"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Is Transubstantiation Cannibalism?

I became interested in how Catholics would respond to the charge of cannibalism while listening to the Donahue-Martignoni Debate on transubstantiation. In searching the web I came across the following explanation.

"Cannibalism is eating of the dead flesh of a human person. Christ is not dead, His flesh is not dead, and He is not a human person (He is a Divine Person). Further, when a cannibal eats human flesh that flesh is gone forever. Over the centuries Catholics and Orthodox have eaten millions and millions of pounds of the Eucharist, and yet Christ surely didn't weigh more than 150 pounds or so. How is this possible if the Eucharist is cannibalism?

The very charge of cannibalism, the eating of the dead flesh of a human person, denies the Incarnation, the Divinity of Christ and the Resurrection. Since we Catholics don't deny any of these things, we understand that the charge of cannibalism is nonsense."1

This answer postulates that cannibalism is "eating of the dead flesh of a human person." So, eating the flesh of Christ is not cannibalism because Christ is not dead. This is absurd as the definition of cannibalism does not require that the person be dead before it is considered cannibalism. Cannibalism is simply, "the eating of human flesh by another human being."2

I would like to see the definition that demands that cannibalism is ONLY the eating of the dead flesh of a human. That is absurd! In fact, cannibalism is also defined as, "the act of pecking flesh from a live fowl by a member of the same flock."3 This the equivalent of human cannibalism; the same act performed by two different species. Therefore cannibalism is not limited to dead flesh.

This argument that the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is not the eating of dead flesh of Christ is absurd. Jesus describes the blood and bread like this: "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28 KJV)." "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me (1Corinthians 11:24). So, the blood that is drank is the shed blood and the bread that is eaten is the broken body of Christ. In drinking the shed blood and eating the broken body we show the Lord's death (1 Corinthians 11:26). So, if it is the LITERAL blood and body of the Lord, it is the LITERAL DEAD body and blood of the Lord. So, it would be, even by his definition, cannibalism.

Maybe this is an elementary and ignorant point, but if it is LITERALLY the body and blood of Christ, then have the Eucharistic bread and wine analyzed for traces of human DNA. What LITERAL proof do Catholics have that the bread and wine are the LITERAL body and blood of Christ? It would not be hard to prove, if the body and blood were literal. The bottom line is, there is no proof. All they have is their misunderstanding of scripture.

I welcome and solicit response from my Catholic friends. Please help us understand how this is not cannibalism.

31 comments:

  1. Hi, John. Thank you so much for posting on my blog!

    You know it is interesting to me that this charge of cannibalism has been made against Christians from the begining. The Apologia written by Justin Martyr in the early 100's speaks to this when he was explaining to the Roman Emporer that we Christians are not cannibals; rather, we are simply following the teachings of God. When God stated (according to St John's Gospel) that we must eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood or we will not have eternal life, it was not readily accepted. In fact, John 6 records that 'As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him (NAB).

    What is interesting to note is that, after Jesus Christ spoke about His Body and Blood being eaten and these people left Him, He did not run after them yelling, "No Wait, everyone! I was speaking symbolically". Yet every other place He has taken the time to explain, through parables or direct words, what He means when His Apostles and His disciples do not understand what the heck he is saying.

    Not this time. Jesus let them go. He even asked those who stayed if they wanted to leave as well.

    It is obvious and indisputable that those former disciples were interpreting Jesus' words literally, i.e. they thought that Jesus WAS promoting cannibalism and they could not accept that teaching. Note again that Our Lord made NO effort to clarify His teaching further, neither to the followers nor to the 12 Apostles.

    Most Protestants believe that the Eucharist is merely symbolic (Anglicans and Lutherans are the only exceptions). If Jesus did not intend His teaching on the Eucharist to be taken literally, then why would He have allowed His disciples to leave Him if they were RIGHT to reject a literal interpretation? Wouldn't that have made Jesus guilty of deception, duplicity, or at the very least insinceerity. It is totally inconceivable that the sinless Son of God would resort to such tachtics with those who WERE hoping He was the Messiah (He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. 1 Peter 2:22 and Isa 53.9).

    Thus the only reasonable interpretation of John 6 is that Jesus WAS teaching literally, that the disciples who left Him did so without being misled, and that Jesus made no effort whatsoever to clarify His teaching on the Eucharist because HE MEANT for it to be interpreted literally.

    Now the question would become - how the heck was God going to make this possible?

    Well, you and I know...nothing is impossible with God!

    thank you again for your question. Please pray for my soldier. He is currently fighting in Afghanistan.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You Said: "It is obvious and indisputable that those former disciples were interpreting Jesus' words literally, i.e. they thought that Jesus WAS promoting cannibalism and they could not accept that teaching. Note again that Our Lord made NO effort to clarify His teaching further, neither to the followers nor to the 12 Apostles."

    You say that they understood that Jesus WAS promoting cannibalism and never got corrected. You statement appears to admit, that cannibalism is exactly what it is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I will certainly pray for your soldier in Afghanistan. I pray that He returns safely

    ReplyDelete
  4. You said:"What is interesting to note is that, after Jesus Christ spoke about His Body and Blood being eaten and these people left Him, He did not run after them yelling, "No Wait, everyone! I was speaking symbolically". Yet every other place He has taken the time to explain, through parables or direct words, what He means when His Apostles and His disciples do not understand what the heck he is saying."

    As articulated by Pat Donahue in the Martignoni-Donahue, Jesus did speak symbolocially at times and did not clarify.

    ReplyDelete
  5. If you interest in a debate on this topic by one of your apologist please check out http://www.bibledebates.info/. He has had a number of debate with Martignoni and others on various topic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No where in the Bible do we ever see a miracle performed where the evidence indicated no miracle had taken place. Yet, after the priest performs his super natural act of transubstantiation, the wafer and wine look, taste, smell and feel the same. It has the appearance of a counterfeit miracle because no noticeable change has occurred. When Jesus changed water into wine, all the elements of water changed into the actual elements of wine.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The transubstantiation of the water into wine is is and example of true transubstantiation. What is SUPPOSE to happen in the Eucharist is not. If it is, then it is cannibalism.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I second Leslie K.'s comments, kudos!

    John, For 20 centuries the Church has struggled to understand in human terms what is a supernatural reality, that is, the fact that the Eucharist still looks, tastes and metabolizes in our bodies like bread and wine, but according to the clear words of John in chapter 6 of his Gospel, is in reality Christ's flesh and blood. That the Church always believed this is a documented fact through the writings of the early Church Fathers, (among whom there is remarkable consistency and unanimity), but the explanation as to how this could happen has certainly developed over time. In about the 11th century, in response to a heretical attack against the idea of the physical true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theologians turned to the Aristotelian philosophical concepts of "substance" and "accidents", as a way to explain what happens. The "substance" of a thing is that imperceptible "something" that makes that thing what it is. The "substance" has no physical properties and thus is not detectable by the senses. On the other hand, the "accidents" are all of the physical properties of a thing that make it recognizable to the senses. To understand the difference, let me use an example. When you were a baby, you were John Carroll, a cute little baby boy! Now, you are older, and I would venture to guess you look completely different, sound different and act different, but you are still John Carroll. Your "accidents" (physical properties) have changed but your "substance" (what makes you you) is still the same. Now, for another example, say you burned a piece of wood into ashes. In that case, both the "substance" and the "accidents" have changed because it no longer is wood, but ash, and it no longer has any of the physical properties of wood. So these examples show that you can have a situation where the "substance" stays the same, but the "accidents" change and you can have a situation where the "substance" changes and the "accidents" change along with it.

    This painstaking explanation sets the stage for how the Church came to the term "transubstantiation", which literally means, "changing of the substance". The Eucharist is the only example of a situation where the "accidents" remain the same, but the "substance" changes. There are no examples of this happening in the natural world, thus it is a supernatural occurrence when the bread and wine are consecrated (I don't think anyone could deny that God has the power to do this since His miracles defy the laws of nature by definition). To say this is somehow a "counterfeit" miracle is to question God's intent and methods, which I am not comfortable doing. When we find ourselves having difficulty understanding something in the scriptures I think we must study and try to stretch our understanding, not presume that the words must not mean what they clearly say because we have trouble wrapping our head around them.

    Now that we have a proper understanding of what the Eucharist is, we can see why it is not cannibalism. Cannibalism would entail the consumption of flesh under its "accidents" in a way that would require our bodies to metabolize it as flesh, which of course, doesn't happen when we receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist, although in "substance" is the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, exists with the "accidents" (physical characteristics) of bread and wine and so it is metabolized as bread and wine by our physical bodies.

    I think this cannibalism myth has now been busted.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @ Hercules: I will read this in more detail later. Thank you for posting! Please stay involved. But...

    "Now that we have a proper understanding of what the Eucharist is, we can see why it is not cannibalism. Cannibalism would entail the consumption of flesh under its "accidents" in a way that would require our bodies to metabolize it as flesh, which of course, doesn't happen when we receive the Eucharist. The Eucharist, although in "substance" is the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, exists with the "accidents" (physical characteristics) of bread and wine and so it is metabolized as bread and wine by our physical bodies."

    This sounds like a bunch of double talk to the rest of us and is completely illogical.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Hercules: I have a couple questions for you specifically as I respect you as a person as well as respecting your knowledge and zeal of the Catholic faith.

    ReplyDelete
  11. John,

    I hope you will get more specific regarding my comments. I understand that you don't believe in the Eucharist as we understand it, but I have to say that there is nothing "illogical" about the Church's understanding of this doctrine. In fact, it is perfectly logical. It does require faith, but so does a doctrine such as the resurrection, which by the world's standards could certainly be considered "illogical".

    The thinking that forms the basis of my previous explanation is known as scholastic philosophy and is based on the work of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, among others. I will send you a documant called "A Short Introduction to Scholastic Philosophy" to help deepen your understanding of the Catholic Understanding of the Eucharist.

    I am always happy to try my best to answer any questions regarding Catholicism.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. @ Hercules: Couple Questions.

    1. How can "this IS my blood" be literal when Jesus had not even shed his blood yet (Matthew 26:28)?

    2. What other miracle of transubstantiation did Jesus perform that the "change of substance" was not evident? i.e. the transubstantiation of water into wine.

    ReplyDelete
  13. @ DJH: Honestly, to the non-biased reader, all of the explanations given by Catholics trying to defend transubstantiation is nothing more than illogical, theological double-talk. It makes no sense.

    In what meaningful sense is it LITERALLY the flesh and blood of Christ when it has none of the LITERAL substance: It does not look like LITERAL flesh/blood. It does not taste like LITERAL flesh/blood. It does not have DNA of LITERAL flesh/blood. It does not digest like LITERAL flesh/blood.

    Again, in what meaningful sense is it either literal or transubstantiated?

    It is;it isn't!

    ReplyDelete
  14. John,

    Answering your questions in order:

    1. Time is a construct created by God as He is eternal. Since Jesus is God, He operates outside of time as we know it, so for Jesus, every moment in all of eternity is simply "now". Hence, for Jesus, He can easily say that this is His blood, even though in our concept of time it hasn't happened yet. Again, it is important for us to not try to bring God's ways down to a level that we can understand.

    2. There are NO other examples of transubstantiation in scripture or Christian tradition. That is what makes the Eucharist so special.

    Again, to repeat my previous post, it is NOT illogical to believe in transubstantiation. If your "non-biased" readers think is is illogical, I would like to hear in detail exactly HOW it violates logical thought. You are right in that it does not makes SENSE, since these are realities that cannot be detected by the senses, but the Church has never claimed otherwise. It is an article of faith for sure.

    When you ask "In what meaningful sense is it LITERALLY the flesh and blood of Christ when it has none of the LITERAL substance", it begs the question as to how you define "meaningful". You are also confusing the terminology. I explained the meaning of "substance" in the philosophical sense and so if you are accepting that premise, then you can't say that it doesn't have the "literal substance" because, by definition, the substance is that part that is undetectable by the senses. Please take the time to study the explanation of Scholastic Philosophy that I sent you, it will clear up this misunderstanding.

    The bottom line is that you cannot deny that scripture clearly states that the bread becomes Jesus' body, and the blood becomes Jesus' blood, but we know that it still APPEARED to be bread and wine. These two facts must be reconciled, and the Church has tried for 2000 years to understand it, but from day one, the Church took it on faith that somehow this could be possible through the power of God. I would add that for the first 800 years of Christianity, there is absolutely NO record of anyone even questioning this teaching of the Eucharist, much less denying it, but there are many supporting it. I will give you one example out of the hundreds that exist:

    St. Cyril of Jeruselem wrote in the year 350A.D., "Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that, for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ. Even though the senses suggest to you the other, let faith make you firm. Do not judge in this matter by taste, but be fully assured by faith, not doubting that you have been deemed worthy of the Body and Blood of Christ."

    Furthermore, John, in the early years of Christianity, thousands of Christians were martyred in the most horrific ways because they defended the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ. Why would they have given their life for a "symbol"?

    The more important question in my mind is how can those who claim an unwavering adherance to the plain words of scripture undertake the mental and semantic gymnastics of olympian finesse that is necessary to try to weasel out of the obvious meaning of the passages that support the Eucharist as we understand it. For example, "This IS my body" (Mt 26:28), and "he who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal..." (Jn 6:54) Should we believe these passages or not? If you're going to take scripture literally, then take it literally everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  15. @ DJH:

    1. Using those kinds of explanations one can prove any thing he wants. You answer is a smoke screen designed to defend a position at all cost.

    Christ blood was NOT literally shed, there for it could not have literally been his blood. It represented the blood that would be shed.

    Besides, it is said, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones (Ephesians 5:30). Are we as Christians the literal flesh and bones of Christ?

    2. You said: "There are NO other examples of transubstantiation in scripture or Christian tradition. That is what makes the Eucharist so special."

    What definition of transubstantiation are you using? The dictionary defines it as, "the changing of one substance into another." http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transubstantiation

    Answer:

    When Jesus turned the water into wine was it changed from one substance to another?

    Please answer this!!!

    There are many more examples from scripture, but one would prove your statement wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  16. John Sacker; Shreveport, La.October 31, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    Gentlemen:

    I hope not to be offensive in inserting a comment. I am currently having this discussion with a man in my hometown (Shreveport, La) who is Roman Catholic. He puts forth the same arguments as above. Just last evening I asked him about the following thought that came to me. The thought is based on his position (which he equates to the "early fathers' and, subsequently, the RC position) that the bread and wine being offered by the Lord in all of the Gospel accounts of the Lord's Supper were literally, at THAT moment, His body and blood. And, above, it seems that DJH uses the same accounts to support his position (forgive me if I am wrong).

    The problem I have with this position, if it were true, is that at the time the Lord offered the bread and wine of that meal as HIS body and blood, He had not yet undergone what was necessary for His body and blood to be of any benefit to us. Why? Because He had not yet offered Himself a sacrifice for sin, nor had His blood been shed for the remission of those sins. The offering, had it been presented to the Father at this point, would actually have been rejected IMO. That’s why we do not see Him offering His sacrifice until AFTER the crucifixion AND the resurrection when He brings it (Himself) into the heavenly tabernacle as an offering through the eternal Spirit to God (John 20:1-17; Hebrews 9-10). He knew that only after these events would His sacrifice be acceptable. Even the earthly high priests were aware of such requirements, weren’t they? How much more so was He?

    Based on the above, the body and blood He is offering at the “Lord’s Supper” three plus days before His ascension into the heavenly tabernacle would not have been adequate for an offering to or for (A)anyone. Based on that, the offering needed for our redemption and the one He said we should partake of in remembrance of Him could only be His post-resurrection body and blood. This, I believe, lends more support to the symbolism of the bread and wine as the body and blood of the Lord.

    I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this.

    Thank you,
    John

    ReplyDelete
  17. @ John Sacker: Good thoughts. I think you are right. Thank you for participating. Please stay involved.

    Do I know you and how did you find out about my blog?

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bro. Carroll:

    No, you don't know me unless you remember me from the old AFF. I think we were on that forum together for a time. I'm not sure how I found your blog, but it may have had something to do with a Google search. I'm not sure what topic I was searching. It was probably Oneness. Or, it may have been from a link on someone else's blog.

    John

    ReplyDelete
  19. @ J Sacker: Thank you very much for your input. Feel. free to be involved as much as you like.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you, Bro. Carroll. I hope to hear from one or both of the others who commented on this topic. I am not 100% sold on the idea I put forth, so I'd like input. It seems strong, but I am leary about buying into something just because it "sounds good". Do you have any detailed thoughts about it?

    John

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have read over the passage from John 6 many times in the past couple of months. The other night I noticed this:

    John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who **sees** the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    If we are going to stick to a strictly literal translation of the John 6 passage (as required by RC), doesn't the above statement by the Lord also require that we "see" Him (ie: actually lay eyes on Him) to achieve the same result -- everlasting life -- as eating His flesh and drinking His blood?

    John

    ReplyDelete
  22. I posed this question to the RC I am discussing the issue with here in Shreveport. His response was:

    "The problem that you have in your reasoning is that Jesus makes a statement here in v. 40 once...never stressing its emphasis."

    His answer was that Jesus only mentioned "see the Son" once, so somehow that means it is not to be taken literally. I told him that this response did not address my quesetion. It seems that the literal requirement he demands of the parts of the passage he wants to be literal does not apply to the phrase "see the Son". I told him that was quite convenient. It's much like how "God" sometimes equals "Father" but sometimes doesn't (eg: in John 1:1).

    It would be nice to hear from the two Catholics who responded above.

    ReplyDelete
  23. More on this. It hit me today how much stock the RC position puts on the Lord not telling this group of disciples that He was speaking symbolically. It's as if He should be expected to "chase" folks down if they reject any saying of His, much less a "hard saying". But, I noticed this while re-reading this passage again:

    64 “But there are some of you who do not believe.” **For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.**

    The asterisk-ed portion reveals a lot about the disciples the RC position seems to hold in fairly high esteem (ie: they were worthy of being “chased after” by the Lord). The RC position holds these disciples up as seemingly some to be honored, disciples who the Lord should have never allowed to walk away by saying something so difficult to understand and not clearing it up.

    The fact is they were unbelievers and they got their reward for unbelief, much like the 10 spies from Jericho and all the Jews who believed their “evil report” (Numbers 13). In fact, it seems that these “disciples” were no better than Judas. The Lord didn’t chase after Him, either.

    So, I believe the reason the Lord didn’t try to “stop them” was because of their unbelief. The “hard saying” was what put the nail in their coffin, so to speak. On the contrary, “the 12” didn’t need an explanation. They weren’t unbelievers. They were never planning to walk away, and they didn’t need this explained to them in detail.

    It was a group of unbelievers to whom He was directing this hard saying, knowing who it was “from the beginning who…did not believe and who would betray Him”.

    ReplyDelete
  24. John:

    IF these disciples walk away, I hear because when Jesus says something like "Drink my blood", this is against the Kosher Leviticus Law, as a Jew, you simply are not suppose to violate this code. A bit like "healing" someone on the Sabbath, something that on a superficial level, perhaps you are not suppose to do, if you violate one law, you violate them all. Also, how are these disciples who walked away honored by the Catholic Church? What are their names? If it is in the scripture, I am sorry I am having to ask, I was reading John 6 just yesterday and do not remember.

    To another matter, even IF the Calvinists or anyone else want to criticize the Catholic Church on this matter, one thing remains the same, any one confessing to be a Christian still has and in about 6 different places including Paul the Apostle relaying the Last Supper Speech in Corinthians 11 (? I believe)to the Gentiles, one thing remains the same, if one accuses the Catholic Church of Cannibalism, likewise, anyone professing to be a Christian can be accused of Cannibalism by the Scripture that was so often repeated. It's a no brainer, Jesus is saying "Take this and eat it", that's his body. Any of us can be criticized for this? Why? Because these websites like Answering Christianity (like there is an Answering Islam website) use this, this is not now something where you are questioning the postion of the Catholic/Orthodox Churches man, this applies to us all. It can be asked of all of us, Calvinists, Methodists, Baptists and so on. And IF not, why not?

    ReplyDelete
  25. @TSVDP: It can't be charged of all of us, because all of us don't claim that it is literally the blood and body of Christ.

    ReplyDelete
  26. In John 6, Jesus is not talking about the eucharist. He said, "The bread of God is he who came down from heaven and gives his life for the world. I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." Coming to Christ and believing in his atoning sacrifice for sins gives spiritual life as manna gave physical life. The complaint, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat," is similar to that of Nicodemus, "How can
    a man be born when he is old?" In both cases people put forth absurd physical explanations for Jesus' words. He did not mean that a person had to reenter his mother's womb and be born a second time. He taught that those who are spiritually dead, must be born again spiritually to
    have eternal life. He didn't mean that eople had to chew on his flesh and drink his blood. he taught that whoever believes that Jesus lived and died in their place will have eternal life. The words spoken at the last supper are obvious symbolism. He is teaching that his body and blood, his death in our place, is the reason the angel of death passes over us. "Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed." "Do not work for the food that spoils, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

    ReplyDelete
  27. Transubstantiation is what drove me from the Catholic Church. (Among other things: The Inquisition, silent consent of the slave trade, silence during the holocaust) but transubstantiation is what finally did it for me. Your teaching here does absolutely nothing to clear this up. I'm afraid that Christianity itself is to blame; I have to reject everything that is taught based on my observations. God will NOT be pleased with the purveyors of Islam and Christianity. How can I convert to Judaism?

    ReplyDelete
  28. There are some things that we shouldn't be required to take on faith. If God asks me to do something that can be reasonably interpreted by outsiders as an act of cannibalism, then He'd better have a darned good explanation, in very explicit terms, as to why it's necessary. Those disciples were right to walk away.

    If Jesus phrased it another way, like, "When you eat this bread, you are making love to me," any reasonable, sane person would ask for clarification -- and they'd be right to do so. But Jesus tosses out something as grotesque and weird as cannibalism, and we're just supposed to go, "Okay, that's cool. I mean, I'm not totally sure I understand it, I'm sure it'll be ironed out after a few thousand years of intense theological debate."

    The fact that you guys are still arguing over this a couple millennia after the fact is proof enough that Jesus whiffed on this one big time. Or perhaps John just misquoted him.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a whiff. Jesus is God. God doesn't whiff. But sometimes we are dumb as rocks.

      As for why the debate, in the early centuries there wasn't one, not about this. The Passover was already a symbolic meal of remembrance, and Jesus simply explained its deeper prophetic sense, that it was about Him.

      What the walk-away disciples had trouble with in John 6 was their rejection of the obvious. Way back in verse 35 Jesus has already said that coming to Him, believing on Him, will permanently relieve their hunger and thirst. Here's a big clue that He's talking about spiritual faith, not physical food.

      But these walk-away disciples Jesus has already rebuked for their materialist inclination. They wanted to make Him king, because He filled their bellies. The feeding of the 5000 had just happened, and they wanted Him to become a permanent food source to them, physically. But then he says don't labor for the food that perishes. He then directs them to Himself as their food source.

      But they don't get it, because they're still thinking how this is going to satisfy their physical appitite. This is why they try to process His metaphor as Him offering His literal body to be eaten. They're thinking of their own future hunger pangs. They just saw Him do this amazing food miracle, and they're wondering, even arguing among themselves, how this would work.

      But they never have the "aha" moment Peter has. They don't believe in Jesus, really. Not the way Peter does. Jesus says this is about spirit not flesh (verse 63), and Peter gets it, and at the end proclaims his faith in Christ. It is the full answer to the puzzle.

      So it's not a whiff, but more like a test. If you come at Christ as one who does not see your spiritual need, but only are concerned with your next physical meal, or satisfying only your physical appetites, you will be like the walk-away disciples. You won't get the lesson of the metaphor. You will remain lost.

      But if you have been drawn by the Father to faith in the Son (verse 44), you will get it, just like Peter, that it's about believing in Jesus, depending wholly on Him to sustain all your spiritual needs. Just as we need to be born again, but not physically, but spiritually, just as we need to be that branch that feeds off the True Vine, but not physically, just as we need to walk through that Door that is Jesus, set our feet on the Way that is Jesus, so we need to feed on Jesus, by consuming Him as the Bread of Heaven by having faith in Him, quenching our thirst by coming to Him, believing on Him, and relying on what He did for us when He died for us, and not on our own pretentions to righteousness.

      In none of this does transubstantiation have any place. It is medieval alchemy hidden behind doublespeak, advantageous to those wishing to impose the power of a priesthood class that should not even exist in a truly Christian ecclesiology, but disadvantageous to any who seek to know Christ as He reveals Himself in Scripture, precisely because this centuries old debate obscures the faith of Christ so simple a child could understand it, but too simple for the walk-away disciples of all ages to grasp.

      Delete