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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

EX OPERA OPERATO

A good friend of mine, Dr. Joel Garver, wrote a thoughtful and what I believe to be an accurate view on how we ought to think about the proper application and use of the term ex opera operato. The term has a lot of history behind its use and Joel does a very nice job of showing this and placing the term in its proper context during the Reformational debates on the sacramental abuses that the Reformers saw. The term ex opera operato, of course, has to do with the sacraments working on the basis of the action performed; the objective fruitfulness and efficacy of the sacraments. Note Joel's early reference to the Donatists controversy when he shows that an early use of the term that defined the sacramental grace being given in spite of the worthiness of the priest performing the rite is how it came to be understood and used. There will be many in the Protestant faith who will have an objection to the term being used due to the baggage that it carried in the 15th century. That is understandable, but not altogether necessary. The article that Joel writes is quite brief (3 pages) but well worth pondering and discussing. Joel is a good writer and has done some other pieces on his site that any of the readers here may find useful. Oh, I should mention that Joel is a deacon in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and a professor at LaSalle University. Give him a visit at his blog, sacra doctrina, and his web site.

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