Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sacraments

Shortly after posting that I was running out of sacred cows to tip, I realized I'd have to put some thought into the sacraments. 

Sacraments: an outward sign combined with a prescribed form of words and regarded as conferring some specific grace upon those who receive it.  
The following are the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church:
  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Holy Eucharist
  • Penance (Confession) 
  • Anointing of the Sick 
  • Holy Orders 
  • Matrimony (Marriage) 

There is a lot of talk these days about defending the sacrament of marriage.  I am a little surprised to discover that for the protestant tradition, marriage or matrimony has not been considered a sacrament.


Most protestant traditions have held onto only 2 of the 7 sacraments of the RCC:
  • Eucharist (Lords Supper or communion) 
  • Baptism


Lords Supper 

I just did a post on some Lords Supper Thoughts.  I do see Jesus commanding His followers to remember His body and blood covenant by celebrating this meal together.  However I am concerned that what we traditionally call the Lords Supper, or communion is quite different than what Jesus was referring to.  If we feel this is a sacrament, I'd love to see believers following the example of Jesus and the early church on this.

Baptism 

I've recently put together some baptism summary thoughts. I concluded that immersion by water is a great symbol of being baptized with the Holy Spirit.  The command for us in Matt 28:18 - 20 is likely referring to baptism or immersion with the Holy Spirit (and Father, Son).  I suspect God is most interested in the matters of the heart. The early church, and most Christians throughout history have made an outward expression of this with immersion in water.  But I don't think I would conclude that the outward immersion by water should be on a top two list of the things God expects of us.


What do you think? Are these two items special sacraments?  Are we OK with the definition of sacraments in that these actions confer some specific grace upon those who receive it?

Or should other outward actions be added to this list?

What about loving one another?

Isn't love the outward sign that should identify those who belong to Christ?  Shouldn't that be considered a sacrament?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:33-35 NIV)

If you think we need a list of sacraments,  what do you think should be on the list?

Did Jesus make such a list for us?  If not, should we hold onto the list of the RCC? Or should we hold onto the shorter list of the reformers?

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13 comments:

Eric said...

Jon,

I don't think we need sacraments. It's just a hold over from centuries old RCC nonsense.

Protestants have other sacraments, but they just don't refer to them as that. The worship service in general and the sermon in particular are big ones.

As for loving one another, I agree completely that it should be an outward sign of our love for Christ. However, I'm still uncomfortable with the term sacrament. Rather, it's simply a sign that we are in the faith.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Eric, well said! :)

Arthur Sido said...

It is always interesting to me that the lists of what makes a "Biblical" church rarely unclude "loving one another". if we did a better job of that, the rest of these "sacraments" really wouldn't be necessary.

Andrew Bernhardt said...

Both the Lord's Supper and (water) baptism are things that we do. Grace is something that God does apart from the things that we do.

Communion and baptism do not impart grace to us. The 'sacraments' concept should be abandoned.

Steve Martin said...

Sacraments are what Christ commands us 'to do'. He commanded Baptism. He commanded Holy Communion.

He (The Lord) is not into empty religious ritual. The Scriptures make that clear.

He never commanded us to do anything where He would not be in it, for us.

The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are 'visable Word'...pure gospel.

To throw them off is not in keeping with God;s will for us. These things are pure gift. Given so that we might have assurance, apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

I know these concepts are new for many people. But it is the truth.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Steve Martin for the comment.

Jesus commanded us to do a number of things. Here are a few:

- Repent for the kingdom is near
- believe in the light
- Love the Lord your God
- Love your neighbor
- turn the other cheek
- give to the one who asks
- love your enemies
- do not judge

Steve, do you think the baptism and the Lord's supper are greater commands than these others?

Do you think baptism by water as done by most Christians is what Jesus was getting at? Do you think sharing a cracker and sip of juice in a solemn ceremony was what Jesus was commanding of us?

Steve Martin said...

Jonathan,

No I don't think that Sacraments are a greater command.

We ought do all of those things.

But Sacraments mean 'oath', or pledge. Jesus makes the sacramentum (oath) to us.

These things are different in that they are things that He does for us, in our doing of them. He promises to be in them for us.

That is why He says, "if you do not eat my body or drink my blood, you have no life in you."

Why people shrug them off is beyond me. He told us to do them, so they must be very important.

Jonathan said...

Great Steve Martin. I agree with you. I think Christ followers need to follow all of Christ's commands. I'm just not sure if I still need to call some of them sacrements, and which commands should get this special title.

Steve Martin said...

Jonathan,

The sacraments are the ones where He gives something to us in the physical, tangible act that He commands us to do in His name.

Sacrament means sacred oath of faithfulness. His faithfulness...not ours.

Jonathan said...

Sorry Steve if I'm being slow at learning something here. Is your definition in line with that of the Catholic church? With the original 6 sacraments was there something physical or tangible that they believed He gave us? Confirmation? Penance (Confession)? Anointing of the Sick? Holy Orders? Matrimony (Marriage)?

And aren't there other commands where Jesus makes promises or oaths to us as well? For example: "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

Steve Martin said...

Jonathan,

No, we count as Sacraments only those physical acts that Jesus commanded that we do. The ones where tangible earthly elements are used by God, in conjunction with His Word of promise, to give us something from God...Himself.

For us, Lutherans, there are only two Sacraments. Baptism and Holy Communion.

Our understanding of how those Sacraments work and their benefits is different than the Catholics, as well.

Baptism is almost the same, but the direction ion Holy Communion is the opposite of Catholics, who re-sacrifice Christ and are giving something to God.

For us, it is reversed. God is doing all the action and giving a free gift to us.

A simplified explanation but I hoped it helped a bit.

Jonathan said...

Thank you Steve Martin. I'm OK with you holding on to two Sacraments.

I just did a quick google search, and it seems it wasn't until the 12th century that some Catholics began to focus on naming and listing certain commands as sacraments.

For myself I feel called to go back even further and find my roots in the New Testament church, I am feeling free to drop some of the extra things different church traditions have added over the years.

I still want to follow and obey the commands of Jesus. I just don't see the need to have a list of sacraments.

Thanks for sharing.

Steve Martin said...

Jonathan,

I agree with we shouldn't have a long list, unless those things were specifically commanded by Jesus as things that we need to do, as means for His grace to be made concrete in our lives.

For us, those 2 sacraments bring the cross and resurrection to bear, in a concrete, tangible way to the life of the Christian. So that we might assurance totally apart from any inward measurement (s) that the believer might use to see if He is really in Christ, or not.

For us, those sacraments liberate us from the religious ascendancy projects.

Thank you, friend.