Answers to "Ask Mike"
8. What, if any, differences are there between the Christian Church's view of the Lord's Table vs. for example the Baptist view? Do you believe in Consubstantiation -- Transubstantiation or anything similar?
Two views can be found in the Christian Churches. Some in the Christian Church hold a sacramental view of the Lord's Supper. There are a few who think baptism washes away all prior sin, but the Lord's Supper provides a means for a "weekly contact with the blood of Christ" to wash away the sins of the week. I do not hold that view, although I flirted with it for a time. The predominant view is that all sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven in Christ when one becomes a Christian and that forgiveness remains solid for those who are "in Christ." One has full assurance of salvation when you are "in Christ." The Lord's Supper is observed weekly as a memorial to the death of Jesus. The bread and the cup are emblems of Christ's body and blood. No one that I know of in the Christian Churches or Churches of Christ hold to anything remotely resembling either transubstantiation or consubstantiation. In one sense, I guess you could say we are more "Zwinglian." We observe the Lord's Supper weekly because we know from the writings of early Christians (outside Scripture) that the early church observed it at least weekly and in some cases daily. The best example can be found in Justin Martyr. As to Scriptural basis, the main argument derives from inference rather than explicit command. Most of us equate "breaking of bread" as the Lord's Supper, except when clearly describing a meal (although quite often the Lord's Supper concluded an early Love Feast). In my opinion, and that's all it is, I think there is abundant evidence to support weekly communion but nothing so strong as to make it an issue between brethren.
Transubstantiation is the Roman Catholic doctrine which states that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ at the blessing of the priest. While the loaf and cup still appear to be bread and wine, there is a real, albeit mystical, transformation that takes place.
Consubstantiation is the doctrine taught by Luther's followers. It says the bread and wine are not transformed, but the genuine body and blood are present with, or along side, the physical elements.
Ulrich Zwingli taught that the loaf and the cup are memorials to the body and blood of Jesus. As we partake, we are to remember His sacrifice on our behalf. The greatest majority of Protestants hold to this view.
How does the symbolic meaning of the Lord's Supper fit with John