Christian Relaunch


Sacramentalism is the belief that a human's realignment requires Christian baptism.

"The sacraments ... are necessary unto salvation, and without them, or the desire thereof, men cannot obtain of God the grace of justification."

Council of Trent, Session 7, 1547.

Memorialism is the belief that a human's realignment has no need of baptism.

"Baptism shall be given to all those who have been taught repentance and the amendment of life and [who] believe truly that their sins are taken away through Christ."

Michael Sattler et al, Schleitheim Confession, 1527.

Memorialism holds that although baptism may serve to express realignment, it cannot in any sense produce it.

Sacramentalists who object to being classed with Judaicists should note the close parallel.

"Unless you are circumcised as required by Moses, you cannot be saved."

Judaicism. (Reported in The Acts of the Apostles 15.)

"Unless you are baptised as required by Christ, you cannot be saved."

Sacramentalism. (Not the exact words of any actual Sacramentalist, but an accurate paraphrase of their belief.)

The sola fidei of the Magisterial Reformation was directed against (Meritorial) Bonhominalism, not against (Sacramental) Magicalism; on the latter issue Luther and Calvin agreed with the Pope.

"The instrumental cause [of justification] is the sacrament of baptism. ... The sacraments ... contain the grace which they signify, [and] confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto. ... By the said sacraments ... grace is conferred through the act performed [ex opere operato], and faith alone in the divine promise suffices not for the obtaining of grace."

Council of Trent, Sessions 6, 7 (1547).

"Of Baptism [we] teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God."

Martin Luther et al, Augsburg Confession, Item 9, 1530.

Sattler was one of the original Anabaptists, hence part of the Radical Reformation. The Schleitheim Confession is the earliest document of Memorialism that I know of, though this point is somewhat obscured by its Separatist focus. (I am not persuaded that Zwingli had broken with Sacramentalism.) The Quakers were perhaps more eloquent on the matter.

"[The notion of sacraments] was borrowed from the military oaths among the heathens, from whom the Christians, when they began to apostatize, did borrow many superstitious terms and observations."

Robert Barclay, An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, 12:2 (1676).

"Memorialism" merely repudiates magical effects. It is neutral as regards whether this or that ceremony, shorn of its magic, has any residual value.

Most of the Christianoids who have regarded the "sacraments" as useless for achieving the reception of God's grace have nevertheless regarded them, especially the inundation ceremony ("baptism") and meal ceremony ("breaking of bread"), as useful for other purposes, such as expressing that reception. They usually regard the inundation as an important expression of trust in Christ, and the meal as applying Christ's words "Do this in my memory". The earliest Memorialists were thus minded, as the Sattler quotation shows, and I have named the reformation they pioneered accordingly. Personally I am sceptical about the value of ceremonies in general, including the traditional Christianoid ones, but an esteem of ceremonies is not heretical, and such opinions should not be allowed to hinder the globgregation of all real Christians. I suppose the Quakers were the first Christianoids to opine that these ceremonies had outlived any usefulness and should be discontinued. I agree with them, but am willing to congregate with those who partake in them so long as they are willing likewise to unite with us who abstain.

"The communion of the body and blood of Christ is inward and spiritual, which is the participation of his flesh and blood, by which the inward man is daily nourished in the hearts of those in whom Christ dwells; of which things the breaking of bread by Christ with his disciples was a figure, which they even used in the church for a time, who had received the substance, for the cause of the weak."

Robert Barclay, Theses Theologicae, 13 (1675).

Back to Magicalism.