The Roman Catholic Catechism defines a sacrament as follows:
- "A thing subject to the senses, which, in virtue of the divine institution, possesses the power of signifying holiness and righteousness and of imparting these qualities to the receiver."
The Catholic Encyclopedia describes sacraments as:
- " . . . outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification."
(This statement sounds suspiciously like the, "Baptism is an outward sign of inward faith" doctrine of many Protestant denominations. Just more evidence that they are not as far from their mother as they would like to think.)
What do you think of when you hear the word "sacrament?" If you are Catholic, regardless of which particular brand, you probably think of the "seven sacraments of the church."
Proponents of Catholicism readily admit that these "seven sacraments" evolved from the earliest traditions of the assembly. This would indicate to an alert person that they were not part of that assembly’s practices, but something that was added at a later time.
The sacraments of the Catholic Church must have form and matter for them to be considered valid by Catholicism. The usual form is the verbal and physical liturgical script, or the actual words spoken by the performer in the act of doing this sacrament. The matter refers to any material objects and actions taken by the person administering the sacrament. Both of these, form and matter, must to be present and followed according to custom in order for the sacrament to have its desired effect. Supposedly when these rites are followed correctly it confers a special ecclesiastical effect and "sacramental grace" that is appropriate for each sacrament. The sacraments are also supposed to occur at pivotal events and give meaning to a person's life.
Most of the sacraments are also only supposed to be done by a specific type or level of clergy, but there are exceptions allowed for emergencies. One final criteria for the sacrament to work is that the person administering it has to have the same intention in performing the sacrament as the church does. For instance, someone teaching a priest how to do a "baptism" is not intending to perform a "baptism" so that is not considered to be a performance of the "sacrament" of "baptism." There might also be a large amount of ritual besides the form and matter, but nothing is strictly necessary except the form and matter.
These "seven sacraments" of the Catholic Church are, in the order they are usually listed are:
- Penance and Reconciliation
- Holy Matrimony
- Holy Orders
- Anointing of the Sick
A short description of each of these "sacraments" follows:
This can be accomplished, according to them, by immersion, pouring or sprinkling water on the candidate’s head, or rubbing the candidate’s forehead with a damp cloth.
Penance and Reconciliation
In this sacrament the penitent confesses his sins to the priest in the confessional, and the priest then gives absolution to the repentant soul, making the Sign of the Cross, and saying the words, "I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
According to the Catholic Church Yahushua established this sacrament when He told the parable of the prodigal son (Loukas, or Luke, 15:11-24). They say that the penitent must make restitution or satisfaction for his sins, so the "priest" demands a penance from the "forgiven one," usually prayer, fasting, almsgiving, or a certain number of "Hail Marys."
Also informally called Communion, and which uses a cookie called the "host," or victim. I have heard this called a "Jesus cookie." This "cookie" is supposed to be transformed (transubstantiated) in the actual body and blood of the Savior when the "priest" blesses it. This means that every time someone takes "communion" that they are literally re-sacrificing Yahushua. They justify this by saying that, "In the heart of Jesus he is always giving himself to the Father for us, as he did on the Cross."
In Eastern Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Church this is equivalent to chrismation, which is an anointing with a mixture of oil and balsam that has been "consecrated" by a "priest" for the purpose of use in baptism and confirmation.
Described as marriage between a man and a woman performed by the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. A civil union or marriage by any other clergy is not recognized as valid, regardless of the laws of the land.
The ordination of clergy. There are very strict rules for this and different levels of clergy can only be "ordained" by certain other higher levels of clergy.
Anointing of the Sick
This is also called Extreme Unction by the Catholic Church. Most people are familiar with this through seeing it being performed as "last rites" on television.
This is justified by passages such as Ya’aqob 5:14 in which the apostle tells his readers to call for the elders of the assembly to pray over and anoint anyone who is sick Of course most of these "priests" who are doing this in the Catholic Church hardly qualify as a scriptural elder.
Definition - The dictionary definition of the word sacrament is:
- 1. A visible form of invisible grace, especially: a. In the Eastern, Roman Catholic, and some other Western Christian churches, any of the traditional seven rites that were instituted by Jesus and recorded in the New Testament and that confer sanctifying grace. b. In most other Western Christian churches, the two rites, Baptism and the Eucharist, that were instituted by Jesus to confer sanctifying grace. 2. Often Sacrament. a. The Eucharist. b. The consecrated elements of the Eucharist, especially the bread or host.
Protestantism makes the claim that, " . . . the Church has two (signs) of her perpetuity. The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, -- like two beauteous bows bestriding the heavens of the Church, -- are seals of the covenant of grace, and give infallible certainty to all who really take hold of that covenant, that they shall enjoy its blessings. But the Church of Rome has accounted that these two signs are not enough, and, accordingly, she has increased them to the number of seven."
Most Protestants only recognize these TWO sacraments, baptism and communion. Some denominations that are not far removed from Catholicism, such as Anglican (Episcopalian in America) observe the same number as the Roman Catholic Church.
Let us now look at the various "scriptural proofs" that Catholicism and Protestantism put forth in order to uses to justify their "sacraments" and see if any meet that definition.
The Catholic Church justifies her claims to "seven sacraments" through the passages of scripture that refer to the number seven, such as, "Wisdom hath builded her house; she hath hewn out her seven pillars," and "the seven lamps on one candlestick, in the furniture of the tabernacle." They say that these "seven sacraments are the seven lamps that illuminate the Church." But in fact, regardless of how hard they try, there is no scriptural support for their doctrine of seven sacraments.
Looking at all of the various passages of scripture that supposedly support the seven sacraments of Catholicism or the two sacraments of Protestantism can be enlightening as to the problems with both of these false systems of faith in Yahushua. They show how scripture can be taken out of context, turned to mean things other than what it says, and used erroneously to support pagan doctrines and traditions of man.
I had thought to list here all of the passages of scripture these people call on to support their contentions, but there are just too many. Yes, all of the passages they cite do speak of the particular "sacrament" that it is supposed to be supporting or commanding, but in reality it does not offer any support or directive, all it does is mention it. It’s really nothing more than a mention of the practice or doctrine and that is all we should get from it.
For instance, "baptism" (actually immersion) is mentioned, defined, and its purpose described in many passages of scripture, but none of those passages place it into a category that could reasonably be called a "sacrament" by any definition used. In fact immersion IS required as the final act of obedience to the word of Yahuwah and emulates the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior, but that does not make it a sacrament by anybody’s definition. It IS the final CONDITION to be met of Yahuwah’s terms for salvation.
The only "outward signs of inward grace" that can be found in scripture are the "fruits of the Spirit." These "fruits" are quite sufficient to demonstrate to anyone who may be watching that an individual in fact is in a state of grace.