Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Sacraments - What Should Bring Unity So Often Divides

If we are going to get nit-picky, I suppose we could even argue over the above picture. After all, it implies that believer's baptism is correct and that infant baptism is not.

This is just another example of how we often view something that is meant to unite the church as something that, instead, should divide it.

As Christians, we disagree over who should be baptized, where they should be baptized, by whom they should be baptized, how they should be baptized, at what age they should be baptized, and why they should be baptized.

As for the Lord's Supper, we disagree over what the supper means, what the elements mean, who should partake, where we should partake, how we should partake, when we should partake, what the elements should be (wine or juice), and why we should partake. We can't even agree whether to call it the Lord's Supper, Communion, or the Eucharist.

We can't even agree whether to call these things sacraments or ordinances.


I'm not suggesting that we should avoid discussing these issues. Clearly, it is important to be as biblical as possible in all things. Truth matters.

What is frustrating is that these two symbols given by Christ should give us a visual representation of the gospel. The gospel is something all Christians should be able to unite around. Therefore, it seems to me that Jesus intended for the sacraments/ordinances to be practiced by the church to glorify Him and edify the body. This should bring unity.

Instead, sadly, baptism and the Lord's Supper are great causes of division within the body of Christ.

We are dividing over something that should be practiced for worship, edification, and unity.

Sometimes I think we evangelicals are like little kids playing in a sandbox. We play in our corner, but will only let others play with us if they play exactly the way we want. If they want to do something else, then we send them away, banished to another corner of the box. That may sound a bit silly, but I think the analogy holds.

Why do we so easily ignore what Jesus so blatantly prayed for (unity of the body) in John 17? That passage is as clear as they come. It is much clearer than passages that deal with the meaning of baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Let's discuss the meaning of the sacraments/ordinances. Let's search the scriptures. But let us also determine to be united around these beautiful acts instead of separating again and again.


Alan Knox said...


If we're honest with ourselves and with one another, our decision to divide over the sacraments/ordinances demonstrates that Christ is not the focus or center of these sacraments/ordinances.


Jeff Nelson said...


If what Alan says is correct, and I believe he is, we divide over many things in which Christ is not the focal point.

Your sandbox analogy is on the money!


Eric said...


Thanks for the sandbox compliment. It came to me in a rare moment of creativity.