Baptist Sacramentalism 2

A while back, I posted the full text of an article by Stanley K. Fowler noting the increasing convergence of Baptist and Church of Christ baptismal theology. It turns out that was a pre-publication copy of an article to be published in Baptist Sacramentalism 2, which is volume 25 of a series called “Studies in Baptist History and Thought.” The book has been available in England for a few weeks, but is just now available in the U.S. I can’t find it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble yet, but they should have it soon.

I was privileged to receive the book for free — in exchange for promising to mention in the blog. I made no promises to be complimentary … just to mention it. I can’t be bought that cheap.

Anyway, the book is a collection of 15 essays by Baptist authors on the Baptist view of the sacraments, particularly baptism and the Lord’s Supper. And the articles are uniformly thoughtful, insightful, and well written. Continue reading

Are We Sacramentalists? Working Our Way Back to Eden

BaptismI recently posted an article on Ephesians 4 and Paul’s theology of service. Service, for a Christian, is the fulfillment of God’s very purpose in saving us.

(Eph 2:8-10) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We were saved, forgiven, regenerated, baptized, and given the Holy Spirit to re-work us so that we’d do good works! Continue reading

Are We Sacramentalists? The Assembly and the Spirit

BaptismNot only is Jesus himself present in our assemblies, but so is the Spirit. Consider these verses–

(1 Cor 3:16-17) Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you [all]? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you [all] are that temple.

(Eph 2:21-22) In [Jesus] the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

In the first passage, Paul is speaking to the congregation (“you” is plural in the Greek), and he declares the congregation a “temple” of God, dwelling through his Spirit. The second passage is to a similar effect.

Now, the congregation is a temple whether or not assembled. But, of course, the significance of the congregation’s being a temple is most evident in the assembly. Continue reading

Are We Sacramentalists? Sex, Children, and Such

BaptismIn the previous posts, I tried to give a taste of the sacramental nature of the Spirit — how human actions, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit — cause spiritual things to happen here on earth.

But there are other examples. For example, I’ve earlier mentioned how marriage is a sacrament, as marriage is a covenant with God and brings a bit of heaven to earth, as we restore men and women toward Eden.

But there’s more. You see, sex not only brings a bit of God’s joy to married men and women, it brings babies. And babies have souls. You see, a very human action creates one more soul with the potential to spend eternity in heaven. Sex thus is especially sacramental — and therefore is an act of worship (except when performed in rebellion to God’s design). Continue reading

Are We Sacramentalists? The Creation

t_upper-yosemite-falls-yosemite-national-park-california.jpgIn a previous post, we considered the verses that teach that God acts on us, through his Spirit, as we study the Bible. This makes Bible study — or listening to the word taught or preached — sacramental, as a human activity results in God’s activity in a real and immediate way right here on Planet Earth.

But the promise Paul speaks of in 1 Cor 2 is deeper and wider than Bible study. The Spirit helps us “understand what God has freely given us.” Well, God has given us more than the Bible. He has, for example, given us the Creation itself. Continue reading