Protestants & the Real Presence???


#1

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?


#2

[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?
[/quote]

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.”

Background:
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.

Pax,

O+


#3

[quote=ben_dy]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?
[/quote]

I would take exception with your “respectable” language. Those who love Christ and accept him should receive a little better respect… even those who might not worship in ways that we “approve” of.

Also, Methodism was birthed from the Anglican Church to convert and care for the working poor of England, mostly coal miners. Country club set? I think not.

Respectfully,

O+


#4

[quote=O.S. Luke]I would take exception with your “respectable” language. Those who love Christ and accept him should receive a little better respect… even those who might not worship in ways that we “approve” of.

Also, Methodism was birthed from the Anglican Church to convert and care for the working poor of England, mostly coal miners. Country club set? I think not.

Respectfully,

O+
[/quote]

O+

Thanks so much for your reply - I had no idea at all that any protestant sects (save for my understanding of the Lutheran idea of the Real Presence) had any doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. As I tried to say, I am ignorant of what I called ‘respectable’ protestant sects and I meant no disrespect by that remark nor in my “country club” remark - only meaning that, in the deep south (which I take is your locale as well) you’d be much more likely to run into Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, etc (and including Roman Catholics, of course)., at the country club than you would find members of those sects which are so far removed from Catholic theology that even other protestant sects may call them ‘cults’ in the derogatory sense.

I am still looking for a book which might describe the major doctrines of the ‘major’ protestant sects, though, which would also go into the history of doctrinal differences that led to separation from it’s parent - I have to assume, for example, that there was some doctrine that went beyond a specific care for the poor and miners that led Methodists to establish a separation from Anglicans, for example?

Thanks once again,

Ben


#5

Ben:

I think the name of the book is “Handbook of Christian Denominations.” It’s not 100% accurate, but gives a good overview of the denominations.

I’m not at the office, but tomorrow I’l double-check the title.

O+


#6

Protestants do not believe in the Real Presence in the way that we as Catholics understand it. Here is an article entitled “Beware the Term ‘Real Presence’”:

catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9812fea3.asp


#7

[quote=Eden]Protestants do not believe in the Real Presence in the way that we as Catholics understand it. Here is an article entitled “Beware the Term ‘Real Presence’”:

catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9812fea3.asp
[/quote]

The last paragraph of the above article (sentence in bold and word underlined mine):

These distinctions should not be emphasized in a spirit of division and exclusion, but with the true longing for Christ’s body to be reunited. That true and costly reunion will not come as long as we accept ambiguous language that allows us to pretend that we all believe the same thing. Instead it will come as we recognize the true divisions which still exist, understand our differences, and seek to resolve them with patience, love, and a good sense of humor.

And there’s the rub: trying to use language, science, and philosophical constructs to describe a mystery (the Latin word for sacrament was mysterion, I believe).

The theological concept that applies here is nominalism - in essence, words about God and things theological are at best inadequate, as we feeble humans are trying to describe that which is divine.

I have enormous respect for the Catholic Church, and I have enormous respect for sacramental and liturgical integrity. But I think the Church made a grave mistake in trying to explain too much of the mystery away regarding the Real Presence of Christ. The Eastern Church has in recent years let transubstantiation as a concept and belief basically get dropped from disuse. That doesn’t lower their view of the sacrament; in my view, it raises it and enhances the holy mystery that it is.

At the epiclesis, we ask God to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. That’s what Scripture records, and that’s what the Church believed since the beginning. Why the need 1100+ years later to use Aristotelianism and Thomism to “try” and explain a miracle and a mystery? It’s the body and blood of Christ. Period. Why not leave it at that?

O+


#8

[quote=ben_dy]O+

you would find members of those sects which are so far removed from Catholic theology that even other protestant sects may call them ‘cults’ in the derogatory sense.
[/quote]

Personally, I avoid both the term “sect” and the term “cult.” They convey more insult than meaning these days. Sociologists use “sect” to mean a minority group of the same religion as the majority, and “cult” to mean a minority group of a different religion. In the U.S. context, some of the small fundamentalist groups would be “sects” in this sense (though not of course the SBC), while non-Christian groups would be “cults.”

Your point is well taken, though–the more sacramental Protestant traditions do tend to be made up of more educated and wealthier people. This is one of the biggest attractions of Catholicism for me, although of course one could argue that Catholicism’s greater diversity stems from a top-down structure that allows elites to impose their views on the less privileged–something Protestants cannot do now that they lack the active support of the state (Catholicism can still do it to some extent because of the lofty claims made for the Magisterium). And it must further be added that Catholics often boast of the fact that converts to Catholicism are more educated, while converts to Protestantism “don’t understand their faith,” which often means in practice that they are Hispanic immigrants or other underprivileged people who find that some form of Protestantism speaks to them of Christ more clearly than Catholicism does. So Catholicism’s claim to be the church of the poor, attractive as it is, needs some nuancing!


#9

Back to your main point–

There are basically three Protestant views on the Real presence:

  1. The Lutheran view, that Christ is corporeally present in the bread and wine. The bread and wine are not turned into something else, but coexist with the Body and Blood much as Christ’s divinity and humanity coexist.

  2. The Zwinglian view, which is probably held by most Protestants, at least in the U.S. In fact many Protestants would have less conception of a sacramental presence than Zwingli did. For Zwingli, the Eucharist is a memorial of Christ’s death, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and a sign of Christ’s presence in the worshipping community.

  3. The “Calvinist” view (though Bucer and others held it before him). This is the most slippery and complex of the three positions, and it occupies a vague middle ground between the other two. There are really a number of positions that can be put in this category. But basically the “Calvinist” view is best expressed by saying that believers receive the glorified Body and Blood of Christ in the act of receiving the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This can be put in a form that is almost Zwinglian (just as we receive the bread and wine so we spiritually receive the Body and Blood) or a form that is almost Lutheran or even Thomistic (Christ is really present in the Eucharist in a heavenly manner that we cannot express in normal human language). As OSL has been saying, the Wesley brothers definitely held this view, and high-church Methodists today follow in this tradition, though probably the majority of Methodists lean more toward Zwinglianism. I myself think that any view from the “Calvinist” to the Thomistic is a legitimate expression of what Scripture and the early Church teach about the Eucharist.

Here is Charles Wesley’s great Eucharistic hymn “O the Depth of Love Divine,” which expresses the "Calvinist view at its best:

O the depth of love divine, the unfathomable grace!
Who can say how bread and wine God into us conveys!
How the bread his flesh imparts, how the wine transmits his blood,
Fills the faithful people’s hearts with all the life of God.

Let the wisest mortals show how we the grace receive;
Feeble elements bestow a power not theirs to give.
Who explains the wondrous way, how through these the virtue came?
These the virtue did convey, yet still remain the same.

How can spirits heavenward rise, by earthly matter fed,
Drink herewith divine supplies and eat immortal bread?
Ask the Father’s wisdom how; Christ who did the means ordain;
Angels round our altars bow to search it out, in vain.

Sure and real is the grace, the manner be unknown;
Only meet us in thy ways and perfect us in one.
Let us taste the heavenly powers, Lord, we ask for nothing more.
Thine to bless, ‘tis only ours to wonder and adore.

I have to assume, for example, that there was some doctrine that went beyond a specific care for the poor and miners that led Methodists to establish a separation from Anglicans, for example?

Actually no. English Methodists separated from the Church of England after John Wesley’s death (though he did register their meeting houses as dissenting chapels, because the C of E wouldn’t authorize them and this was the only way they could be legal), not because of a doctrinal conflict but simply because the Church of England had refused to accept Methodists as a legitimate movement. Gradually, in the early 19th century, Methodists began celebrating the Eucharist in their own chapels and holding services at times that conflicted with Anglican services, and this constituted the real transition from a “society” to a separate church.

American Methodists never separated from the Anglicans in any direct way. Anglicanism was in disarray after the Revolution, and the Church of England refused to consecrate bishops who would not take an oath to the monarch. Methodists solved this problem (1784) by establishing their own church without episcopal succession. Three years later, the Protestant Episcopal Church was founded with a line of bishops consecrated by the Scottish Episcopal Church (which was at this point in schism from Canterbury). Methodism and Episcopalianism are really parallel successor churches to Anglicanism. Neither split from the other, and Methodists actually organized as an independent national church three years before Episcopalians did. Methodists and Episcopalians considered uniting early on, but the Methodists were too attached to Wesley and his way of doing things for the Episcopalians’ liking.

In neither England nor America (Scotland and Ireland are different cases again) was there any major doctrinal conflict, although there were different doctrinal emphases, and the gaps between the two widened after the Anglo-Catholic movement transformed Anglicanism in a more Catholic direction.

Edwin


#10

[quote=O.S. Luke]Ben:

I think the name of the book is “Handbook of Christian Denominations.” It’s not 100% accurate, but gives a good overview of the denominations.

I’m not at the office, but tomorrow I’l double-check the title.

O+
[/quote]

I would appreciate the check if you don’t mind - I couldn’t find a book with that specific title at Amazon (my usual ‘first source’ for titles that are still in print).

Again, many thanks.

Ben


#11

O+,

It was my United Methodist neighbor who told me of the host resembling an oyster cracker and the use of Welch’s grape juice! I did not mean that to sound disparaging at all - but I admit that I was surprised to hear of it! Apparently the Eucharist is not part of every service, either. As I readily admit I know very, very little about the various protestant sects - most of the discussions I’ve had with protestants have been fundamentalists (and sub-sects of fundamentalists) and, likely, Mormons. I have a very good education in Catholic theology and, as a catechist can discuss and argue the Catholic perspective well but I realize that I seriously lack any education in comparative doctrines of the various protestant sects. I have only attended two protestant services in my life - one as a teenager on a date to an “Assembly of God” service (which, frankly, scared me) and the other a “high” Anglican service when I lived in the UK (where, obviously, I felt much more ‘at home’!).

I do realize that the point is, somewhat, moot, and that is why, I suppose, I am interested in the ‘specifics’ of the defined doctrine of various churches concerning the Real Presence. To me, naturally, transubstantiation is a doctrine easily explained and easily grasped while other terms are unclear to me and I would that I understood them, yet will surely not embrace them!

Many thanks for your explanations and references (and the book title should you get the chance!),

Ben


#12

[quote=ben_dy]I would appreciate the check if you don’t mind - I couldn’t find a book with that specific title at Amazon (my usual ‘first source’ for titles that are still in print).

Again, many thanks.

Ben
[/quote]

Try “Handbook of Denominations” by Frank Mead.


#13

[quote=Contarini]Back to your main point–

There are basically three Protestant views on the Real presence:

  1. The Lutheran view, that Christ is corporeally present in the bread and wine. The bread and wine are not turned into something else, but coexist with the Body and Blood much as Christ’s divinity and humanity coexist.
  2. The Zwinglian view, which is probably held by most Protestants, at least in the U.S. In fact many Protestants would have less conception of a sacramental presence than Zwingli did. For Zwingli, the Eucharist is a memorial of Christ’s death, a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, and a sign of Christ’s presence in the worshipping community.
  3. The “Calvinist” view (though Bucer and others held it before him). This is the most slippery and complex of the three positions, and it occupies a vague middle ground between the other two. There are really a number of positions that can be put in this category. But basically the “Calvinist” view is best expressed by saying that believers receive the glorified Body and Blood of Christ in the act of receiving the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This can be put in a form that is almost Zwinglian (just as we receive the bread and wine so we spiritually receive the Body and Blood) or a form that is almost Lutheran or even Thomistic (Christ is really present in the Eucharist in a heavenly manner that we cannot express in normal human language). As OSL has been saying, the Wesley brothers definitely held this view, and high-church Methodists today follow in this tradition, though probably the majority of Methodists lean more toward Zwinglianism. I myself think that any view from the “Calvinist” to the Thomistic is a legitimate expression of what Scripture and the early Church teach about the Eucharist.
    Here is Charles Wesley’s great Eucharistic hymn “O the Depth of Love Divine,” which expresses the "Calvinist view at its best:
    O the depth of love divine, the unfathomable grace!
    Who can say how bread and wine God into us conveys!
    How the bread his flesh imparts, how the wine transmits his blood,
    Fills the faithful people’s hearts with all the life of God.

Let the wisest mortals show how we the grace receive;
Feeble elements bestow a power not theirs to give.
Who explains the wondrous way, how through these the virtue came?
These the virtue did convey, yet still remain the same.

How can spirits heavenward rise, by earthly matter fed,
Drink herewith divine supplies and eat immortal bread?
Ask the Father’s wisdom how; Christ who did the means ordain;
Angels round our altars bow to search it out, in vain.

Sure and real is the grace, the manner be unknown;
Only meet us in thy ways and perfect us in one.
Let us taste the heavenly powers, Lord, we ask for nothing more.
Thine to bless, ‘tis only ours to wonder and adore.

Edwin
[/quote]

(A) I think that the majority of Methodists in my experience are closer to the Lutheran view than the other two views. I would move beyond it, in fact…
(B) I am extremely uncomfortable using a hymn as a source for theological understanding. (Especially when I know that John Wesley was so frequently at odds with Charles Wesley"s interpretation of a number of points of doctrine).


#14

The real difference here is not whether some protestants groups adhere to the belief in the Real Presence, or whether Roman Catholics have decided to define the Mystery (Transubstantiation) while Eastern Catholics and Orthodox do not use this term. I think the point of contention here lies in the Sacrament of “Holy Orders”. But this is for another thread I suppose.

Peace,
Mickey


#15

[quote=Contarini]Personally, I avoid both the term “sect” and the term “cult.” They convey more insult than meaning these days. Sociologists use “sect” to mean a minority group of the same religion as the majority, and “cult” to mean a minority group of a different religion. In the U.S. context, some of the small fundamentalist groups would be “sects” in this sense (though not of course the SBC), while non-Christian groups would be “cults.”
[/quote]

I understand your avoidance of using both terms but I suppose I continue to use them because I always welcome the statement that, as a Catholic, I belong to a “cult” as it opens the door for a genuine discussion and clarification of “the cult of Saints”, the meaning of “cultus” and varieties of worship, & etc. I suppose that the more proper term for various protestant sects might be “denomination” (although this usually implies a structure and hierarchy which many of the churches around here are most emphatic about not possessing!)?

[quote=Contarini]Your point is well taken, though–the more sacramental Protestant traditions do tend to be made up of more educated and wealthier people. This is one of the biggest attractions of Catholicism for me, although of course one could argue that Catholicism’s greater diversity stems from a top-down structure that allows elites to impose their views on the less privileged–something Protestants cannot do now that they lack the active support of the state (Catholicism can still do it to some extent because of the lofty claims made for the Magisterium). And it must further be added that Catholics often boast of the fact that converts to Catholicism are more educated, while converts to Protestantism “don’t understand their faith,” which often means in practice that they are Hispanic immigrants or other underprivileged people who find that some form of Protestantism speaks to them of Christ more clearly than Catholicism does. So Catholicism’s claim to be the church of the poor, attractive as it is, needs some nuancing!
[/quote]

The argument that those of the Catholic faith are, largely, “poor and ignorant” is, I think primarily an old argument made when the majority of American Catholics were immigrants (although Boettnerism still lingers with the idea of the ‘backward’ Irish Republicans, etc.) and one thing that I remember as a lower-middle-class teenager in the south, where Catholic churches were few, was that there was genuine economic and educational diversity in our parish yet we were all equals and there was a great deal of inner-parish charity even in the small things - the wealthy parishioners giving a ride to the old and poor so that ALL might be at Mass on Sunday! There is, of course, always a bit of truth in all stereotypes, I suppose, but I would say (simply from personal experience) that converts to Catholicism don’t really tend to be any wealthier or more educated than Catholics who might leave the Church to join, as you say, a church of the “more sacramental Protestant traditions”. Now as for leaving the Church for fundamental sects… I’ll just say that most that I know that have taken that path have expressed the ‘conversion’ as an emotional experience although it might be described as “spiritual”.

I have gone on too long - but I do thank you for your reply,

Ben


#16

[quote=Zooey]Try “Handbook of Denominations” by Frank Mead.
[/quote]

Oh, golly - I can download that in pdf format - no, I’m just going to order it. Many, many thanks - that will be my 1st title in my “new” comparative protestant theology library!

Ben


#17

[quote=Mickey]The real difference here is not whether some protestants groups adhere to the belief in the Real Presence, or whether Roman Catholics have decided to define the Mystery (Transubstantiation) while Eastern Catholics and Orthodox do not use this term. I think the point of contention here lies in the Sacrament of “Holy Orders”. But this is for another thread I suppose.

Peace,
Mickey
[/quote]

Mickey,

Are you alluding to the power of Orders to exercise consecration??

A bit puzzled…

Ben


#18

[quote=ben_dy]Mickey,

Are you alluding to the power of Orders to exercise consecration??

[/quote]

Yes.


#19

quote=Zooey I think that the majority of Methodists in my experience are closer to the Lutheran view than the other two views. I would move beyond it, in fact…
[/quote]

I lost my response to this post as well (I need to save my posts–this is the second post on this thread that I’ve lost). So this is going to be a shorter version. I can only say that I wish I had the same experience. Most of my Methodist friends at Duke (including my wife) held to a belief in the Real Presence that did not, as far as I could see, take any particular stance on the issues separating Lutherans from “Calvinists.” I suppose their position was basically that of the Wittenberg Concord which united Lutherans and the more sacramental South German Reformed. Generally they found the Wesleys’ Eucharistic hymns to express their piety. Unfortunately, the church my wife and I currently attend seems mostly Zwinglian–certainly the pastor could be characterized that way. And I gather from my wife and other Methodist friends that this is quite common. I’m happy that your experience is different.

[quote=Zooey] (B) I am extremely uncomfortable using a hymn as a source for theological understanding. (Especially when I know that John Wesley was so frequently at odds with Charles Wesley"s interpretation of a number of points of doctrine).
[/quote]

Here I think you’re simply wrong. Methodist scholars of my acquaintance such as Geoffrey Wainwright at Duke and Chuck Yrigoyen at Drew (not to speak of my wife, who is a theological librarian and a United Methodist deacon) regard the hymns as very important sources for Methodist theology. Both Wainwright and Yrigoyen use them in their basic theology classes. Bear in mind that the Hymns on the Lord’s Supper and most of Charles’s other hymns as well were published under the name of both brothers. Some of them were in fact written by John, though most were written by Charles. Therefore, any theological differences between the brothers presumably do not affect the hymns. If John had disagreed with the hymn’s contents, why would he have published it under his name jointly with his brother’s?

Finally, the hymn I quoted was quoted in the document “This Holy Mystery,” which was adopted by the 2004 General Conference as the official United Methodist statement on sacramental theology. So your discomfort notwithstanding, I continue to believe that “O the Depth of Love Divine” is about as classic a statement of Methodist sacramental theology as you can get. I’d be very happy if I could live to see most Methodists come to believe and live by the theology of that hymn.

In Christ,

Edwin


#20

O.S. Luke,

Well… allow me to disagree. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

The use of Aristotileanism to explain the mystery of transubstantiation became less common… lol, after Aristotileanism was discredited in the Renaissance and Scientific Age. While it may have worked for Aquinas, Trent found it harder to use. Even still, the language the Church has used to define the dogma of transubstantiation, while founded upon Aristotelean vocabulary (“accidents” amd “substance”) does not, by necessity, require an Aristotileanism framework (though such an approach was popular as long as the philosophical system was popular). Most of the scholastic speculations on the Eucharist were never defined as dogma, and the Aristotilean phlosophical system obviously never has been.

In short, the Catholc Church has ensured that when we speak of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, we are speaking of a sacramental, (not local, Christ is locally in Heaven) corporeal (it is his physical body and blood, not simply his spirit or divinity), and true presence of the physical body and blood of Christ (the same body and blood which was sacrificed for us.) If Aristotileanism could probe into this mystery, the Chruch was happy. Now that we believe the philosophical framework we once used to explain the mystery is no longer credible, the Church asserts with even greater positivenss the mystery of the entire Sacrament. (Mysterium Fidei). In either situation however, Catholics have unanimously defended the mystery and miraculous nature of the sacrament.

That being said, I beleve it is unfortunate that in the past few decades, Orthodox theologians have sought to strike themselves out as so distinct from their Western brethren, that they distance themselves from a non-Aristotiean interpretation of the term “transubstantiation” (which was affirmed by 16th and 17th century councils). I believe that the epiklesis prayer certiaily fits transubsttiation more than any abstract concept of “real presence.” (“Make that which is in this cup the body of your hrist, making the change by the Holy Spirit.”) Neither do i believe that transubstntiation (divorced from an Aristotilean framework) compirmises te msyery of it all.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.