Thursday, June 4, 2009

Acting Sacramentally

Quoting from Dr. David Scaer's paper "Sacraments as an Affirmation of Creation":

To act sacramentally means to act through the creation ("means") or creatures. With this definition, the incarnation can be understood sacramentally and our sacraments have incarnational dimensions. Relating christology to sacramentology was essential for the defense of the Lutheran position against the Refomed.

The regulations, threats, and promises surrounding the trees of the garden verge on the sacramental. Eating one fruit brings death and removal from God's presence. Eating the other brings life and eternal bliss with God. One could almost transfer these descriptions to our use of the Lord's Supper, to which some are invited and from which some are prohibited for the same reasons surrounding the trees of the garden. For some the sacrament works death and for others it works life. In similar fashion the Old Testament is more than an historical account of an ancient people; it is the continuation of creation in which God continues to act sacramentally. Abraham is in a certain sense "an Adam" in whom the peoples of the earth are reconstructed as God's people and who prepares for Christ in whom this reconstruction is completed. In the Old Testament the themes of paradise are repeated and held up as Israel's destiny. Religious and secular uses of bread and wine and the eating of elders with God on Sinai are references forward to a more significant eating and drinking in the messianic age. The Old Testament is not an isolated history, but a redemptive history in which the themes of creation and paradise are held before the people in anticipation of their completed perfection in the messianic age which appeared in Jesus. The problem is not that we find too much of Christ in the Old Testament, but that we find too little.

photo credit: Lawrence OP

1 comment:

Dennis Peskey said...

Dr. Scaer's assessment of the problem in the Old Testament of "too little Christ" is all too applicable to modern Christianity. What passes for proper exposition of Law and Gospel in our times is identical to the nation of Israel in the exodus. Rather than drown our old Adam in Baptismal waters, we choose to drown God's holy Law in laodician bathwater in an attempt to remake the Law more palatable. Once we achieve a comfortable Law whereby our sins no longer dominate our nature, we can repeat the mantra of "Jesus loves Me" until we believe in ourselves. Finally, we set forth to fulfill this new "law" in our image. We now have arrived at a christianity without a need for Christ and both Law and Gospel are forsaken.

So, how far have we advanced from Eden? The reality sets in on our deathbed - for the wages of sin remains death. We can not redefine that; we can not avoid death; we can not overcome death. Christ can - and has for our salvation. Beware old leaven, whether it originates in Eden, from manna centuries old, from pharasees or from the church around the block which does not love you enough to tell you of your sins and what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have and are doing to save you from them.