Sacraments and the sacred
March 15 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Sacraments and the sacred | Friday, March 16, 2001

Friday, March 16, 2001

Sacraments and the sacred

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor In a recent photo caption (March 3 BR, printed edition), we slipped by referring to the "sacrament of baptism." Our traditional Baptist theology hats weren't screwed on tightly enough that day, and none of us caught it when proofreading.

Some of our readers did.

Baptists, as a rule, don't believe in sacraments, and prefer to describe baptism (along with the Lord's Supper) as "ordinances."

The word "sacrament," especially as used in the Roman Catholic Church and others who have a "sacramental theology," implies that divine grace is objectively imparted through some sort of physical action.

Thus, baptism of infants is considered efficacious because saving grace is imparted to the child through the physical rite of baptism.

The Lord's Supper likewise takes on a whole different air when it is believed that the elements are truly transformed into Christ's body and blood, imbuing the partaker with divine forgiveness through the tangible presence of Christ.

Baptists have typically looked askance on such mystical approaches to church rites, insisting that baptism and the Lord's Supper are important symbols, but not sacraments.

The bread and the cup represent the body and blood of Christ, we say, leading us to more intimate worship but imparting no objective grace in the action of partaking.

Likewise, baptism is symbolic of our decision to "bury the old person" and follow Christ as a "new creature." Baptism itself imparts no actual grace, we say, but is a testimony of grace that has been received through faith.

Of course, there are many Baptists who will argue all day that the ritual of baptism is only a symbol while simultaneously insisting that the form of baptism (by immersion) is nigh unto sacred.

And that's just one reason why it's so intriguing to be a Baptist.

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3/15/2001 11:00:00 PM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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