The Best Eucharist Debate Stopper Question

I’m still relatively new to the Apologetics scene, but I have had several debates back and forth with Protestants over the Eucharist. Maybe you veteran apologists have already used the following Scripture and question before. In my case so far, the question has ended debates abruptly, it maybe of benefit to you, and hopefully led some of our fellow brothers and sisters to the fullness of faith.

Here is the question posed: If the Eucharist is merely a symbol, then how can one partake of it “unworthily” AND ultimately can “eat and drink judgment on himself”?

Reference Scriptures to start is 1 Corinthians 10:16 to point out how St. Paul views the Eucharist and my strong finish question reference is 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.

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I’m not sure how this makes sense.
Just because something is symbolic, doesn’t mean a person can’t be worthy or unworthy of it.
The crosses people wear around their necks and put atop churches are symbolic, but the meaning is no less.

I don’t understand how your two statements from Corinth cannot go together.
Can you explain this more?


Might help if I included the Scripture:

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworhily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself

It’s taking the concept if we as Cathoics seriously sin we cannot receive the Eucharist unless we are made “worthy” to receive through the sacrament of confession and get back into a state of grace. If we accept the Eucharist “unworthily” when in grave sin, then we risk “judgment” per the above scripture.

Ultimately, having said all this how can this scripture “fit” someone believing the Eucharist is only symbolic? Mere “symbolism” would not bring about judgment, right? I think the Protestants are getting it as the debate stops at this point.

Anyways, I though I would share my apologetics tool and experience with others for what it is worth. God Bless.

Excellent, well put.:thumbsup::idea::signofcross:


Meet them on their own terms. They say the Eucharist is merely a symbol. You say that it is Real. Ask them why they believe that the best that Jesus can do is a symbol. Make them defend their own indefensible position.

As most Protestants do their reflexive response is to focus on John 6:63, if I focus on John Chapter 6. They keep going to John 6:63 despite my constant emphasis on 6:62 on how Jesus will “prove” He means what He says, and how 6:63 really reflects “belief” not the Eucharist.

When I base my Eucharist question using their own “symbol” belief and contrasting it to 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 is only thing I’ve found that gets them to really pause and reflect.

Please share anything else that may help my Protestant Bretheren past this “stumbling block”.

Don’t know if this will help the discussion or not, but I was raised thinking it was just a symbol. That said, I took VERY SERIOUSLY the part about eating/drinking judgement to myself. I would often NOT PARTICIPATE in the service or leave to another church that was not having communion that day ( SDA’s only celebrate 4 times per year) just to avoid this.

I would also say that most people that did receive ( even though it was JUST a symbol) were extremely reverent and introspective as they would receive.

I’m not sure how other Protestant churches proceed but this is what my experience showed me.

Dr. Brandt Pitre’s “Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” is a **must hear **talk for every Catholic and for every Catholic to share with others. He was a protege of Scott Hahn, but is quickly making a name for himself.

I’ve give a big +1 to that. I LOVED that book and recommend it to anyone.

I like the question in your OP. :thumbsup:

Another point I like to make is that “spirit” in John 6:63 does not equate to symbolism…the spirit is REAL. No one that I have ever met professes a belief in the “Father, Son, and Holy symbolic”.

And on that same note, if we make that to mean a “symbol”, we have just comepletely discredited the Crucifixion. Christ says “the bread that I will give for the life of the world IS my flesh.” (Jn 6:51). Christ makes an equation here which we can’t simply brush off. How did He give His flesh for the life of the world? He died for us…He was crucified for us. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn 6:51) If Christ only symbolically gives us His flesh to eat, then He also only symbolically died on the cross. If it is really only “bread”, and nothing more, that Christ gave us to eat symbolically, then it is only bread, symbolizing His Flesh, which was nailed to the Cross. There is no way around that unfortunate conclusion for Protestants who interpret John 6 symbolically.

You might enjoy these two articles on the Real PResence of Christ in the Eucharist:

Part 1 - “Truly I say to you…”
Part 2 - Why the Jews took Him literally

I’ve used that passage for years, though with a slight variation. Rather than asking:

If the Eucharist is merely a symbol, then how can one partake of it “unworthily” AND ultimately can “eat and drink judgment on himself”

I usually phrase it along the lines of:

Why does St. Paul admonish us about eating and drinking judgment upon ourselves…for not "discerning the body"?

IOW, drawing attention to the source of the judgment–that is, the thing that determines whether we eat/drink ‘unworthily’–is whether or not we ‘discern the body [of Christ]’ in the Eucharist.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29 “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself”

I also like to follow it up with quotes from the Church Fathers, as they are very instrumental in shedding light on this ambiguous concepts of the Church described in the Bible, and the Eucharist. Viewed exclusively from the Bible, the picture emerges rather blurry. However, when you take what is written in the Bible, then read what was written by the ECF’s, the picture comes clearly into focus–and you see that what you are looking at…looks an awful lot like the Catholic mass. You can see the organic growth of that Church described in the Bible, as it takes its first baby steps, and goes from crawling to walking, then running…

Trying to go from the Church as described in the Bible, straight to the 21st century–or even the 15th–leaves such an enormous gap, that the only picture that comes into focus, is why you have so many protestant denominations.

It’s like trying to figure out what a baby is going to look like as an adult by just viewing a baby photo album, vs watching someone grow from infant to adulthood, and remembering what they looked like in diapers, when they were toddlers, in grade school, high school, etc…

Not discerning the Lord’s body meant not discerning in the bread and wine the symbols
of Christ’s body and blood, but partaking of them irreverently, as if it were a
common feast

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst v.35

There are 2 verbs implied in the verse above, EAT and DRINK.

Is this verse literal o figurative?

ONE·s hunger ceases when one eats.

Protestants get offended at this argument. They regard communion as holy and so it is sinful to receive communion for them without good intentions. What we need to prove to them is that it is not pointless and **superfluous **for Jesus to be substantially under the species of bread and win.

Makes perfect sense to me.

To the original poster: I recommend John Salza’s “The Biblical Basis for the Eucharist.”

Quite correct. No where in the bible does the word Spirit mean symbolic. No where.

And the disciples who left him didn’t think we was speaking symbolically. They understand stood him as speaking quite literally. So did the Jews who wanted to kill him.

You are right the word spirit doenst mean symbolic, but it does mean non-physically.

In John 6:52-58, "the [unbelieving] Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"' This shows that they had a carnal, cannibalistic, materialistic, andlocalized presence’ misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying.

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