Project Augustine

Chapter 12: “Proclamation, Sacraments, and Ministry”

  1. How important is a pastor’s preaching (aka “proclaiming the Word”) when it comes to staying at a church or learning about the gospel?  Do you think it’s bit of a waste b/c it’s stuff you already may know about and leaning new stuff is too rare?  When was the last time you were really affected, moved, disturbed, offended, or transformed by a preacher’s sermon?
    1. Second paragraph of page 277, “Christian proclamation necessarily uses language in arresting, disturbing, uncommon ways.  This is why metaphor, image, and story are so prominent in Christian talk of God.  In the proclamation of the gospel, language is stretched to its limits in the attempt to point to the reality of God.”
  2. On pages 279 – 282, he writes about how Augustine called the Sacraments as “visible signs of an invisible grace.”  Do you feel any difference or closer to God or Jesus when you take the bread and the wine?  Do you agree with the “objective reality” view of God’s grace through sacraments (where they are efficacious means of convey grace and salvation) or the subjective view that emphasizes our faith response – our repentance, our confession, our faithfulness – ie – all the sacraments do are to trigger our faith response?
  3. On page 284, he writes about infant baptism.  What are your views on this?  Do you agree with Karl Barth’s objections that there’s no biblical reference to it, it falsely leads people to believe that they’re saved as adults, discourages and responsible Christian discipleship?But in some churches like Redeemer, it’s more of “a dedication and commitment service for infants and their parents” that “points to the need for some public recognition of the responsibility of the church for nurturing children in the life of faith.” – page 285
    1. At the bottom of page 286, Migliore seems to affirm that, “Infant baptism, responsibly practiced, is a sign of God’s gracious initiative in creation and redemption.  It is a powerful expression of the fact that God loves us even before we begin to respond to God in trust and love.  It proclaims the love of God as sheer gift.”
  4. On pages 288 – 293, he talks about the meaning of the Lord’s supper.  In contrast to the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (where the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ) and the Lutheran doctrine of “sacramental unity” (or consubstatiation where Christ is present spiritually “in, with, and under” the elements of bread and wine), there is the memorialist doctrine, where the Lord’s Supper is essentially a memorial or reminder of what Christ did for our salvation – that they’re just reminders to us?Remember the Greco-Roman practice at the symposium where they would have craters filled with wine and drink it to connect or be one with the god that they worship.
    1. They would also sacrifice animals and have a fellowship meal with one another and their god.
    2. Migliore writes about a “meal of communion”, “meal of joy and hope” that provides a foretaste of the great messianic banquet of the end of time on page 292.
  5. On page 297, he writes about the proper understanding of ordained ministry as being “missiological” rather than “ontological”.  Do you think some pastors have taken it too far sometimes, if they’re especially charismatic and have a strong personality, where they form a “cult of personality” and they start abusing power?  Sometimes, the pastor and his leadership come out being on a totally different level or spiritually higher or closer to God because of their ministry status.  Have you fell into this?  Why do you think this happens?
    1. I’ve heard sermons where it was stated that pastors aren’t to be touched or criticized or challenged.  What would you do if you saw an abuse of power going on or disagreed with the viewpoints he had at a sermon?
  6. Finally, on page 300, he writes about the role of women in church.  Any thoughts?  Should women be given equal status in the ministry as men?  Is this too outdated (ancient and medieval) and sexist for our modern age?
    1. Women leaders in the early Church include Phoebe (a deacon in Cencherea, Rom. 16:1-2), Junia (named among the apostles, Rom. 16:7), Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche (Paul’s co-workers, Rom. 16:3 and Phil. 4:2-3, 1 Tim. 2:12 and 1 Cor. 14:34-35).
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