From The ACNA Catechism
The following is an excerpt from the Anglican Church in North America’s catechism, To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism (Crossway, 2020), pp. 55–63.
You can download a PDF of the entire catechism here.
121. What is a sacrament?
A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. God gives us the sign as a means by which we receive that grace and as a tangible assurance that we do in fact receive it. (Genesis 17:1– 21; John 6:53–58; Romans 2:25–29; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 1662 Catechism)
122. How should you receive the sacraments?
I should receive the sacraments by faith in Christ, with repentance and thanksgiving. Faith in Christ is necessary to receive the grace of the sacraments, and obedience to Christ is necessary for the benefits of the sacraments to bear fruit in my life. (Mark 16:16; John 6:52–58; Acts 2:38–47; 1 Corinthians 11:27–32; 1662 Catechism; Articles of Religion, 28)
123. What sacraments were ordained by Christ?
The two sacraments ordained by Christ that are “generally necessary to salvation” (1662 Catechism) are Baptism and Holy Communion (also called the Lord’s Supper or the Holy Eucharist). These are sometimes called “sacraments of the Gospel.” (Articles of Religion, 25; see also Matthew 28:19–20; Luke 22:14–20; John 6:52–58; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; 2 Corinthians 1:21–22)
124. Are there other sacraments?
Other rites and institutions commonly called sacraments include confirmation (2 Timothy 1:6–7; Hebrews 6:1–2), ordination (Numbers 8:9–14; 27:18–23; 1 Timothy 4:14), marriage (Genesis 2:18–24; Matthew 19:4–6; John 2:1–11), absolution (John 20:21–23; Acts 2:37– 41), and the anointing of the sick (James 5:14). These are sometimes called “sacraments of the Church.”
125. How do these differ from the sacraments of the Gospel?
They were not ordained by Christ as necessary to salvation, but arose from the practices of the apostles and the Early Church, or were blessed by God in Scripture. God clearly uses them as means of grace. (Articles of Religion, 25)
126. What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?
The outward and visible sign is water, in which candidates are baptized “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Book of Common Prayer 2019; see also Genesis 9:8–17; Matthew 28:19–20; 1 Peter 3:18–22)
127. What is the inward and spiritual grace given in Baptism?
The inward and spiritual grace is death to sin and new birth to righteousness, through union with Christ in his death and resurrection. I am born a sinner by nature, separated from God. But in Baptism, through faith in Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, I am made a member of Christ’s Body and adopted as God’s child and heir. (Psalm 51:1–2, 7–10; Ezekiel 36:25–26; John 3:3–5; Romans 6:1–11; Colossians 2:9–14)
128. What is required of you when you come to be baptized?
Two things are required: repentance, in which I turn away from sin; and faith, in which I turn to Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and trust the promises that God makes to me in this sacrament. (Psalm 51:3–6, 13–17; Mark 1:14–15; Acts 2:37–38)
129. Why is it appropriate to baptize infants?
Because it is a sign of God’s promise that they are embraced in the covenant community of Christ’s Church. Those who in faith and repentance present infants to be baptized vow to raise them in the knowledge and fear of the Lord, with the expectation that they will one day profess full Christian faith as their own. (Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Proverbs 22:6; Mark 2:3–5; Acts 2:39; 16:25–34)
130. What signs of the Holy Spirit’s work should you hope and pray to see as a result of your Baptism?
I should hope and pray that the Holy Spirit, who indwells me, will help me to be an active member of my Christian community, participate in worship, continually repent and return to God, proclaim the faith, love and serve God and my neighbor, and seek justice and peace. (Matthew 22:35–40; Hebrews 10:19–28; 12:14; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 John 1:9; 2:1)
131. Why did Christ institute the sacrament of Holy Communion?
He instituted it for the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of his atoning death, and to convey the benefits of that sacrifice to us. (Exodus 24:1–10; Psalm 23:5–6; Luke 22:17–20; John 6:25–51; 1 Corinthians 10:16–17)
132. What is the outward and visible sign in Holy Communion?
The visible sign is bread and wine, which Christ commands us to receive. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26)
133. What is the inward gift signified?
The inward gift signified is the Body and Blood of Christ, which are truly taken and received in the Lord’s Supper by faith. (Deuteronomy 8:1–20; Psalm 78:17–29; John 6:52–56; 1 Corinthians 10:1– 4, 16–18)
134. What benefits do you receive through partaking of this sacrament?
As my body is nourished by the bread and wine, my soul is strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ. I receive God’s forgiveness, and I am renewed in the love and unity of the Body of Christ, the Church. (1662 Catechism; Psalms 28:6–9; 104:14–15; Jeremiah 31:31–34; John 6:52–56; 17:22–24; Revelation 19:6–9)
135. What is required of you when you come to receive Holy Communion?
I am to examine myself: Do I truly repent of my sins and intend to lead a new life in Christ? Do I have a living faith in God’s mercy through Christ and remember his atoning death with a thankful heart? And have I shown love and forgiveness to all people? (Leviticus 10:1–5; Psalm 50; 1 Corinthians 11:27–32)
136. What is expected of you after partaking in Holy Communion?
I should continue to grow in holiness, avoiding sin, showing love and forgiveness to all, and serving others in gratitude. (Leviticus 20:26; 1 Corinthians 10:14–32; 1 Peter 4:1–11)
137. What is confirmation?
Confirmation is the laying on of the bishop’s hands with prayer for strengthening by the Holy Spirit, following a period of catechetical formation. In confirmation, I make a mature confession of faith, publicly renewing the vows and promises made at my Baptism. (Deuteronomy 6:4–25; Psalm 119:33–40; Acts 8:14–17; 2 Timothy 1:6–7)
138. What grace does God give you in confirmation?
In confirmation, I am further empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit for daily growth in wisdom, courage, and humility before God in every aspect of my life and work. (Psalms 37:3–31; 71:17–18; Isaiah 11:2–5; Acts 19:6; Jude 3, 17–25; “Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation,” Book of Common Prayer 2019)
139. What is the work of all Christians?
All Christians are to bear witness to Christ in their lives; to care for the poor, strangers, widows, and orphans; and, according to their gifts, to serve Christ in the world and in the Church. (Zechariah 7:9–10; Psalms 1; 15; Micah 6:6–8; Colossians 3:1–17; James 1:27; 1 Peter 4:8–11)
140. What is ordination?
Ordination is the laying on of the bishop’s hands with prayer, which confirms the gifts and calling of the candidates, consecrates them, and grants them authority to serve Christ and his Church in the office to which they have been called. (Isaiah 6:1–8; Luke 9:1; Acts 6:1–7; 13:1–3; 1 Timothy 3:1–13; 4:14; 5:22; Titus 1:5–9)
141. What grace does God give in ordination?
In ordination, God conveys the gift of the Holy Spirit for the office and work of the order being conferred. (Numbers 27:12–23; Ephesians 4:7–16; 2 Timothy 1:6–7)
142. What are the three ordained ministries in the Anglican Church?
The three orders are bishops, priests, and deacons, which we have received from Scripture and the historic Church. (Acts 6:1–7; 1 Timothy 3:1; 5:17–22; 2 Timothy 4:5; Titus 1:5; Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians 2.1–3; 3.1–2)
143. What is the work of bishops?
Bishops represent and serve Christ and the Church as chief pastors, catechists, and missionaries in the tradition of the apostles. They are to confirm and ordain, and to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church. (Isaiah 61:1–11; John 20:19–23; 21:15–19; Acts 20:17–35; 1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:7–9; 1 Peter 5:1–5; Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp 1.2–2.2)
144. What is the work of priests?
Serving Christ with their bishops, priests (or presbyters) nurture God’s people through the ministry of Word and Sacrament and pronounce absolution and blessing in God’s Name. (Genesis 14:17– 20; Psalm 132:8–18; Luke 10:1–9; John 10:1–16; Ephesians 4:7–13)
145. What is the work of deacons?
Serving Christ under their bishops, deacons care for those in need, assist in public worship, and instruct both young and old in the catechism. (Deuteronomy 15:7–11; Psalm 119:1–8; Luke 12:35–40; Acts 6:1–7; 1 Timothy 3:8–13)
146. What is Christian marriage?
Christian marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman, uniting them in self-giving love, joy, and faithfulness. It is ordained by God for the procreation and spiritual nurture of children, the sanctification of husband and wife, the mutual support of their common life, and the flourishing of family, church, and society. Husband and wife enter into this covenant by exchanging vows before God and in the presence of witnesses. (Genesis 2:18–25; Song of Solomon 4:7–10; Matthew 19:3–9; John 2:1–11; Romans 7:2–3; Hebrews 13:4; see questions 322–23)
147. What is signified in marriage?
The union of husband and wife in one flesh signifies the communion between Christ, the heavenly bridegroom, and the Church, his holy bride. Not all are called or able to marry, but all Christians are joined to Christ as members of his Body. (Song of Solomon 8:6–7; Isaiah 54:4– 8; 1 Corinthians 7:6–11; Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:6–10; 21:1–4)
148. What grace does God give in marriage?
In Christian marriage, God unites husband and wife and blesses their common life, that they may grow together in love, wisdom, and godliness, patterned on the sacrificial love of Christ. A Christian marriage embodies this grace in the world, especially through hospitality and care for those who are lonely or in need. (Genesis 2:18–25; Psalm 128; Proverbs 18:22; Matthew 1:18–25; 1 Corinthians 13:1–13; “Holy Matrimony,” Book of Common Prayer 2019)
149. What is absolution?
In absolution, a priest, acting under God’s authority, pronounces God’s forgiveness in response to repentance and confession of sin. (2 Samuel 12:1–13; Proverbs 28:13; John 20:22–23; James 5:15–16)
150. What grace does God give to you in absolution?
In absolution, God conveys his pardon through the Cross, removes and cancels my sin, declares me reconciled and at peace with him, and grants me the assurance of his grace and salvation. (Psalm 32; Matthew 18:18; Acts 5:30–32; 1 John 1:8–10)
151. What is necessary to receive the grace of absolution?
Repentance, in which I intend to resist further sin, accept responsibility for my actions, and endeavor to repair damage I have caused; and faith, by which I thankfully receive God’s forgiveness. (1 Kings 8:46–53; Psalm 51; Daniel 9:1–23; Matthew 3:1–12; Romans 2:1–11; 2 Corinthians 7:5–13)
Anointing of the Sick
152. What is the anointing of the sick?
Through prayer and anointing with oil, the minister invokes God’s blessing upon those suffering in body, mind, or spirit. (1 Kings 17:17– 24; Psalm 107:17–22; Matthew 8:14–17; 10:5–8; Acts 28:8; James 5:15–16)
153. What grace does God give in the anointing of the sick?
God gives healing, strength, and peace, either for recovery from injury or illness, or for perseverance in adversity, especially in preparation for death. (Psalms 103:2–5; 119:49–56; Isaiah 49:13; Matthew 8:5–13; 2 Corinthians 1:3–7; 12:7–10)
XXV. Of the Sacraments.
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men’s profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God’s good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.
There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures, but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.
The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, they have a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.
XXVI. Of the Unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments.
Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their Ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith, and rightly, do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.
Nevertheless, it appertaineth to the discipline of the Church, that inquiry be made of evil Ministers, and that they be accused by those that have knowledge of their offences; and finally, being found guilty, by just judgment be deposed.
XXVII. Of Baptism.
Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.
The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was not by Christ’s ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord’s Supper.
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.
XXX. Of both Kinds.
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people: for both the parts of the Lord’s Sacrament, by Christ’s ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
As Managing Editor, Josh is in charge of the day-to-day operations at Anglican Pastor. He is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America, serving at Church of the Savior in Wheaton, IL (Diocese of C4SO). Josh is also a Ph.D. student in theology at Wheaton College. You can follow Josh on micro.blog, or learn more at joshuapsteele.com.