Why do Anglicans and Protestants consider that there are only two sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist)?

I can speak for the Evangelical Protestants.

The Evangelical Protestants do not accept “sacraments” because they aren’t in the Bible. Plain and simple.

If you speak with an Evangelical Protestant about the Sacraments, you must be prepared to show that person from the Bible where “sacraments” are established, or he/she will shake their head and say “no.” The Evangelical Protestants do not accept any “traditions” or “rituals” as being necessary for salvation. (Yes, the Mass is considered “ritualistic” and a “work of man” by Evangelical Protestants.)

Instead, they accept “ordinances,” which are symbols of Christ’s finished work in our lives. The two ordinances accepted by most Evangelical Protestants are communion and baptism. Again, both of these are strictly symbolic. To ascribe any saving power to these acts would be to add a “work of man” to Jesus’ finished work on the cross and therefore would be an insult to Jesus and His suffering and death. Jesus paid it ALL, and anyone who accepts Him as Savior and Lord cannot add one thing, one little work, to His complete saving grace. We merely accept His free gift and spend our lives thanking Him and expressing our thanks through by the Holy Spirit to make us Christ-like.

I can also speak for the Calvinists (Reformed, Presbyterian), who DO accept Sacraments and practice a sacramental faith. According to the Heidelberg Catechism: “How many sacraments has Christ appointed in the New Testament?” The answer is “Two: Holy Baptism and the Holy Supper.” The references given are Acts 2:41 &42, and I John 5: 6. Again, the reason that the Calvinists only accept two Sacraments is because these are the two specifically described in the Bible. This is generally the case with all types of Protestants–whatever you teach and preach HAS to be in the Bible.

Jesus,our Lords peace be whit You.
Every church has it’s own way to teach. I often,well,I have not been on this site for a long time,but I have a lifetime of serving God behind me,and a few years still to come I hope,see questions,and I mean that it goes for all christian life,that is of the kind we if ansvering to one,need to in some,ever so small,way say something against them. I am a catholic,and proud to be one,and in that proudness comes the fact that I don’t say a bad word against any other church,or critic. As Jesus said:“Those who are not against us are whit us.”


As a preface, I am an Anglican Priest in the United States in the process of coming into communion with the Church through the Ordinariate. That said

  1. Anglicans are protestants. We, or some of us like to think we are Catholics or catholics, but we are not. Some Anglicans who read this will disagree. Hence #2

  2. You can not say with certainity that all Anglicans believe the same thing. Anglican theology is chaotic and all over the place. In an Anglican parish you can have those who deny the resurrection or virgin birth sitting next to calvinist next to evangelical etc. Anglicans in the States have Bishops all over the theological map, with some past and present Bishops denying everything from the virgin birth to the divinity of Christ.

  3. Protestants only hold to two sacraments, ordinances or memorials because Eucharist and Baptism are the only two Christ established. Article 25 of the 39 Articles is clear on this and very clear that the other 5 are corruptions or corruptions following the Apostles.

  4. That said, Anglicans like true Anglicans do not have to follow the Articles. Therefore you will have Anglicans who believe in 2-7 Sacraments as their personal opinion or interpretation of scripture, history or tradition allows.

I was also an evangelical Baptist and latter a Calvinist. Even a calvinistic Anglican. Cat has explained the evangelical and Calvinistic view.

Hope this helps.

Fr. Mark

Yep. Lots of flavors of Anglicans, including those who disagree with the label “protestant”. And including Anglicans who have their own interpretation of the Articles, who recognize seven sacraments, two of which are considered Dominical, established by Our Lord.



What were Christians supposed to preach and teach before the Bible?

Friends do not use “outward forms” as “means of grace”.

"We do not reject the spiritual realities toward which sacraments point. We recognize baptism as the transformation of life through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We recognize communion as the presence of Jesus Christ in our corporate worship. We recognize ordination as the diverse giftedness for ministry of all people. We recognize these things, and rejoice in them, but we do not believe that the church should seek to initiate them through ritual means.

Without getting too deep into theology, it is important to bring in here the fact that our understanding of the nature of the church is based on a realized eschatology of the new covenant. The old system has passed away, and Christ is present among us to lead us into an experience of the kingdom, here and now. Therefore, we reject all interim structures of authority, and seek in all ways to be obedient to the immediate leadership of Christ. As the Friends in Lausanne stated, “We believe that a corporate practice of the presence of God, a corporate knowledge of Christ in our midst, a common experience of the work of the living Spirit, constitute the supremely real sacrament of a Holy Communion.”

Speaking as a Lutheran:
Lutherans identify a sacraments as a rite or act that:

  1. is instituted by Christ;
  2. in which God Himself has joined His Word of promise to the visible element;
  3. and by which He offers, gives and seals the forgiveness of sin earned by Christ.[7]

As you can see by the part I bolded, the link to a physical element - water in Baptism, bread and wine in the Eucharist.
Some of us, however, view confession/Holy Absolution as a sacrament, also, even though it lacks a physical element, and the wording and layout of the confessions lends support to this belief.

The other 4 sacraments are not ignored, however. They are considered rites, and are of great importance to us.


The one generality about Protestants you can make is that generalities are dangerous things.

That said, I spent lotsa time around evangelicals in college and think I’ve come to a certain recognition of an underlying issue. Many of today’s evangelical protestants hold to a view of the world that considers the physical realm dangerous at best and evil at worst. To them, good only exists in the spiritual realm and the protestant idea of “faith alone” has come to mean that nothing present in the physical realm can have any innate spiritual benefit or value.

This strongly contrasts with the catholic understanding that God made humanity as a union of body and soul. As such, God pours out his Grace on us in ways that manifest both physically and spiritually as well. When a catholic reads John 6, he sees how clearly and perfectly it meshes with our view of spirit and matter. When such an evangelical as I describe above reads John 6, he must bend and twist it until the physical reality is hand-waved away because of his pre-existing mindset that the physical world is irrelevant (at best). This is the same reason evangelicals generally go ape over the idea of baptising an infant (as if none of those “households” in Acts contained babies!). They can’t conceive that the actual act of baptism conveys Grace to the one baptised.

Because catholics see that God appeals to man in BOTH physical and spiritual means, all sorts of differences pop up. This is why catholics see ordinations in the Scriptures as sacraments while protestants merely see an excercise of temporal authority - a practical matter. This is why catholics refuse to ignore the accounts of Jesus granting his apostles the authority to forgive sins or hold them bound (and why evangelicals dismiss confession, but have ironically widely adopted “accountability partners” as a pale substitute). This is why our liturgy and architecture is (used to be?) rich with images, smells, sounds, posture, song, etc. while theirs has largely been purged down to readings, sermons and most have retained music (I’m not quite sure why music survived the purges while the other sensory inputs were purged, a puzzler for another day).

The short answer underneath all the above is that the protestant idea of “faith alone” inevitably undermines the very definition of a sacrament.

I’m happy, manual, that you recognize in the first sentence that even this doesn’t encompass all of those generally categorized as “Protestant”.

Not by a long shot! Like I said generalities inevitably make for LONG lists of exceptions. My last line should have read “tends to” rather than inevitably. Mea Culpa, I get caught up!

Protestantism is a fractious thing, with groups breaking from groups and then breaking again. My observation is that the more time that goes by and the further a group gets from Luther and Calvin’s groups, the more likely it is that the group will described like the above. Luther himself, for all his bombast, was much more catholic in belief than a lot of folks today realize. And few would even care since protestants today generally don’t realize what a drastic revolution Luther’s idea of “faith alone” was and how it created the hermenuetic in which they interpret Scripture to this day.

And yes, I recognize that we won’t likely agree on the matteri! :slight_smile:

On most of it we do. On the bolded, my complaint is that they misinterpret, misconstrue, misunderstand, and misapply sola fide. :shrug:


Fr Mark,
Your description of the Anglican Church speaks truth to me. The Apostolic Succession was broken.

Catholicism not only restores us to God through Christ, Christ comes to unite with our humanity, and our faith reunites us with creation around us.

When I hear a Catholic priest preach the Word of God, the Word is alive and brings everything into harmony with the will of the Father except sin…perfect balance and connecting with the real world, not alienating or distorting…or causing more questions and unrest.

I pray for the return of our Christian brothers and sisters every day, and for more priestly and religious vocations. We confess our sins to Christ through the sacrament of penance with our priests, our priests like us but the intercessors or links to fully restore our lives to the Lord.

What are the symbols of the 7 sacraments:

Easy: According to them they are not in the Bible.

I first would like to know where everything has to be said and taught from the Bible-only?

I would also disagree that everyone of the seven sacraments can be found in the Gospels and instituted by Christ.

Baptism - by his and by they the Apostles to do so
The Eucharist - Last supper
John 20 [21] He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.
and also we
Act 8
[14] Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. [15] Who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.

[16] For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. [17] Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
Confession - John 20 [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained. also many example of Christ forgiving sins and telling the 12 to do so in the Gospels
Marriage-- Matthew 19 [8] He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. [9] And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.

Ordination (Holy Orders) when Christ commissioned the 12 hey laid hands on them
breathed on them and told them to go and preach heal forgive sins etc…

Anointing of the sick. see above for references.
Why outside the Catholic Church they are not seen I can not say. But then again there are those Bible only that deny Christ in the Eucharist when is clearly says what it is.

This is what our Lutheran Confessions have to say abou the sacraments:
Article XIII. (VII): Of the Number and Use of the Sacraments.

1] In the Thirteenth Article the adversaries approve our statement that the Sacraments are not only marks of profession among men, as some imagine, but that they are rather signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us, through which God moves
2] hearts to believe [are not mere signs whereby men may recognize each other, as the watchword in war, livery, etc., but are efficacious signs and sure testimonies, etc.]. But here they bid us also count seven sacraments. We hold that it should be maintained that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures, whatever the number, be not neglected. Neither do we believe it to be of any consequence, though, for the purpose of teaching, different people reckon differently, provided they still preserve aright the matters handed down in Scripture. Neither have the ancients reckoned in the same manner. [But concerning this number of seven sacraments, the fact is that the Fathers have not been uniform in their enumeration; thus also these seven ceremonies are not equally necessary.]

3] If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments. For rites instituted by men will not in this way be Sacraments properly so called. For it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct the rude [children or the uncultivated], or admonish as to something [as a painted cross].
4] Therefore Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God’s command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord’s body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us
5] for Christ’s sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Rom. 10:17: Faith cometh by hearing. But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same, as it has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible word, because the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore the effect of both is the same.

6] Confirmation and Extreme Unction are rites received from the Fathers which not even the Church requires as necessary to salvation, because they do not have God’s command. Therefore it is not useless to distinguish these rites from the former, which have God’s express command and a clear promise of grace.

7] The adversaries understand priesthood not of the ministry of the Word, and administering the Sacraments to others, but they understand it as referring to sacrifice; as though in the New Testament there ought to be a priesthood like the Levitical, to sacrifice for the people, and merit the remission of sins for others.
8] We teach that the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross has been sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that there is no need, besides, of other sacrifices, as though this were not sufficient for our sins. Men, accordingly, are justified not because of any other sacrifices, but because of this one sacrifice of Christ, if they believe that they have been redeemed by this sacrifice.
9] They are accordingly called priests, not in order to make any sacrifices for the people as in the Law, so that by these they may merit remission of sins for the people; but they are called to teach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments to the people.
10] Nor do we have another priesthood like the Levitical,
11] as the Epistle to the Hebrews sufficiently teaches. But if ordination be understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and glorious promises, Rom. 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth. Likewise, Is. 55:11: So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.
12] If ordination be understood in this way, neither will we refuse to call the imposition of hands a sacrament. For the Church has the command to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us, because we know that God approves this ministry, and is present in the ministry [that God will preach and work through men and those who have been chosen by men].
13] And it is of advantage, so far as can be done, to adorn the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical men, who dream that the Holy Ghost is given not through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own, if they sit unoccupied and silent in obscure places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught, and the Anabaptists now teach.


Lutheran Confessions continued.

14] Matrimony was not first instituted in the New Testament, but in the beginning, immediately on the creation of the human race. It has, moreover, God’s command; it has also promises, not indeed properly pertaining to the New Testament, but pertaining rather to the bodily life. Wherefore, if any one should wish to call it a sacrament, he ought still to distinguish it from those preceding ones [the two former ones], which are properly signs of the New Testament, and testimonies of grace and the remission of sins.
15] But if marriage will have the name of sacrament for the reason that it has God’s command, other states or offices also, which have God’s command, may be called sacraments, as, for example, the magistracy.

16] Lastly, if among the Sacraments all things ought to be numbered which have God’s command, and to which promises have been added, why do we not add prayer, which most truly can be called a sacrament? For it has both God’s command and very many promises; and if placed among the Sacraments, as though in a more eminent place, it would invite men to pray.
17] Alms could also be reckoned here, and likewise afflictions, which are, even themselves signs, to which God has added promises. But let us omit these things. For no prudent man will strive greatly concerning the number or the term, if only those objects still be retained which have God’s command and promises

About the Sacraments not being in the Bible…

Baptism…Christ instituted it representing His earthly ministry, the apostles baptizing people.

Penance…Christ giving the apostles…and those consecrated to truth and spirit by Christ…the power to forgive sins in His name…on the evening of the Resurrection.

Eucharist: The Last Supper

Confirmation: Pentecost, tongues of fire on the apostles and Mary, as well as all those in the upper room, over 100 people attending…and the apostles laying hands on converts; the bishops conferring confirmation…which is a strengthening and confirming rite of one’s conviction to remain Christian

Sacrament of healing: Witness the healing acts of Christ, His apostles and followers

Holy Orders: Christ chose them, not they choosing to become His apostles. The apostles in turn chose their successors.

Marriage: The words of Christ Himself in the Gospels and to avoid adultery, and the tradition of the Church itself by earliest Christians professing vows at the end of the Eucharist not to steal, lie or commit adultery.

The Church is not on a power trip making things up.

Depending on what Protestant you talk to, you can easily show them that they, too, believe in “traditions” and “rituals” as being necessary for salvation by pointing to the neo-traditions known as the “altar call” and the “sinner’s prayer.” The vast majority of evangelicals use one or both of these traditions regularly in outreach, yet they are nowhere to be found in the Bible. They are very recent additions to Christian practice, originating with Charles Finney, if I’m not mistaken. Of course, if they don’t belong to a church that follows these practices, then this won’t work, but chances are they do.

(Yes, the Mass is considered “ritualistic” and a “work of man” by Evangelical Protestants.)

Not by me. :slight_smile: It certainly is ritualistic, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s much, much better than so much of the consumerism and irreverence that goes on in evangelical worship services.

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