A good thing about a forum such as this is not that it makes one state clearly what one believes, but that it makes one think about why one believes it. I actually wondered whether someone would pick me up on this statement, and made it with that in mind.
If I may, for the sake of ease, call your theology "Greek", the world contains a spectrum of people all breaking bread with Calvary in mind: Roman - Greek - German - French - Swiss (exemplified by the Pope; Handmaiden; Luther; Calvin; Zwingli). You are assuming I am at the zwinglian end, but we'll leave that for a moment.
Let us assume that within the whole spectrum from Rome to Switzerland you have people genuinely devoutly believing that Christ gave his body and blood for them at Calvary, and that this constitutes their only ground of salvation; and that they all come to the Table devoutly meditating on that fact. It seems hard to me to think that God will give whatever the true blessing is only to those who have correctly grasped the theology of it, and that he will withhold from all the others that same blessing, despite their humble looking to him on the basis of the body and blood as given in ca 27 AD.
Your idea that this is how God treats us when he observes the whole spectrum throws up strange anomalies: what about little children, to whom you give the bread and wine? what about people with what is nowadays called 'learning difficulties'? what about people who have never come across the Greek theology of the Supper (they haven't rejected it - they've never heard it)?
Then at what point does God begin to withhold the blessing? Do the Romans get it, with their transubstantiation? What about the Germans, with their consubstantiation? These two are probably just a little to either side of you. If the Lutherans get it, what about the French (Calvin, with his real spiritual presence)?
It is said that you can travel all the way from the middle of Belgium to the heel of Italy, and never come to a village which does not understand the speech of the next village. But the French-speaking Belgians and the natives of Brindisi haven't the faintest hope of understanding each other. Where does French end and Italian start? What theology will God bless at his Table, and when does the blessing fade out, or get cut off? "Thus far, and no further."
How God judges each of us is for no man to say. But to use the excuse that because we speak different languages, therefore we cannot understand the truth of the Gospel is weak. Pentecost undid the tower of Babel by restoring the gift of language and understanding through the gift of tongues. The entire point of the gift of tongues is that if I am an English speaker, and you are a French speaker, each of us will speak to the other in their native tongue and understand one another through the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the fact that the Bible has been translated to hundreds of languages and is the number one selling book worldwide further proves to me that your argument is weak.
For those who have never heard the Gospel or unfamiliar with it, God will judge accordingly. But for those who have, Christ says three times in the Gospel of Matthew alone (not to mention all the times in the other Gospels), “He who has ears, let him hear!” (Matt 11:15, Matt 13:9, Matt 13:43.)
Even when you throw out the quote from the OCA website that I included and the writings of St. Ignatius and St. Justin Martyr, scripture proves that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ.
You have not shown me otherwise.
As the one who began the thread, you have every right to say what is up for discussion on it, of course; but I think we have discussed this particular question at great length, perhaps exhaustively, on the other thread, which is (I think) among the private threads. But as things have been worded so far here, up for discussion is not whether it is the body and blood of Christ, but whether our meeting the Lord at his Table, in the way he intends, is dependent on correctly grasping the theology of it. That is a different matter.
But one cannot discuss one without establishing the basis of the other. If the Eucharist is merely a symbol that God blesses us for partaking of it, the ramifications are far less than what is stated plainly in scripture.
St. Paul writes in 1Corinthians 11:27-28, “Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
If coming to the table of our Lord were not important, and if we did not have to come in the manner He intended, then why does St. Paul admonish those who come in an unworthy manner? He does not merely scold those who have not examined themselves, but warns them that they will be guilty of the body and blood of Christ! This is no light charge.
I have not written that it is "just" that, though everyone from the most ardent Catholic to the most convinced Zwinglian does believe this much. It have written that it is a means of grace, a sacrament, through which Christ nourishes our souls as we feed by faith, spiritually, upon him and he renews in us the benefits of the shedding of his blood and the breaking of his body. The word "just" does not take us far enough towards that.
I understand that you feel it is a means of grace. I do not dispute you on that. My point is that it is not just a means of grace; it is the body and blood of Christ. Furthermore, it is a sacrament which provides healing and eternal life. This is in accordance with what Christ states in John 6:52-57.
If he were speaking in a figure, then the promise would still hold good. He is free to bestow eternal life in whatever way he chooses, and to strengthen us in our faith however he chooses. The sacrament is one way he has chosen: but not the only way.
No one is saying it is the only way. The Church has never said it is the only way. It is part of the sacramental life, part of the walk with Christ. It is a key part, but not the only way.
What I am saying is that to deliberately misunderstand or misconstrue the meaning of the Eucharist, or to partake of it in an unworthy manner could be damning to one’s soul.
Consider these words from the book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 66:2-5 (New King James Version)
2 For all those things My hand has made,
And all those things exist,”
Says the LORD.
“ But on this one will I look:
On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit,
And who trembles at My word.
3 “ He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck;
He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood;
He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol.
Just as they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
4 So will I choose their delusions,
And bring their fears on them;
Because, when I called, no one answered,
When I spoke they did not hear;
But they did evil before My eyes,
And chose that in which I do not delight.”
We have discussed Ignatius at length on one or more other threads. I have searched diligently but in vain to find any reference to the date of his appointment as bishop at Antioch and his association with an apostle. He seems to 'pop up' into history around the year 110 AD. Justin Martyr of course, as you say, is a good deal later still. Can you point me to a reliable source which tells us plainly of Ignatius's first-hand association with and appointment by an apostle?
So unless you find the exact date of his appointment, you will not see his writings as true? I find it interesting that you put faith in the writings of Wesley, which came 1500+ years after the Resurrection of our Lord, but doubt St. Ignatius and St. Justin Martyr, which came within 100 years of the Resurrection of our Lord. While the exact date of his appointment may be lost, the recording of his Episcopacy and martyrdom are well documented.
Furthermore, both of these quotes come prior to Constantine making Christianity legal, the supposed time frame in which many Protestants claim the Church fell into ‘disrepair.’ Regardless of whether or not you give credence to their writings, scripture still proves the doctrine of the Eucharist to be the body and blood of our Lord to be true.
In the sense in which Jesus meant it in John 6, we all agree on the "partaking", and we all believe we do partake in that intended sense. But this exchange is more to do with the "understanding" part of your statement: I still think that God's working is wider than our understanding of the matter.
No one is trying to put God in a box. Who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, God is the only judge. However, scripture has clearly spelled out what the Eucharist is, and how it is to be received.
We all agree that we are to follow all of the commandments that God has given us. Why not this one?