The efficacy of ritual

Interacting with Pagans prompts me on occasion to consider the function and efficacy of ritual. I am not entirely comfortable with Catholics sacramentalism but I’m also seeing limitations with the way Protestants speak of “ordinances” and wonder if we’ve sometimes tossed the baby out with the bathwater. If we see mental assent as sufficient for salvation we’re being awfully dualistic. Shouldn’t we be approaching it more holistically? I am beginning to wonder if preaching the gospel, praising God, breaking bread together, gathering together, and baptising one another should not all be considered “expressions of faith”, and as such, “means of grace”. It’s not that God can’t confer grace through other means, it’s just that it pleases God to frequently act through these means. I am not at all comfortable with the way that the sinner’s prayer and/or altar call seem to have gazumped baptism in many baptist churches. Something is seriously wrong with that picture. When I think of baptism as a kinaesthetic expression of faith it kind of makes more sense for me though. Baptism isn’t a work or the law, it’s an act of gift reception.

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