Friday, June 02, 2006

Zwingli and Cranmer on the Eucharist

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThis post is from the entry below on the Richardson article on Cranmer and Zwingli. I thought I would post it here in case others do not read the comments below. An anonymous person writes,
You (and the author you quote) are confusing the concept of substance with corporality. This is something Aristotle and Aquinas did not do. Even a cursory reading of Aquinas would reveal that he too states the Christ is neither physically nor locally present in the Sacrament. It really does bother me when theologians like Cranmer are denounced for things that even tried and true Thomists reject.
What follows from here is my response to this comment.


Where did I or the author ever say that participating in the substance of Christ's divinity and humanity equals locality or corporally (physically)? Substance is not physical, accidents are. Cranmer denies that we receive the human nature of Christ in the Sacrament just as Zwingli did and quotes from the John passage that flesh provides us nothing. To Cranmer, Christ is only present in his divinity and not his humanity. For Cranmer, it is our faith that unites us to Christ and there is no sacramental union.

From the Defense Cranmer writes,
'He is present by his divine nature and majesty, by his providence and by grace; but by his human nature and very body he is absent from this world, and present in heaven.'
One example that Richardson shows is the analogy that Zwingli, Cranmer, Calvin and Bucer use with the sun and its rays of light. Zwingli and Cranmer both say that we do not participate in in the substance of the sun by participating in the rays of light from the sun. Yet Calvin and Bucer both use the same analogy and say that participation in the sun's lights and rays is a participation in its substance. This is because for Cranmer substance can only be in one place, which shows how much he was affected by his Nominalism and thankfully quite inconsistent with it in terms of his orthodox Christology or he would have reduced our union with Christ to a merely moral union.

What Richardson explains in the article is that 'Cranmer seeks to make two central points. First, that Christ and the Holy Spirit are not present [in] the sacramental forms, but only present by their sanctifying virtue in those that receive the sacrament. Secondly, he seeks to deny the substantial presence of Christ in the believer, as well as in the elements. What is present is the benefit of Christ's crucified body and as spiritual presence of Christ according to His divinity.'

The above was Zwingli's position. For Cranmer, to eat the flesh of Christ was to have 'faith' in the Passion. Cranmer sought to steer clear from those who thought of the sacraments as little to nothing while also steering clear of any propitiatory sacrifice. I have read authors and heard others say that Cranmer was a Virtualist. One such author that I have recently read that was also pointed out by Richardson was Darwell Stone. Stone defined Virtualism thusly:
'that the faithful communicant sacramentally receives those effects of Christ's life and death which would be conveyed if there were a beneficial reception of His actual body and blood.'
Now, Richardson is right to say that if this is the definition of Virutalism, it is the antithesis of Cranmer's Eucharistic theology who denied that such an eating 'should avail them nothing.'

Cranmer never tires of saying, according to Richardson, that the elements DO NOT participate in spiritual power or holiness. {In the article he provides evidence from the Defense and Answer.] Yet there is no doubt that Cranmer gives the elements a higer value than does Zwingli where the latter speaks of them as effectual signs of grace.

Therefore, what I see as the major difference between Cranmer and those later Divines such as Andrewes and especially the Non-Jurors' eucharistic theology is that Andrewes' eucharistic theology contains a sacramental union with Christ's two natures with us and Cranmer only sees that union via the incarnation received by faith of the believer but denies this union sacramentally. I believe Richardson is correct to point out that Cranmer's Nonimialism and humanism that sharply contrasted body and spirit, makes Cranmer incapable of conceiving of a mystical and substantial participation by the believer in the flesh of Christ in the Eucharist. This is something that Andrewes goes on to defend strongly in his sermons and writings.


Blogger J. Gordon Anderson said...

Jeff, where can I get a copy of that article? Is it online?

1:37 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

Fr. Gordon

The title of the article is 'Zwingli and Cranmer on the Eucharist' or [Cranmer Dixit et Contradixit]. by The Rev'd Cyril C. Richardson, Th.D, D.D. om 1949. It is actually a lecture given at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. It was given to me by Dr. Bill Tighe so you may want to check through your local libraries to see if they can get it for you.

2:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Cranmer is a Zwinglian then Calvin must be too.

Logos non extra carnem est.

10:03 pm  
Blogger Jeff said...

anon. what is your proof? First of all, I'm not using Zwinglian in the pejorative manner in which you are obviously receiving the term. Zwingli was not his followers and had a better view of the sacraments than many of those who followed after him. But I really have no more to say since you provide little to nothing to make for a conversation.

11:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did all three have in common?

1:38 am  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Hey Jeffers,

Good posting. I would question one thing that Richardson asserts, namely the use of the illustration of the sun's rays in Cranmer (which he says he has in common with Zwingli). Can you provide an exact reference for this? Or is this something that Richardson infers from his reading of Cranmer? (I'm asking this because I don't recall.)

I do, however, remember quite clearly that Ridley had used the sun's rays in illustration of our partaking of the very substance of Christ who is otherwise seated (corporally speaking) in the heavenly realms (I can provide the quote if you wish). This is important if only for the fact that out of all the reformers, Cranmer only ever gives credit to one for influencing his own doctrine of the eucharist: Nicholas Ridley. So you'll forgive me if I find Richardson's contention here a little difficult to take at face value, (but not at all impossible, I may indeed be wrong), that Cranmer would have strayed so far from his dear friend and mentor, Master Ridley, in so important a detail.

Finally, I leave you with an intriguing quote from Cranmer (from his Defence):

"I would thus reason with the papists, and demand of them: When an unrepentant sinner receiveth the sacrament, whether he have Christ’s body within him or no?...If they say yea, then I would ask them further: Whether they have Christ’s Spirit within them or no? If they say nay, then do they separate Christ’s body from his Spirit, and his humanity from his Divinity, and be condemned by the Scripture as very Antichrists that divide Christ."

What I find interesting here is that Cranmer argues on very solid Christological (i.e., Incarnational) grounds for his view that unbelievers do not receive Christ in the sacrament (a position on which I happen to disagree with him, btw, but that's beside my point). My point is that Cranmer does not divide the divinity and humanity of Christ as you seem to imply (perhaps I read you incorrectly, I did read fast). Sure, your point is well taken that he denies a union of Christ with the elements, but there is an instrumentalism in Cranmer's view of the eucharist (not shared in the least with Zwingli, btw) that you seem to discount, which is to say that Cranmer does affirm a real partaking of the whole Christ (body and spirit) in the believer's receiving of the elements, yet not by virtue of a presence in or with the elements but by virtue of the indwelling Spirit in the believer.

Oh yes, and Stone was incorrect in calling Cranmer a virtualist. Indeed, he wasn't (as you are right to point out). He is firmly in the receptionist camp, but with an instrumentalist twist that I find in no other reformer of his day. At least that's my reading.

Sorry, I've gone on way too long for a guy who's supposed to be still on vacation (and neglecting his own blog in the process!).

Take care,

7:09 am  
Blogger Jeff said...


Thanks for the good interaction and questions.

First of all, the reference to the sun's rays and substance is taken from Answers page 91. In Defense page 416 concerning this issue Cranmer writes speaking of Christ's humanity saying, it 'is heaven only, and in our mids by faith we ascend up into heaven, to eat him there;...and in them that rightly receive teh bread and wine he is in a much more perfection than corporally, which would avail them nothing; but in them he is spiritually with his divine power, giving them eternal life.'

Now, to Cranmer's credit under pressure he writes in Answer to Gardiner 'Thus you gather upon mine answer, as though I did mean of the efficacy, and not of the substance of the body; but I mean of them both, as well of the efficacy as of the substance' (396). Now the difficulty is Cranmer's gross inconsistencies. He denies the substantial presence of Christ because of the locality in heaven and here he gives a hat tip to the presence when pushed in the corner. What he comes to mean by the presence of substance is altogether another Cranmerian mystery in light of his plain teaching everywhere else. I am beginning to wonder if he needed therapy. ;-)

7:31 am  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...


Here's a couple more interesting quotes. The first is from Peter Martyr where he reflects on the differences between his own view of the eucharist and that of Cranmer. The second is Ridley's use of the sun analogy. In my own research I was often frustrated by how modern interpreters of Cranmer failed to take into account the evaluation of Cranmer by Cranmer's contemporaries. Here they are:

"Now let me say a little (for your satisfaction) about Christ’s body, since you so greatly dislike my denial of its presence. If I should ask you why one should affirm any such presence as you invent for yourself, I think you will answer: in order that the body and blood of Christ may be joined to us. But since the whole work of this union is heavenly and spiritual, this presence of yours so zealously argued is not all required...why do you deny that we are truly joined to him without any real and corporal presence? And if you do not deny it, why do you insist on urging this presence?"

COMMENT: While I think Martyr overstates his case, it does show that an important contemporary with solid Zwinglian credentials understood Cranmer to be arguing a more Lutheran position.

Here's the Ridley quote:

"Briefly, they [i.e. the godly] deny the presence [in the sacrament] of Christ’s body in the natural substance of his human and assumed nature, and grant the presence of the same by grace...And the same natural substance of the very body and blood of Christ, because it is united in the divine nature in Christ...therefore it hath not only life in itself, but is also able to give, and doth give life unto so many as be, or shall be partakers thereof...Even as, for example, we say the same sun, which, in substance, never removeth his place out of the heavens, is yet present here by its beams, light, and natural influence, where it shineth on earth. For God’s word and his sacraments be, as it were, the beams of Christ."

The Ridley quote is not quite what I remembered it to be. It would seem that philosophical nominalism influenced Ridley (and by extension Cranmer) in the equating of "substance" with "physicality," which is something that no proper Thomist would ever do. But apart from the confusion of substance with corporality I think it is clear that Ridley used the sun analogy to defend a eucharistic position which posited a true partaking of Christ, which is what Cranmer called for as well.

Take care,

P.S. I didn't bring Answer or Defence with me on vacation. If you get a chance, I'd really appreciate it if you could post the quote from Answer (on the sun analogy). Thanks.

4:31 pm  
Blogger An Anglican Cleric said...

I found this article interesting and helpful on this topic:


9:29 pm  
Anonymous William Tighe said...

When you get to the article by Paul Rorem on "Calvin and Bullinger on the Lord's Supper" that I sent you, you will easy see hor far Cranmer is from Calvin on the Eucharist and (by comparison) how close to Zwingli and Bullinger.

8:32 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

As I understand Calvin's fully developed view of the eucharist (his view developed over time as can be seen in the successive editions of the Institutes) there is much that both he and Cranmer had in common, namely viewing the eucharist as a pneumatic/epicletic moment in which believers (and ONLY believers) are raised into heaven by the Spirit to partake of Christ -- the so-called "Sursum Corda" view the eucharist.

Ironically, where Cranmer and Calvin differed was that the latter really had no doctrine of consecration. For instance, Calvin's so-called "epiclesis" was called down on the people, unlike the 1549 which called for the Spirit to bless and sanctify the elements. Calvin shares this in common with Zwingli. Also, the Words of Institution are directed to the people in the Genevan liturgy, rather than prayed over the elements (1549/1552 BCP). This is a radical departure from the Western liturgical tradition, and, again, Calvin holds this in common with Zwingli.

I do realize that since Dix an important plank in the Anglo-Catholic agenda has been to associate Cranmer as much as possible with Zwingli in order to discredit the Cranmerian liturgy. (Oddly enough, this has had the side-effect of rehabilitating Calvin.) However, looking at this from a liturgical perspective, the evidence is just not as obvious as some would make it out to be.


9:39 pm  
Blogger An Anglican Cleric said...

Dr. Dunlap,

Excellent postings and comments. Did you write a piece on Anglican sacramental theology that was posted on Cranmer House some time back? If that was yours that was excellent as well.

10:49 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Thanks. Yes, that article was mine. Cheers, Dan

5:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home

    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Societas Sanctae Crucis

About Me

My Profile


  • To the Theotokos
  • My Parish Church
  • Taking Jesus to the Streets
  • The Angelus
  • Steel Family News
  • Anglicans For Life
  • My PHD Supervisor
  • Diocese of Durham
  • N.T. Wright Bishop of Durham
  • Bishop of Beverley FiF PEV
  • Forward in Faith
  • Religious of orthodox Tradition
  • Our Lady of Walsingham
  • Church of England
  • Church Times
  • C of E News
  • New Directions
  • Anglican Comm News Service
  • CaNN Classical Anglican News
  • Anglican Mainstream
  • Catholic World News
  • Zenit News
  • First Things
  • University of Durham
  • St. John's College
  • Touchstone: Mere Comments
  • American Chesterton Society
  • G.K. Chesterton
  • The "Colossal Genius"
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Dr. Marianne Dorman
  • Bishop Lancelot Andrewes
  • Theologia
  • The Paul Page
  • Renaissance Music
  • Wodehouse
  • Project Canterbury
  • Rosemary Pugh Books
  • Pusey House Oxford
  • Comm of the Resurrection
  • Anglicanism
  • Alexander Schmemann
  • Traditional-Anglican
  • Trushare Great Links
  • Books and Books
  • Paedocommunion
  • Summa Theologica
  • Didache
  • N.A.Patristics Society
  • Visit Olde World Family Heritage
  • Cardinal Newman Writings
  • EWTN
  • Vatican Library
  • Tune in to Ancient Faith Radio
  • Anglo-Catholic Central
  • Women for Faith and Family
  • Catholic Culture
  • Being better Dads.org
  • Anglicana Ecclesia
  • Catholic Societies

  • Mary:Grace and Hope in Christ
  • SSC England and Scotland
  • King Charles the Martyr
  • Catholic League Unitas
  • Catholic Union
  • Conf of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Society of Mary
  • Priests for Life
  • Anglican Blogs

  • TitusOneNine
  • Anthropax
  • Sacristan
  • Curate Repose
  • Whitehall
  • Apostolicity
  • The Patristic Anglican
  • All Too Common
  • Prydain
  • Thinking Anglicans
  • Drell's Descants
  • A-C Ruminations
  • emergent like slime
  • Open Thou our Lips
  • Haligweorc
  • The Confessing Reader
  • Dr. Leander Harding
  • Tex Anglican
  • St. George the Martyr
  • The Oxford Movement
  • Continuing Anglican
  • Wyclif.net
  • Third Mill. Catholic
  • Anglican Eucharistic Theol
  • Fr. Brian Douglas
  • RatherNot Blog
  • Full Homely Divinity
  • St.Peters London Docks Blog
  • In Hoc Signo Vinces
  • Anglican Wanderings
  • Timotheos Prologizes
  • Global South Anglican
  • Deaconess
  • Liturgical Links

  • 1549 Book of Common Prayer
  • 1550 Merbecke
  • 1559 Book of Common Prayer
  • 1570 Roman Mass
  • 1637 Scottish Prayer Book
  • 1662 English Prayer Book
  • 1718 Nonjurors Communion
  • 1928 Book of Common Prayer
  • 1962 Roman Mass
  • 1962 Roman Propers
  • 1969 Roman Mass
  • 1987 Anglican Use Mass
  • Pearcy Dearmer Everyman's History of the Prayer Book
  • The Liturgy of St. James
  • The Liturgy of St. Chrysostom
  • The Liturgy of St. Basil
  • Lectionary Central
  • Catholic Calendar
  • Common Prayer Calendar
  • The Roman Breviary
  • Anglican Breviary
  • Cantica Nova
  • The Music Makers
  • Catholic Liturgy Site
  • Directorium Anglicanum
  • Catholic Blogs

  • Numerous British Catholic Blogs
  • Carpe canum
  • Ignatius Insights
  • Ancient and Future Catholics
  • Catholic Pontificator
  • Random Thoughts
  • Fr. Newman's Web page
  • fides et ardor
  • St Paul Centre for Theology
  • Canterbury Tales
  • The Shrine of Holy Whapping
  • Sacramentum Vitae
  • Cardinal Schonborn
  • Pertinacious Papist
  • Ratzinger Online
  • The New Liturgical Movement
  • Scripture and Tradition
  • Against the Grain
  • Mark Shea
  • ad limina apostolorum
  • Dappled Things
  • Amy Welborn Old Blog
  • Amy Welborn New Blog
  • Catholic Catechism
  • Benedict Blog
  • Mike Aquilina
  • Libertas et Memoria
  • Video melior
  • Orthodox Blogs

  • Energies of the Trinity
  • Orthodoxy Today
  • Monachos
  • Onion Dome
  • This Is Life
  • Orthodoxie
  • Chrysostom Web Page
  • Society of Chrysostom
  • Cathedra Unitatis
  • Our Life in Christ
  • Orthodox Way
  • Exploring Orthodoxy
  • Everything Orthodox
  • Parish Web Sites

  • Durham Cathedral
  • St. Peters London Docks
  • St. Silas London
  • St. Mary Mag Middlesex
  • St. Augustine London
  • St. John the Evanglelist Berks
  • St. Pancras London
  • St. James the Great Darlington
  • St. Mary Bletchingley
  • St. James Paddington London
  • St. George Hanworth
  • St. Helens Auckland
  • St. Mary Magdalene Sunderland
  • Archives