Why wouldn't a Protestant want to receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist

Hi everyone,

This question has been nagging me for a while about some Protestants’ attitudes toward the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As many of us know, many Protestants believe the Eucharist is a mere symbol of Jesus, and not his actual body. Of course, us Catholics understand the Eucharist to be the actual body and blood of Jesus.

What I really want to know is, why wouldn’t a Protestant (or any Christian who doesn’t believe in the Real Presence) want to receive the physical body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist? The Eucharist is the most intimate and physical experience we have with the Lord. Why wouldn’t all Christians want this?


I’ll take a stab at this - for me, it was about what I was taught. I was taught that it was symbolic and that Catholic’s re-sacrificed Christ over and over. It sounded quite gross and off-putting. This was my level of understanding. But, one day, I read John 6 and saw what I had never seen/understood before. This is what drew me into the Catholic Church. So, it wasn’t about not wanting to believe in Real Presence, it was that it hadn’t been revealed to me.


I would say many protestants are taught wrong. I love taking the Holy Eucharist which Christ is truly present. As my Bishop said once the other are christians they are just starving to death.

How have you determined that we don’t want to? My understanding is that we can’t partake in your Eucharist if we really don’t believe the wafer has become Jesus. Shouldn’t we rather be respected for admitting we don’t have that belief? I read that only a small percentage of Catholics really believe yet they partake…which they can do because they have been baptized Catholic. Are they better off than a Protestant who admits he has not come to that belief?


Because of this.


What I was taught at the (Reformed) seminary was that Christ had died once for all (ephapax, see Hebrews 7.27 for example) and that, as a consequence, the Catholic understanding that Christ’s sacrifice was renewed in the Eucharist was wrong. Thus the Lord’s supper could only be symbolic.

Of course, I don’t think a Catholic would say it’s renewed. It’s re-presented, which isn’t the same (and the Catholic view was mis-presented).


Can’t really lump all Protestants together in that belief. Even though the RCC doesn’t consider it valid, us Lutherans do believe in the real presence.


The question is not one of wanting. The question is how are we to actually receive the grace of Christ in our lives. When it comes to the Lord’s Supper, we receive the body and blood of Christ by faith.


So as I said, “many Protestants” believe the Eucharist is only symbolic. I completely understand that some Protestants, such as Lutherans and Anglicans, believe in the Real Presence.

It is not a matter of anyone being better off than anyone else. I just want to hear from a different perspective on the Real Presence and why someone would not want to believe in it.


I’m kind of slow this morning.

I don’t get his question. :confused:

Are we talking about Protestants who are married to Catholics and attending Mass out of loyalty to their spouse? Or kids who have left the Catholic Church, but are home for the holidays attending Mass for the sake of their parents (and planning on attending a Protestant worship service later in the day)? Or are we talking about Protestants who are attending a funeral or wedding at a Catholic church?

Other than those examples, most Protestants are never in a Catholic church or attending a Mass, so of course, they have no desire to receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. They don’t even think about it. Many don’t even realize what Catholics teach.

If non-Catholic Christians attend church at all, they are busy enjoying their own worship service and their own celebration of their “ordinance” of communion in their own church, and not thinking at all about Catholic churches and “Eucharist.”

Keep in mind, also, that many Protestants, especially those who attend non-denominational and Evangelical churches, don’t have communion services more than a few times a year. The last Protestant church that we attended (E Free) celebrated communion 4 times a year, and always during a Sunday evening worship service, which had the lowest attendance of any of the Sunday services. (Yes, I know that the Campbellite churches offer communion at every meeting, even the business meetings, and I also know that several of the Mainline denominations celebrate Communion often and also that some consider their communion elements the True Body and True Blood of Jesus Christ.)

So I don’t get it. To me, this question is like asking if a vegetarian wants to eat meat.


This is most certainly true. There is a certain amount of misunderstanding about what the Lutheran Church teaches.

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Its more that we travel to the foot of the Cross, each Mass. Think timeless or out of time. One Analogy might be, we get the light of exploding stars and can watch that event with powerful telescopes. What we are seeing is an event that occured historically , its light is hitting our visibility now. So to us its current , even though its also historic.


Very interesting analogy. That really makes sense. Thank you.

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Convert from pentecostal protestantism here. As soon as I believed I did. It’s those who believe and stay out I can’t really understand.

Before that I thought Catholics were crazy. And you must admit. If nobody’s ever explained it to you transubstantiation sounds pretty much as crazy as it gets. Like “I’m Nepoleon reincarnated.” level of crazy.

That’s why we need to be out there defending our faith, helping people be curious so they can become educated and come to the Eucharistic table.


I would caution you to not believe every “poll” you read, especially since many Catholics who respond to such polls are not necessarily the actively practicing kind.

Given that one is a “Catholic” simply by virtue of being baptized into the faith as a child, I could name you all kinds of “cultural Catholics” who know very little about the faith and actually receive the sacraments sporadically or not at all, yet still would say they’re a Catholic if you asked them, or if a pollster called.


I would suggest that using words like “mere” and “only” symbolic distort the meaning that Communion has for many people who do not necessarily require a belief in the so called “Real Presence.” In my tradition when we are given the elements the the one distributing announces a statement that identifies the bread as “the body of Christ” as they extend it out to the participant. It is not a “mere” receiving of a cracker as so many critics suggest. It is rather a solemn remembrance of the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf as Jesus said we should do. It takes many kernels (individuals) of wheat ground together (losing our individuality) to make flour (equally common in the church) and baked (interaction) into a single loaf (the body of Christ).

There are non-Catholic traditions who believe in the Real Presence but do not consider that the elements have now become Jesus physically. If my understanding of that is wrong I am certainly open to correction.

I have been taught that we have the “Real Presence” of Christ in our heart and lives as we surrender to the Holy Spirit who is our guide and that that is the most intimate way to participate in the life of Christ.

In summation, I do want to participate in the body and blood of Christ in Communion .

Well even when Jesus first introduced us to the Eucharist in John 6, people asked “how can this man give us his flesh to eat,” and “this is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

If Jesus was simply speaking metaphorically, why did droves of his own disciples leave him after he doubled down by insisting “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…” ?

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This sort of language feels more like a frustrating game of “gotcha” than helpful. Essentially Protestants go and redefine “real presence” however they wish and then say “I believe in the real presence!” But no, that’s not genuine. Yes we believe Christ is with us "in our hearts in a real way. That doesn’t mean we share a belief in “the real presence”.

As a Protestant I very much always felt that communion was a meaningless waste of time. I can remember Christ without some grape juice and bread. That doesn’t make much sense to me. Anyone can make up a symbol of Christ.


I’m a Catholic. So I’ll say that it wasn’t a metaphor. The simple fact is that many Protestants haven’t been confronted with the question you just asked me. And that’s a problem. I believe many would convert. Not in my conversion (although it played a significant role) but for many desire for the Eucharist is the number one factor for converting.

I’m a Catholic, but having been married to a Protestant for a long time and knowing a number of other Protestants, I can take a stab at answering this:

  1. There’s one group of Protestants who believe that they ARE receiving the true “body and blood of Jesus Christ” via getting the sacrament in their own churches. In other words, they believe their minister can transform bread and whatever drink they use into Body and Blood. Therefore they don’t see themselves as missing anything.

  2. There’s another group of Protestants who believe that Jesus intended the “body and blood” as symbolic, and do not believe Jesus is really present in any Communion. But when they have their symbolic Communion of crackers and grape juice or whatever, they believe Jesus is present with them in some special way, though it’s not through consuming his true physical body, which they often see as a gross and cannibalistic interpretation of Scripture. Therfore they don’t see themselves as missing anything.

  3. There’s a third group who believe that they don’t need this Communion in order to have Jesus present among them (and often think that the idea of consuming Jesus’ body and blood is gross and cannibalistic) and they experience his presence in other ways, such as by all gathering together for a big Scripture-based praise and worship session and then Jesus is present at the gathering because he said wherever 2 or more are gathered in my name, there I will be also. Therefore they don’t see themselves as missing anything.

In short…none of these people see themselves as missing anything. They are experiencing Jesus’ presence in their own ways, and do not buy into the Catholic teaching that emphasizes the Real Presence and the importance of same. Some even argue (as you see right in this thread) that the Catholics must not really believe it either or they would spend a lot more time worshipping Jesus in the Eucharist or reverencing Jesus in the Eucharist.

Should a Protestant change his mind on this matter he would generally convert either to Catholicism or to one of the Protestant churches that believes in the Real Presence.

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