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The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist

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posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 01:59 PM
(This is likely going to be controversial among my Protestant friends, but let's try and keep it civil, okay? I would really like to have a good dialog on this subject.)

When I decided to leave the Methodist church in 2011, one of the reasons was that I had begun to doubt that a church that didn't really seem to stand for anything in particular and seemed willing to change itself to "go with the flow" of modern society was likely to be teaching sound theology. In the quest for a church that did, with my background in history, I decided that my best bet was to go back to the earliest records of Christianity to see what they actually taught, and then find the church that still taught most, if not all, of it.

Of these earliest teachings, one of the most important, I think, is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. For non-Christians, the Eucharist (which means "thanksgiving") is known in some churches as Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper. According to the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke,) it was initiated by Jesus at the Last Supper:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:19-20 NIV)

We can see that this practice was common in the early church, both in the Acts of the Apostles and in the epistles of Paul:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42 NIV)

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:23-27 NIV)

That last bit in Corinthians is important, so I have underlined it. How can one sin against the body and blood of the Lord through the Eucharist, unless Paul is indicating that the Eucharist is the real body and blood of Christ.

This points back to something that Jesus taught. As I noted above, The Gospel of John, curiously, does not have the institution of the Eucharist in his Last Supper narrative, because he puts it in another place (probably because he knew that it was documented in the other Gospels, as his post-dated them by several decades.)

For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:33-35 NIV)

Here, Jesus declares himself to be the break of life. Later, he explains what that really means:

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread 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, “Very truly I tell you, 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 them 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 them. 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 ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:50-58 NIV)

Right about here is where Fundamentalists run into trouble -- they want to take the text literally, but they cannot, because they reject the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Instead, they take it to be symbolic or metaphoric -- Christ cannot possibly be talking about his real flesh and blood, can he?

But the response to that statement of his shows that he truly is:

On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:60, 66-69 NIV)

Most of the Jewish followers of Christ could not accept what appeared to them to be cannibalism, as they did not understand the concept of the consecration of the Eucharist, so they abandoned Christ. If what he said was merely symbolic, it seems highly unlikely that he would allow most of his followers to leave him over a simple misunderstanding. It must be that he meant what he said, in a literal way.

So, there is clearly support in the Bible for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. "Me and my Bible" types and Fundamentalists will say that isn't what the text says, but this is clearly an interpretation of the text that allows them to believe that the Bible says something that supports something that they believe, outside of the Bible.

But what did the early church believe? What did the Apostles and their followers teach? One of the earliest documents of the Christian community was the Didache, also known as The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, which was used to instruct new Christians in how to act and what to believe. In it, we see that the Eucharist was considered sacred, indicating that it was more than just bread and wine:

But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs. (Didache 9:10-11 J. B. Lightfoot translation)

The earliest clear teaching on the real presence of Christ comes from St. Ignatius of Antioch, a student of the Apostle John, in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, around the end of the First Century.

Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.

Clearly, the Apostle John taught the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, just as it was written in his Gospel.


edit on 15-8-2014 by adjensen because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 01:59 PM
A Second Century Christian apologist, St. Justin Martyr also wrote on the matter:

This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. (First Apology, Chapter 66)

As it should be clear, the Apostles taught the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and the early church believed it. Father Burns Seeley has a compendium of references on the subject here: Fathers of the Church on the Eucharist.

So, we know what the church taught and what Christians believed from their writings, but is there any outside confirmation of it? Yes, from Christianity's critics, who accused Christians of practicing cannibalism, a clear misunderstanding of the Eucharist.

The churches that still teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist today are the Catholic church, the Orthodox Catholic church, the Lutheran church and some branches of the Anglican church. One of the reasons that no other churches hold to this belief is that it requires Apostolic Succession, and outside of those four churches (as well as the Methodist church,) none can claim a line back to Christ's creation of the church. Or, perhaps, they don't see the need for Apostolic Succession, since anyone can pass out bread cubes and glasses of wine or grape juice, if the whole thing is just symbolic anyway… in my Methodist church, they let anyone, even non-Christians, participate in Communion -- I once helped a Hindu guy, who had dropped into a Sunday service out of curiosity, through the process.

For me, the decision to convert to Catholicism really came down to that -- I wanted a church that taught the same thing that the Apostles did, and the real presence of the Eucharist was critical for me, because of what is taught in the Bible -- Christ is the bread of life, and if we don't partake in it, there is no life in us.

Blessed Padre Pio, during the Consecration of the Eucharist

edit on 15-8-2014 by adjensen because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 02:40 PM
The following is my opinion as a member participating in this discussion.

I was in Betania Venezuela in 1994 and was able to visit the convent (Chapel of the Augustinian Nuns in Los Teques) that houses the Betania Eucharistic miracle. The church was relatively empty and I was able to walk right up to it. It was between two plates of glass on the altar. I even put my rosary next to the glass. The Eucharistic miracle looked fresh. It didn't look old at all. It was perfectly preserved just between the glass on the altar.

I won't link to it, it's easily googled if anyone is interested.

As an ATS Staff Member, I will not moderate in threads such as this where I have participated as a member.

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 02:41 PM
Of course I am committed to the definition that a sacrament is "the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace".
I will only comment that the presence of Christ does not necessarily involve transubstantiation, which is historically a later development

edit on 15-8-2014 by DISRAELI because: Dropped the fifth "t" from transubstantiation

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 02:57 PM
a reply to: FlyersFan

I had no idea this was a touchy subject until I googled that. Its amazing how hateful people can be on the name of their God.

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 04:09 PM
Yes, Let us eat the messiah before he eats us :O

They never asked about if the messiah would Eat them.... that question they should of asked

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 04:17 PM
a reply to: adjensen
You've posted a beautiful and well researched work here. I learned a lot from it. However, I'm really not sure ATS is the place I'd have posted this.

The mystery of the Eucharist is near genuinely accepted as an article of faith. The realms of Reason and Faith may overlap, but the mystery of the Eucharist is confined to the realm of faith. Note that I'm using the word "mystery" in the archaic sense. Faith is a product of Grace, Grace received as gift, not earned. As a result, it is near impossible for the nonbeliever to understand, much less accept and thus discussion of it is usually met with at best derision and at worse, outright anger.

Thanks for the post.

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 04:57 PM
This was the perfect place to post it for me. I learned something.

I've been reading Karen Armstrong lately so this fit right in. Ty
edit on 15-8-2014 by Iamthatbish because: predict a text totally winning

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 05:13 PM
a reply to: adjensen

Jesus was being both literal and figurative when he said he is the bread.

Literally, Jesus is everything we know of as sensation, but he is not the sensor - the sensor is the awareness - Father.

The figurative part comes in as Jesus is the image of Father's awareness, and for that reason, we must go through the image to get to the awareness, just as you go through my words here to get to my awareness and even within your own thoughts, you cannot see them without images/words/sounds/sensations/etc.

And the awareness is the awareness of God's will / The Holy Ghost.

What is happening is "good" concept (re)production. God is manifesting his will byway of manifesting his awareness of his will in the form of images.

You can read it bakwards too... production of re/imaged awareness/concept. The (re) is the image within his will, and by seeing he did create.

Think of it like Kabalah teaching. God is a substance of will which creates, but then to fully understand, you have to understand that Jesus is the images or fruit of the will - what is produced.

1 Corinthians 2:11

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 05:27 PM
a reply to: Bleeeeep

I like how you brought in another source from this time period.

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 05:28 PM
ahhh one of the many mysteries of the catholic faith

They claim to be the first Christian church
And that the priest should be looked at as the right hand of God

So, since they claim that the bread THEY bless, and the wine THEY bless becomes real flesh and blood objects, not just representations

If I get one to bless a plastic model of a '67 Corvette I have would their blessing turn it into a real '67 corvette that we could go cruise for chics in

edit on 15-8-2014 by Xcouncil=wisdom because: I forgot Catholic priest cruise for something a little uh well I better not say as I have had a lot of posts removed lately

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 06:17 PM
a reply to: Iamthatbish

Was trying to help establish will / Spirit as having the images within it and Father sees it. This is how he can see the future or knew you before the foundation of the earth, etc because will/spirit is the thoughts seen. This shows there is no determinism / fate unless will is manifest. This is why covanants are meaningful - because until it does happen, it is subject to change - because it is will.

Maybe I am explaining too much at once, but it is all said just by understanding that Jesus is the Word, the Son, the Image, the bread, the wine, the first born of every creature.

All of the verses about Jesus' be(ing) are saying the same thing and once fully understood, everything else begins to fall into place.

Once we take him in (eat) as he truly is (the image/body of the concept/awareness) then you have eternal life in him because you accept him and become as an image of God's will yourself (apart of God's son - church - bride) who is eternal.

Basically, everything he is is the image of Father's will.

Hopefully I didn't over simplify it.
edit on 8/15/2014 by Bleeeeep because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 09:33 PM
a reply to: adjensen

It is easier to understand the ordinances if you first understand what they are symbolizing. In the case of bread, the body of Christ and why we take the bread, there is a key to unlocking the symbolism.

Bread is made from crushing seed. Seed in Hebrew is known as an ear, or the grain from the wheat. We say ear of corn, but we really mean the seed that is on the ear. Adding a Hebrew letter 'Hey' to ear, we get Hear.

Hey means to behold. Adding H to Ear and we get to behold with the ear, or gathering the seed. Where do we gather the seed?

Tav is the last letter of Hebrew. Adding a Tav to Hear, you get Heart, or the basket that holds the seed. The soil of a person is the heart. Planting seed in the heart comes from the opened ear, or information entering the soil.

Can I verify this? What happens to the word Heart if you move the Hey to the end?


Bread is the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 10

16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

The cup is the mother's womb. The bread is the body that comes from the womb. There is still one part missing. We have the letters that make the information. DNA is the sequence of letters making word.

In Hebrew, the word Father is Aleph Bet, or letters. Abba is the word AB, or Aleph Bet. It means Strong House.

In Hebrew, the word Mother is Aleph Mem, or Strong Water. She is the cup holding the letters.

In Hebrew, the word Son is Ben, or Bet Nun. Bet is House. Nun is Seed.

What is Christ called? The Word. He is the house of seed. He is the one writing the information in the seeds. We are the body of Christ, or the ones born from the cup.

John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We, who are many, are one loaf. Christ is risen indeed. We are the ones born from the dead, or resurrected (born again) in baptism.

Baptism is the flood of Noah. We are the beasts in the water.

1 Peter 3

19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

Peter gives us the key to seeing the symbolism.

What does this have to do with the Eucharist? Once you know the symbolism, the entire practice of the church makes sense. The problem is, most people have no idea what they are actually symbolizing. Even those reading this will reject what I am saying. Ears must open. Soil must have rocks removed. Good soil produces proper understanding.

edit on 15-8-2014 by AlephBet because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 09:51 PM
a reply to: adjensen
The only problem with your premise is that Christ admonished while He was alive that we must drink His blood and eat His flesh not as some religious observance held by priest. The love feast that Paul wrote about was being brought to shame by the actions of those who partook of the love feast not doing it in reverence and equality but in a gluttonous and ruling over those of lower social status. These action is what brought condemnation from Paul, under the understanding that all believers are part of the body of Christ and are equal in the eyes of

posted on Aug, 15 2014 @ 09:56 PM
a reply to: AlephBet
That was very interesting. I'm not feeling like I know this topic well enough to contribute.

You have my attention.

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