Advertisements

Sacraments

This tag is associated with 3 posts

Book Review: “Come, Let Us Eat Together: Sacraments and Christian Unity” edited by George Kalantzis and Marc Cortez

Come, Let Us Eat Together: Sacraments and Christian Unity provides something not often seen in the polemics of our day: a call for Christian unity even over those things which are of most import. Here, the issue of the sacraments is evaluated regarding what they may have to do with Christian unity. A number of from scholars in various denominations (from what I can tell, included are Roman Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, Methodist, Eastern Orthodox, and Lutheran writers, though there may have been more represented) present essays reflecting on ecumenism and the sacraments.

Topics in these various essays go across a wide range. Whether it is ecumenism presented through the arts or the notion of closed communion in some Baptist churches (something I didn’t realize existed anywhere in the Baptist tradition), any reader will find something of interest to them related to the Sacraments.

I found a few essays of particular interest. First, “A Way Forward: A Catholic-Anabaptist Ecclesiology” by D. Stephen Long caught my eye simply for the title. Few theological systems could be more at odds than that of the Roman Catholic and that of the Anabaptist. In the essay, we find a few broad steps that can be taken to see some areas of agreement between these divergent strands of theology. Second, “Visual Ecumenism: The Coy Communion of Art” by Matthew J. Milliner invites readers to see the Lutheran view of Law-Gospel distinction in other denominational perspectives as well. Multiple essays that focused more exclusively on ecumenism as a possibility were quite interesting. I already mentioned in passing Marc Cortez’s “Who Invited the Baptist?” for its introducing me to the idea that some Baptists practice closed communion. I’m still trying to figure out exactly why a Baptist would do so, but had I not read this book I’m not sure when I would have been exposed to this differing and unexpected practice in the Baptist community.

As a Lutheran in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a body that practices open communion while also affirming baptismal regeneration and Christ’s “real presence” in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, I found a number of points of agreement and disagreement here. That is, of course, exactly what this collection of essays (originally lectures) is all about: finding those points of division and seeking to heal–or at least address–them. It’s a fascinating work.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

 

Advertisements

Book Review: “Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life” by Stephen J. Nichols

bcl-nicholsBonhoeffer on the Christian Life  by Stephen J. Nichols is part of the “Theologians on the Christian Life” series from Crossway. This volume focuses on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran theologian who was murdered by the Nazis. What is remarkable about this book is the way it successfully shows the interplay between Bonhoeffer’s theology and his life lived, and then demonstrates this is something we, too, can comprehend.

Nichols balances discussion about Bonhoeffer’s theology with discussion of his life. This is more than simply combining biography with theology. Instead, Nichols demonstrates that Bonhoeffer’s theology of Christian life is acted out by Bonhoeffer. Thus, readers are able to read about Bonhoeffer while learning what it means to lead a Christian life. This is fitting, because Bonhoeffer did act out the core of his theology, which, as the subtitle of the book (“From the Cross, For the World”) suggests, is cruciform. For Bonhoeffer, Christian living is living as Christ to the world, and this includes living and dying with Christ.

The book has chapters on ecclesiology, prayer, confession, and more. The chapters noted are particularly insightful. Nichols draws much from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together to show his doctrine of the church, which itself is deeply connected to a life of spiritual discipline, confession to one another, and willingness to suffer for Christ. Nichols notes well, however, that we in the West are not likely to be asked to pay the same cost of discipleship that Bonhoeffer did: execution for his lived faith. But that, Nichols argues, does not mean that we cannot live Christ-like lives. Rather than making Bonhoeffer a hero–and Nichols notes that Bonhoeffer would have rejected that categorization–we ought see him as a Christian living out the life God called him to.

Nichols balances the excitement of learning about Bonhoeffer’s life with the unveiling of deeper thoughts on the way Bonhoeffer points to a Christian life lived. It makes the book quite readable, despite its often complex subject matter.

There is, however, one glaring hole in the treatment of Bonhoeffer’s theology of the Christian life. That is, Bonhoeffer’s Lutheranism, and specifically his view of the proper theology as one of Word and Sacrament. A search of the book reveals but one reference to baptism, and only two references to the Lord’s Supper. However, Bonhoeffer continually held to the importance of these sacraments throughout his theology. For example, in The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote:

How then do we come to participate in the Body of Christ, who did all this for us? …The answer is, through the two sacraments of his Body, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. (239, edition linked above)

From this and many other references, it is clear that sacraments are central to Bonhoeffer’s understanding of ecclesiology. Yet Nichols doesn’t even mention them in the section on ecclesiology, an otherwise richly rewarding section of the book. Only a passing reference is made to the sacraments, despite their centrality to Bonhoeffer’s Lutheran understanding of grace and Christian living. This is a significant difficulty, for it effectively removes Bonhoeffer’s theology from its context.

Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life is an excellent, practical read. It shows how integrated Bonhoeffer’s theology is with his life, and gives many practical examples for readers to apply to their own lives. The book does, however, de-contextualize his theology by ignoring key aspects of his Lutheranism and their impact on Christian living. Readers will get much good from the book, but perhaps not as much good as they could have had it allowed Bonhoeffer’s Lutheranism to shine through.

The Good

+Focused on Bonhoeffer’s practical theology
+Gives insight into Bonhoeffer’s life with applications
+Excellent annotations for further reading

The Bad

-Little attention paid to Bonhoeffer on the sacraments

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for review from the publisher. I was not obligated to write any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Source

Stephen Nichols, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Bonhoeffer’s Troubling Theology?- A response to an article on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological perspectives– I look at an argument that Bonhoeffer’s theology is “troubling” to evangelicals and point out how much of it is merely a product of his Lutheran background.

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote: Dietrich Bonhoeffer as Lutheran

dietrich_bonhoefferEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer as Lutheran

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most engaging characters of the 20th century as well as an immensely important and popular theologian. As time goes on, more and more people know who he is and acknowledge his influence on their work and lives. I have noticed, however, a strange lack of awareness or acknowledgement of Bonhoeffer’s Lutheranism. That is, many take what he says about discipleship, ecclesiology, prayer, and the like to heart, but divorce those ideas from their Lutheran context in his thought. Yet, for Bonhoeffer, his Lutheran theology was central to his understanding of Christianity. He wrote in The Cost of Discipleship:

How then do we come to participate in the Body of Christ, who did all this for us? It is certain that there can be no fellowship or communion with him except through his Body, baptism and the Lord’s Supper… The sacraments begin and end in the Body of Christ, and it is only the presence of that Body which makes them what they are. The word of preaching is insufficient to make us members of Christ’s body; the sacraments also have to be added. Baptism incorporates us into the unity of the Body of Christ, and the Lord’s Supper fosters and sustains our fellowship and communion… in that Body. (239, cited below)

These words can be found echoed in Bonhoeffer’s writings. His understanding of the universe was a Lutheran understanding, one which teaches Word and Sacrament. To do justice to his legacy, we need to acknowledge the fact that he isn’t just some theologian we can pull individual ideas from; instead, we must see him as Lutheran.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Bonhoeffer’s Troubling Theology?- A response to an article on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theological perspectives– I have argued elsewhere that the broad evangelical understanding of Bonhoeffer may, indeed, be a misunderstanding of the fact that he is Lutheran.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

Source

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Touchstone, 1995).

SDG.

Advertisements

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,549 other followers

Archives

Like me on Facebook: Always Have a Reason
Advertisements