Blog Template Theology of the Body: Really Good Protestant Eucharistic Theology

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Really Good Protestant Eucharistic Theology

Our friend Eric at Wittenburg Trail had some really good things to say in response to a question of mine:

Those who think of the sacraments as mere "ordinances" misunderstand both the sacraments, and the scriptures. Don’t get me wrong. The sacraments DO come with commands, but those commands are not given directly to the Christian. They are given directly to the Church, and to the Christian through the Church.

For some that is much too fine a hair, much too thinly sliced. "Even if that were true, what difference does it make whether the command goes directly to the Church or directly to the Christian? Is it not still an ordinance?" Yes, but God gave these ordinances directly to the Church so that the Christian would understand that he is not the one "obeying" God by participating in the sacraments. God very clearly intends for us to understand the sacraments, not as rituals that we must obediently perform, but as gifts that we desperately need to receive from His overwhelmingly generous and gracious hand.

You know... the Old Testament sacrifices were also sacramental gifts. They were given to Israel, not as a means of atonement through obedience, but as a means of receiving God’s grace through the representation of the promised redemption in Jesus Christ. Israel lost that understanding, and came to see the sacrificial system as an elaborate set of atoning ordinances. When the Church understands Baptism and Communion as simply "ordinances," I believe it is falling back into the false "Religion of the Law."