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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, March 22, 2010

Michael Jensen Defends the Sacraments Against Overreaction

The following comment is from Michael Jensen's blog, The Blogging Parson:  Sacraments.  While Michael Jensen gets particular atonement wrong, he is surely correct in his assessment of David Broughton Knox's overreaction against the sacraments and Knox's highly tendentious reading of the texts dealing with water baptism in the New Testament.  Knox's biases led him to extremely untenable positions on the sacraments such that at one point he even sounds like a oneness pentecostal in his discussion of Acts 2:38.
 
Part of the heritage of living in a society where the Protestant-Catholic divide used to be more prominent in our consciousness than it now is is an extreme jitteriness about the sacraments. In evangelical Anglican churches, we have been so afraid of appearing Catholic, or of appearing to say that the sacraments actually do something, that we have denuded the sacraments of any significance in our church life entirely. It was also part of a reductionistic and rationalistic turn in Sydney Anglican theology (in my opinion) of which Broughton Knox was the father.

This was an unfortunate and unnecessary overreaction which has robbed a generation of hearing the power of the Word of God preached in this way. The sacraments are powerful precisely because they are the enacted word of God - and the word of God is powerful indeed! It is a shame, because by focussing on controversy, we became afraid of doing something wrong and so missed out on something that is so very good. Of course you don't have to be baptised, if it is understood as a work that achieves your salvation. But you do have to do it as a command of the Lord Jesus. The logic here is the same as saying "you don't need to have sex to be married - sex is only the symbolic physical enactment of your marriage, and we are beyond it and also, people often mistake the symbolic physical enactment for the real thing so we should avoid confusion by making sure we never even appear to have sex."

I think there is an important principle BEHIND the issue for evangelicals however. Do we do only that which is ordained in the Bible? Or, given that the Bible does not speak about many matters, do we listen to and give heed to tradition in its stead? For example, the Bible tells us not very much about how the Lord's Supper was celebrated. But since the earliest times (and I mean the very earliest times) it has been celebrated in a particular form. Isn't that worth something? I am not saying that it has an absolute authority, but surely it allows that this was the way in which early Christians understood this matter and so we would not be wrong to do the same.
 
Michael Jensen teaches at Moore Theological College and is the son of Archbishop Peter Jensen.
 
  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost;
    Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen.
 
 

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