Academic journal article Theological Studies

Efficacious Engagement: Sacramental Participation in the Trinitarian Mystery

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Efficacious Engagement: Sacramental Participation in the Trinitarian Mystery

Article excerpt

EFFICACIOUS ENGAGEMENT: SACRAMENTAL PARTICIPATION IN THE TRINITARIAN MYSTERY. By Kimberly Hope Belcher. A Michael Glazier Book. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 2011. Pp. xi + 199. $29.95.

In this her first book, Belcher offers a new and intriguing apologetic for infant baptism. She understands that sacraments are culturally effective in the ways that all religious and secular rituals affect individuals and groups in society, and that they are also "theologically effective in integrating human persons into the life of God" (4). She thus acknowledges sacramental causality, although, following Louis-Marie Chauvet, she dismisses any "ontotheological" interpretation of ritual effectiveness. But she is also critical of Chauvet and finds that his symbolic or language-act model is incapable of explaining how baptism can be effective for children who are not yet capable of understanding symbols and words.

Borrowing from ritual theory and phenomenology, B. notes that ritual processes can and do transform those who participate in them, and that "ritual folding" takes place in the dramatic space that others have called liminality. In a section devoted to infant self-development, she draws parallels between human potentials that naturally unfold during the first days, weeks, and months of life and the theological potentials that reveal themselves in a life of faith, hope, and love. …

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