Reformer’s view of the Doctrine of the Sacraments

Nick Lica 


Outline of writing project:

  1. Luther’s view

  2. Zwingli’s view

  3. Anabaptists’ view

  4. Alvin’s view



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Martin Luther accepts only two sacraments: baptism and Lord’s Supper.

Baptism is the sign of justification and signifies two things: death and resurrection. Baptism is also the beginning of the Christian life and is indissoluble with faith. There can be no true sacrament without faith. The faith must precede baptism. Luther made a big difference between having faith and depending on one’s faith and making baptism depend on the faith. Who is baptized on the basic of his faith denies Christ.

Lord’s Supper - On this issue Luther found himself involved in the most bitter and prolonged controversies not only with Roman Catholic Church but also with the extreme Reformers. The main doctrine and practice of may be found in the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. He believed that the body of Christ has power to be everywhere at the same time. He rejected transubstantiation but accepted that Jesus is in some way present in the bred and wines.


Zwingli’s theory of sacraments was developed in the opposition to three other views: the Lutheran, the Catholics and the Anabaptists. He recognized only two sacraments: baptism and Lord’s Supper. Against Luther’s view, he said that if the sacraments are simply signs of something that has already taken place, they are useless.

Baptism can not be said to wash away the sins of the baptized. Baptism as a circumcision is sign of he covenant and based on this analogy he agreed with the infant baptism. For him baptism was a signal of incorporation into the church. Baptism does not signify salvation through human achievement, but salvation through the grace of God. So the baptism of an infant is a reminder to the church of the grounds for its own salvation.

Lord’s Supper is the thanksgiving and common rejoicing of those who declare the death of Christ. Communion shows that Christians keep in mind Christ’s passion and victory and are members of his church. Christ is not present bodily present in the Eucharist because of the: understanding of the relationship between material and spiritual; and the view of incarnation: if Christ ascended to heaven and sits at right hand of God, his body can be elsewhere.


Anabaptists Baptism ans Lord’s Supper are symbols of the inner realities.

Baptism is a symbol of sin and therefore is to be administrated only to adult believers. They did it first by pouring and than by immersion.

Lord’s Supper it was celebrated in small groups and was a symbol of fellowship between the Christians. The unworthy were not allowed to participate for this would break down the symbolism of the union


Calvin – his view on sacraments is a middle way between Luther and Zwingli. He recognize two sacraments as others reformers but he focus on the sacraments from a different perspective.

Lord’s Supper – Communion is a visible sign of the union with Christ. He try to find out how body of Christ becomes ours and not how is transformed. For Calvin the element have a clear signification but is not the thing in itself. Christ was with the elements not in the elements. The meaning and miracle of the Lord’s Supper is not in transporting the elements (transubstantiation) but in our receiving. He believed in a spiritual presence of the Christ during the communion. The miracle of Communion is not in magic transformation but in participation on the Lord’s Supper because Christ himself presents the sacraments to us. Calvin was convinced that should be celebrated weekly.




Baptism – on this issue he accepted more Zwingli’s view than Luther’s.

He believed that baptism is a sign of participation to the people of God.

The purpose of baptism- is twofold: it serves faith and it is a confession before others. Baptism cleanses all sins, past and future. Baptism is Christocentric, and its power lies in the union with Christ, which it signifies. He rejected the adoration of the sacrament.



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