Michael A. Fahey, SJ

in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199245765
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Christians are convinced that, by divine institution, the church has received baptism and the eucharist as outward signs of inward grace consisting of words and actions by which God encounters those called to faith. These symbols are recognized as sacraments. It is also believed that the church has authority to institute other rites and ordinances which are valued as sacred signs of God's redeeming love in Christ. The mysterious and incomprehensible character of sacraments is highlighted in Orthodox theology that respects the apophatic character of what can be grasped by human understanding. The churches themselves have not been sufficiently solicitous of catechesis and preaching the centrality of these rituals. Baptism, confirmation, and church weddings can easily be reduced in the minds of nominal Christians to routine ceremonies devoid of profound significance. The fact that so many Christian marriages end in separation and divorce raises questions about the efficacy of grace.

Keywords: Baptism; eucharist; Christ; Orthodox theology; catechesis; confirmation; church wedding; divorce

Article.  7861 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion

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