Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

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.

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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

20 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #25: “The Fruit of the Vine”

    1. Thanks for the support and encouragement, Mandy! This rebuttal series requires a good amount of work. I reached the half-way point with this post (25 of 50) so I’ll be be taking a “vacation” from the series next Friday and publishing a half-way index..

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  1. As noted before, Transubstantiation and its associated teachings like Eucharistic adoration, are unbiblical, ahistorical, abhorrent and blasphemous.

    It’s always good to see Romanists squirm when confronted with the words of Gelasius I. 🙂

    Pope Gelasius I, Bishop of Rome (492-496): Surely the sacrament we take of the Lord’s body and blood is a divine thing, on account of which, and by the same we are made partakers of the divine nature; and yet the substance of the bread and wine does not cease to be. And certainly the image and similitude of Christ’s body and blood are celebrated in the action of the mysteries. (Tractatus de duabus naturis 14 [PL Sup.-III. 773]) See Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 Vols., trans. George Musgrave Giger and ed. James T. Dennison (Phillipsburg: reprinted by Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1992), Vol. 3, p. 479 (XVIII.xxvi.xx).

    Edward J. Kilmartin S.J. : The theology of the sacraments of the body and blood taught by Pope Gelasius is reminiscent of the Augustinian point of view. However, it is in fact borrowed from the Antiochene theology of the fifth century which had abandoned the more realistic fourth-century teaching of that tradition. To this extent it differs from the Ambrosian eucharistic doctrine of the somatic real presence which is dependent on the earlier, fourth-century Antiochene version. Gelasius’s theology of the sacraments of the Eucharist reflects the actual situation of the official Roman theology of the Eucharist at the end of the fifth century. However, scholars have paid little attention to it until now. That is why we give so much more attention to it than to the teaching of the other authors discussed in this chapter. Edward J. Kilmartin S.J, Robert J. Daly S.J., The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology, Liturgical Press, 1998, Pg 31

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: Pope Gelasius I (A.D. 492-496), was a Roman citizen by birth, possibly born in North Africa. Usually reckoned as the most outstanding fifth century Roman bishop after Pope Leo I, Gelasius is known, among other things, for his significant role in the liturgical reform movement undertaken at the end Of the fifth century. In his eucharistic theology, his identification of the two sacraments, i.e. of the body and of the blood, as one symbolical reality, indicates how far Gelasius’s thought is from what became traditional Westem scholastic theology. His understanding of eucharistic consecration is very different from that of Ambrose and from the fourth-century Antiochene theology of real change, which eventually became the dominant Westem scholastic position. Not surprisingly, it has significant points of contact with Augustine’s theology of eucharistic consecration, for, in important matters, Gelasius tends to borrow from the doctrinal expositions of the bishop of Hippo. But in the matter of the sacraments of the body and blood, his teaching is more closely related to that of the Antiochene branch of Eastern eucharistic theology as it had evolved in the context of the fifth century Christological controversies’. It is remarkably similar to that of the orthodox partner in the dialogue of Theodoret’s Eranistes; although there are enough differences to exclude arguing decisively for or against a direct borrowing. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 283-284

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J. : According to Gelasius, the sacraments of the Eucharist communicate the grace of the principal mystery. His main concern, however, is to stress, as did Theodoret, the fact that after the consecration the elements remain what they were before the consecration. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: The teaching of Gelasius on the subject of the sacraments of the Eucharist has often been explained as being in line with the teaching of the Council of Trent. But, as a matter of fact, Trent rejected it on two counts. In canon 1 of the thirteenth Session (1551), the council taught that the Eucharist not only signifies but contains ‘the totum Christum’. The explanation of Gelasius does not include, and indeed seems explicitly to exclude, a doctrine of the somatic real presence of the ‘whole Christ’. Secondly, Canon 2 stresses the patristic notion of ‘conversion to avoid the notion of the union of the substance of bread and wine with the substance of the humanity of Christ. This concept was already found in the list of propositions attributed to Reformers formulated in 1547: ‘There is in the Eucharist indeed the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, but with the substance of bread and wine, so that there is no transubstantiation, but a hypostatic union of the humanity and the substance of bread and wine’. Canon 2 was formulated precisely to avoid the idea that a rigid parallel exists between the unique hypostatic union of Logos and humanity and the sacrament of the Eucharist. But precisely this viewpoint is central to the Eucharistic theology of Pope Gelasius. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 288.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J. : Catholic scholars have recognized the similarities between Theodoret and Gelasius, but traditionally interpreted him as not excluding the real conversion of the eucharistic elements’. More recent scholarship has drawn different conclusions. For it is, in fact, quite clear that Gelasius, no less than Theodoret, appeals to the experience of the senses to prove that the nature of the bread and wine remains unchanged. And yet these elements function as holy symbols in virtue of a divine sanctifying activity by which they gain a real relation to a divine reality. The motivation is the same in both cases: to refute the monophysite thesis that the body of Christ is changed into the divine essence in virtue of the glorification. Both theologians argue from the correspondence, which amounts to a strict parallel, between a theology of the Eucharist and the hypostatic union, in order to confirm the dogma of the Council of Chalcedon. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 284.

    Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J.: For Gelasius, then, the sacraments are an ‘image and likeness’ of Christ in that the material elements, in virtue of the consecration, contain a divina res and yet remain what they were before the consecration. Up to this point, Gelasius has established three points conceming the sacraments of the body and blood. They have (1) a divine component, (2) in virtue of which the reception of the earthly component affords a participation in the divine nature, and (3) the material component, remaining unchanged in nature, become the ‘image and likeness’ of the body and blood of Christ in virtue of the ritual consecration within the liturgy of the Mass. Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Eucharistic Theology of Pope Gelasius I: A Nontridentine View” in Studia Patristica, Vol. XXIX (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), p. 287.

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    1. SB, thanks for the excellent references regarding Gelasius. Catholics do not want to admit the RCC’s teaching on transubstantiation evolved.

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      1. Jim, let me show you more. Keep in mind that the Romanists consider Augustine as a doctor of the church.

        Augustine says that those people who thought of the bread of life discourse carnally were foolish. He further quoted John 6:63 to interpret the discourse.

        Augustine (354-430): It seemed unto them hard that He said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:” they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, “This is a hard saying.” It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood. NPNF1: Vol. VIII, St. Augustin on the Psalms, Psalm 99 (98), §8. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 960-961

        Augustine further says that if the expression seems to enjoin a vice, it should be understood figuratively.

        Augustine (354-430): If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of “prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,’ says Christ, ‘and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.’ This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us. Scripture says: “If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink;” and this is beyond doubt a command to do a kindness. But in what follows, “for in so doing thou shall heap coals of fire on his head,” one would think a deed of malevolence was enjoined. Do not doubt, then, that the expression is figurative; and, while it is possible to interpret it in two ways, one pointing to the doing of an injury, the other to a display of superiority, let charity on the contrary call you back to benevolence, and interpret the coals of fire as the burning groans of penitence by which a man’s pride is cured who bewails that he has been the enemy of one who came to his assistance in distress. NPNF1, Vol. 2, Augustin, On Christian Doctrine 3.16.24. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Pg 1272

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    1. Thanks, brother! It’s been a bit tedious processing through the 108 inductees, but it’s interesting if for no other reason than seeing some of the IFB biases.

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    1. Crissy, Thank you for the support and encouragement!

      RE: Do you think Broussard believes what he is trying to defend as biblical truth?

      Broussard knows full well that many Catholic traditions are not explicitly presented in Scripture, but he must rely upon Scripture for the sake of his Protestant audience. In many/most of his chapters he must extrapolate from the Bible an “implied” validation rather than an explicit one.

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