Despite the differences in detail and in emphasis in Wesley's exposition of the two sacraments, there is an underlying unity in his sacramental theology. He regarded both sacraments as means whereby God could confer grace according to His promise, but yet insisted, that in order to prevent the means from being mistaken as ends, it was necessary for there to be an appropriation of the grace held out by the faith of the believer. Grace was not conferred IN SPITE OF MAN, but only with his co-operation. So human response was necessary for the efficacy of the sacraments, although man's actions were never thought of as meritorious works.
John R. Parris
There are sacraments of evil as well as of good about us, and we live and move to my belief in an unknown world, a place where there are caves and shadows and dwellers in twilight. It is possible that man may sometimes return on the track of evolution, and it is my belief that an awful lore is not yet dead.
The most important truths always appear first as blasphemies or obscenities. That's why every great innovator is persecuted. And the sacraments look obscene, too, to an outsider. The eucharist is just sublimated cannibalism, to the unawakened. When the Pope kisses the feet of the laity, he looks like an old toe-queen to some people. The rites of Pan look like a suburban orgy.
Robert Anton Wilson
If a person is homosexual by nature - that is, if one's sexuality is as intrinsic a part of one's identity as gender or skin color - then society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.
It is the privilege of the new Jerusalem which is above, that there is no temple therein, Rev. 21.22, no ministry, no preaching, no sacraments in heaven, but God shall be all in all. An immediate enjoyment of God in this world without ordinances is but a delusion. In the church triumphant prophecies shall fail, 1 Cor. 13.8; but in the church militant, "despise not prophesyings, " 1 Thess. 5.20.
However grand our sacramental downsittings and updressings may be, they remain only and precisely sacraments: real presences, under particular signs, of the happier order that faith can discover under any and all signs. They're a bit like the church. As long as we see them as an earnest of the kingdom, they're all right; when we put on airs and act as if they were the kingdom itself, they look just silly.
Robert Farrar Capon
The gospel has but a forced alliance with war. Its doctrine of human brotherhood would ring strangely between the opposed ranks. The bellowing speech of cartoon and the baptism of blood mock its liturgies and sacraments. Its gentle beatitudes would hardly serve as mottoes for defiant banners, nor its list of graces as names for ships-of-the-line.
Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Christ has given us, not only the ritual of an ordinance, but the pattern for our lives, when He took the cup, and gave thanks. So common joys become sacraments, enjoyment becomes worship, and the cup which holds the bitter or the sweet skillfully mingled for our lives becomes the cup of blessing and salvation drank in remembrance of Him.
What is more insane than to be partakers of the Sacraments of the Lord and not partakers of the words of the Lord? These men truly have to say: "In Thy Name we have eaten and drunk," and they will have to hear: "I do not know you!" (Luke 13:26-27). They eat and drink His Body and Blood in the Sacrament and do not recognize in the Gospel His members spread over the whole world, and for this reason they are not numbered among them at the Judgment.
The saints show us that being a baptized Christian means living as a new creation, rejoicing in a life radically different from the status quo of the world. All the holy people, whose lives fill this book, show readers how to let the grace of God in the sacraments create their lives anew.
Stephen J. Binz
There's an ethic that says: 'You don't run off to the church for the sacraments of salvation, you establish a personal relationship with God. You don't run off to the courts for justice, you settle it yourself. You don't run off to labor unions to sort out your work relations, you can take this job and shove it if you don't like what you're doing.
John Shelton Reed
The church has long used the concept of sacraments--outward signs of inward grace--to name the spaces where God meets us in an especially present way. For many Christians, however, that language seems abstract, even (sadly) foreign. Dean Nelson lovingly explores those spaces of encountering God; his luminous book has helped me see anew the sacred in the ordinary. I am grateful.
Lauren F. Winner
Today a new faith is awakening "" the Myth of the blood; the belief that to defend the blood is also to defend the divine nature of man in general. It is a belief, effulgent with the brightest knowledge, that Nordic blood represents that Mysterium which has overcome and replaced the older sacraments.
At this gathering [Council of Niceau in 324 AD] many aspects of Christianity were debated and voted upon "• the date of Easter, the role of the bishops, the administration of sacraments, and, of course, the divinity of Jesus... until that moment in history, Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet... a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.
Certainly amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds first place, is most pleasing to God, and most useful to ourselves. Do not then, O devout soul, refuse to begin this devotion; and forsaking the conversation of men, dwell each day, from this time forward, for at least half or quarter of an hour, in some church, in the presence of Jesus Christ under the sacramental species. Taste and see how sweet is the Lord.
... at the beginning of the human race the woman was made of a rib taken from the side of the man while he slept; for it seemed fit that even then Christ and His Church should be foreshadowed in this event. For that sleep of the man was the death of Christ, whose side, as He hung lifeless upon the Cross, was pierced with a spear, and there flowed from it blood and water, and these we know to be the sacraments by which the Church is built up.
Hakeem: A wise man once said that suffering produces perseverance, character; and character, hope. Andre: Since when did spouting masochism make one wise? And the sacraments of a bitter existence? Who deemed that a vaunted prize? Nihilistic philosophy only births more pain. It's fruitless to espouse folly, repackage it as wisdom, and spew it in a wise man's name.
Booker T. Mattison
O you who believe! Do not violate Allah's sacraments, nor the Sacred Month, nor the offerings, nor the garlanded, nor those heading for the Sacred House seeking blessings from their Lord and approval. When you have left the pilgrim sanctity, you may hunt. And let not the hatred of people who barred you from the Sacred Mosque incite you to aggression. And cooperate with one another in virtuous conduct and conscience, and do not cooperate with one another in sin and hostility. And fear Allah. Allah is severe in punishment.
When I was in my early 20s I converted to Catholicism after a long period of searching. What I think drew me to the Catholic church is that in Catholicism, prayer suffuses all of one's life by virtue of the sacraments. Prayer is not something which occurs just on Sunday, it doesn't occur only at particular moments of intensity or by particular conventions, one's whole life is given up to prayer in many, many modes. And so everything to do with the faith is trying to put you in relationship with God and trying to make that relationship grow deeper and more mature.
This practice of adoration is based on strong and solid reasons. For the Eucharist is at once a sacrifice and a sacrament; but it differs from the other sacraments in that it not only produces grace, but contains in a permanent manner the Author of Grace Himself. When, therefore, the Church bids us to adore Christ hidden behind the Eucharistic veils and to pray to Him for spiritual and temporal favors, of which we ever stand in need, she manifests faith in her divine Spouse who is present beneath these veils, she professes her gratitude to Him, and she enjoys the intimacy of His friendship
Pope Pius XII
Finally, it is wrong to say that "nothing" is more basic to the identity of the church than suffering. Nothing is more basic to the identity of the institutional church than the preaching of the gospel, the correct administration of the sacraments, and the worship of God in Spirit and in truth (Westminster Confession of Faith, 25.4). Nothing is more basic to the identity of the individual Christian than faith, hope, obedience, and love, the fruit of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-13; Gal. 5:22-24; 1 John 2:3; 3:10, 24; 4:7-21; 5:1-3).
Keith A. Mathison
The prayer of listening makes things simple but it also makes us vulnerable, and that is frightening. Listening makes us open to Christ, the Word of God, spoken in all things: in the material world, the Scriptures, the Church, and sacraments and, sometimes most threateningly, in our fellow human beings. To listen at prayer is to take the chance of hearing the voice of Christ in the poor, the weak, those whom we love and those whom we do not love.
There's one uneasy borderline between what is external and what is internal, and this borderline is defined exactly by the sense organs and the skin and the introduction of external things within my own body. Consciousness is altered by physical events and physical objects, which impinge upon my sense organs, or which I introduce into my body. Now the name traditionally given to external objects or processes which change you internally is sacrament. Sacraments are the visible and tangible techniques for bringing you close to your own divinity.
Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.
Pope Benedict XVI
The multitude of men and women choose the less adventurous way of the comparatively unconscious civic and tribal routines. But these seekers, too, are saved-by virtue of the inherited symbolic aids of society, the rites of passage, the grace-yielding sacraments, given to mankind of old by the redeemers and handed down through millenniums. It is only those who know neither an inner call nor an outer doctrine whose plight truly is desperate; that is to say, most of us today, in this labyrinth without and within the heart. Alas, where is the guide, that fond virgin, Ariadne, to supply the simple clue that will give us courage to face the Minotaur, and the means then to find our way to freedom when the monster has been met and slain?
Another form of prayer, called cataphatic, honors and reverences images and feelings and goes through them to God. This form of prayer also has an ancient and well-attested history in the world of religions. Any sort of prayer that highlights the mediation of creation can be called cataphatic. So, praying before icons or images of saints; the mediation of sacraments and sacramentals; prayer out in creation - all these are cataphatic forms of prayer
Gregory A. Boyd
Christianity nowadays is like a big household where many cousins live under the same roof. They all belong to the same clan, but at times they have very different ideas about how to run their family affairs. Some of them, for instance, have no use for any outside devotion. God is a spirit, and He wants to be worshipped in spirit only, they say. Consequently, they have dispensed with all liturgy. They don't want any distracting ceremonies, no incense, no vestments, no music, no pictures and images, not even sacraments-only the service of the spirit. The trouble is, however, that as long as we live here on earth, we simply are not pure spirits, but we have also a body, and in that body, a very human heart; and this heart needs outward signs of its inward affections. That is why we embrace and kiss the one we love; and the more we love, the more ardently we press him to this very heart-somehow it seems as if these cousins had overlooked that fact. But you can't cheat the heart; it knows what it wants, and it knows how to get it.
Maria Augusta von Trapp
Her eyes were of different colors, the left as brown as autumn, the right as gray as Atlantic wind. Both seemed alive with questions that would never be voiced, as if no words yet existed with which to frame them. She was nineteen years old, or thereabouts; her exact age was unknown. Her face was as fresh as an apple and as delicate as blossom, but a marked depression in the bones beneath her left eye gave her features a disturbing asymmetry. Her mouth never curved into a smile. God, it seemed, had withheld that possibility, as surely as from a blind man the power of sight. He had withheld much else. Amparo was touched-by genius, by madness, by the Devil, or by a conspiracy of all these and more. She took no sacraments and appeared incapable of prayer. She had a horror of clocks and mirrors. By her own account she spoke with Angels and could hear the thoughts of animals and trees. She was passionately kind to all living things. She was a beam of starlight trapped in flesh and awaiting only the moment when it would continue on its journey into forever.' (p.33)
Too often scholars have thought and even suggested that what happened during and after Constantine was that the church sought to replace the pagan temples, priests, and sacrifices with their own. This is at best a half truth. If this had been primarily what was going on, we would have expected to find priestesses showing up in the mainstream church in and after the time of Constantine, since there were certainly priestesses in the pagan temples. But this we do not find in the historical record. This is because the church of that period was not merely trying to supplant pagan religion with Christian religion, though some of that was going on. More to the point, there was a rising tide of anti-Judaism, and one of its manifestations was this Old Testament hermeneutic. The Torah had been claimed as the church's book, Jews were being ostracized and then later ghettoized, and a hermeneutic of ministry was being adopted which co-opted the Old Testament for church use when it came to priests, temples, and sacrifices, and indeed sacraments in general. Thus ironically enough while the structure of the ecclesial church was becoming more Old Testamental, the church hierarchy was not only becoming less tolerant of Jews, it was forgetting altogether the Jewish character of Jesus' ministry and his modifications of the Passover that led to the Lord's Supper celebration of the early church in the first place.
Ben Witherington III
do we realize that this cheap grace has turned back upon us like a boomerang? The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized Church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation unasked and without condition. Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which was holy to the scornful and unbelieving. We poured forth unending streams of grace. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard. Where were those truths which impelled the early Church to institute the catechumenate, which enabled a strict watch to be kept over the frontier between the Church and the world, and afforded adequate protection for costly grace? What had happened to all those warnings of Luther's against preaching the gospel in such a manner as to make men rest secure in their ungodly living? Was there ever a more terrible or disastrous instance of the Christianizing of the world than this? What are those three thousand Saxons put to death by Charlemagne compared with the millions of spiritual corpses in our country today? With us it has been abundantly proved that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generations. Cheap grace has turned out to be utterly merciless to our Evangelical church.
Faith is not a meritorious cause of election, but it is constantly attested as the sole condition of salvation. Faith merely receives the merit of atoning grace, instead of asserting its own merit. God places the life-death option before each person, requiring each to choose. The ekletos are those who by grace freely believe. God does not compel or necessitate their choosing. Even after the initial choice of faith is made, they may grieve and quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Faith is the condition under which God primordially wills the reception of salvation by all. 'He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe; lest we should say that we first chose Him' (Augustine). Faith receives the electing love of God not as if it had already become efficacious without faith, but aware that God's prescience foreknows faith like all else. In accord with ancient ecumenical consent, predestination was carefully defined in centrist Protestant orthodoxy as: 'The eternal, divine decree, by which God, from His immense mercy, determined to give His Son as Mediator, and through universal preaching , to offer Him for reception to all men who from eternity He foresaw would fall into sin; also through the Word and Sacraments to confer faith upon all who would not resist; to justify all believers, and besides to renew those using the means of grace; to preserve faith in them until the end of life, and in a word, to save those believing to the end' (Melanchthon).
Thomas C. Oden
Like the Church the individual Christian will not be able to escape the deep ambiguities of this-wordly existence whether in its cultural, social, political or other aspects, and he too will inevitably be a mixture of good and evil, with a compromised life, so that he can only live eschatologically in the judgment and mercy of God, putting off the old man and putting on Christ anew each day, always aware that even when he has done all that it is his duty to do he remains an unprofitable servant, but summoned to look away from himself to Christ, remembering that he is dead through the cross of Christ but alive and risen in Him. His true being is hid with Christ in God. The whole focus of his vision and the whole perspective of his life in Christ's name will be directed to the unveiling of that reality of his new being at the parousia, but meantime he lives day by day out of the Word and Sacraments. As one baptized into Christ he is told by God's Word that his sins are already forgiven and forgotten by God, that he has been justified once for all, and that he does not belong to himself but to Christ who loved him and gave Himself for him. As one summoned to the Holy Table he is commanded by the Word of God to live only in such a way that he feeds upon Christ, not in such a way that he feeds upon his own activities or lives out of his own capital of alleged spirituality. He lives from week to week, by drawing his life and strength from the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper, nourished by the body and blood of Christ, and in the strength of that communion he must live and work until Christ comes again. As often as he partakes of the Eucharist he partakes of the self-consecration of Jesus Christ who sanctified Himself for our sakes that we might be sanctified in reality and be presented to the Father as those whom He has redeemed and perfected (or consecrated) together with Himself in one. Here He is called to lift up his heart to the ascended Lord, and to look forward to the day when the full reality of his new being in Christ will be unveiled, making Scripture and Sacrament no longer necessary.
Thomas F. Torrance
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price, " and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
As for the vice of lust - aside from what it means for spiritual persons to fall into this vice, since my intent is to treat of the imperfections that have to be purged by means of the dark night - spiritual persons have numerous imperfections, many of which can be called spiritual lust, not because the lust is spiritual but because it proceeds from spiritual things. It happens frequently that in a person's spiritual exercises themselves, without the person being able to avoid it, impure movements will be experienced in the sensory part of the soul, and even sometimes when the spirit is deep in prayer or when receiving the sacraments of Penance or the Eucharist. These impure feelings arise from any of three causes outside one's control. First, they often proceed from the pleasure human nature finds in spiritual exercises. Since both the spiritual and the sensory part of the soul receive gratification from that refreshment, each part experiences delight according to its own nature and properties. The spirit, the superior part of the soul, experiences renewal and satisfaction in God; and the sense, the lower part, feels sensory gratification and delight because it is ignorant of how to get anything else, and hence takes whatever is nearest, which is the impure sensory satisfaction. It may happen that while a soul is with God in deep spiritual prayer, it will conversely passively experience sensual rebellions, movements, and acts in the senses, not without its own great displeasure. This frequently happens at the time of Communion. Since the soul receives joy and gladness in this act of love - for the Lord grants the grace and gives himself for this reason - the sensory part also takes its share, as we said, according to its mode. Since, after all, these two parts form one individual, each one usually shares according to its mode in what the other receives. As the Philosopher says: Whatever is received, is received according to the mode of the receiver. Because in the initial stages of the spiritual life, and even more advanced ones, the sensory part of the soul is imperfect, God's spirit is frequently received in this sensory part with this same imperfection. Once the sensory part is reformed through the purgation of the dark night, it no longer has these infirmities. Then the spiritual part of the soul, rather than the sensory part, receives God's Spirit, and the soul thus receives everything according to the mode of the Spirit.
John of the Cross
Without conversion of heart we cannot serve God on earth. We have naturally neither faith, nor fear, nor love, toward God and His Son Jesus Christ. We have no delight in His Word. We take no pleasure in prayer or communion with Him. We have no enjoyment in His ordinances, His house, His people, or His day. We may have a form of Christianity, and keep up a round of ceremonies and religious performances. But without conversion we have no more heart in our religion than a brick or a stone. Can a dead corpse serve God? We know it cannot. Well, without conversion we are dead toward God. Look round the congregation with which you worship every Sunday. Mark how little interest the great majority of them take in what is going on. Observe how listless, and apathetic, and indifferent, they evidently are about the whole affair. It is clear their hearts are not there! They are thinking of something else, and not of religion. They are thinking of business, or money, or pleasure, or worldly plans, or bonnets, or gowns, or new dresses, or amusements. Their bodies are there, but not their hearts. And what is the reason? What is it they all need? They need conversion. Without it they only come to church for fashion and form's sake, and go away from church to serve the world or their sins. But this is not all. Without conversion of heart we could not enjoy heaven, if we got there. Heaven is a place where holiness reigns supreme, and sin and the world have no place at all. The company will all be holy; the employments will all be holy; it will be an eternal Sunday. Surely if we go to heaven, we must have a heart in tune and able to enjoy it, or else we shall not be happy. We must have a nature in harmony with the element we live in, and the place where we dwell. Can a fish be happy out of water? We know it cannot. Well, without conversion of heart we could not be happy in heaven. Look round the neighborhood in which you live and the persons with whom you are acquainted. Think what many of them would do if they were cut off for ever from money, and business, and newspapers, and cards, and balls, and races, and hunting, and shopping, and worldly amusements! Would they like it? Think what they would feel if they were shut up forever with Jesus Christ, and saints, and angels! Would they be happy? Would the eternal company of Moses, and David, and St. Paul be pleasant to those who never take the trouble to read what those holy men wrote? Would heaven's everlasting praise suit the taste of those who can hardly spare a few minutes in a week for private religion, even for prayer? There is but one answer to be given to all these questions. We must be converted before we can enjoy heaven. Heaven would be no heaven to any child of Adam without conversion. Let no man deceive us. There are two things which are of absolute necessity to the salvation of every man and woman on earth. One of them is the mediatorial work of Christ for us, His atonement, satisfaction, and intercession. The other is the converting work of the Spirit in us, His guiding, renewing, and sanctifying grace. We must have both a title and a heart for heaven. Sacraments are only generally necessary to salvation: a man may be saved without them, like the penitent thief. An interest in Christ and conversion are absolutely necessary: without them no one can possibly be saved. All, all alike, high or low, rich or poor, old or young, gentle or simple, churchmen or dissenters, baptized or unbaptized, all must be converted or perish.