Baptism And Lord’S Supper

Sacramental Teaching and Practice in the Reformation Churches, by G. W. Bromiley (Eerdmans, 1957, 111 pp., $1.50), is reviewed by L. B. Smedes, Professor of Bible at Calvin College.

The title of G. W. Bromiley’s contribution to Eerdman’s Pathway Series would lead the reader to expect an historical study of sacramental theology in the Reformed churches. This is not his intention, however, as he makes clear in his foreword. He tells us that he has attempted more of a biblical than an historical statement. But as one reads, he discovers a marked ambivalence in regard to both the biblical and historical approach. And as a result, the reader is sometimes hard put to know whether a given view is being put forward as representative of historical Reformation thinking or whether it is the author’s independent exegesis. This is doubtless a weakness in the book’s plan. The work would have been even more valuable than it is had the author stuck more relentlessly to his biblical study and used the exegesis of reformation scholars to buttress his own conclusions. This is only to say that Dr. Bromiley’s method makes it difficult to know how to assess his otherwise creative and instructive discussion of the two sacraments.

The book does very little theologizing on the nature of sacraments in general. Yet it is one of the best English studies of the sacraments to come out of evangelical circles in recent years. There is Dr. Oscar Cullman’s monograph on baptism in the New Testament—on which Dr. Bromiley appears to lean in places—but that is not really an English work. Another Anglican theologian, Dr. E. L. Mascall, wrote a book on the sacraments a few years back called Corpus Christi which had its own merits. But Mascall’s ...

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