February 9, 2009

Real Presence or Substantial Transformation? An Anglican Reflection on Eucharistic Theology
Or The Anglican Reformers on the Eucharist

Filed under: — William Witt @ 9:37 am

chalice The starting point for this reflection on eucharistic theology is a helpful article by the late Roman Catholic theologian Edward J. Kilmartin, S.J., “The Active Role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Sanctification of the Eucharistic Elements.”1 Kilmartin’s article begins by examining numerous ecumenical agreed statements on eucharistic theology prepared by Roman Catholics and Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Reformed, Roman Catholics and Orthodox. Kilmartin notes that although all of the statements agree on affirming the “real presence,” they also do not seem to be very well thought out theologically, and do not address several important historical and theological questions. Specifically, all seem to endorse the notion that Christ is made present “through the Holy Spirit,” without acknowledging that this is a move toward endorsement of the Orthodox model of real presence. All speak of Christ’s action in the eucharistic celebration but do not specify the nature of this action, whether it is an action of Christ as the second person of the Trinity, or whether Christ is acting in his risen humanity.

What has not been addressed adequately in the agreed statements is the history of eucharistic theology and the two essentially different models of eucharistic presence that have characterized the Eastern and Western approaches, and have provided the parameters for subsequent developments.

In the Western model (originating within Roman Catholicism and generally shared by Lutherans and Anglo-Catholics), eucharistic theology has been characterized by a christocentric emphasis. The filioque clause and the dictum “All works of the Trinity ad extra are indivisible,” are at least implicit assumptions. The role of the Holy Spirit has been subsumed by “appropriation,” since the Spirit, unlike the Son, has no special mission.

During the eucharistic prayer, the celebrant represents Christ to the community (acting in persona christi) and Christ becomes present and the elements transformed as the celebrant speaks the words of institution: “This is my body,” “This is my blood.” The risen Christ is immediately present and immediately makes the bread and wine his body and blood. The Holy Spirit is present “by appropriation” or else mediately present through the instrumentality of the Son’s action.

In the Eastern model of the Eucharist (originating with the Orthodox, and shared to some extent by the Reformed, some Evangelical Anglicans, for example, Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel, Methodists via John Wesley), the Holy Spirit exercises a distinct mission since the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father. The celebrant represents the worshiping community (acting in persona ecclesiae). The Son is at the right hand of the Father and is made mediately present through the invocation of the Holy Spirit, who descends on both people and gifts as a result of the epiclesis, the request for the Holy Spirit to make the bread and wine the body and blood of Christ and to sanctify both the elements and the community.

The central question of Kilmartin’s article is whether these two approaches can be reconciled and whether the agreed statements have truly addressed the theological issues that call out for reconciliation.

Orthodox and Catholic Theology

My own reading of Eastern theology confirms that a fundamental difference of approach in the Eastern and Western models leads to different ways of understanding what is meant by eucharistic presence. Specifically, the epiclesis and a real mission of the Holy Spirit play a central role in Eastern eucharistic theology that they have not played historically in Western thought. The invocation of the Holy Spirit in the epiclesis implies that the presence of Christ is a mediated presence, in contrast to the Western notion that Christ makes himself immediately present through the words of institution.

Thus, the notion of substantial change, so central to the controversies in the Western churches, does not seem to have the kind of centrality for the East that it has had for the West, since the central question is not what Christ does to the bread and wine to make them his body, but how the Holy Spirit mediates Christ’s presence by descending on the elements and the people. John Meyendorff’s Byzantine Theology2 seems to confirm my suspicions. Meyendorff uses the imagery of “union” with Christ, and “participation” in the glorified Body of Christ to speak of the way in which the Eastern Church has understood the meaning of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is “Christ’s tranfigured, life-giving, but still human body,” but, at the same time, “one never finds the category of ‘essence’ (ousia) used by Byzantine theologians in a Eucharistic context.” Meyendorff notes that Byzantine theologians would find the term “transubstantiation” to be “improper” and prefers terms like “trans-elementation” or “re-ordination” (203). “The Byzantines did not see the substance of the bread somehow changed in the Eucharistic mystery into another substance—the Body of Christ—but viewed this bread as the ‘type’ of humanity: our humanity changed into the transfigured humanity of Christ.” The Eucharist “is the moment and place in which Christ’s deified humanity becomes ours. . . . Bread and wine are offered only because the Logos has assumed humanity, and they are being changed and deified by the operation of the Spirit because Christ’s humanity has been transformed into glory through the cross and resurrection” (my emphasis, 205).

Contrast this to Raymond Moloney, S.J.’s, discussion of Thomas Aquinas’s development of the notion of transubstantiation in The Eucharist.3 Moloney notes that Thomas’s speculation about the real presence begins with the question that has been raised repeatedly in Western discussions, namely the question about the location of the body of the heavenly Christ. Specifically, does Christ come to exist in the sacrament by “local motion,” by moving from heaven to earth? Thomas responds that Christ does not become present by “local motion” because “Christ’s body is not in this sacrament as in a place, but after the manner of substance.”4 Christ’s presence cannot be quantified. Rather, if Christ does not become present through local motion, then the only way in which Christ can be present is by the change of the bread and wine into himself (Moloney, 143).

Note that in one sense this implies a reversal of the logical order in which the question is often asked: If Christ is present, what does this imply about the identity of the elements? Moloney notes that “[f]or Aquinas the existence of Christ in the sacrament is the result of the change, not its prior condition” (144). Accordingly, in the (Western Catholic) tradition that follows Aquinas, it is the change in the elements that becomes central; the presence of Christ and the transformation of the worshiping community become secondary.

Moloney notes that Aquinas considers two possibilities of change: ordinary substantial change and “change of the entire substance.” The first would be impossible, since there is no underlying substrate common to the bread and wine (on the one hand) and the body of Christ (on the other). Accordingly, the change takes place by the transformation of the “total substance” of bread and wine into the “total substance” of Christ’s body and blood (144).

The real miracle that takes place in Thomas’s theory is not perhaps so much that the substance of bread and wine change into the substance of the body and blood of Christ (thus making Christ present), but that the accidents of bread and wine can remain without a subject in which they can adhere. Moloney notes that, in Thomas’s account, the “accidents exist without a subject, but that the accident of quantity acts as a ‘quasi-subject’ for the rest.” When I bite the host, I am not literally biting the body of Christ; rather, it is the “quasi-subject” that I am biting (145).

As at least a “peeping Thomist,” I am not usually one to criticize the Angelic Doctor. Nonetheless, might I suggest that even on Thomist grounds, the notion of accidents adhering in a “quasi-subject” is at least problematic, and that this notion of substantial change at least made possible the rather extreme speculations of some of the later Medieval scholastics—for example, William of Ockham speculated that, through the omnipotent power of God, the eye of Christ present in one part of the host could see another part of the body of Christ present in another part of the host—and to some rather controversial eucharistic piety: bleeding hosts, the parading of the host, “benediction,” going to Mass to contemplate the host during its elevation rather than to receive communion, and so on. By contrast, it is worth noting that in Orthodox practice, the Eucharist is a mystery that is to be received as “food and drink”; it is not to be looked at. For the Orthodox, the Eucharist is never venerated outside the context of a eucharistic liturgy. It is the icons that are the object of vision (Meyendorff, 204).

It is also the centrality of the notion of substantial change that led to many of the objections of the Reformers, for example, Thomas Cranmer’s rather crude questions about how long the transubstantiated body remained in the body of the Christian after the processes of digestion began, and to later Anglican objections that transubstantiation amounts to a doctrine of “nihilianism,” specifically, the annihilation of the substance of the bread and wine. In his essay “Transubstantiation and Nihilianism,” Anglo-Catholic theologian Charles Gore cited nineteenth-century Roman Catholic theologians to the effect that transubstantiation demanded twelve “special miracles,” including: (1) the destruction of the substance of bread and wine; (2) the restoration of this substance when the process of digestion begin; (3) the existence of accidents inhering in no substance; (4) the ability of substanceless accidents to be acted on physically as if they were really existent bread and wine, and others.5 Moloney notes that if there was one thing that the Reformers did agree about, it was that the eucharistic bread and wine remain bread and wine after the consecration; they do not cease to exist (Moloney, 154).

The Reformation

Building on Kilmartin’s approach, I would suggest that the disagreements between Lutherans and Reformed in eucharistic theology largely reflect their dependence on these two different models. The Lutheran model is essentially a continuation of the Western model with one exception—the doctrine of ubiquity. To Ulrich Zwingli’s objection that Christ could not be corporally present in the elements of bread and wine because his body was ascended to heaven at the right hand of God, Martin Luther replied that God’s right hand was a metaphor for God’s power. God’s right hand was wherever he exercised his omnipotent power. In addition, Luther made the unusual move of postulating that the communicatio idiomatum meant not only that characteristics of either the divine or human nature could be predicated of the single divine person who assumed human nature, but that, as a result of the incarnation, the human nature literally shares in the characteristics of the divine nature. Since the divine nature of Christ is omnipresent, the human nature of Christ must be so as well.6

Offsetting the Reformed objection that the Lutheran position “confused the natures,” the Lutherans denigrated the Reformed position with the epithet exra-Calvinisticum, implying that, in the Reformed model, the incarnation was not complete, since part of God seems to have been excluded from the incarnation. It needs to be emphasized, however, that the extra-Calvinisticum is actually characteristic of all non-Lutheran theology, since the Lutheran doctrine of ubiquity is unique, and even many Lutherans have found it problematic.

In contrast to Luther’s approach, Reformed eucharistic theology posits a “spiritual” presence, which, in terms of its structure, echoes the Orthodox model, but also is characterized by difficulties arising out of the essential ambiguity of the term “spiritual” presence. It is not clear whether “spiritual” presence means a non-corporeal presence, a metaphorical presence, or a presence “through the action of the Holy Spirit.” In Ulrich Zwingli’s theology in particular, there is a distinct spirit/matter dualism originating in Erasmian influence. Zwingli interpreted Jn. 6:64—“The Spirit gives life; the flesh is of no avail”—to mean that the risen humanity of Christ plays no role in bringing salvation.7

Modern Reformation scholars generally agree that John Calvin did not posit a merely metaphorical notion of real presence; rather, to Zwingli’s notion that the risen Christ is at the right hand of the Father, Calvin added a sursum corda notion of presence. We feed on Christ spiritually by “lifting up our hearts” to heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father.8 Calvin begins his discussion of the Eucharist by separating himself from a merely metaphorical (Zwinglian) notion of “eating Christ’s body and blood”: “[T]here are some who define the eating of Christ’s flesh and the drinking of his blood as, in one word, nothing but to believe in Christ. But it seems to me that Christ meant to teach something more definite, and more elevated, in that noble discourse in which he commends to us the eating of his flesh,” Calvin writes. The reference here is to John 6, and it is worth noting that both Zwingli and Luther[!] affirmed the position that Calvin is here denying. Both insisted that John 6 refers to an eating that takes place by faith and has nothing to do with the Eucharist. Calvin notes that he is not satisfied with the view of those (Zwingli) who make us partakers of the Spirit only, “omitting mention of flesh and blood.” Calvin says that “the flesh of Christ is like a rich and inexhaustible fountain that pours into us the life springing forth from the Godhead into itself . . . our souls are fed by the flesh and blood of Christ in the same way that bread and wine keep and sustain physical life.” Granted, the “breaking of the bread is a symbol; it is not the thing itself,” but Calvin says that “by the showing of the symbol the thing itself is also shown . . . if the Lord truly represents the participation in his body through the breaking of the bread, there ought not to be the least doubt that he truly presents and shows his body.”

Calvin denies of course that Christ is present by a “local presence,”which he mistakenly presumes to be the Roman Catholic position. (As we saw above, Aquinas specifically denied that Christ is present “as in a place.”) Christ is not attached to the element of bread, or touched by the hands, or chewed by the teeth. Calvin notes that Peter Lombard’s gloss in The Sentences does not approve of the language of the Ego Berangarius, and Calvin insists that “Christ’s body is limited by the general characteristics common to all human bodies, and is contained in heaven.” It is not present in more than one place at the same time, nor is it present everywhere. (Calvin is rejecting Lutheran ubiquity here.)9

It is true that Calvin introduces the basis for a sursum corda theology when he states that Christ is not brought down from heaven, but that we are lifted up to him: “[I]f we are lifted up to heaven with our eyes and minds, to seek Christ there . . . so under the symbol of bread we shall be fed by his body, under the symbol of wine we shall separately drink his blood . . .” The problem with this sursum corda approach is that it substitutes a metaphor for an articulated theology. Nonetheless, Calvin combines this sursum corda theology with the definitely epicletic notion that Christ is made truly present through the action of the Holy Spirit:

Even though it seems unbelievable that Christ’s flesh, separated from us by such a great distance, penetrates to us, so that it becomes our food, let us remember how far the secret power of the Holy Spirit towers above all our senses . . . What, then, our mind does not comprehend, let faith conceive: that the Spirit truly unites things separated in space. . . . [T]he Lord bestows this benefit upon us through his Spirit, so that we may be made one in body, spirit, and soul with him. The bond of this connection is therefore the Spirit of Christ, with whom we are joined in unity, and is like the channel through which all that Christ himself is and has is conveyed to us.

It should be noted that Calvin believes that his position is in continuity with that of the early Church. He believes that transubstantiation lacks the support of antiquity, and was invented “not so long ago.” He argues that when the Church Fathers and ancient liturgies refer to a conversion of the bread and wine, they are saying that “there is now something other than bread and wine. . . [T]hey do not mean by this that the elements have been annihilated.” Calvin notes (correctly) that the Church Fathers speak of a change taking place in baptism as well, “yet no one denies that the water remains.”

The Anglican Reformers

The Anglican Reformers operated broadly within this Reformed model. Thomas Cranmer uses the metaphor of the uplifted heart, but also includes an epiclesis in his 1549 eucharistic rite, and in his theological discussions of the sacraments draws parallels between the Spirit’s work in baptism and Eucharist to suggest affinities with the Orthodox model as it is developed by Calvin.

However, although a number of Anglican scholars (for example, Stephen Neill and Geoffrey Bromiley), interpret Thomas Cranmer’s doctrine of “spiritual presence” to be a presence “through the Spirit,” there is no specific reference in Cranmer’s actual writings to substantiate this.10 Both Cranmer and the Elizabethan Reformer John Jewel echo a Reformed sursum corda model of presence. Though one could argue that their eucharistic theology cries out for a more specifically articulated notion of the role of the Holy Spirit, this move does not seem to have occurred to them, nor do they seem to have noticed it in Calvin. At any rate, that neither Cranmer nor John Jewel speak of a change in the elements should not prompt us to the conclusion that they did not affirm a doctrine of true and real presence. Scholars like Gregory Dix and T.M. Parker are simply mistaken when they interpret Cranmer’s “spiritual presence” to mean “no presence.”11

The discussion between Cranmer and his Catholic opponent Stephen Gardiner is voluminous and tedious reading, but it produces interesting revelations. Cranmer insisted that the sacraments are not “vain tokens”: “I never said of the whole supper that it is but a signification or a bare memory of Christ’s death, but I teach that it is a spiritual refreshing wherein our souls be fed and nourished with Christ’s very flesh and blood to eternal life.”12 In his parallel debate with Stephen Harding, Jewel stated that “we feed not the people of God with bare signs and symbols but teach them that the sacraments of Christ be holy mysteries . . . that Christ’s body and blood indeed and verily is given unto us, that we verily eat it; that we verily drink it.”13

As with Calvin, Cranmer and Jewel affirm a doctrine of “spiritual” presence. Interestingly, however, so did Cranmer’s Catholic opponent! Gardiner himself interpreted the Catholic doctrine to be that “by the holy communion in the sacrament we be joined to Christ really, because we receive in the holy supper the most precious substance of his glorious body . . . [but that] we say Christ’s body to be not locally present . . . but in such a spiritual manner as we cannot define and determine . . .” (my emphasis). Although Cranmer denied a “corporal” presence, “spiritual presence” did not mean for him (as it did for Zwingli), that Christ was present only in his divine nature, or only metaphorically.14 Rather, Cranmer insisted that the whole Christ, body and soul, humanity and divinity (as well as the Holy Spirit) is present in every part of the bread broken in the Lord’s Supper, but not corporally present.15 Cranmer was willing to agree with Gardiner that Christ’s body was truly present: “For we be agreed, as me seemeth, that Christ’s body is present, and the same body that suffered.” (my emphasis; PS 1:91). Cranmer went quite far in his agreement with Gardiner:

[W]e be agreed also of the manner of his presence. For you say that the body of Christ is not present but after a spiritual manner and so I say also. And if there be any difference between us two, it is but a little and in this point only, that I say that Christ is but spiritually in the ministration of the sacrament, and you say that he is but after a spiritual manner in the sacrament. And yet you say he is corporally in the sacrament. (PS 1:91).

Thus Cranmer and Jewel disagreed with their Catholic opponents about the mode of Christ’s presence, not its actuality. The Eucharist is not transubstantiation, but it is not a memorial service for the dead Jesus either. It is the act of the risen Christ giving himself to the Church. The bread is changed, but sacramentally, not substantially. Thus Cranmer says: “The bread is called Christ’s body after consecration . . . and yet it [the bread] is not so really, but sacramentally. For it is neither Christ’s mystical body (for that is the congregation . . .) nor his natural body (for that is in heaven) but it is the sacrament both of his natural body and also of his mystical body, and to that consideration hath the name of his body.” (PS 1:180).

Although it is clear what it is that Cranmer and Jewel are denying when they say that Christ is present “sacramentally”—Christ is not present by transubstantiation—it is not terribly clear what they are trying to affirm. At no point does Cranmer identify clearly what it means for Christ to be present “sacramentally,” except that it means that he is present really, truly, in body and soul, by means of the sacrament, though not locally or corporally present. Thus Cranmer says: “[A]lthough Christ in his human nature, substantially, really, corporally, naturally and sensibly be present with his Father in heaven, yet sacramentally and spiritually he is here present” (Cranmer, PS 1:47). Jewel says similarly: “[I]n this spiritual sort is Christ laid present upon the table; but not in M. Harding’s gross and fleshly manner.” There is indeed a strong emphasis on the necessity of faith, which echoes Reformation concerns about justification. According to Cranmer, his opponents “say that Christ is received in the mouth and entereth in with the bread and wine. We say that he is received in the heart, and entereth in by faith” (Cranmer, PS, 1:57). Jewel says: “[W]e place Christ in our hearts . . . M. Harding placeth him in the mouth. We say, Christ is eaten only by faith. M. Harding sayeth he is eaten with the mouth and teeth” (Jewel, PS 1:449). But the emphasis on faith does not preclude that the sacrament has a genuine efficacy and truly communicates Christ’s real presence. As noted above, the sacraments are not mere symbols. Cranmer states, “my meaning is that the force, the grace, the virtue and benefit of Christ’s body . . . and of his blood . . . be really and effectually present with all them that duly receive the sacrament; but all this I understand of his spiritual presence” (Cranmer, PS 1:2). Jewel insisted that “verily” and “fleshly” do not mean the same thing. Christ’s body is not present in a “fleshly” manner; nevertheless, Christ’s body is “verily” eaten in the Eucharist. Spiritual eating is true eating (Jewel, PS 1:468).

Again (as with Calvin), there is an appeal in Cranmer and Jewel past the formulations of Medieval Scholasticism to an earlier period. Cranmer had laid down a challenge at his Oxford examinations (1555): “[I]f it can be proved by any doctor above a thousand years after Christ, that Christ’s body is there really, I will give over” (Cranmer, PS 2:213). Jewel’s famous Paul’s Cross “challenge sermon” laid down the gauntlet to Roman Catholics by challenging “any learned man of our adversaries” to “be able to bring any one sufficient sentence out of any old Catholic doctor or father, or out of any old general council, or out of the holy scriptures of God, or any one example of the primitive church,” that would establish the existence “for the space of six hundred years after Christ” of such Medieval Catholic doctrines and practices as transubstantiation, reception in one kind, private masses, and so on (Jewel, PS 1:21). The appeal is not to Geneva, but to the patristic church. Jewel’s long and detailed discussions with Harding are largely exercises in patristic exegesis. Both Cranmer and Jewel claimed their own position as in line with the genuine “Catholic” tradition and insisted their opponents were the innovators. Both expressed admiration for Ratramn and Berengar and believed that the Church Fathers would have been condemned by those who condemned Berengar.

In The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Richard Hooker echoes many of the same themes we find in Cranmer and Jewel. First, there is the explicit rejection of the Zwinglian approach. Hooker mentions both Zwingli and Oecolampadius as implying that the sacrament is “only a shadow, destitute, empty and void of Christ.” Apart from Zwinglianism, however, Hooker believes that there is general agreement “on all sides” concerning the following: (1) “the real participation of Christ and of life in his body and blood by means of this sacrament”; (2) “that the soul of man is the receptacle of Christ’s presence” (emphasis in original). Disagreement, he believes, is centered on only one question: “whether when the sacrament is administered Christ be whole within man only, or else his body and blood be also externally seated in the very consecrated elements themselves.”16

Hooker opts for the first interpretation, which he believes has scriptural warrant. Following Paul he interprets the words of institution to mean: “My body, the communion of my body, My blood, the communion of my blood.” He notes cleverly that the order of Christ’s words place the command to eat and drink before the affirmations that “This is my body” and “This is my blood.” In other words, the real presence is in the act of eating and drinking the bread and wine, not the elements themselves: “The real presence of Christ’s most blessed body and blood is not therefore to be sought in the sacrament, but in the worthy receiver of the sacrament.” Hooker insists that “[t]he fruit of the Eucharist is the participation of the body and blood of Christ.” Nonetheless, “[t]here is no sentence of Holy Scripture which saith that we cannot by this sacrament be made partakers of his body and blood except they be first contained in the sacrament or the sacrament converted into them.” Again, the parallel between baptism and Eucharist is drawn. All sides agree that grace is received through baptism, yet no one believes that this grace is located in the water or that the water is changed into it. Why should we be required to believe that the grace of the Eucharist must be located in the elements of bread and wine before we can receive it? (5: 67, 5,6.)

Hooker believes that confessional unity should be possible on the following points of agreement: (1) “that this sacrament is a true and a real participation of Christ,” who imparts “his whole entire Person as a mystical Head” unto all that receive him, and that every one who receives incorporates or unites him or herself into Christ “as a mystical member of Christ”; (2) that in the same sacrament Christ also gives the Holy Spirit to those whom he communicates himself that they might be sanctified, even as the Holy Spirit sanctified Christ their Head; (3) “that what merit, force or virtue soever there is in his sacrificed body and blood, we freely fully and wholly have it by this sacrament”; (4) that the effect of the sacrament “is a real transmutation of our souls and bodies from sin to righteousness, from death and corruption to immortality and life”; (5) that since bread and wine in themselves are an incapable instrument to bring about these effects, we are to trust to the strength of Christ’s “glorious power who is able and will bring to pass that the bread and cup which he giveth us shall be truly the thing he promiseth.” (5:67, 7).

Finally, as with Calvin, Cranmer and Jewel, Hooker appeals to antiquity to justify his position. (The references cited include Tertullian, Irenaeus, Theodoret, Cyprian, Eusebius, Hilary, Cyril.) “In a word it appeareth not that of all the ancient Fathers of the Church any one did ever conceive or imagine other than only a mystical participation of Christ’s both body and blood in the sacrament.” Hooker insists that the patristic references to a change of the elements into the body and blood of Christ cannot in conscience be interpreted to imply either consubstantiation or transubstantiation. (5:67, 11).

It is perhaps typical of Anglo-Catholics (and Lutherans) to suggest a clear contrast between Rome, the East, and high-church Anglo-Catholics and Lutherans on one side, and Geneva and Evangelicals on the others. I would suggest that there are several lines that might be drawn, and they can be drawn depending on the issue on which one wishes to focus. (1) If the issue is substantial presence located in the elements, then there is a clear line (in the West, at least) between Rome and Wittenburg, and everyone else. (I don’t know where the East stands on substantial presence; my reading of Meyendorff sugests that they don’t think that way.) (2) If the issue is transubstantiation—the transformation of the complete substance of bread and wine into the complete substance of the body and blood of Christ (with no remaining substance of bread or wine)—then Rome stands alone against everyone else. (3) If the issue is transformation of the elements, then the East and Rome may stand against all Protestantism. (Although Luther affirmed substantial presence, his notion of ubiquity denies the need for transformation. The bread and wine – and everything else in creation – are already the body and blood of Christ.) (3) If the issue is the real presence of Christ in his complete deity and humanity, then the East, Rome, the Lutherans, Anglicans (including, as I have tried to show, the early Reformers), and Geneva, stand against Zwingli and his contemporary heirs: low-church and free-church Evangelicals.

If the issue has to do with (4) the respective roles of the risen Christ and the Spirit in the Eucharist (as I would argue, following the Catholic liturgical theologian, Edward Kilmartin), then things are more complicated. There has historically been a real contrast between East and West. Kilmartin draws on studies such as Yves Congar’s I Believe in the Holy Spirit17 and on the writings of Eastern theologians to show the differences. He cites one Lutheran, Karl-Heinz Kandler,18 who laments strongly the move toward an epicletic theology in ecumenical statements. Kandler believes that a presence “through the Spirit” is incompatible with Lutheran theology. There is certainly no discussion of the role of the Spirit in Thomas Aquinas’s eucharistic theology. Nonetheless, Kilmartin points out correctly that all of the recent ecumenical agreements point to a presence “through the Spirit.”

If one looks at the above historical analysis, Calvin’s approach seems to stand out like a beacon (or a sore thumb?) in a Western christocentric tradition. Calvin clearly speaks of a “spiritual presence” that he interprets as a presence “through the Spirit,” and Calvin understands this epicletic presence to solve the problems created by Medieval transubstantiation or Lutheran ubiquity. Among the early Anglicans, we see a tendency to echo Calvin’s “spiritual presence,” without an awareness that it is a presence “through the Spirit.” Thus, there is in Cranmer and Jewel a kind of unclarity that affirms a “real participation” in Christ’s risen humanity without a willingness to speculate beyond affirming that this takes place “sacramentally.” In Hooker, there is no discussion of “spiritual” presence, and the Western model has returned. It is the risen Christ who directly effects his own presence and the Spirit is communicated by Christ along with the Eucharist, rather than himself bringing about Christ’s presence. Nonetheless, Hooker retains from Calvin, Cranmer, and Jewel the notion that the elements are means of communicating the real presence, not objects in which Christ locally is present. Thus, from Calvin to Hooker, there is a shift from a real presence “through the Spirit,” to (in Cranmer and Jewel) a “spiritual presence” interpreted in actualist terms—Christ is present in the usus of the sacrament, although he is also present in every part of the bread and wine, but not corporally—to a clear affirmation in Hooker that Christ is truly present, but in the eating of the sacrament, not in the elements themselves. (Of course, Hooker qualifies this to say that his real opposition is to endless and unfruitful speculation about the nature of Christ’s presence in the elements. It is not necessary to speak of a change in the elements themselves, so why worry about it?)

Final Reflections

On these questions, I am certainly not trying to pit Rome and Luther against Geneva and the East. My purpose in insisting on active roles for both Christ and the Spirit in eucharistic theology is to look for ways beyond current impasses, not to create them. Nor am I suggesting a complete affirmation of the “virtualist” approach found in Calvin, Cranmer, Jewel and Hooker. There is a danger of distinguishing too radically between the sign and the thing signified in the eucharistic theology of Cranmer, Jewel, and Hooker.19 However, my own approach to the Reformation precludes the kind of white hat/black hat approach that has characterized much traditional Catholic, Protestant, and Anglo-Catholic polemical historiography. I affirm with Anglican bishop Stephen Sykes: “Contemporary Anglicans . . . have no obligation to choose between the apologetic alternatives of Evangelical endorsement and Anglo-Catholic rejection of the Reformation.”20 I think we can learn something about eucharistic theology from both Thomas Aquinas and from Thomas Cranmer.

At the same time, I would suggest that both Lutheran ubiquity and Reformed sursum corda models offer pseudo-solutions to self-imposed problems. A more helpful way out of the dilemma would have been to think through more carefully the distinctive missions of both the risen Christ (in his ascended human nature) and the Holy Spirit in bringing about eucharistic presence. A continuing mission of the Son is necessary to avoid relegating the risen Christ to celestial retirement. This mission should be understood in terms of the continuing and vicarious full humanity of the risen Lord. If the action of Christ in the communication of grace (and eucharistic presence) is perceived only in terms of his identity as the second person of the Trinity, or in terms of his presence in “body and blood” rather than his full humanity, there can arise in worship what T.F. Torrance refers to as “Apollinarianism in the Liturgy.”21

Part of the continuing mission of the Son is that of mediator between God and humanity. The risen Christ not only receives our worship, but in his human nature and with his human mind, continues to worship the Father, and exercises his mediation on our behalf in his human nature. Our worship finds its ground in the human worship and intercession of the mind of Christ for the Church. We pray to God the Father through the risen Christ as a mediator between God and humanity.22

The Eucharist is an extension of the incarnation. In the institutional words, “This is my body,” the incarnate Lord established a relationship between himself and bread and wine not as an end in itself, but in order to be related to us in a certain way. The finality of the real presence is oriented not to the sanctification of bread and wine, but toward the sanctification of the gathered community of the Church. Just as it was not the (discarnate) eternal Son of the Father (logos asarkos) who originally said, “This is my body,” but the Son speaking as the incarnate Jesus Christ, so it is not merely the second person of the Trinity in his divine nature who is related to us in bread and wine, but the risen incarnate Christ in his continuing humanity, who makes himself present through a theandric act.

The real and distinct mission of the Spirit should be understood as the sending of the Spirit by the risen Christ in a theandric act as well, not merely a sending by the second person of the Trinity. Just as the incarnate Christ was anointed and sanctified with the Spirit at his baptism, so now Christ is formed in us, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, who makes us partakers of the divine nature.23 The Spirit is received (through faith) in baptism and continues to provide our access to the risen Christ in worship and Eucharist. The Spirit is sent, in a sacramental act of the risen Lord, and the real presence is realized historically as the Spirit descends on the eucharistic elements and on the community, sanctifying them so that bread and wine can be the means of an actual relation to the risen Christ in his ascended humanity.

Thus, a trinitarian eucharistic theology seems to have the following implications.

1) The risen Christ transcends the sacramental order. (This may at least be part of the concern that lies behind the Reformed insistence that the body of the risen Christ is “in heaven,” as well as the insistence on all sides that Christ is present in a variety of ways, not merely in the Eucharist.) In addition, the doctrines of the ascension and the parousia indicate that in a very real sense we must speak of the absence of Christ from our midst during this period “between the times.” Whatever we mean by “real presence,” this must not be understood to mean that Christ is present among us in the same way that he was present in Galilee during the first thirty or so years of the first century.

2) Nonetheless, the Eucharist mediates the presence of the risen Christ. Christ is present to his creation in many ways, but the Eucharist is the place where Christ has chosen to make himself available to his Church in a unique sacramental manner.

3) The teleological end of the Eucharist is the ontological union between the Church and the risen Christ in his complete glorified humanity.

4) The teleological purpose (final cause) of this sacramental union is transformation-specifically, the transformation of our humanity as it is united to Christ’s risen humanity-so that we might share in Christ’s resurrection life and be conformed to his character.

5) The Eucharist is a divine-human act. Not only does the consecration of the elements for the purpose of the sanctification of humanity entail a theandric act on the part of the risen Christ, but the proper reception of the Eucharist presupposes an act on the part of the community and the individual recipient, specifically, the act of faith in which Christ is embraced by those who meet him in the Supper.

6) The Eucharist is a trinitarian act and its theology must be articulated in trinitarian language. This demands distinct missions for each of the members of the Trinity. The Father sends the Son to redeem sinful humanity. The risen Christ mediates between the Father and sinful humanity. The risen Christ sends the Spirit to sanctify humanity. The Spirit unites sinful humanity to the risen Christ through faith and the sacraments. Sinful humanity is transformed to conformity to the risen Christ by being united to his risen humanity through the agency of the Spirit. This transformation of risen humanity results in praise and worship of the Father.

The issues of the historic discussions have focused on separate areas of concern related to two aspects of the above points. Specifically, the Western discussion has focused on the question of the role of the eucharistic elements: what happens to the bread and wine in order for them to accomplish their teleological goal? Instead, I have tried here (following Kilmartin) to raise the separate issue of the trinitarian roles and missions.

The question about what happens to the elements is subordinate to a more central concern. What is the relation between the three main foci of eucharistic action: the risen Christ, the eucharistic elements of bread and wine, the receiving community—points (2), (3) and (4) above. In order to adress this concern, four related notions must be unpacked:

The first two notions are teleologically oriented.

i) Unity: As noted above, the purpose of the eucharistic action is to bring about ontological union between the risen Christ in his full deity and humanity, and the believing Church. The means of this union is the sanctified bread and wine. Focus on the reality of this union should not overlook that it is a unity in difference. As noted in point (1), Christ transcends the sacramental order; accordingly, neither the sanctified elements nor the eucharistic community can simply be identified with the risen Christ per se. First, although the risen Christ is joined to the Church through the Eucharist, the risen Christ is not subsumed to the Church. Quite the contrary! He remains its Lord, and the purpose of union with the risen Christ is that the Church might share in his sanctified humanity; the relation is not a reciprocal one, but an exemplarist one. Second, although sanctified human beings are in some way united to Christ and participate in his corporate humanity, they do not cease to be identified as individually unique human beings, each with his or her own separate human nature; though human beings are united to Christ, they are not absorbed or obliterated into his humanity. Third, the sanctified elements provide the created and sacramental link that joins the risen Christ and redeemed humanity, but they too (in some sense) retain their own individual identity. (Note that even in the Roman Catholic notion of transubstantiation, there is a unity in difference between Christ and the elements. The elements retain the physical characteristics associated with locality and spatial identity, that is, their accidents. Although the substance of Christ is united to [the accidents of] the elements, the accidents of his humanity are not; thus, Christ is not “locally” present, and the bread and wine still look like and taste like bread and wine.)

As an aside, I would also emphasize that the teleological orientation of the unity between Christ and the Church demands that this union be permanent. For that reason, I would question the adequacy of a sacramental theology that posits a relation between digestion of the elements and the status of Christ’s presence, for example, the sorts of theories of transubstantiation that imply that the ontological union ceases when the elements begin to be digested.

ii) Transformation: The teleological goal of the Eucharist is the transformation of redeemed humanity, not the transformation of bread and wine. Nonetheless, it may be the case that, if the eucharistic elements are to be the means of union with Christ (and thus transformation of redeemed humanity), some kind of transformation of the elements themselves is a necessary presupposition to the enabling of the union with Christ that leads to human transformation. Certainly the catholic tradition (both East and West) speaks of the elements being “transformed” in order that they might “become” the “Body of Christ,” or might be “for us” the “Body of Christ.” In what does this transformation consist?

If the above two notions have to do with the purpose or teleological end of the Eucharist, the next two focus on the ontological status necessary to effect that purpose.

iii) Presence: That Christ is “truly present” in the eucharistic celebration is not itself without amibiguity. First, that Christ’s presence is a sacramental presence necessitates that this presence is a “mediated” presence, and thus a “hidden” presence. The sanctified elements do not provide a transparent lens through which we have access to the risen Christ. Nonetheless, Christ is truly present and truly gives himself to the Church through the created realities of bread and wine. Though the Eucharist provides a created and sacramental access to the risen Christ, the elements should not be understood to be “intermediaries” half-way between God and the world, a tertium quid between created and uncreated reality. Rather, the whole Christ should be understood to be directly present through the created realities of bread and wine, in his complete humanity and complete divinity, not merely in body and blood, not merely in a “spiritual” (i.e., non-material) manner, but in his complete integrity as the incarnate and risen Lord, including his human soul, that is, his mind and will.

Since the teleological end of the eucharistic presence is the transformation of our own fallen human nature through union with the risen human nature of Christ, the humanity to which we are united must be a complete humanity. The real presence should not be interpreted in an Apollinarian manner. If (in the words of the patristic dictum), the incarnate Word must have a human mind and will because “what is not assumed is not redeemed,” then a fortiori “what is not present cannot redeem.”

iv) Identity: The question of “identity” arises because the three loci of the eucharistic action—the risen Christ, the elements of bread and wine, the worshiping community—are all referred to as the “body of Christ.” There are various types of predication, and which applies to the Eucharist is not immediately evident.

a) Substantial or essential predication (definition): “What is that? That is a duck.”

b) Existential predication (affirmation): “Is there really a duck?” “There is. That is a duck.”

c) Accidental predication (description): “What color is the duck?” “The duck is white.”

d) Metaphorical predication (comparison): “Have you seen how Fred swims? He is a duck in the water.” (That is, Fred swims like a duck.)

Which, if any, of the above modes of predication apply to the predication of the “body of Christ” to the three loci?

It is clear first that this predication cannot be understood in a univocal manner because the relation between the risen Christ and the other two loci is not identical, but exemplarist. The primary referent of the term “body of Christ” is to the physical body of the Jewish man Jesus who lived in Palestine during the early years of the first century and (Christians affirm) has now risen from the dead and is ascended to the right hand of God. “Body of Christ” is affirmed of the other two loci in so far as they are somehow related to this resurrected body.

Second, a notion of transformation that leads to simple identity is also clearly precluded of the third locus, the Church, because, although the Church participates through grace in Christ’s ascended humanity, it is not ontologically identical with the risen Christ, in spite of the quite “realistic” language that is sometimes used. Thus Cyril of Jerusalem contrasts the stone altar on which the elements are placed with another altar:

This other altar is composed of the very members of Christ, and the very body of the Lord is made your altar. . . . The one altar is a stone by nature, but becomes holy since it receives Christ’s body; but this other altar is holy because it is itself Christ’s body . . . You honor the one altar because it receives Christ’s body; but him that is himself the body of Christ you treat with contumely, and when he is perishing you neglect him. This altar you may see everywhere, lying, both in lanes and in market-places, and may sacrifice upon it every hour . . . when you see a poor brother, reflect that you behold an altar. (Hom. 20).

Or Augustine:

If you wish to understand the body of Christ, hear the apostle speaking to the faithful, “now you are the body and members of Christ.” If you then are the body and members of Christ, the mystery of yourselves is laid upon the table of the Lord, the mystery of yourselves you receive. To that which you are, answer “Amen,” and in answering you assent. Be a member of the body of Christ, that the Amen may be true. (Sermons 272).24

The members of the Church are redeemed sinners who are transformed and conformed to Christ, but retain their individual identities. Thus Christ is the “head” of the Church, which is his “body,” because the Church is united to him by grace. The Church is united to Christ; it is the “body of Christ” by participation, but it is not, strictly speaking, to be identified with Christ.

Controversy remains about the realism of the predication “body of Christ” of the third locus, the consecrated elements of bread and wine. It is certainly possible to affirm that the predication “body of Christ” applied to the elements is simply a matter of essential or substantial predication. This is the approach taken by Catholic theologian Raymond Moloney (cited above). Since substance simply is the subject of essential predication, there is an initial plausibility to this approach. As the presiding celebrant tells us, “This is the body and blood of Christ,” that is what it is.

I would suggest that substantial predication is not the simple solution it seems. As mentioned above, the consecrated elements retain a dual reality that eliminates a straightforward simple predication. In the words of Ireneaus: “[J]ust as the bread of the earth, on receiving the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread but Eucharist, consisting of two realities, the one earthly, the other heavenly, so our bodies, on receiving the Eucharist, are no longer destined for corruption, having the hope of an eternal resurrection.”25

It is only through faith that one can affirm of the consecrated bread, “This is the body of Christ,” for to ordinary eyes the elements are still bread and wine. For non-Roman Catholic Christians, this dual reality is rooted both in the real presence, and in the continuing identity of the bread and wine as bread and wine, even though they are something else in addition. For Roman Catholics, the theory of transubstantiation enables simple predication, but the problem of dual identity does not disappear. It is through perception of accidents that we normally apprehend substance (cf. the Thomist dictum: “Nothing is in the intellect that is not first in the senses.”) The consecrated elements still appear to be bread and wine, so the theory of transubstantiation must posit a transformation that preserves the accidents of bread and wine while affirming only the substance of the body of Christ. This move cleverly allows a seemingly straightforward predication of simple identity (since substance is the subject of predication), but the disjunction of substance and accidents in both the eucharistic elements and the risen body of Christ raises questions about whether this is simple predication in any ordinary sense.

Second, the principle that the risen Christ transcends the sacramental order and that the primary referent of the term “body of Christ” is the body that was born of Mary and crucified on a Roman cross implies that “body of Christ” is predicated of the sanctified elements analogously (as opposed to mere metaphor) rather than simply univocally. The elements are called the “body of Christ” because of a relation they have to the historical ascended body of Christ that is the primary referent of the term, whether that relation might be one of transformation, substantial identity, or something else: “Christ has not the same existence (esse) in himself which he has under this sacrament, because when we speak of his existence (esse) under this sacrament there is signified a relation of himself to this sacrament.”26

A further question that needs to be addressed is the model that is used to illustrate the transformation of the elements to “become” the body and blood of Christ. Is that transformation to be understood under the model of transforming grace parallel to the transformation by which the Church “becomes” the Body of Christ and yet retains its own identity, or is that transformation to be understood along the model of incarnation by which the Word “became” flesh? I would suggest that the model of transubstantiation is a modified incarnational model, but modified along Apollinarian or monophysite lines.27 Specifically, transubstantiation interprets “substantial tranformation” as the conjunction of two prior existing natures (or essences) in such a manner that one nature overwhelms and obliterates the essential nature of the other.

This model was rejected as a description of incarnation during the christological controversies of the patristic church, which instead endorsed a hypostatic model of incarnation. Rather, the Word becomes incarnate not by uniting two pre-existing natures or by tranformation of the divine nature into a human one, but by the assumption of a human nature by the divine person of the Word in a relational union.

The hypostatic model was not possible as an analogy for substantial eucharistic presence because there was no other person in addition to that of the Word to unite the eucharistic elements and the human nature of Christ. The Word was already the principle of unity of Christ’s divine and human natures.

Perhaps however the Eastern model of epicletic presence points to another divine person as providing the center of unity between Christ’s risen human nature and the eucharistic elements? Might I suggest that if Aquinas had been willing to consider the possibility of a specific mission of the Holy Spirit in the communication of grace and of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, he might have been tempted to consider another Aristotelian category than that of substance to explain the risen Christ’s presence in the Eucharist—the category of relation that he had developed so fruitfully in his trinitarian theology and his theology of creation? If the existence and unity of the trinitarian persons simply are their trinitarian relations, and if the act of creation is itself simply the relation that exists between the One Necessary Existent and contingent existents, then might it not be that the means by which one trinitarian person (the Holy Spirit) unites created and redeemed humanity to the assumed humanity of another trinitarian person (the risen Son) would be a relation? By postulating a relational unity between the eucharistic bread and wine and the ascended humanity of Christ, a unity actualized by the descent of the Spirit in the epiclesis, there might be a way forward beyond the historically confessional impasses that have arisen in consequence of making the transformation of substance to be ontologically prior to that of real presence. A relational unity allows for all of the objective realism that has been correctly emphasized by “transformation of substance” language, but also emphasizes that the teleology of the Eucharist is oriented toward the ontological transformation of the believing community, not primarily the transformation of bread and wine. The consecrated elements would then be viewed as the sacramental occasion and means by which the Spirit effects a real ontological union between the Church and the risen humanity of Christ, but only incidentally as the subjects of an ontological transformation themselves. At the same time, a relational unity ties eucharistic theology more closely to the economy of salvation by giving to the Holy Spirit a genuine role in the communication of redeeming grace, while at the same time recognizing that the role of the Spirit is specifically that of continuing the incarnation. The Holy Spirit exercises his proper mission by communicating to us the resurrection life of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ through the consecrated elements of bread and wine.

1 Theological Studies 45 (1984): 225-253. (I should acknowledge that this paper was inspired by a course on sacramental theology that I took from Fr. Kilmartin when I was a doctoral student at the University of Notre Dame.)

Also helpful are T.F. Torrance, Theology in Reconciliation: Essays towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), and E.L. Mascall, Christ, the Christian and the Church (London: Longmans, 1946).

2 (New York: Fordham University Press, 1983).

3 The Eucharist: (Problems in Theology) (Wilminton, Del: Michael Glazier, 1995). One might object that my comparison is inappropriate because I am contrasting a contemporary Orthodox theologian’s summary of the Eastern tradition as a whole with the views of one particular Western theologian, Thomas Aquinas. However, given that transubstantiation has the status of dogma in Roman Catholicism, Aquinas’s views are representative of the normative Western Catholic position. This is why Aquinas always plays a central role in discussions of Western eucharistic theology (e.g., Moloney) in a way that the views of theologians like Cyril of Alexandria, the Cappadocians or John of Damascus, do not play in Eastern eucharistic theology.

4 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3.76.5.

5 On Cranmer, see Stephen Sykes, “Cranmer on the Open Heart,” Unashamed Anglicanism (Nashville: Abingdon, 1995); Charles Gore, Dissertations on Subjects Connected with the Incarnation (New York: Scribner’s, 1895).

6 Martin Luther, “That These Word of Christ, ‘This is My Body,’ etc. Still Stand Against the Fanatics,” Luther’s Works: American Edition, H. T. Lehman, ed. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, Muhlenberg Press, 1961) vol. 37; (WA 37: 61, 66-69).

7I would say that the denial of any continuing role to the ascended humanity of Christ in communicating salvation is the essential difference between Zwinglian theologies and all eucharistic theologies of real presence. Thus, Zwinglian theologies tend to interpret both the atonement and justification in strictly forensic terms, and sanctification strictly in terms of the immediate indwelling of the Holy Spirit. For example, Calvinist Federalist theology understands Pauline “in Christ” language forensically rather than realistically. The unanswered question is that of the relation between atonement and sanctification.

8 All references are from The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Bk 4, Ch. 17.

9 Note that the Roman Catholic [!] scholar Raymond Moloney, S.J., refers to Calvin’s position on the localization of the ascended body of Christ as a “good Augustinian principle.” Over against Lutheran ubiquity, Calvin endorsed the “traditional view,” which ascribes the exchange of predicates in the communicatio idiomatum to that between the two natures and the one person in Christ, not an exchange between the divine and human natures. Moloney, 155, 172.

10 Stephen Neill, Anglicanism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 79; Geoffrey Bromiley, Thomas Cranmer Theologian (NY: Oxford University Press, 1956) 76.

11 Dom Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (London: Dacre Press, 1945), 646 ff; T. M Parker, “Review Article,” Journal of Theological Studies (April 1961): 134-146.

12 Thomas Cranmer, Works, ed. Parker Society, (Cambridge: 1844-46) 2 vols. 1:148.

13 John Jewel, Works, ed. Parker Society (Cambridge, 1845-50), 4 vols. 1:448.

14 Gordon P. Jeanes argues in Signs of God’s Promise: Thomas Cranmer’s Sacramental Theology and the Book of Common Prayer (London: T & T Clark, 2005) that Cranmer believed that Christ is present in his divine nature. Jeanes follows Cyril Richardson, Zwingli and Cranmer on the Eucharist: Cranmer Dixit et Contradixit (Evanston, Ill, 1949). I do not believe Cranmer’s texts support this reading.

15 The context of Cranmer’s argument is Bishop Gardiner’s assertion (as Cranmer interpreted it) that the Spirit of Christ is present in baptism and his body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper. Against Gardiner, Cranmer insisted that in both baptism and the Eucharist, we receive the whole Christ, body and soul, humanity and divinity: “For as in every part of the water in baptism is whole Christ and the Holy Spirit, sacramentally, so be they in every part of the bread broken, but not corporally and naturally, as the papists teach. . . .And where you say that in baptism we receive the spirit of Christ, and in the injury to sacrament of his body and blood we receive his very flesh and blood; this your saying is no small derogation to baptism, wherein we receive not only the spirit of Christ, but also Christ himself, whole body and soul, manhood and Godhead, unto everlasting life, as well as in the holy communion.” PS 1: 24, 25.

16 “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.”The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Bk 5, ch. 67.2.

17 (NY: Crossroad Publishing Co., 2000).

18 “Abendmahl und Heiliger Geist: Geschieht Jesu Christi eucharistisches Wirken durch den Heiligen Geist?” Kerygma und Dogma 28 (1982) 215-227.

19 Anglican Evangelical Geoffrey Bromiley sees a tendency towards a Nestorian theology of the sacraments in Cranmer: “In his anxiety to avoid an ex opera operato view, [Cranmer] does not quite do justice to the unity of sign and thing signfied.” Thomas Cranmer Theologian, 65.

20Unashamed Anglicanism (Abingdon, 1995), 33.

21 Theology in Reconciliation: Essays Towards Evangelical and Catholic Unity in East and West (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 139-214.

22 Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on St. John 11,8. See Torrance’s discussion.

23 Cyril, Against Nestorius, Tome 3

24 Emphasis mine, in both quotations. Note that both Cyril and Augustine use parallel “identificationist” language to refer to both the consecrated elements and the community that receives those elements, without distinction.

25 Ireneaus, Against Heresies 4, 18, 5. Note again the parallel between the transformation of the Eucharist and the transformation of the Church

26 Thomas Aquinas, S.T. 3.76.6.

27Gore notes the parallel between Western theologies of transubstantiation and Apollinarianism in Dissertations on Subjects connected with the Incarnation (Scribner’s, 1895).


  1. […] HERE the entire blog […]

    Pingback by An Anglican View on Real Presence vs. Substantial Transformation in the Eucharist « Persona — April 17, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

  2. I don’t think it’s possible to isolate one “Eastern” view of anything. “Eastern” is nothing more than a catch-all for non-Latin Christians, which includes many diverse theological traditions and, moreover, also Churches which are not or have not been in communion with each other. Rather, if there is a defining difference between East and West here, it’s a matter of more developed and less developed, with the East lacking in the level of dogmatic definition characteristic of Catholic and Protestant bodies.

    The most thorough and most universal teaching that I know of is from the 17th-century Council of Jerusalem (which was held in response to a supposed Protestant influence within the Orthodox hierarchy), in the “Confession of Dositheus,” which reads:

    We believe the All-holy Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist, which we have enumerated above, fourth in order, to be that which our Lord delivered in the night in which He gave Himself up for the life of the world. For taking bread, and blessing, He gave to His Holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: “Take, eat; This is My Body.” {Matthew 26:26} And taking the chalice, and giving thanks, He said: “Drink you all of It; This is My Blood, which for you is being poured out, for the remission of sins.” {Matthew 26:28} In the celebration of this we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present. He is not present typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation, so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically, as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose. But [he is present] truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin, was baptized in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sits at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world. {John 6:51}

    As you can see, this is basically a re-articulation of the Roman doctrine, in addition to its other points it makes (e.g. that latria is due to the sacrament). Also of interest is their misunderstanding of Luther’s view, ascribing to him the belief of presence by way of a hypostatic union.

    This is the closest thing we have to an Eastern Orthodox (which is far from including all Eastern Christians) Council of Trent. There may be theologians today that have differing opinions, but it seems to me that a pan-Orthodox synod should have more authority withing Eastern Orthodoxy than an individual theologian.

    Comment by Al — March 4, 2015 @ 10:48 pm

  3. Dear Al,

    I don’t think your comment addresses the argument I make here. In the paper I set out to contrast two “types” or “models” of eucharistic theology. Perhaps there is not a single “Eastern” model in eucharistic theology. However, arguably, the trinitarian model that I summarize here with its corresponding emphasis on the significance of the epiclesis, and the notion of the celebrant as acting in persona ecclesiae is characteristic of enough Orthodox or Eastern theologians that it could be considered a characteristic Eastern model. Similarly, there may be no one “Western” model of the Eucharist. However, the christocentric model with its emphasis on the words of institution and the notion of the celebrant as acting in persona christi is also certainly a characteristic Western model. It is there in Thomas Aquinas, and, whether consciously or not, was embraced not only by post-Tridentine Roman Catholics, but also by significant numbers of Protestant and Anglican theologians. Luther’s omission of a eucharistic canon with the substitution of the “words of institution” points in this direction, along with the eucharistic practice of those non-liturgical Protestant churches that celebrate the Lord’s Supper simply by reading Paul’s account of the eucharist in 1 Corinthians. The 1549 BCP included an epiclesis, but this was omitted in the 1552 BCP, which, again, points to the Western model.

    There can also be no question that revised Western eucharistic rites in the 20th century reintroduced an epiclesis along with a trinitarian strucutre of the eucharistic prayer, which points away from the Western model in the direction of what I have called the Eastern model. So there’s no one Eastern model of the eucharist? Fine. Do representative Eastern theologians such as John of Damascus include discussions of the significance of the epiclesis in their eucharistic theologies? Are there Orthodox or Eastern liturgies in which there is no epiclesis, or in which the eucharistic canon is reduced to a recital of the words of institution? Is it not the case that the question of whether the celebrant acts in persona christi or in persona ecclesiae has historically been an issue of tension between Western and Eastern theologians? I did cite a single Eastern theologian (Meyendorff), but I don’t think that his summary would be considered controversial or problematic. At least I’ve not heard of any movement among Orthodox or other Eastern Christians to embrace either the Latin understanding of transubstantiation or to repudiate an epicletic understanding of real presence.

    In the terms of the logic of my essay, these are the crucial issues that need to be addressed: What are the respective roles of the ascended Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit in terms of bringing about Christ’s presence? How do we understand the representative role of the celebrant? My key thesis is that a renewed understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit by Western theologians makes possible a way to overcome previous confessional difficulties. This argument does not depend on whether there is a “single Eastern view of anything.”

    P.S. As a later addendum to the above, I would suggest googling “Orthodox” and “epiclesis” and “Latin mass” or “Tridentine mass” and “epiclesis.” I think the results will confirm that my interpretation of a basic difference between the Eastern and Western models is not off base.

    Comment by William Witt — March 7, 2015 @ 7:50 pm

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