Protestants picked up the term both as a negative term against Rome and a positive expression of belief without transubstantiation. Then Anglicans used it in their dialog with the Lutherans. Bishop Nicholas Ridley in 1555 said that there is both a spiritual and material understanding to the term Real Presence but it did not help; he was burned at the stake. Only later, especially with Bishop Jeremy Taylor, did the more modern term Real Presence come to be normative among Anglicans who wanted to distinguish their belief from Transubstantiation while affirming a real and substantial, albeit spiritual presence of Christ in bread and wine. Only in 1855 did Edward Bouverie Pusey take up the term with such a defense of a spiritual but real presence that the Lutherans could no longer avoid it. I must say that it came as a surprise to me. I really had not bothered about the history of the term or its usage. But it makes some sense. If you have more to add, I would welcome the instruction.
In any case, the term is probably not as serviceable as we would want. We have all heard Baptists and Methodists and a host of others use the term, insisting that “I believe in the Real
Presence.” In the end what they mean is something quite different. They mean a feeling and not a corporeal presence of Christ's flesh located in bread and His blood located in wine. They feel really close to Jesus when they have a communion service and snap open the hermetically sealed little plastic enshrined bits of cracker and Welch's. We may be happy for them but that is not what we confess as Lutherans. Even though it just might be closer to what many of our folks actually believe when they come up to the rail to spend a moment in time with Jesus -- coming alone to walk and talk with Him and be told He loves them more than any other. . . Everyone wants to believe Jesus is really present but there does not seem to be much agreement about what really present means. Pusey hit the nail on the head -- "there is no physical union of the body and blood of Christ with the bread and wine." Though Pusey's view might be normative for Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and even Lutherans in the pews, it is certainly not what real presence means in terms of doctrine. The Lutheran position, inaccurately called consubstantiation, is actually about a sacramental union, not without parallel to the incarnation.
Where is Jesus? That is the question. For the Lutheran, Jesus is where He has said He is -- in the bread and in the wine. We do not bother going beyond that except to say that this is not simply a spiritual presence. Luther famously said "it is enough that Christ's blood is present; let it be with the wine as God wills. Sooner than have mere wine with the fanatics I would agree with the pope that there is only blood." Unlike Zwingli, Luther refused to put reason above the words of Christ and insist that is cannot mean is. So Luther sings in his hymn on the Lord's Supper, "Thy holy body, Lord, the same Which from Thine own mother Mary came" (The Lutheran Hymnary, 156; cf. The Lutheran Hymnal, 313).
Lutheran theology, in holding that "the bread is the true body of Christ" or "a participation in the body of Christ," at times used other formulas. These formulas were: "under the bread, with the bread, in the bread, the body of Christ is present and offered" (SD, VII, 35; the last eight words are a Latin addition, F. Bente, p. 983). These phrases, as T. Hardt has noted, were not coined by the Lutherans but came from the Middle Ages, nor "were they intended to deny the superiority of the original, Biblical 'the bread is the body' " (Hardt, 1973, p. 5). As far as I know, the Reformers did not use the phrase, "in, with, and under," as is so commonly used today. The most commonly used terms were "under the bread" and "in the bread," although "with the bread" is occasionally used. B. Teigen in CTQ 41:2
Luther was hesitant to go beyond the words of Scripture but it is pretty clear that even though many use the term real presence they refuse to go as far as Scripture. For the ELCA, there is no need to go beyond the phrase to declare fellowship but without explication of what that phrase, real presence, means, it has become an almost useless turn of the tongue that means only what the people using it choose it to mean. And that is the problem. Those who welcome all to the Lord's Table who believe in the real presence are in reality welcoming everyone to believe what they will instead of witnessing to the Scriptures. While Lutherans might be hard pressed to go beyond the Scriptures, Rome has shown that even Transubstantiation seems ill-equipped to prevent the people in the pews from believing something different than their church teaches. And thus we learn why catechesis is not and can never be optional.