The Church Sacraments
Introduction: Christians are sometimes asked about the Seven Sacraments of the church. Involved in the idea of "Church Sacraments" is the believed action of spiritual empowerment. The so-called sacraments are perceived as special and of unusual spiritual efficacy.
I. The Seven Church Sacraments.
A. The theology responsible for the church sacraments thinking is totally Catholic in origin and nature. The seven sacraments are: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Holy Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction.
B. The interesting fact about these so-called church sacraments is that they were unknown until several centuries after the inception of the Catholic Church (more later).
II. The Sacraments and biblical authority.
A. The Christian is very concerned regarding pleasing the Lord (Lk. 6: 46, Heb. 5: 8, 9). He knows that his beliefs and practices must have a thus-saith-the-Lord (Col. 3: 17, Matt. 7: 21-23).
B. God's laws, all of them, must be respected and obeyed (Jas. 2: 10). The scriptures also teach that Jesus is the head of the church, not the Pope (Eph. 1: 22, 23). In addition, the church has no inherent authority. Jesus, as the head, possesses the authority. The church, then, has no legislative prerogative.
C. Jesus possesses all authority in both heaven and earth (Matt. 28: 18). Jesus never uttered a word about "church sacraments."
III. A closer look at the so called "Church Sacraments."
A. Such acts and concepts as confirmation, penance, and extreme unction are not mentioned or even hinted at in the Bible.
B. Water baptism, the Lord's Supper, and marriage are taught, but not in the sense of Catholicism (illustrate biblical teaching and contrast with Catholic teaching on water baptism; the Lord's Supper; marriage).
C. The church sacrament of marriage is so strongly taught that it is believed that marriage that does not meet Catholic requirements is simply concubinage. This is what is meant by "special empowerment." We read:
"Those who attempt to contract matrimony otherwise than in the presence of the parish priest or of another priest with the leave of the parish priest or the ordinary, and before two or three witnesses, the Holy Synod (Council of Trent) renders altogether incapable of such a contract, and declares such contracts null and void" (Council of Trent, as reported by the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, 1). "But impious laws taking no account of the sacredness of this great sacrament (marriage, dm), placed it on the same level as all merely civil contracts; and the deplorable result has been that citizens, desecrating the holy dignity of marriage, have lived in legal concubinage instead of Christian matrimony" (Life of Leo XIII, pg. 332). (To read more about marriage from the slant of marriage being a church sacrament, click on "Church Weddings.")
D. How can one "speak as the oracles of God" and advance the notion of church sacraments (I Pet. 4: 11)?
Conclusion: The seven church sacraments are a good example of the uninspired active imaginations of men who freely add and take away from the Bible (Rev. 22: 18, 19).