Response to “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry”

The 2013 Christian Scholars Conference is currently in progress. Gary Holloway asked me to present a paper that would respond to the ecumenical 1982 Lima “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.”

I have uploaded the paper on my Academic page and it is now available here.

The paper suggests that the great strength of the document is its fundamental theological orientation but that its weakness is its strongly institutional character.

To figure out what that means I guess one will have to read the paper.


John Mark

2 Responses to “Response to “Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry””

  1.   Clark Coleman Says:

    A very good response. I appreciated the theological language of the BEM document, as you did, but I wondered if it was all sincere. Does every member of the World Council of Churches truly affirm all of the salvation statements about baptism in BEM, for example? Or is this the false unity in which two groups, or two believers, affirm a certain statement and then one later explains their/his peculiar interpretation of the language used? Do we have unity on statements such as:

    “By baptism, Christians are immersed in the liberating death of Christ where their sins are buried, where the “old Adam” is crucified with Christ, and where the power of sin is broken. Thus those baptized are no longer slaves to sin, but free. Fully identified with the death of Christ, they are buried with him and are raised here and now to a new life in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, confident that they will also ultimately be one with him in a resurrection like his (Rom. 6:3–11; Col. 2:13,3:1; Eph. 2:5-6).”

    Or, does one group then say, “Of course, we also believe that there are other paths by which one can become free from sin, raised to a new life, etc.” while a second group (e.g. people like me) interprets these statements as direct affirmation of the necessity of baptism?

    •   John Mark Hicks Says:

      I don’t think there is any reason to doubt sincerity. However, the document binds no church. Rather, it is an attempt at convergence. What it does represent, however, a strong and high view of baptism and Eucharist among many historic churches and groups. It is a document for discussion..

      What one might find is that many (if not most) would affirm the theological meaning of baptism and Eucharist present here as the ordinary means of grace through which God works. They would not however–even among Orthodox and Catholic and Lutheran who talk about the “necessity” of baptism as well–limit God’s work in such a way that God could not or does not (in fact given circumstances) save without baptism. There, at least traditionally understood within history, extraordinary means that God sometimes uses in God’s own freedom.

      What is significant is that BEM reflects (at least with the B&E parts) a theological orientation that contrasts with the standard American Evangelical revivalism that has shaped American Christianity for 200 years. They are fundamentally non-sacramental. When see Christian history beyond the borders of Americana, we see a strong sacramentalism that is reflect in BEM and connected with the historic Christian faith (including the patristics).


      John Mark

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