Catholics and Protestants
both have sacraments. In Protestant Christianity, we have
two: baptism and communion. Catholicism adds five more. In
Protestantism, the sacraments are outward symbols of
obedience and commitment, and are generally not considered
necessary for salvation. Catholic tradition maintains that
salvation can only be obtained through the practice of the
sacraments. Remember the Catholic definition of "grace". In
Catholic doctrine, the sacraments imbue the Catholic with
The Council of Trent declared: "If
anyone say that the sacraments of the New Law do not
contain the grace which they signify, or that they do not
confer grace on those who place no obstacle to the same,
let him be anathema [cursed]" (Sess. viii, can.vi). "If
anyone say that grace is not conferred by the sacraments ex
opere operato but that faith in
promises is alone sufficient for obtaining grace, let him
be anathema" (ibid., can. viii; cf. can.iv, v, vii).
The information above was
obtained from the
Catholic Encyclopedia. As
you can see, the Catholics view participation in the
sacraments as necessary. They go on to say that anyone who
disagrees (singling out Protestants, except for Episcopalians
and Anglicans) is anathema, meaning "cursed." Let's explore
the seven Catholic sacraments:
1 - Baptism
cleanses from original sin, removes other sin and its
punishment, provides spiritual rebirth or regeneration,
begins the process of justification, and is necessary for
2 - Confirmation
bestows the Holy Spirit on the Catholic, leading to an
increasing of sanctifying grace and the gifts of the Holy
Spirit as well as other spiritual power and a sealing to the
3 - Penance removes
the penalty of sins committed after baptism and
confirmation. Thus, mortal (deadly) sins are remitted and
the justification lost by such sins is restored as a
4 - Holy Eucharist
is where Christ is resacrificed and the benefits of Calvary
are continually applied anew to the believer.
5 - Marriage is
where grace is given to remain in the bonds of matrimony in
dictates with the requirements of the Catholic Church.
6 - Anointing the sick
(formerly extreme unction) bestows grace on those who
are sick, old, or near death and helps in forgiveness of sins
and sometimes the physical healing of the body.
7 - Holy orders
confers special grace and spiritual power upon bishops,
priests, and deacons for leadership in the Church as
representatives of Christ for all eternity.
The Catholics maintain
that these sacraments are necessary, but not all are
necessary for each person. For example, Holy orders would
only be necessary for those in Church leadership.
The Catholic Encyclopedia
goes on to say this about the sacraments:
(3) Division and Comparison of
(a) All sacraments were instituted
for the spiritual good of the recipients; but five, viz.
Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, the Eucharist, and Extreme
Unction, primarily benefit the individual in his private
character, whilst the other two, Orders and Matrimony,
primarily affect man as a social being, and sanctify him in
the fulfillment of his duties towards the Church and
society. By Baptism we are born again, Confirmation makes
us strong, perfect Christians and soldiers. The Eucharist
furnishes our daily spiritual food. Penance heals the soul
wounded by sin. Extreme Unction removes the last remnant of
human frailty, and prepares the soul for eternal life,
Orders supplies ministers to the
Church of God.
Matrimony gives the graces necessary for those who are to
rear children in the love and fear of
members of the Church militant, future citizens of heaven.
This is St. Thomas's explanation of the fitness of the
(b) Baptism and Penance are called
"sacraments of the dead", because they give life, through
sanctifying grace then called "first grace", to those who
are spiritually dead by reason of original or actual sin.
The other five are "sacraments of the living", because
their reception presupposes, at least ordinarily, that the
recipient is in the state of grace, and they give "second
grace", i.e. increase of sanctifying grace (q.v.).
Nevertheless, since the sacraments always give some grace
when there is no obstacle in the recipient, it may happen
in cases explained by theologians that "second grace" is
conferred by a sacrament of the dead, e.g. when one has
only venial sins to confess receives absolution and that
"first grace" is conferred by a sacrament of the living
ST III:72:7 ad 2;
Concerning Extreme Unction St. James explicitly states that
through it the recipient may be freed from his sins: "If he
be in sins, they shall be forgiven him" (James, v.15).
what, if anything, is said of the Protestant view of the
sacraments? Read on:
(2) Errors of Protestants
generally hold that the sacraments are signs of something
sacred (grace and faith), but deny that they really cause
Divine grace. Episcopalians, however, and Anglicans,
especially the Ritualists, hold with Catholics that the
sacraments are "effectual signs" of grace. In article XXV
of the Westminster Confession we read:
Sacraments ordained of
be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's
profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and
effectual signs of grace and
good will towards us by which He doth work invisibly in
us, and doth not only quicken but strengthen and confirm
our faith in Him (cf. art. XXVII).
"The Zwinglian theory", writes
Morgan Dix (op.cit., p.73), "that sacraments are nothing
but memorials of Christ and badges of Christian profession,
is one that can by no possible jugglery with the English
tongue be reconciled with the formularies of our church."
Mortimer adopts and explains the Catholic formula "ex
opere operato" (loc. cit., p. 122).
and his early followers rejected this conception of the
sacraments. They do not cause grace, but are merely "signs
and testimonies of
good will towards us" (Augsburg Confessions); they
excite faith, and faith (fiduciary) causes justification.
and Presbyterians hold substantially the same doctrine.
Zwinglius lowered still further the dignity of the
sacraments, making them signs not of
fidelity but of our fidelity. By receiving the
sacraments we manifest faith in Christ: they are merely the
badges of our profession and the pledges of our fidelity.
Fundamentally all these errors arise from
newly-invented theory of righteousness, i.e. the doctrine
of justification by faith alone (see GRACE). If man
is to be sanctified not by an interior renovation through
grace which will blot out his sins, but by an extrinsic
imputation through the merits of Christ, which will cover
his soul as a cloak, there is no place for signs that cause
grace, and those used can have no other purpose than to
excite faith in the Saviour.
convenient doctrine on justification was not adopted by all
his followers and it is not baldly and boldly proclaimed by
today;...[highlights added by Contender Ministries]
the Council of Trent points out as Protestant "errors", I
would refer to as Biblical truth! The New Testament makes it
very clear that we are justified by grace through faith.
That is not "Luther's newly-invented theory", that comes
straight from the Bible. Look at the following passages:
"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus
Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are
justified freely by his grace through the redemption that
came by Christ Jesus."
Romans 3:22-24, NIV
"Where, then, is the boasting? It is excluded. On what
principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that
of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith
apart from observing the law." Romans 3:27-28, NIV
justification of the necessity of the seven sacraments is
defined by Catholic theologians. The doctrine of salvation
by grace through faith in Jesus Christ is defined in the
Bible itself. The Council of Trent was nothing more than a
group of men attempting to reshape God in the image of man,
and their conclusions cannot be considered accurate, as they
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