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Transubstantiation (in Latin, transsubstantiatio, in Greek μετουσίωσις metousiosis) is the change whereby, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, the bread and the wine used in the sacrament of the Eucharist become, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but also in reality the body and blood of Christ. The Catholic Church teaches that the substance or reality of the bread is changed into that of the body of Christ and the substance of the wine into that of his blood, while all that is accessible to the senses (the outward appearances - species in Latin) remains unchanged. What remains unaltered is also referred to as the "accidents" of the bread and wine, but this term is not used in the official definition of the doctrine by the Council of Trent. The manner in which the change occurs, the Catholic Church teaches, is a mystery: "The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ."
The Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Church, and Church of the East have sometimes used the term "transubstantiation" (metousiosis); however, terms such as "divine mystery", "trans-elementation" (μεταστοιχείωσις metastoicheiosis), "re-ordination" (μεταρρύθμισις metarrhythmisis), or simply "change" (μεταβολή) are more common among them and they consider the change from bread and wine to flesh and blood a "Mystery".
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. The Fourth Council of the Lateran, which convened beginning November 11, 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".
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.
The Council of Trent in its 13th session ending October 11, 1551, defined transubstantiation as "that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation". This council officially approved use of the term "transubstantiation" to express the Catholic Church's teaching on the subject of the conversion of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist, with the aim of safeguarding Christ's presence as a literal truth, while emphasizing the fact that there is no change in the empirical appearances of the bread and wine. It did not however impose the Aristotelian theory of substance and accidents: it spoke only of the species (the appearances), not the philosophical term "accidents", and the word "substance" was in ecclesiastical use for many centuries before Aristotelian philosophy was adopted in the West, as shown for instance by its use in the Nicene Creed which speaks of Christ having the same "οὐσία" (Greek) or "substantia" (Latin) as the Father.
The belief that the Eucharist conveyed to the believer the body and blood of Christ appears to have been widespread from an early date, and the elements were commonly referred to as the body and the blood by early Christian writers. The early Christians who use these terms also speak of it as the flesh and blood of Christ, the same flesh and blood which suffered and died on the cross.
The short document known as the Teaching of the Apostles or Didache, which may be the earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament to speak of the Eucharist, says, "Let no one eat or drink of the Eucharist with you except those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord," for it was in reference to this that the Lord said, "Do not give that which is holy to dogs." Matthew 7:6
Writing to the Christians of Smyrna, in about AD 106, Saint Ignatius 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 Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again."
In about 150, Justin Martyr wrote of the Eucharist: "Not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh."
Justin Martyr wrote, in Dialogue with Trypho, ch 70: "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks."
In about 200 AD, Tertullian wrote (Against Marcion IV. 40): "Taking bread and distributing it to his disciples he made it his own body by saying, 'This is my body,' that is a 'figure of my body.' On the other hand, there would not have been a figure unless there was a true body."
The Apostolic Constitutions (compiled c. 380) says: "Let the bishop give the oblation, saying, The body of Christ; and let him that receiveth say, Amen. And let the deacon take the cup; and when he gives it, say, The blood of Christ, the cup of life; and let him that drinketh say, Amen."
Saint Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) wrote:
Other fourth-century Christian writers say that in the Eucharist there occurs a "change", "transelementation", "transformation", "transposing", "alteration" of the bread into the body of Christ.
In AD 400, Augustine quotes Cyprian (AD 200): "For as Christ says 'I am the true vine,' it follows that the blood of Christ is wine, not water; and the cup cannot appear to contain His blood by which we are redeemed and quickened, if the wine be absent; for by the wine is the blood of Christ typified, ..."
In the eleventh century, 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 controversy 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 was by Hildebert de Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours (died 1133), in about 1079, long before the Latin West, under the influence especially of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1227-1274), accepted Aristotelianism.
Although it was only in the West that Aristotelian philosophy prevailed, the objective reality of the Eucharistic change in a valid Divine liturgy is also believed in by the Eastern Orthodox Church and the other ancient Churches of the East (see metousiosis).
In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council used the word transubstantiated in its profession of faith, when speaking of the change that takes place in the Eucharist. It was only 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 Saint Thomas Aquinas."
In 1551 the Council of Trent officially defined, with a minimum of technical philosophical language, that "by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation."
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". In his "On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church" (published on 6 October 1520) Luther wrote:
In his 1528 Confession Concerning Christ's Supper he wrote:
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.
The 39 articles of religion in the Church of England declare: "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"; and made Mass illegal.
The distinction between "substance" and "accidents" - the latter term is not used in the Catholic Church's official definition of the doctrine but has been used in the writings of theologians - arose from Aristotelian philosophy, but in Roman Catholic eucharistic theology is independent of that philosophy, since the distinction is a real one, as shown by the distinction between a person and that person's accidental appearances. "Substance" here means what something is in itself, its essence. A hat's shape is not the hat itself, nor is its colour, size, softness to the touch, nor anything else about it perceptible to the senses. The hat itself (the "substance") has the shape, the color, the size, the softness and the other appearances, but is distinct from them. While the appearances, which are also referred to, though not in the Church's official teaching, by the philosophical term 'accidents', are perceptible to the senses, the substance is not.
Consider the classic example of the human body. All of the separate chemical compounds, minerals and water—which when piled together constitute the sum total of the actual physical matter of the human body—are not of themselves a human body, however much they may be physically compounded and mixed and rearranged in the laboratory, since they are still only a pile of organic chemicals, minerals and water in a particular complex configuration. If this has never been alive it is not a human body. If they are participant in the integral physical expression of a living human being who has absorbed and metabolized them, or if they are now the physical remains of a once-living human being, the substance of what they actually are is human, hence, a human body. The substantial reality of what is before us is human. The substance (substantial reality) of what is seen is not solely that of a complex organization of organic chemical compounds, but is (or has been) someone. The chemical elements of the food a person eats become in a few hours part of that person's human body and are no longer food but have been turned into the human flesh and blood and bone of that person, yet the physical chemical elements of what was once food remain the same (calcium, copper, salt, protein, sugars, fats, water, etc.). The substance of any matter that has become an integral part of any human being has ceased to be the substance or reality of food and has become incorporated as an integral part of the physical manifestation or expression of that human person. To touch that matter now is not to touch a batch of chemical compounds or food but to touch that person.
When at his Last Supper, Jesus said: "This is my body", what he held in his hands still had all the appearances of bread: the "species" remained unchanged. However, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that, when Jesus made that declaration, the underlying reality (the "substance") of the bread was changed into that of his body. In other words, it actually was his body, while all the appearances open to the senses or to scientific investigation were still those of bread, exactly as before. The Catholic Church holds that the same change of the substance of the bread and of the wine occurs at the consecration of the Eucharist when the words are spoken in persona Christi "This is my body ... this is my blood." In Orthodox confessions, the change is said to start during the Liturgy of Preparation and be completed during the Epiklesis.
Teaching that Christ is risen from the dead and is alive, the Catholic Church holds that when the bread is changed into his body, not only his body is present, but Christ as a whole is present (i.e. body and blood, soul and divinity.) The same holds for the wine changed into his blood. This teaching goes beyond the doctrine of transubstantiation, which directly concerns only the transformation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.
In accordance with the dogmatic teaching that Christ is really, truly and substantially present under the remaining appearances of bread and wine, and continues to be present as long as those appearances remain, the Catholic Church preserves the consecrated elements, generally in a church tabernacle, for administering Holy Communion to the sick and dying, and also for the secondary, but still highly prized, purpose of adoring Christ present in the Eucharist.
The Roman Catholic Church declares that the doctrine of transubstantiation is concerned with what is changed, and not how the change occurs; it teaches that the appearances (the "species") that remain are real, not an illusion, and that Christ is "really, truly, and substantially present" in the Eucharist. To touch the smallest particle of the host or the smallest droplet from the chalice is to touch Jesus Christ himself, as when one person touches another on the back of the hand with only a fingertip and in so doing touches not merely a few skin cells but touches the whole person: "Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ."
In the arguments which characterised the relationship between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism in the 16th century, the Council of Trent declared subject to the ecclesiastical penalty of anathema anyone who:
Protestant denominations have not generally subscribed to belief in transubstantiation or consubstantiation.
As already stated, the Roman Catholic Church asserts that the "species" that remain are real. In the sacrament these are the signs of the reality that they efficaciously signify, not symbols. And by definition sacraments are "efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Catholic Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us."
In The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist: The Eucharist and Its Effects (2000-2012), James H. Dobbins, citing the work This Tremendous Lover (1989), by Dom Eugene Boylan, expresses the paradox of Holy Communion:
According to Catholic teaching, the whole of Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity, is in the sacrament, under each of the appearances of bread and wine and in each part of the appearances of bread and wine (since the substance of bread or wine is in each part of ordinary bread or wine, and the substance of Christ is in each part of the consecrated and transubstantiated elements of the host and the cup of the sacrament), but he is not in the sacrament as in a place and is not moved when the sacrament is moved. He is perceptible neither by the sense nor by the imagination, but only by the intellect.
St. Thomas Aquinas gave poetic expression to this perception in the devotional hymn Adoro te devote:
|This section possibly contains original research. (December 2012)|
Those who believe that in the Eucharist the bread and wine become instead the body and blood of Christ see this as indicated in the New Testament, in the Eucharistic discourse given by Christ in John 6, and in 1 Corinthians 10-11, where Saint Paul equates the body and blood of Jesus with the "bread" and "cup of benediction" used in the Eucharist.
Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Roman Catholics, who together constitute the majority of Christians, hold that the consecrated elements in a valid celebration of the Eucharist indeed become the body and blood of Christ. This belief is held also by some Reform and Protestant Christian churches, Lutherans and Anglicans, though they generally deny transubstantiation.
While there is a large body of theology noting the many Scriptural supports for transubstantiation, in general, Orthodox and Catholics consider it unnecessary to "prove" from texts of Scripture a belief that they see as held by Christians without interruption from the earliest, apostolic times. They point out that the Church and its teaching existed before it assembled and canonized the New Testament, and even before any individual part of the New Testament was written. They also point out that early Christians such as Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Clement of Rome (who were much closer to the event than those who have later proposed a figurative interpretation of the Eucharist), described the Eucharist as truly the body and blood of Christ. They see nothing in Scripture that in any way contradicts this age-old Christian belief that the reality beneath the visible signs in the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ and no longer bread and wine. Instead, they see this teaching as the same teaching in the Bible's reports of what Christ himself and Paul the Apostle taught.
As the scriptural support required by their sola scriptura position, Protestants who believe that in the Eucharist the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ turn to the words of Jesus himself at his Last Supper, as reported in the Synoptic Gospels and Saint Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians. In that context, Jesus said of what to all appearances were bread and wine: "This is my body … this is my blood" or, in the case of what appeared to be wine, "… this cup is the new covenant in my blood".
Many Protestants reject a literal interpretation of these words. They compare them to non-literal expressions by Jesus such as "I am the door", "I am the vine", "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14),"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees" (Matthew 16:6-12). In this last example, the disciples thought that the reason Jesus said it was because they had brought no bread; but Jesus explained that he was referring to the teaching of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
These Protestants add that "eating and drinking" is sometimes used metaphorically, as of Jeremiah "eating" God's words (Jeremiah 15:16), or David speaking of water as blood, since it was obtained at the risk of the lives of his men (2 Samuel 23:17).
Those who hold that Jesus' words, "This is my body", "This is my blood", were not metaphorical claim that there is a marked contrast between metaphorical figurative expressions, which of their nature have a symbolic meaning, and what Jesus said about concrete things such as the bread and wine.
In the phrase "This is my body"as expressed in the original Greek (Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου), the word "τοῦτο" ("this" or "this thing") is a grammatically neuter pronoun, and so of the same grammatical gender as the noun "σῶμα" (body), but of a different grammatical gender from that of the word "ἄρτος" (bread), which is a masculine noun. Some claim that this is an indication of the change of the reality from bread (ἄρτος) to body (σῶμα).
As indications that the bread and wine are indeed changed to the body and blood of Christ, appeal is made to expressions used by Saint Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, in particular his rhetorical question, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16), and his statement, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 11:27). Protestant commentators, such as Matthew Henry (1662–1714) say that use of the word "bread" shows there has been no change.
Paul's subsequent recommendation, "Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself" (1 Corinthians 11:28-29), has likewise been interpreted either as indicating the reality of the disputed change or as implying no such change. Marvin R. Vincent, in particular, objected to what he called the mistaken King James Version translation of κρῖμα in verse 29 as "damnation", rather more literally as "judgment".
It has been noted that Paul wrote: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord" (emphases added). This has been interpreted as stating that unworthy participation of either the bread or the cup of the Lord involves guilt concerning both the body and blood of the Lord, an indication of the presence of Christ in each of the two cases.
Another Scripture text that Catholics generally understand as related to the Eucharist is the Gospel of John's account of Jesus as saying: "For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees (Gr. θεωρέω) the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day... Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you … he who eats (Gr. τρὡγω) my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (6:40-56), a statement that he did not tone down when, as a result, many of his disciples then abandoned him (6:66), shocked at the idea. Many Protestants (e.g. Anglicans, other Protestants, the Latter-day Saints) tend to interpret this passage in connection with John 6:63, where Jesus says "the flesh profits nothing, the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life", which they say means that the redeemed live by faith. Others (e.g. Lutherans) invoke John 6:57, "Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on (τρὡγω) me will live because of me", describing how one "lives". But there are many distinctions of "Spirit" and "flesh" in other sections of the New Testament. As Jesus confronted his apostles during his agony in the garden, he warned them to stay alert, saying "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). Saint Paul also distinguishes the terms in his Epistle to the Romans. Theologians have pointed out that "flesh" was a term indicating thinking on a mere human level, and the "Spirit" indicated divine enlightenment.
In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas states that, while Christ's body is present in the Eucharist substantially, it is not present as in a place and is perceptible neither to the senses nor to the imagination, but only to the intellect.
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. They have in general refrained from philosophical speculation, and usually rely on the status of the doctrine as a "Mystery," something known by divine revelation that could not have been arrived at by reason without revelation. Accordingly, they prefer not to elaborate upon the details and remain firmly within Holy Tradition, than to say too much and possibly deviate from the truth. 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:
It should be noted, that the way in which the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ has never been dogmatically defined by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. However, St Theodore the Studite writes in his treatise On the Holy Icons: "for we confess that the faithful receive the very body and blood of Christ, according to the voice of God himself." This was a refutation of the iconoclasts, who insisted that the eucharist was the only true icon of Christ. Thus, it can be argued that by being part of the docmatic "horos" against the iconoclast heresy, the teaching on the "real presence" of Christ in the eucharist is indeed a dogma of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
During the reign of King Henry VIII of England, the official teaching was identical with the Roman Catholic Church's doctrine before and after Henry's break with Rome by declaring that the Pope had no jurisdiction in England. A decade before the break the king wrote a book in defence of Catholic doctrine for which the Pope rewarded him with the title of Defender of the Faith, a title revoked by the Pope following Henry's break with Rome but still claimed and held by English and, after 1707, British monarchs after being bestowed on the monarch by Parliament. Under Henry's son, Edward VI, the Church of England began to accept some aspects of Protestant theology and rejected transubstantiation. Elizabeth I, as part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, gave royal assent to the Thirty-Nine 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." 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).
Anglicans generally consider no teaching binding that, according to the Articles, "cannot be found in Holy Scripture or proved thereby", and are not unanimous in the interpretation of such passages as John, Chapter 6, and 1 Corinthians 11. Consequently, some Anglicans (especially Anglo-Catholics and some other High Church Anglicans) accept transubstantiation while others do not. In any case, nowadays even Church of England clergy are only required to assent that the 39 Articles have borne witness to the Christian faith.
Official writings of the churches of the Anglican Communion have consistently upheld belief in the Real Presence, a term that includes transubstantiation as well as several other eucharistic theologies such as consubstantiation. Some recent Anglican writers explicitly accept the doctrine of transubstantiation or, while avoiding the term "transubstantiation", speak of an "objective presence" of Christ in the Eucharist. The term "objective presence" includes a belief in transubstantiation but does not limit belief to transubstantiation.
Theological dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church has produced common documents that speak of "substantial agreement" about the doctrine of the Eucharist: the ARCIC Windsor Statement of 1971, and its 1979 Elucidation. Remaining arguments can be found in the Church of England's pastoral letter: The Eucharist: Sacrament of Unity.
Luther explicitly rejected transubstantiation, believing that the bread and wine remained fully bread and fully wine while also being fully the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Luther instead emphasized the sacramental union (not exactly the consubstantiation, as it is often claimed). Lutherans 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' 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.
Methodists believe in the real presence of Christ in the bread and wine (or grape juice) while, like Anglicans 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 traditional Reformed view of scripture as 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. However, a minority of Methodist denominations will take the symbolic view of the bread and wine common in other Protestant denominations.
Classical Presbyterianism held the Calvinist view of "pneumatic presence" or "spiritual feeding."; a purely symbolic view. However, when the Presbyterian Church (USA) signed "A Formula for Agreement" with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, both affirmed belief in the Real Presence. John Calvin "can be regarded as occupying a position roughly midway between" (McGrath) the doctrines developed by Martin Luther on the one hand and Huldrych Zwingli, on the other: "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." (Calvin); that is, "the thing that is signified is effected by its sign" (McGrath).
An Oak Tree is a conceptual art installation in the Tate Modern, consisting of a glass of water, which the artist, Michael Craig-Martin, declared he had turned into "a full-grown oak tree", "without altering the accidents of the glass of water". Craig-Martin is claiming that he has changed the substance but not the appearance. Transubstantiation, as defined at Trent and further specified in Mysterium Fidei (1965), makes the same claim. The text he included as part of his work states: "It's not a symbol. I have changed the physical substance of the glass of water into that of an oak tree. I didn't change its appearance. The actual oak tree is physically present, but in the form of a glass of water." In a Richard Dimbleby Lecture, on 23 November 2000, Sir Nicholas Serota said: "We may not 'like' Craig-Martin's work, but it certainly reminds us that the appreciation of all art involves an act of faith comparable to the belief that, through transubstantiation, the bread and wine of Holy Communion become the body and blood of Christ."