With a little more effort I could do this post up right, but in fifteen minutes the truck is scheduled to deliver our belongings from France. So in the French esprit I’ll offer an impressionistic post.
The idea of realities can be illustrated in the transubstantiation versus consubstantiation debate. At the Last Supper Jesus held up the bread and said “this is my body;” he held up the cup of wine and said “this is my blood.” And Jesus commanded his followers to “do this in memory of me.” What can this mean? Even after the priest blesses the elements of the Eucharist they still look and taste like bread and wine. The Medieval Catholics believed that a substance can participate in only one reality at a time, so the bread and wine had to change into body and blood. They still looked like bread and wine, but those are only the accidents, the surface properties detected by our senses. In substance, though, they really had changed into the body and blood.
Luther didn’t buy it. Jesus held up the bread and said “this is my body” — that must mean that it was both bread and body at the same time. Luther said that the substance of the thing could participate in two realities simultaneously: bread and body, wine and blood. Calvin took it the next step, saying that the transformation was symbolic, metaphorical — thereby leading to the position that the Eucharist is a conceptual reality in which the material bread and wine are assigned specific religious meanings that commemorate Jesus’s body and blood.