Sacraments, Yes or No?

Firstthings points to a flier for an upcoming conference by the Catholic Theological Society of America.  The point being that this is a ridiculous topic carried out in a ridiculous way.  One thing caught my eye immediately : The maxim that “God works through the sacraments, but God is not bound by the Sacraments.”

Wait, what?  Where does that come from?  If true, it would be a major difference between Roman and Lutheran doctrine.  We say that God works only through those means where he has promised.  If someone claims that God works through others means, then we can a priori dismiss them as a heretic.  Why? Because any other mans would be uncertain, and God works through certainty.

Now, we all know that Rome takes the Sacraments, keeps them filled with the substance, sometimes even going overboard on the substance, and then removes the assurance from them.  But to remove the certainty of the substance of the Sacraments seemed odd to me, even for Rome.

It turns out that Rome doesn’t do that.  In the Roman Catechism (scroll down to 1257) it says something different.  “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.”  They mean that God can save those who have not yet had the opportunity to be Baptized, not that God works through other means.

So, “God is not bound by the Sacraments” is not a “starting principle” at all.  It is a conclusion.   But then, Firstthings did post it as a parody of itself.


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