Sacerdotalism & Evangelicalism? Or Biblical Christianity…

Van Til,  in his book The Defense of the Faith, notes that B.B. Warfield divides Christians into two groups, sacerdotalists and evangelicals.

The issue between them concerns “the immediacy of the saving operations of God.” The church of Rome, holding the sacerdotal point of view, teaches that “grace is communicated by and through the ministrations of the Church, otherwise not.”  On the other hand, Evangelicalism “seeking to conserve what it conceives to be the only cosistent supernaturalism, sweeps away every intermediary between the soul and its God, and leaves the soul dependent for its salvation on God alone, operating upon it by immediate grace.” Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith. P&R: 1955, pg. 69-70.

I ask then, why do the two have to be mutally exclusive? I think it more accurate to state that God has indeed left the human soul dependnet on Him alone,  but through the sacraments which He has given to His Church.  In the sacraments God promises to operate upon the soul of the recipient, for better or for worse, for blessing or for cursing.

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2 thoughts on “Sacerdotalism & Evangelicalism? Or Biblical Christianity…

  1. I understand what your saying but I think there is a reason why the two are treated as being mutually exclusive. To be sacerdotal is more than being sacramental. So when Warfield says that RC maintain that grace is communicated by and through the ministrations of the Church it should be understood in the context of grace that is infused in to through your conformance to the sacramental system and obedience to the commands of Christ.

    Having said this I would also say it only stands to reason that evangelicals should be sacramental for in the sacraments we have the sign and seal of the covenant blessing which is at the core of what it means to be evangelical.

  2. Right. Forgive me, I was not at all saying that sacerdotalism is the way to go. I was attempting to find the good medium in between; being evangelical – that is, believing that God work does indeed work supernaturally in the soul of man – but also affirming that He does so through ordinary means of water, bread, and wine – sacramental – because it is in these ordinary means of creation that He gives us signs of His promises. And signs are indeed gracious.

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