Today, we will continue with our response to Dave Armstrong and his book, “The Catholic Verses,” in which the Catholic apologist presents ninety-five Bible verses or passages that allegedly validate Catholicism and are claimed to “confound” Protestants.
In the next chapter, Armstrong argues for the Catholic position that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, and that by consuming the consecrated elements, Catholics allegedly receive graces that help them obey the Ten Commandments and church rules in order to hopefully merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Beneath the first passage, Armstrong writes, “The Catholic church teaches the real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist (or, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, as Protestants often refer to it). By Real Presence, Catholics mean that Jesus Christ is actually and substantially present (not just subjectively or symbolically) after the bread and wine are consecrated and truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus. By transubstantiation (literally, “change of substance”), we mean that the bread and wine completely change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The substance changes, but the outward properties, or accidents, remain the same. It is a mystery and must be believed by faith.” – p. 113.
Armstrong presents the passages below from the Last Supper accounts in the Gospels and from the “Bread from Heaven” passage from John 6. Because of the combined length of these passages, I’ve used hyper-links for the last five.
#65) Luke 22:19-20: “19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
#66) John 6:47-66
#67) Matthew 26:27-28
#68) John 6:11
#69) John 6:26-27
#70) John 6:35
I’ve addressed the “Bread from Heaven” passage in John 6 several times. The passage is meant to be understood symbolically. We are not to literally eat Jesus as the source eternal life. The operative word in the passage is “believe,” which is used nine times. Eating a consecrated bread wafer doesn’t save anyone, rather it’s repenting of sin and trusting/believing in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone that saves.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.” – John 6:47
Many of the Jews who heard Jesus’ words in John 6 and the symbolism He used were confused and thought He was talking about physically eating Him. Some walked away in disgust. Catholics make much of the fact that many walked away and that Jesus did not correct them. From this, Catholics construe that their literal interpretation is correct. Not so. At the end of the passage Jesus states, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Jesus instructs His disciples to interpret His words spiritually, not materially. In several instances in the Gospels, Jesus did not clarify His teachings for the hard-hearted and unrepentant, so that “Seeing, they might see and not perceive; and hearing, they might hear and not understand” (Mark 4:12).
As with several other of Catholicism’s sacraments (e.g., baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick), where the emphasis is on the material substance administered by the priest (water, oil), with the eucharist, Catholics believe they must physically receive Jesus into their mouth and down into their digestive tract rather than spiritually receiving Jesus as Savior by faith alone. This is such a grave error. Because Catholics are taught the consecrated bread wafer is literally, Jesus Christ, all sorts of gross idolatry sprung up involving worshiping the “host.”
See my post on worshipping the Jesus wafer below:
Next week, we’ll examine two more verses which Armstrong cites as proof of transubstantiation.