Phillip Cary: Eucharistic presence in Calvin

Calvin’s view that Christ’s body is objectively presented rather than objectively present–””as he would say, “truly presented to us” but not “enclosed in the bread” or “chewed with the teeth”””gives his teaching a distinctive place on the spectrum of Eucharistic doctrine. This is distinct not only from the Lutheran and Calvinist views but also from the low Protestant view usually attributed (I do not know how fairly) to Zwingli. In this low Protestant view the supper is merely a memorial, which means that the only link to Christ’s body is our state of mind, our faith. On the contrary, when Calvin insists that Christ’s body is truly presented, offered, and given to us, he is talking not about our state of mind but about the action of God, and perhaps the most important thing to pay attention to is the adverb truly, for what is at stake here is the truth of God’s word. Does God do as he says when he offers us Christ’s body? Calvin’s answer is an emphatic yes.

Read it all.


Posted in Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

4 comments on “Phillip Cary: Eucharistic presence in Calvin

  1. FrKimel says:

    I strongly encourage those with an interest in eucharistic questions to take a look at this thoughtful piece. Dr Cary has helpfully identified one of the key differences between Reformed presentations of the real presence and Catholic/Lutheran/Anglo-Catholic presentations.

  2. rob k says:

    Fr. Kimel – I agree. And, the article was very interesting.

  3. Adam 12 says:

    I too enjoyed the article but would be interested to know how Biblical reasoning was used to reach each of the conclusions.

  4. FrKimel says:

    Adam, Dr Cary’s purpose was limited–to describe one of the key differences between Calvin and Luther on the Supper. In response to your concern, I imagine that Cary would point you to Martin Luther’s two major tracts on the Supper, which may be found in volume 37 of Luther’s Works.

    Dr Cary has just posted a second article on De Cura Animarum, comparing Luther and Calvin on the nature of saving faith.