Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baptism without Christ

This article from Virtue Online, UK: Anglican church offers 'baptism lite' to attract non-worshippers, by Steve Doughty fits into the "you either have to laugh or cry" category. It requires a good fisking. [My comments in red and square brackets.]
Church of England baptism services may be re-written to remove some references to Christianity. [What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem? What hath Christianity to do with the good old C of E?]

The plan for a new 'baptism lite' service designed to make christenings more interesting to non-churchgoers will be considered next month by the Church's parliament, the General Synod. ["Baptism lite"? What next? 8 minute sermons, 35 minute services, 7 Commandments (your choice), the Silver Rule?]

Supporters say the baptism service should be 'expressed in culturally appropriate and accessible language' that is readily understood by 'non-theologically versed Britons'. But traditionalist clergy said the idea amounted to 'dumbing down'. [There is a pretty big difference between saying the same thing in other words and de-Christianizing an act of worship. Otherwise bowing down to Jupiter and to the Holy Trinity would be the same thing.]

The plan for a new ¿baptism lite¿ service designed to make christenings more interesting to non-churchgoers will be considered next month by the Church¿s parliament. [More interesting? Will they feature go-go dancers and performing seals too? Just asking.]

The plan for a new 'baptism lite' service which uses 'accessible language' and makes christenings more interesting to non-churchgoers will be considered next month by the Church's parliament.

The new service would be used at 150,000 christenings each year. If the plan is accepted, it will be the third full re-write of the baptism ceremony in around 30 years - the version in the Church's Book of Common Prayer went virtually unaltered for more than 400 years until 1980. [Three re-writes in 30 years? This is just a joke. Will they use focus groups? Polling? Maybe they could hold a contest to suggest new names for the ritual. Or maybe they let the parents write their own services - wait don't anyone suggest that!]

Complaints centre on three sections of the baptism service from the Church's latest prayer book, Common Worship, authorised for use in 1997. [They actually got complaints?]

In one, parents, godparents or an adult being baptised are asked to 'reject the devil and all rebellion against God' and to renounce 'the deceit and corruption of evil'. They are asked to 'submit to Christ as Lord'. [I suppose renouncing the devil is a lot to ask of modern people; it could be considered 'exclusionary.' And as for submitting to Christ, how can that be expected of non-Christians? But wait, if they are non-Christians, why are they wanting baptism for their children?]

The Reverend Dr Tim Stratford, from Liverpool, who is putting the plans before the synod, said in a paper that 'there remains some unhappiness about the language not being earthed enough'. [What on does 'earth enough' mean? Is it some obscure British expression? Or is it some sort of pagan criterion? Sometimes you can't understand a word these liberal say.]

He added: 'The concern is one of the language not making strong enough connections to life choices in such a way that it can be heard.' [Hmm . . . what life choices could he mean? And what would the language have to do to make connection with those life choices? Is it just me or is this a case of trying to say something without actually saying it because it would sound utterly appalling and ridiculous if one just came out and said it plainly?]

Dr Stratford and his supporters have also called for a new version of prayers that refer to the symbolic role of water in baptism.

He said that among clergy from poor and inner city parishes 'there was a strong plea for a shorter prayer in direct but poetic language that allows the Gospel to resonate better with people's experience of life'. [Here we see straightforward liberal Protestant thelogical method in action: we discover truth is human experience rather than in Scripture.]

He added: 'This was not a plea for a prayer in Scouse, but for a prayer that the majority of non-theologically versed Britons would understand.' A third part of the service was condemned as too long and not 'direct'. [Wouldn't it be a better idea for the Church to try to teach some theology to these folks instead of pandering to their ignorance? That is what the people who evangelized England in the first place did and it seemed to work rather well.]

Stephen Parkinson, of the Anglo-Catholic Forward in Faith organisation, said there were problems with the 1997 service, but added: 'Simply dumbing it down is not the answer.' [Well, that much is incontrovertable.]

Bishops indicated yesterday that if the Synod accepts the argument a committee will be instructed to begin writing a new baptism service, but they warned that such re-writing would raise arguments over faith and doctrine. [Dastardly inconvenient stuff, all that faith and doctrine. Maybe the Church would be better off ditching it; might boost attendance, especially if they bring in the trained seals.]

William Fittall, secretary general of the synod, said that bishops are 'clear that now is not the time to embark on the long and complex process involved in such a revision or replacement'. [If not now, when? If not the CofE bishops, who?]
They haven't actually done this yet, of course. The fact that they could even seriously consider it is revealing, hilarious, sad and scandalous all at the same time. In honor of those proposing this idea, I give you my nominee for the C of E Baptism Rewriting Committee: Standford Nutting.

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