Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his section on Sacraments and the specific topic of the sacrifice of the mass and the eucharist as he counters evangelical Protestants’ arguments that Jesus Christ referred to the wine at the Last Supper as “The Fruit of the Vine” rather than His blood.
The Roman Catholic church teaches that at the mass its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered up as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Catholics call this change transubstantiation. The RCC bases its teaching on literal interpretations of John 6 and the Last Supper accounts in the four gospels. Below is the passage from Matthew 26:26-28 in which Jesus refers to the bread and wine as His body and blood:
“26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Catholics interpret this passage to mean that Jesus changed the bread and wine into His actual body and blood. Evangelical Protestants, in contrast, believe Jesus is presenting the bread and wine elements as symbols of His impending death. As Broussard points out, evangelical Protestants believe they are able to refute a literal interpretation of this passage with the very next verse:
29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
If the liquid in Jesus’s cup was His transubstantiated blood, Protestants ask, then why does He refer to it as “fruit of the vine” in verse 29?
Matthew 26:29 is a difficult roadblock for Catholic apologists and Broussard attempts to circumvent it with four spurious rejoinders:
Firstly, he notes that while Matthew and Mark (14:22-25) place the “fruit of the vine” phrase after the alleged consecration/transformation in their Last Supper accounts, Luke (22:14-20) records it before. He states that Luke wrote the sequence correctly while Matthew and Mark were not concerned with the correct sequence.
Secondly, Broussard suggests Jesus was using phenomenological language in Matthew 26:29 rather than literal language, meaning He was referencing appearance rather than reality. Broussard presents examples in the Bible including those which refer to dead people as “sleeping” (John 11:11, 1 Thessalonians 4:15).
Thirdly, Broussard posits that Jesus was describing the contents of the cup/chalice in its prior state, much the same way that Aaron’s “staff” is described in Exodus 7:12 as devouring the “staffs” of the Egyptian magicians after they had changed to snakes.
Lastly, Broussard proposes that Jesus is not so much talking about the contents of the cup/chalice as He is prophesying of a future event in which He’ll drink wine (the sour wine on the cross or a post-Resurrection meal with the apostles or at the Heavenly banquet).
Okay, let’s now respond to Broussard.
The reader’s head is purposely meant to be spinning after Broussard’s arbitrary sophistry. He can’t provide a solid rebuttal, so he instead dazzles the reader with…four flimsy “possibilities.”
I could attempt to respond to Broussard’s “grasping at straws,” but I’m inclined instead to point the reader to Paul’s description of the Last Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 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.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Like Matthew and Mark, Paul refers to one of the elements, bread in this case, as bread AFTER the alleged consecration/transformation. Believers are certainly to reverence the communion elements as symbols of our Lord’s body and blood as Paul instructs, but we do not worship the elements as the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ as Catholics do. Nowhere in New Testament do we read of the apostles or members of the church worshiping the communion elements the way Roman Catholics do.
A few weeks ago, we discussed how the Catholic literal interpretation of “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life” (John 6:54) in conjunction with Catholic transubstantiation and consuming the Jesus wafer as the means to salvation is absolutely untenable (see here). Believing/trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone is the way to salvation, NOT physically eating a bread wafer!
Next: Half-time hiatus