Top positive review
11 people found this helpful
Why Non-Anglicans should read Why Sacraments
on 13 September 2013
Andrew Davison's Why Sacraments? is a timely and useful book to non-Anglicans who are thinking about the role of sacraments in the life of their respective denominations (or independent churches). The material in the book is rooted in the biblical and theological traditions shared by Christians. It shows ecumenical sensitivity at many points, drawing from Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Reformed, and Pentecostal theological resources. The author is respectful in his accounts of different sacramental theologies within various streams of Christianity. Christians of any label will gain a deeper understanding of the two sacraments we share: Baptism and Holy Communion. Davison provides some really refreshing insights by discussing sacraments in terms of the Incarnation and the work of the Holy Spirit. He often incorporates beautiful hymn texts, ancient liturgies, personal accounts, and much-appreciated humour into his elucidations of theological points. His arguments for the sacramental nature of marriage, confession, anointing, confirmation, and ordination will, at the least, challenge readers to view each of these as genuine means through which the Holy Spirit communicates grace.
Davison's writing style is quite readable - almost conversational. There is remarkably little theological jargon, and what is there is explained well. (I'm having a twelve-year-old read Why Sacraments? as part of confirmation preparation). At the same time, theologically sophisticated readers will gain fresh insights and some sense of how they should be talking about sacraments with those who haven't a clue about these rites. It is one of those books that most every minister should have on hand.
Although I'm not an Anglican, I found the book really enjoyable and at times quite challenging. The reader shouldn't expect to agree with everything Davison writes, though I found the points on which I disagreed with him surprisingly few and mostly minor. He is undoubtedly a robust Anglo-Catholic. Would we want or expect a doctrine tutor to be wishy-washy? Part of what Christians have learned from ecumenical engagement is the need for each of us to bring to the table a robust account of our own tradition. My suggestion is that readers take any points of contention as fruitful opportunities for articulating their own beliefs with the same clarity and conviction with which Davison expresses his.