Means of grace or magic, sacrament, or superstition

The curious case of Fr Andres Arango


  • Peter David Langerman Stellenbsoch University



Donatism, Augustan, Reformed, Sacraments, Ecumenism


In this article I examine the recent case of the Rev Andres Arango, who was fired from his diocese for using the wrong language formula in baptism and use that incident to interrogate the different views of the Catholic and Reformed traditions to the sacraments. The article begins by going back into the history of Christianity to the Donatist controversy, especially as that controversy relates to the administration of the sacraments, of the fourth century CE. I outline the way in which Augustine of Hippo dealt with that crisis and the implications for the administration of the sacraments. Following from that, it tracks the development of the attitudes to the sacraments, especially in the Reformation and the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century , and the way in which that shaped the way in which the two traditions came to regard the sacraments. It examines statements in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, especially the WCC’s Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry and the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification to chart some of the progress that has been made in discussions between the two traditions in the ecumenical space. Finally, it examines contemporary attitudes to the sacraments in Roman Catholic and Reformed theology and practice to suggest a way forward.

Author Biography

Peter David Langerman, Stellenbsoch University

Research Fellow

Faculty ofTheology

Department of Practical Theology and Missiology