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2665: North Phoenix Baptist, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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May 20, 2014

I want to reply regarding the Ash Wednesday service at North Phoenix Baptist Church. I was misquoted or, at the least, misheard or misinterpreted by the Mystery Worshipper.

First off, I do NOT personally hold to, nor did I position, a memorialist viewpoint. I was leading the service at a Southern Baptist church, where it was important that I emphasize the rejection of transubstantiation (which may be where I "smirked"). I also emphasized that while differences existed amongst the churches represented, there was a minimum that we all believed.

I said that as Protestants, we all at a minimum hold to the bread and wine being symbols. I also said that while some believe more than that, like us Anglicans, we also all deny the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, that the elements become the actual, physical body and blood of Jesus. It was not the time to go into the nuances of eucharistic theology. If I did not communicate this clearly for some, I apologize.

As a Reformed Anglican, I personally hold to Richard Hooker's (and Calvin's) receptionist understanding of the real presence: in the hearts of the faithful recipient.

Revd Shane Copeland

Amanda B. Reckondwythe replies:

Well, you seemed to go into it far enough for Miss Amanda's tastes.

I am not a theologian, but my understanding is that many churches that the Roman Catholic Church would consider "Protestant" believe that Jesus is really and truly present in the bread and wine, even if they may not believe (as Catholics do) that the elements cease to be bread and wine to all but the senses ("Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur" as Thomas Aquinas wrote in his beautiful eucharistic hymn).

It is not inconceivable (although I will admit unlikely) that at a service billed as ecumenical there may have been some Roman Catholics present, perhaps some Orthodox, perhaps some Lutherans, not just Southern Baptists or Reformed Anglicans. I am surprised that you would risk offending any of them (as you did indeed offend Miss Amanda) by going into eucharistic theology as far as you did. I don't understand why or how "it was important that [you] emphasize the rejection of transubstantiation" to a congregation in which some present may have believed in it.

But at any rate I stand by my reporting.

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