Ordinance (Christianity)

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This article is about the term "ordinance" as used by some Protestants for religious rituals. For the term in the canon law of some Christian faiths, see Ordinance (canon law).


Ordinance is a Protestant Christian term for religious rituals, especially baptism and communion.[1]

Depending on the denomination, some churches also practice headcovering and footwashing[2] as ordinances. While the term "ordinance" is not often used in Scripture, the Apostle Paul uses it when introducing his teaching on headcovering in 1 Corinthians 11:2 (KJV).

Distinctions[edit]

While a sacrament is seen as something in and of itself sacred, an ordinance is a practice that merely demonstrates the participants' faith. For example, some Protestants, such as Baptists, Churches of Christ, Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Mennonites,[3] do not call them "sacraments" because they believe these rituals are outward expressions of faith, rather than impartations of God's grace. The ordinances are often observed in remembrance of Jesus, primarily his baptism and the last supper (communion or eucharist).

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Howe, Claude (1991). Holman Bible Dictionary. Broadman & Holman. Christians agree universally that baptism and the Lord's Supper were instituted by Christ and should be observed as “ordinances” or “sacraments” by His followers. 
  2. ^ Olson, Roger (2004). The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 259. ISBN 0664224644. 
  3. ^ Third Way Café: Sacraments/ordinances