I’ve been studying Anglicanism lately. But then I’ve run up against the Black Rubric, so-called because it was printed in bold type in the Book of Common Prayer. It enjoins kneeling while receiving the Sacrament, but goes on to deny explicitly any kind of real, bodily presence of Christ in the elements:
“Whereas it is ordained in this Office for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, that the Communicants should receive the same kneeling; (which order is well meant, for a signification of our humble and grateful acknowledgment of the benefits of Christ therein given to all worthy Receivers, and for the avoiding of such profanation and disorder in the holy Communion, as might otherwise ensue;) yet, lest the same kneeling should by any persons, either out of ignorance and infirmity, or out of malice and obstinacy, be misconstrued and depraved: It is hereby declared, That thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental Bread or Wine there bodily received, or unto any Corporal Presence of Christ’s natural Flesh and Blood. For the Sacramental Bread and Wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored; (for that were Idolatry, to be abhorred of all faithful Christians;) and the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ’s natural Body to be at one time in more places than one.”
According to the article, this has come in and out of various editions of the Book of Common Prayer. (Puritans insisted on it and would go up in arms when it was omitted.) It isn’t in the 2000 edition used in America today, though it remains in the British prayer book. It is apparently in the 1926 Book of Common Prayer, the one favored by many conservatives and Anglo-Catholics today.
I realize that this is what I read in a Reformed Episcopal service I once attended, with my hosts seemingly a little hurt that I, as a Lutheran, would not commune with them. But the liturgy explicitly repudiated my beliefs about the Sacrament as idolatry! This may also explain to Anglicans who are hurt by the confessional Lutheran practice of closed communion why Lutheran pastors can not assume that Anglicans have the same view of the Christ’s presence in His Supper that they do. And why Lutheran theologians tend to categorize Anglicans as another variety of Calvinists. Indeed, the Black Rubric seems to be a textbook definition of Calvinist sacramental theology (what with the statement that Christ’s body is in Heaven, “and not here”), which is why the Puritans made such a point of it.
And yet I’m sure this isn’t the whole story. Someone help me out with this.