In chapter 6 of “The Lord’s Supper” Chemitz emphasizes the need to take the simple, proper, and natural meaning of words in the Bible. He doesn’t say we need to take the literal meaning, though he argues for the literal meaning of the words of institution, because this is the simple, proper and natural reading of them.
I think this is very helpful instruction on how to read the Bible, especially in the fundamentalist culture we live in. Not every thing in the Bible is meant to be taken literally. Reading Revelation literally, for instance, will lead to many problems. Revelation is not meant to be read literally, the simple natural reading of Revelation is to understand that it is figurative, by its own admission. I remember once having a conversation with a Baptist Chaplain about this. Where he asked; why it is that I only read the Words of Institution literally, and not Revelation? I thought that to be a fairly stupid question. I wanted to ask back “Why do you read Revelation literally, when it is so obviously figurative, and not the Words of Institution? However the natural meaning of the words should be taken literally.
The very context of the Words of Institution, which Christ calls his Testament, makes it clear that these words are to be taken literally. This was the night in which Christ was betrayed. He was facing his immanent death, it was a sorrowful occasion. He took the occasion to distribute his wealth, the forgiveness of sins, to his followers. Furthermore, there is no reason to take them any other way than literally. I find it a telling indication of some ones faith when they tell me it is impossible for Christ to give his body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. I have always been of the opinion that nothing is impossible for God. Some say it isn’t impossible but it is gross. So they want to make it a symbol, but then doesn’t it symbolize something as equally gross? In fact, it is not gross. It is beautiful. It is Christ inviting us to partake in the sacrifice He gave for us, to eat him as our Passover Lamb.