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Guerrero, Hope JORDAN D. Methodist Doctrines Dr.

David Pascua

Master of Divinity, Senior Term Paper for 2010

HOLY BAPTISM AND HOLY COMMUNION


BY HOPE JORDAN D. GUERRERO the whole body of Christians being agreed, that Christ had ordained certain outward means, for conveying his grace into the souls of men. Their constant practice set this beyond all dispute; for so long as all that believed were together, and had all things common, (Acts 2:44,) they continued steadfastly in the teaching of the Apostles, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Verse 42.)1 By means of grace I understand outward signs, words, or actions, ordained of God, and appointed for this end, to be the ordinary channels whereby he might convey to men, preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace. The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and receiving the Lords supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him: And these we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men.2 The United Methodist Church, in agreement with the Anglican and Episcopal Churches, defines the visible Church of Christ as a congregation of faithful men in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments duly administered according to Christ's ordinance. 3 Thus, the church [sic] is not defined in terms of its organization or ministry, but in terms of three of the means of grace,4 namely, searching the Scriptures and the two Sacraments Baptism and the Holy Communion or Lords Supper. Of the ordinances mentioned in Wesleys The Means of Grace, only the Lords Supper is classified as a Sacrament because unlike the first two, the Eucharist has a visible sign, i.e., a material element. Although John Wesley does

John Wesley, The Means of Grace, I.1. Ibid., II.1. 3 Article XIII of the United Methodist Church; compare with Article XIX of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of 1662. 4 Ole E. Borgen, John Wesley on the Sacraments, (Zurich, Switzerland: the Publishing House of the United Methodist Church, 1972), p. 95.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero not mention Baptism as among the chief means of grace, there is no question that he regarded this ordinance as a powerful means of grace.5 What are the benefits we receive by baptism is the next point to be considered. And the first of these is, the washing away the guilt of original sin, by the application of the merits of Christs death.6 Wesley of course lists other benefits: by baptism we enter into a covenant with God, admitted into the Church and united to Christ, made into children of God, and made heirs to the kingdom of heaven. All these other benefits flow from that first benefit, that baptism according to Wesley actually washes away the guilt of original sin. It is this benefit which has in modern times become controversial among conservative and liberal segments of the Methodist Church that at best this doctrine has been ignored or at worst disbelieved and contradicted. This paper now intends to discuss the issue under the following heads, with a bibliography for further reading: Ordinances, But Not Sacraments?................................................................................................3 A Form of Religion Without the Power: Conservative and Liberal Perspectives........................5 The United Voice of Christianity: The Historical Protestant View of the Sacraments................8 Conclusion: The Methodist Understanding of the Sacraments..................................................63

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Ibid., p.121. Wesley, A Treatise on Baptism, II.1.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Ordinances, But Not Sacraments? There are those who, in using the term sacrament to apply to baptism, view it wrongly as a means of imparting some special grace. I realize that there are some who use the word sacrament without any such intended application. However, because of the wrong connotation given the term given the term by others, I prefer to call baptism an ordinance rather than a sacrament.7 The popularity of the devotional guide Our Daily Bread and the program Radio Bible Class in 702 DZAS AM radio among United Methodists for several decades now as well as the recent popularity of the book The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren has introduced a nonSacramental concept of both Baptism and the Holy Communion to Methodists. In fact, to believe in the Sacraments as a means of grace is seen by many Filipino Methodists as either Papist (by conservative/evangelical Methodists) or superstitious (by activist/liberal Methodists). Because of this, Baptism has become merely a dedication to God and the Eucharist as merely a commemoration of Christ. Many United Methodist pastors have been heard to preach a nonSacramentarian interpretation of the ordinances: I have witnessed a pastor have his daughter baptized after preaching that Baptism was merely a dedication. Methodist laypeople see Baptism only as a time for the family to get together to party, hence the practice of baptizing a child close to its first birthday: in short, Baptism just becomes as significant as an eighteen yearolds debut. As for the Holy Communion, the increasing view of it as a commemoration only has led many to regard it as some glorified snack: after Communion, I have witnessed young people (this happened in different local churches) rush to the Communion table and eat of the elements with the same manners as they would eat hamburgers and French fries. Sometimes, instead of bread and wine, I witnessed a Eucharist done with pineapple slices and pineapple juice, fish crackers and coke, rice cakes and ginger tea.
Richard W. De Haan, Baptism and the Lords Supper, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Radio Bible Class, 1982, 1994), p. 1.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Even though the prevailing belief nowadays in the United Methodist Church (UMC) is that the Ordinances, Baptism and the Holy Communion, do not convey any special grace because the only Scriptural means of grace is faith that cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God that stands apart from works or ritual, the Ordinances, more properly called Sacraments, are truly means by which people receive God's grace because not only does Christian tradition, which includes all original Protestant denominationsLutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican traditionsand especially Methodist tradition teach that the Ordinances are effective signs, i.e., means, of grace, but, and more importantly, the Scriptures itself plainly says that the ordinances convey either prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace as the receiver has need. In writing this paper, it is not my intent to persuade members of other denominations that they are wrong and thereby guilt-trip them to be of my opinion. To non-Methodists who may read this paper, I say with Wesley, Keep you your opinion; I, mine, 8 and let us be at peace. My objective goal is the same as Wesleys when he wrote To the Reader in A Preservative against Unsettled Notions in Religion in 1758: My design is not to reclaim, but to preserve; not to convince those who are already perverted, but to prevent the perversion of others. I do not therefore enter deep into the controversy even with Deists, Socinians, Arians, or Papists; much less with those who are not so dangerously mistaken, Mystics, Quakers, Anabaptists, Presbyterians, Predestinarians, or Antinomians. I only recite, under each head, a few plain arguments, which, by the grace of God, may farther confirm those who already know the truth as it is in Jesus. I am of the opinion that the real reason why the United Methodist Church (UMC) in the Philippines seems to be stagnating is not because she has an out-dated organization nor because she has lost sight of its mission. No, I believe that the decline of the UMC is because many of her local churches no longer fit the definition of a visible Church of Christ: the pure Word of God is
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Wesley, Catholic Spirit, II.1.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero no longer proclaimed and, most significantly, the Sacraments are no longer duly administered. While the UMC may be considered still a part of the invisible Church of Christ, as a visible Church she seems to have lost her witness as a Christian body. Some evangelical denominations (mostly Baptist) even question if the UMC is a Christian Church at all, but for different reasons than what I am proposing. Some other liberals, especially the activists, doubt if the UMC is faithful to Christs mandate to set the captives free. But I have a different take on the phrase. A Form of Religion Without the Power: Conservative and Liberal Perspectives Ulrich Zwingli, a Swiss reformer, taught that the Lords Supper is a memorial or reminder of Christs sacrifice, an affirmation of faith, and a sign of Christian fellowship. Although his name may be unfamiliar, Zwinglis views are widely shared today, especially within evangelical churches.9 One of the reasons why the prevailing belief nowadays in the UMC is that the Ordinances, i.e., Sacraments, do not convey any special grace because is because of the influence of nonMethodist theologies that they absorb through such radio programs as the Radio Bible Class and its related devotional guide, Our Daily Bread. Even the name of the devotional suggests that the bread is not the element found in the Lords Supper but the Scriptures themselves. One of the writers of the said devotional, Richard W. De Haan, wrote a tract entitled Baptism and the Lords Supper as a supplement. In it, he deals firstly with what he and others call sacramentalism: for many it [the term sacrament] still refers to something that provides a special means of grace. These people think of salvation as a combination of faith, good works, and the sacraments. The biblical teaching of salvation by grace through faith alone has been lost to them.10

This Holy Mystery: A United Methodist Understanding of Holy Communion, (Nashville, TN: The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, 2004), p. 4. 10 De Haan, p. 2.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero The primary theology the tract aims to attack is Roman Catholic theology, as De Haan enumerates the seven Romish sacraments and then proceeds to debunk them: The idea of supernatural bestowment of grace through the ritual is prominent in each of these seven sacraments. We dont see it this way. Rather than recognizing seven sacraments which are claimed to impart some spiritual graces, we observe only two ordinances: baptism [sic] and the Lords Supper. We see them as symbolizing certain spiritual realities.11 By we, De Haan probably means we Protestants, seeing that at present the only Christians who recognize two Ordinances are Protestants. And in fact, many Protestants, especially evangelicals (see above quote), share De Haans theology. One reason is that De Haan and others like him associates the concept of seven Sacraments with the concept of Sacraments as means of grace. Thus, by virtue of guilt by association, De Haan implies that to believe in the Sacraments as a means of grace is to be steeped in the false doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, something which no self-respecting evangelical Protestant wants to be found guilty of. Thus, to avoid being accused of sacramentalism, i.e., legalism, many evangelical Protestants, including many conservative Methodists, hold that the Ordinances are just symbols. Because of the misleading connotation attached to the word sacrament, I repeat my conviction that we should be very careful to refer to the ordinances rather than the sacraments of the church. So important is it that we make plain the way of salvation by grace through faithapart from works or ritualthat even in our terminology we must avoid giving the impression that baptism has any saving power.12 Another reason that shows why the prevailing belief nowadays in the UMC is that the Ordinances, Baptism and the Holy Communion, do not convey any special grace is not only because of the evangelical or fundamentalistic belief that the only Scriptural means of

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Ibid., p. 4. Ibid., pp. 2-3.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero grace is "faith that cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" that stands apart from works or ritual is liberal theology, with its anti-supernatural bias. I find in these [liberal] theologians a constant use of the principle that the miraculous does not occur.13 In the 19th century, self-identified liberal Christians sought to elevate Jesus' humane teachings as a standard for a world civilization freed from cultic traditions and traces of "pagan" belief in the supernatural. As a result, liberal Christians placed less emphasis on miraculous events associated with the life of Jesus than on his teachings. The effort to remove "superstitious" elements from Christian faith dates to intellectual reformist Christians such as Erasmus and the Deists in the 15th17th centuries.14 Just like the conservative/evangelical Christian, liberal/postmodern Christians tend to regard official Roman Catholic theology as superstitious. Thus, any concept that divine grace is communicated supernaturally to people is viewed by a liberal Christian skeptically at best or greeted with outright hostility in worst-case-scenarios. For those liberals who believe in the basic goodness of humanity, to suggest that people are sinners and need supernatural grace to do even the most basic good is very (even extremely) offensive. This is especially true of liberation theologians who believe more in the corruption of social structures rather than the sinfulness of individuals. Thus, from a liberation perspective, the Sacraments are less a means of grace and more of being another arena whereby one may be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. The Lords Supper often is interpreted as something like a feeding program. As both conservative and liberal viewpoints are present in the UMC in the Philippines, the overall effect is general tendency to see the Ordinances merely as symbols (especially to conservatives) or as metaphors (for liberals). Both parties do not see anything particularly
13 C. S. Lewis, Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism, Christian Reflections, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 158. 14 Liberal Christianity, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, (last modified on 25 May 2010 at 17:02), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Christianity.htm#Liberal_Christian_beliefs; cf. Burton L. Mack, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (HarperCollins, 1993), p. 29, & Linda Woodhead, "Christianity," in Religions in the Modern World (Routledge, 2002), pp. 186, 193.

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero supernatural in the Sacraments, and to hold a belief in them as means of grace would be viewed as either legalistic by conservative evangelicals (if not downright idolatrous) or primitive by liberals; both would judge such belief as superstitious, and therefore as irrational. Here, at least, conservatives and liberals seem to be in agreement. In fact, the term conservative is actually a misnomer: a truly conservative Methodist would conserve Methodist doctrine, not go against it or teach anything contrary to it. Therefore, those conservatives are not really Methodist in fact: they are actually crypto-Baptists. Liberal theology, on the other hand, is just the offspring of one of Methodisms theological enemies: Deism. Thus has Methodism been infiltrated in doctrine and practice. The United Voice of Christianity: The Historical Protestant View of the Sacraments Baptism truly saves in whatever way it is administered, if only it is administered not in the name of man, but in the name of the Lord. Indeed, I have no doubt that if anyone receives baptism in the name of the Lord, even if the wicked minister should not give it in the name of the Lord, he would be truly baptized in the name of the Lord. It is therefore indeed correct to say that baptism is a washing away of sins15 Before I go into the Wesleyan (by which I mean both John and Charles) understanding of the Sacraments, it would do well first to discuss exactly what Protestants believe, lest any misunderstand Wesleyan ecclesiology with Popery when actually it was not only within the Protestant tradition but was also diametrically opposed to any Roman Catholic understanding of the Sacraments. Almost always, the enemy targeted by both conservatives and liberals has been traditional Roman Catholicism. To be a true Protestant (whether conservative or liberal) one
Martin Luther, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luthers Works, Volume 36: Word and Sacrament II, (Philadelphia: Muhlenburg Press, 1959), pp. 63-64, 68.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero had to reject the superstitions of Roman Catholicism, which happens to include the belief that the Ordinances are means of grace. Thus, since a Methodist is also a Protestant, is became widely assumed that Methodists should hold the belief that the two Sacraments are not effective means of grace but mere symbols of some spiritual, yet non-literal truth. It is assumed that a Protestant does not believe that Baptism actually washes away sinsit is merely as symbol, a metaphor what the Holy Spirit does; the Eucharist serves merely as a reminder of the price Christ paid for our salvation. Thus, when evangelicals, even within the UMC, are told about the Sacramental theology of the Wesleys and early Methodism, they assume that John and Charles Wesley were what they were accused to be: Papists in disguise. They have become ashamed of their Wesleyan heritage, and seek to nullify the theological contributions of the Wesleys as their sacramentalism is not Protestant enough for true, born again Christians. Some even assume that Wesley taught works-righteousness, not only because of his Arminian theology but especially because of his sacramentalism. Wesley has become a Roman Catholic in disguise. Yet it is inaccurate to say that a Protestant by definition does not believe in the Ordinances as means of grace. In fact, all original Protestants from the Reformation era believed that the Sacraments did convey grace. Not that there was any power in the Sacraments in themselves, but that the grace conveyed by them cannot be received but by faith. As seen in the quote from Martin Luther abovehe who is the acknowledged father of Protestantismeven he believed in the efficacy of the Sacraments, provided that faith is present, otherwise the Sacraments in themselves cannot convey grace to anyone if faith is absent. Luther himself explains: I should be ready to admit that in this sense the sacraments [sic] of the New Law are efficacious in conferring grace, not only to those who do not, but even to those who do most obstinately present an obstacle. What obstacle cannot be removed by

Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero the faith of the church and the prayer of faith? Do we not believe that Stephen converted Paul the Apostle by this power? [Acts 7:58-8:1] But then the sacraments do what they do not by their own power, but by the power of faith, without which they do nothing at all, as I have said.16 Few know that Luther believed such Catholic doctrines regarding the Sacraments. Indeed, many evangelicals are surprised when they encounter a Lutheran for the first time, mistaking one for a Roman Catholic. But is not only Luther who believes that the Sacraments effectively confer grace: It is irrational to contend that sacraments are not manifestations of divine grace toward us It is certain, therefore, that the Lord offers us his mercy, and a pledge of his grace, both in his sacred word [sic] and in the sacraments Augustine, when intending to intimate this, said the efficacy of the word is produced in the sacrament, not because it is spoken, but because it is believed. We conclude, therefore, that the sacraments are truly termed evidences of divine grace, and, as it were, seals of goodwill which he entertains toward us. They, by sealing it to us, sustain, nourish, confirm, and increase our faith. The objections usually urged against this view are frivolous and weak.17 Apparently, John Calvin, though he is closer to Ulrich Zwingli in his understanding of the Sacraments, he still apparently believed that they do convey grace, if only to believers. And like Luther, he similarly denies that the Sacraments in themselves are effective means of grace, though for a different reason than Luthers: with regard to the increase and confirmation of faith, I would remind the reader it is not as if I thought that there is a kind of secret efficacy perpetually inherent in them The sacraments duly perform their office only when accompanied by the Spirit, the internal Master, whose energy alone penetrates hearts, stirs up the affections, and procures access for the sacraments into our souls.18

Ibid., pp. 73-74. John Calvin, Of the Sacraments, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986; originally published in 1845 for the Calvin Translation Society), Book IV, Chapter XIV.7, pp. 495-496. 18 Ibid., Book IV, Chapter XIV.9, p. 497.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero We receive the sacraments of Baptism and the Lords Supper, alone divinely established and committed to the Church, together with the Word, as means of grace; made effectual only by the Holy Spirit19 While for Luther, the efficacy of the Sacraments as means of grace is primarily tied in with the recipients faith (or the sponsors faith in the case of infants), 20 Calvin emphasized the sovereign will of God through the Holy Spirit. Yet both their belief in the Sacraments as means of grace apparently did not mean that they believed in salvation as a combination of faith, good works and the Sacraments. Indeed, both men emphasized the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, Luther being its loudest teacher. While Calvin denied that Baptism washes away Original Sin (or any sin for that matter)disagreeing with Luther that Baptism does wash away sinCalvin believes that in Baptism, sin is forgiven as to the guilt:21 It will, perhaps, be objected, Why did Ananias say to Paul that he washed away his sins by baptism (Acts 22:16), if sins are not washed away by the power out baptism? I answer, that Ananias meant to say was, Be baptized, Paul, that you may be assured that your sins are forgiven you. In baptism, the Lord promises forgiveness of sins: receive it, and be secure. I have no intention, however, to detract from the power of baptism. But from this sacrament, as for all others, we gain nothing unless in so far as we receive in faith.22 As with Luther, Calvin believes that faith is necessary so one can receive the grace conveyed by the Sacraments. While he denied the ability of Baptism to wash away sins, Calvin apparently believes with Luther that Baptism contributes to the second birth.23 Calvin, it seems, believes that when a child is baptized that child is born again! Both Luther and Calvin, the original giants of Protestantism, would have disagreed with De Haan in this important point

Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith: Adopted, May 22, 1902, by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, Article XIV, The Hymnal, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1945), p. xliii. 20 Luther, Babylonian Captivity, p. 73-74. 21 Calvin, op. cit., Chapter XV.10 & 12n, pp. 517-518, 519. 22 Ibid., Chap. XV.15, pp. 520-521. 23 Ibid., Chap. XV.17-31, pp. 540-554.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero alone, even as they have disagreed with the Anabaptists of their day. Calvins dislike of Servetus was not only the latters denial of the Trinity, but Servetus disbelief in infant baptism as well!24 In fact, for Calvin, the Sacrament of Baptism, especially infant baptism (Pdobaptism) is the basis for his doctrine of perseverance of saints, that is, being once saved, always saved: Nor is it to be supposed that baptism is bestowed only with reference to the past, so that, in regard to new lapses into which we fall after baptism, we must seek new remedies of expiation in other so-called sacraments, just as if the power of baptism had become obsolete. We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism, and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though, when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it wipes and washes away all our defilements.25 Doubtless the design of Satan in assaulting paedobaptism with all his forces is to keep out of view, and gradually efface, that attestation of divine grace which the promise itself presents to our eyes.26 Furthermore, Luther speaks of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper: There is, in the first place, the sin that remains in our flesh after baptism: Therefore in order to strengthen and encourage us against this same sin, God gives us this sacrament, King David speaks thus of this bread, The bread strengthens a mans heart [Ps. 104:15] And the Scriptures in numerous places ascribe to this sacrament the property of strengthening, as in Acts 9 of St. Paul, He was baptized, and when he had received the food [bread?], he was strengthened.27 For here in the Sacrament you are to receive from the lips of Christ forgiveness of sin which contains and brings with it the grace of God and the Spirit with all His

Ibid., Chap. VVI.31-32, pp. 550-554; Calvin seems to call those who oppose infant baptism as among the forces of Satan: it is then increasingly strange that many Baptists call themselves Calvinists or Reformed Baptists when Calvin himself apparently numbered them among Satans followers. 25 Ibid., Chap. XV.3, p. 514. 26 Ibid., Chap. VVI.32, p. 554; Calvin calls those who oppose infant baptism Satan: why then do Baptists call themselves Calvinists when Calvin would apparently call them Satanists? 27 Luther, The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, Luthers Works, Volume 35: Word and Sacrament I, (Philadelphia: Muhlenburg Press, 1959), p. 53.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero gifts, protection, shelter, and power against death and the devil and all misfortune.28 And as for Calvins view of the Lords Supper: To this end, he has given another sacrament to his Church by the hand of his onlybegotten Son viz. a spiritual feast, at which Christ testifies that he himself is living bread (John 6:51), on which our souls feed, for a true and blessed immortality. First, then, the signs are bread and wine, which represent the invisible food which we receive from the body and blood of Christ. For as God, regenerating us in baptism [thus Calvin also believes in baptismal regeneration!], performs the office of a provident parent, in continually supplying the food by which he may sustain and preserve us in the life to which he has begotten us by his word. Moreover, Christ is the only food of our soul, and, therefore, our heavenly Father invites us to him, that, refreshed by communion with him, we may ever and anon gather new vigor until we reach the heavenly immortality. the familiarity of the similitude giving it access to minds however dull, and showing that souls are fed by Christ just as the corporeal life is sustained by bread and wine.29 So not only did both Luther and Calvin believe in baptismal regeneration (which De Haan disbelieves), but they, the acknowledged fathers of Protestantism, also believed that the Lords Supper conveys saving and sanctifying grace. As for the Anglican understanding of the Sacramentsthe immediate context of Wesleyan Sacramental theologyit suffices to quote directly from the Book of Common Prayer. Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him. There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.30 Concerning the Anglican understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism:
_____, Of The Sacrament of the Altar, The Large Catechism, (Albany, Oregon: Books For The Ages, AGES Software Version 2.0, 1996), p. 128. 29 Calvin, op. cit., Chap. XVII.1, p. 557; that Calvin believed in Baptisms role in the born again experience shows that he is so unlike many who would call themselves Calvinists nowadays, including John MacArthur. 30 Article 25: Of the Sacraments, Book of Common Prayer (BCP) of the Church of England, 1662.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Dearly beloved, forasmuch as all men are conceived and born in sin: [(and that which is born of the flesh is flesh,) and they that are in the flesh cannot please God, but live in sin, committing many actual transgressions;] and that our Saviour Christ saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be regenerate and born anew of Water and of the Holy Ghost: I beseech you to call upon God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that of his bounteous mercy he will grant to this Child [these persons] that thing which by nature he [they] cannot have; that he [they] may be baptized with Water and the Holy Ghost, and received into Christ's holy Church, and be made a lively member of the same.31 Baptism is not only a sign of profession and mark of difference whereby Christian men are discerned from other that be not christened, but is also a sign of regeneration or new birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God, by the Holy Ghost are visibly signed and sealed; faith is confirmed, and grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The baptism of young children is in any wise to be retained in the Church as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.32 De Haan states in his tract that his primary disagreement is with those who make water baptism essential to salvationwho teach that it actually washes away sin or contributes to the new birth.33 Calvin would have agreed with the first contention, but not with the second; Luther would have disagreed with both contentions. Anglican theology, considered the middle way between Lutheran and Calvinist theology, apparently does understand water baptism as essential to salvation and actually does teach that Baptism actually washes away sin or contributes to the new birth. Two out of three, original, historical Protestantism disagrees with De Haan and others who believe as he does, and even Calvinism only partially agrees with him. Thus, De Haans theology on the ordinance of Baptism does not represent historical Protestantism at all if Zwingli is discounted. In fact, Anabaptists (theological ancestors of the Baptists) were not even considered Protestant but a heretical sect. Therefore, it does not necessarily follow that if one believes in the Sacraments as means of grace that one is
Publick Baptism of Infants, with the words in brackets from The Ministration of Publick Baptism to Such as are of Riper Years, and Able to Answer for Themselves, BCP 1662. 32 Article XXVII. Of Baptism. BCP 1662. 33 De Haan, op. cit., p. 5.
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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero automatically in error or is not a true Protestant, seeing that original Protestant theology Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglicantaught exactly what De Haan condemns. While De Haan in his tract did not say anything directly against seeing the Lords Supper as a means of grace, he did make it clear that the ordinance is a memorial and symbolic observance, sounding a lot like Zwingli.34 He then proceeds to condemn the Roman Catholic doctrines of Transubstantiation and the sacrifice of the Roman Mass.35 Though not directly, De Haan seems to imply that believing in the Lords Supper as a means of grace is based on the preceding Roman Catholic doctrines. Furthermore, when De Haan notes another characteristic of a proper observance of the Lords Supper in addition to symbolic commemoration, he says: Remembering our Lord as we gather for communion, we should be very conscious of our oneness in the Lord with our fellow believers. We should see them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we do, there is brotherly consideration, 36 Yet remembering the Lutheran and Reformed theology of the Eucharist, let us proceed to the Anglican understanding of the Lords Supper: The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ. Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

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Ibid., pp. 17, 24. Ibid., pp. 20-22. 36 De Haan, op. cit., p. 32.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.37 While Anglican Sacramental theology does not discount another characteristic of a proper observance of the Lords Supper as sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, it is not merely that (as De Haan seems to suggest) but as an effectual means of grace, even the grace of our redemption by Christ's death, i.e., saving grace. And the Anglican does not have to believe in Transubstantiation (or Consubstantiation, for that matter) to believe in the Eucharist as a means of grace. Neither does the Anglican have to believe in the sacrifice of the Roman Mass: The offering of Christ once made is the perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual, and there is none other satisfaction for sin but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said that the priests did offer Christ for the quick and the dead to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits.38 As shown in this section, original, historical Protestantism taught and still teach that the Ordinances are effective signs, i.e., means, of grace. Indeed, if by De Haans definition anyone who teaches baptismal regeneration are Papist, then Martin Luther and John Calvin, both implacable foes of Roman Catholicism, are Papist. This absurdity is lost on many who assume that the Baptist theological framework defines what a Protestant is, when it really does not. Historically, Anabaptists and their descendants the Baptists and Mennonites were considered outside the Protestant movement, even heretical (as Calvin regarded Servetus who was burned at the stake not only for denying the Trinity but opposing infant baptism).

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Article XXVIII. Of the Lord's Supper. BCP 1662. Article XXXI. Of the one oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross. BCP 1662.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Of course, there are many differences between Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican Sacramental theology, e.g., Lutherans believe in Consubstantiation while both Calvinists and Anglicans do not. Yet all these original Protestant theologies agree that the Holy Communion is an effectual means of grace. In this, historical Protestantism agrees in general with the rest of historical Christian theology, both Western and Eastern, though in many respects Protestant sacramental theology leans closer to Western tendencies, both Lutheranism and Calvinism being the closest. The Church of England, however, has drawn from patristic studies that in many respects her sacramental theology has ties to Eastern theology. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the reintroduction of the invocation to the Holy Spirit, the epiclesis, in Cranmers original liturgy of the Lords Supper. This would influence later non-jurors, and, through them, Wesley. Wesleyan Ecclesiology and Sacramental Theology Unlike the development of most Christian teaching, the doctrine of the church has never received the kind of attention and debate that could result in a clear definition and explanation of the nature of the church.39 Like the above quote by Mark H. Senter III, one observes that even a Methodist bishop assumes that one of the least well-defined areas of United Methodist doctrine is its ecclesiology,40 yet Kenneth J. Collins rightly points out that such a statement would not be an apt description of the thought of John Wesley,41 and neither is the observation by Mark Senter at all accurate. There has, in fact, a whole lot of attention and debate regarding the definition and explanation of the nature of the Church. Indeed, the Church of Englandand the Methodists by extensionhas a clear definition and explanation of the nature of the church.
Mark H. Senter III, Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan publishing House, 2001), p. xi. 40 Scott Jones, United Methodist Doctrine: The Extreme Center (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1984-87), p. 246. 41 Kenneth J. Collins, The Theology of John Wesley: Holy Love and the Shape of Grace (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007), p. 238.
39

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.42 As already observed, the official Methodist definition of the Church is taken directly from the Articles of Religion of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (BCP). The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of the faithful who gather in Christs name and dispense Gods grace through the preaching of the pure Word of God and the administration of the Sacraments. Wesley, however, was actually more inclusive than what the Articles of both the Church of England and the UMC: In which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments be duly administered. According to this definition, those congregations in which the pure word of God (a strong expression) is not preached are no parts either of the Church of England, or the Church catholic: as neither are those in which the sacraments are not duly administered. I will not undertake to defend the accuracy of this definition. I dare not exclude from the Church catholic all those congregations in which any unscriptural doctrines, which cannot be affirmed to be the pure word of God, are sometimes, yea, frequently preached; neither all those congregations, in which the sacraments are not duly administered.43 Wesleys definition of a Church is one based on Ephesians 4:4-6, Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Here, then, is a clear unexceptionable answer to that question, What is the Church? The catholic or universal Church is, all the persons in the universe whom God hath so called out of the world as to entitle them to the preceding character, as to be one body, united by one Spirit; having one faith, one hope, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all.
42 Article XIX. Of the Church. BCP 1662; the wording of Article XIIIOf the Church of the Methodist Articles of Religion are similar, the only differences being punctuation and that the second clause of the Anglican article, As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith, has been removed by Wesley from the Article he sent to the American Methodists.. 43 Wesley, Of the Church, 18 & 19; this sermon was first published in The Arminian Magazine 1786.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero A particular Church may, therefore, consist of any number of members, whether two or three, or two or three millions. But still, whether they be larger or smaller, the same idea is to be reserved. They are one body, and have one Spirit, one Lord, one hope, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.44 Wesley observes that the nineteenth Article of the Anglican Church is exactly agreeable to the passage found in Ephesians, but significantly noting that by defining the Church as where the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered the Anglican definition goes beyond what the Scriptures actually says. Thus, Wesley states that the Scriptural definition of the Church is much more inclusive than the narrow definition of the Church of England. Yet it is significant that when Wesley abridged the Thirty-nine Articles to Twenty-four, he retains that very definition in the Methodist Article Thirteen, albeit without the second sentence. Thus, while the universal Church, a.k.a. the invisible Church encompasses all that are holy in their living, hence the term holy catholic/universal Church, from a Protestant point of view, the visible Church is by definition a congregation of believers where the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments duly administered according to Christs ordinance. If we are to adopt a middle way between the definition of the universal Church and the visible Church, a Church by definition is a group of believers where the Word of God is taught and the sacraments are administered. Preaching the Word of God, of course, is one of the key hallmarks of Methodism. What is not so well known is that the Sacraments were just as important to early Methodism. Indeed, Wesley critiqued the under-emphasis of the Sacraments in the Protestant churches of his day, particularly in his own Church of England and especially among the Moravian Church. Therefore, John and Charles Wesley both emphasized the role of the Sacraments in the order of salvation, for in their view, this emphasized that salvation was truly by grace, not by
44

Ibid., 14 & 15b.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero works and definitely not by right opinions. Sacraments are a part of the Scriptural way of salvation. That is why Wesley was so concerned about having ordained ministers in America in the aftermath of the Revolution there: Wesley was adamantly opposed to lay administration of the Sacraments as, for him, the Sacraments can never be duly administered via lay presidency. Thus, for the Methodist Church in America to be truly a visible Church of Christ they needed ordained clergy for the proper administration of the Sacraments. It is this definition that those whose ecclesiology is congregational will always reject. For the majority of evangelical theology is congregational in ecclesiology, much of which has infected the United Methodist Church, the most prominent example has been the books The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life. Yet even such mainstays as the devotional guide Our Daily Bread reflect such congregational views: the Scriptures are the daily bread spoken of, and the expression breaking of bread no longer means the Eucharist but the reading of the Scriptures. This congregational influence is evident in the singing of Break thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me right after the Scripture reading in many Methodist churches. Thus, in evangelical circles even in the UMC, no longer is the church defined in terms of the three of the means of grace, but in terms of its organization or ministry, or, as Wayne Grudem calls it, the three purposes/ministries: ministry to God, ministry to believers, and ministry to the world.45 Ultimately the church is a worshipping community. The chief end of man, says the Westminster Shorter Confession, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. While participation in church will satisfy many human needs, the ultimate purpose of the faith community is to lift peoples eyes from their human condition and fix them on the Creator-Redeemer.46

45 46

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), pp. 867-868. Senter, op. cit., p. xi.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Unfortunately, by defining a Church in this way one exposes it to the danger of workssalvation, true legalism. For we are all sinners, each of us who cannot lift up so much as our eyes unto heaven because of our human condition.47 Unless we acknowledge and not ignore our human condition as sinners in need of grace, all our worship and ministry is not only unacceptable but even offensive to God!48 This is why the definition of the Church by the means of grace is important to teach people that it is not who we are, but because of what God has donenot because of what we have done, but because of who God is: a Church cannot be truly a Church unless it admits its need for grace and receives the same from God. And so Methodists need to go back to the classical definition of a Church if only to avoid spiritual pride. Modern Methodism, for all practical purposes, must be considered Pelagian, with little spiritual power and very limited intercourse with God in the lives of the individuals. The sacraments have become empty, mere signs; the Word has lost the high place it should have in the devotional life of the believer, and prayer has often become purely formalistic or non-existent.49 Although Borgen paints a harsh picture of Methodism during the 1970s, his assessment of Methodism today may just be as accurate for the Philippine Methodists: by de-emphasizing the means of grace and instead emphasizing modern and ethnic expressions of worship and/or ministry, the UMC in the Philippines has forgotten that it is not about how many successful activities a local church, district, or conference can muster, nor how many ministries they can report, but on how faithful they are to attending to the means of grace. By the mature Wesleys own definition, a particular church is a congregation of faithful people, (caetus credentium, the words in our Latin edition,) among whom the word of God is preached, and the
Luke 18:13, And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 48 Isaiah 1:15, And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 49 Borgen, op. cit., p. 281.
47

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero sacraments duly administered. Here is a true logical definition, containing both the essence and the properties of a church.50 Thus, we have seen that John Wesleys ecclesiology is closely tied not only to the preaching of Gods Word but also to the Sacraments: these are the means whereby humans receive Gods graceand as the Scriptures says, we are saved by grace. 51 As has already been observed by Borgen (quoted at the beginning of this paper), a Church is not defined either by its organization (as often insisted by liberals) nor by its ministry or worship (as generally thought by conservatives), but by these three means of grace. It therefore behooves Methodists to return to means of grace. But for the purposes of this paper, the discussion will center on the two Sacraments: Baptism and the Holy Communion. The Sacrament of Baptism Baptism, therefore, serves the same function as the other instituted means of grace. God has so ordained that through this ordinance his grace is channeled to the baptizand according to his sate and needs. It parallels closely the various aspects of the Lords Supper, with one major distinction that Baptism is initiatory; its function is to commence what the Lords Supper (with the other means of grace as well) are basically designed to preserve and develop: a life of faith and holiness.52 While Wesley did not include in his sermon, The Means of Grace, the Sacrament of Baptism, he did give an independent treatment of this Sacrament in a treatise of its own. Actually, as Maddox observes, The reason for its [Baptisms] omission [from Wesleys lists] was that it is not a repeated means for the progressive nurturing of holiness, as were the other means on the lists.53 Furthermore, Wesleys Arminian theology recognized that whatever grace
Wesley, On the Church, (Plymouth-Dock, August 19, 1785). Ephesians 2:5-10. 52 Borgen, p. 122. 53 Randy L. Maddox, Responsible Grace: John Wesleys Practical Theology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994), p. 222.
51 50

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero was acquired in Baptism may be lost. In Wesleys actual experience, he has encountered many who, though baptized at birth, have become notorious sinners. Say not then in your heart, I was once baptized, therefore I am now a child of God. Alas, that consequence will by no means hold. How many are the baptized gluttons and drunkards, the baptized liars and common swearers, the baptized railers and evil-speakers, the baptized whoremongers, thieves, extortioners? What think you? Are these now the children of God? Verily, I say unto you, whosoever you are, unto whom any one of the preceding characters belongs, Ye are of your father the devil, and the works of your father ye do. Unto you I call, in the name of Him whom you crucify afresh, and in his words to your circumcised predecessors, Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?54 So, according to Wesley, a person who was made into a child of God at Baptism may later actually resist the grace given then and be made into a child of the devil. Thus, what Wesley attacks here is the Predestinarian doctrine of perseverance, and not the doctrine of baptismal regeneration! Here, he is not making a case that baptismal regeneration did not make one a child of God, but that it was no guarantee that one would remain a child of God if one resisted the grace conferred then at Baptism. Wesleys Arminian theology comes to the surface. In fact, while Wesley would say that baptism is not the new birth,55 he would also say in the same sermon, It is certain our Church supposes that all who are baptized in their infancy are at the same time born again; and it is allowed that the whole Office for the Baptism of Infants proceeds upon this supposition.56 He is able to say this because, for Wesley, Baptism as a Sacrament was a means for regeneration, not the ends in itself. And since one may resist Gods grace, the grace received at Baptism may later be resisted and thereby lost. Therefore, ones assurance of salvation cannot
54 55

Wesley, The Marks of the New Birth, IV.3. ______, The New Birth, IV.1. 56 Ibid., IV.2.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero ever rest on Baptism apart from the faith of the person who was baptized. In other words, one is truly born again when baptized as an infant, yes, but that same infant can lose the status of being born again if, when older as a child or adult, that person resists and/or rejects the same grace. Thus, while for Calvin, that at whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life57 and that in Baptism, there is Forgiveness not only of past but also of future sins,58 it was never so for Wesley, who saw Baptism as not a juridical guarantee of salvation [as both Lutherans and Roman Catholics believe] or a source of irresistible grace [as believed by Calvinists], and so it is always possible to neglect the empowering Presence that it conveys and eventually quench the pardoning relationship that it signifies.59 I tell a sinner, You must be born again. No, say you: He was born again in baptism. Therefore he cannot be born again now. Alas, what trifling is this! What, if he was then a child of God? He is now manifestly a child of the devil; for the works of his father he doeth. Therefore, do not play upon words. He must go through an entire change of heart. In one not yet baptized, you yourself would call that change, the new birth. In him [who is already baptized], call it what you will; but remember, meantime, that if either he or you die without it, your baptism will be so far from profiting you, that it will greatly increase your damnation.60 While this idea is admittedly suspect in some Western traditions, it resonates strongly with the co-operant nature of baptismal grace affirmed by Eastern Christianity.61 Notice then Wesleys Arminian theology informing his understanding of grace: once in grace does not necessarily mean always in grace. A child of God can become prodigal, and thereby lost and dead to God. Yet notice that Wesley never denied that a person who was now a child of the devil was once a child of God. A Calvinist may conclude that notwithstanding Baptism, if a person remained a notorious sinner, then evidently that person was never saved at
57 58

Calvin, Institutes, Chap. XV.3, p. 514. Ibid., Section 3, p.512. 59 Maddox, op. cit., p. 223. 60 Wesley, A Farther Appeal to Men of Reason and Religion, Part 1, I.5, note the italics in the original. 61 Maddox, op. cit., p. 223.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero all. This is not how Wesley proceeds: he grants that one may have been truly born again, really saved from damnation, and still may fall away from saving grace. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the means are not the ends: Baptism is not itself the grace it conveys. But what grace exactly does Baptism convey? Before I read Wesley, I assumed that the grace given was an extra measure of prevenient grace: my own experience seemed to suggest that baptized infants tended to be more conscientious and moral than non-baptized infants. And yet I also knew that prevenient grace was also given to all infants born into the world, whether they are baptized or not. To clarify this, I consulted Wesleys Treatise on Baptism and I received a shock: apparently, the grace conveyed at Baptism was justifying grace! But; as by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men, to justification of life. And the virtue of this free gift, the merits of Christs life and death, are applied to us in baptism. He gave himself for the Church, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; (Ephesians 5:25, 26;) namely, in baptism, the ordinary instrument of our justification. Agreeably to this, our Church prays in the baptismal office, that the person to be baptized may be washed and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, and, being delivered from Gods wrath, receive remission of sins, and enjoy the everlasting benediction of his heavenly washing; and declares in the Rubric at the end of the office, It is certain, by Gods word, that children who are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin are saved.62 Furthermore, Wesley, as already seen and again in agreement with the Church of England, says that Baptism conveys regenerating grace: This is grounded on the plain words of our Lord: Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5.) By water then, as a means, the water of baptism, we are regenerated or born again; whence it is also called by the Apostle, the washing of regeneration. Our Church therefore ascribes no greater virtue to baptism than Christ himself has done. Nor does he ascribe it to the outward washing, but to the inward grace, which, added thereto, makes it a sacrament. Herein a principle of grace is infused,
62

Wesley, A Treatise on Baptism, II.1.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero which will not be wholly taken away, unless we quench the Holy Spirit of God by long-continued wickedness.63 Therefore, to De Haans questions, [1] Does baptism save? [2] Does it wash away sin? [3] Does it contribute in any way to the new birth?64 Wesleys answer, according to the Treatise, would have been, 1) Not by itself: it is Christ who saves, Baptism one of his means for doing so; 2) Yes, it does; and 3) Yes, by means of Baptism we are ordinarily born again. You think the mode of baptism is necessary to salvation. I deny that even baptism itself is so; I hold nothing to be (strictly speaking) necessary to salvation but the mind which was in Christ65 So baptism may not be strictly necessary for salvation, so a person who truly believes without being baptized is regarded as truly saved. Yet even so, Baptism is the ordinary means whereby saving grace, i.e., justifying and regenerating grace, is ordinarily conveyed to a person. That this grace may be resisted and thereby lost never meant that the Holy Spirit was not present at Baptism and that the infant baptized was in fact truly born again. When Wesley wrote the Treatise on Baptism in 1756, he evidently assumed that the sin that Baptism washed away was Original Sin. Yet in 1776, Wesley would write, That by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men (all born into the world) unto condemnation, is an undoubted truth; and affects every infant, as well as every adult person. But it is equally true, that, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men (all born into the world, infant or adult) unto justification. Therefore no infant ever was, or ever will be, sent to hell for the guilt of Adams sin; seeing it is cancelled by the righteousness of Christ, as soon as they are sent into the world.66 In debates with predestinarians about the universality of the atonement, he [Wesley] ultimately declared that any inherited human guilt was universally cancelled at birth [sic], as one of the benefits of Christs redemption. In effect, his
63 64

Ibid., II.4. De Haan, op. cit., p. 9. 65 Wesley, Letter to Gilbert Boyce, 1750. 66 ______, Letter to John Mason, November 21, 1776.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero concession of inherited guilt was now annulled by the invocation of Prevenient Grace! This is likely why he pruned suggestions of inherited guilt from the Thirty-Nine Articles in preparing the Articles of Religion for the American Methodists.67 If this was the case with the beliefs of the later Wesley, what becomes of the claim that Baptism washes away original sin? Maddox found it to be significant that Wesley did not reprint A Treatise on Baptism after 1770, while he reprinted Thoughts Upon Infant Baptism ([originally published in 1751] which does not mention remission of inherited guilt) in 1780 and 1791.68 If, then, any inherited guilt of Original Sin was universally cancelled at birth by Prevenient Grace, what then is the use of Baptism, seeing that it would be superfluous to wash away an already nullified Original Sin. And as infants have committed no actual sin, can it still be safe to say that the mature Wesley believed that Baptism washes away any sin? Indeed, if Original Sin is cancelled at birth, what is there to justify? What remains to be pardoned? The answer lies in the subtle distinction between justification and regeneration. Collins points out Wesleys distinction in the following table:69 Justification Implies a Relative Change God Does Something For Us Changes Our Outward Relation to God Restores Us to the Favor of God Takes Away the Guilt of Sin Regeneration Implies a Real Change God Does Something In Us Changes Our Inmost Souls So That We Become Saints Restores Us to the Image of God Takes Away the Power of Sin

Taken with the benefits of prevenient grace, which includes freeing the will from total depravity and the supernatural inculcation of the conscience and the Moral Law, Baptism can be said to complete what God began at the birth of a baby: 1) prevenient grace implies a preparatory
Maddox, op. cit., p. 75. Ibid., 224; As the uncomfortableness that this deletion [of the point that Baptism remitted the inherited guilt of Original Sin] suggests led Wesley by 1776 to affirm that any inherited guilt of Original Sin was universally cancelled at birth by Prevenient Grace. 69 Collins, op. cit., p. 201.
68 67

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero change, 2) prevenient grace is what God does to us, 3) prevenient grace grants a degree of life that in turn makes possible all subsequent changes in the individual, 4) prevenient grace restores to us the ability to respond to Gods grace, and 5) prevenient grace takes away the totality of inherent depravity. So while preventing grace cancels the Original Sin, justifying grace pardons the same sin, and regenerating grace suspends the same sin. This is explained elsewhere by Wesley, when he said, And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit: There is a real as well as a relative change. How naturally do those who experience such a change imagine that all sin is gone; that it is utterly rooted out of their heart, and has no more any place therein! How easily do they draw that inference, I feel no sin; therefore, I have none: It does not stir; therefore, it does not exist: It has no motion; therefore, it has no being! But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding sin was only suspended, not destroyed. Temptations return, and sin revives; showing it was but stunned before, not dead. They now feel two principles in themselves, plainly contrary to each other; the flesh lusting against the Spirit; nature opposing the grace of God. They cannot deny, that, although they still feel power to believe in Christ, and to love God; and although his Spirit still witnesses with their spirits, that they are children of God; yet they feel in themselves sometimes pride or self-will, sometimes anger or unbelief. 70 Therefore, though one cannot separate justification from regeneration, for regenerating grace proceeds from the relationship between justifying and sanctifying grace, as convincing grace proceeds from the relationship between preventing and justifying grace, they are distinct. Thus, in Baptism the mature Wesley probably no longer affirms that Baptism removes by washing away Original Sin, if Maddox is to be believed, but the grace conveyed at Baptism suspends and stuns Original Sin so as to nullify it (preventing), forgiving it (justifying), and neutralizing it (regenerating).
70

Wesley, The Scripture Way of Salvation, I.4-6.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero If I may use an analogy, just because an infant already acquires antibodies against pathogens via the placenta before natural birth, as well as antibodies after natural birth via breastfeeding. Just because a child already acquired antibodies in the womb does not mean the infant has no more need of the antibodies conveyed by breastfeeding. And neither do we deny such a child inoculation against disease via immunization just because the infant already received antibodies before birth and continues to receive antibodies by breastfeeding. As parents, one cannot have too much protection against bacteria and viruses for their children. In the same way, just because a child receives prevenient grace before being born again, that does not mean the child does not need justifying grace in order to be born again, that is, in order to receive regenerating grace. The grace of prevention is analogical to conception if the grace of regeneration is analogical to birth: justification can then be analogical to labor. To stop at preventing grace merely because it cancels sin is to stop at conceptionthe result is spiritual abortion. Infants then, no less than adults, need to be born again. Does Baptism then contribute to the new birth? In the same way labor does natural birth. Just as labor does not guarantee a live birth (for there is such a thing as still-birth), Baptism cannot guarantee the new birth (many are spiritually still-born). But, normally, as labor accompanies natural birth, so does Baptism normally accompany the new birth. But just as vaginal labor is not strictly necessary (one can be born via Caesarian section), Baptism is not the only means whereby they may be born again (think dedication). Thus, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is preserved in Wesleyan doctrine, and the importance of Infant Baptism is maintained. So important was the baptizing of children was to Wesley, that it was this consideration that drove himreluctantlyto ordain ministers to work

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero in the United States after the American Revolution because the Bishop of London refused to ordain anyone who would not be loyal to the King of England.71 Yet, if the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is true, and regenerating grace can be resisted and thereby lost, does that mean that a person who was born again and lost the grace has to be re-born again by being re-baptized? Indeed, some modern Methodists re-baptize (although forbidden by the UMC Book Of Discipline, I have witnessed an ordained elder do so at the conclusion of a confirmation class camp), but historically, Wesley did not re-baptize anyone who received a valid Baptism from what he called an Episcopal administrator.72 One solution has been proposed by Theodore Runyon: From Gods side, grace is assuredly being extended in and with the very act of baptism itself, and in this sense could be said to operate ex opere operato, a sacramental proclamation of the gospel. But the gift is not forced upon the recipient. It calls for response. In an infant this gift is unopposed and acts to provide a foundation in grace that can never be superseded or outgrown. However, the foundation is not the superstructure, and the building of a life in conformity with the foundation requires continuing conscious participation in the Spirit of God. Baptism is fulfilled in new birth and the process of sanctification.73 Thus, if according to Runyon, since the grace granted at Baptism can never be superseded or outgrown, then that grace cannot be really effectively lost, the necessary new birth being a fulfillment of the past act of Baptism. However, Runyons explanation is problematic: note that Wesley himself vigorously any concept of ex opere operato: they [Roman Catholics] teach that all these seven confer grace ex opere operato, by the work itself, on all such as do not put an obstruction. Nay, it is not enough that we do not put an obstruction. In order to our receiving grace, there is
Wesley, Of Separation From the Church, (Camelford, August 30, 1785), 8. ______, Treatise On Baptism, holgraph manuscript, appearing in Albert C. Outler, John Wesley (Oxford Univerity Press, 1964), p. 318; Ironically, the only adults Wesley re-baptized were Quakers (who do not have any sacrament of Baptism at all) and Anabaptists (those who practice adult, or believers baptism), since he believed that the previous baptism received by the latter group were not really baptized, but merely dipped. 73 Theodore Runyon, The New Creation: John Wesleys Theology Today (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998), p. 143.
72 71

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero also required previous instruction, true repentance, and a degree of faith; and even then the grace does not spring merely ex opere operato: It does not proceed from the mere elements, or the words spoken; but from the blessing of God, in consequence of his promise to such as are qualified for it.74 Furthermore, given Wesleys belief that he had sinned away that washing of the Holy Ghost that was given him at Baptism by the time he was age ten,75 not only would such a belief mean that the gift of grace may not only be superseded or outgrown, it may be lost entirely. Wesleys allowance that baptismal grace may be and is lost does not issue from a down-grading of Baptism and baptismal grace, but from his basic Arminian position: all grace may be lost; it is always a possibility, although never a necessity. the alternatives would either be the Roman doctrine of ex opere operato with its concomitant indelible mark, or a Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance, both of which Wesley abhorred.76 The Roman Catholic position is, in general, that the baptismal grace, which is given, inescapably, ex opere operato in Baptism, remains efficacious through a persons life. For Wesley, on the other hand, there is no such thing as continued Baptism, or Baptisms being fulfilled, or the like. For him [Wesley], the task of Baptism is completed when the new life of faith is initiated.77 So, Runyon apparently misunderstood Wesleys concept of Baptism. The root of Runyons misinterpretation is his belief that the divine Spirit acts preveniently in infant baptism to lay the foundation in grace for everything that is to follow.78 We have already seen that not only did Wesley believed that the grace conferred upon Baptism was justifying/regenerating grace, but his Arminian theology eventually led him to believe that prevenient grace was conferred immediately upon birth. Thus, when Runyon mistakenly thought that Baptism conveys prevenient grace, then the concept of either ex opere operato or perseverance becomes the logical conclusion. Yet the Runyons premise is mistaken, hence his conclusion is also mistaken.
Wesley, Of the Sacraments, Popery Calmly Considered, IV.2. ______, Journal, May 24, 1738; it was this belief, that he had lost the regenerating grace of Baptism that eventually contributed to Wesleys realization that he needed to be re-born again, as he later was that same evening at Aldersgate, where he experienced once again since his Baptism the new birth. 76 Borgen, p. 171. 77 Ibid., p. 176. 78 Runyon, op. cit., p. 141, italics mine.
75 74

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Since Baptism is a means of grace, it is only logical to expect that preventing grace should be available through the ordinance as well. Not so, according to Wesley: prevenient grace can only be lost by willful neglect or suppression. Since infants are subject to the benefits of the atonement and are incapable of willfully turning away, there is no need for any conveyance of prevenient grace through baptism to them. As for adults, they, of course, may quench the Spirit. But since Wesley requires repentance and some degree of faith for adult Baptism, and prevenient grace is thought to precede convincing grace, the restoration of the former must take place through another means, such as, for instance, the Word preached and heard. There is, therefore, in Wesleys scheme, little or no reason to include prevenient grace in the grace conveyed by means of Baptism.79 The reason why Wesley called for people who were baptized to be born again was because they resisted and thereby lost Gods grace, including prevenient grace. The foundation, and not only the superstructure, was totally obliterated by neglect and even willful sin. Conversion, the born again experience is not as Runyon claims a personal appropriation of the gift given a long time ago when baptized as an infant, given as a gracious foundation that is laid for the whole of life where it takes a whole lifetime to live out the implications of what is given objectively in this gift. Runyon was wrong when he claimed that it takes a whole lifetime to live out this subjective response to baptism. 80 The grace given both at Baptism and at birth may beand has been oftenlost: not only justifying/regenerating grace, but also, most importantly, prevenient grace. Hence, the proliferation of what Wesley called baptized sinners. For Wesley, prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace can be recovered by neither recalling ones former Baptism nor by being re-baptized: other means of grace are needed. The Sacrament of Holy Communion Thus the new birth for a backslider means a completely new start, receiving Gods grace through another efficacious means of grace, such as Gods Word or the Lords Supper.81
79 80

Borgen, p. 127. Ibid., p. 144; 81 Borgen, p. 178.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Early after Wesleys Aldersgate experience, (which many now take to be his born again experience), Wesley entered into a controversy with the Moravians, who taught that if one did not have faith one need not partake of the Lords Supper or attend to the other means of grace, this being known as the doctrine of stillness. By contrast, not only did Wesley believe that people who were in a sense non-believers welcome at the Lords table, but also that they should partake of the Supper in order to become believers, for he had firsthand experience of that undeniable matter of fact, one that had not faith received it in the Lords Supper.82 Ye are the witnesses. For many now present know, the very beginning of your conversion to God (perhaps, in some, the first deep conviction) was wrought at the Lords Supper. The falsehood of the other assertion appears both from Scripture precept and example. Our Lord commanded those very men who were then unconverted, who had not set received the Holy Ghost, who (in the full sense of the word) were not believers, to do this in remembrance of him. Here the precept is clear. And to these he delivered the elements with his own hands.83 Wesley then clearly enumerates several points concerning the Lords Supper: 1. That the Lords Supper was ordained by God, to be a means of conveying to men either preventing, or justifying, or sanctifying grace, according to their several necessities. 2. That the persons for whom it was ordained, are all those who know and feel that they want the grace of God, either to restrain them from sin, or to show their sins forgiven, or to renew their souls in the image of God. 3. That inasmuch as we come to his table, not to give him any thing, but to receive whatsoever he sees best for us, there is no previous preparation indispensably necessary, but a desire to receive whatsoever he pleases to give. And, 4. That no fitness is required at the time of communicating, but a sense of our state, of our utter sinfulness and helplessness; every one who knows he is fit for hell, being just fit to come to Christ, in this as well as all other ways of his appointment.84

82 83

Wesley, Journal, November 7, 1739. Ibid., June 27, 1740. 84 Ibid., June 28, 1740.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Notice that the Eucharist was a means of prevenient grace as well as justifying for the early Wesley. Therefore, prevenient grace that was resisted and thereby lost may be regained, not by a re-baptism, but by partaking of the Eucharist. What then becomes of the universal nature of prevenient grace? Maddox says that Wesleys writing of the Eucharist as conveying prevenient grace predates Wesleys refined notion of Prevenient Grace, as distinct from the prevenience of grace in general.85 Thus, it is far from certain that Wesley was intending to affirm here a distinct role for the Lords Supper in conveying Prevenient Grace. But if he was, a consistent implication would be a totally open table for the Lords Supper; that is, one that should not require baptism as a prerequisite.86 Maddox here casts doubt as to whether the Eucharist was regarded as a means of preventing grace by the mature Wesley, for at least by the 1770s Wesley already believed that, no man living is without some preventing grace; and every degree of grace is a degree of life.87 But as noted earlier in the discussion on Baptism, prevenient grace can be lost by willful neglect or suppression. Maddox believes (in agreement with Borgen) that it is primarily the Word preached that conveys prevenient grace.88 So it is alleged that the earlier Wesley held the Lords Supper to be a conveyor of prevenient grace, but later came to regard the preaching of the Word as the means of this grace. This allegation is strengthened by Wesleys sermon, The Duty of Constant Communion, where he apparently only enumerates justifying and sanctifying grace: the benefits of doing it [partaking of the Eucharist] are so great to all that do it in obedience to him; viz., the forgiveness of our past sins, the present strengthening and refreshing of our souls. In this world we are never free from temptations. Whatever way of life we are in, whatever our condition be, whether we are sick or well, in trouble or at ease, the enemies of our souls are watching to lead us into sin. And too often they prevail over us. Now, when we are convinced
85 86

Maddox, p. 228. Ibid. 87 Wesley, Letter to John Mason. 88 Maddox, p. 229; c.f. Borgen, p. 127.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero of having sinned against God, what surer way have we of procuring pardon from him, than the showing forth the Lords death; and beseeching him, for the sake of his Sons sufferings, to blot out all our sins? The grace of God given herein confirms to us the pardon of our sins and enables us to leave them. As our bodies are strengthened by bread and wine, so are our souls by these tokens of the body and the blood of Christ. This is the food of our souls: This gives strength to perform our duty, and leads us on to perfection. If, therefore, we have any regard for the plain command of Christ, if we desire the pardon of our sins, if we wish for strength to believe, to love and obey God, then we should neglect no opportunity of receiving the Lords Supper89 This was written early in Wesleys life, but reprinted in 1787 and 1788, fairly late. Notice that only justifying and sanctifying grace are now mentioned here, as compared to the inclusion of preventing grace in 1740. Furthermore, in his controversies against Roman Catholicism, Wesley would make the preaching of the Word a necessary requirement for receiving sacramental grace: In order to our receiving grace, there is also required previous instruction, true repentance, and a degree of faith; and even then the grace does not spring merely ex opere operato: It does not proceed from the mere elements, or the words spoken; but from the blessing of God, in consequence of his promise to such as are qualified for it.90 All this would seem to indicate that Wesley modified his earlier belief that preventing grace was conveyed by the Lords Supper. For one cannot have a true repentance and a degree of faith unless preventing grace has already had an effect. So, a person devoid of prevenient grace cannot in a true sense repent or have a degree of faith: is such a person unable to receive the grace conveyed by the Eucharist? To the early Wesley, such a person would have been given a measure of prevenient grace. But would have the mature Wesley said the same? Borgen proposes a solution to this:

89 90

Wesley, Constant Communion, I.2-3. Wesley, Of the Sacraments, Popery Calmly Considered, IV.2.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero It appears, however, that Wesley uses the phrase preventing grace in a wider and more inclusive sense. a person may have more or less of this grace may continue to grow if he avails himself of the grace he has already been given. Since repentance is necessary before justifying grace can be received, it may be safely assumed that preventing grace may be interpreted in its widest sense, as including all grace prior to, and preparatory for, the proper Christian salvation.91 In other words, the Eucharist may convey the kind of preventing grace that leads to repentance in a person who is not ready to receive justifying grace. In fact, there was such one instance found in Wesleys journal where the Eucharist apparently conveyed the first slight transient conviction of having sinned against God, i.e., prevenient grace. The congregation at St. Daniels was more than the church could contain. After reading Prayers, I preached an hour, (an uncommon thing with me,) on, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord! Lord! Many were cut to the heart; and at the Lords Supper, many were wounded and many healed. Surely now, at least, if they do not harden their hearts, all these will know the day of their visitation.92 Here, Wesley preached the Word first and that apparently conveyed preventing grace that many were cut to the heart. Then notice that at the Lords Supper, many were wounded who if they do not harden their hearts they may find something more than what they had just received. So, as late as 1777, Wesley actually gives an instance of how the means of grace conveyed prevenient grace. Furthermore, notice the order of the means of grace are just as they are enumerated in Wesleys sermon, The Means of Grace: The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures; (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon;) and receiving the Lords supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him: And these we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men.93

91 92

Borgen, p. 196. Wesley, Journal, July 20, 1777. 93 ______, The Means of Grace, II.1.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero And in this 1746 sermon did Wesley repeat the phrase preventing, justifying, or sanctifying grace which he previously used of the Eucharist alone in his journal entry. Yet in the 1777 journal entry he mentions in the same order as in the 1746 sermon the means of grace at that particular event. So it is entirely possible that the mature Wesley still believed that the Eucharist conveyed prevenient grace to those that had little or none at all. Furthermore, notice that the ritual of the Eucharistboth in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and in Wesleys Sunday Serviceall three means are present: 1) prayers of confession and thanksgiving, 2) the reading and meditation on Scripture passages (particularly the words of Institution), and 3) the actual breaking of bread and partaking of the cup. Thus, all three means of grace are automatically part of the Communion service. It is therefore safe to say that the mature Wesley retained his original conviction of the Lords Supper being able to convey prevenient grace. However, to paraphrase Maddox, if Wesley was intending to affirm here a distinct role for the Lords Supper in conveying Prevenient Grace, a consistent implication would be a totally open table for the Lords Supper; that is, one that should not require baptism as a prerequisite.94 As consistently recorded in Wesleys Journal, the large numbers of people who communicated at the Eucharistic services he presided at implies that he did hold a sort of open table, especially at an occasion when the majority of those he served communion were Dissenters: I administered the Lords Supper to near two hundred communicants: So solemn a season I never remember to have known in the city of Norwich. As a considerable part of them were Dissenters, I desired every one to use what posture he judged best. Had I required them to kneel, probably half would have sat. Now all but one kneeled down.95

94 95

Maddox, p. 228. Wesley, Journal, March 18, 1759, about a year after he first published A Treatise on Baptism.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Originally, John Wesley would not administer the Eucharist to anyone who was not baptized by an episcopally ordained minister, until he received a friendly letter from one he previously denied the Eucharist: What a truly Christian piety and simplicity breathe in these lines! And yet this very man, when I was at Savannah, did I refuse to admit to the Lords Table, because he was not baptized; that is, not baptized by a minister who had been episcopally ordained. Can any one carry High Church zeal higher than this? And how well have I been since beaten with mine own staff!96 While Wesley would still re-baptize those he believed did not receive an episcopal baptism, this incident in 1749 probably influenced him to remove the original opening in his Treatise on Baptism which says that episcopal administrators which are essential to Christian baptism97 when he published it in 1758. But significantly, he dropped the requirement of a valid baptism for admission to the Lords Table, if his administering the Sacrament to Dissenters imply. This also led Wesley to accept sinners to the Lords Table. The case is this: God offers you one of the greatest mercies, On this side heaven, and commands you to accept it. Why do not you accept this mercy, in obedience to his command? You say, I am unworthy to receive it. And what then? You are unworthy to receive any mercy from God. But is that a reason for refusing all mercy? God offers you a pardon for all your sins. You are unworthy of it, it is sure, and he knows it; but since, he is pleased to offer it nevertheless, will not you accept it? He offers to deliver your soul from death: You are unworthy to live; but will you therefore refuse life? He offers to endue your soul with new strength; because you are unworthy of it, will you deny to take it? What can God himself do for us farther, if we refuse his mercy because we are unworthy of it?98 And see then how weak the objection is, I dare not receive it, because I am unworthy. Nor is it any stronger, though the reason why you think yourself unworthy is, that you have lately fallen into sin. It is true, our Church forbids those; who have done any grievous crime to receive it without repentance. But all that follows from this is, that we should repent before we come; not that we should neglect to come at all.
96 97

Ibid., September 29, 1749. Wesley, Treatise On Baptism, holgraph manuscript, appearing in Albert C. Outler, John Wesley, p. 318 98 ______, Constant Communion, I.7.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero To say, therefore, that a man may turn his back upon the altar because he has lately fallen into sin, that he may impose this penance upon himself, is talking without any warrant from, Scripture. For where does the Bible teach to atone for breaking one commandment of God by breaking another? What advice is this, Commit a new act of disobedience, and God will more easily forgive the past!99 We thus come to the point left off at the discussion of Baptism: Wesley evidently believed that they who were baptized as infants who backslid from being born again to sinners devoid of justifying grace can be reborn again at the Eucharist. So when Wesley was calling people to be born again, when seen in context with his Sacramental theology, was in some cases to get them to come to the Lords Supper. Borgen correctly observes that not all of Wesleys listeners were in need of being reborn again, but only those who clearly exhibited that they had fallen out of grace.100 That is, the grace of regeneration acquired at Baptism need not be lost, but those who did lose it must regain it by being regenerated anew. All grace may be lost; it is possible, but not necessary. No man must sin inevitably. Since men may fall out of grace several times, a new birth is required every time the spiritual life dies. There is only one kind of new birth, which God freely gives to infants and all adults who repent of their sins. For Wesley, therefore, baptismal regeneration does suffice. That is, the Holy Spirit had been received at their Baptism as infants, was lost, and must be received again in another rebirth.101 The means by which another rebirth may be received is by the three means: 1) prayer, 2) the Scriptures, and 3) partaking of the Eucharist, all of which are present at a Communion service. I suspect that, originally, the altar call was not merely to kneel at front and accept Jesus Christ into your heart by saying the so-called sinners prayer but by actually kneeling to accept the bread and wine at the Lords Table, i.e., the altar! Indeed, the most meaningful sinners prayer can be found in the liturgy of the Communion service itself, the prayer of
99

Ibid., I.10. Borgen, p. 180. 101 Ibid.


100

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero confession after the invitation as well as the prayer for pardon immediately afterward. Then, the words of assurance are the Gospel in a nutshell, immediately leading to the Great Thanksgiving. In no other liturgy has the three means of grace so closely knit, so braided together as in the liturgy of the Holy Communion. And here, the grace of God is accepted not only subjectively (as is common in modern altar calls) but objectively as well. From Scriptural, theological and practical standpoints, what better setting than a Communion service to invite sinners to accept Jesus Christ into their hearts as their Savior? Come, sinners, to the gospel feast, let every soul be Jesus guest. Ye need not one be left behind, for God hath bid all humankind. Come and partake the gospel feast, be saved from sin, in Jesus rest; O taste the goodness of our God, and eat his flesh and drink his blood.102 Sinners are explicitly enjoined to partake of the Lords Supper. As Borgen observed, for John and Charles Wesley the Lords Supper is, and always remains, the means of grace par excellence.103 And John Wesley would claim, I found much of the power of God in preaching, but far more at the Lords Table.104 Had more evangelistic rallies ended not only with going forward to pray the sinners prayer but with a call to accept Gods grace in the Eucharist, probably more people would last longer than a month, let alone a week. In other words, evangelism would be more effective if coupled with the Holy Communion. Borgen correctly states, There is, therefore, no need to set, for instance, the Word and preaching in opposition to the sacraments. later Methodism has paid dearly for tearing apart what God has united.105 Although the Word is the means most frequently used by God in creating faith, and the Lords Supper in confirming and increasing faith, both these means are not limited to one aspect alone. The fullness and completeness of the Word
Charles Wesley, Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast, The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville, Tennessee: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), No. 616, stanzas 1 and 3. 103 Borgen, p. 120. 104 Wesley, Journal, November 13, 1763. 105 Borgen, p. 282.
102

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero (accompanied by prayer) made it possible for Wesleys successors to reduce the value of the Lords Supper from being a powerful channel of grace to little more than a memorialistic ceremony. (On the other hand, the completeness of the Lords Supper has allowed others to push the preached Word in the background and encourage sacerdotalistic conceptions.)106 Thus, in the complete liturgy of the Holy Communion, there must be prayers, the Scriptures must be read and interpreted, as well as the Eucharist itself. The combined use of these means of grace had a powerful effect in Wesleys day, which explains why he wanted the American Methodists to celebrate Communion every Sunday. For as soon as the preaching of the Word was divorced from the Eucharist, much of the power has left modern Methodism. The Lords Supper then truly becomes a means of preventing grace in that in some [sinners], the first deep conviction of sin occurs when they partake, leading them to be wounded at heart, especially when the Eucharist is combined with the preaching of the Word. Or, at the very least, the sinner is restrained from committing more sin until the conviction occurs. In either case, preventing grace has been conveyed. The Lords Supper then truly becomes a means of justifying grace in that sinners may be truly born again, that is regenerated by the combined action of justifying and sanctifying grace. Backsliders may be reborn again at the Eucharist: they need not be re-baptized in order to be reborn again. The grace of salvation which was granted at Baptism that was lost may be regained at the Lords Supper. The reason why many backsliders now remain the way they are because they try to come back on their own strength, denying that they need to be reborn again because they have already been born again (whether in Baptism or in an evangelistic rally). But backsliders can only return by grace, the means of which is the preaching of the Word and the partaking of the Holy Communion.
106

Ibid., 119.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero And finally, the Eucharist is the means whereby believers become holy: the Lords Supper then truly becomes a means of sanctifying grace. And, when in the Supper, one looks forward at Christs return and dispensation of glorifying grace, perfection in this life is a possibility.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero The Scope and Tenor of the Scriptures: The Greater Context of the Holy Bible The Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical books of the Old and New Testament of whose authority was never any doubt in the church.107 This is what we now style the Holy Scripture: this is that word of God which remaineth for ever: of which, though heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall not pass away. The Scripture therefore of the Old and New Testament, is a most solid and precious system of Divine truth. Every part thereof is worthy of God; and all together are one entire body, wherein is no defect, no excess. It is the fountain of heavenly wisdom, which they who are able to taste, prefer to all writings of men, however wise, or learned, or holy.108 Many, having read the previous sections, do not really care what the original Protestants thought, and much less what John and Charles Wesley believed about the Sacraments. Many would rather have what the Scriptures say about the matter, which is no problem. If the reader is one of these many, consider that the original Protestants and the early Methodists derived their beliefs, their doctrines from the Holy Bible. They did not invent the doctrine of the Sacraments. For the most important reason the Ordinances, more properly called Sacraments, are truly means by which people receive God's grace is because the Scriptures itself plainly says that the ordinances convey either preventing, justifying and sanctifying grace as the receiver has need. In this section, I will deal with the objections people have to Sacramentalism and it supposed variance with Evangelicalism. In particular, I will be referring to De Haans tract, Baptism & the Lords Supper, as his tract is one of the most widely disseminated and by its portability and shortness is very readable unlike the huge tomes usually associated with the socalled evangelical point of view.
Article VOf the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation, Articles of Religion of the Methodist Church. Compare with Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Anglican Church. 108 Wesley, Preface, Notes on the New Testament (Bristol, 1754).
107

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Objections to the Doctrine of Baptism as a Means of Salvation Try all things by the written word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of enthusiasm [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain, literal meaning of any text, taken in connection with the context.109 Wesley once wrote in a letter to a Baptist minister named Gilbert Boyce that he denies that Baptism in itself is necessary to salvation.110 So Wesley himself never taught that Baptism is essential to salvation, that is, a person may be saved even without having been baptized. However, though Baptism may not be essential to salvation, Wesley does believe that Baptism contributes to salvation as a means of saving grace. But is this view Scriptural? Does Baptism in any way contribute to salvation, even if it is not an essential contributor? There are many Scriptural passages that, taken at face value (i.e., literally), seem to say that Baptism does contribute to salvation, i.e., the forgiveness of sins and the born again experience. Yet Richard W. De Haans tract, Baptism & the Lords Supper, says that these texts are actually misinterpreted to mean something sacramental when they do not. I intend now to deal with the said texts and De Haans interpretation of them. Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Here, the text seems to indicate that Baptism confers forgiveness of sins: De Haan, however, interprets: to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Does that mean that baptism is the agent of forgiveness? In other words, is a person

109 110

Wesley, Answer to Question 33, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. ______, Letter to Gilbert Boyce, May 22, 1750.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero baptized so that he can receive forgiveness of sin? No! Baptism is a testimony that the one baptized has already changed his mind about Christ.111 Notice how De Haan takes for granted what has to be proved: where is it said or written that Baptism is merely a testimony that one already had faith? And if this was what the text said, it would have said, Repent, and believe every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, but it does not: the text says, be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. Furthermore, the context of the answer lies in the verses preceding the text: Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers,112 what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Notice, the Apostle Peter had just virtually accused them of murder, yet rather than react in anger, the listeners were guilt-stricken and asked the disciples what shall they do to make retribution, for Judaism teaches that a person can only be forgiven if they repent and make a suitable restitution to the party sinned against. As an example, the following is the attitude of Jews to repentant Nazis who participated in the Holocaust: an older man approached me. Rabbi, he said, I was a guard at a concentration camp. Can you forgive me? I looked at him. No, I said, I cannot forgive. It is not the function of rabbis to give absolution, to be pardoners. In Judaism, there is a ten-day period of penitence, between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, when we try to go to any person whom we have wronged and ask for forgiveness. But you cannot go to the six million [Jews killed by the Nazis]. They are dead and I cannot speak for them. Nor can I speak for God. In Jewish thought, forgiveness is a prerogative of God. Rabbis are not priests. Forgiveness also requires restitution to the injured, which is impossible to the
De Haan, p. 10. Some have taken this phrase, Men and Brothers, to mean that those who said this were already believers. But in the Jewish context, this was merely expressing the apostles kindred status, as 1 st century CE Jews did not regard Gentiles as men nor did they regard heretics as brothers. Contextually, these men were not yet believers.
112 111

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero victims [of the Nazi Holocaust]. No one could pronounce forgiveness in their name. Further, forgiveness follows repentance, 113 Maimonides taught that if a person has injured his neighbor, he will never find forgiveness until he has rendered back to his neighbor what he owes him and has begged forgiveness of him. 114 Had Jesus Christ remained dead, then, for the Jews who had pushed for Jesus crucifixion there would have been no forgiveness. The good news given by Apostle Peter was that their sins can be forgiven because Jesus Christ was resurrected (Acts 2:22-36). So when the Jews asked, What shall we do? they were asking how they can approach Jesus and what kind of restitution they can offer so they can receive forgiveness. The answer, taken literally and bearing in mind the Jewish context of the question, does imply that Baptism was the means whereby the Jews received forgiveness of their sins. So De Haans interpretation fails to take into account Jewish process of forgivenesswhich is restitutionaland then eisegetically imposes a Western juridical theology upon what should be seen in Jewish context. So, if the passages Jewish context is taken into account, then Acts 2:38 does say that baptism is necessary for salvation, that is, necessary because the audience of Apostle Peters sermon are truly in need of being forgiven by the one they have wronged and that Baptism, in conjunction with repentance, constitutes restitution to the Jewish mind.115 Acts 22:16b. Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Again, the verse seems to clearly show Baptism is the means whereby ones sins are washed away. But again, De Haan interprets otherwise:
113 Marcus Bradybrooke, Time to Meet: Towards a Deeper Relationship between Jews and Christians (London: SCM Press, 1990), p. 108. 114 Ibid., p. 109; cf. p. 172n., Moshe Ben Maimon (Maimonides), Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah II. 115 This explains the modern Orthodox Jews horror of Christian Baptism: its very concept implies that they have wronged Jesus, that they need his forgiveness, and that Baptism is the requisite restitutionthree points which the Orthodox Jew would vehemently deny.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero We have already seen in our first lesson that Romans 6:3 does not indicate that there is any saving power in baptism. In trying to understand the meaning of the words Arise and be baptized, and wash away you sins, we must follow this basic rule of Bible study: Interpret every verse in the light of the clear teaching set forth in the rest of Scripture. Since the truth of justification by faith is declared plainly in the Bible, we know that Saul was forgiven the very moment he met Christ on the Damascus Road and believed on Him. We are therefore safe in concluding that his baptism was the outward and physical sign of his inward and spiritual cleansing from sin by the grace of God.116 Interpret every verse in the light of the rest of Scripture. Sound principle, yet does De Haan actually follow it? For example, Christ himself said (in Matthew 7:21) that, Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Just because Saul called Jesus Lord on the Damascus road is not sufficient proof that he received justifying grace. Preventing grace, in all probabilityyes, but the text of Acts 9:3-9 nor that of Acts 22:6-11 gives no indication that Saul had already received forgiveness of sins. In fact, the Apostle Paul elsewhere explains the mechanics of salvation, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. If we interpret Acts 22 by Titus 3:5, we see that Paul does believe that it is Baptism that conveyed forgiveness, not his works of righteousness when he fasted and prayed before Ananias came to heal his blindness. Ironically, if one assumes that Saul was forgiven either the moment he was blinded or just prior to his Baptism, then one is actually assuming a belief in salvation by works! For to say that Saul was saved because he fasted and prayed, i.e., he repented, is to say that Saul was forgiven because of his own efforts and suffering. To say the opposite, then, that he was saved by Baptism is to say that all his effortshis fasting and praying, even his repentancedid not

116

De Haan, pp. 10, 11-12.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero gain him salvation. Saul, later Apostle Paul, was saved by the grace conveyed by Baptism, not by his works of penance (which is definitely NOT a Sacrament!). Furthermore, if we take Acts 22:16 with the previous verse discussed, Acts 2:38, then by interpreting the former by the latter verse we get the idea that Baptism does convey forgiveness of sin. Furthermore, Jesus explained what he meant by being born again: John 3:5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. In explaining to a Jewish elder, Jesus specifically referred to the Jewish method of conversion, that is, by immersion in a mikvah, the prototype of the Christian baptismal font. So if we take Jesus words together with the previous verses, one is born again by the outward physical means of Baptism in conjunction with the inward work of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Romans 6:3 says nothing about the lack of saving power in baptism but rather strongly assumes it. Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4aTherefore we are buried with him by baptism into death According to the full context of the Romans passage, a believer has died to sin because one has been baptized into death: rather than denying the saving power of baptism, the passage actually explains that the saving power of Christs death is conveyed to the believer by means of Baptism. Therefore, those who have been baptized must no longer continue sinning because they have already been freed from sin by Christs death, the benefits of which is conveyed by means of Baptism. So, once again, the passage cited by De Haan which he claims as explaining away

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero the saving power of baptism actually explains why Baptism has saving power, not on its own, but by being connected to Christs sacrificial death on the cross. So Apostle Paul in Acts 22:16 was in fact literally saying that Baptism washes away sins. 1 Peter 3:20b-21. when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water; also to which an antitype doth now save usbaptism, (not a putting away of the filth of flesh, but the inquiry of a good conscience in regard to God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: No verse in the Bible clearly states that Baptism saves than this passage. De Haan interprets once again by explaining away the plain, literal sense of the verses: Was he [Apostle Peter] indicating that water baptism itself has any saving power? No, not at all! Rather he saw the waters of baptism in much the same way he did the deluge in Noahs day. Even as Noah and his family in the ark were saved by the very same waters that judged the rest of the world, so also the waters of Gods judgment poured out on Christ at Calvary for the sins of the world became the means whereby all who are in the ark of safety, the Lord Jesus Christ, are saved. Peter was not talking about the outward washing of the body; he was speaking of what is really necessaryan inward spiritual cleansing that is experienced only by those who have received Christs forgiveness. No, baptism itself does not remove sin, It is a symbolic testimony of an inner cleansing that has already occurred.117 Again, De Haan argues in a circlehe takes for granted a premise which has not really been proven, that Baptism is a symbolic testimony of an inner cleansing that has already occurred. He then explains a biblical metaphor with another metaphor not found in the Bible: where is it stated that Christ is the ark? On the other hand, the text apparently explains where Baptism derives its efficacy: Baptism saves not because of the washing away of physical uncleanness, but by its connection to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, Baptism saves because it washes away spiritual uncleanness.
117

De Haan, pp. 12-13.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero De Haan does admit, We know of course, that the waters saved them [Noah and his family] indirectly. Whoever said that Baptism was the direct cause of salvation? Rather, it is Christs death (Romans 6:1-3) and his Resurrection (1 Peter 3:21) that is the direct cause of salvation. Baptism indirectly conveys the salvation caused by Christs death and Resurrection. In that sense, Baptism (especially when a good conscience is present) does save, albeit indirectly. For though it is Christ who saves through his Passion and Resurrection, he has ordained Baptism as the primary means of conveying such. Apostle Paul explains this further in Ephesians 5:25b-26: Eph 5:25bChrist did love the Church, and gave up himself for it, 26that he might sanctify it, (having cleansed it by the washing of water) through the word118 Here it is explained that Baptism derives its efficacy not from the water itself but from the Word of God that sanctifies the Church. So, when we interpret 1 Peter 3:21 in the light of John 3:5, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, Acts 22:16, Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord, Romans 6:1-4, Rom 6:1What shall we say then? Will we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 God forbid! How can we who are dead to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. and then Ephesians 5:25-26, one can justly conclude that Baptism does wash away sins by identification with Christs death, and then in conjunction with the Holy Spirit Baptism enables one to walk in newness of life by initiating the new birth, i.e., the born again
Based on John Wesleys own translation, compare with Youngs Literal Translation, Ephesians 5:25The husbands! love your own wives, as also the Christ did love the assembly, and did give himself for it, 26that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the bathing of the water in the saying,
118

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero experience. The efficacy of Baptism is not derived from the natural properties of water, but by calling upon the name of the Lord, that is, the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, far from disproving baptismal regeneration, when 1 Peter 3:21 is interpreted both literally and in the clear teaching set in the rest of Scripture then one must be forced to admit, as De Haan surely was, that Baptism does in a sense save us. It is moot to quibble that Baptism indirectly saves: faith also indirectly saves, for we are saved by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). And yet no one quibbles with the phrase, Saved by faith, even though it is not really faith that saves us but the Grace of God. In the same sense that one is justified by faith (Romans 3:28) even though it is really Christ who really justifies, that one is saved by Baptism even though it is really Jesus who really saves. And so Apostle Peter was in fact telling us that the antitype of Baptism does actually save us. Titus 3:5. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration [born again experience], and renewing of the Holy Ghost. This verse was cited earlier as shedding light on Acts 22:16, for this verse explains that Saul could not have possibly been saved prior to his Baptism, or else he can claim to be saved (i.e., boast) because he made restitution to Jesus Christ by means of his blindness, fasting and praying (remember the Jewish concept of forgiveness discussed earlier: repentance plus restitution was thought to acquire forgiveness). And yet again, De Haan interprets this verse as mistakenly related to water baptism:119

119

De Haan, p. 13.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero In speaking of the washing of regeneration, however, the apostle was referring to a cleansed life, not baptism.120 Yet, strangely, De Haan then proceeds to say, The implied reference to water in the word washing in Titus 3:5 should be understood in the light of the Old Testament. In the ritual of Mosaic economy, as recorded in Leviticus water was used as a symbol of cleansing.121 Water merely as a symbol of cleansing? It was more than that: water in Leviticus did actually impart cleansing to those considered unclean! De Haan actually nearly destroys his case by admitting that Titus 3:5 does imply water is involved in washing: it does no good to pretend that water in Leviticus was just a symbol of cleansing when it was apparently more than that. In fact, Titus 3:5 is a direct allusion to Jesus Christs words in John 3:3-5: to be born again, that is, to be regenerated, one is born both of water and the Spirit. When taken in the light of the previous Scriptures, especially Acts 22:16 (as both verses were authored by Apostle Paul), the passage does mean God saved us by the washing of regeneration, the Baptism of the new birth. Furthermore, the phrase best translates as bath of rebirth, i.e., a baptismal font: the word is noun, not a verb and not an adjective. So, when we read Titus 3:5 literally and in line once again with Jewish context, the verse is indeed alluding to Baptism as the means whereby God saves us. Ephesians 5:25-26. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word Already cited earlier, the above passage actually is literally translated, Eph
5:25

The

husbands! love your own wives, as also the Christ did love the assembly, and did give himself
120 121

Ibid., p. 14. Ibid.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero for it, 26that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it with the bathing of the water in the saying This is from Youngs Literal Translation. Wesley renders it as, Eph 5:25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave up himself for it, 26that he might sanctify it, (having cleansed it by the washing of water) through the word while the Good News Bible has, Eph 5:25Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word, after making it clean by washing it in water and the English Standard Version, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. Thus, when properly translated, the passage speaks of a literal washing of water which, in the light of the rest of the New Testament as well as all the Scriptures, can only be understood as an allusion to the one Baptism mentioned earlier in the Ephesians 4:5, One Lord, one faith, one baptism. Yet again, De Haan chooses to interpret otherwise. The washing of regeneration, therefore, is a fitting symbol of the cleansing that the believer receives from God through the new birth. With this is mind, read what Paul wrote to the Ephesians [chap. 5, vss. 25-26]: The washing of water by the word [in Eph. 5:26] is related to spiritual cleansing. Water baptism is not a means of regeneration or spiritual cleansing; rather, it is symbolic of salvation and the spiritual cleansing we enjoy through our union with Christ by faith.122 Once again, De Haan takes for granted which has yet to be proved: that the phrase washing of water is merely metaphorical. Arguing in a circle, he assumes that any reference to washing and water is a non-literal symbol. Remember, however, that the Greek word for washing is actually a noun meaning bath. The word loutron is not a description nor an act, it

122

De Haan, p. 14-15.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero is a name for an actual thing. So when we read washing of water it should actually read bath of water, an actual allusion to the pool where people are baptized. So, if we read Ephesians 5:26 literally in line with Jewish context and in light of the entire Scripturesespecially John 3:3-5, Acts 2:38 and 22:16, Titus 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:18-21one can rightly conclude that Baptism is an outward means of acquiring the inward grace of new birth and spiritual cleansing. The Consequence of Not Believing in Baptism as a Means of Salvation when I discarded the Paedo-baptist view I had the opposite problem: were my children precisely the same as those of unbelievers? Were they in no way different? Should I treat them as if they were pagans? I found these questions to be fairly general among those who reject the Paedobaptist theology of children. We who take the Baptist position are very clear on what we dont believe about children, and why, but we have left a vacuum in our theology. What do we believe the Bible teaches about children, apart from the fact that we dont baptise them until they come to faith? Is that the sum total of our concept? If so it is not surprising if we are despised as negative in our approach.123 The primary consequence of viewing Baptism more as a badge of identification and not as an actual means of grace has been its restriction to adult believers who can intellectually articulate their faith, that is, be baptized with understanding. This intellectualization of faith leads to a form of neo-Gnosticism whereby one is saved by what one knows. This, of course, naturally excludes infants and children who are not mentally mature enough to understand faith. Yet this goes against what Jesus himself said: Matthew 18:2And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Eric Lane, Special Children? (A theology of childhood), (London, England: Grace Publications Trust, 1996), p. 7.
123

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Matthew 19:14But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Some would counter that these verses have nothing to do with Baptism at all, but with Jesus blessing the children. Yet if we grant this, we still end up with the plain Scriptural premise that little children are in a sense closer to the kingdom of God than adults, and so, if this is the case, why deny them Baptism? For an adult to enter the kingdom of God, an adult must convert and become as little children. But little children do not need to convert and become as little children, for they are already little children. Indeed, as has been said more than once, children are in some ways better suited for coming to Christ in the right spirit than adults, who have to become like little children in order to be received by him [Christ].124 So if Baptism is granted to adults who are converted, and become as little children, why deny Baptism to little children who already are as little children? Such children are surely eligible to be regarded as members of the church, qualified to receive baptism and communion. Since their parents are also part of the church, there will be no question of dividing families as there would be if children of non-Christian families were involved.125 So if little children are qualified for Baptism, why not infants, i.e., babies? Luke 18:15And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. Luke describes them [the little children] as babies (Greek brephe not paidia). Who is more weak, helpless and dependent than a baby? Did not Jesus say we must be born again and become babies to enter the kingdom [of God]?

124 125

Lane, pp. 130-131. Ibid., p. 132.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero If then all must become childlike to enter the kingdom, it must be possible for a child to do so. If such as children are welcome, then children themselves are.126 For who is more readily able to be born again, an adult who must become as an infant or one who was just physically born and is already like an infant because it is already an infant? Luke uses a term which means tiny babies, those only just born. This further emphasizes the point, for who is more helpless and weak than a tiny baby? All such a one can do is to receive, everything has to be given it, the milk is put into its mouth and it only has to suck and swallow. What a vivid picture of how we receive the kingdom!127 What a vivid picture indeed! For a baby need not understand the benefits of breast-milk to benefit from drinking it. In the same way, one need not understand what Baptism is all about to receive its benefit of saving grace. We receive grace in order to believe, and we believe in order to understand, credo ut intelligam. We do not understand in order to believe, although we do receive grace through faith. But only by receiving grace through faith can understanding come later. To make understanding a condition for Baptism, even if one rejects the concept that it is a means of grace, is very negative in actual application. Children, in effect, are rejected by many churches who withhold membership [i.e., Baptism] from children even though they encourage them to believe savingly in Christ.128 So by rejecting the doctrine that Baptism is a means of grace that can be applied to infants, many evangelical denominations have actually contributed to the alienation of the youth and the widening age gap between adult believers and their own children who are, for all intents and purposes, are treated as potential Christians (but not yet Christians) at best, or even as

126 127

Lane, p. 33. Ibid., p. 75. 128 Ibid., p. 134.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero unbelievers at worst. This is especially true when one makes Baptism as the sole condition before one is accepted at the Lords Table. The Scriptures Concerning the Eucharist as a Means of Grace Matthew 26:26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 1Corinthians 10:16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. The word translated as communion is , koinonia, itself has multiple meanings depending on the context. The definition according to Strongs number G2842: From G2844 [, koinonos, koy-no-nos', a sharer, that is, associate: companion, X fellowship, partaker, partner.]; partnership, that is, (literally) participation, or (social) intercourse, or (pecuniary) benefaction: - (to) communicate (-ation), communion, (contri-), distribution, fellowship. Based on the definitions of koinonia, above Scripture passages are taken to show that the Lords Supper does convey grace: the cup of blessingthe cup of the New Testamentis the communion or distribution of Christs blood, that is, by partaking of the cup we partake of the remission of sins; the bread is the communion or fellowship of Christs body, that is, through partaking of the bread we become the body of Christ and have fellowship with Christ. Therefore, through the consecrated bread and the cup of blessing is justifying gracepardoning grace conveyed to the Church which then in turn becomes the body of Christ. Thus, the Lords Supper is explained as a means for justifying grace.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Thus, by the Apostle Pauls definition, the Lords Supper was not merely a commemoration of the Lord Jesus Christ but especially as a means whereby believers can actually experience the real presence of Christ and have fellowship with him and receive the benefits conveyed by the blood and body of Christ. One need not believe in Transubstantiation to accept that Christ is present in the Lords Supper, for Apostle Paul did not say, the cup of blessing is the blood of Christ, but that it was the communion of it, nor did Apostle Paul say that the bread was Christs body literally but the communion of the body of Christ. Furthermore, the Cup of Blessing is based on the Jewish Kiddush, which literally means Sanctification: a prayer, also called a blessing, is recited over a cup of wine in order to sanctify the Sabbath or any holiday, especially the Passover. For both on the Sabbath and on the Passover is a blessing said over a cup of wine and another blessing over bread. No Jewish meal is complete without the presence of bread, and no festival is sanctified without the Cup of Blessing. This brings to mind Hebrews 10:10-14, Heb 10:10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. As the Cup of Blessingthe Cup of Sanctification in Jewish contextsanctifies the day andin the Christian contextcommunicates the blood of Christ to the believer as well, so is the believer sanctified by the communion of the body of Christ through the consecrated bread. So both the elements of bread and wine, consecrated for use, become the means of sanctifying grace. Furthermore, both the wine of the Cup and the water of Baptism become linked:

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Hebrews 10:18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 1John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have communion one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. Hebrews 13:12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. In Baptism, therefore, our hearts were sprinkled from an evil conscience even as our bodies were washed with water in Baptism. So by the blood of Christ, communicated to believers through the Cup of Blessing, is the means of both justifyingthat is, savinggrace as well as sanctifying grace. This is one of the reasons why the Cup should not be denied to the laity. Thus, one who has lost the justifying grace conveyed by Baptism may regain it again by partaking of both the consecrated bread and wine: there is no need for a re-baptism. Notice that De Haan makes no direct objection to the Lords Supper being a means of grace, except in passing.129 Yet he concludes that the communion service should be an edifying and strengthening experience, it truly becomes a life-transforming commemoration of our Saviors love and sacrifice for us.130 And yet how can the Holy Communion be an edifying and strengthening experience if it is not a means of sanctifying grace? In what sense is the Lords Supper life-transforming if it is not a means of justifying grace? For justifying grace is the cause of transformed life, and sanctifying grace both edifies and strengthens. So, even though De Haan denies that the Lords Supper is a Sacrament, wherein one who partakes of them [the bread and wine] receives a measure of grace, he actually accepts such a doctrine in practice. For his real objection, as with others like him, is with Transubstantiation. But one need not even
129 130

De Haan, p. 4.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero believe in this Roman Catholic doctrine to acknowledge that the Eucharist is a means of the life-transforming justifying grace and the edifying and strengthening sanctifying grace. But what about preventing grace? Where in the Scriptures does it say that the Holy Communion conveys prevenient grace? According to the Scriptures, preventing grace is available to everyone independent of any means: John 1:9He [Jesus Christ] was the true Light, which doth enlighten every man, coming to the world Romans 2:14For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another Furthermore, Christs death on the cross made the grace available to everyone, making a connection between preventing and justifying grace: Romans 5:14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. 17For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. 18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. no man living is without some preventing grace; and every degree of grace is a degree of life. That by the offense of one, judgment came upon all men (all born into the world) unto condemnation, is an undoubted truth; and affects every infant, as well as every adult person. But it is equally true, that, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men (all born into the world, infant or adult) unto justification. Therefore no infant ever was, or ever will be, sent to hell for

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero the guilt of Adams sin; seeing it is cancelled by the righteousness of Christ, as soon as they are sent into the world.131 For if Adams disobedience made all liable to spiritual death, Christs obedience made all more liable to spiritual life. Thus, Christs death made possible the releasing of preventing grace to everyone so that all may be able to accept justifying grace. But then, if prevenient grace is ordinarily conveyed directly to everyone without any visible means, how can the Lords Table convey a grace that is already readily available? Since repentance is necessary before justifying grace can be received, it may be safely assumed that preventing grace may be interpreted in the widest sense, as including all grace prior to, and preparatory for, the proper Christian salvation. Even prevenient grace involves some degree of conviction, of having sinned against God, and convincing grace is understood to convey the same to a larger degree.132 There are three primary colors in the spectrum of light: blue, green and red. Other colors result from the combination of these primary colors. When blue and green light are combined, a special kind of light blue is produced, whose proper name is cyan. Yet blue and green are really not separate lights, but two colors of the same light. In the same way, there are three primary graces: preventing, justifying, and sanctifying grace. When preventing and justifying grace are combined, a special kind of preventing grace is produced, whose proper name is convincing grace. Yet preventing and justifying grace are really not separate graces, but two colors of the same Grace. In a sense, Divine Grace is a trinity. So, when the justifying grace conveyed by the Lords Supper is combined with the universally available prevenient grace in a person, it produces that special kind of preventing graceconvincing graceso that the goodness of God leads to repentance even a hardened and
131 132

Wesley, Letter to Mr. John Mason, November 21, 1776. Borgen, p. 196.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero impenitent heart (Romans 2:4-5). For when Christ was on the cross, the very first words he spoke were, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Christ begged the Father to grant justifying grace to those who were, for all intents and purposes at that time, unrepentant. And God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, that is, not yet repentant, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) so that we can avail of Gods justifying grace. And at the start of Jesus ministry, we read reports of his eating with sinners, which by implication were at the time unrepentant. He called Matthew to be a disciple even before he repented of being a publican, unlike Zacchaeus who actively sought Jesus and announced his intent to pay retribution to his victims. And the woman caught in adultery was spared punishment through the intervention of Christ, even though she gave no indication of repentance or even remorse for what she has done. It must also be remembered that Wesley, in his Dictionary, defines prevent as to come or go before; in this context it would then refer to grace coming before the saving grace of justification and the new birth. Thus, when yet unrepentant sinners partakes of the Holy Communion, they are in the same position as those of whom Christ prayed, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. By partaking of the consecrated bread and wine, hardened and impenitent sinners are availing of the same grace that God, in his love for these same sinners, commends to them. This grace which God offers sinners before they repent is (in the widest definition of term) preventing grace, the grace that was meant to lead sinners to repentance so that they can receive justifying grace. And this grace too is available at the Lords Supper. Romans 5:6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero 1Corinthians 11:26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do proclaim the Lord's death till he come. Therefore, for as often as sinners (who are yet without strength to repent in order to receive justifying grace) partake of the consecrated bread and wine, they proclaim that Christ died so that they may receive the preventing grace to enable them to repent. For Christs blood bought forgiveness not only for the repentant, but also for the unrepentant so they too may be able to repent. And so, the Holy Communion becomes a means of preventing grace.

Conclusion: The Methodist Understanding of the Sacraments without a recovery .. of the substance of Wesleys theology of the sacraments and the means of grace, the future of the Methodist Church as the living body of Christ is rather doubtful. Wesley refused extremes, but always maintained what was essential. There is, therefore, no need to set, for instance, the Word and preaching in opposition to the sacraments. Wesley demanded both. The distinction between evangelicalism and sacramentalism must never be applied to Wesley. For him these two aspects are one, and later Methodism has paid dearly for tearing apart what God has united.133 And so, although the prevailing evangelical belief nowadays in the United Methodist Church is that the Ordinances, Baptism and Holy Communion, do not convey any special grace because the only Scriptural means of grace is faith that cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God that stands apart from works or ritual, the Ordinances, more properly called Sacraments, are truly means by which people receive God's grace for two main reasons. First, the majority of Christian tradition, which includes all original Protestant traditionsLutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican traditionsand especially Methodist tradition teach that the Ordinances are effective signs, i.e., means, of grace.

133

Borgen, p. 282

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero But, most importantly, the Scriptures itselfapart from any tradition or experience plainly says that the Sacraments convey to them who use them the grace of God, either to restrain them from sin, or to show their sins forgiven, or to renew their souls in the image of God.134 In fact, this is where most of the original Protestant traditions got their sacramental theology. One need not be a Roman Catholic to have a high view of the Sacraments. Although I have not dealt with the liberal-pluralistic theologians objections to what is essentially a blatantly supernaturalist explanation of the relevance of the Sacraments, I found it more intriguing that the conservative-evangelical theologian objections to sacramentalism resembled liberal theology in one respect: a non-literal, non-contextual approach to the interpretation of Scripture. Like the liberal exegete, the evangelical exegete ignores the clear meaning of Scriptural texts that imply the efficacy of the Sacraments to convey grace. Like their theological opponents, they explain away Biblical passages which clearly contradict their own theological tradition. Thus, there is when it comes to exegetical method very little difference between the crypto-Baptists and the crypto-Marxists. This explains why those influenced either by Baptist or Marxist theology tend to deemphasize the importance of the Sacraments. Rather than bread and wine (or grape juice), many of these so influenced would use as Communion elements fish crackers and soft drink, kakanin and salabat, cracker sandwiches and coffee. For when one de-emphasizes the importance of the elements as a means of grace, the result is that even the remembrance of what Christ actually did and used is eventually forgotten. For how can one truly remember when Christ took bread and wine when the elements used in the service are neither bread nor wine? The celebration degenerates from a memorial to Christ to either a glorified snack or as a vehicle for ideological

134

Wesley, Journal, June 28, 1740.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero propaganda. In the seminary, I have witnessed how modern feminist theologians are remembered in a communion service rather than Christ. And I have witnessed in a mission church where the non-baptized and children are barred from Holy Communion during the service, only for the consecrated elements to be given to them as a snack later after the service. With both the crypto-Baptists and crypto-Marxists within the United Methodist Church, is there any wonder why (in the Philippines at least) we are not united? When Holy Communion is only celebrated once a month, it that the only time the UMC is united? Once a month? The official doctrine of the UMC def the Church defines the Church as a community of faith where the means of grace are duly administered. And yet how many times do we hear redefinitions of the Church based on either Congregationalist or Communist models? Too often, ideology, and not grace, is seen to be the primary moving factor in churches. Quantity is emphasized over quality, with many local churches wanting to be purpose-driven rather that grace-filled. Modern Methodism, for all practical purposes, must be considered Pelagian, with little spiritual power and very limited intercourse with God in the lives of the individuals. The sacraments have become empty, mere signs; the Word has lost the high place it should have in the devotional life of the believer, and prayer has often become purely formalistic or non-existent.135 Borgens observation holds true especially here in the Philippines. Many United Methodists imagine that their social activism or their zealous fundamentalism merits their salvation. Both activists and fundamentalists alike forget that they too are sinners like the ones they love to condemn at the picket line or pulpit. But when both the Word of God and the Sacraments are emphasized as means of grace, maybe we will be less inclined to judge others when we realize that we too are sinners in continual need of Gods preventing, justifying, and sanctifying grace. Then, maybe the United Methodists in the Philippines may truly be united.
135

Borgen, op. cit., p. 281.

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Holy Baptism and Holy Communion by Hope Jordan D. Guerrero Bibliography

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