What is transubstantiation?


(This is a general description that represents, but does not cover all the many Christian denominations).

The Communion or the Eucharist is a ceremony that commemorates the Last Supper, in which bread and wine are consecrated and consumed. During Jesus Christ’s last days on earth, he shared bread and wine with his disciples and explained to them that the bread represented his body and the wine his blood.  Christians partake in communion to remember the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and his death and resurrection.

What do Catholics believe about the Eucharist?

For Catholics, Holy Communion — also called the “Eucharist” — is the most important sacrament. The Eucharist is central to their beliefs and to their church services. They believe that when a person properly receives communion, the bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. This teaching is known as “transubstantiation.” For Catholics, forgiveness of sin, and grace are both received during communion.

What do Presbyterians, Lutherans and Methodists believe about the Eucharist?

Following Christ’s example, the minister serving at the Lord’s Table takes bread and wine, gives thanks for them, breaks the bread, pours the wine, and gives them to the people. The people then eat and drink.  These sects do not believe that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ, but taking part in these actions they remember the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, give thanks to God, share God’s love with one another, and look forward to the coming of God’s reign in all its fullness.

What do Baptists believe about the Eucharist?

Baptists believe the Bible teaches that the elements used in the Supper are not literally the body and blood of Christ.  In partaking of the bread and the cup, Christ’s disciples are to remember his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary as he gave his body and shed his blood for our sins.

The bread is symbolic of his body and the fruit of the vine symbolic of his blood. The unleavened bread symbolizes the purity of Christ, for he was without sin and thus his body was an unblemished sacrifice for our sins. The juice from crushed grapes symbolizes the blood that Christ shed for us.

In eating the bread and drinking from the cup, a person does not actually partake of Christ’s flesh and blood. Rather, it is an opportunity to obey a command of Christ and to recall his sacrifice for us, his presence with us and his certain return.

Picture by: Basher Eyre [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons