Transubstantion comes from the two Latin words trans (across) and substantiation (substance). Transubstantation is the belief that the whole substance of bread and wine is converted or literally changed into the whole substance of the body and blood of Christ, with only the appearance (the accidents, as theologians say) or sensible qualities of the former remaining. Transubstantiation means only the body and blood are present, although the appearances of bread and wine remain as sacramental symbols of earthly food.The term transubstantiation was decided upon at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215) as the only term which completely and accurately describes the mystery of the Real Presence.
Ignatius of Antioch, writing in about AD 106 to the Roman Christians, says: "I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards of the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.
Writing to the Christians of Smyrna in the same year, he warned them to "stand aloof from such heretics", because, among other reasons, "they abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again
The Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 spoke of the bread and wine as "transubstantiated" into the body and blood of Christ: "His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been transubstantiated, by God's power, into his body and blood". It was not until later in the 13th century that Aristotelian metaphysics was accepted and a philosophical elaboration in line with that metaphysics was developed, which found classic formulation in the teaching of Thomas Aquinas" and in the theories of later Catholic theologians in the medieval period (the Augustinian Giles of Rome and the Franciscans Duns Scotus and William of Ockham) and beyond.
Consubstantiation (con - with, and substantation - substance) a term commonly applied to the Lutheran concept of the communion supper, though some modern Lutheran theologians reject the use of this term because of its ambiguity. The idea is that in the communion the body and blood of Christ and the bread and wine coexist in union with each other.
The doctrine of transubstantiation is the result of a theological dispute started in the 11th century, when Berengar of Tours denied that any material change in the elements was needed to explain the Eucharistic Presence, thereby provoking a considerable stir. Berengar's position was never diametrically opposed to that of his critics, and he was probably never excommunicated, but the controversies that he aroused forced people to clarify the doctrine of the Eucharist. The earliest known use of the term "transubstantiation" to describe the change from bread and wine to body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist was by Hildebert de Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours, in the 11th century. By the end of the 12th century the term was in widespread use.
Anglican eucharistic theologies universally affirm the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, though Evangelical Anglicans believe that this is a pneumatic presence, while those of an Anglo-Catholic churchmanship believe this is a corporeal presence. To explain the manner of Christ's presence, some high-church Anglicans, however, teach the philosophical explanation of consubstantiation, associated with the English Lollards and, later, erroneously with Martin Luther, though Luther and the Lutheran churches explicitly rejected the doctrine of consubstatiation and actually promulgated their dogma of the sacramental union.[A major leader in the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement, Edward Pusey, championed the view of consubstantiation.]
In the Greek Orthodox Church, the doctrine has been discussed under the term of metousiosis, coined as a direct loan-translation of transsubstantiatio in the 17th century. In Eastern Orthodoxy in general, the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of the Eucharist is more commonly discussed using alternative terms such as "trans-elementation" (μεταστοιχείωσις, metastoicheiosis), "re-ordination" (μεταρρύθμισις, metarrhythmisis), or simply "change" (μεταβολή, metabole).
The Eastern Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches, along with the Assyrian Church of the East, agree that in a valid Divine Liturgy bread and wine truly and actually become the body and blood of Christ. In Orthodox confessions, the change is said to start during the Liturgy of Preparation and be completed during the Epiklesis. However, there are official church documents that speak of a "change" (in Greek μεταβολή) or "metousiosis" (μετουσίωσις) of the bread and wine. "Μετ-ουσί-ωσις" (met-ousi-osis) is the Greek word used to represent the Latin word "trans-substanti-atio", as Greek "μετα-μόρφ-ωσις" (meta-morph-osis) corresponds to Latin "trans-figur-atio". Examples of official documents of the Eastern Orthodox Church that use the term "μετουσίωσις" or "transubstantiation" are the Longer Catechism of The Orthodox, Catholic, Eastern Church (question 340) and the declaration by the Eastern Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem of 1672:
A Georgetown University CARA poll of United States Catholics in 2008 showed that 57% said they believed that Jesus Christ is really present in the Eucharist in 2008 and nearly 43% said that they believed the wine and bread are symbols of Jesus. Of those attending Mass weekly or more often, 91% believed in the Real Presence, as did 65% of those who merely attended at least once a month, and 40% of those who attended at most a few times a year.
Among Catholics attending Mass at least once a month, the percentage of belief in the Real Presence was 86% for pre-Vatican II Catholics, 74% for Vatican II Catholics, 75% for post-Vatican II Catholics, and 85% for Millennials.
A 2019 Pew Research Report found that 69% of United States Catholics believed that in the Eucharist the bread and wine "are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ", and only 31% believed that, "during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus". Of the latter group, most (28% of all US Catholics) said they knew that this is what the Church teaches, while the remaining 3% said they did not know it. Of the 69% who said the bread and wine are symbols, almost two-thirds (43% of all Catholics) said that what they believed is the Church's teaching, 22% said that they believed it in spite of knowing that the Church teaches that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. Among United States Catholics who attend Mass at least once a week, the most observant group, 63% accepted that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ; the other 37% saw the bread and wine as symbols, most of them (23%) not knowing that the Church, so the survey stated, teaches that the elements actually become the body and blood of Christ, while the remaining 14% rejected what was given as the Church's teaching.
In a comment on the Pew Research Report, Greg Erlandson drew attention to the difference between the formulation in the CARA survey, in which the choice was between "Jesus Christ is really present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist" and "the bread and wine are symbols of Jesus, but Jesus is not really present", and the Pew Research choice between "during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus" and "the bread wine are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ". He quotes an observation by Mark Gray that the word "actually" makes it sound like "something that could be analyzed under a microscope or empirically observed", while what the Church teaches is that the "substance" of the bread and wine are changed at consecration, but the "accidents" or appearances of bread and wine remain. Erlandson commented further: "Catholics may not be able to articulately define the 'Real Presence', and the phrase [sic] 'transubstantiation' may be obscure to them, but in their reverence and demeanor, they demonstrate their belief that this is not just a symbol"
During the Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of transubstantiation was heavily criticised as an Aristotelian "pseudophilosophy" imported into Christian teaching and jettisoned in favor of Martin Luther's doctrine of sacramental union, or in favor, per Huldrych Zwingli, of the Eucharist as memorial.
Title page of Martin Luther's De Captivitate Babylonica Ecclesiae
In the Protestant Reformation, the doctrine of transubstantiation became a matter of much controversy. Martin Luther held that "It is not the doctrine of transubstantiation which is to be believed, but simply that Christ really is present at the Eucharist" What Luther thus called a "sacramental union" is often erroneously called "consubstantiation" by non-Lutherans. In "On the Babylonian Captivity", Luther upheld belief in the Real Presence of Jesus and, in his 1523 treatise The Adoration of the Sacrament, defended adoration of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.
Anglicanism: Elizabeth I, as part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, gave royal assent to the 39 Articles of Religion, which sought to distinguish Anglican from Roman Church doctrine. The Articles declared that "Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions." The Elizabethan Settlement accepted the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament, but refused to define it, preferring to leave it a mystery. Indeed, for many years it was illegal in Britain to hold public office whilst believing in transubstantiation, as under the Test Act of 1673. Archbishop John Tillotson decried the "real barbarousness of this Sacrament and Rite of our Religion", considering it a great impiety to believe that people who attend Holy Communion "verily eat and drink the natural flesh and blood of Christ. And what can any man do more unworthily towards a Friend? How can he possibly use him more barbarously, than to feast upon his living flesh and blood?" (Discourse against Transubstantiation, London 1684, 35). In the Church of England today, clergy are required to assent that the 39 Articles have borne witness to the Christian faith.
Lutheranism: Lutherans explicitly reject transubstantiation believing that the bread and wine remain fully bread and fully wine while also being truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ.Lutheran churches instead emphasize the sacramental union (not exactly the consubstantiation, as is often claimed) and believe that within the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Jesus Christ are objectively present "in, with, and under the forms" of bread and wine (cf. Book of Concord). They place great stress on Jesus's instructions to "take and eat", and "take and drink", holding that this is the proper, divinely ordained use of the sacrament, and, while giving it due reverence, scrupulously avoid any actions that might indicate or lead to superstition or unworthy fear of the sacrament.In dialogue with Catholic theologians, a large measure of agreement has been reached by a group of Lutheran theologians. They recognize that "in contemporary Catholic expositions, ... transubstantiation intends to affirm the fact of Christ's presence and of the change which takes place, and is not an attempt to explain how Christ becomes present. ... [And] that it is a legitimate way of attempting to express the mystery, even though they continue to believe that the conceptuality associated with "transubstantiation" is misleading and therefore prefer to avoid the term."
Reformed Churches: Classical Presbyterianism held Calvin's view of "pneumatic presence" or "spiritual feeding", a Real Presence by the Spirit for those who have faith. John Calvin "can be regarded as occupying a position roughly midway between" the doctrines of Martin Luther on one hand and Huldrych Zwingli on the other. He taught that "the thing that is signified is effected by its sign", declaring: "Believers ought always to live by this rule: whenever they see symbols appointed by the Lord, to think and be convinced that the truth of the thing signified is surely present there. For why should the Lord put in your hand the symbol of his body, unless it was to assure you that you really participate in it? And if it is true that a visible sign is given to us to seal the gift of an invisible thing, when we have received the symbol of the body, let us rest assured that the body itself is also given to us."
Methodism: Methodists believe in the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine (or grape juice) while, like Anglicans, Presbyterians and Lutherans, rejecting transubstantiation. According to the United Methodist Church, "Jesus Christ, who 'is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being' (Hebrews 1:3), is truly present in Holy Communion."[ While upholding the view that scripture is the primary source of Church practice, Methodists also look to church tradition and base their beliefs on the early Church teachings on the Eucharist, that Christ has a real presence in the Lord's Supper. The Catechism for the use of the people called Methodists thus states that, "[in Holy Communion] Jesus Christ is present with his worshipping people and gives himself to them as their Lord and Saviour".