Now, I’m not sure what Marshall Brain’s background is, aside from a complete lack of understanding of what Christians, at least Protestants like myself believe, that result from such sad and borderline libelous representation of what we believe about the nature of this great and wonderful act of fellowship with our God and Savior in the act of communion. For 28 of these engagements, I have been calm and measured, but in this response I am angry, and I am certain that as you have read up to this point that you can sense it in the lack of generosity with which this response will be worded.
Because Christians have been participating in the communion rite for many years, they tend to forget just how bizarre this ritual is. The whole idea of “eating Jesus’ body” and “drinking his blood” is grotesque in the extreme.
The literalness with which he begins in his opening paragraph displays a misunderstanding, which, more than likely, comes from a Roman Catholic understanding of communion, or the Eucharist, about the issue of transubstantiation, which Protestants refute, and was refuted by the reformer Martin Luther:
Moreover, the Church had the true faith for more than twelve hundred years, during which time the holy Fathers never once mentioned this transubstantiation — certainly, a monstrous word for a monstrous idea — until the pseudo-philosophy of Aristotle became rampant in the Church these last three hundred years. During these centuries many other things have been wrongly defined, for example, that the Divine essence neither is begotten nor begets, that the soul is the substantial form of the human body, and the like assertions, which are made without reason or sense, as the Cardinal of Cambray himself admits. —A Prelude by Martin Luther on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 2:26 & 2:27
Now, Mr. Brain wants to insist that we draw the doctrine of communion from John 6:53-55, which he quotes thusly:
So 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; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
As always, Mr. Brain presents this passage, sans context, so let’s put this in context so that we can understand just what Jesus was trying to say.
John chapter 6 begins with the feeding of the five thousand, a sign which causes some of the men to believe that Jesus is indeed “the Prophet (6:14) which is a reference back to Moses and the type of prophet he was. The next day, the group catches back up to Him, and some new people who begin to question Jesus, even pushing for a repeat of the miracle form the previous day. Jesus, instead reminds the crowds of the exodus, of the wandering in the deserts, of the hunger their ancestors (Exodus 16), then Jesus makes a startling admission to the crowds, essentially saying, “You know that bread that your forefathers ate, that bread that they collected every morning until they came into their inheritance, that bread that was only available for a limited time?” “Yes, yes, we know the story,” the crowd replied. “I am that bread”, he says, “I am the only means for not only your survival, but also the only way that you can have anything meaningful until you come into the final inheritance.” (John 6:22-51)
So, was Jesus speaking literally? No. The ancestors of those people, had they not believed in the promise of God that His provision was for their very lives, so that they would’ve to raise the generation that would lead the initial charge into the Promised Land of Canaan, they would have died for sure. Christ wasn’t calling for some canabalistic act, He was calling for those people to believe in who He was and what He had come to do. It was not to merely eat or drink, but to believe what he said.
Now, this statement, as he is preparing to close his “proof” says it all:
If you are curious, here is why Christianity contains this bizarre ritual. It is not the case that an all-powerful God in heaven demands this behavior. All of the rituals in Christianity are completely man-made. Christianity is a snow ball that rolled over a dozen pagan religions. As the snowball grew, it freely attached pagan rituals in order to be more palatable to converts. The process is described succinctly and accurately in the book “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. The book offers these two accounts of the acretion process: […]
To use “succinctly and accurately” in the same sentence with the name “Dan Brown”, right there, that statement that I emphasized, explains the entirety of this straw man. “The Da Vinci Code” is a work of fiction, Marshall, conspiracy fiction at that. There is nothing historical in it at all, except that the author gets the history wrong, demonstrably. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for referencing a book of fiction, Mr. Brain.
In fact, if you, sir, actually did a little historical research, you would have never wrote such a blatantly fallacious piece.