Index > Interconfessional Dialogues > M-RC > Nairobi Rep. 1986 | CONT. > Sez. 2
  (PREFACE) - select
  section 1 (THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH) - select
Church and Sacraments - Sec. 2
  section 3 (CALLED TO UNITY) - select
  section 4 (WAYS OF BEING ONE CHURCH) - select
  section 5 (STRUCTURES OF MINISTRY) - select
  section 6 (THE PETRINE OFFICE) - select


   11. Being a Christian has necessarily both a personal and a communal aspect. It is a vital relationship to God in and through Jesus Christ in which faith, conversion of life, and membership in the Church are essential. Individual believers are joined in a family of disciples, so that belonging to Christ means also belonging to the Church which is his body.

   12. Both the personal and communal aspects of the Christian life are present in the two sacraments that Methodists and Roman Catholics consider basic. Baptism initiates the individual into the koinonia of the Church; in the eucharist Christ is really present to the believer (cf. Dublin Report, 1976, no. 54), who is thus bound together in koinonia both with the Lord and with others who share the sacramental meal

   13. It is by divine institution that the Church has received baptism and the eucharist, outward signs of inward grace consisting of actions and words by which God encounters his people; these signs are recognized as sacraments by both Churches. The Church has authority to institute other rites and ordinances which are valued as sacred actions and signs of God's redeeming love in Christ (cf. Honolulu Report, no. 49 concerning Marriage). Some of these the Roman Catholic Church recognizes as sacraments since it sees them as ultimately derived from the will of Christ. Methodists, while using the term "sacrament" only of the two rites for which the Gospels explicity record Christ's institution, do not thereby deny sacramental character to other rites.

   14. Sacraments are to be seen in the wider context of God's action in salvation history, in the Church, and in individual human lives. The grace which comes through the sacraments is the grace of Christ, the visible image of the unseen God, in whom divine and human natures are united in one person; the Church proclaims the action of the same Christ at work within us; and the individual sacraments likewise convey the reality of his action into our lives.

   15. The sacraments are effective signs by which God gives grace through faith. Their efficacy should not be conceived in any merely mechanical way. God works through his Spirit in a mysterious way beyond human comprehension, but he invites a full and free human response.

   16. Salvation is ultimately a matter of our reconciliation and communion with God - a sharing in God's life which is effected through real union with Christ. Those actions of the Church which we call sacraments are effective signs of grace because they are not merely human acts. By the power of the Holy Spirit they bring into our lives the life-giving action and even the self-giving of Christ himself. It is Christ's action that is embodied and made manifest in the Church's actions which, responded to in faith, amount to a real encounter with the risen Jesus. And so, when the Church baptizes it is Christ who baptizes Likewise it is Christ who says: "This is my body ... this is my blood" and who truly gives himself to us. The fruit of such encounters is our sanctification, and the building up of the body of Christ.



  1. Our discussions revealed that we must still examine and resolve persisting differences concerning the efficacy of baptism, particularly of infants. Neither of us believes that a non-baptized person is by that very fact excluded from salvation, nor that baptism automatically ensures perseverance unto salvation. Both in this paragraph and the succeeding one the references to the eucharist emphasize only certain communal and personal aspects which are immediately relevant to this discussion of the Church. In the Dublin Report, nn. 47-74, the Commission has given a much fuller account of the present areas of agreement and of remaining disagreement concerning this sacrament.

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