Eucharist and Lutherans


Do Lutherans believe in the real presence and if so how does it differ from Catholics? :slight_smile:



Yes, Lutheran believe that in Holy Communion we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

We don’t accept the Roman Catholic dogma (or is it doctrine) of transsubstantiation, but see the Real Presence as a divine mystery – one that we cannot fully understand – but it is real. We believe the words of our Lord, “this is my Body,” and “this cup is the new covenant in my Blood.” The elements which our human senses perceive as bread and wine are, indeed, Christ’s Body and Blood.

Needless to say, we do not agree with the teaching of the Roman Catholic church that we do not have valid orders and, thus, cannot experience the true Body and Blood of Christ in our Holy Communion.

Pastor Gary


From Theology and Practice of the Lord’s Supper, part one:

[LEFT]c. Post-Communion Reverence[/LEFT]
[LEFT]The consecrated elements which remain after all have communed should
be treated with reverence. This reverence has been expressed by
Lutherans in various ways. Some have followed the ancient practice of
burning the bread and pouring the wine upon the earth. Others have
established a basin and drain --piscina-- specifically for disposal of the
wine. The elders or altar guild may also return the consecrated bread and
wine to specific containers for future sacramental use, or the elders and
pastor can consume the remaining elements. All of these practices should
be understood properly. The church is not, thereby, conferring upon the
elements some abiding status apart from their use in the Lord’s Supper
Biblical practice keeps the elements in their sacramental setting. Our
Lutheran Confessions, quoting from the Wittenberg Concord (1536), are
lucid in their rejection of any view which would confer some extraordinary
status upon the elements apart from their sacramental use:
They confess, in accordance with the words of Irenaeus, that there are
two things in this sacrament, one heavenly and the other earthly.
Therefore they maintain and teach that with the bread and wine the body
and blood of Christ are truly and essentially present, distributed, and
received. And although they deny a transubstantiation (that is, an
essential change of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ)
and do not believe that the body and blood of Christ are locally enclosed
in the bread, or are in some other way permanently united with it apart
from the use of the sacrament, they grant that through sacramental union
the bread is the body of Christ, etc. For they do not maintain that the body
of Christ is present apart from the use, as when the bread is laid aside or
reserved in the tabernacle or carried about and exposed in procession, as
happens in the papacy (FC SD VII, 14-15) [21]

This is Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.[/LEFT]


And this is Wisconsin Synod:

Jesus as the God-man is, of course, present everywhere, but the sacramental presence is a special form of presence different from his omnipresence. It is also different from his presence in our hearts through faith. Both of these forms of presence (omnipresence and mystic union) are present also during the time of the sacrament, but they should not be confused with the sacramental presence in the narrow sense.

In regard to the sacramental presence in, with, and under the bread and wine, Scripture speaks only of Jesus body and blood, so we do not use the term “the whole Christ” to refer to the sacramental presence.

Another reason not to use the term is that some Reformed use it as a cover for their denial of the real presence of the body and blood. To say that we receive the whole Christ by faith is a way of denying the real presence of body and blood to all communicants.

So is this:

With these and similar words [the body and blood of Christ are received “in, with, and under” the bread and wine in the sacrament] nothing else is meant than the sacramental union of the consecrated bread and the body of Christ and of the consecrated chalice and the blood of Christ

. That is, in the Holy Supper, by means of the blessed bread the true body of Christ is received, and by means of the blessed wine the true blood of Christ is received. The bread and wine in their natural state and essence, not changed or removed according to their natural state; yet, in the sacramental use and reception, not just common bread and wine, but the body and blood of Christ are received by means of the vary same elements.

Because of this belief that the elements never cease being bread and wine (a belief condemned as early as 1050 by the way), and that the body and blood of Christ do cease to be present at the conclusion of the worship service, you will also not find a tradition of Eucharistic Adoration among Lutherans!


Thank you. Great information. I appreciate the help.


I believe that Catholics describe the transformed elements as being the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. If I am wrong, please let me know.

Does anyone know whether the Lutheran understanding of the sacramental union includes the “soul and divinity” of Christ, as well as his body and blood?


You’re correct. For details, see Trent, Thirteenth Session, canons 1-11 (canon 1, especially).


Anglicanus Catholicus


Eastern Christianity: true sacrifice and objective presence but pious silence on the particulars

Lutherans - the Sacramental Union: “in, with, and under the forms” - depending on the church they can hold either closed or open comunion.

Anglicans/Episcopalians: Real Presence with opinion - open

Methodism - Real Presence as “Holy Mystery” - open

Calvinist Reformed: spiritual feeding, “pneumatic” presence - open

other protestant churches: no Real Presence - open


“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. Some non-Lutherans refer to this view as consubstantiation, but Lutherans almost universally if not universally reject this term.

Now My grandmother who is Lutheran actually believes it is more like transubstantiation but this is not held by the Lutheran Church, and her church invites all baptised christians to par take in the “Lords Supper”.


Hey Pastor Gary,

As you see it, how does the doctrine of transsubstantiation differ from your or the Lutheran understanding?


The first thing that must be established before going farther is when saying Protestant are we speaking of liturgical tradition Protestants or not? Are we speaking of Protestants that accept either fully or partially consubstantiation? Or not at all?
None accept transubsantiation.
So, what is the difference?
Catholics have valid apostolic succession, and therefore it is the only legit outfit to provide the sacrament, but additionaly that has the correct form and understanding as to what Jesus asked us to do. Jesus is happy to respond to the request to make his blood and body present in the Eucharist.
Other faiths can do or say what they like, in the end no matter which denomination they are in they do not have a valid Eucharist. They will of course take offense to this, but the one who is truly offended is Jesus Christ, in the fact that he is not being obeyed by them to partake of his body and blood.
Protestants will tell you they have it, but its like putting in an order at Burger King, they want to have it their way. Hold the apostolic succession, hold the real body and real blood, hold the wine, hold the whatever. Hold the every Sunday ability to do it, ect.
Hold it!
What did Jesus Christ say? Do this. Not do it the way you want as often or as little as you want. Do this.


Hey Pastor Gary,

As you see it, how does the doctrine of transsubstantiation differ from your or the Lutheran understanding?

The doctrine of transubstantiation is based in Aristotelian philosophy – explaining the real presence in terms of substance and accidents which, as I understand it, are independent properties such that one can be changed without affecting the other. In the doctrine of transubstantiation, the understanding that the substance (what the thing is) changes but the accidents (the physical properties that are perceived by human senses) do not.

From a Lutheran perspective, the use of Aristotelian philosophy is an attempt to explain a divine mystery which defies explanation – how that which looks, feels, smells, and tastes like bread and wine is, in some myterious way, the Body and Blood of our Lord. We put our trust in the words of our Lord, “this is my body” and “this cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Unlike a certain former President, we believe that “is” means “is.”

Pastor Gary


Hey, we haven’t heard from Garrison Keillor yet.


Thank you. I appreciate the response, Pastor Gary. Of course, by saying "We put our trust in the words of our Lord, “this is my body” and “this cup is the new covenant in my blood.” this is the same position as the Church. Do you see it differently?


Anybody know the answer to this from the Lutheran perspective?


This might help:



There is no Lutheran teaching that specifically says that the Real Presence includes Jesus’ “soul and divinity.” However, we do say that we receive Christ in the Sacrament. Since Christ’s divine nature cannot be separated from his human nature, I cannot see any way that his soul and divinity could not be present in the consecrated elements. To believe otherwise leads one down the path of Nestorianism.

At the same time, I’m certain that there are people who would say, "Jesus didn’t say anything about his “soul and divinity” – he simply said “this [bread] is my body” and “this cup is the new covenant in my blood.”

Pastor Gary


Thanks, that makes perfect sense.



Thank you. I appreciate the response, Pastor Gary. Of course, by saying "We put our trust in the words of our Lord, “this is my body” and “this cup is the new covenant in my blood.” this is the same position as the Church. Do you see it differently?

I would say that Catholics and Lutherans have the same basic belief – that in the Sacrament we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. As I noted in my reply to rr1213, we have no explicit teaching about Jesus’ “soul and divinity” being received although, as I wrote, it doesn’t seem possible to separate Christ if one is an orthodox Christian.

Pastor Gary


Well, thanks again! :slight_smile:

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