Sacrament

In 2002 Robert Webber wrote a book called The Younger Evangelicals, giving a collection of observations for what the Evangelical movement was evolving towards. Webber was a great source and a careful writer.

Many important things in the book; I hope to share some on the blog at some point. I 20-post series could be appropriate for the book.

In the Spiritual Formation section of the book, Webber shares a bit about the migration back towards the Sacramental expression of the faith. Webber shared a bit of what the word “Sacrament” means; I wanted to make sure I was able to put it down somewhere for future use. (from pages 180-81)

“The Latin word sacramentum was used to translate the Greek word mystery (mysterium). One could speak of “the mystery of baptism,” the mystery of the Eucharist,” or “the mystery of marriage.” The word sacrament comes from two Latin terms: sacra, which means ‘holy,’ and the suffix mentum, which means ‘to make holy.’ It also means ‘to set aside.’ In Roman secular language the word was often used to ‘make an oath.’ When a person was sowrn into the Roman army, for example, an oath occurred between two parties, a covenant that ‘bound them together in a new relationship.’ The two sides of sacrament are reflected in this secular use: The Roman government puts its imprint upon the soldier. The soldier receives the imprint and promises to wear it well. Likewise, in Christian thought, ‘sacrament’ refers to an action of God that is received, affirmed, treasured, and kept (see Eph 3:3-6). ‘Sacrament’ expresses the mystery of the union between God and man- effected by God, kept by man.

“Early church writings taught that there is only one sacrament, only one way to be holy, and that is through Jesus Christ. He alone presents to the Father and represents us as holy before the throne of God. Today we make a distinction between the one sacrament (only Jesus makes us holy) and two dominical sacraments (Jesus instituted baptism and the Eucharist as sacred actions of his work on our behalf). We are to observe them as a reception of his work for us and our faith response to him.”

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