There are some topics in the church which are absolutely true and yet super difficult to talk about with people. It’s not because we’re lying while making it sound really convincing in the process, but because it takes a long time to lay out the points of the discussion to make the point. For example, the Trinity. There is no verse that says, “And The Holy Trinity said…”. Instead, our theology of one true God who is one God and yet three persons takes time to lay out Scripturally. We worship one God, and yet that one God is three distinct persons…but still only ONE God. We didn’t make it up, that’s just how God has revealed himself to us and it takes a bit to talk about it.
Similarly, when we talk about the Sacraments – the means of grace – with people, it’s a long discussion that takes patience and Biblical understanding. Questions like, “Why are you different from a Roman Catholic or a Baptist when it comes to Communion? Why don’t you all commune together? Why do you have that guy in a dress say HE forgives your sins? Only Jesus can do that. Why do you baptize babies?” and so on are not uncommon, but are you ready to answer?
Typically all of those questions come out in one breath…and usually right as you’re about to walk out the door or leave from someone’s house so that you don’t have adequate time to respond. The discussion is almost always filled with passion on each side and involves a lot of theological baggage on each side that needs to get laid out. There’s no “one hit wonder” of a Bible verse that fixes everything from either side, and there are things that need to be explained before moving forward.
There have been many theological books written on the topic to discuss God’s means of grace in the Sacraments so a blog post here will not solve the problem. The same is true in a conversation. In any given conversation it will take patience and time to engage in the discussion, bit it’s worth it. In a culture that says, “Everyone’s right, if you look at it from the correct angle,” the reality is, “There is only one truth, and we proclaim it.” It took me 5 years to see that for myself coming from another denomination, so this isn’t – apart from God’s Spirit working – going to all be solved in a single moment.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks (or months depending on timing) I’ll do posts on particular aspects of the Sacraments to discuss them in better detail than trying to lump it all together in one blob of theological gobbledygook. For example, there will probably be a post about Scriptural baptism as a whole, and then one focused specifically on infant baptism, and then one focused on the Lord’s Supper. I’ll look at Lutherans compared to Catholics and non-denominational for the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and a bit of the history that sets us where we are today. All of the posts will focus specifically on laying out the Scriptural argument for our Sacramental theology that focuses on God’s outward promise rather than our works or inward assumptions about God.
If you have questions about this or other posts…or brand new questions, please let me know and I’ll answer as I am able along with providing the answers that I discussed in this post.