- The term consubstantiation designates the Lutheran understanding of the status of the elements in the communion service, which Protestants call the Lord's Supper and Catholics call the Eucharist.The Roman Catholic theory of transubstantia-tion held that when the words of consecration (or institution) were spoken, the substance (true reality) of the elements of bread and wine were literally changed into the substance of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the various accidental attributes of the bread and wine (color, smell, taste, texture, and so forth) remained the same.Protestants in general rejected this idea, but Martin Luther wanted to retain the idea of Christ's real presence in the sacrament. It appears that Philip Melancthon, Luther's associate and a New Testament scholar at Wittenberg, initially suggested the solution that Luther later advocated, namely consubstantiation. Drawing on the same Aristotelian philosophical ideas, Luther suggested that neither the substance nor the accidents of the bread and wine are changed, but that the substance of Christ coexists in the elements of bread and wine. This coexistence occurs by the power of the word of God, not by the actions of the officiant. Luther suggested an analogy: if one sticks an iron rod into fire, the two substances (iron and fire) are united in the heated rod, but the substance of neither is altered.In 1529, Luther's teaching was opposed by Ulrich Zwingli. At their meeting at Marburg, Zwingli suggested a doctrine of the Lord's Supper that denied the real presence. John Calvin would later suggest a compromise built around the idea of the spiritual presence of Christ in the sacrament, which most members of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches found acceptable. Lutherans and most Anglican continued to speak of the real substantive presence of Christ.See also sacraments/ordinances.Further reading:■ Paul Althaus, The Theology of Martin Luther (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986)■ Hermann Sasse, This Is My Body: Luther's Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg, 1959)■ Theodore G. Tappert, The Lord's Supper (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.