Protestant Argument about The Real Presence

My Grandmother was watching a televangelist on her TV and it caught my attention when I heard him say that Jesus was not speaking literally when he said “This is my body”

The guys argument went something like. Jesus called himself a lot of things. He also called himself the living water. He was not speaking literally there. If we take “This is my Body” literally, we have to take everything else literally too."

My faith is not shaken at all by this because this man probably ordained himself a minister or was ordained by a relative who ordained himself at a church founded only withing the last 100 years but I have actually never heard this argument. How would one refute it? I already know the whole “How can we eat this mans flesh” and they walked away and Jesus did not correct them like he did for the apostles when they were confused and mistaken about the meaning of his parables. Anything else?

What else did Jesus call himself that we do not take literally and why not? I am fairly familiar with scripture and I can think of “Alpha and Omega” (although we do take that literally too) “Morning star” “Bread of Life” (Literally too) “The Lamb” and I know there are more. What else? Was he also calling Himself “The Living water”? I know he said he would give living water but is that living water Himself and why don’t we take that literally? Just playing devils advocate there. I help teach RCIA and I just want to be better prepared to teach, always.

Then I guess when Jesus said “Get behind me, Satan” to Peter, Peter is actually Satan and Jesus appointed Satan as an Apostle? :shrug:

Obviously not. We can look at another instance of Jesus equating bread and wine as his body and blood in John 6:53-56, and John 6:66.

“Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

As a result of this, many [of] his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”

If it was a metaphor, why did Jesus not call them back to correct them, like He did many times before when they misunderstood a parable? Wouldn’t it be the height of unfairness to let them leave because of a genuine misunderstanding?

EDIT: Basically, it comes down to how do we determine what Jesus said was literally and what was said metaphorically. Jesus did not speak purely in metaphors and Jesus did not speak purely literally. So who can figure that out? The Catholics answer that the Church decides, with the Holy Spirit guiding her, instead of any one man’s interpretation.

Thanks be to the Lord that He appointed a magisterium (legitimate authority of the Church) to guide us in faith and morals!

The Televangelist’s point that sometimes Jesus speaks figuratively and sometimes he doesn’t is true. However, he doesn’t use logic at all to back up his statement that, “If we take “This is my Body” literally, we have to take everything else literally too.”

Why? Couldn’t Jesus be speaking literally there, and metaphorically elsewhere?

What the Televangelist is implying is that “This is my Body” is such a strange statement that, if Jesus spoke ANYTHING figuratively, it must include that statement.

That’s not logical proof at all. Of course, that doesn’t mean Catholics are right, either.

As the Fauken and Dorothy pointed out, we Catholics know Jesus meant the bread actually is his Body because of the Magisterium–that the Holy Spirit tells us the truth through his Church.

But even though the Televangelist doesn’t believe in the Catholic Church’s authority, he still ought to be able to see the other strong evidence that Jesus meant that it was really his body. People responded, “Who can bear this claim?” Who can stand to be told such nonsense? And Jesus answered by repeating it again in various ways: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood…”
He even let many walk away because they couldn’t accept it. He didn’t tell them, “You only don’t believe me because you misunderstood what I meant; let me explain…” He let them walk away because they knew what he meant but wouldn’t believe him.
AND the fact that Christians of the early centuries consistently took this all literally–the fact that the source and summit of the faith of two thousand-year-old Church has been exactly that belief, the fact that the Church Fathers spoke on it and taught on it as a matter of cut-and-dried fact…

I mean, come on. Our televangelist ought to see that there’s a whole lot more to consider than what he’s asserted.

He also said I’m the gate, I’m the good shepherd, I’m the way, the truth and the light…

He said, “I and the Father are one…”

Just remember that the Church didn’t just find the Bible centuries later and retroactively try to interpret it. The Eucharist predated all biblical accounts, and how we understand Jesus’ words is not just an interpretation of scripture, but how the apostles practiced and taught it. Our understanding comes from the apostles themselves.

And these are all metaphors: I am the …
But in the Words of Institution, He doesn’t say this. He says, “this is…”. He states that it is His body. No metaphor here.


53 Then the Jews fell to disputing with one another, How can this man give us his flesh to eat ? 54 Whereupon Jesus said to them, Believe me when I tell you this; you can have no life in yourselves, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood. 55 The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood enjoys eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 56 My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink. 57 He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, lives continually in me, and I in him. 58 As I live because of the Father, the living Father who has sent me, so he who eats me will live, in his turn, because of me. 59 Such is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not as it was with your fathers, who ate manna and died none the less; the man who eats this bread will live eternally.

** τρώγων - to gnaw, crunch, munch. (This is how this would have been heard, which explains the reaction of His followers.)*

60 He said all this while he was teaching in the synagogue, at Capharnaum. 61* And there were many of his disciples who said, when they heard it, This is strange talk, who can be expected to listen to it?* 62 But Jesus, inwardly aware that his disciples were complaining over it, said to them, Does this try your faith? 63 What will you make of it, if you see the Son of Man ascending to the place where he was before? 64 Only the spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail; and the words I have been speaking to you are spirit, and life.[9] 65 But there are some, even among you, who do not believe. Jesus knew from the first which were those who did not believe, and which of them was to betray him. 66 And he went on to say, That is what I meant when I told you that nobody can come to me unless he has received the gift from my Father. 67 After this, many of his disciples went back to their old ways, and walked no more in his company. 68 Whereupon Jesus said to the twelve, Would you, too, go away? 69 Simon Peter answered him,* Lord, to whom should we go? Thy words are the words of eternal life; 70 we have learned to believe, and are assured that thou art the Christ, the Son of God.*

Doesn’t even have the air of figurative speech to my ears, nor to the ears of His audience at the time. He went to special care to find the words which portrayed the meaning of what He was speaking of. If there are groups who protest the real presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, that is a matter between them and God. I am certainly in no place to judge, as I myself am a late life convert to the Catholic view of the real presence. But once seen, I can now no longer un-see it. This is a set of tumblers, that at least for me, fell permanently into place. The real presence has changed my life in virtually every way. Thanks be to God. I encourage fellow Christians to pray the Gospel of John, slowly, and meditatively, over a period of time, with the Holy Spirit, and understanding of the languages, and times. More than any other written material, it is the Gospel of John where the spirit spoke to me, leading me in conversion.


Your quote about Jesus saying “Get behind me Satan” and us not taking him literally helps the protestant position. But yeah, I agree with the rest. But protestants do not recognize the authority of The Church. We must use scripture to prove our points when talking to them

Ahhh, I love it :thumbsup:

This really should be over in Apologetics, but maybe the mod will move it.

Meanwhile, have a look at my blog article The Eucharist IS Scriptural

That TV preacher is dead wrong and way out of New Testament context and one key point is the following verse in Mark 4;34 ***Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

***[FONT=Georgia]If this is true (and we know it is) then John 6 was a make or break non-negotiable in context of John 6:[/FONT]67 After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. 68 Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? 69 And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. 70 And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. "

[FONT=Georgia]Notice the difference? No private explanation…and just the question as to if they all want to bail too. Very cut and dried, right? So then obviously Jesus meant exactly what He said and everyone on hand knew it and reacted accordingly. The modern n-C misinterpretation just doesn’t hold water.:slight_smile:

There was another good thread about this recently:

Might want to check it out too.

Actually, it is the Holy Spirit who is called living water not Jesus himself. See John 7:38-39.

Transubstantiating bread and wine into his own body and blood does not seem out of character for Jesus who had previously changed water into wine and multiplied loaves and fishes and thus demonstrated his power and willingness to manipulate both the substance and appearance of matter. Therefore, to dismiss out of hand a sacramental interpretation of Jesus word’s seems presumptuous.

Then, should we follow this principle: he was speaking figuratively, and thus we have to take everything else figuratively, too?

Would your grandmother’s televangelist agree then that everything Jesus said is figurative?

Here is a link to a very interesting article on the Real Presence. The discussion became quite heated, but the author made some very poignant points.

The understanding of the elements of the Eucharist was varied in the early centuries. By approximately 1000 AD the concept of transubstantiation was understood by most and became the only accepted understanding. Quite a few in the early centuries taught differently. One example:

Augustine: Christian Doctrine - Chapter 16 - 24
“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. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man,” says Christ, “and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53 This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share [communicandem] in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory [in memoria] of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.”

This whole section is on whether something is literal or figurative. He mentions this earlier in the writing:

"Chapter 9.— Who is in Bondage to Signs, and Who Not.

  1. Now he is in bondage to a sign who uses, or pays homage to, any significant object without knowing what it signifies: he, on the other hand, who either uses or honors a useful sign divinely appointed, whose force and significance he understands, does not honor the sign which is seen and temporal, but that to which all such signs refer. Now such a man is spiritual and free even at the time of his bondage, when it is not yet expedient to reveal to carnal minds those signs by subjection to which their carnality is to be overcome. To this class of spiritual persons belonged the patriarchs and the prophets, and all those among the people of Israel through whose instrumentality the Holy Spirit ministered unto us the aids and consolations of the Scriptures. But at the present time, after that the proof of our liberty has shone forth so clearly in the resurrection of our Lord, we are not oppressed with the heavy burden of attending even to those signs which we now understand, but our Lord Himself, and apostolic practice, have handed down to us a few rites in place of many, and these at once very easy to perform, most majestic in their significance, and most sacred in the observance; such, for example, as the sacrament of baptism, and the celebration of the body and blood of the Lord. And as soon as any one looks upon these observances he knows to what they refer, and so reveres them not in carnal bondage, but in spiritual freedom. Now, as to follow the letter, and to take signs for the things that are signified by them, is a mark of weakness and bondage; so to interpret signs wrongly is the result of being misled by error. He, however, who does not understand what a sign signifies, but yet knows that it is a sign, is not in bondage. And it is better even to be in bondage to unknown but useful signs than, by interpreting them wrongly, to draw the neck from under the yoke of bondage only to insert it in the coils of error."

In addition to what Duane said, Augustine was speaking against those who would take Christ’s words literally in the sense that he’s commanding them to rip him limb from limb and start gnawing on his flesh and blood right there. That would be “enjoining a crime” and not something that Christ meant in that sense. It was a rather obvious example Augustine was using to illustrate his rule. Augustine writes in favor of the real presence quite clearly elsewhere. Speaking of the sacraments as a “figure” was more common among the Church fathers, but the understanding wasn’t different. We are being asked to look beyond simply our carnal senses towards the true reality that is within them. Or, to put it another way, to look at them with the understanding that it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail.

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