THE Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the wicked which do not eat the body of Christ, in the use of the Lord's Supper.
THE wicked and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as S. Augustine saith) the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing.
The meaning of these Articles deserves such treatment as the method employed by St. Thomas Aquinas.
1. (A Roman view)
Whereas Article XXVIII condemns the concept of Transubstantiation, it demonstrates that the Anglicans departed from belief in the Real presence of Christ in the sacrament, which nullifies their sacramental intention in the service they call Holy Communion. It demonstrates that they see the species of bread and wine as remaining unaffected by their rite, remaining no more than mere symbols instead of the reality of Christ's body and blood. This is a clear rejection of the Real Presence, and shows that they lack sacramental intention by their own admission.
In addition, in Article XXIX they further clarified their rejection of a true sacramental intention by creating a doctrine best called Receptionism. They say that the wicked do eat the sign of so great a thing as the Body of Christ, but do not eat the Body of Christ itself. So too, the cup, for they drink the sign but not the reality. Clearly, they have rejected a doctrine of the Real Presence. That the sacrament must not be lifted up or worshiped only further proves that they did not believe Christ was actually present in it.
This proves that they are in error and have departed from the true Faith by rejecting sacramental intention.
(2. The extreme and very, very, very modern Evangelical view)
On the contrary, the Articles, when taken together, do not show error or a rejection of the true faith, but rather a restoration of the true faith. By rejecting Transubstantiation the Anglicans have returned to the true teaching of Christ, in which the sacraments are a symbol only. Since it is faith, and only faith, that saves from sin and death, it is of no consequence that the symbolic use of bread and wine are called the Body and Blood of Christ. These two Articles teach deliverance from superstition that requires faith in a material thing, rather than spiritual understanding.
The words of Jesus in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John should not be interpreted as having anything to do with the bread and wine used in Communion services. That whole discourse cannot be interpreted to mean that communion has anything to do with salvation, since Jesus spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood as a metaphor for having faith in him. For he said, in that very text, these things: "And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day...Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life." (John 6:47, 48). Therefore, the Church of Rome is wrong in condemning the Anglicans, inasmuch as their rejection agrees with the correct meaning of John chapter 6, which is that belief in Christ is what it means to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Communion is, merely, symbolic.
Our view requires a closer look at both scripture and at these Articles.
First of all, these follow Article XXV, in which we find these words, "SACRAMENTS ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him." That the sacraments are called not merely "signs," but "effectual signs" gives us a source from which we rightly say that they signify what they effect, and they effect what they signify. This is very clear in the words that immediately follow and provide both the definition and description of "effectual signs" very plainly; speaking of God's work within us, namely grace, quickening, strengthening and confirming. The meaning was made very clear. Therefore, they are never symbols only, but "effectual signs" that actually operate as a "means of grace." Furthermore, that God uses material things in this way is consistent with the Incarnation itself, whereas the opposite view is not. Therefore, the Anglicans did not say that the sacrament of Christ's body and blood is less than able to convey grace.
In order to see these two Articles as a rejection of the Real Presence and means of grace, it is necessary to ignore the context of Articles XXVIII and XXIV, following, as they do, on the Article that speaks of Effectual Signs. It is necessary, also, to ignore the many writings of the period in which the Anglican rejection of "Transubstantiation" amounts to exactly the same objection raised by Joseph Ratzinger, who is now known to Roman Catholics, and to the whole world, as Pope Benedict XVI. For, as recorded in his book God is Near Us, this wise and learned man of God taught that Transubstantiation must not be reduced to "a crude material understanding." In that book, he taught that the elements of bread and wine are taken into the Person of Christ, and given back to us as the Body and Blood of Christ.
But, in the 16th century, the Anglicans clarified what they rejected, both describing and rejecting a doctrine that the bread and wine changed physically into flesh and blood; that after consecration they in no way possessed the physical properties of bread and wine, but rather the physical properties of Christ's own flesh and blood, in the most carnal understanding of the substance of flesh and blood. Whether or not this was a correct understanding of Transubstantiation is beside the point, inasmuch as what Anglicans rejected was described in these terms. This is clear in the Article itself, where we see the definition, "the change of the substance of bread and wine." Therefore, we contend that if "Transubstantiation" had been defined in the 16th century as Pope Benedict XVI defines it now, the Anglicans would have had no objection to the word "Transubstantiation." Therefore, Article XXVIII was not a rejection of the doctrine of the Real Presence.
We say, furthermore, that if the Anglicans had rejected the doctrine of the Real presence, they would not have taught in the Catechism that Baptism and the Supper of the Lord are "generally necessary to salvation," since mere symbols that fail to effect what they signify cannot impart grace. Neither could the Prayer of Humble Access have contained the words, "Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. "
The words of John 6 would be a complete mystery without the accounts of the Last Supper, wherein Scripture interprets Scripture, explaining the meaning; which meaning we have no authority to reject. ("My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," was completely enigmatic to the disciples, until the night in which he was betrayed. "This is my Body...This is my Blood."-cp John 6:55, I Corinthians 11:24,25) We say, moreover, that the words of Jesus in John 6 were about belieiving in him, but that this is why they can be understood only in terms of the sacrament of Holy Communion. For, it is only for believers that the Body and Blood of Christ is intended. The Church has never allowed unbelievers to partake of this sacrament, unlike the heretical ECUSAn sect that gives its "sacraments" openly to all.
Compare these two passages of scripture, and try to reconcile the apparent contradiction:
"Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:54
"For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." I Corinthians 11:29
The same elements, eaten and drunk, are means to the grace of eternal life for one man, and the means to damnation for the other. This answers the objection of Rome to Article XXIX, since the eating and drinking of Christ's body and blood would automatically impart salvation, if Real Presence were always to have the effect intended by God in his goodness. But we see that eating and drinking the elements gives benefit only to those who believe, so that the believer receives Christ thereby, and the wicked eats and drinks damnation, for he partakes of the effectual sign in an unworthy manner. As an old prayer says, "not that I receive the sacrament only, but the virtue of the sacemant also."
Because the sacrament is an effectual sign, effecting what it signifies, it is necessary for the believer to receive it, not merely to gaze upon it. Therefore, it is faith in the Real Presence of Christ's body and blood, and its impartation of grace as a sacrament "generally necessary to salvation" that moved the Anglicans to clarify the purpose of the sacrament according to God's institution, and therefore according to the pure intention of the Church, when they wrote: "The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them" (XXV), and "The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped." (XXVIII) For, whereas they taught the purpose of the sacrament (without giving any law or proscription) they emphaszied its charismatic nature, its saving effect, and its purpose.
In these ways the Anglicans affirmed both Real Presence and the general need to receive Communion. They taught sacramental intention purified from the innovations and distortians of the period.