Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Does John 6:48-58 refer to Holy Communion?

QUESTION: Does John 6:48-58 have reference to the Lord's Sup­ per, especially these words, "except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood ye have not life in yourselves"?

ANSWER: To say that it does would make that rite absolutely necessary as a saving ordinance. In the formal institution of the holy eucharist a year afterwards, no such idea is suggested. The idea is that as the body contains the blood and the blood contains the life we must appropriate Christ's entire humanity in order to receive and maintain spiritual life. We obtain this life, not by eating the symbols, but by eating or appropriating Christ himself. This view is that of Origen, Basil the Great, Augustine, Calvin, Luther most emphatically, and. Wesley with less emphasis, saying, "It refers remotely, if at all, to the Lord's Supper," and such modern exegetes as Adam Clarke, Moses Stuart, Alford and Meyer. On the other side of this question are all the ritualistic sacramentarians, both Roman and Anglican. We regret to say that American Methodism is committed to the ritualistic and not the spiritual interpretation by this prayer in the communion service: "Grant us. . . so to eat the flesh of thy Son Jesus Christ and drink his blood that we may live and grow thereby." If American Methodism ever backslides so far as to become ritualistic, it will be through this unfortunate connection of these words with the Lord's Supper, which is not the source of life, but a means of grace, as everything is which brings Christ into our minds as our atoning Savior.

Steele's Answers p. 123, 124.