Monday, May 05, 2008

Deep Theological Question for our Times

This question is related to our Eucharist Theology.

The Anglican Church has held many views on what happens in the Eucharist. There are those among us (including some of the Caroline Divines) hold a receptionist view where the bread and wine are not objectively changed, but the faithful still receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through their faith. Article XXVIII (Of the Lord's Supper) says: "And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.

There are those who hold Transubstantiation where the substance of the Bread and Wine are replaced by the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is particularly true of those on the Anglo-Catholic spectrum of Anglicanism.

I have spoken with those who hold something akin to the Lutheran Consubstantiation where the substance of the bread and wine remain, but the substance of Christ's Body and Blood are added thereto.

I have heard most often that we believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, but are not real sure of how this happens, only that God the Father does it through God the Son with the power of God the Holy Spirit.

This is the most common view that I have seen in Anglicanism today. So the question comes up - particularly for those in large cities.

So, if we truly believe the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, is it permissible for those taking the Bread and Wine to the sick and shut-in to use the HOV Lanes during peek traffic times? After all, there is more than one person in the car! Of course, you will probably be stopped by a Police Officer that has a memorialist view of the Sacrament and get a ticket anyway.


Phil Snyder


Anonymous said...

Greetings. Forgive the intrusion but whenever I see the word "consubstantiation," my socks start to smoke.

Lutherans do not believe in "consubstantiation." It is not a Lutheran word. "Consubstantiation" is a word coined by non-Lutherans to try to describe what it is that Lutherans believe about the Lord's Supper, I guess because "Real Presence" is just not satisfying enough for them.

The Lutheran view is that the bread and wine of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar are Christ's true and real, physical body without a change in substance, visible or invisible, is described as "Real Presence." It is an absolutely true physical presence, however. You will not (to my knowledge) find a Lutheran memorialist (never a memorialist) or receptionist. Christ's presence is as real as his incarnation. But we maintain "Real Presence" as the term because we can only believe the promise, not describe how it "happens" beyond faith and Christ's Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension to the right hand of the Father.

You will find that we are more dogmatic than are most Anglicans about what "Real Presence" entails, but it ain't consubstantiation. Such vocabulary puts nonbiblical (and nonconfessional) boundaries around that which ultimately is inexplicable and unbounded. Lutherans can be dogmatic, but they're not Scholastics.



plsdeacon said...


Thanks for the education. I believe that I was told about "consubtantiation" by a WELS Lutheran pastor.

At any rate, the terms "transubstantiation" and "consubstantiation" both assume an aristotelian world view where the items are composed of accidents (what is seen and touched and tasted) and substances (the reality behind the accidents). I don't know too many theologians that, today, accept Aristotle's world view of accidents and substances, so the point is rather moot.

Phil Snyder

Anonymous said...

We don't have to know how it happens. We just need to believe that it happens - that Jesus said that bread and wine become His Body and Blood - and faithfully "do this in remembrance of" Him.

Jesus said it. I believe it. That settles it. (To quote a bumper sticker I saw.)

Anonymous said...

Hi Phil,

I am late getting here, but I am glad to see you posted this story!

Capt Deacon Warren

Robert said...

It is perhaps easier to say what the bread and wine is not, than what it is. It is not mere symbol, it is not merely standing in for a concept. It is a real participation in the Last Supper, a continuation of the Last Supper, at least when taken worthily.

The problem with Real Presence is that it is hard to understand how literal meat and hemoglobin in itself would have any laudatory effect either. I would say that it is not so much that the bread is a stand-in for literal flesh as that literal flesh is a stand-in for the sacrifice on the cross, for the continual sacrifice of Jesus for us. We have to feed on His sacrifice of self just as babies have to feed on mother's milk, in order to grow up into His kingdom. I do believe the bread and wine is indeed spiritual food, not just a symbolism.

HOV lane, lol. :-) Someone needs to try that sometime. Perhaps with a diamond-shaped yellow sign in the back that reads:

"Host on board!"