Saturday, August 13, 2016

Confirmation: A rite in search of a theology?!

A while back I promised to come back to the subject of Confirmation, a matter which our recent 2016 General Synod discussed and shelved for further discussion and study.

On the one hand, re-reading the Taonga report about the GS debate, I am heartened at the number of colleagues standing firm in resisting the abolition of Confirmation (via the then proposal that it become "Affirmation").

On the other hand, Bishop Jim White's statement re Confirmation, "There is nothing to confirm" offers a profound challenge to those of us who wish to see Confirmation retained and its name continue in the life of our church as one of five sacramental actions honoured alongside the Dominical sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist.

Both before and after General Synod 2016 Bosco Peters made a couple of posts on Confirmation (here and here). I made a few comments to the latter post but I am not guaranteeing that I have not changed my mind between then and now.

Not much, it seems to me, has changed this year in ACANZPland re an old saying about Confirmation that it is a rite in search of a theology - a theology which makes this rite plausible, justifiable and even necessary in the journey of faith.

Here goes. My thoughts:

(1) Acknowledged here is that the decision of our church in 1990 to make (i.e. confirm an understanding of the meaning of) Baptism the full and sufficient rite of initiation into the life of the church, including access to the Eucharist, made Confirmation redundant as a rite of initiation. That is, since 1990 there has been a canonical redundancy to Confirmation as a rite that (rightly or wrongly understood) completed initiation by being a gateway to reception of the Eucharist, enabled reception of the Spirit through the laying on of hands of the bishop, as well as an opportunity for the confirmand to confirm that the faith of their parents was also their faith.

(2) Also acknowledged, noting some comments in the report cited above on the GS 2016 debate, is that there is no necessary connection between Confirmation and catechesis, that is, the provision of education on the Christian way of life (in general) or, say, understanding the Eucharist (in particular).

(3) Also acknowledged, is that there are ways and means of confirming and/or affirming one's faith as a young adult or a mature adult which do not require Confirmation as a rite. Opportunities, on a repeated basis, exist for adults to "renew their baptism". Opportunities can be made for the giving of a public testimony of faith and, again, this need not be a unique occasion in a person's life.

(4) Also acknowledged, noting an exchange between me and Bosco Peters, is that Confirmation is not necessary to strengthen bonds of unity between parish and diocese, between congregation and bishop via the bishop coming to a parish for the sake of  confirming people. Bishops these days visit parishes to preach and preside without any confirmands being confirmed and thus bonds of affection between parish and diocese are strengthened without connection to Confirmation. (Besides which, I have some openness to presbyters being able to confirm in some circumstances, as occurs in the Roman Catholic church).

So, what about Confirmation?

I remain loathe to change things without reference - to some degree or other - to the wider church. In this case 'Confirmation' (as I best understand it) remains a "thing" in Western Christianity, with a sort of parallel, Chrismation, in Eastern Christianity. Within churches (some? many? all?) of the Anglican Communion it continues to be held necessary as a step on the way to ordination. I suggest, first, that Confirmation being retained as a rite of this church is less problematic in respect of ecumenical relationships than either abolishing it or re-naming it (as the proposed motion to GS 2016 sought to do).

What might we then ask of Confirmation to do for us? Secondly, and contrary to Bishop Jim White's cited comment above, I suggest there is something to "confirm" which is appropriately even if not necessarily or uniquely done through Confirmation.

When baptised as a child I have no say in whether to be baptised and no say in being baptised. All statements are made by the baptising minister, the supporting cast of parents and godparents or the congregation (whether made on behalf of the child (BCP) or as their own statements of faith and commitment (NZPB).

When do I formally confirm in my own words that I wish to be counted in this world and in  the world to come as a person baptised into God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? When do I formally confirm that the faith my parents and godparents expressed at my baptism (and also the faith expressed by the congregation when it makes its confession "Jesus is Lord") is also "my" faith, the faith I myself wish to publicly articulate and claim as embraced by me?

The rite we call "Confirmation" is an already named opportunity for me to make that confirmation. And, yes, I understand that that is a shift in emphasis from the bishop "confirming" the confirmand through the laying on of hands and thus may require appropriate revision of the wording of our current rite. And, yes, I understand that what I have just written is a rationale for Confirmation for those Baptised as Infants, and not a rationale for those who have been Baptised as Adults. But on the latter, see below.

So far so words oriented, towards the words of our faith. "Ah," the critics of the current rite declaim, "nothing in this rationale for Confirmation requires that a bishop be present nor that the bishop lays hands on the confirmand. What you are talking about is talking not action such as laying on of hands and that underlines our criticism of the current rite."

This is true as far as it goes, but how might the church respond to a confirming believer? What might the church offer as its own "confirmation" that it has heard and applauds and celebrates a deliberate, considered public declaration of baptismal faith? What might the church offer as a sign of support and as an indication of its prayer for strengthening of resolve to follow Christ as a baptised person?

Framing questions in that way - of course - leads me, thirdly, to suggest in answer that it is not wrong that the rite of Confirmation continues to include the act of laying on of hands with prayer (as per NZPB p. 393). With this act of laying on of hands, as per most ancient custom of the church (various passages in Acts, James 5), the believer is strengthened for service in Christ's church through invocation of the Greatest Strengthener of All, the Holy Spirit. In this framing of the matter, of course we have a double confirmation: the confirmand confirms that the faith of the church is their faith and the church confirms that it has heard that confirmation and responds by praying for the confirmand.

On the one hand, framed in this way, I think it appropriate for such prayer with laying on of hands to be given to an adult person when baptised as an adult.

On the other hand, there is the question whether or not a bishop is necessary for such prayer. My own sense, fourthly, is that a bishop is not essential to the rite but definitely is a benefit to the rite. A particular benefit is that we when we ask that the norm for Confirmation be that the bishop if at all possible is the Confirmer then we are honouring the confirmand with the particular sign of the whole church as one body, the bishop, being present to hear the confirmand's confession of faith and to pray on behalf of the church for the strengthening of that faith through the Holy Spirit.

In other words, I am expressing an understanding of Confirmation which does not seek to do what is not now possible, that is argue that it is in some sense or another absolutely necessary for the faithful life of a believing Christian (e.g. to complete the necessary act of baptism).

Rather I am expressing an understanding of Confirmation which renews this ancient rite by finding again reasons to have a specific, once only rite in the life of the believer which draws together an aspect of baptism (formal, public, post-baptismal declaration of faith by the baptised) with an aspect of com-union (the church which hears that confirmation of faith confirms the believer belongs to the church and prays for the believer in a particular way (with laying of hands, with the church in its oneness in God represented, if at all possible, by the bishop) for strengthening in the life of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit, open to the gifts of the Spirit being released or re-released in the ministry of the believer within the church.

Pragmatically, such a rite is, in practice, very useful as a rite which can (but need not) be encouraged among young people in the church as they transition from childhood to adulthood (as indeed the rite has been useful, albeit with shifting senses of the most appropriate age during transition for which the rite is particularly encouraged (so, e.g., we find in our Anglican schools that typically students are confirmed in years 12 or 13 i.e. between 16 and 18 years of age.

What do you think?




32 comments:

Father Ron said...

Dear Peter,
i strongly agree with your accent on the need for the Anglican (catholic) rite of Confirmation. The first and foremost reason (for me) is that it affords the valuable opportunity for a public rite of acceptance of personal responsibility for observing the seminal testimony of Faith made on one's behalf by other people at one's Baptism. Also, I believe that adult cnadidates could, and perhaps should, receive their Confirmation at the same time as their Baptism

There is, of course, a further opportunity for Affirming one's one's Baptismal status on an annual basis at the Easter Eve Ceremonies, with Sprinkling from the newly-consecrated Baptismal Waters at the Font - together with the whole Community of Faith. However, the initial Confirmation - of the Sacrament of one's Baptism - ought provide a special landmark in one's Faith pilgrimage.

The special presence and action of the Bishop, with the Laying on of Hands and Anointing with the Oil of Chrism, is the traditional mark of one's discipleship in the Catholic Tradition, which I believe to be both spiritually energising and encouraging.

However, I do think that, in more Evangelical churches, it may be that the modern understanding of the bestowal of the Gifts of the Spirit in the phenomenon that has come to be known - almost sacramentally - as 'Baptism in The Spirit' could have led to the downgrading, in such church communities, of appreciation of the more traditional Rite of Confirmation.

Jean said...

Yep, sounds good to me Peter! When I was confirmed as an adult I did actually think it was good having the Bishop come as it was about the only time we got to see him - smile. However, I don't see it as necessarily needing to be the Bishop but a person in leadership within the Church and see the laying on of hands in the spirit Paul did for Timothy as a form matching what you suggest, whether at an adult Baptism or a Confirmation service - to confirm/concur to stir up through the Holy Spirit the gifts that are within.

As for age I see it as a when it is the right time for the person. Great to offer it to young adults, providing education/understanding and the option of being confirmed it they decide to make this committment. However, there may also be a number of adults either returning to church or having grown in their faith and never being confirmed whom may see it as a significant way to declare their faith publically. The educatioin component for adults may need to differ or be optional if a person is already scriptural well versed.

One query in the olden days was confirmation linked to receiving communion? I remember doing the admittance to communioin earlier when I was around 7 or 8 (I still have the rather doodled on book we used). Confirmation was offered later, however, I do believe most who were confirmed are no longer practising Christians - it was widely influenced by family expectations and seen just as a part of just what you did as a tradition. Ironically, me being far to serious in nature had to actually examine the words themselves not just go with the flow and decided I couldn't make the committment at the time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; often the comments roll in faster than I can think. While I am thinking, I say this. In our RC diocese, we follow Vatican 2 which is not mandatory yet. Our children at RC schools make first reconciliation (confession), confirmation and communion in that order over 9 months when they are 8 or older. I have taken my children through the highly planned programme (there are meetings, prayers, teaching for parents/children and written work). If you do it properly, a child will meet the protestant John 3 decision to follow Jesus. Confirmation for us is really the bishop confirming the priest's baptism with anointing. Catholics who do not go through the programme (or the adult equivalent RCIA) cannot receive the eucharist. The pre-V2 versions have confirmation after first communion and often at an older age. That was abandoned by V2, but you might now realise why.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
It is important to keep comments focused on the issues and not the commenters or other persons known within the small circle of people known as "NZers"!, so accordingly, in the comment you have submitted below, I have omitted a line which, in my view, is more about a person than about the issues at hand:

"Hi Peter,
Bishop Jim White's statement re Confirmation,
"There is nothing to confirm".-

[]

The Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions which he chaired,and which reported to GSSC and the Ma Whea Commission,stated at para B3.2.1:
"We are acutely aware in this part of the world that we need to forge theology that is not born of the singular oppressive experience of patriarchal,white,heterosexual men;we choose to privilege the experience of the "other"-the outcast and the stranger".
When asked to clarify this,he responded:"the truth is the description fits most theologians standardly referred to and studied,starting with, say
Augustine...do we stop at Barth,or Ratzinger". Sounds like 2000 years of our Catholic History and Church Fathers to me!!!!!
So if you are looking for any new theology to hang anything at all on,+Jim is your man!!!!!
Regards,Glen.
"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
You must be in a different diocese to the one I am in!
:)
P

Glen Young said...


Hi Peter,
I included the comment which you deleted, because you,not only mentioned by name,a person who has been elected to an office within the Whole Catholic Church;but you also noted a very questionable quote attributed to him.What does he mean by" there is nothing to confirm"????
I am much more interested in what people, who are trying to influence the ACANZP into a direction which has no Constitutional legitimacy;than I am with what Bonhoeffer may or may not say,if he were alive today.
I suggested that he may like to take that step,because Turner writes in his History and Use of the Creeds,page 28:"This is why we meet with 'anathemas'for the first time at the end of the Creed of the Council of Nicaea.The anathemas are there because and only because the Creed is no longer the layman's confession of faith,but the bishop's.The old principle that the profession of belief of the catechumens should be positive in character is not infringed:the Council has not even in view,the case of the clergy,still less that of the faithful laity:to the Bishops alone belonged the office of deciding in the last resort what was Christian and Catholic and what was heretical,and therefore the Bishops alone should be called upon to guarantee their soundness in the faith by formal and solemn anathemas of error"
THIS IS WHAT MEANS, PETER, TO PART OF THE ONE,HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH.
Regards Glen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; I am not in the Christchurch diocese. You could go through the motions in our sacramental programme, but if done properly it's a good programme. Our parish school also has a high immigrant component and there is real parental support.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick and other readers here
I should clarify, further to my response above to Nick's first comment in this thread, I ONLY mean that I reside within a different Catholic Diocese in respect to "order" of special events in the life of a growing Catholic young person. As far as I can tell the content of preparation and support through preparation is exemplary and, I shall assume, consistent across all dioceses.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Glen
Yes I understand what you are saying and the sentence I deleted in another context (e.g. a direct letter from you to the aforesaid bishop) would be appropriate as a direct and directive remark from you to him. But I need to take care here to avoid "ad hominem" comments because when someone subsequently complains about them, it takes me more time and energy to defuse the situation than I care to spend.

Glen Young said...

Hi Peter,
I quite agree with you that it would indeed be a sad day if the Church were to move away from the current Baptism/Confirmation practice.I am still to see the point that +Jim is making with his comment that " there is nothing to confirm".It seems that we could do worse, than, follow the example of Joseph and Mary-Luke 2:27 & 2:42.
Children need every encouragement to form healthy and strong personal identities.Those who are in leadership roles in the Church, need to very vigilant about putting any stumbling blocks in the paths of our developing youth.
Regards,Glen.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter; in some respects there is nothing to confirm if the baptism is recorded and confirmation is not a sacrament. However, Jean is correct (and I expand on what she says) that confirmation is crucial for those who want to make their own commitment. It's a John 3 moment.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
You are perfectly summing up first the insight of some Anglican churches around the world, "in some respects there is nothing to confirm ..." while summing up my key point, that, nevertheless, "confirmation is crucial ..."
Thank you (and to you, Jean and others being supportive here).

Andrei said...

" A rite in search of a theology?!"

I believe the theological explanation lies in the connecting of the recipient of this Sacrament to Pentecost and the reception of the Holy Spirit received then handed down from the Apostles from generation to generation

Thus the Apostolic succession is invoked with the connection of the Bishop in this sacrament either through the laying on of hands or in the anointing with Chrism provided by the Bishop

The Chrism used in Chrismation is provided by the Bishop but contains Chrism from his predecessor who in turn prepared his Chrism using some of his of his predecessors and so forth down the ages

I don't know if this is helpful and I'm no expert on this

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
A couple of preliminaries:
1) A question about language. Do Anglicans really recognise 5 "sacramental actions"? They are not referred to as such in the 39 Articles, but rather as rites consistent with Scripture.
2) Renewal of baptism. Without wanting to get off confirmation and onto baptism I think baptism renewal is a very dangerous trend that I see increasing, especially among people baptised as infants or who want to be baptised somewhere significant e.g. the Jordan River. We have one Lord, one faith and one baptism, not multiple.

I genuinely have an open mind about teh details of confirmation, but within the following principles:
- For those baptised as infants, there is a place for a service where they can express their faith individually and publicly.
- If you are baptised as an adult, confirmation is worse than useless. It suggests that your baptism was insufficient in some way.
- Confirmation should not be a prerequisite for any church office, including ordained clergy. If you are baptised and receive the Lord's Supper you are a full member of the church. I know of clergy who have been confirmed in the lead up to their ordination because they hadn't been confirmed earlier.
- There is no reason that only a bishop should be able to confirm people. A priest can surely judge if a candidate is ready for confirmation and is likely to know them much better than the bishop! Maybe it's helpful to have the bishop there as a sign of unity but if only the bishop can confirm, we infer that only they have the special spiritual power to do it, or that we threaten church authority.
- As you say, I don't see any necessary link between confirmation and discipleship (cathechesis). Not do I see a link with receiving the Lord's Supper, which most dioceses allow children to receive.
- It is also unhelpful to link Confirmation with receiving the Holy Spirit or Pentecost. That is a 2-step salvation unsupported by the Scriptures (with a couple of exceptions in the very early days of the church) and similar to the error of SOME charismatic churches. The Holy Spirit comes upon us when we believe in the Lord Jesus - not when we are confirmed or when the Bishop puts his hands on us.
- Confirmation "sponsors" as allowed for in some liturgies seem a bit pointless to me. Isn't the whole point for the candidate to express their faith publicly?
- It is better to use the rite of reception for those joining the Anglican church from another denomination. Some bishops seem to like using confirmation for this purpose despite there being a purpose-built rite of reception for that purpose. Confirmation suggests their Christian faith has been deficient to this point.

Anyway, may God guide you in NZ and all of us elsewhere as we seek to honour Him in this area.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Peter, I look on this with three considerations in mind.

(1) Human Nature is Universal. What concerns universal human nature cannot be changed by anything less than the whole universal Church. Because Christian initiation concerns the human person as such, and not the English person, the American person, or the Kiwi person, there is no possibility of there being an English, an American, or a Kiwi sacrament of initiation. A fortiori there cannot be a sacrament (eg confirmation) that is valid in one province but not in another.

(2) Presentism is Ignorance. If persons not authorities on the ancient and present practice propose to change it because it does not make sense to people on casual acquaintance, then the wise thing to do is not to change the practice but to educate the ignorant as far as is possible.

(3) Anglicanism is a Whole. Churches are interesting to Anglicans insofar as they maintain the *whole* Anglican tradition, especially with respect to those matters in which we have differed from Rome and the more radical Reformed. For example, the Diocese of Christchurch is more interesting and credible to Anglicans than the Diocese of Sydney because the former has retained an Anglican understanding of church order and the latter with its lay celebration of communion has lost that understanding. Not many are seriously demanding that Sydney be expelled from the Communion, but here up yonder there are episcopal Lutherans in Sweden with more credibility because their practice is closer to our practice.

With these in mind, I cannot see why any reasonable person down under would insist on a certain anomie on That Topic but then demand a rigorously consistent presentist theology of confirmation. If one does not like confirmation for some fidgety reason, then why not just think about something less disturbing?

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bowman
I do not quite think you are following the logic of Kiwi (and other) Anglicans!
If Confirmation is a completion of Christian initiation then your logic stands (it is a universal sacramental action, not to be changed by one province and not all others simultaneously, etc).
But the argument of certain Down Under species of Anglicans is that we do not believe it completes initiation, thus loosed from the moorings of baptism and uncoupled from the rail track leading to Holy Communion it is a very fair question to ask whether Confirmation is any longer a rite-with-purpose and to further ask what that purpose(s) is.
That more than (at least some) Anglicans are theologically uneasy about Confirmation is, to me, illustrated by the shifting seas upon which Confirmation sails in Roman seas (as in shifting around between priority before First Communion and secondarity to First Communion, I realise that officially it is still understood as "completing" baptism).
Hence in the ACANZP context my post (alongside of which, across the Ditch, Andrew Reid makes pertinent criticisms) and hence, off this blog, some correspondence with colleagues who do not accept my attempt to "rescue" Confirmation because they would go further and more in the Andre Reid direction, albeit from a different theological starting point!
Thus, back to my beginning point here, by all means say we are wrong to draw the theological conclusion that Confirmation does not complete initiation, but only on that basis does your logic work (IMHO).

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Ron
I am deleting the last part of the comment you posted here, below, because it shifts from comment on the issue to speculative comment on the commenter. NO!

"Andrew Reid; are you seriously suggesting that the words of our liturgies that suggest the special visitation of the Holy Spirit on occasions of the Laying on of Hands by the Bishop are actually in error? For instance, are priests not in receipt of the Holy Spirit - empowering them for their ministry at their priestly Ordination? [] "

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Andrew and Ron
I understand the invocation of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation and at Ordination to not be about salvation (there is not a two step process to being saved) but to be about an infilling and empowering of the Holy Spirit for service in the world.

Father Ron said...

Precisely, Peter! Our Church teaches that salvation has already been accomplished - by Jesus Christ - without any other human agency, personal or communal. The Churches' role is to enable that salvation to be taken up - by individuals and communities - by their teaching, pastoring, and sacramental administration.

Our human response, ideally, is to accept, receive, and take our personal part in its offering the Good News of God's grace in and to the world. The Laying on of hands by the bishop is part of God's plan for our empowerment; to experience, live out, and to minister God's gifts of grace in their particular order.

Anonymous said...

Alas, Peter, I do follow the logic of the fidgets; it just lacks understanding and applicability.

The Church's *practice* of confirmation has somewhat depended on the scriptural example of the apostles, and a traditional understanding of apostolicity. It has never depended upon any single *theory* that can either make sense or not. (In this, it is similar to, say, the Atonement. Will we next drop the Cross because we have no single theory of how it worked that rationalistic fidgets can accept?) Either one practices the tradition given by the Holy Spirit to the Church, or one does not.

Fidgets, at bottom, do not like tradition because it demands a certain humility and limits their power, and they like synods because they give them power that the mass of the faithful would refuse them. The essential problem that fidgets have with confirmation is that it refuses to be reduced to a tidy theory that they can adjudge and find acceptable *apart from the tradition* that some of us keep mentioning here and that others of us keep ignoring here. That, on this question, there are Roman fidgets as well as Anglican fidgets is understandable-- the former taught the latter how to rationalistically misunderstand sacraments-- but this proves nothing to those in both communions who believe the third article of the creeds.

In its heyday, fidgetry was an accommodation strategy for churches in cultures with Christian majorities. It allowed churches to carry on more or less of the tradition while reassuring the public that the fidgets in charge would never let religion get in the way of modernity. But in today's postmodern, deconstantinianised, global village, the habitual rationalism of the fidgets is simply bad religion with some much livelier competitors. Signs of the times: myriad movements are retrieving past sacred traditions, and the churches led by the fidgets and their synods are withering.

So again: fidgets are the echo of yesterday's theological rationalism, and the future of our churches depends on how many fully understand that (1) Human nature is universal; (2) Presentism is ignorance; (3) Anglicanism is a whole.

Bowman Walton

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bowman
I shall attempt to be less fidgety!
And more relaxed about being a traditional Anglican ...

Father Ron said...

re Bowman's comments; it's perhaps as well that there were 'fidgets', too, in the Church's fist beginnings; they insisted on things like outlawing the need for (at least male) circumcision; women being subject to male domination and other things the Church now takes for granted - as being a 'wrong' tradition. I wonder if the Scribes and Pharisees though Jesus to be a 'fidget'. Must have been something like that - they had Him crucified for his tendency to agitate.

Jean said...

I always wondered why I was consistently told off for fidgeting! Now I know : )

I agree with Peter re the infilling of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation or Ordination as on other occassions differs from receiving the Holy Spirit (e.g. stir up the gift that is a l r e a d y within you).

Peter's ouline of the role for confirmation in the post sits well for me. If it was the same thing by a different name such as re-affirmation of Baptismal vows as an adult it would sit just as well. One can get lost in the details that I think detract from the main purpose or point.

I do start to fidget, however, when it comes to who can do what re the laying on of hands or the 'administration' of communion. Before I start blog WWIII, if a minister is available to bless the wine and bread for communion, or a Bishop available to confirm I see no need for there to be any major alterations to these actions. However, where the Bible says do this in remembrance of me I doubt he added a precursor "only I would prefer you didn't if a Priest isn't available".

Also regarding the baptism of the Holy Spirit my understanding is this is quite separate from both Baptism of water or the laying on of hands. Jesus himself said (okay I am a literalist at times) "I will Baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". So my understanding is such experiences as at Pentecost come direct from Christ by the Spirit without human's as the instruments.

Peter Carrell said...

That is not WW3, Jean.
If lay people can baptise in emergencies, I think it fair to asked the learned doctors of the church why not the eucharist also?
(But I do mean genuine emergencies!)

Andrei said...

The answers to these questions are all in Holy Scripture

In Acts 8 for example

"14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Father Ron said...

A very good point, Andrei. Also, though, the Holy Spirit may not only be systematised according to human legislation, but 'blows where It listeth', sometimes contrarily to our human expectations. I guess this keeps God in God's proper place - as divine Ruler.
"My ways are not your ways, nor my thoughts your thoughts" says the Lord of Hosts. It just goes to show that God uses the Church but is not limited by Her.

Shawn Herles said...

While I understand that it has no authority as a confessional statement, the catechism is a useful touchstone for the shape of Anglicanism. Despite the distinction between Gospel sacraments and sacramental rites, we clearly have seven sacraments in practice, something we hold in common with the universal church.

Even in churches which come from the Baptist tradition, and in theory hold to only two sacraments, in practice all seven are actually performed, in various forms. They may not call them sacraments, but the sacramental actions observably remain. I suspect this has to do with the way that the sevenfold structure actually reflects human life experience. Birth, puberty/initiation, getting right with God and your community, adult vocations in marriage and holy orders, and death. That the actual practice of this sevenfold structure remains pervasive suggests to me that a bit more thought is required, not just in terms of theological rationalism. Especially with regards to Confirmation and young adults, in our secular and de-sacralized modernity, there is little to nothing in the way of marking the transition to adulthood that has any reference to the Transcendent. There is both opportunity and responsibility for the church here that needs to be considered.

In terms of the practice of Confirmation in the Anglican Church, the catechism is clear that it should be performed by the Bishop.

All of this to me suggests the need for far more caution, thought and reflection. And I agree with some of the commentators above that we are far too prone in modern Anglicanism to tinkering and fidgeting.

Jean said...

Hi Andrei

A true enough point, examples exist of people being baptised and then later receiving the Holy Spirit through prayer. Also in acts the Holy Spirit cme upon the gentiles as Peter spoke to them (more like as at Pentecost), then they were baptized. At other times people believe are baptised and straight away receive the Holy Spirit.

It seems all three examples still exist today!

Blessings
Jean

Anonymous said...

Hi Shawn,

I'm a Roman, so I'm a guest here and grateful to Peter that he lets me contribute. You talk about the catechism; do you mean pages 926-938 of "A New Zealand Prayer Book" ? No trick question.

Nick

Shawn Herles said...

Hi NIck. No, I mean this one;

http://anglicansonline.org/basics/catechism.html


Anonymous said...

Hi Shawn; I ignored the Episcopal Church version (sadly it's easier to ignore TEC) and I went to the English 1662. NZ Anglicans will know better than I do, but I think the English B of CP is a formulary of the Anglican church here in NZ. So, when you say that the short catechism has no authority as a confessional statement, you might be underestimating it in an NZ Anglican context. Regardless of this, I agree with your comments.

Nick

Shawn Herles said...

"I ignored the Episcopal Church version (sadly it's easier to ignore TEC)"

Heh, fair enough. I avoid the one in the NZ Prayer Book for similar reasons. Fidgeting has gone on, and some of it political. TEC's 1979 wording is, as far as I can tell, pretty faithful to the original, but always a good idea to check these things out, especially where TEC is concerned.