It took long enough, but Jonathan Martin finally “threw his wallet on the table” about this:
I do not hold to the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation-it is too speculative for my taste. But I do believe very much in real presence, that there is a mysterious way that we partake in the presence and power of God when we come to eat and drink. That said, I love the emphasis in Catholic tradition that there is something objectively true on the table, something you can stake your life on. When I finally got around to Thomas Merton’s famous memoir of conversion, The Seven Storey Mountain, I was surprised to find myself largely unmoved. But the one part that haunted me was where he wrote that the main reason he wanted to live in a monastery was to abide under the same roof as “the host,” to be in the same space as the elements. Even as one who doesn’t believe in transubstantiation, that moved me-the hunger to be where the meal is, because you believe that deeply that God is at work in it.
Most regular readers of this blog know that I have advocated this for a long time. I do have a couple of comments about this.
First, re his comments about transubstantiation, it’s a very technical concept, but even Catholics who are very familiar with the Church’s teaching on the subject will admit that it isn’t the only way to explain the transformation that takes place in the Eucharist. The Orthodox believe in the real presence without transubstantiation, and of course Martin mentions Wesley and Luther.
Second, I don’t feel the compulsion that he does for a specifically “Pentecostal” theology on this or a variety of other subjects. I think if we really believe that what the Church experienced in Acts is still for today, that we don’t need to carve out a theological niche for ourselves. And we don’t need to set certain types of Christianity or certain periods of the history of the church as “off-limits”.
But this is good news. The reaction to this will be interesting.