Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, JJ Seid and Sam Storms as they continue their series on Roman Catholicism by once again discussing elements of the Mass.

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    11 replies to "Theology Unplugged: Theology Unplugged: Roman Catholicism – Part 8 – The Mass (Part 2)"

    • Irene

      You were discussing whether to take Jesus words literally, such as in John 6:54 : “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”

      You interpret his words figuratively. One problem with that, though, is that when eating flesh and drinking blood are used other places in Scripture, in figurative ways, it is in a very negative way, as in chastisement or punishment….definitely not what Jesus meant in John.
      Here are an OT and a NT example.

      “I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.” Isaiah 49:26

      “For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. It is their due!” Revelation 16:6 —JOHN also, btw??

      Metaphorical eating flesh and drinking blood is a negative idea in Scripture, not a life-giving thing.
      Is it really so easy to say Jesus is speaking in symbols in John 6? I think it’s not so easy. I do think it is necessary to do so, though. Otherwise the verses shatter the Protestant paradigm (Anglicans and Lutherans notwithstanding).

    • C Barton

      Just want to thank you, CMP, for the podcasts. They are valued and a much-needed refresher in my day.
      Regarding the flesh and blood issue, Jesus gave the apostles a command to lift up the bread and cup in remembrance, to declare His death until He returns, according to Paul, who by the way claims to have received this in a direct revelation from Jesus Himself. My point being that Jesus’ presence on the earth was a unique time in which certain thing applied which do not now apply, such as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”, etc. Perhaps His comment about flesh and blood were unique to that time? merely a speculation on my part.

    • Gary Simmons

      “Would you think that John would be so incredibly obscure about something that is so incredibly essential and leave out the very instance that Christ institution that which is necessary for eternal life but, ‘Oops! I forgot to tell the story!’ ” — Patton

      It’s not obscure any more than picking up an intermediate or advanced textbook is obscure. John is not Jesus for Dummies. If you are reading the Gospel of John in the first or second centuries, you are doing so in the context of having already come into contact with Christianity as it is actually practiced. If the transubstantiation view is true, then anyone reading John would already know this. Your objection here presupposes that this book apart from both the regula fidei (pro nomen) and the witness of the three earlier canonical Gospels. Your objection only makes sense if you assume Protestant assumptions.

      Now, “this is my body”. Of course he’s being figurative here. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one uses X to refer to Y when X and Y are related entities, such as a cup and its liquid. Revelation 14:10 and other passages show a similar cup-and-contents equivocation trend. This is NOT a binary of “literal” or “metaphor”. Other figures of speech exist, even if conventionally people use “literally” to mean “well, it’s not a metaphor.”

      The question of what happens at this Passover is interesting. Assuming transubstantiation occurs here, does it procure Jesus’ not-yet-crucified flesh? There is the real question. Jesus is blameless. He offers his flesh. He is therefore offering his flesh sacrificed by virtue of the fact that he just offered it. Contra JJ, this is meaningful even prior to the Cross because the atonement is not based on Jesus’ dying on a cross, but on Jesus being offered for our sins. This means that it could still be effectual in conveying grace. Jesus wouldn’t be resurrected if he didn’t die, and our understanding of suffering would suffer if not for the Cross.

    • Gary Simmons

      So, that’s why bread-to-salvific-flesh offerings could not be a substitute for the Cross. It would lack depth and human identification in very significant ways. No loopholes.

      Now, here’s another thing. John is larger-than-life in many ways. John very much intends to show what’s behind the scenes. Despite what some may think, Christ’s mission to come to earth and go to the Cross was planned ALL ALONG, for instance. What’s that? Many of Jesus’ followers abandoned Jesus? John 6:44. All according to plan. All according to plan. All according to plan.

      There is a transcendent quality to John that should be considered carefully here. If John is indeed a drama rather than a biography, then it stands to reason that perhaps entire immediate contexts are themselves allegorical representations of statements that refer to something outside of their narrative context. You know — mystical writing, like Revelation. And, let’s face it. You know it. I know it. Protestant authorial intent hermeneutics is not what the early church used. It’s not what the apostles used, either. Jesus’ name is not Emmanuel. Jesus is not Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. Jesus is not Jacob [metaphor for the nation of Israel], God’s [collective] son who was called out of Egypt.

      Jesus frequently speaks in figurative manner. Really, if you look at how extensive the list of figures of speech is, heh, we *all* use figures of speech all the time. More than that, Jesus frequently speaks cryptically. True enough. But why would the early church obviously be right so many times in understanding “I am the door” is figurative, etc., but drop the ball at this one point? If the trend of the early church is to allegorize, and they choose NOT to allegorize something that sure seems counterintuitive as “literal”, then that is telling that they are going against their normal MO. Either the Apostles actually taught them that, or the Apostolic Fathers were incredibly ridiculous, as Sam says.

    • Pete again

      When Tim (I think it was Tim) described what happens during the Eucharistic epiclesis as “magic” I audibly gasped.

      Thankfully someone else (CMP?) used the correct term “mystery” from that point on.

      I don’t think that Tim meant any blasphemy; it’s probably just an example of his tradition’s perspective and how it has removed most of the mystery from (their model of) Christianity.

      And another commentator said that he didn’t think that John Chapter 6 was describing the Eucharist? Wow…Oh boy…2000 years of consistent Bible interpretation out the window…I think even CMP was tempted to say something, but didn’t.

    • Irene

      Pete again,

      CMP doesn’t believe the Gospel of John mentions the Eucharist. See reason #4 in this post:



      It does seem unbelievable to me that you, who are so often writing about history and tradition, can, when it gives you a reason to reject the Real Presence and/or transubstantiation, so easily dismiss such a solid interpretive tradition.

      Even if, just for the sake of argument, we say the whole “eat my flesh” passage is not Eucharistic, what about the book of John as a whole? Are you limiting yourself to a literal reading alone? What about a spiritual reading? What about John’s traditional symbol of the eagle, because of the mystical, soaring nature of his Gospel?
      To say John doesn’t mention the Eucharist, you’d have to read the book only literally. If you read it spiritually, you would find sacrifice, priesthood, sacraments, and prophecy fulfilled. New Prophet, New Exodus, New Manna, New Priesthood.
      What’s that saying about A Lamb Can Wade and An Elephant Can Swim, referring to Scripture?
      I know you are a very knowledgable man. That’s why this is so unbelievable to me. I think there is so much you are missing in John.

    • Pete again

      Irene, thanks for pointing that out!

      In addition to what you wrote, the Gospel of John was written last, and not until > 85 AD. John took it for granted that everyone, everywhere knew about the real presence in the Eucharist.

      It always confuses me why people reject the mystery of the Eucharist, which is clearly Scriptural, and was believed everywhere, by everyone, since the beginning of the Church. And instead, they chase after novelties like rapture (made in USA circa 1820) and speaking in tongues (made in USA circa 1900).

      • C Michael Patton


        That does not really make sense to me. Why didn’t he take it for granted that people knew about all the other events he records about Jesus’ death and resurrection? Eight percent of John repeats exactly the same stories as the synoptics. Why did he feel necessary to record Christ’s death at all? Surely THAT story everyone knew about?

        Plus, the most significant issue: he writes the Gospel so that those reading might have eternal life, believing in Christ’s name. He said that there were lots of things he could have written (i.e. the eucharist night), but that those which were written were chosen very tightly. He only included those thing that were essential for eternal life. He did not say he was supplimenting anyone elses work. He assumed that what he wrote and only what he wrote was sufficient.

        But the Catholic church teaches that the eucharist is essential for eternal life, not only the taking of it, but believing in transubstantiation.

        It is hard for me to see that if the Roman Catholic church is true, John did not leave out something significant and that his testimony about his own work is false.

    • Pete again

      Hi CMP,

      From John Chrystostom’s Homily 46 on the Gospel of John:

      “He calls Himself, ‘the bread of life,’ because He maintains our life both which is and which is to be, and says, ‘Whosoever shall eat of this bread shall live for ever.’ By ‘bread’ He means here either His saving doctrines and the faith which is in Him, or His own Body; for both nerve the soul.”

      Both nerve the soul. Both “support” the soul. In other words, a life in Christ with the Eucharist is more “complete”.

      Salvation may be an “either/or” proposition for some traditions – a punched ticket to heaven, so to speak – but for the ancient church it was a pathway towards God, a growing closeness to God. The Eucharist was given to help us to know God better in our relationship with Him.

      What it is NOT is a magical, “stand alone” token for life eternal. It is only useful as part of the Christian Life. Do some folks have this mistaken “magical token” idea? Yes. If someone walks up to the Eucharist without any preparation, self-inspection and repentance, does it “save them”? No, just the opposite, as the Scriptures make clear.

      Irenaeus of Lyon, wrote the following between 175-185 A.D. (Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp of Smyrna, who was in turn a disciple of the Apostle John) “Against Heresies, 5:2:2-3”: “He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be His own blood, from which He causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, He has established us as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies. When, therefore, the mixed cup and the baked bread receives the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal life? The Word of God becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ.”

      To me it is clear what the Apostle John believed re: the Eucharist.

    • Pete again


      (by the way, I really like the “instant edit” option! Nicely done)

      “But the Catholic church teaches that the eucharist is essential for eternal life, not only the taking of it, but believing in transubstantiation.”

      CMP, is it possible for you to forget about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist and simply “study” it outside of the RCC paradigm?

      What if everything was a “blank slate” and you started from scratch? If the evidence on the Eucharist in Scripture and throughout the centuries was available without the RCC somehow ever existing…could you imagine that? How would that change your attitude and approach?

      I know I know, the Protestant Reformation (and your tradition) wouldn’t have occurred in the first place without the RCC…so it would be a weird “Back to the Future” episode…but can you even imagine separting the Eucharist from RCC dogma?

      • C Michael Patton

        Ha, Pete, but your paradigm may be misunderstanding me. The Holy Fathers are MINE and I am not giving them up. In fact, no good Protestant should concede the catholic church to those darn Romans.

        Of course, I don’t know what the blank slate would look like at this time in history. If you are saying to go back and start by hanging with the earliest fathers, then you can bet that I would share in the same success and failures that they did. When you see doctrine take a wrong turn in the early church, it is very understandable and I empathize with it. I mean, I don’t suppose that you are a premillenialist, yet all the earliest fathers were. So, if you are not, you understand how things can go wrong (even though I am a premil!). So, I am just glad that we don’t have to start with a blank slate. That is reserved for those odd balls (Lord love them) of the resotrationist movement. Unlike Cambell, I DON’T endevor to read the Scriptures as if no one has read them before me. THe Great Tradition of the church is all that staelizes us. It is the regula fide, the canon veritas, the that which ahs been believed everywhere always and by all. It is what Irenaeus and Tertullian held to as they placed a muzzle over the mouths of the heretics. And then you have Tertullian going the way of another heresy.

        Church history is messy. And, as church historian John Hannah (one of my top ten favorite people in the world, said, “We all walk through the gardens of Church history and choose the flowers we like best.” Love that quote. Tweeting it now.

        Love ya Pete. Glad you are here and you don’t think I am going to hell. That goes a long way. 🙂

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