Can someone provide some resources that explain (or perhaps explain it yourself) how the Protestant understanding of a symbolic Body and Blood came about? Thanks.
It seems no one has answered the OP, so I shall attempt to do so.
Some Protestants, following Luther, believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms" of the bread and wine (i.e. there is a "Real Presence"). Others, following Calvin, believe that the gifts convey Christ in a spiritual manner
. Calvin placed more emphasis on the personal faith
of the partaker. Thus, if one partakes of the bread and wine with true Faith (i.e. if one is a member of the Elect), then one's heart is touched by the actual spiritual (not physical) presence of Christ. If one partakes without Faith (i.e. is not among the Elect), then one is condemned. (Duh!)
Many other Protestants, however, have inherited a lot of their theological tendencies from the Anabaptist tradition, most famously championed by Ulrich Zwingli. In this line of thinking, Baptism and the Eucharist are not "sacraments," but "ordinances" and/or "covenants." Christians should celebrate the Eucharist because Jesus commanded us to ("Do this in remembrance of me"), a command given to us so that we might remember/commemorate Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Thus, the Eucharist is merely a symbol
of Jesus's death, which our Lord intended us to celebrate as a reminder of His sacrificial work -- not a means of actual "communion" with Him. Likewise, Baptism is a symbol
of the pre-existing "covenant" between God and the converted believer, not a means of grace.
In other words, all "sacraments" are merely ceremonies that symbolize
that the participant has heard the Gospel and pledged to obey its contents. Within such a theology, the natural emphasis thereby falls on the Bible, its preaching, and peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s "covenantal"/contractual response to that preaching.