Protestant Christians recognize two sacraments, baptism and communion (Eucharist), as opposed to the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. Christ established sacraments to impart grace. This doesn't mean these acts alone save anyone, but when observed by Christians (including covenant infants and children) Christ works through the Holy Spirit to sustain and unify His people through them.
Controversies surround the question of sacraments: What is the purpose of baptism? What happens to the baptized person, if anything? Should infants be baptized? Is sprinkling (or pouring) preferable to total immersion, or vice versa? What about communion? Is it merely symbolic, or an integral part of regular church worship? Who can administer the sacraments? Who should receive them? These questions are more than theological repartee, they are essential to our complete Biblical perspective of worship. We must answer these questions if we want to take our role as saints seriously.
In the preface to his book The Baptized Body, Peter Leithart calls the twentieth century the century of ecclesiology because of the amount of scholarship and debate devoted to church government, worship and the sacraments. This is mostly a Reformed debate, discussion ranging from Federal Vision to paedocommunion and paedofaith, and growing out of different understandings of the nature and extent of God's covenant. While we have a high regard for the teachings of the original Reformers, we realize that all doctrine must be analyzed in the light of Scripture, and that they were not infallible. The Federal Vision has many aspects we find attractive, but these too must be submitted to the authority of God's Word before we can accept them fully.
We believe a proper and consistent understanding of the covenant is foundational for answering questions and resolving conflicts concerning the efficacy and scope of the sacraments. The books in our collection are mostly accessible, doing their best to place the current debates within the context of historic Reformed and covenantal thought while seeking to provide a fresh perspective where it is due.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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