Transubstantiation is the belief held by Roman Catholics that the bread and wine at the Eucharist transform miraculously into the body and blood of Christ. While the accidents (the taste, smell, and all non-essential qualities) do not change, the substance of the bread and wine do change into the actual body and blood of Christ. Others also hold to some form of the “Real Presence” including the Orthodox, Lutherans, and Anglicans. The Orthodox believe, like the Catholics, that the bread and the wine actually and substantially become the body and blood of Christ. They just don’t fill in the “how” details as much as Catholics, leaving it more a mystery. So technically, they don’t call it Transubstantiation. Lutherans, believe that the presence of Christ is really “in, with, and under” the bread and the wine, but the substance is not transformed. This is called “consubstantiation.” Some Anglicans believe in the Real presence and even allow for a form of Transubstantiation.
My question (or thought) here is quick and relatively painless to understand. It is a question that is not loaded in any way as my problem will be explicitly expressed by the question. Also, my question has only to do with those who hold to a Real Presence in body and blood (i.e. not a spiritual Real Presence).
Most who believe in some form of Transubstanitation will defend this view by taking a very literal interpretation of Christ’s words during the Lord’s Supper:
Matthew 26:26-28 “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
“This is my body.” These are the word that Luther etched onto the table in his famous meeting with Zwingli.
Indeed, it was these words that were used by the Council of Trent as a primary justification for a belief in Transubstantiation: “Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation” (Council of Trent : DS 1642; cf. Mt 26:26 ff.; Mk 14:22 ff.; Lk 22:19 ff.; 1 Cor 11:24 ff. Catechism of the Catholic Church 1376).
The brief questions that I have for those who believe that Christ’s words must be taken literally are these (all related):
As I said, this is not loaded. I am most certain that thoughtful people have worked through this, I have just never heard an answer that seems to make any sense.