Transubstantiation and the Real Presence

Philosophy and Theology 15 (2):333-351 (2003)


This paper is concerned with metaphysical issues surrounding the doctrines of transubstantiation and the real presence. In particular, I am concerned with the nature of the eucharistic change, and with the manner in which Christ is believed to be present in the Blessed Sacrament. My primary goal is to give an account of these doctrines (i) which does not involve the thesis that upon consecration one substance has become identical with another, previously existing substance, (ii) which is consistent with a particulate account of matter and material substances, and (iii) which explains why Christ—in his institution of the Lord’s Supper—is not enjoining us to become cannibals. More generally, my goal is to locate the irreducibly mysterious aspects of these doctrines, and to respond to some intuitively plausible reasons for thinking them to be incoherent, metaphysically impossible, or morally repugnant

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Christopher H. Conn
Sewanee, The University of the South

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