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Consubstantiation is a Christian theological doctrine that (like transubstantiation) describes the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It holds that during the sacrament, the substance of the body and blood of Christ are present alongside the substance of the bread and wine, which remain present. It was part of the doctrines of Lollardy,[1] and considered a heresy by the Roman Catholic Church.[2] It was later championed by Edward Pusey of the Oxford Movement, and is therefore held by many high church Anglicans.[3][4] The Irvingian Churches (such as the New Apostolic Church) adhere to consubstantiation as the explanation of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.[5]


In England in the late 14th century, there was a political and religious movement known as Lollardy. Among much broader goals, the Lollards affirmed a form of consubstantiation—that the Eucharist remained physically bread and wine, while becoming spiritually the body and blood of Christ. Lollardy survived up until the time of the English Reformation.[1][6][7]

Whilst ultimately rejected by him on account of the authority of the Church of Rome, William of Ockham entertains a version of consubstantiation in his Fourth Quodlibet, Question 30, where he claims that "the substance of the bread and the substance of the wine remain there and that the substance of the body of Christ remains in the same place, together with the substance of the bread".[8]

Literary critic Kenneth Burke's dramatism takes this concept and utilizes it in secular rhetorical theory to look at the dialectic of unity and difference within the context of logology.[9]

The doctrine of consubstantiation is often held in contrast to the doctrine of transubstantiation.

To explain the manner of Christ's presence in Holy Communion, many high church Anglicans teach the philosophical explanation of consubstantiation.[3] A major leader in the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement, Edward Pusey, championed the view of consubstantiation.[10] Pusey's view is that:[4]

I cannot deem it unfair to apply the name of Consubstantiation to a doctrine which teaches, that "the true flesh and true blood of Christ are in the true bread and wine", in such a way that "whatsoever motion or action the bread" and wine have, the body and blood "of Christ also" have "the same"; and that "the substances in both cases" are "so mingled—that they should constitute some one thing".[4]

The Irvingian Churches adhere to the doctrine of consubstantiation; for example, The Catechism of the New Apostolic Church states:[5]

The elements of bread and wine are not transformed in their substance through the consecration and pronouncement of the words of institution. Rather, the substance of Christ's body and blood is joined to them (consubstantiation). There is thus no transformation of the substances (transubstantiation). There is a close connection between Holy Communion and the fact that Jesus Christ has both a human and a divine nature, both of which exist unadulterated and indivisible in Him (see 3.4). It is in this sense that the relationship between the bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ is to be understood: after the consecration, a parallel exists between the "bread and wine"–which corresponds to the human nature of Christ–and the "body and blood"–which corresponds to the divine nature of Christ. In Holy Communion, bread and wine correspond to the human nature of Christ, while the body and blood correspond to His divine nature. Accordingly, there can be no transubstantiation of the bread and wine. Rather, even after consecration, the bread and wine retain their natural substance. Yet the bread and wine are not merely metaphors or symbols for the body and blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ are truly present (real presence). Through the words of consecration spoken by an Apostle or a priestly minister commissioned by him, the substance of the body and blood of Christ is joined to the substance of the bread and wine. The outward form (accidence) of the elements of Holy Communion is not changed by this act. Just as the Man Jesus was visible during His life on earth, so also the bread and wine are visible in Holy Communion. After their consecration, however, the elements of Holy Communion constitute a dual substance–like the two natures of Jesus Christ–namely that of bread and wine and that of the body and blood of Christ. The Son of God is then truly present in the elements of Holy Communion: in His divinity and in His humanity. However, as regards the elements of Communion it is not the case that the bread alone corresponds to the body of Christ and that the wine alone corresponds to the blood of Christ. Rather, the body and blood of Christ is completely present in each of the two elements, both the bread and the wine.:[5]

The term consubstantiation has been used to describe Martin Luther's Eucharistic doctrine, the sacramental union.[11][12][13][14][15][16] Lutheran theologians reject the term because they believe it refers to a philosophical construct that differs from the Lutheran doctrine of the sacramental union, denotes a mixing of substances (bread and wine with body and blood), and suggests a "gross, Capernaitic, carnal" presence of the body and blood of Christ. [17][18][19][14][20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Walker, Greg (6 February 2013). Reading Literature Historically: Drama and Poetry from Chaucer to the Reformation. Edinburgh University Press. p. 152. ISBN 9780748681037. Was he present in substance ('subject') and accident, replacing entirely all the elements of bread and wine through the miraculous process of transubstantiation, as the church claimed, or present only in substance 'beneath' the elements of bread and wine which themselves also remained present, through 'consubstantiation' as Wyclif and prominent lollards such as William Thorpe and Sir John Oldcastle asserted?
  2. ^ "Consubstantiation".
  3. ^ a b Murphy, Russell E. (2007). Critical Companion to T. S. Eliot: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. p. 512. ISBN 9781438108551.
  4. ^ a b c Vogan, Thomas Stuart Lyle (1871). The True Doctrine of the Eucharist. Longmans, Green. p. 54.
  5. ^ a b c "The Catechism of the New Apostolic Church: 8.2.12 The real presence of the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion". New Apostolic Church. 18 December 2020. Rather, the substance of Christ's body and blood is joined to them (consubstantiation).
  6. ^ Fazzio, Robert (2013). The Origin, Proliferation, and Institutionalization of Anti-Catholicism in America, and Its Impact on Modern Christian Apologetics. GRIN Verlag. p. 6. ISBN 9783656019664.
  7. ^ Hornbeck, J. Patrick (10 September 2010). What is a lollard?: dissent and belief in late medieval England. Oxford University Press. p. 72. ISBN 9780199589043.
  8. ^ Ockham, William (1991). Quodlibetal Questions. Yale University. p. 370-371.
  9. ^ Lamoureux, Edward. "Introduction to Kenneth Burke".
  10. ^ Rigg, James Harrison (1895). Oxford High Anglicanism and Its Chief Leaders. C. H. Kelly. p. 293. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  11. ^ The Evangelical Quarterly Review. Vol. 18. 1867. p. 67. From first to last, the Lutheran Church has rejected the name of Consubstantiation and everything which that name properly implies. Bold and uncompromising as our Confessors and Theologians have been, if the word Consubstantiation, (which is not a more human term than Trinity and Original Sin are human terms), had expressed correctly their doctrine, they would have not hesitated to use it. It is not used in any Confession of our Church, and we have never seen it used in any standard dogmatician of our communion, except to condemn the term, and to repudiate the idea that our Church held the doctrine it involves.
  12. ^ Krauth, Charles Porterfield (1963). The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology. Augsburg Publishing House. p. 768. When this presence is called substantial and bodily, those words designate not the MODE of presence, but the OBJECT. When the words in, with, under, are used, our traducers know, as well as they know their own fingers, that they do NOT signify a CONSUBSTANTIATION, local co-existence, or impanation. The charge that we hold a local inclusion, or Consubstantiation, is a calumny. The eating and drinking are not physical, but mystical and sacramental. An action is not necessarily figurative because it is not physical.
  13. ^ The Quarterly Review of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Southern Methodist Publishing House. 1882. p. 107. And finally, we say once more to all who prefer the truth to slanderous falsehoods in regard to the largest and oldest Protestant Church, that no Lutheran Creed or Lutheran theologian has ever taught or 'believed the doctrine of Consubstantiation'.
  14. ^ a b "Real Presence Communion – Consubstantiation?". WELS Topical Q&A. Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 26 Jan 2015. Although some Lutherans have used the term 'consbstantiation' [sic] and it might possibly be understood correctly (e.g., the bread & wine, body & blood coexist with each other in the Lord's Supper), most Lutherans reject the term because of the false connotation it contains ... either that the body and blood, bread and wine come together to form one substance in the Lord's Supper or that the body and blood are present in a natural manner like the bread and the wine. Lutherans believe that the bread and the wine are present in a natural manner in the Lord's Supper and Christ's true body and blood are present in an illocal, supernatural manner.
  15. ^ F. L. Cross, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, second edition, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974), 340 sub loco.
  16. ^ Weimar Ausgabe 26, 442; Luther's Works 37, 299–300.
  17. ^ J. T. Mueller, Christian Dogmatics: A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology (St. Louis: CPH, 1934), 519.
  18. ^ Erwin L. Lueker, Christian Cyclopedia, (St. Louis: CPH, 1975), "consubstantiation".
  19. ^ Formula of Concord, Epitome, VII.42 and Solid Declaration VII.127 in F. Bente, Triglot Concordia, (St Louis: CPH, 1921), 817, 1015.
  20. ^ Lectures on the Augsburg Confession. Lutheran Publication Society. 1888. p. 350. Retrieved 13 June 2014. But in neither sense can that monstrous doctrine of Consubstantiation be attributed to our church, since Lutherans do not believe either in that local conjunction of two bodies, nor in any commingling of bread and of Christ's body, of wine and of his blood. {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)