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The number and nature of the Christian sacraments is one of the controversial issues of the Reformation. During the first millennium of Christianity it becomes gradually accepted in both Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism that there are seven sacraments (meaning rituals in which the grace of God is present).

These seven sacraments are baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, penance, extreme unction of the dying, ordination of priests, and matrimony.

In the Reformation, with Protestants restricting themselves to truth found in scripture, it becomes clear that only two of these sacraments are acknowledged by Jesus as rituals - baptism, which he himself receives from John the Baptist, and the Eucharist, which he enjoins upon his followers at the Last Supper.

The Protestant churches reduce the sacraments to these two, and then begin to disagree about their nature. In the very first years of reform, Zwingli clashes with radicals in Zürich about baptism for infants or adults and disagrees with Luther, at Marburg, over whether the Eucharist is metaphorically or literally the body and blood of Christ.

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