The Doctrine of the Sacraments 2“sacrament” is difficult to define due to the controversy within the church about the nature of the sacraments and what is considered to be sacramental. Alister E. McGrath defines a sacrament as being “an external rite or sign, which in some way conveys grace to believers and strengthens their faith” (p.400). The Catholic and Orthodox Churches recognize seven sacraments, whereas most Protestant churches only recognize two sacraments. The concept of sacraments that impart grace traces back to the beginning of civilization, but they acquired a unique significance during the 12thcentury, as Edwin recounts inEncyclopaedia Brittanica: “the number of sacraments of the Western Christian church was narrowed by the theologian and bishop Peter Lombard to seven” (p.550). The seven that the church accepted as official sacraments were baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, ordination, marriage, and extreme unction. This list was accepted officially at the Council of Florence in 1439 according to Edwin (p.550). At the Council of Trent, these seven sacraments were reaffirmed by the Catholic Church after having been scrutinized by the Protestant Reformation as recorded by McGrath (p.405). These rites that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches confirmed as sacraments in the 16thcentury are the same sacraments that they are still loyal to today.