Cannibalism and the Doctrine of Transubstantiation

By Donny Weimar

The doctrine of transubstantiation

“At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994)

1. The alleged proof texts

The passage the doctrine of transubstantiation is derived is “Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. 54 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” John 6:53-58 (ASV)

Catholics and religious groups closely tied to their traditions believe that when believers partake of the eucharist, as they call it, the unleavened bread literally becomes the actual flesh of Jesus, and the fruit of the vine literally becomes the actual blood of Jesus.

2. Paul referenced Jesus’ lesson in 1 Corinthians 11:23-27

For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24  and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”

3. Jesus was not teaching transubstantiation.

He was speaking metaphorically. The bread and the wine are symbols intended for us to remember and proclaim the Lord’s death until His second advent (1 Corinthians 11:26). Jesus did not say there is chemical alteration of the food within the body that becomes the Lord’s blood. He had been teaching He is the bread of life (John 6:48). He has come down to be the spiritual nutrition for believers just as the manna was physical nutrition for the Jews in the wilderness wanderings. Transubstantiation is a doctrine that makes what we call the Lord’s supper among my brethren into something carnal, fleshly and physical. It is not the physical blood of Jesus coursing through our veins that saves. The blood was shed on the cross. What saves is the spiritual food we hunger and thirst for. Communion among believers and their Master in the symbolic acts of the Lord’s supper (eucharist by Catholic definition) demonstrate our dependent relationship upon the Savior who has promised to return and redeem us. We are proclaimers of His death. We acknowledge the sacrifice He made for us.

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