Saturday, 16 April 2016

Opinion - 16 April 2016

Bosco Peters The End of Confirmation?

Giles Fraser The Guardian We cannot fix people’s grief, only sit with them, in their darkness

Jemima Thackray Church Times Poor sent empty away

Kelvin Holdsworth Apologies have consequences too

Posted by Peter Owen on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 11:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

It's once more into the breach with Kevin Holdsworth's insightful article.

"How long will it be before we realise that we’ve got a bigger problem with the Episcopate in the Anglican Communion than we have with LGBT people ..." That!

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 6:55pm BST

"The End of Confirmation" seems to be a dead link.

[It's a server problem. Bosco Peters does know. - ed]

Posted by: Richard on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 9:16pm BST

Thank you, Kelvin.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 9:47pm BST

Sorry about the misprint, i.e it's Kelvin Holdsworth

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Saturday, 16 April 2016 at 11:44pm BST

Kelvin is really insightful.

I'm hoping that this latest sermon from ++Justin at ACC-16 is a sincere game changer. If so, I would suspect that the insightful push back from Kelvin and others contributed. Of course, if it's just pretty words and no more...

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 12:10am BST

Grief is intense sorrow and an experience of loneliness. Giles Fraser's point about human contact being needed is right. But that contact may need to be very gentle and unobtrusive and words are unable to fix it.

Posted by: Pam on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 8:43am BST

"How long will it be before we realise that we’ve got a bigger problem with the Episcopate in the Anglican Communion than we have with LGBT people..."

Yes, that.

A pretty spectacular point.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 9:07am BST

It's 29 years since the infamous 'Higton' motion and hardly a year has gone by without some sort of apology to LBGT people. Words are cheap in the Church of England.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 9:56am BST

The link to Bosco Peters' article is working again.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 11:50am BST

With regard to baptism and confirmation, the two rites seem quite felicitous and complementary.

I remember back in the day, when I was basically a fundamentalist, I took the view that adult baptism after coming to faith was the way to approach baptism with integrity. I thought you had to be 'born again' first, before your baptism could have any meaning.

That was 1980. However, a friend arranged for me to talk through the whole principle with Dick Lucas and, in a shared hour, he opened my eyes and changed my view 180 degrees, about the appropriateness of infant baptism.

To me, infant baptism has merit because it places the whole first initiative on God's intervention and grace, not our own. The deliverance of Israel through the waters of the Red Sea pre-figures the baptism that Christ underwent and offers to us. At that point, Israel was a people, and deliverance did not hinge on individual faith. The good, the bad and the ugly all got delivered.

However, human choice and efficacy still had a course to run: the wilderness sifted people's faith, even after they had been called by God. And there remained the entry into the Land - the inheritance, through another water crossing, across the Jordon. In some ways, I see a likeness and pre-figuring of confirmation in that event.

I love the rite of infant baptism - the primacy of God's grace before we can understand anything. I think it is particularly catholic and anglican. It sets individual faith within community, and opens the door inclusively, whether we have capacity or not.

The laying on of hands is clearly biblical, and speaks too of the reception of the Holy Spirit. It speaks much of the nature of spiritual baptism, which is not once off, but a lifelong and day-to-day journey of death to self, and awakening to the life and power of God.

So I believe in both, and see no reason for excluding either.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 4:01pm BST

Kelvin Holdsworth's piece is superb, and points out the ludicrous vacillation of Justin Welby perfectly. And one of the comments absolutely nails it: Welby isn't sorry about the persecution of LGBT people in the slightest, he's sorry about being made to feel bad about it. He'd be perfectly happy (or, perhaps more charitably, perfectly indifferent) for the persecution to continue, so long as the LGBT people suffered in silence and didn't tug at Welby's barely visible conscience. Apology and repentance means changing your behaviour so as not to continue the behaviour you are repenting of; Welby hasn't changed his attitude towards LGBT people at all. He's got a lot of African friends who want to kill gays, and Welby isn't willing to do anything other than say "well, that's a shame". His African friends advocate murder, and he continues to engage in the racism of low expectation and, while posing as a progressive, simply writes off African as inherently violent and therefore lacking moral agency.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 17 April 2016 at 9:20pm BST

I'm not at all sure that I could agree with 'Interested Observer's' put-down of the ABC on this issue. after all, he did actually make a public apology for the Church's homophobic record!

However, as most people here are saying, that apology must bear fruit if it is to be considered real. This must surely mean some disciplinary action against those Anglican Provinces that continue to aid and abet the criminalisation of LGBTQI people in their home territories.

This would mean that the GAFCON Provinces would have no advantage in perpetuating sexism and homophobia while yet insisting on protestations of moral superiority over the rest of us in the A.C.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 18 April 2016 at 12:01am BST

Susannah: I am afraid history and theology don't really support that view. There was no confirmation in the early Church, just one unified rite that centred on the water baptism. There were anointings and hand layings but no one tied them to the gift of the Spirit. Confirmation develops by accident in the west (never in the East) and only really emerges by that name in the middle ages.

There is only one baptism, so infant baptism is just as much baptism as adult baptism. As such, it is complete of itself and no further rite is needed before one can receive communion.

The view I have just outlined is the ecumenical scholarly consensus but the Church of England has not embraced it unreservedly as we like to fudge things!

Confirmation might still haver a place as a pastoral rite, but it is not the gateway to communion, nor does it confer the Spirit.

Posted by: Charles Read on Monday, 18 April 2016 at 6:18pm BST

Charles, I believe we receive grace and the Spirit at baptism as infants (or when we get baptised, if not as infants).

I also believe there is only one baptism: the baptism Jesus said he had to undergo, referring to his death and resurrection.

Within that profundity, and frankly mystery, the work and grace of God may operate in many and diverse ways.

And the experience, and opening of our hearts, to that baptism... may come in waves through our lives. For example, many people testify to the experience of blessing following laying on of hands, sometimes described as feeling 'filled with the Spirit'. Equally, baptism may be felt and lived in service and community, and a sense of burial in the work and love of God.

But as a rite, I regard infant baptism as a sacramental reception of God's grace and Spirit. Confirmation is simply what it says - a confirmation of that fact. What some people call 'being born again' in adulthood, is arguably a coming alive to the work that God has already done for us and in us.

What I value about infant baptism is the primacy it attributes to the actions of God - that God first loved us.

We are known by God in all eternity, and treasured, and loved.

The outworking of that is a lifetime's journey, and so I believe the one baptism reverberates, again and again, and in different ways: with grace, an opening of the heart to God. In our dying, our becoming whole. The sign of Jonah, as Jesus said. Abandonment to God, abandonment to love.

Unless a grain of wheat dies...etc

What a little thing, that sign of the cross with water may seem. And yet baptism is the power and grace of God. As we, in our lifetimes, may discover... when the Spirit comes.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 11:21am BST

> There was no confirmation in the early Church, just one unified rite that centred on the water baptism.

The Scriptures are full of ambiguities and unanswered questions, but it is absolutely clear that Confirmation, as a separate rite which completes water baptism, is of apostolic institution. I can't think of any Scriptural passage more straightforward and explicit than Acts 8, 14-17:

> 14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). 17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

To quote the Catechism which precedes the Order of Confirmation in the Prayer Book of the Scottish Episcopal Church:

Question. What is Confirmation?
Answer. Confirmation is an apostolic and sacramental rite by which the Holy Spirit is given to complete our Baptism, so that we may be strengthened in our Christian life.
Question. How did the Apostles administer Confirmation?
Answer. The Apostles administered Confirmation by praying that the Holy Spirit might come down upon those who had been baptized, and by laying their hands upon them.

Posted by: Robin on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 11:48am BST

Canon 25 of the Scottish Episcopal Church says:

The Sacrament of Baptism is the full rite of initiation into the Church, and no further sacramental rite
shall be required of any person seeking admission to Holy Communion.

We also have a number of amendments to Canons coming to Synod for second reading removing the requirement for confirmation for several roles within the church eg. to a be a Vestry (PCC) member, a member of General Synod, Lay Reader.

The only role which still requires a confirmed person is for ordination - which I don't quite understand.

Posted by: Kennedy Fraser on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 1:10pm BST

This link, (which I posted earlier on Bosco Peters' thread)in the pages before and after that which appears gives an excellent summary of the separation of Confirmation from Baptism in the West.

the book quoted is Liturgy for Living 2000 by Louis Weil & Charles P. Price

Posted by: John U.K. on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 at 1:13pm BST

On holiday here in Bogota where the Cathedral has a notice saying the first communion is for 9 to 13 yr old and Confirmation for 14 to 18 yr olds both preceded by catechesis. Here last year I attended the Sunday Mass where a group of adults were confirmed.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 20 April 2016 at 11:15pm BST

Surely, Confirmation is really asking God to strengthen the power of the Holy Spirit already bestowed in Baptism. At least, that's my understanding and, I think, the understanding of the Church Catholic. Confirmation preparation should help the baptised to more fully understand the commitment made at one's baptism, so that one might make a better informed commitment as a disciple of Christ. Prior reception of the Eucharist can often help in the process of understanding

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 21 April 2016 at 12:03pm BST
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