In contemporary Western society the church has been pushed to the margins, leading experts to describe the current era as a time ‘after Christendom’. Many traditional churches and congregations are struggling, a condition worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic regulations. As the practice of churchgoing wanes, the performance of the sacrament is called into question. How can we bring the traditional, communal experience of sacrament into the modern world?
In Sacraments after Christendom, Andrew Francis and Janet Sutton tackle this question head-on, exploring and discussing the enactment of the sacrament in the context of church decline and an increasingly isolated world. In doing so, they deconstruct traditional perceptions and broaden our understanding of ritual and community in order to rediscover the truth of the sacrament.
About the Writers
Part 1: Encountering God in the Development of Sacraments
1. Sacraments in a Time of …
2. The “Jesus Movement” and the Dominical Sacraments
3. Sacraments and the Christendom Church
4. The Challenge of Post-Christendom
5. “Sacrament,” “Mysterion,” “Ordinance,” or Something Else?
Part 2: Encountering God in Differing Christian Traditions
6. Baptism and Eucharist
7. “Five for the Symbols at Your Door”
10. Foot Washing
11. Holy Places?
Part 3: Encountering God after Christendom
12. Encountering God: Discipleship and Spirituality
13. Sacraments after Christendom?
Endorsements and Reviews
Churches around the world are asking how inherited practices might serve to inspire a new future, and this book identifies some of the key questions – drawing on Scripture and history, as well as taking account of people’s actual experience of God. Depending on your starting point, expect to be disturbed, inspired, and frustrated in equal measure: either way, it will expand your perspective to ask new questions.
John Drane, author of The McDonaldization of the Church
Sacraments are to be experienced, not just talked about. This excellent book is not about the nature ornumber of the sacraments; it deals with the ‘why?’ and ‘how best?’ of lively sacramental practice. The purpose of Francis and Sutton is to enable readers to grapple with these questions and to chart new sacramental ways.
Elenor Kreider, Mennonite author and lecturer on worship, Goshen, Indiana
Janet Sutton and Andrew Francis’ book Sacraments After Christendom could not be more timely. The Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and social distancing have catapulted dilemmas about sacraments and their place and practice to the centre of Christian debate. Francis and Sutton insightfully delve into the distinction between sacraments and what is sacramental, and explore a range of possible practices for individuals and communities. The authors offer an accessible yet scholarly approach that will appeal to both lay and religious readers. This indeed is a book for such a time as this.
Sally and Jim Longley, pastors, Avalon Baptist Peace Church, Sydney, Australia