Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Do Protestants Believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Part I

Well some do. I think that many Anglicans do. Now of course there is the issue of even if it is believed is it really happening(Valid orders etc). However let us leave that issue aside for a second.

The Cajun Hugenot who is blogger in Louisiana is in a reformed tradition. He also reads up on the Church fathers. I thought I had added his blog already but it is being added to links nethertheless today. He has two very interesting posts that I hope to engage more tonight(if my computer is not acting up) or tomorrow. First he has The Fathers, The Reformers, The Eucharist and Modern Evangelicals. He says in part:
The presence of Christ in the Lords Supper, which is also known as Communion or the Eucharist, is one of those topics where the ECF are in total agreement. In reading the Fathers it soon becomes clear that they all clearly believed that when they participated in the Eucharist that they were truly, in some way, partaking of Christ including his body and blood. They all believed that Christ was present in the communion meal.The question of “how” this was so became a controversy in later centuries. But even when controversy over the means or mode by which Christ was present in the sacramental did appear on the scene, it was still universally accepted that Christ was present, the debate was over “how” and never about “if” He was present in the Supper.During the Protestant Reformation you find that both the Lutheran and Reformed camps strongly defend the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They differed with one another on the “how” issue. Many of the Lutherans strongly attacked the Reformed position, even at times, accusing the Calvinists of denying the true presence of Christ in the Supper. The Reformed Churches and theologians responded loud and clear that they did believe that in the Supper the believer did truly partake of the true body and true blood of Jesus Christ. They also made clear that they disagreed with both the Lutherans and Roman Catholics as to how one partook of Christ, but they were very clear in defending the fact that they did believe that they believed (as did the ECF) in the literal presence of Christ in Communion.

He also has a post that should be read in concert with this called John Calvin and the Eucharist.

I have actually got into this debate before with my parents. We were all Baptist at one time. I converted to Catholicisms and my parents later became Presbyterian. Now my parents and Cajun Hugenot I believe are in two different "branches", for the lack of a better word, of the Presbyterian Church. My parents are in the "mainline"Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). I should note like most Southern Presbyterian USA Churches it is far more Orthodox than many in the head office. Cajun is part of the Presbyterian Church in America. However I have encountered Cajuns's argument before with my parents. That is the Presbyterians(or at least those living true to the John Calvin reform tradition) believe in the real presence pretty much like Catholics do. Again we are not getting into the issue whether the Real Presence is actually happening there.

So do they? Well I hope to get into that later.

However I think his post shows something. Growing up I thought all Protestants pretty much believed in what I now know is called an anabaptist tradition. Yeah the Methodist baptized babaies but surely they must think like we do etc etc. As a Southern Baptist I had no clue that John Calvin and Martin Luther for instance pretty much were not just like us.

Now of course I was ignorant of that and part of that is on my fault. But it is amazing to see looking back how little I knew of Protestant history. Basically I got the sense of this timeline
(2) Apostles after Jesus
(3) Apostles die and things start going off the rails
(4) This Roman Catholic Church thing created and things are truly going to hell in a handbasket
(6) Martin Luther and Calvin come to save the day
(7) Southern Baptist

Now I am being a tad flippant here. However if you are average person in the pews and not going out of your way to read up one could get this perception. The thoughts and ideas of the Reformers( I will not even get into the Eastern Orthodox they don't seem to exist) are not exactly talked about in Sunday School in a typical Baptist Church.

So when I was thinking about converting to Catholicism, I was pretty shocked that Calvin and Luther were not baptists or least held all those exact doctrines. Now when talking about Calvinism I don't mean to make blanket statements. Such as Calvanist believe this on the real presence. It really is not that easy.

Like I said thought a lot of ignorance was because of where I was growing up. In the deep South it is not like I had a lot of friends that were Lutherans. The closest I got to Lutheranism was listening to Public Radio and hearing Garrison Keillor talk about the fictitious town of Lake Wobegon. That summed up my knowledge of Lutheran thought. As to Presbyterians I knew a tad more but not much.

As I have posted before Presbyterians to us were those that were well off, well educated, had been in our Parish(county) since Moses, sent their kids to Rhodes, and believed in some predestination thing. So if they believed in the real presence like Catholics did it seemed not to be broadcast that much. Perhaps it is more fitting to say the local Baptist Church I attended did not make it a issue or say hey those crazy Presbyterians down the street are like Catholics and really think the Bread and Wine is Jesus.

So later I will try to engage what Cajun has put up more fully.


SJ Reidhead said...

Interesting post.

1. Did you know Baptists are not considered "Protestant"? Protestants are Anglican (Epis), Presbyterian, Lutheran, & Methodist.

2. Years ago our very old fashioned Presby. minister told my mother if he wasn't Presby. he would be Episcopal.

3. We Episcopalians have "working agreements" with one Lutheran group and Greek Orth. Now interestingly, you Catholics now have a working relationship with the Greeks. So, it seems to me we Episcopalians should be able to do a NATO backhand in agreement with the Catholic church.

4. Don't they call the Body and Blood Trans-substantiation? We also believe it is "body & blood" but I don't think about it that much.

5. I've found that many conservative Presby now take the Baptist view point that Holy Eucharist is (hold your nose) a "Catholic Thing" and to be ignored as much as possible.

The Pink Flamingo

Cajun Huguenot said...

Hello James & Pink,

In the US, especially in the South, many Reformed/Presbyterians have migrated toward the Baptist in their view of the Sacraments.

That is one of the reasons for the recent blog posts (thanks for the links). I've posted on this subject before and thought it was worth revisiting.

Pink - The Thirty-nine Articles of Anglo/Episcopal Churches are VERY much Reformed in their theology as were the martyrs of the Anglican Church under Queen Mary.

Baptists have their origins when they broke from the English Church. So they are decended from Protestantim. The Anabaptist were part of what is known as the Radical Reformation. The descendents of the Anabaptist are the Mennonites, Amish, etc...

The Anabaptist and Baptist have much in common but they are not descended one from the other.

Coram Deo,

James H said...

Thankjs SJ and Cajun

I am now just getting back on. YEah I think it the topic is pretty interesting. I read some place that trechnically Baptist don't like to be called Protestants also. I guess untill I went throught Catholic RCIA I never encountered what the reformers thought. Which is pretty shcoking.

For a religious area such as the SOuth it does strike me at times how pretty ignorant we are of what our neighbors belives. I think perhaps people just wish to avoid the topic