What are the sacraments? For centuries, this question has elicited a lively discussion and among theologians, and a variety of answers that do anything but outline a unified belief concerning these fundamental ritual structures.
In this extremely cohesive and well-crafted volume, a group of renowned scholars map the theologies of sacraments offered by key Christian figures from the Early Church through the twenty-first century. Together, they provide a guide to the variety of views about sacraments found throughout Christianity, showcasing the variety of approaches to understanding the sacraments across the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox faith traditions.
Chapters explore the theologies of thinkers from Basil to Aquinas, Martin Luther to Gustavo Gutiérrez. Rather than attempting to distill their voices into a single view, the book addresses many of the questions that theologians have tackled over the two thousand year history of Christianity. In doing so, it paves the way for developing theologies of sacraments for present and future contexts. The text places each theology of the sacraments into its proper sociohistorical context, illuminating how the church has used the sacraments to define itself and its congregations over time.
The definitive resource on theologies of the sacraments, this volume is a must-read for students, theologians, and spiritually interested readers alike.
"Behold: an instant classic compendium and textbook on the Christian sacraments. Justin Holcomb and David Johnson have created a coup with this beautifully organized, edited, and accessible “time-line” of essays on the historic disagreements concerning the means of grace, from the earliest days of the Church to the political theologies of today."
—Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl, Author of Grace in Practice
"Brings in many disparate and oftentimes unattended to voices so as to show how central the sacraments have been to the message and growth of the Christian people. It is a work to be welcomed by any student of theology interested in the richness and the diversity of ritual as well as the need to recover the link between worship and sanctity."
—Fr. David Meconi, SJ, Saint Louis University
“Exquisitely written.… Brings accessible and powerful insight into the history of sacramental understanding. It should become a new standard text for any graduate or undergraduate students seeking to gain proficiency or acumen in the world of sacramental theology.”
—Rev. Henry L Thompson, Dean and President, Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry
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