Jun 24, 2009
The "Modern" Church and the Sacraments
Most modern Churches in Protestantism have relegated the Sacraments (Ordinances for most) to what can best be described as appendixes to "real ministry". In today's Church it isn't unusual to see pastors delay Baptism for new converts for months and sometimes years. In today's Church it isn't considered abnormal to take the bread and wine(or Welch's) of The Supper once per year. Or, if you're lucky, once per quarter. ............. but Why?
I'm convinced that the answer is to be found in the 'culture of individualism' which has infiltrated the Church. I think this is most clear with regard to The Lord's Supper, but is also true for Baptism. In both, it is a case of a rejection of 'ritual'. And this rejection of ritual is rooted in favoring individualism over community. There are certainly other factors involved, like rationalism and the Protestant tendency to idolize the intellect, but individualism is at the root.
The ritual of Baptism is about inclusion into the community (body) of Christ and the ritual of the Lord's Supper is all about the sustaining of that community. The Sacraments communicate to us and to the world (at least in part) that in Christ we have forsaken our individualism and self-centeredness for community. This community is the "new man" or the "new creation" that Christ has brought about by His life, death and resurrection.
To reject the Sacraments or treat them as unimportant appendixes to the life of the Church is to embrace modern culture's disdain for ritual. Modern culture rejects ritual because it is seen as an infringement on 'individual rights'.
Is it any wonder that the "modern" Church has all but rejected our 'rituals'?