[quote=ben_dy]I asked this in a much more lengthy format in the ‘Ask The Apologists’ forum but I’ll truncate somewhat and ask here, as well…
Is it true that some protestant sects and, indeed, some protestant leaders believe - even if in a non-christological (id est not by Transubstantiation) manner - in some form of the Real Presence in their ‘communion services’? (Which I understand consist of leavened bread or (I don’t know if this is true or not - my Methodist neighbor says it’s so) - 'oyster crackers and Welch’s grape juice?
I read that John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist sect, believed in the Real Presence (in the appearance of oyster crackers and grape juice?) and I do have a quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia which speaks of ‘consubstantiation’ which is, apparently, the belief of Lutherans.
Truly, I had always believed (having been told by protestants - like my Methodist neighbor) that if they celebrated ‘communion’ at all it was a symbolic gesture only.
So can someone set me straight? Any good overview of popular protestant sects - the ‘respectable’ ones! - by a solid and grounded Catholic theologian? I know what fundamentalists believe but maybe I’ve somehow ‘missed’ some dogma of the country club set?
This has come up here before.
United Methodists, as did John Wesley, believe in the Real Presence at the Eucharist. No matter what others may say (even other Methodists), Holy Communion/Eucharist is not a “symbolic gesture only.”
Christ’s presence in the sacrament is a promise to the church and is not dependent upon recognition of this presence by individual members of the congregation. Holy Communion always offers grace. We are reminded of what God has done for us in the past, experience what God is doing now as we partake, and anticipate what God will do in the future work of salvation. “We await the final moment of grace, when Christ comes in victory at the end of the age to bring all who are in Christ into the glory of that victory” (By Water and the Spirit: A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism, in Book of Resolutions; page 816), and we join in feasting at the heavenly banquet table (Luke 22:14-18; Revelation 19:9).
The Christian church has struggled through the centuries to understand just how Christ is present in the Eucharist. Arguments and divisions have occurred over the matter. The Wesleyan tradition affirms the reality of Christ’s presence, although it does not claim to be able to explain it fully. John and Charles Wesley’s 166 Hymns on the Lord’s Supper are our richest resource for study in order to appreciate the Wesleyan understanding of the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. - from This Holy Mystery
BTW…John Wesley did not use oyster crackers and Welch’s grape juice. Welch’s grape juice was not yet invented.
Anglicanism and Methodism embrace the Real Presence, and feel no need to go any further on any explanation. Lutherans embrace the Real Presence at the Eucharist as well. It is important to note that Martin Luther NEVER used the term “consubstantiation,” and those churches in the Lutheran Communion don’t find the term useful or descriptive, either.
This fact was made apparent during the recent release of the official United Methodist statement on the Eucharist, This Holy Mystery (which you can read here, and the Lutheran Church asked the United Methodist Church to change their historical section that stated that Lutherans embraced consubstantiation in their Eucharistic theology. It was also restated in the “Interim Eucharistic Sharing With the United Methodist Church” paper (a .pdf document, found here).
Other good sources (as far as Methodists are concerned) are The Eucharistic Hymns of John and Charles Wesley by Ernest Rattenbury, and Wesley’s sermon, “The Duty of Constant Communion”, which you can read here.
All of this is a moot point to Catholics, since the Catholic Church does not view the Eucharist of the Protestant Churches to be valid, as we lack the sacramental power to “confect” the Eucharist. This of course, is a moot point to non-Catholics who embrace the Real Presence, since they don’t recognize Rome’s authority.