The Sacraments and Baptism

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Why should we think theologically about the church? How does this tie to the question of ecclesiology? What function does theology have within the church? It is often thought that theology, ‘speaking of God’, is somehow separate from the church. However, Dr Justin Stratis suggested theology was one of the primary functions of the church quoting Barth; ‘Dogmatics is a theological discipline. But theology is a function of the church’ The Holy Spirit was left with the church and has been present through all church history, guiding the church to speak and act in accordance with the Father’s will. Theology is the sifting, and critical reflection, on the words and deeds of the church to identify this presence and works of the Spirit, identifying where God, rather than man has been at work. Theology cannot take place without the church as it is in and through the church that God exposes his character and plan to the world that needs him. So what is the connection between systematic theology and the church? It is explored through the notion of God’s mission in the world outworked through the church, those things he does for and through us. This mission, as posited by St Augustine, is reflective of the way God exists, a reflection of the Triune way of life, the ‘processions’ of God . What He does is utterly tied to how He exists. So, the purpose of theology is to explore and express this relationship, to see how ‘procession’ defines ‘mission’, and thus it asks questions which impact on ecclesiology. As ecclesiology asks questions of the nature of sacraments, laity, clergy, sacred spaces within the church, the questions that must always be borne in mind are ‘what is God, through his mission, doing in creation, and why?’ and... ... middle of paper ... ...mber 2013]. II Vatican Council Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium, [Online], Available: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html [Accessed 24th November 2013]. Martos, J. (2001) Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacrements in the Catholic Church, Revised and Updated edition, (Missouri: Liguori Publications). McGrath, A. (2011) Christian Theology: An Introduction, 5th edition, (London: Wiley-Blackwell). Murray, S. (2004) Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World, (Carlisle: Paternoster Press). Stackhouse, I. (2004) The Gospel-Driven Church: Retrieving Classical Ministries for Contemporary Revivalism, (Milton Keynes: Paternoster). Wright, N.G. (2005) Free Church Free State: The Positive Baptist Vision, 1st edition, (Milton Keynes: Paternoster).

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