This October, Dr. Brian Brewer, associate professor of Christian theology, published Martin Luther and the Seven Sacraments: A Contemporary Protestant Reappraisal.
"In the American expression of contemporary Protestant life, I have discovered that most Protestants have little to no real substantive understanding of the purpose of the sacraments or ordinances that we observe in our churches," Brewer said. "Baptism is often seen by evangelicals as an 'end' and not as a 'beginning' to the Christian life. The Lord’s Supper is often perceived as a ceremony we are required to do instead of a central symbol of the gospel."
In his book, Brewer explores the medieval church's understanding of the seven sacraments and the Protestant rationale for keeping or eliminating each sacrament. It also explores implications for contemporary theology and worship, helping Protestants imagine ways of reclaiming lost benefits of the seven sacraments.
"In researching the 'father of the Reformation,' I was surprised that while Luther dismissed the other five sacraments observed by the medieval church, he did not simultaneously strip most of these rites of their important roles as ceremonies within the church. For instance, while marriage was no longer seen by Luther as a strictly Christian institution (since it was designed by God in creation for all humans), there were particular ways husband and wife represented Christ and the church through their Christian union," Brewer said. "Thus, not only do Protestants need to understand better the ordinances we did keep but also the ceremonies we no longer see as sacraments or ordinances but which are theologically significant still."LEARN MORE