John 6 Debate
Dr. Jim Guinee v. Mr. Scott Windsor
Second Rebuttal of Dr. Guinee to Mr. Windsor
As promised (or warned), I have been very slow in preparing a second rebuttal. I admire Scott for getting his essay ready before I did. I think this stage of the debate is much tougher than I anticipated, because once you have both used your ammunition, it’s difficult to muster a lot with each successive round.
I will try to do my best, and hopefully it is on par with what Scott has done.
Another problem I had in developing my second rebuttal is that much of what Scott seemed to argue is based on the same argument. That argument amounts to “Jesus said ‘eat my flesh’ and He must have meant it literally.” Therefore, it is my view that when cornered, Scott often avoids the exegetical problems before him and responds with the same mantra: Jesus meant it literally because He said it literally.
I will try to explain better as I continue.
Now, once again, pray and THEN read carefully.
In fact, pray about this three times.
1.) Okay, first issue. In my last rebuttal I made the statement that since scripture is God-breathed and makes us wise for salvation, we should be able to build a cogent case from scripture. Naturally Scott felt compelled to say something about the defense of a theological point of view from scripture alone: “I am resisting the temptation to divert this into a discussion of the sufficiency of Scripture and/or the subject of sola scriptura.” Again, the point is not that Scott HAS to stick with scripture alone (I understand to a Catholic that is tying one of your hands behind your back) but that he should be ABLE to stick to scripture alone.
For example, we can build a case for the Trinity from scripture. A very good case.
Shouldn’t we be able to do this with Transubstantiation?
Why shouldn’t we do this with something that is so salvifically important?
2.) The next issue pertains to my statement about how often scripture refers to communion, let alone the commandment to eat the flesh of Jesus. In fact, I said, “In fact, nowhere in the rest of the New Testament are we EVER told that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. This is an amazing omission on the part of the Holy Spirit!”
Scott’s reply was based on an apparent misunderstanding of what I said. He said “With all due respect, Dr. Guinee, there was no omission! It's right there in John 6!”
That is NOT what I said. I referred to the REST of the New Testament. Of course it is SAID in John 6. We are not discussing that it is SAID, we are discussing what it MEANS. And according to Scott, Jesus means for us to take Him literally and further we MUST take Him literally – our soul depends on it! So how strange that one statement, which could be literal, could be figurative, stands so isolated in scripture.
If it is literal, it stands alone in scripture. Does it really make sense that the Holy Spirit chose not to move the writers to not repeat this commandment, given its incredible importance?
However, if it is figurative, if “eat my flesh” is another way to say “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” then it does NOT stand alone. Happily it falls in concert with the myriad statements from Jesus, from the NT, both literal and figurative, that implore us to believe Jesus is the Son of God. Even the very gospel that contains “Eat my flesh” is summarized by believing. Not eating. Not believing and eating. Just believing.
This omission of a literal eat-my-flesh commandment is also interesting because there is a book in the New Testament that covers a lot of ground with respect to the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, how it is prefigured in the old covenant, etc. If any book in the New testament would explain for us the nuts and bolts of Catholic communion, this would be the book. But it does not. There is nothing in the book of Hebrews any Catholic can point to for support. Yet you read the book and several chapters detail the process and significance of the sacrifice Jesus made. And if therefore Scott is right – that the sacrifice at the cross, and the Mass – are one and the same sacrifice, you will never find anything from Hebrews to help you with that view.
In fact, in Hebrews 9:24-28 we are told something interesting:
“For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
Please note we are told several things here in the aforementioned passage.
1) Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands. Is not the Eucharistic tabernacle made with human hands? How does Scott explain this exegetical problem?
2) Christ entered this true holy place ONE time. So how does Scott explain the fact that Jesus entered the true tabernacle in heaven one time? How does it not violate scripture that He continually returns to the Eucharistic tabernacle daily to re-enter heaven? Or is that an incorrect understanding on my part?
3) Christ suffered once when He put away sin by His sacrifice. Again, read that carefully – when He put away sin, it was a sacrifice and a sacrifice is that of suffering. Does Scott believe that Christ is still suffering every time communion is observed in a Catholic Mass? If so, how does that not violate the scripture that declares He suffered ONCE?
4) Christ offered His sins one time, just as men die one time. Where in scripture is the Catholic theology of “re-presenting the sacrifice” found here?
5) Christ will appear a second time, without reference to sin. So Christ appeared once to take away sin, and a second time He will appear not for sin but for those who wait for Him. How does His daily reappearance at the altar not violate the two appearances spoken of in this passage?
Another problem for Catholics is that in the book of Hebrews, there is no mention whatsoever of a priesthood of men that stand in for Christ and administer communion. I have asked Scott before what biblical priesthood the Catholic priests belong to? He has not been able to answer me. So I will ask him again in this debate.
What priesthood of the priesthoods mentioned in the bible does the Catholic priest belong to? (I realize the priesthood is not identical to discussing communion, but they are interwoven in this ritual, according to Catholic theology).
3.) Moving on, not only does Scott complain about my statement of “omission” but he also poses a good question: “Upon what precedent are you saying it must be repeated to be valid?” I never said it MUST be repeated to be valid. I said the fact that “eat my flesh” is never repeated leads me to question how can this statement be taken literally when we are never commanded literally in any other part of the New Testament?
Now, I can agree with Scott that if Jesus only commands us one time to do something, we are just as admonished to do it as if we were commanded a hundred times. But let’s look at another example, something Jesus tells us to do once and later repeats it (just once):
Matthew 5:30 “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Does Scott believe that Jesus is speaking literally here? If not, on what basis does he conclude that Jesus is speaking figuratively, not literally?
4.) Next there is the issue of Jesus saying, “he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." (v.53) Scott’s reply is an odd one. He says “Coming to Him and believing in Him would also necessitate obeying Him!” I don’t follow – coming to Him and believing in Him IS obeying Him.
5.) Scott also states (accurately) that Jesus says in v.51 He WILL give His flesh for the life of the world, so it isn’t necessarily a problem for Him that no communion isn’t ritually established here, that no one takes Jesus up on His offer. Nevertheless, there is still a thorny problem.
Jesus says He will give His flesh for the life of the world. In fact, he says more than that – He says those that eat and drink WILL live forever. There is no equivocating here – He says “if anyone eats of this bread, He will live forever.” Scott will no doubt say that this is true, those that eat His flesh WILL live forever. But Scott does not believe in faith alone, in the security of salvation – therefore he must admit that there are Catholics who eat this bread and do NOT live forever.
Can Scott explain this problem then?
6.) Scott then complains about the seven “I am statements.” First of all, Scott misunderstands the argument when he states that “there are many more times in John’s gospel where Jesus uses the words ‘I am’ ” That is NOT the issue. The issue is that these “I am” statements are metaphorical statements (as opposed to someone saying “I am going to the city.”)
Secondly, Scott contends these statements are not all figurative. Of course he points out that “bread of life” isn’t figurative, but then we must ask Him if Jesus really descended from heaven as a loaf since He DID say that He is the bread that comes down from heaven.
Scott also contends that “resurrection and the life” is also not figurative. He says it is literally true. Scott seems confused. Does he understand the difference between “truly literal” and “literally true”?
For example, I can say with confidence I believe the bible is literally true. In other words, I believe everything in it is true. But that doesn’t mean that I believe every true statement in it is to be taken literally.
Further, Scott fails to explain why in these other great “I am” statements that we aren’t called to “walk through a door” or drink from Jesus as an actual vine. What does Scott believe Jesus means when He says He is the “light of the world” or the “door of the sheep”?
7.) Another thought on this issue of literal truth and being truly literal. Scott pretty much avoids my argument about the pattern in John’s gospel – they take Jesus literally, they miss His spiritual truth.
Scott says “taking Him literally does not mean we must miss the spiritual truth!” But that’s the problem…each time the Jews take Jesus literally, IT CAUSES THEM TO MISS THE SPIRITUAL TRUTH. When Nicodemus asks how a man can enter his mother’s womb a second time, Jesus does not mean this is literally supposed to happen for a man to be born again. So Nicodemus’ literal interpretation causes him to MISS the spiritual truth, not LEAD TO IT. The woman at the well makes the same mistake – she believes Jesus is going to give her LITERAL water and misses what He is really saying.
But back to John 6 – what happens when the Jews take Jesus literally? Do they understand the spiritual truth here? Once again, they take Jesus literally, and become confused, even offended. But Scott wants us to believe Jesus WANTS us to take “eat my flesh” literally.
So what happened in John 6 when the Jews did what Scott believes we must do?
8.) After a lengthy treatise from me on how the old covenant prohibits blood consumption, Scott responds to my arguments in reverse order for some reason
a) Scott argues that “The prohibition of drinking blood is the drinking of the blood of animals.” So let me ask Scott this question: Does this mean that according to the old covenant drinking the blood of humans would have been acceptable in the eyes of God?
b) Scott’s response to Peter in Acts 10 fails to demonstrate the difference between the law being lifted and the Jews realizing fully the implications of this.
c) Scott then inexplicably argues that “The Apostles, at least some of them, were also still enforcing the Law regarding circumcision.” Uh, where does Acts 15 say the Apostles were arguing this? Acts 15:1 says they were “Some men from Judea.” Further, they were SHOUTED DOWN during the council.
d) Scott then claims I contradict myself somehow. First of all, whether or not levitical laws were abolished at the council doesn’t explain the fact that they would have been IN FORCE during the time of Jesus’ ministry.
So when Jesus says “drink my blood” during the time of the levitical law, a literal interpretation means that Jesus is commanding the Jews to break the very law God has given them.
How does Scott explain this? He doesn’t. Once again he begs the question – when he gets cornered, he simply repeats the same argument – that we’re told to do this, we must do this, end of story.
The argument isn’t that we don’t HAVE to obey Jesus when He says “eat my flesh,” but what is the MEANING of it? How do we understand this command so that we can be obedient to it?
e) Scott claims that the disciples walked away took Him literally. They took Him literally and this causes them to walk away. Once again I point out that in previous incidents, taking Jesus literally caused the listener to misunderstand the spiritual message. So on what basis does Scott argue that in this case they a) get the literal message b) get the spiritual message c) reject those messages?
Further, if The Twelve fully understood Jesus’ words in the way that Scott believes they are meant, this means that Judas understood this spiritual truth. The same Judas who right there is called a devil by Jesus. Is that right?
9.) Moving on…when I examine Jesus’ summarization of this discourse (“What if you should see the Son of Man ascend to where He was before?”) Scott sidesteps this statement by Jesus and tries to divert me back to the preceding verses.
So let me ask him a question: If he claims that the Jews understood Jesus was being literal and rejected His literal statement, is he willing to argue that up until this time the Jews have fully understood Jesus’ words?
To rephrase my question, Jesus starts this discourse with the claim that He is from heaven, and the Jews say, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?” (v.42)
Is Scott claiming that the Jews DO come to accept this statement from Jesus? That Jesus is the Son of God and His origin is from heaven?
10.) Scott is presented with Romans 8:9-11 where it says “it is by the Spirit and only by the Spirit that Christ dwells within us.” Scott completely sidesteps this verse by once again conflating literally true and truly literal.
I will ask Scott these questions again.
Did the Israelites eat the flesh of Jesus and drink His blood?
11.) My next argument I point out that Jesus’ miracles are consistently described in the gospels with enough explicit material. When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, there is no question this happened because we are told about his coming out of the grave.
But when Jesus supposedly changes wine into blood and bread into flesh, not once does any gospel writer confirm this.
Scott does not provide an adequate explanation of this problem. Scott’s response that astonishment from the apostles not being mentioned is a trivial detail. It’s not the reaction that is the primary issue, but WHAT one would be reacting to.
Where in the gospels or the New Testament are we ever told explicitly how the wine changed into blood and the bread changed into flesh?
Not only is it never recorded, even when we might get a glimpse of this we don’t have evidence.
For example, after Jesus blesses the wine and bread at the Last Supper, he still refers to the wine as the “fruit of the vine!” (Matthew 26:29)
Let me ask Scott – is it now Jesus’ blood? If so, why does Jesus call it the “fruit of the vine”? His blood is not FRUIT. If it only has the APPEARANCE of fruit of the vine, it is still not accurate for Jesus to call it something IT USED TO BE BUT NO LONGER.
Can he explain this?
12.) Scott’s appeal to so-called real life examples of transubstantiation are not helpful for a number of reasons.
a) There is no scientific evidence outside of the church to verify these claims (does the church even offer any solid evidence?).
b) We are talking about the description of miracles in scripture.
c) If these instances are really proof that during a Mass the bread turned into flesh, what does that tell us? If God changed the bread into the flesh of His son, why doesn’t He do it at every Mass then?
13.) Next, I argue that according to Hebrews 1:3 and Acts 1:11, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and His physical return will be just as His physical departure. Scott eschews this argument and once again refers to the “Mystery of faith” and Jesus saying, “This is my body.” Scott repeatedly begs the question when he cannot provide an answer. It won’t work here.
Where in scripture are we ever told that Jesus will physically return to us prior to His second coming?
14.) With respect to 1 Cor. 11:29, Scott tries to argue that this verse affirms transubstantiation. He says “St. Paul clearly states the reason they are judged here is because they have not discerned the Body of the Lord!” Before I challenge him further on this point, I would like to ask Scott what he means by his statement.
Does he mean that the Corinthians denied that the bread supposedly had changed into the body of Christ (and likewise the wine into the blood)?
15.) The remaining segment of my last rebuttal revolved around a number of questions I presented to Scott. Let us see how he responded.
I began by quoting Romans 8:5-8, which reads "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
So if Jesus really does command us to literally eat His flesh, a non- Christian, a lost sinner, reads John 6 and believes Jesus to be speaking literally. What would prevent this lost sinner from going to Mass on Sunday and immediately consuming the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved?
Would it not be pleasing to God for him to do so?
If not, why not?
Question a. “What would prevent "this lost sinner" from going to Mass on Sunday and immediately consuming the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved?”
Scott’s answer is “Physically, nothing would, but if he approaches and receives that Eucharist unworthily, then he would not be eating and drinking to his salvation, but to his judgment!”
This answer makes no sense, because I clearly stated that the person in question is a “non-Christian, a lost sinner.” If he is lost, what does it accomplish for judgment to be placed upon him for approaching and receiving the Eucharist unworthily? Can Scott explain this?
Further, can Scott clarify what it means to receive the Eucharist “unworthily”?
I will refrain from further challenges until I have received his answer and clarification.
In sum, I have broken out my responses in this rebuttal into 15 different question-answer challenges. I believe Scott has adequately responded to and/or clarified a few issues in his rebuttal, but for the most part I find his reliance on assuming he has proven his point very revealing.
I look forward to the next exchange.
Your friend in Jesus,
Dr. Jim Guinee