Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"total Christian?"

I am, at present, in the town library finishing up an assignment for one of my graduate classes for the week. The class I am working on right now is Reference in the Humanities. Basically, I am learning all about the information resources that can be used in reference servies in the library. This week's class focused on religion. This is one of the questions I had to answer:

Where could I find a well-written explanation and discssion of the sacraments of the Christian church? What I'm particularly interested in knowing is whether or not Protestants and Catholics have the same sacraments (and the same number of sacraments). Also, I'd like to know what the signifigance of each of the sacraments is. Does a person have to receive all of the sacraments to be a total Christian? What exactly is Extreme Unction? Does any other church, Christian or non-Christian, recognize this as a sacrament?

I have learned some interesting thigs because of this assignment. I've been doing web searches looking for the information. I have purposely stayed away from Lutheran resources, though, I think I am going to go back and look at some of them. I think it is important to branch out a bit and see what other religions and denominations have to say about things of this nature.

Here is one the sites I found that describes the signifigance of each sacrament. And what better place to find out about Extreme Unction than the Catholic Encyclopedia online?

As I look at this assignment one phrase really strikes fear in me. I look at this assignment as being a "real world" excercise. The phrase that scares me is: "Does a person have receive all the sacraments to be a total Christian?" Can you imagine the fear that someone might have if they asked that question? As Lutherans we have two Baptism and The Lord's Supper, or the Sacrament of the Altar. This whole question is very loaded and is wrought with potential pitfalls. It goes to prove, at least to me, how important it is to get right information to someone who needs it.

What exactly does it mean to be a "total Christian?" Am I a total Christian? I'm flawed, I know that, but I'm made pure by the Grace of God and my Salvation comes from God throgh His son Jesus Christ? Does the fact that I can make that statement and believe it whole heartedly make me a "total Christian?" I partake in the Sacrament of the Altar as often as I can, I pray regularly, and read the scriptures, do these things make me a "total Christian?" Or is it even simpler than that? Does the fact that I have faith in Jesus Christ make me a "total Christian?"

The "person" that asked this question is looking for some serious answers? What would I do in real life if something like this came up? How would I handle this? How would God work through me to minister to this patron? Would the answers I was able to find give comfort to the patron, or cause them more anxiety and perhaps drive them further from their own salvation?

Heady questions. Real heady.


jillymae said...

we are human beings, not human doings. it's about becoming, not be-doing.

just remember, it's not a religion. it's a relationship.

TKls2myhrt said...

Interesting post and interesting question. I'll give you an answer in the opposite fashion as you posed it. Coming from evangelicalism, based on one's "relationship" with Christ, (and in search of a much more omnipotent God that evangelicalism espouses), I too was floundering under the misconception that the sacraments were something one did in a mistaken attempt to reach God. In our Bible classes at our new church, I asked the pastor, "What are sacraments?" He had a very simple answer. Sacraments are things which Christ commanded us to do and which he promised to bless us through.

Having made the switch from a doing Christian to a receiving Christian, I find it odd that some Christians will claim a certain bible verse for their own life, but will continue to reject Christ's own words, "Do this in rememberance of me." In confessional Lutheran practice, I discovered a God so great that He reached out to me; I was able to finally quit doing things to please God and was able to accept his body, his blood and his promises.

Genuine Lustre said...

Take a look at the Confessions -- Luther never actually numbers the sacraments.

I'll think about these questions and get back with you.