On the other hand, while appreciating the emphasis placed by Hooker and his fellow Church of England theologians, it is only to right to give critical analysis with all due respect. In our own time words like "Receptionism" are tossed about, particularly by polemicists, without any understanding of what such a word might indicate, or how it can represent more than one school of thought. To the extent that Hooker was willing to accept the theory that full consecration of the sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood might take place upon receiving the sacrament (which his writing indicates to be the theory he favored), one might call him a believer in Receptionism. I say, "might." The position he took was that we need not bother to argue about when the consecration happens, because the saving effect of the sacrament requires reception. On this point I disagree only with the idea that we cannot see a point in the Holy Communion service when the consecration takes place. More about that later.
As I pointed out in the previous post, by the time of the Reformation people had become accustomed to attending church to hear Mass, and they did not receive the sacrament often, if at all. This, in spite of the Apostle's words, "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (I Cor. 11:26) He did not say "seldom," but "often." The combined witness of scripture and of history tells us that the Eucharist was offered every Lord's Day, from the beginning of the Church's life, through the persecution by the empire of Rome, and throughout the entire period called "Patristic." This is not a debatable point, but solid fact. Now, inasmuch as St. Paul says "as often," we can take it that he did not mean for his readers to treat that as if he had written "as seldom." Frequent Communion of the laity was an idea first presented, or rather rediscovered, by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. By Hooker's time, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the people were being exhorted to receive the sacrament frequently, and a generation had been taught that they were not there simply to attend or "hear" Mass, but to receive the Holy Communion. To teach this very thing, the Church of England called the service by a Biblical name, "Holy Communion."
As I pointed out, this is why Article XXV says, "The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, have they a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith." You will notice, there is no mention in these words of idolatry. The Article was not directed at some notion that people were worshiping the elevated Host. Rather, the Article was written to teach the people that the main purpose for which the sacrament was established by Christ was that it be received, and that for the salvation of each individual. This is why the Article is not relevant to such things as Benediction services. The men of that day would have, no doubt, objected to such a service; but, again, for them it would have been stepping backwards merely into the High Middle Ages, rather than stepping all the way back to the beginning, and to Christ's purpose. The Article was teaching a positive thing; what the sacrament is for. In our own time, we may allow orderly and proper Eucharistic devotion that may indeed assist the soul of a believer; but in that time it was probably better not to do such things and cause confusion.
If the men of that time, Hooker included, were teaching what some might call "Receptionism," it was nothing like Zwinglianism. It was simply a question about when the elements are endowed with the Real Presence of Christ; also, the Real Presence is a charismatic means to impart to us eternal life. Let us look at the things Hooker affirmed in the context of the chapters we were looking at from Book V of his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.
He affirmed the Real Presence clearly, not vaguely.
He affirmed Eucharistic sacrifice.
He affirmed the charismatic and salvatory effect of the sacrament. This last part depended on a worthy reception, and about that all Catholic believers must agree.
He sent his word and healed them
So, what about Hooker's version of "Receptionism" so-called? On one hand, we may agree that what matters most is that the sacrament be received, and that for its saving effect. It really does not matter when the sacrament is consecrated, that is, at what exact moment in time, as long as we know that we have fed on the Living Christ by the communion of his Body and Blood. And, that at or by the point of reception this has happened, everyone with a Catholic mind must agree.
Nonetheless, we have to abide by a theological principle. The principle I refer to is the power of the word of God. This is a systematic theological principle. By that I mean, it is consistent throughout the whole of scripture.
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Gen. 1:3
"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. " Psalm 33: 6
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Heb. 11:3
When Jesus called the young man back from the dead in Nain, he did so by speaking to him. The people of the town said, "a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people." That is because the word in the mouth of a prophet had the same power as if God spoke it from heaven, and the prophet is the mouth of God.
"If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth." (Jer.15:19)
"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
So too, the word of God in the mouth of a angel. This is why we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation as the feast of the Incarnation. "And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS." (Luke 1:30, 31) These words are not simply a foretelling or prediction, and neither were the words of the prophets; the scriptures had to be fulfilled because once the word had come from the mouth of God, nothing could stop the creative power of that word. When the young man sat up, the people knew that Jesus was at least a prophet, for his word healed the man from death itself, and was filled with the creative power by which heaven and earth were made. (Psalm 107:20)
For this reason, it is consistent with all of scripture, that is, by proper use of systematic theology, to see that when the words of Institution are spoken, the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ. How this charismatic wonder takes place we cannot know; but, how can the elements not become the Body and Blood of Christ once his word is spoken over them? For this reason I see the Words of Institution as a moment after which we may no longer doubt that Christ is really Present in the sacrament on the altar.
I acknowledge that Hooker placed the same confidence in the word of God and the creative power of that word; regarding this sacrament, however, he pointed out that the full Words of Institution include "Take, eat..." and "Drink, ye all, of this..." I cannot rule out that this might indicate that upon eating and drinking each Christian who receives finalizes the consecration. However, once "This is my Body...This is my Blood" have been uttered, the creative power of God's word has begun its work.
These matters are not a distinction between "Protestant" and "Catholic" (which is no distinction at all for those who say "Protestant" according to Anglican usage). These are matters of discussion among Catholics, as they were in Antiquity. What we have no room for is a Eucharistic theology that excludes Baptism and the Lord's Supper from the all important topic of salvation, or that makes them into bare signs, or that makes gazing equal to receiving. These sacraments are "generally necessary to salvation."