Friday, May 20, 2011

Eucharist Literal or Symbolic?

Steve Finnell writes on the topic of the “Lord’s Supper” (Eucharist) being literal or figurative (which Finnell equates to symbolic).  I’ve discussed this many times in the past, but let’s look at it again:


When Christians partake of the Lord's Supper are they literally drinking the blood of Jesus and literally eating His body? No they are not.

Finnell makes this bold statement, but if he is correct, then Jesus is a liar - as well as St. Paul and a host of the Early Church Fathers.  Let us examine his arguments further...

1 Corinthians 11:23 -25 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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 He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

Jesus was using figurative language to describe His body and blood.

No, figurative language would be to say, “This is LIKE my body... etc.”  Jesus said, “...this IS My body...” there’s no “figurative language” here!  Mr. Finnell is simply wrong.

Jesus was not suggesting that He and the twelve disciples were literally eating and drinking His body and blood.(Matthew 26-28) Jesus was speaking metaphorically.

With all due respect to Mr. Finnell, simply repeating a statement does not make it more true the second time around.  When Jesus spoke in metaphors, the whole passage would be figuratively stated, such as when He declares, “I am the Gate...” in John 10, the whole passage uses metaphors like we are the sheep and He is the Good Shepherd, etc.  In the Eucharistic narratives He takes bread and declares, literally, to BE His body and literally declares the wine to BE His blood.  The words “This IS...” are NOT “figurative language!”

Jesus makes it very clear He was not talking about drinking His literal blood. ( Matthew 26:29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.")

A statement saying that He will not drink of the fruit of the vine is NOT a negation of what He earlier declares to BE the TRUTH.  I understand that for Mr. Finnell this is a rather inconvenient truth - but it IS the TRUTH whether he accepts it or not.


John 10:1-6 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door......6 This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them.

I know of not one person who believes Jesus was a literal door. Why would those same people surmise that Jesus was teaching we would drink His literal blood and eat His literal body?

I have already addressed John 10 - and that whole passage speaks in metaphors - but even still, those metaphors are for a spiritual TRUTH!  Jesus LITERALLY is THE DOOR (or THE GATE) by which to enter into Heaven - we cannot enter by any other means.  Is Jesus a piece of wood with hinges and a latch?  No, but He IS the door/gate into Heaven.

John 1:19-29.....29The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said "Behold , the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

When John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God he did not mean Jesus was a  literal four- footed sheep, John was using a figure of speech.
The reader must ask him/herself what the meaning of “Lamb of God” is.  Lambs were used to sacrifice to appease the Lord - and thus Jesus, being THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE truly IS the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  Hallelujah!

Figurative and literal speech are not the same, it is one or the other.
Mr. Finnell must realize that “figurative” does not mean “not real” or “not true!”  He would like to dismiss the REALITY that the Eucharist IS the body and blood of Jesus Christ by declaring Jesus’ declarative words to be figurative - but these words are TRUTH!  What once was mere bread is NOW His body!  What once was mere wine is NOW His blood!  THIS is the spiritual truth - and that which is spiritual IS REAL TOO!

When Christians, during communion eat the body and drink the blood of Christ, it is symbolic, figurative, metaphoric, emblematic.

If this were true, then those who partake of the Eucharist unworthily could not possibly be guilty of not discerning the body and blood of Christ - if the bread and wine are mere symbols, then there is no crime against His body or blood!  Yet, 1 Corinthians 11:27 says: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”  Mr. Finnell does not have an argument for this passage, even though he quotes the verses just prior to this statement!  Context has utterly destroyed what he said earlier.

The fruit of the vine and the bread of communion represent the blood and body of Jesus Christ. THEY ARE NOT THE LITERAL BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS.

Again, if we were to accept Mr. Finnell’s word here - then Jesus is a liar.  Personally, I trust Jesus over Mr. Finnell.



  1. It's amazing that Steve Finnel will listen to the false traditions of the reformers, who only have their own man-made fantasies to back them up, while the Catholic Church has 2000 years tradition handed down from the apostles themselves. This is the main reason why I'm not a Protestant anymore. Why should I, or anyone else, trust a religion that claims to teach Jesus's doctrines, when real history shows Protestantism's main doctrines, especially sola fide and sola scriptura, didn't exist ntil the time of Martin Luther?

  2. some people's stubbornness keeps keeping them UNDER!

  3. Edo, they would say the same about us. Stubbornness for truth is not a bad thing - the point is, they (those who reject the Real Presence) are not following the truth, so they are being stubborn in a lie.

    In JMJ,

  4. Yes, Scott, and the lie is so obvious it is hard to understand why intelligent people fall for it.

  5. Given so many food miracles which I assume Evangelicals take literally (manna, quail, 1st Passover, Elijah, Elisha, and Loaves & Fishes), the pattern would point toward the Last Supper literally being yet another food miracle.

    Why would God stand atop that literal pyramid at such an important moment, and then do something merely symbolic?


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