The Lutheran Church has always had three sacraments while claiming only two.
There are, as every person ever confirmed in the Lutheran Church knows, Baptism and Holy Communion. These we announce. These we teach.
But the third Sacrament we hide and pretend it isn’t there. If asked we say it isn’t a sacrament. That’s what we say. But the practice is different.
What is this hidden sacrament ? Why ordination of course. This is the sacrament that makes the other two possible. This is what gives the pastor the magic.
Now we Lutherans have covered this with talk of good order. The pastor is the one with the seminary training. So to see to it that things are done right he alone without a special dispensation from a Bishop or an emergency can handle the sacraments.
Now if a seminary trained man or woman was not ordained they couldn’t be a pastor. Without the ordination the seminary training means nothing. What makes a man or woman a pastor is the ordination, the magic act.
The good order argument is and always has been a sham. If it were the truth then a congregation could appoint somebody to keep track of the baptisms and set guidelines for the act. That would be good order. It would need no ordination and no Bishop.
We used to have 3 sacraments but now we have 3 1/2 . In addition to ordination we have supper ordination. That’s where a man ceases to be a pastor and becomes a Bishop. It requires an Episcopal Bishop to make it work. No Episcopal Bishop no magic.
So powerful is this magic that the Bishop can now appoint people to do the sacraments who are not ordained. It is okay because the super ordained person said it was okay.
So the next time an ELCA Lutheran tells you we have two sacraments just smile because you know the truth.