Friday, February 09, 2007

Richard Montagu (1577-1641) Real Presence

One of the things I think about a lot is the sad division over the Sacrament of Unity. Zwingli's and Oecelampadius' 'real absence' must be rejected as heterodox teaching. But, does one have to use the language of 'transubstantiation' or 'consubstantiation' (the latter is debatable for Luther's position) in order to embrace 'real presence' in the Eucharist where the recpient receives really and truly the whole substance of Christ by this sacrament? Montagu said,
Christ giveth us his very body and bloud and really and truely performs in us his promise in feeding our soules unto eternal life. As for the manner how, This inexplicable, that unutterable: it is faith onely that can give the resolution. Trans or con. skill not of...otherwise acknowledge, there is, there need bee, no difference in the point of reall presence.
With favour, Montagu quotes from Justin Martyr's testimony that said,
For wee do not receive these things as common bread or common drink: but even as our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ, by the Word of God and Prayer, through which food beeing altered and changed, our flesh and bloud is sustained becommeth the flesh and bloud of him, that Jesus, who took our flesh in his Incarnation.
Is this, in all honesty, anything less than what the Church of Rome or that of the East have always been desirous of protecting against those who would see the Eucharist as an empty figure? A transmutation, transelementation, transignification, divines such as Montagu and Andrewes, Forbes and Thorndike NEVER denied. That the word transubstantiation must be used to explain the 'HOW' of the mystery; they denied. Besides the WORD transubstantiation, what is missing?


Blogger Brian Douglas said...

This is another important issue that you raise. Montagu, like the others you name, and still others not named, all express within the Anglican tradition a position of moderate realism. This predominant view argues that there is a real presence of Christ in the Eucharist which is centred in the elements, but they are all very careful to exclude any carnal or fleshy view of that presence. Transubstantiation is merely another such real presence view which is not fleshy or carnal either (Aquinas' position) but transubstantiation has generally been rejected by Anglicans as the 'how' of the mystery. Anglicans have generally rejected the idea of a change in the substance of the bread and wine but not the idea of a real presence. Anglicans instead have mostly argued for the presence of the nature of Christ in the elements without any change in the substance of the elements. In my analysis I have called this an instantiation of the nature of Christ. Andrewes certainly argues in this way as do the others you name. Perhaps it is this idea of an instantiation that has been missing in an explicit sense but nonetheless I suspect that it has always been there in the majority of divines even if it has been tacit or unexpressed in specific philosophical terms.

Thanks for raising these thoughts.


9:31 pm  
Blogger Jeffrey said...


When the Fathers spoke about the change of the 'nature' of the bread and wine, was that another term for substance for them or was it altogether something else? For example, Irenaeus uses that sort of language when he speaks of the change of the elements by the Word of Christ. Was substance and nature all that different to the fathers?

9:40 pm  
Blogger Brian Douglas said...

I do not believe that the Fathers spoke about the change in the sense of a change in substance. Such a theory of real presence emerged later from Aquinas based on the philosophy of Aristotle. If they used the word substance they meant it in the sense of nature. If we speak about a change in nature it is because of an instantiation of the nature of Christ which does not change the substance but transforms it or transelements it. Aquinas' idea of a change in substance is really an innovation - a brilliant one, but one that departs from the teachings of the Fathers in my view and one that was generally rejected by Anglicans.

12:21 am  

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