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Monday, 6 January 2014

Epiphany


The Adoration of the Magi (detail)                                                                                                                             Gentile da Fabriano (1370–1427) 

"Church of England removes devil from christening service" (here) is the latest in a series of moves by the Church of England to make the Church more worldly rather than spiritual. An earlier report, Surplice to requirement? Church of England may cast off vicars’ robes (here), included the comment: Anglican vicars could soon be allowed to cast off their traditional robes and wear casual clothes at “café-style” communion services. 

To put this another way, "How the Faith was Lost in the Church of England" (here).

But the Faith has not been lost completely in the Church of England. Keeping the faith as it has been handed down is still of paramount importance to many Anglicans who continue to bring their gifts to the Church as the Magi brought their gifts to the Christ Child. They must not be refused.

7 comments:

  1. I must say I have often felt uncomfortable at what may seem to be the prominent mention of the devil at Baptisms. Should we not be more positive and recognise that we are bringing a child to the Church? I do not like the implication that the parents or Godparents do ,in the normal course of their lives, give any active thought or consideration to devil- like activities! We all know that it is often the case that godparents and even parents are not regular worshipers ,and such questioning about renouncing the devil is undoubtedly somewhat intimidating. It further may seem to imply to the non regular Church attenders that we live in fear of the devil rather than in celebration and confidence of the Love of Holy Trinity. It is a question of emphasis in getting across the 'meaning' of this Sacrament .

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  2. The business about priests declining to wear vestments is linked to the ordination of women. It is bound up with the denial of the Apostolic succession in that whoever has proposed this and is in favour of it does not see the priest at the altar as Christ's representative. The priest should be suitably and notably attired when standing to offer the Holy Sacrifice. But then again the proponents of the 'dressing casual ' idea probably do not see the Eucharist as the offering to God of The One sufficient sacrifice : there is nothing else good enough for us to offer. Perhaps the priests out there can elaborate in the significance of the vestments? And is my theological understanding of the Eucharist in error?

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  3. The Early Church, dear Simple Soul, was so in fear of the Devil that it repeatedly exorcized catechumens in the Holy Week before their baptism on Easter Night. The discourse of Antony the Great on demons and their doings is the most direct and informative thing I have ever read on the wiles and assaults, pomps, vanities and so forth of his minions.

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  4. In Baptism, Simple Soul, we are bringing a repentant sinner to the fount of grace, to die to this world and to be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit as co-heirs with Christ of the kingdom of God. Repentance requires that we reject the cause of our mortality - which is sin - and that we reject the one who holds sway in this world - just as Jesus rejected him after 40 days and nights in the wilderness. By faith in Christ we approach the throne of grace and ask that through baptism the promise of new life might be fulfilled. This is a far cry from inviting someone to join a club, or even a masonic lodge with its initiation ceremonies. This is the start of a new life, and as such it requires the Church to spell out in the liturgy what is happening. If it does not do so at Baptism, when will parents and godparents and family ever have the opportunity to hear what Jesus Christ commanded us to do - to turn our backs on the devil, and instead enter new life as sons and daughters of God? They already think it is a membership ceremony: it will not help them at all if the Church of England amply confirms this in a service which has been bowdlerised beyond any spiritual recognition.

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  5. I'm with Simple Soul on this one. It strikes me that renouncing the devil is appropriate for a catachumen or an adult seeking baptism, but mention of the devil at infant baptism places too much stress on the Augustinian emphasis on original sin as against the Bible's very clear emphasis (in its opening verses) of original righteousness. Prior to Augustine the evidence for infant baptism is scant. Maybe we should fully revert to the early church practice of adult only baptism and offer a more celebratory namin ceremony for infants. Do away with the post-Christ invention of the baptism of children. Seems logical to me.

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  6. There is plenty of evidence for infant baptism before Augustine (e.g. Cyprian de lapsis without even thinking of others). There was massive controversy about this in the 16th and 17th century. The C of E deliberately held to the practice of infant baptism (against Anabaptists etc) and much of the evidence was collected by the great Joseph Bingham in the Antiquities of the Christian Church (c. 1707, there is a Victorian reprint and it is the basis of the Church chapter in, for instance, A.H.M. Jones standard work The later Roman Empire).
    Old Nick

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  7. I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!

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