The Eucharist Revisited

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by neal4christ, Nov 8, 2003.

  1. neal4christ

    neal4christ
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    Hello everyone! I am creating this thread to discuss some issues concerning the Eucharist (Lord's Supper) that I have been pondering lately. There is not one particular issue, but many, so from time to time I will change the subject. [​IMG] I would appreciate any and all input that will help further this discussion.

    My first question is, "When did the understanding of the Eucharist in a purely symbolic manner come about? Where do we first see this understanding in the Church?"

    Please, let us keep this cordial and let us exercise charity. I had an excellent discussion on the Eucharist in the past and I would like to try to again. Please keep any Pope bashing or any other attempts to tear down the Catholic Church outside this thread. This is not a Catholic/Protestant issue, but a Christian issue.

    In Christ,
    Neal

    This I command you, to love one another. John 15:17, RSV

    By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35, RSV

    He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. I John 2:9, RSV

    He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. I John 4:8, RSV
     
  2. BobRyan

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    John 1 starts with "The Word became Flesh" - A symbol for a fact.

    John 6 starts using symbolism - with "My flesh is food" followed by "The literal flesh profits nothing-- The Words I Speak ARE life and spirit".

    In John 6 Christ references the symbol of Deut 5 - namely that the bread that came down out of heaven - is symbolic for the fact that "man does not live by Bread alone but by every WORD" that proceeds from the mouth of God.

    In Matt 16 Christ uses the same symbol of bread for teaching and in the conlusion it says "He did not say beware of the leaven of BREAD but of the Teaching" ...

    So by the time they got to the Last Supper the symbol had been spelled out for them - in triplicate already.

    In John 10 He says "I am the door" - and again "I am the good shepherd" - in John 15 "I am the vine". He did not say "I am like a vine symbolically" or "I am like a door in symbol".

    However - the meaning is clear - and they had to have understood this from the very beginning.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  3. neal4christ

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    Thank-you for your response, Bob. However, I am interested more as to how Christians have understood the Eucharist throughout history. When did this symbolic understanding of the Lord's Supper become popular? You say, "they had to have understood this from the beginning," but what evidence is there that this was understanding from the beginning? Are there persons who taught this from the beginning? If it was understood from the beginning then there should be evidence of this understanding in the early Church Fathers and down through history, correct? Who taught this understanding? (I really am curious, because I have always held to the symbolic understanding. I want to know what evidence there is to support this understanding from history.) If this was the common understanding, there should be no problem tracing this teaching from present day all the way back to the apostles, correct?

    In Christ,
    Neal

    P.S. Not to be rude, but I am not so interested in our opinions concerning this issue. I would like some historical evidence, if you don't mind. [​IMG]
     
  4. MikeS

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    Hi Neal,

    Glad to see you on the hunt for truth!

    The first otherwise-orthodox person I know of who questioned the Real Presence was Berengarius of Tours in the 11th century.
     
  5. neal4christ

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    Thanks for the link, Mike! This gentleman certainly had an eventful life because of what he believed. [​IMG] Even he seemed, at least at times, to acknowledge the Real Presence, albeit spiritually. His doctrine is similar to the symbolic understanding, but I would not think that many non-Catholics would even believe what he did, but rather believe an even more symbolic explanation.

    Reading this made me wonder what is the difference between the Real Presence and the physical presence of the body of the Lord, born to the Virgin Mary?

    God Bless,
    Neal
     
  6. BobRyan

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    Thank-you for your response, Bob. However, I am interested more as to how Christians have understood the Eucharist throughout history. When did this symbolic understanding of the Lord's Supper become popular? You say, "they had to have understood this from the beginning," but what evidence is there that this was understanding from the beginning? Are there persons who taught this from the beginning? If it was understood from the beginning then there should be evidence of this understanding in the early Church Fathers and down through history, correct? Who taught this understanding? (I really am curious, because I have always held to the symbolic understanding. I want to know what evidence there is to support this understanding from history.) If this was the common understanding, there should be no problem tracing this teaching from present day all the way back to the apostles, correct?

    In Christ,
    Neal

    P.S. Not to be rude, but I am not so interested in our opinions concerning this issue. I would like some historical evidence, if you don't mind. [​IMG]
    </font>[/QUOTE]The problem I have with that is that you assume that the first century Christians are "not Christians" or that the first century documents (the Bible) are not historic documents showing historic Christians (the earliest we know of) claiming this to be symbolic.

    How do you come to that point?

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  7. Justified Saint

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    John Wyclif comes to mind too from the mid 14th century. Perhaps not the first, but at least one of the first that was at least semi-intelligent and is respected by most protestants. The idea of a symbolic eucharist was most likely a belief of some heretical group prior to the reformation. Yet, it's hard to take them serious when most of those groups would couple that belief with the idea that there was no trinity, Jesus was not divine, women were evil, sex was evil, family was evil, use of agnostic texts etc.
     
  8. thessalonian

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    The earliest group I know of that believed only in the symbolic view (actually they held that all sacrements were worthless but harmless and probably had no real theology on them) is the Messalians in the mid 4th century. They were nomads who romed about preaching their Gospel and living off of he people whom they indoctrinated. The sect died out completely I guess in about the 9th century.
     
  9. neal4christ

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    Please show me where they say the Lord's Supper is symbolic, please. Why do you believe they teach it is purely symbolic?

    Also, are you saying that after the first century that just about every Christian forgot the symbolic meaning and got it wrong? So only the biblical writers got it right, and a few others here and there through the centuries until fairly recently? So the real meaning was forgotten by the second century by the vast majority of Christians?

    How do you come to that point?

    In Christ,
    Neal
     
  10. BobRyan

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    I do not say that after the first century we have a record of what every Christian thought - are you saying that?

    I am saying that the list of symbols I gave in the historic texts showing the views of the first century Christians - (see Matt 16? see John 1? see John 10? see John 15?...etc) show clear and explicit symbolism "I am the vine... I am the door... The Word became flesh... they understood he was not speaking of the leaven of bread but of the TEACHING of the pharisees"..

    There is no need to suppose that these historic texts are not showing us the explicit statements that they do show us.

    In once we see the symbol of bread for teaching in Matt 16... and the John 6 view that "literal flesh profits nothing - my words are spirit and are life" and we see the "Word became flesh" as the start of the Gospel story - it is clear that the "symbols" are there even for those that "need to drop them" later in the story.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  11. thessalonian

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    Once again another person calls Jesus Christ's body worthless. There is nothing contradictory about the bread being symbolic and the literal meaning of the Eucharist as has been explained to this one dimensional person before. The symbology of the bread is the many grains dying to themselves as individual grains and becoming united when they are mixed in to one loaf of bread and made capable of feeding of the world. We die to ourselves as Christians and are fed by this bread. Then we become one with other Christians. Unified we are able to bring the Word (Jesus) to the world. How do we do this? Through grace. Grace recieved through the Eucharist and other sacrements. There is no contradiction. Mr. Bob ignores the 4 times that Jesus speaks literally. For example, "MY FLESH IS REAL FOOD." "MY BLOOD IS REAL DRINK" just like in Matt 26 he says "THIS IS MY BODY" "THIS IS MY BLOOD". I don't see the symbol anywhere. Now some may say it is a metaphor but nowhere do I see Jesus say This door is me or This vine is me. This is my body, my flesh is real food is not the language of a metaphor.

    Blessings
     
  12. Carson Weber

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    Neal,

    You're not going to receive the answer you're requesting.
     
  13. MikeS

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    This brings up the issue I was trying to avoid when I wrote about "otherwise-orthodox." This sect obviously rejected much more Church teaching than just the Real Presence. Were they "in the Church" as Neal asked?

    Probably the real lesson is that heresy breeds heresy! Where you find one you find many!
     
  14. neal4christ

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    Bob,

    No, I am not saying that. I am saying that the vast majority of Christians should have understood what Christ meant, especially in the first 400 years or so. Is there evidence for the purely symbolic understanding there? Or did everyone "forget" or misunderstand what Jesus was saying?

    In Christ,
    Neal

    P.S. Anyone else have any idea of the support for the purely symbolic view of the Lord's Supper, especially from the early Church (first 1000 years)? Or is Carson right? Come on, if we believe something, shouldn't there be some support or warrant for that belief?
     
  15. Carson Weber

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    Hi Neal,

    Come on, if we believe something, shouldn't there be some support or warrant for that belief?

    The only viable response you're going to receive from a Baptist on this board is "Yes, there is. It's right there in the New Testament."

    Right now, I'm reading a scholarly text entitled Eucharist and Eschatology by Geoffrey Wainwright (a Methodist Biblical scholar) for my Scripture, Liturgy, and Eschatology graduate course, and it is an amazing read, to say the least.

    The Early Church understood the OT to convey earthly shadows that prefigured the heavenly realities present under signs (e.g. Christ's resurrected body is really present under the sign of bread, for which the OT shadow was the manna given to Israel in the wilderness wanderings) in the NT period (the Church/Kingdom Age). At the final eschaton, the realities will be seen unveiled as they are really present to us now in the form of sign/sacrament.
     
  16. BobRyan

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    Wow! The "Bible" as an EARLY new Testament - First Century - Reliable Hisotric Source showing us WHAT the NT Apostolic teaching was on the subject of the Lord's Table??!!!

    What a "concept"!!

    But if you are RCC you just have to say "nahhhh - give me a second opinion!!""

    You just got to love it!! [​IMG] [​IMG] :eek:

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  17. neal4christ

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    Or do you have absolutely no evidence that those closest to the time when the NT Scriptures were written understand the Lord's Supper as you (and me) do? Come on, Bob. You're dodging. Did it take 1000, 1500, 1700, or however many years to rediscover the truth of the Scriptures?

    In Christ,
    Neal
     
  18. MikeS

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    Can I just say how fascinating I am finding this thread?!
     
  19. Yelsew

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    Bob,

    No, I am not saying that. I am saying that the vast majority of Christians should have understood what Christ meant, especially in the first 400 years or so. Is there evidence for the purely symbolic understanding there? Or did everyone "forget" or misunderstand what Jesus was saying?

    In Christ,
    Neal

    P.S. Anyone else have any idea of the support for the purely symbolic view of the Lord's Supper, especially from the early Church (first 1000 years)? Or is Carson right? Come on, if we believe something, shouldn't there be some support or warrant for that belief?
    </font>[/QUOTE]Well, seein' how the "real flesh and blood" of Jesus ascended to the father's right hand some 40 days after he arose from the grave, It is highly suspect that we, today could be eating his "real" flesh and drinking his "real" blood. So, that leaves one with only one possibility, and that is, we use substitutionary elements that we consume today.

    However, in our spirit, which does not consume natural sustainance anyway, those substitute elements can be made to be the "real" thing in accordance with what one believes regarding them". Otherwise, the wafer and cup are nothing more than what they were before one consumes them.

    Once the consumer takes those elements into his/her flesh, they are not transformed anywhere but in the human spirit which does not receive any part of the elements. They are however transformed in the spirit, for in the spirit they become real food, just as the Word of God is "real food for the spirit".

    If that is how the Catholic "sees" the Eucharistic elements, then truly we have communion of spirit. If not, then we do not have Communion of spirit.

    There is not a Catholic who ever lived that has one shred of proof that the wheat wafer and the fruit of the vine transubstantiate into the real "human body" and "human blood" of the Christ as scriptures elude, in the physical realm. Until someone does show the proof that happens, then we have no choice but to go on "BELIEF", and belief is of the human spirit.

    So then, believing that one is consuming the "real" body and blood of the Christ is very much characteristic of the Christian reality. It is in believing, we receive the authority given to us by Jesus to be his body and blood to the world, the Body of Christ as the church is called. So, by all means, continue to Celebrate the Eucharist, communion, but do it knowing that what you are taking in to yourself is the "Authority of Christ", and not his "real flesh and blood" . He gives us the authority to continue the work that he began while living among us.

    Since it is Jesus' Authority that we receive, we must not receive it "unworthily". therefore if we have aught against a brother, leave the table and go to the brother, settle whatever it is that separates you, then return to the table and consume and be blessed by it.
     
  20. neal4christ

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    Yelsew,

    Interesting.....I have never heard of the Authority understanding. Where do you see that in Scripture?

    Also, do you demand proof that God exists? That is a weak argument against the Physical understanding of the Eucharist, because the same can be used against the existence of God. Can you prove to me that God exists?

    In Christ,
    Neal

    P.S. I would like to get some insight from our Catholic brethern here as to the point that Christ's flesh is in heaven now.
     

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