“The title “renewing our baptismal covenants” is not found in the scriptures. It’s not inappropriate. Many of you have used it in talks; we have used it in talks. But it is not something that is used in the scriptures, and it can’t be the keynote of what we say about the sacrament. … The sacrament is a beautiful time to not just renew our baptismal covenant, but to commit to Him to renew all our covenants, all our promises, and to approach Him in a spiritual power that we did not have previously as we move forward.” – Neil L. Andersen, “Witnessing to Live the Commandments,” General Conference Leadership Training on the Sabbath Day Observance at Church (April 2015)
I’ve seen this quote circulating online for a while now. I remember the first time I heard it was on video and it was very refreshing since the phrase “renewing baptismal covenants” in relation to the sacrament always bothered me. Why? Well, to me it feels like we are cheapening the ordinance like our covenant is a subscription like Netflix and we have to keep renewing it. Maybe there is an apt comparison there somewhere, but when we read about the sacrament in scripture, there is no talk of renewing covenants in this manner.
Jesus asks his followers to always remember him by partaking of his flesh and blood always, which is what we do every Sabbath day. When we partake of the flesh and blood of Christ, we are not renewing a covenant; we are keeping a commandment to always remember Him.
But what about the rest of Elder Andersen’s quote? He says that we don’t just consider the sacrament a renewal of baptismal covenants alone but a renewal of “all our covenants and promises.” Again, I’m not trying to argue with Elder Andersen but let’s look at the things that characterize the sacrament according to when the Savior first instituted it among the Nephites: