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The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

The Bible and the Church Fathers teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 694 times Debate No: 67693
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




Simply state you accept the debate in the first round so that we are on equal footing.


I accept

Merry Christmas & have a great new year.

I am hoping you will give some definitions for who you include in the Early Church Fathers.

For the Bible, I will be using the NASB, which I find to be the most literal, word for word translation.

Also, are you wanting to include discussion from the
consultations on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry through the World Council of Churches
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting the debate. The NASB will be find, I prefer that over dynamic equivalencies anyway. Yes, you can quote from the document you referenced. Though Catholics are not part of the World Council of Churches and were not part of the drafting of the document and thus it cannot be referenced as indicative of the Catholic view of the Eucharist, there is an agreed upon statement between Catholics in the U.S. and Orthodox in the U.S. on this very document, so I won't have a problem with it, as long as it is understood by what Catholics claim about it here:

Here is one qualification Catholics make about the document, and there are others, as cited by the link above:

"First, we would welcome fuller discussion of the way in which Eucharist manifests the nature of the church as the body of Christ. Eucharist is related to the very being of the Church and cannot be seen simply as a strengthening of the grace of baptism. Second, the relationship between Christ's sacrifice and his presence in the eucharist requires further clarification, particularly in regard to his offering of himself to the Father and his giving of himself to us as spiritual food."

However, I must strongly note that we are not debating here what Protestants and Orthodox agree upon concerning the Eucharist, which is what the document you cited is about, but the debate is about whether the "Bible and the Church Fathers" teach the real presence of Christ. This is very different, so I don't know how helpful it will be for you to reference the document, as it is not explicitely relevant to our debate, unless you are going to use it as a document to interpret a particular Scripture about the Eucharist.

As to who is included in the Early Church Fathers, we can use the first list found below, as it is the list that both Catholics and Orthodox (and probably Protestants) agree upon:

Here is my argument:

Scripture affirms that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus Himself spoke of the time when the Apostles would eat His flesh and drink His blood in John 6:53-55, which says:

"Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds
on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on
the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.' "

1 Corinthians 10:16 confirms that the words spoken by Jesus in John 6 apply to the Eucharist as St. Paul said:

"The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood
of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of

The early Church Fathers also teach that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus, as the following quotes from the second century demonstrate:

"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus
Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the
mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they
do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ,
flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness,
raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their
disputes" (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2"7:1
[A.D. 110]).

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to
partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been
washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration
[i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not
as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ
our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood
for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made
into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change
of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of
that incarnated Jesus" (St. Justin Martyr, First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).

"If the Lord were from other than the Father, how could he rightly take
bread, which is of the same creation as our own, and confess it to be his body
and affirm that the mixture in the cup is his blood?" (St. Irenaeus,
Against Heresies 4:33"32 [A.D. 189]).

"He has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own blood, from
which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has
established as his own body, from which he gives increase unto our bodies.
When, therefore, the mixed cup [wine and water] and the baked bread receives
the Word of God and becomes the Eucharist, the body of Christ, and from these
the substance of our flesh is increased and supported, how can they say that
the flesh is not capable of receiving the gift of God, which is eternal
life"flesh which is nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, and is in
fact a member of him?" (ibid., 5:2).

Thus The Bible and the Church Fathers teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.


I am taking the CON position to the statement
"The Bible and the Church Fathers teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist"

PRO is taking an overly literal interpretation of scripture to support his position.
PRO assumes the Church Fathers were unified in this view, that is no the case.

First, some definitions.
Real presence is a term used in various Christian traditions to express belief that Jesus Christ is really present in the elements of the Eucharist, and that his presence is not merely symbolic, metaphorical, or by his activity alone, ideas common amongst the Radical Reformers and their followers.[1]


Bible - Any English translation with preference given to literal translations like the NASB.

Church Fathers - " are ancient and generally influential Christian theologians, some of whom were eminent teachers and great bishops. The term is used of writers or teachers of the Church not necessarily ordained and not necessarily "saints"" [2]
Catholics generally regard the Patristic period to have closed with the death of John of Damascus, a Doctor of the Church, in 749. [3]


It is clear that Jesus is speaking figuratively in Matt 26:26-28
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." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is still in his physical (unglorified) body.
He is handing out the bread and the wine of the Passover celebration.
His statement "this is my body" is not literal, but figurative.

For Jesus and His disciples, this was the last time they would celebrate Passover together. The disciples knew that Passover was symbolic of the events in Exodus 12. God himself tells Moses that this is a memorial: "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance."[Ex 12:14] Recognizing that Passover is a memorial does not make it less important. Any Jew who eats leaven is to be cut off from the congregation of Israel [Ex 12:19]

Our celebration of the Eucharist is patterned on Jesus"s celebration of Passover. There is no hint that the wine and unleavened bread of Passover are anything but wine and bread. Their importance is that they point to the amazing work of God in grace, mercy and redemption.

There are many examples of figurative language in scripture.[4] The Psalmist says The Lord God is a sun and shield" [Ps 84:11]. Too literal a view of scripture gives God wings[Ps 63:7]. Most of Jesus parables expect us to figure out symbolic meanings. When Jesus is called the foundation or cornerstone we do not think He is claiming to be masonry; we know it is a figure of speech. It is the same when Jesus says "This is my body", there is no reason to claim a literal interpretation of these words.


The bible does not require a literal understanding of the words "This is my body". Trying to force a literal interpretation here makes no more sense than saying that God has feathers [Ps 63:7] or that God is a piece of military hardware [Ps 84:11].

Regarding the Church Fathers

Clement of Alexandria - Clement states
""But you are not inclined to understand it thus, but perchance more generally. Hear it also in the following way. The flesh figuratively represents to us the Holy Spirit; for the flesh was created by Him. The blood points out to us the Word, for as rich blood the Word has been infused into life; and the union of both is the Lord, the food of the babes"the Lord who is Spirit and Word. " [Paedagogus 1:6]

"The words of the Lord from the bread of life discourse "Eat My flesh and drink My blood," is, according to Clement, figurative speech. Given Clement"s credentials and with regard to how much he was admired in the church, it is not at all likely he was out on a limb here. Clement was teaching orthodox Christian doctrine, widely understood in the universal church at that time." [5]


In the same chapter of his teachings, Clement says "And if we who preside over the Churches are shepherds after the image of the good Shepherd, and you the sheep, are we not to regard the Lord as preserving consistency in the use of figurative speech, when He speaks also of the milk of the flock?" Elsewhere the Lord, in the Gospel according to John, brought this out by symbols, when He said: "Eat ye my flesh, and drink my blood; " describing distinctly by metaphor the drinkable properties of faith and the promise, by means of which the Church, like a human being consisting of many members, is refreshed and grows, is welded together and compacted of both,"of faith, which is the body, and of hope, which is the soul; as also the Lord of flesh and blood. For in reality the blood of faith is hope, in which faith is held as by a vital principle." [Paedagogus 1:6]

Irenaeus of Lyons - (This is shamelessly borrowed from

> There is also a fragment extant from Irenaeus that sheds a bit more light on the question of the Eucharistic bread"s substance. Apparently during the persecutions at Lyons, one of the accusations placed upon Christians was the charge of cannibalism. This charge was made because the non-Christians heard that the Christians ate the body and blood of Christ. This fragment from Irenaeus shows that the Christians indeed did not consider that the Eucharist was the literal body of Christ.
> "For when the Greeks, having arrested the slaves of Christian catechumens, then used force against them, in order to learn from them some secret thing [practiced] among Christians, these slaves, having nothing to say that would meet the wishes of their tormentors, except that they had heard from their masters that the divine communion was the body and blood of Christ, and imagining that it was actually flesh and blood, gave their inquisitors answer to that effect. Then these latter, assuming such to be the case with regard to the practices of Christians, gave information regarding it to other Greeks, and sought to compel the martyrs Sanctus and Blandina to confess, under the influence of torture, [that the allegation was correct]. To these men Blandina replied very admirably in these words: "How should those persons endure such [accusations], who, for the sake of the practice [of piety], did not avail themselves even of the flesh that was permitted [them to eat]?"" (Fragment 13)

There are other remarks from other Church Fathers that show the blood and body words to be symbolic.

The very words "Do this in remembrance of me." show that it is a memorial.

Luke 22:19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."

1 Corinthians 11:24 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."

1 Corinthians 11:25 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."
Debate Round No. 2


You say "PRO is taking an overly literal interpretation of scripture to support his position."

You are confusing the difference between a literal interpretation and a literalistic interpretation. The former is the meaning the author intended, taking in to account figures of speech, while the latter does not take in to account figures of speech but interprets the words at face value.

As far as the Church Fathers being unified on the matter, they were unified on this doctrine and I will refute your quotations that you provided to demonstrate otherwise.

You say: "It is clear that Jesus is speaking figuratively in Matt 26:26-28". If that is the case, why did so many of the Church Fathers take these words literally? Here are some examples:

It is proper, therefore, that when [Christ] gave the Bread He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Body," but, "This is My Body." In the same way when He gave the Cup He did not say, "This is the symbol of My Blood," but, "This is My Blood"; for He wanted us to look upon the [Eucharistic elements] after their reception of grace and the coming of the Holy Spirit not according to their nature, but [that we should] receive them as they are, the Body and Blood of our Lord. We ought"not regard the [Eucharistic elements] merely as bread and cup, but as the Body and Blood of Christ, into which they were transformed by the descent of the Holy Spirit.(Theodore of Mospuestia, Catechetical Homilies 5)

We see that the Savior took in His hands, as it is in the Gospel, when He was reclining at the supper; and He took this, and giving thanks, He said: "This is really Me." And He gave to His disciples and said: "This is really Me." And we see that It is not equal nor similar, not to the incarnate image, not to the invisible divinity, not to the outline of His limbs. For It is round of shape, and devoid of feeling. As to Its power, He means to say even of Its grace, "This is really Me"; and none disbelieves His word. For anyone who does not believe the truth in what He says is deprived of grace and of Savior. (St. Epiphanius, The Man Well-Anchored 57)

"You may perhaps say: "My bread is ordinary." But that bread is bread before the words of the Sacraments; where the consecration has entered in, the bread becomes the flesh of Christ. And let us add this: How can what is bread be the Body of Christ? By the consecration. The consecration takes place by certain words; but whose words? Those of the Lord Jesus. Like all the rest of the things said beforehand, they are said by the priest; praises are referred to God, prayer of petition is offered for the people, for kings, for other persons; but when the time comes for the confection of the venerable Sacrament, then the priest uses not his own words but the words of Christ. Therefore it is the word of Christ that confects this Sacrament".Before it be consecrated it is bread; but where the words of Christ come in, it is the Body of Christ. Finally, hear Him saying: "All of you take and eat of this; for this is My Body." And before the words of Christ the chalice is full of wine and water; but where the words of Christ have been operative it is made the Blood of Christ, which redeems the people." (St. Ambrose, The Sacraments 4:4:14; 4:5:23)

Let us therefore in all respects put our faith in God and contradict Him in nothing, even if what is said seems to be contrary to our reasonings and to what we see. Let His WORD be of superior authority to reason and sight. This too be our practice in respect to the [Eucharistic] Mysteries, not looking only upon what is laid out before us, but taking heed also of His WORDS. For His WORD cannot deceive; but our senses are easily cheated. His WORD never failed; our senses err most of the time. When the WORD says, "THIS IS MY BODY," be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the eyes of the mind. For Christ did not give us something tangible, but even in His tangible things all is intellectual. So too with Baptism: the gift is bestowed through what is a tangible thing, water; but what is accomplished is intellectually perceived: the REBIRTH and the RENEWAL".How many now say, "I wish I could see his shape, His appearance, His garments, His sandals." ONLY LOOK! YOU SEE HIM! YOU TOUCH HIM! YOU EAT HIM! (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 82:4)

"That Bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word of God, IS THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend HIS BODY AND BLOOD, WHICH HE POURED OUT FOR US UNTO THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS." (St. Augustine, Sermons 227)

"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread [Luke 24:16,30-35]. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, BECOMES CHRIST'S BODY." (St. Augustine, Sermons 234:2)

Thus, as per these quotes, it is not clear he was peaking figuratively, but all of these Fathers believed otherwise, and I can provide more quotes! See here for more

You say "Jesus is still in his physical (unglorified) body.
He is handing out the bread and the wine of the Passover celebration.
His statement "this is my body" is not literal, but figurative."

I'll let St. Augustine refute this one for me:

"How this ['And he was carried in his own hands'] should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. FOR CHRIST WAS CARRIED IN HIS OWN HANDS, WHEN, REFERRING TO HIS OWN BODY, HE SAID: 'THIS IS MY BODY.' FOR HE CARRIED THAT BODY IN HIS HANDS." (St. Augustine, Psalms 33:1:10)

You appealed to the word "memorial" in the last supper. Actually, the meaning of this word (anamnesin) proves my point, not yours. Jews meant by the word for "memorial" an actual making present of a past event, so the Eucharist actually makes present the sacrifice on Calvary. Consider what a Protestant scholars said confirming this: "this memorial is not a simple subjective act of recollection, it is a liturgical action...and this makes him present in His memorial" (Colin Brown, Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3:244)

As far as when Church Fathers spoke about "figurative" speech, they do not mean what we mean by the term. They were refuting the view that Jesus would in a literalistic way cut off pieces of his body and give it to us. See here for more

Thus, my position is able to accept the quotes you provided, as well as the ones I provided without contradiction, while your position is not able to accept the whole of what the Church Fathers taught on this matter.

In conclusion, you have not provided any information that is inconsistent with the position that the Bible and the Church Fathers teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, while I believe I have sufficiently established this.


gordonjames forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by gordonjames 1 year ago
Apologies for the missed last round.
I ended up missing the deadline.
Posted by michaellofton 1 year ago
Not sure why con forfeited last round.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Con ff a round, so conduct to Pro. Pro's last argument went unchallenged, so I presume it is true... So arguments to Pro.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Pro. Con forfeited the final round, which is rarely acceptable conduct in any debate setting. S&G - Tie. Both had proper spelling and grammar throughout. Arguments - Pro. While I'm not very knowledgeable on this specific topic myself, I found myself more convinced for Pro's position after reading the arguments. Pro builds a case dependent on the declarations of past church leaders in the first and second century. Con builds a case where Pro is taking it far too literally, and that not all early church leaders agreed. For me, all Pro needs to do is show that The Bible and church fathers taught the real presence of christ in the eucharist. Pro needed to simply show that some or a majority did. However, Pro takes it a step further to show that they all did. After following up on his sources, I believe his claims are accurate. Since Con failed to rebut, his arguments remained standing unchallenged. Sources - Tie. Both utilized sources and both were of the same quality.