they are related), we don’t use the Bible as a religious cook book. ie, pore through the text looking for all the right ingredients and making sure our measurements are just so.

We teach and believe without question, that the NT comes from Sacred Tradition. This is a historical fact, as well. The text we now call the Gospel of John, came from the Sacred Tradition of those who were following John, as his disciple. Catholics not only have no problem with this, we understand it for what it is: the Holy Spirit working in Christ’s Church.

Hope that helps. :slight_smile:

With all due respect, not all Biblical scholars agree with you. There are a number, like Scott Hahn, and traditional Catholic scholarship in general that hold to John as the author.

This is not a “settled” question, by any means.

The consensus of “Sacred Tradition” holds that John, the Apostle, was the author of the Gospel of John.

From the above article:

The facts are these: The Tradition of the Church, supported by the unbroken line of patristic testimony, as well as internal evidence from the text itself, is that the Gospel is rooted in the testimony of the apostle John, son of Zebedee. Numerous other witnesses in the second and third centuries corroborate St. Irenaeus’s testimony. In addition, various elements within the Gospel strongly suggest John as the author. Most obviously, there is the attestation of the witnesses penning the Gospel that it is the testimony of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20)—a disciple to whom no one but John corresponds. The source of the Gospel is, quite clearly, a Jew familiar with the conditions of Palestinian Judaism at the time of Christ. He speaks Aramaic and Greek. He knows Jerusalem as it looked before Rome reduced it to rubble in A.D. 70. And he gives countless details which, if they are not the testimony of a first-hand eyewitness who was present at the Last Supper, are a singular occurrence of novelistic realism 19 centuries ahead of its time. That he was part of Christ’s “inner circle” of Peter, James, and John (cf. Gal. 2:9) is even more likely given that he was the disciple at the Last Supper who laid his head on Christ’s breast. He can’t be Peter, who is distinguished from him in the text, and he can’t be James (who died in the early 40s). So it all points to John. Additionally, the patristic tradition that the Gospel was composed in Ephesus also points to John. First, this is the city associated with the Assumption of the Virgin who was commended into his care. Second, the Gospel repeatedly answers a sect devoted to John the Baptist with the reply that John “was not the light” but had only come to “bear witness to the light” (John 1:8). We know from Acts 18:24 and 19:1-7 that there was such a sect centered in Ephesus. Finally, the sophistication of the Gospel fits the fact that the New Testament epistle with the most sophisticated exposition of theology is Ephesians.

From the Introduction to the Gospel of John in the the New American Bible, Revised Edition:

"Critical analysis makes it difficult to accept the idea that the gospel as it now stands was written by one person. Jn 21 seems to have been added after the gospel was completed; it exhibits a Greek style somewhat different from that of the rest of the work. The prologue (Jn 1:1–18) apparently contains an independent hymn, subsequently adapted to serve as a preface to the gospel. Within the gospel itself there are also some inconsistencies, e.g., there are two endings of Jesus’ discourse in the upper room (Jn 14:31; 18:1). To solve these problems, scholars have proposed various rearrangements that would produce a smoother order. However, most have come to the conclusion that the inconsistencies were probably produced by subsequent editing in which homogeneous materials were added to a shorter original.

Other difficulties for any theory of eyewitness authorship of the gospel in its present form are presented by its highly developed theology and by certain elements of its literary style. For instance, some of the wondrous deeds of Jesus have been worked into highly effective dramatic scenes (Jn 9); there has been a careful attempt to have these followed by discourses that explain them (Jn 5; 6); and the sayings of Jesus have been woven into long discourses of a quasi-poetic form resembling the speeches of personified Wisdom in the Old Testament.

The gospel contains many details about Jesus not found in the synoptic gospels, e.g., that Jesus engaged in a baptizing ministry (Jn 3:22) before he changed to one of preaching and signs; that Jesus’ public ministry lasted for several years (see note on Jn 2:13); that he traveled to Jerusalem for various festivals and met serious opposition long before his death (Jn 2:14–25; 5; 7–8); and that he was put to death on the day before Passover (Jn 18:28). These events are not always in chronological order because of the development and editing that took place. However, the accuracy of much of the detail of the fourth gospel constitutes a strong argument that the Johannine tradition rests upon the testimony of an eyewitness. Although tradition identified this person as John, the son of Zebedee, most modern scholars find that the evidence does not support this."

This paragraph begins, saying, the Gospel of John is rooted in the teachings of the Apostle John. I don’t see that we are in disagreement as to the source of the Gospel.

If he didn’t get the question answered here, maybe he did on the other forum where he asked the exact same question, that time to a primarily LDS audience.

Gospel Principles is the name of our reference that gives basic explanations of LDS beliefs and practices. There is a chapter that specifically discusses the Sacrament. If the OP still has questions, I could arrange for a couple of very nice LDS Missionaries to visit him in person and answer his question in more detail! :slight_smile:

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