letters to surfers

Do Anglicans and Episcopalians believe in the real presence of Jesus in the communion service?

Answer by Robert Brow   August 1999   (Web site - www.brow.on.ca)

There are low, medium, high, and very high Anglicans and Episcopalians. The very high think that there is a transubstantiation of the bread and wine after their consecration by a proper priest in the communion service. The very low think the communion service is a mere reminder of the death of Jesus on the cross. The medium and ordinary high believe there is a real presence of the Son of God in the service of Holy Communion.

Middle of the road Anglicans tend to use pictures like a real presence of love in a hug or a kiss. It is possible to know you are loved without being hugged or kissed, but the real thing is different.

The higher Anglicans and Episcopalians view the sacraments as instrumental in that they actually change the situation. When two business tycoons shake hands on a deal, the deal is settled. If one of them holds back there is no deal. Similarly the substance of the ring is not changed in marriage, but if a ring is not given or received there is no marriage. The receiving of the bread and wine by faith therefore establishes or reseals our relationship to Jesus the Messiah.

The words of Jesus "This is my body" and "This is my blood" were spoken at the last supper before he had been crucified, and when his body was right there breaking the bread. It seems hard to imagine the bread he broke and the wine in the cup was actually changed into his physical body and blood. His words were therefore metaphorical. (see the article on "Metaphors for Knowing God")

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments