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HISTORY of Christian Theology

Comes from the Latin term sacramentum, which is a translation of the Greek term mysterion meaning “mystery,” and originally was used to refer to any hidden or secret meaning. In a broad view, it is a sign of something divine, typically an action or ritual whereby something physical becomes a symbol or the channel of God activity or covenant (promise). For Catholics they are outward signs conferring God’s grace and are referred to as “means of grace.” By the Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church designated the following sever rituals as the only authorized sacraments: baptism, confession (penance), communion (Eucharist), confirmation, marriage, holy orders, and extreme unction. Most Protestants only recognize baptism and communion as sacraments even if they continue to engage in these practices. Typically Protestants do not view them as means of conferring grace, however high sacramental Protestant traditions such as Lutheranism hold to the belief that they are means of grace. Some Protestants refer to them as ordinances instead of sacraments. The proper view of sacraments was one of the major controversies during the Reformation.

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