An Anglican View on Real Presence vs. Substantial Transformation in the Eucharist

William Witt discusses in a very interesting blog post the essential matter of the meaning of the Eucharist from an Anglican perspective.

Here are his suggestions on what a trinitarian view of the Eucharist should entail:

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.

Read HERE the entire blog post.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

2 thoughts on “An Anglican View on Real Presence vs. Substantial Transformation in the Eucharist”

  1. Look, it’s a mystery, OK? And trying to describe it with words like “teleological” and “ontological” – in the same sentence even! – just makes it more of a mystery to me.


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