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  • PROJECT TITLE: UNDERSTANDING OF THE EUCHARIST AMONG ANGLICANS, BAPTISTS AND CATHOLICS: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY IN KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA
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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the study The Eucharist is a sacrament which Christ instituted at the Last Supper with his twelve disciples. Price (2009) asserts that the Eucharist forms the central rite of the Christian religion, in which the bread and wine are consecrated by an ordained minister and consumed by members of church, in obedience to Jesus‘ command at the last supper. Historically, the Eucharist has been celebrated in the Catholic Church all over the world for many centuries. For many centuries to the present time is been celebrated. Most of Catholics attend the Eucharistic Celebration on Sundays because it is the day the Church celebrates the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, it is obligatory for all Church members together to have congregational worship. On the other hand, some members of the Catholic Church make it a practice to attend this celebration on a daily basis. The Eucharist is also celebrated daily as a Church custom because it is viewed as an important Sacrament in the life of the Church.

However, broadly speaking, history reveals that there are two outstanding divisions among the followers of Christ, namely, the separation between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches which began on 16 July, 1054 (Anthony, 2008). Anthony further explains that there is a Reformation that brought about the permanent division of Christians in 1517. While the separation between the East, (with its headquarters in Constantinople), and the West, (with its headquarters in Rome), was mainly doctrinal, followed by the issue of Clergy marry and the disagreement on whether to use leavened

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or unleavened bread for the Eucharist, the Reformation was more serious than these issues of disagreement. Whatever might have been responsible for the division, it is sad to note that since, the sixteenth century, the Church of Christ has remained divided and its members sometimes consider themselves enemies. Christianity in Kaduna state has not been spared from this enmity that exists among Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Protestants. This is as a result of some announcements that pose challenges to Christians. For example In Catholic churches that often announced if non- Catholics worship with them that ―the Eucharist is mainly for Catholics who are in the state of grace or are worthy. While Baptists emphases that ―the Lord Supper is for those who are rightly baptized by immersion‖ Anglicans emphases ―on those who are worthy‖. The question here is, what are the parameters that qualify a person either as worthy or unworthy Christian such that he/she could partake in the Eucharist (if found worthy) or abstain (if found unworthy). Is the worthiness or unworthiness of a person viewed from God perspective or man? Who defines another person worthiness God or man? The manner and time that Anglicans, Baptists and Catholic celebrate Eucharist differ because of these divisions that have eaten deep into the blood cells of Anglicans Baptists and Catholics; therefore it has not been possible for them to celebrate the Eucharist together. In the eleventh century, the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was challenged by Berengarius of Tours, a Roman Catholic deacon in France, an early anti-transubstantiation theologian and a precursor of Protestantism .His views in regard to the nature of the Lord‘s Supper according to Jim (2014:1) are as follows:

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Christ is present in the Eucharist only as a mere sign and symbol and after consecration ‗‘bread must remain as bread‖. That, which is consecrated i.e. the bread is not able to cease existing materially‖. there is a change of the bread and wine into the body of Christ in the sense that those who receive them are transformed by grace into higher powers and influence into the true, the intellectual or spiritual body of Christ .The unbelieving receive the eternal sign or sacramental but the believing receive in addition, although invisibly the reality represent by the sign. Rejects the notion that the sacrament at altar is constantly renewed sacrifice and held it to be merely a commemoration of the one sacrifice of Christ. The transubstantiation doctrine seems full of evil because of the tendency to lead men to over value what is sensuous and transitory. Rejects with indignation the miraculous stories told to confirm the doctrine of transubstantiation. Reason and Scripture seems the only ground on which a true doctrine of the Lord‘s Supper could be rested This enable the doctrine of transubstantiation to be given much attention in the 12th and 13th centuries (Vega, 1998).Through the middle ages the Eucharist underwent series of modification about the idea of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In Roman Catholic Church there sprang, along with the doctrine of Transubstantiation a belief that the miraculous change is affected by the statement often made by priest saying ‗This is my body‘ and ‗This is my blood‘. Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, during the Renaissance, there was a division in western Christianity among Catholics as a result of immorality in the church and external changes in the society which ignited the flame that brought about the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther. Luther, who founded the Lutheran church, propounded the doctrine that the body and blood of Jesus Christ is with, in and under the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist. His contemporaries such as John Calvin of the Reformed church believe that the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is by the power of the Holy Spirit and only for people who have faith. Ulrich Zwingli viewed the Eucharistic element as mere symbolic.


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