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3 Tutorials that teach Sacramentalism
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Author: David Dillard-Wright

Identify the belief structures surrounding sacraments within different religions.

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Video Transcription

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this tutorial on sacramentalism. Sacramentalism is a belief that sacraments are necessary for salvation or a belief in their efficacy. A sacrament is a sacred right of particular importance and significance.

Note that one can have a sacramental theology that is believing that sacraments are important without necessarily espousing the view that they are necessary for salvation. And within various different Christian denominations and within different world religions, there can be various different views about the sacraments.

So, listed here are the seven sacraments within the teaching of the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. And they are baptism. Baptism is a ceremony of Christian initiation performed by sprinkling or immersing in water.

Confirmation is-- for those who were baptized as infants, confirmation is a means of affirming that one has accepted the Christian faith for oneself, as opposed to just receiving it from one's parents.

Next is Holy Communion, often called the Eucharist-- the ceremony of breaking bread and drinking wine, or in some cases grape juice or water, in commemoration of Jesus's last meal with his disciples.

Next, the sacrament of confession is going before a priest and admitting one's sins before the priest and before God, who will then give a kind of penance, oftentimes a recitation of prayers as a penance for sin.

Next, marriage-- the joining together of two people in a committed relationship. In most Christian churches, this is still between a man and a woman, although there are some denominations that do marry two men or two women.

Next, holy orders-- taking monastic vows or the vows of a priest. This is not for everyone but just for the ordained clergy. Although, it is possible to be a monastic without being a priest. I should clarify that.

Anointing the sick with oil. Sometimes this is called extreme unction, where a priest will go to the bedside and anoint the sick with oil as was performed in the Gospel.

Protestant churches are more hesitant about the efficacy of the sacraments, owing to the Reformation or the various different reformations in the countries of Europe. So, Martin Luther placed an emphasis on personal relationship-- expressing repentance directly to God and having a sort of conversion experience.

So you can read summaries of Martin Luther's 95 Theses. Most of them, or at least a lot of them, have to do with the Catholic Church practice of charging people money to expiate their sins. This was called the practice of selling indulgences. That was really his main argument with the Church. But he did want to downplay the sacraments a bit.

Oftentimes, Protestant churches don't use the word sacrament. They might use the term, Lord's Supper. And they might view the service primarily as a memorial of Jesus rather than having the real presence of Jesus in the service.

So the difference with the Protestant churches is that they wanted to avoid the idea that one could prove that one was saved through having received these sacraments. And they wanted to keep it a matter directly between the believer and God. So the Protestant terminology is the priesthood of believers.

Moving on to the Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons. They have a lot of special services. But they only recommend one sacrament. And that is the Lord's Supper. Since the late 1800s, it has been practiced with water. Many Protestant churches use grape juice instead of wine. And that comes from the temperance movement that was concerned that people might get involved with alcoholism. And they didn't want to tempt people with wine.

Other Protestant denominations acknowledge only two sacraments-- marriage and Holy Communion. And the rationale for this is that Jesus attended a wedding at Cana of Galilee. And he blessed the wedding by turning water into wine. And he served his disciples communion at the Last Supper. So the Protestant rationale for this is that these are the rights that Jesus himself performed.

We can find examples in other religions. For example, in Hinduism, there is what is called prasad, which is food that has been offered to the gods. It may be fruit. It may be some sweet cakes or cookies. But the idea is that some of the essence of the divinity has gone into that food that has been blessed and that it is very auspicious and it is a sign of the blessing of the deity to eat that consecrated food. It's also viewed as a special blessing to eat food that the guru has touched or to eat after the guru.

Hinduism is, of course, a very ancient religion. And it may be that traditions like this are the precursors for the offering of food in Western religions.

Just to recap, we said that in Christianity, a sacrament is a sacred right. We talked about the Lord's Supper, which is a commemoration of Jesus' willingness to sacrifice himself for the forgiveness of human sin. In Protestant churches, this is understood more individually. And in Catholic and Orthodox Churches, this is understood in a more corporate fashion as being the forgiveness of the Church as a whole.

It has various different terms-- communion or Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. These are different terms for the same celebration.

Baptism is a ceremonial bathing of a person with water, either by sprinkling or through immersion. In some cases, there is oil or other substances placed in the water, as in the Orthodox Church.

Confirmation in Roman Catholicism and in some Protestant faiths is a sacrament by which a believer is accepted into the church, usually someone who has already received infant baptism.

Holy Communion is another term for the Lord's supper or Eucharist. And in Roman Catholicism, it is understood that Jesus is really present in the elements of communion.

And the second part of the vocabulary for this lesson-- confession is a sacrament in Roman Catholicism by which a priest may forgive a worshipper's sins. And this is in exchange for penance-- an admission of sins. This is based on the saying of Jesus-- that whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven.

The next vocabulary term is marriage-- generally, the joining of one man and one woman together in a lifelong bond. Although some Christian churches do marry same-sex couples.

Next, holy orders-- the ordination or appointment of people to post within the church. And in the Roman Catholic Church, this is a sacrament.

Next, the anointing of the sick-- a sacrament in which a gravely ill person is blessed by a priest.

And finally, prasad-- in Hinduism, this is a gift which is offered to a deity and then consider blessed and consumed by the worshippers.

Notes on "Sacramentalism"

Term to Know


In Hinduism, a gift (usually food) given by a worshipper to a deity, which is then considered to be blessed and is consumed by worshippers.

Terms to Know

In Christianity, the anointing of a new believer or church member with water as a sign of cleansing and acceptance by God.


In Roman Catholicism, a sacrament by which a priest may forgive a worshipper's sins, in exchange for the worshipper's willing and full admission of sin, as well as the doing of penance.


In Roman Catholicism, a sacrament by which a believer is accepted into the Church.

Holy Communion

In Roman Catholicism, the reception of bread/wafers and wine that has been transformed into the literal blood and flesh of Jesus Christ.

Holy Orders

The ordination or appointment of people to posts within the church, a sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lord’s Supper

Commemoration of Jesus' willingness to sacrifice Himself for the forgiveness of human sin, traditionally involving the consumption of small amounts of bread and wine (or appropriate substitutes, such as wafers and grape juice)--also called "Communion" or "Holy Communion" in some Christian sects.


In Christianity generally, the joining of one man and one woman together in a lifelong household, familial, and sexual relationship. A sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church and some other Christian sects.


In Hinduism, a gift (usually food) given by a worshipper to a deity, which is then considered to be blessed and is consumed by worshippers.


In Christianity, a sacred rite.

The Anointing of the Sick

A sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church, in which a gravely ill person is blessed by a priest.