Peter Leithart has an interesting post up at the Trinity House Institute’s blog. He concludes with this:
McCabe’s arguments confirm a suspicion: The mainstream Reformers were not anti-sacramental, but that’s not the suspicion. The suspicion is that the mainstream Reformers were more sacramental than the Catholic church. For the Reformers, no one was to participate in the life of Christ’s body non-sacramentally. That was simply a contradiction in terms, for the sacraments were the means of participations. Sacramental participation and membership in Christ are completely co-extensive; there’s no spillage or overlap, such that someone (an infant, say!) might be seen as a member of Christ without being marked with Christ’s sacramental sign.
The Reformation was not a triumph of word over sacrament; it was a triumph of sacraments.
While we would eventually have to define “sacramental,” this statement is absolutely correct. One major reason that the Reformers only allowed for 2 sacraments was that they deemed the sacraments necessary for all Christians. This also informed their eucharistic practice which was more frequent than the catholic practice of the day and more inclusive, with the Genevans and Puritans attempting to recreate a Jewish communal mode for the Lord’s Supper.
Steven Wedgeworth is the pastor of Christ Church in Lakeland, Florida. He writes about theology, history, and political theory, and he has taught Jr. High and High School. He is the founder and general editor of The Calvinist International, an online journal of Christian Humanism and political theology, and a Director for the Davenant Trust. A graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS), Steven lives in Lakeland, FL with his wife, son, daughter, and two terriers.
The Calvinist International is a forum for research, resourcement, and renewal of Christian wisdom.