Lord's Supper

Lord's Supper, Protestant rite commemorating the Last Supper. In the Reformation the leaders generally rejected the traditional belief in the sacrament as a sacrifice and as an invisible miracle of the actual changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation) but retained the belief in it as mystically uniting the believers with Christ and with one another. The Lutherans held that there is a change by which the body and blood of Christ join with the bread and wine; this principle (consubstantiation) was rejected by Huldreich Zwingli who, in a controversy over the sacrament, held that the bread and wine were only symbolic. Calvinists, on the other hand, maintained the spiritual, but not the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. The Church of England affirmed the real presence but denied transubstantiation. However, since the Oxford Movement, Anglicans tend to accept either transubstantiation or the Calvinist interpretation. Lutheran and Anglican communion services follow the Roman Catholic Mass in outline, although the service books have eliminated references to a sacrifice and have shortened the service. Anglicans hold to Western tradition in using unleavened bread. Most Protestant churches use raised bread; many use unfermented grape juice instead of wine. Communion in which the laity receive only the bread is rejected by Protestants; this was a crucial point with the Hussites. Lutherans and Anglicans (especially since the Oxford Movement) celebrate communion much more frequently than most other Protestant churches. The Quakers are one of the few Protestant groups to reject the sacrament entirely.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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