Original Research

Reappropriating sacramental thinking within Protestant Evangelicalism: A move towards systemic awareness

Dennis D. Elliott
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 51, No 1 | a2229 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v51i1.2229 | © 2017 Dennis D. Elliott | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 December 2016 | Published: 07 December 2017

About the author(s)

Dennis D. Elliott, Bible College of Western Australia, Australia and Greenwich School of Theology, United Kingdom and Faculty of Theology, North-West University, South Africa

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The dissertation on which this article is based, has been a polemical study aimed at exploring the sacramental theology of the late Roman Catholic theologian, Edward Schillebeeckx and thereby using it as a ‘foil’ against which to propose an alternative, if not renewed, ecclesiology for Protestant Evangelicalism. The study accomplished this aim within the framework of a systematic theological method with an approach that was inclusive of theological inquiry as well as sociological theory and praxis. Engaging Schillebeeckx with some significant conversation partners, both Roman Catholic and Protestants, has drawn out his hermeneutical inconsistencies. Two observations have emerged from this informed dialogue: Firstly, it established Schillebeeckx’s sacramental theology as upholding the systemic awareness of Roman Catholic sacramental thought. Secondly, insofar as the Protestant tradition is concerned, it established that, in spite of the diverse sacramental views within Reformation thought and Protestant evangelicalism, in particular, the doctrine of grace is upheld as foundational for the church. With a more directed focus on the diverse views concerning the Lord’s Supper, the dissertation honed in on the trajectories of Zwingli (‘symbolic memorialism’), Bullinger (‘symbolic parallelism’) and Calvin (‘symbolic instrumentalism’). Emerging from this exploration, a Zwingli-Bullinger confluence has been proposed.


Sacrament; Continuing Incarnation; Grace; Pneumatology; Protestantism; Evangelicalism


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