Catholic Transubstantiation vs. Lutheran Consubstantiation

Catholic Transubstantiation vs. Lutheran Consubstantiation July 22, 2022
[originally posted on 4-2-20 on Facebook]
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I was asked: “Does the Catholic Church explicitly condemn the Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation?”
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Yes, at the Council of Trent, canons on the Eucharist: specifically these three:
CANON II.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth 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; let him be anathema.
CANON III.-If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.
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And I was also asked: “Is there any way to synthesize transubstantiation and consubstantiation or are they mutually exclusive?”
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They are mutually exclusive or contradictory; however, there is some common ground. We can say that both Lutherans and Catholics believe in the Real and Substantial Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. The problem is that the Lutherans also believe that the bread and wine remain alongside our Lord, and that is impossible to reconcile with transubstantiation, because it is partial rather than total transformation.
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Martin Luther himself makes superb, well-argued defenses of the Real Presence over against those — like Zwingli — who thought the Holy Eucharist was purely and merely symbolic. I have noted these and reproduced them for apologetics purposes.
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His arguments in this respect, here and elsewhere, are true as far as they go, but they don’t go far enough, from a Catholic perspective. But truth (in particulars and specifics) is truth wherever it is found, regardless of whether error is present with it, so when Luther defends the Real Presence, he is on the side of the angels.
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But when he and other Lutherans attack transubstantiation or, say, the Sacrifice of the Mass (which is all over the Church fathers, just as transubstantiation and eucharistic adoration also are), whereby the one death of Jesus on the cross is made sacramentally present, they then depart from received apostolic and patristic and medieval theological tradition.
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So we rejoice in the first thing (blessed agreement and unity!), while we are compelled to disagree in good conscience, as Catholics, with the other three positions, where Luther and Lutherans — with all due respect to our brethren in Christ — are, we believe, in error.
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Related Reading
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Photo credit: Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560): leader of Lutheranism after Luther’s death; 1532 portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
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Summary: There is no way to synthesize Catholic transubstantiation and Lutheran consubstantiation. They’re mutually exclusive, though they do have important similarities.
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