Review of Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with God


Christ the Sacrament of the Encounter with GodChrist the Sacrament of the Encounter with God by Edward Schillebeeckx
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A concise statement of the modern Roman Catholic doctrine of the Sacraments. Schillebeeckx explains the incarnation of sacramental life in the Roman Catholic Church. His book surveys Rome’s seven sacraments. Each of the seven receives some discussion though Baptism, the Eucharist, Confession and Confirmation seem to get the most face time. Schillebeeckx’s perspective is heavily influenced by Thomas Aquinas. The reader will find Aquinas referred to throughout the volume, with footnotes in Latin. Schillebeeckx refers to many other theologians as well (especially Karl Rahner) showing the spectrum of views on some of the finer points of sacramental theology within the Roman Communion. The prose is clear with many engaging passages while others are a bit dry. There is also some unnecessary repetition of certain ideas. Schillebeeckx develops his doctrine with both Scripture and Tradition in mind, but the latter sets the agenda and provides the terminology. Protestants, especially those of the Reformed persuasion, will find his section on the validity of Protestant sacraments interesting. Schillebeeckx seeks a fair statement of the Protestant position, with special attention to the Reformed view. It’s likely he focuses on the Reformed churches due to his context in the Netherlands. He even gives a detailed outline of a Reformed communion service he attended. I would recommend this book to those with theological background that want to better understand the Roman Catholic view of the sacraments. That said, the grid through which this book handles sacramental theology is disappointing from an Evangelical perspective, both in scope and methodology.

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