Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Active Symbols

I am really interested in this series by Les Puryear on the differences between Reformed and Southern Baptist Churches.  Today Les considers the difference between Ordinances and Sacraments.  He mostly highlights an article by Tim Challies.  It would also be helpful to read Justin Nale’s response

I am not sure if you would call my position Reformed, Baptist, sacrament, or ordinance.  Honestly, I’m not really all that concerned with the label that you give me.  But here is my view. 

Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are visible pictures of the gospel.  It is another way of proclaiming the gospel.  Baptism does not save, Jesus does.  The Lord’s Supper does not save, Jesus does.  But I believe the Spirit proclaims the gospel through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

Challies uses this statement to sum up the Baptist view: “Where sacraments revolve around what God does, ordinances revolve around what man does and what God did.”  I struggle with this statement because I struggle with memorialism.  What Challies defines as, “the sacraments have no real power, but are merely memorials, object lessons, which teach something about God.” 

I struggle with this view because I believe that God is active through His Spirit in the proclamation of the gospel.  And I believe that the gospel is being pictured/proclaimed in both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

I think we as Baptist overstate what Baptism “isn’t” to keep us from falling into any form of sacerdotalism or baptismal regeneration.  And in so doing we undercut the activity of the Spirit in proclaiming the gospel to hearts through visible pictures like baptism and the Lord’s Supper. 

So, am I Reformed or Baptist?  You tell me.

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