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In discussing the seven sacraments we realize we are addressing that which is the core of the Catholic faith and is very dear and precious to its adherents. Our purpose then is not to demean or belittle and certainly not to antagonize our Catholic friends but to present material that will hopefully allow those of that persuasion to compare. We want to be able to compare the tradition of the Catholic Church concerning the Sacraments to the Scriptures so that you might thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the differences. The seven sacraments are the product of the Medieval church and resulted from a search for objectivity in a time often ruled by fear and superstition. According to Catholicism a sacrament is a visible sign instituted by Christ by which grace is conveyed to the soul of man. In addition, there must be a priest to administer the sacrament with the intention of doing what the church teaches. This grace or benefit is bestowed without any reference to the morality of the priest or faith on part of the recipient.
1. What general comments can be made in regard to the sacramental system?
First: The Scriptures teach that access or introduction to grace is through faith not through external forms and rituals. These have significance only if they proceed from personal faith in God. The just shall live by faith. This is an inviolable principle that has existed before Moses in the lives of the patriarchs, was repeated in the law of Moses and is the cornerstone of Christianity. The faith in God by the recipient gives validity and authenticity to the forms. Hebrews 11; Habbakkuk 2: 4; Romans 1: 17; 5: 1-2; Galatians 3: 11; Hebrews 10: 38
Second: The Scriptures teach that Jesus is our High Priest and each believer is a priest unto God. The essence of Christianity is individually entering into a personal relationship with Christ and God and knows nothing of the hierarchical priesthood of Catholicism with its ritualism which is more akin to Judaism than Christianity. There is only one mediator, Jesus Christ, between God and man. 1 Peter 2: 5; Revelation 1: 6; 5: 10; Hebrews 9: 11
2. The sacrament of baptism
We are pleased that the Catholic Church along with many others recognize the importance of baptism in Christianity. The Scriptures have much to say about baptism in regard to forgiveness of sins and its role in our reconciliation to God through the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, all of those who love God, need to know Gods will in reference to baptism.
It is our understanding:
Sometimes we are asked what will be the disposition of those who are not baptized as the Scriptures teach. Our answer is, "we dont know, and it is not our business." We dont know how much digression from the Word, if any, God will allow. Our business is to try to preach the Word, as God has presented it. God has not made us judges and it would be presumptuous to speak.
3. the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
Many fellowships call this sacrament the Lords Supper and show its importance by partaking at various times throughout the year. Christ, in His wisdom, knowing how prone we are to forget instituted this Supper to remember His death for us.
First: the question in point is whether Christ was speaking literally or figuratively when He said, "Take, eat: this is my body." Then later, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." Jesus said He was a number of different things but was Jesus literally a light, a door, a shepherd, and a vine. He said He was. You see , Jesus often spoke in that way. But He was not speaking literally when He said of the bread, "this is my body" nor when He said of the cup, "this is my blood" for all the items were present at once undiminished.
Second: after Jesus blessed and gave thanks for the bread and for the cup He referred to it as the fruit of the vine. Apparently Jesus believed it was still the fruit of the vine. This demonstrates that there had been no change in substance.
Third: The purpose of partaking of the bread and the cup was to remember the Lord. 1 Corinthians 11: 23-30
Fourth: The apostles did not react like they were eating the actual flesh and blood of Christ and certainly not like the Jews in John 6: 48-58.
Fifth: there is no reference to this doctrine in the Scriptures other than what is stated in the record of the last supper.
Sixth: when told that a substance is changed into another substance but still retains the characteristics of the first subject, with all respect, I have considerable difficulty accepting that statement.
Seventh: this doctrine is late in appearing. It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council in A.D. 1215 that Pope Innocent III exalted it to the position of fixed dogma.
Eighth: The doctrine is contrary to the Council in Jerusalem in the first century in which Holy Spirit through James forebade the taking of blood. Acts 15: 20
B. the Sacrifice of the Mass: in attempting to justify the sacrifice of the Mass Catholic authors appeal unconvincingly to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the prophecy of Malachi and to the analogy between Christ and Melchizedech but the definitive passage is Hebrews 7: 26 and its corollaries categorically state that Christ was sacrificed once. This being true the repeated sacrifice of Christ in the Mass must be false. Hebrews 9: 25-26, 28; 10: 11,12, 26
C. the Communion Under One Kind: When Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist He specifically told them all the participants to drink the cup. There is no Scriptural reason to change. Some years later in Corinth the Apostle Paul instructed the disciples to partake of both the bread and the cup. Matthew 26: 27; 1 Corinthians 10: 16; 11: 23-30
D. There is some evidence that the early church took the Lords Supper each first day of the week, Sunday, when they met together.
"Confirmation is a Sacrament in which, through the imposition of the Bishops hands, unction and prayer, baptized person receive the Holy Ghost, that they may steadfastly profess their faith and lead upright lives."
Normally the Holy Spirit is given immediately when a person is baptized into Christ with or without the imposition of hands. Once the Holy Spirit was given before baptism and once it was withheld for a short time until the apostles could go from Jerusalem to Samaria and lay hands on the individuals. In each of these cases God had a special reason to deviate from the norm. In no case can we find an instance where an infant was baptized. Needless to say there is no case in which a child is subsequently confirmed seven years later. Here again the traditions of the Catholic Church are at variance with the Scriptures Acts 2: 38; 5: 32; 8: 14-17, 9: 17; 10: 44-48; 19: 1-7
The New Testament does speak of confirming "promises," "testimony of Christ," "saints," love," "gospel," "truth," "brethren," "covenant," salvation," "unchangeableness of the counsel of God," "souls of the disciples," and the "churches," but never the confirming of children. Romans 15: 8; 1 Corinthians 1: 6, 8; 2 C04inthians 2: 8; Philippians 1: 7; Hebrew 6: 16; 2: 3; 6: 17; Acts 15: 32, 41;
14: 22; Galatians 3: 15, 17;
God wants us to repent of our former way of life when we were living for ourselves and not for Him. He says if we will humble ourselves, He will give us grace. God places great value on a broken and contrite heart, it is the sacrifice He desires from us. Let us always confess our sinfulness and throw ourselves upon His compassion and lovingkindness to forgive us.
To the Catholic the Sacrament of Penance consist of four parts:
6. the sacrament of Ordination
"If anyone shall say that order or sacred ordination is not truly and really a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord, or is only a man-made fiction; invented by men unskilled I ecclesiastical affairs; or that it is only the ceremony of choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments, let him be anatama." Council of Trent "The hierarchical organization of the church in three grades-the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diconate- although of divine origin, is not clearly described in the New Testament." Mc Sorley
7. Extreme Unction
"Extreme Unction is a sacrament in which the sick, by anointing with holy oil and the prayers of the Priests, receive spiritual succor and even corporal strength when such is conducive to salvation. This unction is called extreme, because it is usually the last of the holy unction administered by the Church." James Cardinal Gibbons
As James 5: 14-15 is the passage most often cited in support of this sacrament, we shall quote it. "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him." This is not the passage needed to support Extreme Unction.
First: Extreme Unction is preparatory to death while James says the action here is to restore to health.
Second: Extreme Unction is administered by a priest while James says to call for the elders of the church.
Third: James speaks of the sick not the dying.
8. the sacrament of marriage
The Catholic church recognizes the importance and sanctity of marriage. We heartily agree.
"So with regard to Matrimony, Christ has proclaimed that the contract which makes man and woman to be husband and wife is indissoluble, but He has left the manner of making the contract to his church." "At various times the Catholic Church has decreed various essential conditions to be fulfilled in order that Matrimony should be validly contracted. If any of these conditions be omitted the Church declares beforehand that the contract is null and void, and that she regards the parties as not married, and treats them as single persons." Martin J. Scott
First: The first quotation is not accurate. Jesus said in regard to the marriage covenant, "let no man separate" not "no man can separate." God recognized divorce and even required a "bill of divorcement" to protect the innocent party. Matthew 19: 6; Deuteronomy 24: 1-4
Second: Marriage existed and was recognized by God long before the Catholic Church came into existence.
Third: The Catholic Church has arrogated authority concerning marriage to themselves without scriptural basis.
Fourth: The Church has forbidden some, their priesthood, to marry and as a consequence have paid a heavy price in ruined lives. 1 Timothy 4: 3
Fifth: Peter was married and the Apostle Paul said He had a right to marry even as the other apostles. One of the requirements for a bishop was marriage and ruling their house well. Titus 1: 6; 1 Timothy 3: 2; Luke 4: 38; 1 Corinthians 9: 5
As we try to look at the material concerning the sacraments objectively, we come to the conclusion that the traditions of the Catholic Church in regard to the sacraments do not compliment or supplement the Scriptures but they are at variance with the Scriptures. Therefore we are forced to choose between the two.
Since Jesus told us that we will be judged by the word He spoke, and we have a record of that word from the first century, we accept the word as authoritative. Catholicism tells us that the tradition of the Church is the unwritten instruction of Jesus and His apostles. If this were true then we would have the unwritten instruction of Jesus and the apostles at variance with the written. With all respect, that conclusion is unacceptable. John 12:48
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Last Update 09/26/12