David H. said,
“This is exactly the argument Catholics, I believe accurately, make regarding the Sacraments and the Protestant allergy towards recognizing (throughout scripture) God using the ordinary to effect the supernatural – rocks, mud and spit, bronze snakes, water, bread and wine. Only in Catholicism (and Orthodoxy) is there a completely robust and full sense of God’s ordinary providence.”
Except that every rock is not the miraculous water fountain in the wilderness, every artistic snake is not a miraculous cure for snakebite. Most of the time, a rock is just a rock. Most of the time, a snake is not a type of Christ.
Sure, when God specifically assigns a particular blessing or emblematic import to physical objects and rituals, then Protestants have no problem with that connection.
This, however, fails to raise any presumption that a suggestive cloud formation is really an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
And it’s not as if Catholics assume that every piece of bread is sacramental. They don’t assume that cinnamon rolls from the bakery are really the True Body of Christ–appearances notwithstanding.
David H said,
“Christ went beyond this with Holy Communion. The point is He took something ordinary and made is his body and blood. So I am sure you were using understatement when you said Protestants have no problem with it since Christ commanded this be done until His return.”
You’re conflating two distinct issues:
i) Protestants don’t object to the principle that God can and sometimes does use matter to convey spiritual lessons or blessings.
ii) Protestants do object when Roman Catholics misappropriate Bible verses, which they rip out of context, to backdate and rubber-stamp Roman Catholic superstitions.
As Roy Ciampa and Brian Rosner point out in their recent commentary on “This is my body,” “The bread should be understood to represent Christ’s body just as the different elements of the Passover Seder represented and reminded them of different aspects of Israel’s experience of redemption at the time of the exodus. In the Seder they ate unleavened bread to remind them of their forefathers who baked cakes from unleavened dough ‘that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait’ (Exod 12:39), and they ate bitter herbs (Exod 12:8; Num 9: 11) ‘because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in Egypt,’ 550.
David H. said,
“Huge difference. Jesus did not establish a perpetual rite when he compared himself to a door and a vine.”
i) That’s a deeply confused response. Ron wasn’t comparing perpetuity to temporeity. Rather, he was comparing literality to symbolism.
“I am the bread” is just one of several “I am” statements in John. And Ron is pointing out that Jesus uses self-descriptive metaphors in some other “I am” statements. So why construe the “I am” statement in Jn 6 at odds with “I am” usage elsewhere in John?
ii) In addition, your statement makes no sense even on its own grounds. Do you think Jesus’ other “I am” statements in John denote a merely temporary state of affairs? Is Jesus just temporarily the good shepherd, the true vine, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, as well as the way, truth, and light?
“’My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink’”. Jesus is not obscure in John 6. It clear contextually that his comparisons elsewhere were entirely different than his establishment of the New Covenant rite.
i) It’s contextually clear that Jn 6 foreshadows the Cross (Jn 19), not the Eucharist.
ii) In Jn 6, Jesus is speaking to Jews prior to the institution of the Eucharist. How could he fault them of disbelief when they were in no position to know what he’s referring to?
By contrast, sacrificial atonement was a very familiar concept to Jews, not to mention specific Messianic prophecies to that effect (e.g. Isa 52-53).
iii) Jn 6 doesn’t use eucharistic formulae. The eucharistic formulae employs the stereotypical body=bread/blood=wine pairing. By contrast, Jn 6 uses a flesh=bread pairing.
iv) Contextually, the colorful imagery in 6:50-58 figuratively depicts the literal faith language in v40.