Sacraments 2

How many sacraments?

To figure out how many sacraments, we will have to decide which denomination’s sacraments. The Catholic Church has seven sacraments. “Why seven?”  because Christ instituted seven sacraments. A sacrament must be “instituted by Christ.” The Church did not invent them: she only defined and defends them.  “There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Order, and Matrimony. This is defined doctrine:  ‘Adhering to the teaching of the Holy Scripture, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consensus… of the Fathers, we profess that the sacraments of the new law were….. all instituted by Christ our Lord’” (Kreeft, 2001)

Luther denies that there were seven sacraments, and for the present maintains that there are but three: baptism, penance, and the bread. All three have been subject to miserable captivity by the Roman curia, and the church has been robbed of all her liberty. Yet if I were to speak according to the usage of the Scriptures, I should have only one single sacrament, but three sacramental signs. (McGrath, 2002)

I contacted a friend of ours, Michael Trolly, who is an Anglican priest to find out what the Anglican Church believes of the Sacraments.  “Their Articles of Religion talk about the sacraments.  They approach it by emphasizing the importance of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper in the Christian life-these are the two sacraments that are directly commanded by Christ in the Gospel  that every Christian is supposed to receive. The section on the Articles goes on to speak of things that are “commonly called sacraments”, saying that they are generally an appropriate part of the Christian life, but that they aren’t as the other sacraments. (Trolley, 2010)

The distinction is a little bit theoretical, in the sense that –in practice- the other things “commonly called the sacraments” are very much part of what it means to have a Christian life that revolves around Baptism and the Eucharist.”

Most of the Protestant Church believes that there are only two sacraments; they are The Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Protestants have placed priority on the Scripture – preaching the pure Word of God. Thus, the argument that the public reading, preaching, and study of the Scriptures is one of the chief means of grace of God uses to sanctify His church will not have much difficulty in persuading Protestants. Many Protestants consider Scripture something of a sacrament – a sacred place where God has chosen to meet His people and convey grace to them.  While it may not be formally listed as a sacrament in our doctrines, most Protestants treat scripture as if it were God’s chief means of grace.  (Drury, There Is No I In Church, 1984)

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