The Lord’s Supper: one invitation you don’t want to miss [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

In the Catholic church, the celebration of mass is the high point of the week’s services, and the worship service is often simply called the mass. Some Protestant worship services, too, focus on the sacrament, notably in Episcopalian or Anglican churches.

In reacting against Rome have we evangelicals drifted away from the Bible and pushed communion into a dim corner? In traditional European or North American churches, communion has a role, but it is overshadowed by other vital activities such as worship and preaching. Some celebrate communion monthly, some quarterly, some annually, some not at all. (more…)

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Will God Heal Us? A Re-Examination of Jas. 5:14-16

By Gary Shogren, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

Originally published in Evangelical Quarterly 61 (1989): 99-108; bibliography and some ancient references updated in 2008.

“Are any among you ill? Let them summon the presbyters of the Church and let them pray over them after anointing them in the name of the Lord with olive oil. And the prayer offered in faith will deliver the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and if they are in the state of having committed sins, they will be forgiven them. Therefore confess (your) sins to each another and pray for each other so that you might be healed.” James 5:1-16a (author’s rendering from the Greek)

Jas 5:14-16 is intriguing on several counts: (1) because it seems to give an unqualified promise of answered prayer, as in Jn 14:13-14; (2) because it involves physical healing; (3) because the Catholic Church bases two of its sacraments on it; (4) because anointing with oil seems exotic to many Protestants. The need for a careful study of Jas 5 is all the more valid in an age when medical technology has taken on religious connotations of its own, when religion and science are neatly divided into Cartesian categories, with healing generally being claimed by the category of science. The issue is further heightened with the latter-day spread of holistic treatment and the Health and Wealth Gospel with its sometime rejection of medical technology,[1] movements which soften the distinction between supernatural healing and natural law. (more…)