Just How Many Sacraments Are There?

Started by RogerMartim, January 18, 2015, 03:48:24 PM

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RogerMartim

I am reading Arthur Carl Piepkorn's magnificent tome "Profiles in Belief" and am only in the chapter of the Church of the Augsburg Confession which he seems to prefer to the termoniology of Lutheranism.

Ask any Lutheran and they would probably say there are two sacraments: Baptism and the Lord's Supper.

ACP adds that there is a third great sacrament, Confession and Absolution. Enumeration of sins is not important since it is impossible. Yet it is not stressed at all. Why is that? I worked in a church office for 19 years and the pastor there kept open his office for anyone who would avail themself of this means of grace but none ever showed up.

I haven't gotten as far where ACP considers Holy Orders as a sacrament.

Are there 2, 3, 4, or 7? It seems that ACP treats matrimony, last anointing, and confirmation as secondary sacraments.

Richard Johnson

Quote from: RogerMartim on January 18, 2015, 03:48:24 PM

Are there 2, 3, 4, or 7? It seems that ACP treats matrimony, last anointing, and confirmation as secondary sacraments.

Yes.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Charles Austin

Yes, again. There are 2, 3,  4, or 7 sacraments. Maybe even 5 or 6.
ELCA PASTOR. Iowa born and raised. Former journalist. Former news director and spokesman for the LCA. Former LWF staff in Geneva, Switzerland.  Parishes in Iowa. New Jersey and New York.  Retired in Minneapolis.

J. Thomas Shelley

At Gettysburg in the late 1980's Drs. Gritch, Gustavson, and Jensen argued that the Apology and Larger Catechism consider Confession & Absolution to be the Third Sacrament, and that Melancthon's view of Ordination as necessary for the other Sacraments in the Apology makes it at least a partial Sacrament.

So I always argued for 3 1/2.   Ordination being the 1/2.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

John_Hannah

One can find the most accurate answer by asking, "How many sacraments does the Bible describe?"

:)

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Team Hesse

It would be helpful to know the working definition of sacrament before making assertions about how many there are. Dr Dean Wenthe once made a presentation on "the small s sacraments" in the Old Testament. He was very careful to define his terms before he began. The presentation was very informative.


Lou

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: J. Thomas Shelley on January 18, 2015, 06:02:45 PM
At Gettysburg in the late 1980's Drs. Gritch, Gustavson, and Jensen argued that the Apology and Larger Catechism consider Confession & Absolution to be the Third Sacrament, and that Melancthon's view of Ordination as necessary for the other Sacraments in the Apology makes it at least a partial Sacrament.

So I always argued for 3 1/2.   Ordination being the 1/2.


Confession and Forgiveness do not have an earthly element like water, bread and wine of the sacraments. However, it can be understood, as the Small Carechism, does as daily baptism.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

BrotherBoris

I agree with Lou here.  You have to have an established definition of what a Sacrament is before you can define one.  Even then, numbers can vary.  The Roman Catholics, if I recall correctly, did not formally dogmatize the number of Sacraments as seven until the Council of Trent.  Even today the Eastern Orthodox Church does not have a dogmatically defined number of Sacraments in the sense that it is a precise set number.  While some Orthodox do speak of the Seven Sacraments, we more precisely speak that there are at least seven sacraments, the exact number either being known only to God or being unimportant in and of itself. We have a sense that everything the Church does is a Sacrament, in the broader sense of the word, or at least has "sacramental" qualities to it. Besides the Chief Seven Sacraments, many Orthodox consider the following to also be Sacraments, just to name a few:

1.  The Funeral Service
2.  Monastic Tonsure
3.  Great Blessing of the Waters at Theophany
4.  The Anointing of a Monarch
5.  The Consecration and Blessing of a Church Building
6.  The Blessing of Icons
7.  Lighting Candles in Church
8.  Prayer before meals


Dave Likeness

One definition of a Sacrament comes from the
short explanation of Luther's Catechism (Schwan
Edition) in the LCMS.

1. A sacrament is a sacred act instituted by God.
2. A sacrament is when God Himself joins His Word
of promise to a visible element.
3. A sacrament is when God offers, gives and seals
the forgiveness of sins earned by Christ.

By this definition there are two sacraments:
Holy Baptism and Holy Communion

Dan Fienen

I have found it useful that in addition to talking about Sacraments in the narrow sense, to talk about sacramental acts and sacrificial acts, especially when looking at worship.  A sacramental act is when God is giving to us, sacrificial when we respond to God.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

J. Thomas Shelley

#10
Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on January 18, 2015, 07:22:17 PM
Confession and Forgiveness do not have an earthly element like water, bread and wine of the sacraments. However, it can be understood, as the Small Carechism, does as daily baptism.

Strange, I always considered the laying of the Pastor's earthly hands upon the penitent's equally earthly head sufficient to meet the "earthly element" part of the definition--a definition which can be found nowhere in Scripture.

A definition of "Sacrament" which has a stronger scriptural basis includes the phrase "commanded or instituted by Christ".   By that definition Confession and Absolution, clearly instituted on the Day of Resurrection (cf John 20;22) is a Sacrament.
Greek Orthodox Deacon - Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ordained to the Holy Diaconate Mary of Egypt Sunday A.D. 2022

Baptized, Confirmed, and Ordained United Methodist.
Served as a Lutheran Pastor October 31, 1989 - October 31, 2014.
Charter member of the first chapter of the Society of the Holy Trinity.

JEdwards

"No intelligent person will quibble about the number of sacraments or the terminology, so long as those things are kept which have God's command and promises."  --Ap XIII

Peace,
Jon

Steven Tibbetts

Quote from: JEdwards on January 18, 2015, 09:11:09 PM
"No intelligent person will quibble about the number of sacraments or the terminology, so long as those things are kept which have God's command and promises."  --Ap XIII


Well cited, Jon.  Thank you.

Pax, Steven+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

aletheist

Ap XIII(VII) indicates a hierarchy, depending (as others have already noted) on how the term "Sacrament" is defined.
  • External signs and ceremonies that God enjoined and with which He connected the promise of grace: Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution.
  • Ceremonies derived from the ancient Fathers, but not enjoined by God and therefore not necessary for salvation: Confirmation and Extreme Unction.
  • Ceremonies that we do not object to calling Sacraments, if they are understood properly: Ordination (to the Preaching Office or the Gospel) and Imposition of Hands.
  • Other offices and estates ordained in the Word of God: Marriage, Government, Magistracy, etc.
  • Other practices enjoined by the Word of God: Prayer, Alms, Crosses and Afflictions, etc.
Melanchthon's point in taking the matter this far seems to be the absurdity of debating the precise number of Sacraments, especially given his summary comment in Ap XIII(VII):17 as quoted helpfully above by JEdwards. The interesting thing is that the "visible element" and "forgiveness of sins" required by the definition in the LCMS explanation of the Small Catechism are not explicitly required here, or anywhere else in the Book of Concord as far as I can tell; #1 only stipulates "external signs and ceremonies" and "the promise of grace." I suppose that Ap XIII(VII) comes close by quoting Augustine (5), "The Sacrament is a visible Word," and saying specifically of the Lord's Supper (20), "We should firmly believe then, that the grace and remission of sins, promised in the New Testament, are imparted to us."

As another data point, Melanchthon also asserts in Ap XII(V):41 that "Of right, absolution, this blessed, consolatory Word, should be called the Sacrament of Repentance; as some of the more learned scholastics also say." On the other hand, Luther states pretty definitively in LC IV:1 that there are "two Sacraments instituted by Christ," explaining later in LC IV:74-79 that (as Brian Stoffregen mentioned) "Baptism, both in its power and signification, comprehends also the third Sacrament, which has been called repentance, as it is really nothing else than Baptism ... Repentance, therefore, is nothing else than a return and approach to Baptism, that we repeat and practice what we began before, but abandoned." So both affirm Absolution/Repentance as a third Sacrament, but one subsumes it under Baptism.
Jon Alan Schmidt, LCMS Layman

"We believe, teach and confess that by conserving the distinction between Law and Gospel as an especially glorious light
with great diligence in the Church, the Word of God is rightly divided according to the admonition of St. Paul." (FC Ep V.2)

Weedon

Luther said in Babylonian Captivity something most profound. There really is only one sacrament. His name is Jesus. And He comes to us under a number of sacramental signs. Something along those lines. I wish he had bothered to unpack that further, but if he ever picked it up again I'm not aware of it.

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