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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Is a Sacramental Gospel another gospel?

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My answer to the question would be, 'NOT if we are in need of the Incarnation now just as much as was needed 2,000 years ago.' One will often find Protestants denying that the Roman Catholic Church has a true gospel because they embrace a Sacramental Gospel. As the RCC, Catholics claims, 'Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.' (1922 RCC) If one sees that the Gospel requires death and resurrection via a life of penitence, then Protestants should not deny that the Christian Faith is a Sacramental Faith--especially in light of our present need of Incarnation.(Rom. 6.3-4) That need of the Incarnation is as equally necessary now as it was when Jesus took on flesh in history. The Sacraments are God's means of making that Incarnation real to us in the present. The Church itself is the Sacrament par excellance. We are the Body of Christ extended into and for the world.

Protestants make the claim that the Church stands or falls on the doctrine of Justification by faith alone and yet a theologian such as Luther who trumpeted Justification by Faith Alone was also the very one who did so within the framework of a Sacramental Gospel. As the means of grace that the Sacraments are, Luther never denied a Sacramental Gospel. The Sacraments were the visible realities of God's promises to us in Luther's theology. I think this quotation says it nicely,
The powers of the Kingdom already experienced in the Church are manifested through the divine mysteries or sacraments offered in faith. It is through these, as through windows, that the risen Christ enters this dark world to put sin and corruption to death and introduce abiding and immortal life.

God's life is infused into the present age and mingled with it, without change or confusion, through the mysteries. God touches, purifies, illumines, sanctifies and deifies human life in his uncreated divine energies through the mysteries. Christ becomes everyone's contemporary in the mysteries. All that He did one and for all for the salvation of the world has now passed over into the mysteries. Thus, the mysteries become the various manifestations of our Lord's saving power, and the means by which Christ is present and works in his Church. "As the Church is the perpetual extension of Christ, so the mysteries are the power by which the Church sanctifies people" (Ch. Androutsos)Here..
Here is where the necessity of the present need for the Incarnation should be considered. Baptism begins for us that life in Christ where we are set upon a path of faith and obedience our entire lives being prepared for glory (deification 2 Pet. 1.4).
The mysteries prepare the faithful for the future life, but they also make that life real, here and now. We are given the vision and have the foretaste of the things to come through them. They introduce us continuously and in various ways to the transforming power of God, which communicates salvation, i.e., the cure of our fallen humanity and "the elimination of the germ of mortality." In them we encounter Christ, in order to be Christ. We enter upon a decisively new reality: in Christ we learn to become fully conscious of what it really means to be human. Encountering God, we also see the power of evil, whose force invades, pervades and distorts the image of God in us. Allied with Christ, we share in his victory over sin and death; the power of divine love overcomes evil in us and makes us a new into children of God and heirs of his Kingdom. here

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
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