Chaplain Mike on the Sacraments

The third installment from Chaplain Mike on what he is appreciating so much from  his new Lutheranism.  This time he focuses on the Sacraments.  Read the whole post, but here is a sample:

The sacramental perspective takes God’s presence and action in the midst of his creation seriously. Some expressions of faith are essentially world-denying and more akin to forms of Platonism or gnosticism that make radical distinctions between the material and spiritual worlds. From this perspective, God works and we grow “spiritually,” and this world is one we are “passing through” on our way to an ethereal heaven. The Lutheran tradition, on the other hand, rejoices that God is present and working throughout his creation, and that he especially works in and through simple elements like water, bread, wine, paper and ink to communicate his truth and love to his people. He meets us here, and he is leading us to a renewed creation.

Sacramental theology takes the Incarnation seriously. Jesus the Eternal Word, “became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Sharing fully in our humanity and the experiences of life in this world, God visited his creation personally, spoke, broke bread with us, wept, touched broken bodies, and even died himself to identify with and redeem all who are in bondage to sin, evil, and death. The Spirit he sent now works through the Word and the Sacraments in the midst of his gathered people to apply the benefits of his saving work.

There is  much to learn about the Sacraments, but the primary shift for me, coming from the evangelical world, was simple. It involved coming to understand them as God’s works, not mine.

I no longer see baptism as something I do to profess my faith in Christ. I see it as something done to me through which God acts savingly. I no longer see Communion merely as something I do to remember Jesus. I see it as his Table, to which he invites me and at which he feeds me.

These practices are the means by which God’s grace in Christ is communicated to me, for in them his promises are made real in my life.

via How the Lutheran Tradition Answers Many Post-Evangelical Concerns (3) | internetmonk.com.

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    This is very, very good. I enjoyed that post at IM and I think it’s going over pretty well without a whole lot of Lutheran speck-log infighting. I hope, anyhow.

    This good in two respects.

    1) It’s true.

    2) It indicates Chap. Mike “gets” one of the distinctives of Lutheran theology – that the only important action in salvation is from God towards Man. The only action, in fact. Although, we can say with Luther that we cooperate in our salvation by bringing our sins to Christ.

    3) We can commiserate with him in his ELCA oddness at a later time :), and rejoice with him in the lovingkindness of a God who comes to us in water, wine, bread and Word.

  • SKPeterson

    This is very, very good. I enjoyed that post at IM and I think it’s going over pretty well without a whole lot of Lutheran speck-log infighting. I hope, anyhow.

    This good in two respects.

    1) It’s true.

    2) It indicates Chap. Mike “gets” one of the distinctives of Lutheran theology – that the only important action in salvation is from God towards Man. The only action, in fact. Although, we can say with Luther that we cooperate in our salvation by bringing our sins to Christ.

    3) We can commiserate with him in his ELCA oddness at a later time :), and rejoice with him in the lovingkindness of a God who comes to us in water, wine, bread and Word.

  • larry

    Chaplain is nailing it, it sudden “inversion” in thinking, faith and hope. Suddenly its not about “me toward heaven” but God coming down to me and that Gospel makes ALL the difference in the world.

    I’m extremely happy for him because I recall what that was like.

  • larry

    Chaplain is nailing it, it sudden “inversion” in thinking, faith and hope. Suddenly its not about “me toward heaven” but God coming down to me and that Gospel makes ALL the difference in the world.

    I’m extremely happy for him because I recall what that was like.

  • Joe

    I am glad he is getting it, but is anyone else concerned that someone so new to getting it is going to be ordained. I mean no disrespect but 1 Timothy 3 speaks to this. It is directed to the office of overseer but the concern is still the same no?

    1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,a he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

  • Joe

    I am glad he is getting it, but is anyone else concerned that someone so new to getting it is going to be ordained. I mean no disrespect but 1 Timothy 3 speaks to this. It is directed to the office of overseer but the concern is still the same no?

    1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,a he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Joe,

    Chaplain Mike has been a pastor for many years and is now an ordained Chaplain working in hospitals and hospice care. He is not a new convert to Christianity

  • Patrick Kyle

    Joe,

    Chaplain Mike has been a pastor for many years and is now an ordained Chaplain working in hospitals and hospice care. He is not a new convert to Christianity

  • larry

    I’m not real familiar with the ordination process in our Lutheran churches, I have a vague understanding of it, but its not been something I’ve focused on much. So I don’t know about the “speed” of one coming over fresh.

    The only comparison I have personally is some dear friends of ours that we use know well at the same calvinistic SB church we attended. They actually became Lutheran before we did, we took a divergence through Reformed first they made a direct move from SB to LCMS, and they were kind of key in our last few months in considering making the move (I was wrestling with ‘is there really a difference on the LS, and if so is it necessary/essential/significant). Anyway, he was an ordained pastor/elder in the SB church, finished Southern and was pursuing his doctorate I believe it was and he switched to Fort Wayne upon making the move. It was a solid two or more years before he was ordained.

  • larry

    I’m not real familiar with the ordination process in our Lutheran churches, I have a vague understanding of it, but its not been something I’ve focused on much. So I don’t know about the “speed” of one coming over fresh.

    The only comparison I have personally is some dear friends of ours that we use know well at the same calvinistic SB church we attended. They actually became Lutheran before we did, we took a divergence through Reformed first they made a direct move from SB to LCMS, and they were kind of key in our last few months in considering making the move (I was wrestling with ‘is there really a difference on the LS, and if so is it necessary/essential/significant). Anyway, he was an ordained pastor/elder in the SB church, finished Southern and was pursuing his doctorate I believe it was and he switched to Fort Wayne upon making the move. It was a solid two or more years before he was ordained.

  • Joe

    Patrick – I understand that, but he admits that he is a recent convert to the true Gospel. I’m just kind of think aloud about this, but it struck me as odd that he would go straight from “Oh, I get it now” to “I am ready to preach it to others.” Seems like there should be some period of study and training in between the two. Again – just my thoughts. Normally I would say, well the collequey board will sort all this out, but given the ELCA’s non-requirements for its pastors. I doubt there will be anything more than a rubber stamp.

  • Joe

    Patrick – I understand that, but he admits that he is a recent convert to the true Gospel. I’m just kind of think aloud about this, but it struck me as odd that he would go straight from “Oh, I get it now” to “I am ready to preach it to others.” Seems like there should be some period of study and training in between the two. Again – just my thoughts. Normally I would say, well the collequey board will sort all this out, but given the ELCA’s non-requirements for its pastors. I doubt there will be anything more than a rubber stamp.


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