The Seven Holy Sacraments

According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, the Lord has ordained to achieve man’s salvation through giving him a defined number of sacraments, that is, the Holy Sacraments. The people are decreed to adhere to them and have them performed on their behalf by the Church. The only way people can gain salvation and eternal life is through the Sacraments. Here is an excerpt from an Orthodox textbook on religious doctrine:

“’The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,’ writes the old apostle loved by Christ, St. John (1 Jn. 5:19). In this world dominated by evil, man is found at the bottom of a well crying out for salvation. He himself is unable by his own strength to save himself, but someone at the top of the well can throw him a rope, a lifeline which he will eagerly catch… The sacraments of the [Eastern Orthodox] Church of Christ form a ‘rope’ that the Lord Jesus Christ gives from His heavenly heights out of clean and infinite love for man down into our valley of tears so that we, sinful men, might grab them and partake of their powers, by the grace of God, and acquire the Light of God that is without darkness.”

The main sacraments in Orthodoxy consist of seven “mysteries” , which include: Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion (the Eucharist), Repentance (i.e., Confession), Holy Orders (i.e., Clergy), Marriage, and Anointing of the Sick. Orthodox writer Lazar Milin describes the sacraments:

“Roman Catholics have also listed all the seven Holy Mysteries, or Sacraments. The reformers, Luther and Zwingli, and Calvin, reduced the number of sacraments from seven to two, including only Baptism and Communion. Protestant schismatics, primarily the Anabaptists, but soon others, deleted even these two sacraments by proclaiming them merely sacred rites.”

So, according to the Orthodox, both they themselves and Roman Catholics have the ‘fullness of God’s grace’ because they both adhere to seven Sacraments, Protestants
adhere to only two, and the “schismatic” Protestants (those whom Milin calls evangelical Christians in Serbia and the world) deny any sacramental acts as mentioned above.

Before going further into details of explanations from the Holy Scriptures all the terms that the Orthodox call “Holy Sacraments”, our readers ought to know that Orthodox doctrine of Holy Sacraments is not based on the Bible. Rather, Orthodoxy bases its beliefs on the Sacraments from Holy Tradition, e.g., the teaching and interpretation of the Gospel by the Church Fathers over the centuries.

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