Here’s a thought I’ve been rolling around a bit recently: The higher your sacramental theology, the more necessary it becomes that you have a robust theology of the saints.
That is, if we understand Baptism as a true joining of the self into the reality of God through Jesus, then we must (or perhaps “should”?) take more seriously our mystical connection with our fellow baptized. If we understand Eucharist as the share of the one bread that joins us in the one Body (as 1 Cor speaks about it) then—again—our relation to the “communion of the Saints” is that much more important. In essence, we must posit a stronger eschatological bond between the members of the Body.
But, a thoughtful evangelical student pushed me on this when I mentioned it in a class discussion of the saints: does this mean that a sacramentally higher church has a “better” understanding of Christian community than a sacramentally lower church? Furthermore, does it necessarily have a better embodiment of Christian community?
My answer was that it is not necessarily better—it is just different. I think it can be said that a higher sacramental theology requires a less individualistic understanding of spirituality and salvation—but does it play out this way in reality? And in how we embody our theologies communally?