Friday, December 11, 2009

What Is A Sacrament Anyway?

Since the last General Assembly, we have talked here about collaborating to make some sacramental resolutions for the next General Assembly. Accordingly, I have been contemplating what resolutions we could make. This week I have encountered twice the claim that Nazarenes believe a sacrament is "an outward sign of an inward grace." This appeared in Dr. McGonigle's response in the new edition of Holiness Today, and in a curriculum piece I was examining for my youth group. I know this definition comes from the Book of Common Prayer, as Dr. McGonigle points out, but it is greatly shortened from what the BCP says. It leaves out what most of us would argue is the most important part, "and the means by which we receive the same."

I began looking to find out where the manual defines a sacrament. The Articles of Faith on Baptism and the Lord's Supper both affirm that the respective acts are indeed sacraments, but no where is there a definition of a sacrament. It occurred to me that perhaps this would be a great place to start for a group that calls themselves sacramental. How about a resolution to define what the Church of the Nazarene believes a sacrament is. I image a new article of faith to precede the articles on Baptism and The Lord's Supper, but perhaps that is not the best avenue. What do you all think? How do you define a sacrament?

"The Church of the Nazarene believes a sacrament to be an outward sign of an inward grace and the means by which we receive the same. Accordingly, a sacrament is both an act by which we remember, celebrate, memorialize, and proclaim the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and future return of our Lord Jesus Christ, and at the same time is the ordinary means by which God extends to the recipient the grace provided to the world in the life, death, resurrection and return of our Lord Jesus Christ. We believe in two sacraments, ordained by Christ himself: Baptism and The Lord's Supper."

1 comment:

Victor said...

I found the closing paragraph very compelling--a new article of faith as it were. It is refreshing to me to know that other Nazarenes are seeking to recovery the mystery of sacrament.