An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


The belief that the eucharistic elements of bread and wine are unchanged during the prayer of consecration but that the faithful believer receives the body and blood of Christ in receiving communion. This was the prevailing eucharistic theology in the Reformation era of Anglicanism. The Articles of Religion state that the bread and wine of the eucharist are the body and blood of Christ “to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same. . . .” Article XXVIII, Of the Lord's Supper (BCP, p. 873). Thomas Cranmer held a receptionist understanding of the eucharist, which informed his work on the 1549 and 1552 Prayer Books. This historic receptionistic language is still retained in Eucharistic Prayer I of Rite 1. However, Anglican eucharistic theology has tended to hold in balance both an objective change of some kind in the eucharistic elements to become the body and blood of Christ and the subjective faith of the believer who receives the sacrament. The words of administration of the 1559 Prayer Book joined language from the 1549 BCP that identified the sacrament as the body and blood of Christ with more receptionistic language from the 1552 BCP that urged the communicant to receive the sacrament “in remembrance” of Christ's sacrifice. This combination was continued in the 1662 BCP, and in subsequent American Prayer Books (see BCP, p. 338). The balance of objective and subjective theologies of the eucharist is also presented by the Catechism, which states that “The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith” (BCP, p. 859). The receptionistic language of Eucharistic Prayer I in Rite 1 is not found in the other eucharistic prayers of the BCP. See Real Presence; see Transubstantiation.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.