The roots of many denominations can be traced to differences in understanding concerning the sacraments. There are volumes that have been written on these issues. Chapter 9 is a brief overview of the history behind these practices and the changes that have developed over the years.
- Infant baptism or believer’s baptism
- Immersion or sprinkling
A few points from the book:
“In the early church, converts were baptized immediately upon believing. Baptism was the early believer’s initial confession of faith in Christ.. .a visible sign that depicts our separation from the world, our death with Christ, the burial of our old man, the death of the old creation, and the washing of the Word of God.”
In the second century, it began to be “taught that baptism must be preceded by a period of instruction, prayer, and fasting.”
“Today the “sinner’s prayer” has replaced water baptism as the initial confession of faith.” Not that there is anything wrong with the prayer, “however it should not replace water baptism as the outward instrument for conversion-initiation.”
The Lord’s Supper
- Love feast or sacred rite
- Loaf or wafer
- Wine or juice
A glimpse at what the book said:
“For the early Christians, the Lord’s Supper was a festive communal meal…taken in an atmosphere of joy and celebration. By it, they proclaimed Christ’s victorious death and His future coming.”
Over the years, “the Lord’s Supper became a sacred ritual which required a sacred person to administer it. It became shrouded in a religious mist. Viewed with awe, it was taken with glumness and completely removed from the communal nature.”
Obviously this is an extremely brief summary of all that could be said about the sacraments. While the book gives an interesting outline of the history of these practices, it is also only a brief overview, although a good starting point for those interested in further study of the history of the sacraments.
What strikes me is how simple this seems, yet how much doctrinal ink and division has occurred over these two practices. Over the years, we have demonstrated a great ability to complexify and ritualize the simple practices seen in scripture.