Communion/Eucharist

Loutzenhiser's picture

* "Transubstantiation" — the substance (fundamental reality) of the bread and wine is transformed in a way beyond human comprehension into that of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, but the accidents (physical traits, including chemical properties) of the bread and wine remain; this view is that taught by the Roman Catholic Church and by the Eastern Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem, and is held by many Anglicans, especially in Anglo-Catholic circles.
* "In, with and under the forms" — the body and blood of Jesus Christ are substantially present in, with and under the substance of the bread and wine, which remain. This is the view held by most Lutherans, and some Anglicans. Lutherans and non-Lutherans refer to this view as 'consubstantiation'. Although, for some, this term is difficult to understand, it remains the confessed understanding of the Lutheran faith.
* "Objective reality, but pious silence about technicalities" — the view of all the ancient Churches of the East, (including the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Catholic Churches) and the Assyrian Church of the East as well as perhaps most Anglicans. These, while agreeing with the Roman Catholic belief that the sacrament is not merely bread and wine but truly the body and blood of Christ, and having historically employed the "substance" and "accidents" terminology to explain what is changed in the transformation, usually avoid this terminology, lest they seem to scrutize the technicalities of the manner in which the transformation occurs.
* "Real Spiritual presence", also called "pneumatic presence", holds that not only the Spirit of Christ, but also the true body and blood of Jesus Christ (hence "real"), are received by the sovereign, mysterious, and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit (hence "spiritual"), but only by those partakers who have faith. This view approaches the "pious silence" view in its unwillingness to specify how the Holy Spirit makes Christ present, but positively excludes not just symbolism but also trans- and con-substantiation. It is also known as the "mystical presence" view, and is held by most Reformed Christians, such as Presbyterians, as well as some Methodists and some Anglicans, particularly Low Church Reformed Anglicans. See Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 29. This understanding is often called "receptionism". Some argue that this view can be seen as being suggested — though not by any means clearly — by the "invocation" of the Anglican Rite as found in the American Book of Common Prayer, 1928 and earlier and in Rite I of the American BCP of 1979 as well as in other Anglican formularies:

And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us, and of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood.

* "Symbolism" — the bread and wine are symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and in partaking of the elements the believer commemorates the sacrificial death of Christ. This view is also known as "memorialism" and "Zwinglianism" after Ulrich Zwingli and is held by several Protestant and Latter-day Saint denominations, including most Baptists.
* "Suspension" — the partaking of the bread and wine was not intended to be a perpetual ordinance, or was not to be taken as a religious rite or ceremony (also known as adeipnonism, meaning "no supper" or "no meal"). This is the view of Quakers and the Salvation Army, as well as the hyperdispensationalist positions of E. W. Bullinger, Cornelius R. Stam, and others.

What is your position on this subject and how do you support it scripturally?

michael_legna's picture

I hope this answers your questions

Mike Kirby said -
I believe that where 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, He is there in a way that He is not when I commune with Him alone.

First I think you are misapplying that idea.

If we look at the verse you reference and see the context it was made in we see it is not about just any 2 or 3 Christians, but it was referring to the authority which is present when two or more Apostles are gathered together, authority that is protected by Christ, thus His presence.

Here is the verse in context:

Mat 18:15-20 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

We see that the context is with regard to the Apostles as leaders of the Church. The discussion starts with how to resolve a problem between brother Christians and it ends with our being instructed to obey the decisions of the Church. This is because the Apostles (who are the audience here) are the ones who have the authority to bind and loose on earth as it is in heaven. This authority cannot be to every group of two or more Christians as we can easily form multiple groups of two or more Christians who would disagree on a point of doctrine and so heaven would be full of contradictory bindings and loosing. Therefore this promise of a presence is also linked to the coming together of two or more Apostles or their successors and it is a different type of presence then we are talking about in the Eucharist.

Mike Kirby said -
Similarly, during the Lord's Supper He is there in a way that He is not on other occasions.

Oh I agree He is present in a way He is not on other occasions. The point is do we believe Him as to how that differences differs? Or do we leave because we cannot accept it? What is our answer to Him when He asks us - "Will ye also go away?"

The point of my recent post was if we have to come up with a different interpretation of the symbols of bread and wine every time it is discussed in scripture I think we are doing a lot of mental gymnastics to avoid His simple teaching. Can we really say the complicated spiritualization of what it means to not discern the body of the Lord when discussing the Eucharist is easier to accept than just believing His words literally? This is especially important since we then have to ask ourself the very same question in each of the other three instances where the Eucharist is discussed in scripture and men go to great lengths to spiritualize those too.

Mike Kirby said -
I have 2 questions that I would like you to answer specifically...

1.Would you say that it is a sin for me to not believe in the real presence as you understand it?

No.

First because sin implies knowledge and intent and if you have not accepted the true meaning of these verses you are acting out of ignorance and not knowledge - and of course knowledge is needed to have intent.

Second I am assuming your usual participation in the Eucharist is done in a setting where the celebrant clergy does not believe they are participating in a sacrament where a real conversion occurs, so in that instance it does not. In other words the bread and the wine are mere symbols, but the bad part is even though this is not a sin the sacramental graces are also not available. If you were to participate in a Roman Catholic Mass (or other Church such as Orthodox which believes in the real presence) and you were to partake of the Eucharist without believing in the real presence, then you would be risking not discerning the body of the Lord and risking the judgment that goes along with that unworthy treatment of His body.

Mike kirby said -
2.Do you think that I can be a saved and spirit filed believer in Christ and not believe in the real presence as you understand it?

Yes.

You could indeed be saved, but there are two issues to consider here.

First, is if you were to participate in real celebrations of the Eucharist where the real conversion takes place you are going to be treating the body of Christ in an unworthy manner and you risk damnation. Of course this means there has to be knowledge (that the celebration is real) and intent (to do this despite not believing) as I said before.

Second, there are graces available through the sacraments and since salvation is determined at the judgement after we are dead, the graces available through the sacrament of the Eucharist (when properly participated in) are extremely valuable to assist our enduring.

All this being said I want to be clear that I don't, and the Catholic Church does not, judge the salvation of anyone. That is not our job, that is for Christ alone Who alone can see into the hearts of men. The reason for the existence of the Church is to lead men to Christ, and they do that by providing direction and teaching. So the most the Church would do is suggest that you were wrong in your understanding and try to teach you the correct understanding as they see it.




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