Not all Christian traditions accept this dogma. Efforts at mutual understanding of the range of beliefs led in 1980s to consultations on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) through the World Council of Churches, consultations that included the Catholic Church.
Orthodox and Catholics believe that in the Eucharist the bread and wine are actually transformed objectively, and become in a real sense the body and blood of Christ; and that it is therefore theologically incorrect to refer to them, after consecration, just as bread and wine or even just as holy bread and wine. The consecrated elements retain the appearance and attributes of bread and wine, but are in reality the actual body and blood of Christ.
The words of the Ethiopic liturgy are representative of the faith of Oriental Orthodoxy: "I believe, I believe, I believe and profess to the last breath that this is the body and the blood of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ, which he took from our Lady, the holy and immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of God."
The Eastern Orthodox Church Synod of Jerusalem declared: "We believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, … but truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin Mary, was baptised in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sitteth at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world.
Similarly the Western Catholic Church greets what it sees as really in the Eucharist with the words of a Latin hymn of which a literal translation is: "Hail, true body, born of Mary Virgin, and which truly suffered and was immolated on the cross for mankind!
None of these Churches sees what is really in the Eucharist as a lifeless corpse and mere blood, but as the whole Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity; nor do they see the persisting outward appearances of bread and wine as a mere illusion. This actual transformation, change or conversion of the reality, while the appearances remain unaltered – not the process or manner by which the transformation comes about, since all agree that this occurs "in a way surpassing understanding – has been called transubstantiation or, in Greek, μετουσίωσις (metousiosis).
In the view of these Churches, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist is of an order different from the presence of Christ in the other sacraments: in the other sacraments he is present by his power rather than by the reality of his body and blood, the basis of the expression "Real Presence". Accordingly, they consider that those who hold that, in objective reality, the elements of the Eucharist remain unchanged believe not in the Real Presence of Christ in this particular sacrament, but in a presence that is merely personal to the communicant, whatever name (pneumatic, anamnetical, etc.) is used to describe it.
For Lutherans, there is no sacrament unless the elements are used according to Christ's institution (consecration, distribution, and reception). This was first articulated in the Wittenberg Concord of 1536 in the formula: Nihil habet rationem sacramenti extra usum a Christo institutum ("Nothing has the character of a sacrament apart from the use instituted by Christ"). Some Lutherans use this formula as their rationale for opposing in the church the reservation of the consecrated elements, private masses, the practice of Corpus Christi, and the belief that the reliquæ (what remains of the consecrated elements after all have communed in the worship service) are still sacramentally united to the Body and Blood of Christ. This interpretation is not universal among Lutherans. The consecrated elements are treated with reverence; and, in some Lutheran churches, are reserved as in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican practice. The external Eucharistic adoration is not usually practiced by most Lutherans except for bowing, genuflecting, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion. The reliquæ traditionally are consumed by the celebrant after the people have communed, except that a small amount may be reserved for delivery to those too ill or infirm to attend the service. In this case, the consecrated elements are to be delivered quickly, preserving the connection between the communion of the ill person and that of the congregation gathered in public divine service.
Lutherans use the terms "in, with and under the forms of consecrated bread and wine" and "sacramental union" to distinguish their understanding of the Lord's Supper from those of the Reformed and other traditions. More "liberal" Lutheran churches tend to practice open communion, inviting all who are baptized to participate. Confessional Lutheran churches view fellowship as an undivided whole and practice closed communion (or close communion), restricting participation to those who are in complete doctrinal agreement with them. Fellowship involves the formal declaration of "altar and pulpit fellowship," another term for eucharistic sharing coupled with the acceptance of the ministrations of one another's clergy.
Anglicans generally and officially believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but the specifics of that belief range from Transubstantiation or Metousiosis, sometimes with Eucharistic adoration (mainly Anglo-Catholics or High-Church Anglicans), to something akin to a belief in a "pneumatic" presence (many Broad-Church Anglicans). A small minority reject the doctrine of the Real Presence altogether (Mainly Low-Church Anglicans). The oldest of the various Anglican devotional societies, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, was founded largely to promote and re-affirm belief in the real presence amongst Anglicans.
The Anglican Thirty-nine Articles contend that the doctrine of transubstantiation, as understood by those who drew up the text, overthrows the nature of a sacrament as an outward, visible sign that conveys an inward, spiritual grace. For some Anglicans, whose mysticism is intensely incarnational, it is extremely important that God has used the mundane and temporal as a means of giving people the transcendent and eternal. They consider the presence to belong to the realm of spirit and eternity, and not to be about corporeal-fleshiness, which is not to say that they accept only a "pneumatic" presence. Instead, they strongly argue to be content to allow the mystery to remain a mystery. They bristle at the idea that one material substance gets substituted for another. (Roman Catholic doctrine insists that the material substance, being part of what is open to the senses, is in no way altered, and that the philosophical-sense substance or inner reality is converted into that of the body and blood of Christ, not substituted by it.) As some Anglican divines have stated: "It may not be about a change of substance, but it is about a substantial change."
It may be noted that from some Anglican perspectives the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist does not imply that Jesus Christ is present materially or locally. This is in accord with the definition of the Roman Catholic Church, as expressed, for instance by St. Thomas Aquinas, who, while saying that the whole Christ is present in the sacrament, also said that this presence was not "as in a place". Real does not mean material: the lack of the latter does not imply the absence of the former. The Eucharist is not intrinsic to Christ as a body part is to a body, but extrinsic as His instrument to convey Divine Grace. Some Anglicans see this understanding as compatible with different theories of Christ's Presence, transubstantiation, consubstantation or virtualism, without getting involved in the mechanics of 'change' or trying to explain a mystery of God's own doing.
Anglican and Roman Catholic theologians participating in an Anglican/Roman Catholic Joint Preparatory Commission declared that they had "reached substantial agreement on the doctrine of the Eucharist".
The followers of John Wesley, himself an Anglican clergyman, have typically affirmed that the sacrament of Holy Communion is an instrumental Means of Grace through which the real presence of Christ is communicated to the believer, but have otherwise allowed the details to remain a mystery. In particular, Methodists reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (see "Article XVIII" of the Articles of Religion, Means of Grace). In 2004, the United Methodist Church affirmed its view of the sacrament and its belief in the Real Presence in an official document entitled This Holy Mystery. Of particular note here is the church's unequivocal recognition of the anamnesis as more than just a memorial but, rather, a re-presentation of Christ Jesus:
This affirmation of Real Presence can be seen clearly illustrated in the language of the United Methodist Eucharistic Liturgy (for example: Word and Table 1) where, in the epiclesis of the Great Thanksgiving, the celebrating minister prays over the elements:
For most United Methodists — and, indeed, for much of Methodism as a whole — this reflects the furthest extent to which they are willing to go in defining Real Presence. They will assert that Jesus is really present, and that the means of this presence is a "Holy Mystery"; the celebrating minister will pray for the Holy Spirit to make the elements "be the body and blood of Christ," and the congregation will even sing, as in the third stanza of Charles Wesley's hymn Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast:
However, beyond this degree of specificity most Methodists will not go. For them, the affirmation of Real Presence, as in the above references, is sufficient for them to know and partake of the sacrament in a worthy manner.
Following a phrase of Augustine, the Calvinist view is that "no one bears away from this Sacrament more than is gathered with the vessel of faith". "The flesh and blood of Christ are no less truly given to the unworthy than to God's elect believers", Calvin said; but those who partake by faith receive benefit from Christ, and the unbelieving are condemned by partaking. By faith (not a mere mental apprehension), and in the Holy Spirit, the partaker beholds God incarnate, and in the same sense touches him with hands, so that by eating and drinking of bread and wine Christ's presence penetrates to the heart of the believer more nearly than food swallowed with the mouth can enter in.
This view holds that the elements may be disposed of without ceremony, as they are not changed in an objective physical sense and, as such, the meal directs attention toward Christ's "bodily" resurrection and return. Actual practices of disposing of consecrated elements vary widely.
While Reformed theology has taught that Jesus' body is seated in heaven at the right hand of God and therefore is not physically present in the elements, nor do the elements turn into his body in a physical or any objective sense, a long standing tension within Reformed theology combined with recent ecumenical developments have placed this theology in transition. To wit, Reformed theology has also historically taught that when the Holy Communion is received, not only the spirit, but also the true body and blood of Jesus Christ (hence "real") are received through the Spirit, but these are only received by those partakers who eat worthily (i.e., repentantly) with faith. The Holy Spirit unites the Christian with Jesus though they are separated by a great distance. See, e.g., Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 29; Belgic Confession, Article 35; open communion.The theologies of Presbyterian and Reformed Free Churches in this tradition are in flux, and recent agreements, especially A Formula for Agreement, between these denominations and the Lutherans have stressed that: "The theological diversity within our common confession provides both the complementarity needed for a full and adequate witness to the gospel (mutual affirmation) and the corrective reminder that every theological approach is a partial and incomplete witness to the Gospel (mutual admonition) (A Common Calling, page 66)." Hence, in seeking to come to consensus about the Real Presence, the churches have written:
This perspective is commonly associated with Baptists and many other Evangelicals. It is a perspective not uncommon "in the pews" (that is, among lay members) of some Reformed churches, even among those whose official doctrines are more in accord with the Calvinist spiritual real presence discussed above. In the Anglican Communion, it is taught in the Diocese of Sydney, but rejected by most other Anglicans.
Some groups, chiefly Protestants, have a different concept of consecration, seeing it as a setting aside. Those who see consecration as a "setting aside" require church leaders (pastors, elders and deacons) to preside over the elements and distribute them.