Lutherans: Why are the Following Rites not Sacraments?:

  1. Confirmation
  2. Anointing the Sick
  3. Holy Matrimony
  4. Holy Orders

I know that you practice these rites, but I’m just asking why you don’t consider them “Sacraments.”

Disclaimer: I’m only asking for the Lutheran perspective. I’m not starting a debate.


Sacraments are means of grace , those rites that you mention are not .

Keep the faith , Starwars :slight_smile:

Thanks for the reply. Can you elaborate on how the Anointing of the Sick is not a means of grace, unlike Baptism and the Eucharist?


There there are three sacraments , baptism, Eucharist , and Holy Absolution ( also known as Confession or Penance) , sacraments are commanded by God and are specifically mentioned as being means of grace , the Word is also a means of grace , but it is not same as a sacrament .

Thee four rites are as follows
Confirmation , Anointing of the Sick , Vocation ( also known as holy orders ) and marriage ( holy matrimony ) , these are useful, commanded by God they must not be discarded , but the Scriptures make no mention of these as means of grace , therefore they are only rites .

Hope this helps , keep the faith icamhif ,Starwars :slight_smile:

Thanks, Starwarsfan.

As a follow-up, what criteria (or set of criteria) is sufficient for a Rite to qualify as “means of grace?” For example (or non-example), “forgiveness of sin” can’t be the only criteria, because Scripture mentions that for both Baptism and the Anointing of the Sick (Acts 2:38, James 5:15). Neither can “receiving the Holy Spirit” be the only criteria, since that also applies to the “laying on of hands” (Acts 8:17).

(Again, not trying to push a point. Just here to understand the Lutheran perspective, better.)



As I was taught, Lutherans define sacrament narrowly, while acknowledging the sacred or holy elements of the other rites.

*]A sacrament has been commanded by God (“Baptize all nations”; “This do—”)
*]A sacrament offers forgiveness
*]A sacrament has a sign, or visible element (water, bread, wine).

They weren’t commissioned by Christ, don’t offer forgiveness of sins, and don’t have a visible sign attached.

So the reason that, say, Anointing the Sick doesn’t meet those criteria is that not everyone is sick, so not everyone is required to receive it?

Sure. Just as not all are called to live in Holy Matrimony. No lesser or greater ‘amount’ of Grace is bestowed on the believer solely for taking part in the rite of marriage. Contrast that to the Lord’s Supper or Holy Absolution, where Grace is clearly given.

Now, an important point to keep in mind is that the Lutheran Confessions do not ever set a number to how many Sacraments exist in the church (this was actually a sticking point the Orthodox had in dialogues with the Lutherans in the 1570’s-80’s). Most Lutherans say two or three. Others count more. We don’t really quibble so much about the number as we do about how they are used; we don’t like it when Sacraments are abused.

So while you’re unlikely to hear a Lutheran talk about marriage as a true Sacrament, you may, from time to time, hear it expressed as ‘sacramental,’ insofar as it deepens the faith that was received at Baptism. In this respect, these rites of the church can be considered as a continuation and reminder of the Grace received at their one Baptism for the remission of sins. This sort of talk used to be a bit more commonplace in Lutheran circles, but there’s been an influx of general mainstream Liberal Protestantism that seeks to make even the most mundane parts of life ‘sacramental,’ so Confessional Lutherans have lately shied away from that sort of language to protect the special place of the Sacraments.

That help?

Good thread/question. :cool:

This is a good definition

Thanks, Steido! That was very helpful.

You’ll also find nutty Lutherans like me being more comfortable with the word “sacramental” in regards to life-long male and female God ordained marriage as a way of distinguishing it from secular marriage that seemingly will get to the point of marrying just about anything to anything at any time.

How about the nutty Lutheran like me who would rather see ordination considered a sacrament, than see it marginalized. :wink:


And nutty Lutherans like me, who agree with both Ben and Jon.

You’re very welcome.

Could you do me a favor and ask your Orthodox priest about the number of Sacraments acknowledged by your church? In his responses to Lutheran overtures for fellowship, Patriarch Jeremias II said that there are “at least seven Sacraments.” I’m wondering what else could be considered a Sacrament?

Regarding Annointing of the Sick is the reason it is not a sacrament due to a belief it was not instituted by Christ?

I’m not sure I understand this. Is there a belief that whatever graces one receives from a sacrament that grace is in some way substantially equal to the grace any other man would receive? In Holy Absolution would there not be the idea that you would receive actual grace to avoid your sins in the future?

Remember that Lutherans typically define a “Sacrament” in a very narrow sense. Christ didn’t command the Anointing of the Sick, as he did Baptism or the Eucharist. Some Lutherans probably do consider it a Sacrament. It may help to understand the Lutheran position of the other four major rites as “lesser sacraments,” because they lack one or more of the attributes already stated. (Whew. I’ve been spending too much time around Anglicans.)

I’m sorry, friend, but I’m not sure I understand your question. Can you re-phrase it?

I’ve got a feeling that my original answer might have come across somewhat muddled because of the ‘amount’ bit. I was simply meaning that the rite of marriage does not, of itself, do for the soul what Baptism and Communion do.

I must say… this discussion was very interesting and enlightening.

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