Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Ministry and Mission in Covenant

Updated

On Friday 9 February, from 5.15 pm until 7 pm, the General Synod will consider the Church of England’s relationship with the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Following an address from a Methodist Church speaker, there will be a debate on the document GS 2086 Mission and Ministry in Covenant. The 24 page joint report is prefaced by a 7 page Note from the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission which summarises itself thus:

Mission and Ministry in Covenant responds to a resolution of the General Synod in 2014 by outlining proposals for bringing the Church of England and the Methodist Church into communion with one another and enabling interchangeability of their presbyteral ministries. As Synod members prepare to debate the report, it is important they consider its proposals in the context of the Covenant relationship between our churches established in 2003 and of work associated with that. Members also need to be mindful of the longer history of relations between our churches, including the defeat of proposals for union at the General Synod in 1972. Having briefly outlined that background, this introductory note then comments on three key questions that have emerged from the reception of the report so far:

  • What difference will the proposals make?
  • Do the proposals fit with Anglican theology and with existing ecumenical agreements?
  • What consultation has there been with other churches?

Finally, it explains why some further work is being recommended before a decision is taken on initiating legislation, in response to discussion within the House of Bishops.

Today, a statement has been issued by Anglican Catholic Future which can be read in full at Statement from Anglican Catholic Future on the Report ‘Mission and Ministry in Covenant’. It begins this way:

Over the past 40 years the Church of England has invested an enormous amount of time and energy debating who may or may not be ordained, and therefore who may or may not duly administer the sacraments. Some catholic Anglicans have passed resolutions under the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests because they cannot accept the ordination of women as priests and bishops. Many catholic Anglicans have remained happily within the inherited structures of the Church of England: this is the place in which we have received, been nurtured in, and minister the catholic faith. With the publication of the report Mission and Ministry in Covenant, we are left wondering what all that debate was about, and quite what the future looks like for those of us for whom orders and sacraments are naturally a central part of what it means to hold to the catholic faith as the Church of England has received it.

Fundamental to the Church of England’s understanding of its catholicity is the historic episcopate. This, like the other aspects of the Lambeth Quadrilateral (the Scriptures, the Creeds, the Sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist) we recognise as gifts from God for the unity of the Church, through which the Church is maintained in the faith once delivered to the saints. Through the Act of Uniformity, the Prayer Book, the Ordinal, and the Canons of the Church of England, English Anglicans recognise that a bishop focuses the unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the whole Church, as well as calling the Church into ever closer fidelity to those marks. Astonishingly, it is proposed that these historic formularies, so long the repository of the Church of England’s self-understanding and a framework for her unity, be open to suspension or amendment simply because the principles they uphold – both Anglican and ancient – are taken to be inconvenient…

The Church Times had this report last week: Renewed plans to unite the Church of England and Methodist Church to be scrutinised by the Synod.

Update

Forward in Faith has also issued a statement: The Anglican-Methodist Proposals

..Of even greater concern are the consequences of these proposals for catholic order in the Church of England. To permit those who have not been ordained by a bishop to minister as Church of England priests, even for a ‘temporary’ period (which might last for sixty or seventy years) is for us not a ‘bearable anomaly’ but a fundamental breach of catholic order. We deeply regret that the report rules out further consideration of this issue. As loyal Anglicans, we uphold the doctrine and discipline regarding Holy Orders that is enshrined in the historic formularies of the Church of England, and in the 1662 Ordinal in particular. We shall oppose any proposals that would effectively set that doctrine and discipline aside. We note that it is to the inheritance of faith embodied in these formularies that all who minister in the Church of England must affirm their loyalty by making the Declaration of Assent…

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Comments

I worked as an Anglican priest for a number of years in an LEP chaplaincy alongside a URC minister, and last week, to mark the week of prayer for Christian unity, we welcomed to my (Anglican) church the local Methodist minister who presided at a covenant service with communion (I had presided at an Anglican Eucharist earlier in the day).

But I'm not unsympathetic to the concerns of Anglican Catholic Future, and this proposal does show the shift in power away from Catholics towards Evangelicals in the Church of England. Traditionalist Catholics opposed to the ordination of women keep themselves apart in their ghetto (a church within a church); and the remaining liberal Catholics find they just don't have the votes to argue the case for the classical Anglicanism they thought they'd signed up for.

But it does make me wonder: where does the Methodist church stands on gay ministers who are married or in civil partnerships? Will this scupper the deal?

Posted by: Charles Clapham on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 5:23pm GMT

Anglican Catholic Future should rejoice in the historic Episcopate being introduced to the Methodist tradition of the Church, just as it has in those churches of the Porvoo Communion who had, like the Methodists, lost this visible sign of historic Apostolic succcesion.

Posted by: Paul Richardson on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 6:20pm GMT

Paul: presbyters in the Porvoo churches who have not been ordained by bishops are not permitted to exercise priestly ministry in the C of E. This is something in the new proposals which represents a departure from our tradition and from previous ecumenical agreements, including Porvoo.

Posted by: Russell Dewhurst on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 7:19pm GMT

Didn't the churches in India go through a similar process in order to achieve unity? If the end result is repairing the schism with Methodism and a unified church where, in time, all Priests will be espicopally ordained then isn't that worth trusting that God will put right any lack in the meantime?

Posted by: Jo on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 9:38pm GMT

I don't personally believe in apostolic succession and I support lay celebration of the eucharist. In truth, I don't believe ordination is a sacrament. In terms of my personal beliefs, I am at the opposite pole to Anglican Catholic Future.

But, my views are not those of the Church of England and I believe that Anglican Catholic Future is (are?) correct in saying that the proposals are incompatible with core aspects of the traditions of the Church of England. This goes much deeper than women priests. Notwithstanding my personal views, I think the concerns expressed by Anglican Catholic Future are valid and should be considered very carefully.

Posted by: Kate on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 10:17pm GMT

It seems to me it's difficult not to see that there has been shift doctrinally between ARCIC and Porvoo, and then between Porvoo and the Anglican-Methodist Covenant. I joined the Church of England as an adult, by conviction: I wanted an inclusive, sacramental, episcopally ordered church. This feels less and less the direction of travel for the Church of England.

Posted by: Revd Dr Charles Clapham on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 11:38pm GMT

It's probably too much to hope for, but it would be nice if the Church of England considered the impact on other members of the communion of this kind of move. Most other Anglican provinces are not in communion with local Methodist incarnations -- indeed, some have rejected such a move. I'm not saying the CofE should necessarily follow our lead, but as it likes to think of itself as a leader in the communion, and as long as Canterbury pretends to a leadership role in the communion, it would be nice if the CofE at least noticed the rest of us from time to time.

Posted by: John Holding on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 3:45am GMT

I do hope that whoever is Chairing the General Synod for this debate calls upon Dean Lionel Pugh-Critchley to deliver his legendary sermon on the Anglican/Methodist Reunion Scheme.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 6:50am GMT

"I don't personally believe in apostolic succession and I support lay celebration of the eucharist. In truth, I don't believe ordination is a sacrament. In terms of my personal beliefs, I am at the opposite pole to Anglican Catholic Future." - Kate

Well, Kate, you certainly have many fellow non-believers in Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Australian Diocese of Sydney. They also share your desire for Lay Presidency at the Eucharist. However, this is not Anglicanism as most of us recognise it. These people in Sydney are also Founder members of GAFCON. Is that your stance?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 7:13am GMT

I am not a Sydney evangelical but I do not believe ordination is a sacrament and the Articles make it clear that Anglicanism as expressed in that document does not either. This is not to say that orders are unimportant and I do not support lay presidency (which is a contradiction in terms.) I don't accept apostolic succession in its literal form - tracing a family tree back to Peter and all that - as history won't support that. I do think that we can see apostolic succession in a more general sense of going back to the early church - and it is possible to include Methodist ministry in this .

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 9:05am GMT

'English Anglicans recognise that a bishop focuses the unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the whole Church, as well as calling the Church into ever closer fidelity to those marks.'

This statement would be accurate if prefaced by 'Many'. It's not what my home church or my theological college taught, and I doubt if many evangelicals believe it. In fact, it describes the ministry of Jesus himself.

The truth of the statement isn't much evident in practice either.

Still, if this is a sticking point with a large number of Anglo-Catholics, we need to take it seriously, discuss it thoroughly, and make haste slowly.

Posted by: Janet Fife on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 9:31am GMT

"not Anglicanism as most of us recognise it" - Ron

Who is "we" in that statement? Most Anglicans no longer regularly attend church so obviously there's a chasm between their beliefs and the practices of the church. Isn't it about time we examined that? And that's why I am not in favour of communion with the Methodists right now. It puts the cart before the horse of honestly studying and accepting what is putting people off the Church of England. It is pretending that the problems in our church can be resolved by new external links rather than through honest self-examination.

Personally I think the laying on of hands, for example, started as symbolism but over time people have come to believe it is some sort of magical act.

Do I believe GAFCON is the way forwards as you suggest? Absolutely not. Nor, I suggest, do most of those who are Christian, even Anglican, but not regular churchgoers. So the question is going to be whether the church listens most to the few still in the pews or the silent majority.

Posted by: Kate on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 10:13am GMT

"...and as long as Canterbury pretends to a leadership role in the communion, it would be nice if the CofE at least noticed the rest of us from time to time."

The alternative being that the whole leadership idea be dropped. The CofE has enough vexing problems of its own at present, without having them rebound into the Communion by virtue of a 'leadership' idea.

I might not have said this ten years ago, but the situation on the ground in the CofE is its own specific reality.

Posted by: CRS on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 11:20am GMT

Is Russell Dewhurst quite right about Porvòo? All clergy in the Nordic Churches are ordained by bishops. Porvoo was about extending the historic episcopate to those churches ( Norway, Denmark and Iceland) that previously lacked it wasn't it?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 1:18pm GMT

Charles Read: you said 'I do not believe ordination is a sacrament and the Articles make it clear that Anglicanism as expressed in that document does not either.' I'm just looking at what Article 25 says, and I don't think it makes it clear! 'There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.' True, agreed, and that is clear. But it goes on to say 'Those five commonly called Sacraments ...[including Orders]... are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel.' So they are 'commonly called' sacraments (it doesn't say 'wrongly') and if they are not 'sacraments of the Gospel' they seem to match the definition of a sacrament in the first paragraph of the Article. But it's a bit of a quibble about words isn't it? Sacrament is as sacrament does.

Posted by: David Emmott on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 2:42pm GMT

Cathedral deans have sometimes ordained in the Porvoo churches. Mission and Ministry in covenant refers to this in section 71 “it was agreed that pastors who had been ordained by those not holding episcopal office would not be eligible to serve in Anglican churches within the Porvoo Communion,”

Posted by: Russell Dewhurst on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 2:44pm GMT

There were ordinations carried out by deans in some of the episcopally ordered Porvoo churches at the time of the agreement, I think during vacancies in sees and so forth. I think it is meant to have stopped by now.

Posted by: Robin Ward on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 3:25pm GMT

We have both experience with communion with Lutherans and exploring communion with Methodists in the Episcopal Church on the western side of the Atlantic. I would note that some ELCA clergy resisted the thought of ordination by Bishops, and in that light those Pastors ordained by other Pastors without a bishop would not be eligible for an Episcopal cure. Since it seemed truly unlikely that a Pastor so ordained would *want* to serve in an Episcopal cure, *under an Episcopal Bishop*, few of us have held that concern for any length of time. Surely the same would be likely for a United Methodist (the body the Episcopal Church is exploring with), I'm not losing sleep over that one. In the meantime, between contacts with the Church of Sweden and participation of Episcopal and ELCA bishops in one another's consecrations, the formal historical episcopate has returned to ELCA, even as we appreciated that there was some function of episkope carrying on in the intervening years. Recalling that the Methodists were initially within the Church of England, and then within the Episcopal Church, before separation, we can recognize that some function of episkope has carried on, even as we might return historic succession to the United Methodist episcopate.

We will be discussing this during this summer's General Convention of the Church, and we will probably authorize pursuing full communion. However, I don't think our concerns about sacraments will be the greatest hurdle. The United Methodists, unlike the Episcopal Church or the Church of England, has not established separate "national churches" of their missions in the Third World. Instead, their conferences in Africa and Asia are full participants in the General Assembly, along with the North American conferences. They participate in numbers sufficient to direct resolutions. I wonder whether their African or Asian delegates will actually be any more interested in communion with the Episcopal Church than our own African Anglicans are.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 5:57pm GMT

Historic succession seems to me a defensible and prudent practice.

What I find interesting is that, at a time when churches are divided within themselves over theology and practice, "historic succession" starts to become such a critical factor. One wonders if this is why people regard it as a piece of mysticism without any real meaning, and why Roman Catholics themselves do not see it as having protected Communion.

Posted by: CRS on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 7:55am GMT

As an ex-Methodist, I have a viewpoint that usually makes me unpopular with Anglicans. But let me pose a question anyway.

For those Anglicans who believe that Methodist presbyters are not validly ordained as priests in the apostolic succession - how do you feel when Roman Catholics say the same thing about Anglican orders?

Posted by: John Swanson on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 9:27am GMT

"Historic succession seems to me a defensible and prudent practice.

"What I find interesting is that, at a time when churches are divided within themselves over theology and practice, "historic succession" starts to become such a critical factor. One wonders if this is why people regard it as a piece of mysticism without any real meaning, and why Roman Catholics themselves do not see it as having protected Communion." - CRS

The concept is that apostolic succession passes on some sort of spiritual gift, or power. Man can request such inheritance but it is necessarily imperfect:the only agent able to guarantee successful transference of power is God (in his threefold aspects) so apostolic succession must be an imperfect affair. But the whole idea behind apostolic succession is that it is perfect and *every* invested bishop has the power to pass on his inheritance. So there is contradiction and one of our two premises must be false either:
a) that man can be a perfect agent and has invincible power like God, or
b) apostolic succession is perfect.

Obviously, the answer is b) is false and imperfect apostolic succession isn't apostolic succession so apostolic succession cannot be a tenet.

I think that's the difference, CRS. In times past, the Church was responsible for all the thinking and theology and has tended towards self-reinforcing beliefs concerning clericalism. In the 21st century, ordinary believers are empowered to think things through and to disseminate their thoughts via the Internet. It's why equality is increasingly such a big deal. I happen to think it is hugely beneficial to the church. It could lead to a great wave of renewal comparable to the Reformation - but only if the church embraces it. But I accept it is going to be very, very uncomfortable for those with entrenched views on clericalism.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 12:21pm GMT

Thanks, Kate.

I disagree with your blog mini-treatise at almost every point, but you have again made your views on this known. Grace and peace.

Posted by: CRS on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 4:18pm GMT

There is a pretty direct Anglican precedent for the kind of proposal in this report. In the late sixteenth century, ministers who had been ordained by presbyters on the continent were allowed to minister in the Church of England without being ordained by a bishop.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 4:18pm GMT

I don't think that apostolic succession requires that humans be perfect, only that God will continue to honour what he honoured for the apostles - the passing on of apostolic authority. As God is unchanging it is not an unreasonable belief. If sacraments were dependent on the perfection of humans then there would be doubt every time someone was baptised, or every time communion was celebrated. Rather we trust God's promises.

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 4:32pm GMT

Brother Swanson, as we discussed it in conversation with the Lutherans, we felt we could acknowledge that they had maintained *apostolic teaching*, even if they hadn't maintained the historic episcopate. That included *apostolic fellowship*, at least in that their practice of the Eucharist continued to reflect that *apostolic teaching*. With that in mind, we felt ELCA presbyters (Pastors) would certainly be real presbyters. They found Lutheran language to say the same of us.

Historic succession has its value. Calling it "apostolic" requires that we be clear about just what is the relationship between the apostles and a current bishop, even arguing that we could really determine whose hands had been on whose head. In TEC we consider ordination "sacramental," including the ordination of a bishop, even if not one of the two dominical sacraments. However, what the charism received of God in the ordination of a bishop is, and the role of the attending bishops in making it happen, is a matter of theological debate, and not my area of expertise.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 10:59pm GMT

The whole point about the making of a bishop, if apostolic succession is accepted, is that they inherit some new power which they did not formerly possess: the power to make more bishops. And, crucially, the claim is that nobody who has been made bishop by someone without this magical power is a true Bishop.

There is absolutely no parallel with the Eucharist which grants no new power.

Baptism is more apposite. Does baptism confer the power to baptise others? No, because even a non-Christian can baptise - baptism of the celebrant is not necessary, everyone is born with the intrinsic power to baptise.

So there is no parallel between the claim that making bishops requires apostolic succession and other sacraments. There is no reason why this should be a barrier to full communion with Methodists. But, as several of us have said, a number of our brothers and sisters in the Church of England do believe in apostolic succession. For them it is a big deal and clearly full communion between those brothers and sisters and the Methodist Church is not possible. Pursuing a policy which increases the divisions within the Church of England itself, seems foolhardy.

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 3:25am GMT

When we, or others, talk about apostolic succession, which apostles are we talking about? Probably not the original 12, but the remaining 11 after Judas' betrayal of Jesus? The 11 plus Matthias, the replacement elected by the tossing of a coin? The 11 + Matthias + St. Paul (who was not appointed or ordained by Jesus during his lifetime, or by the other 11)? Do we include Junia/Junias and Andronicus (Rom. 16:7)?

Posted by: Janet Fife on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 9:11am GMT

"And, crucially, the claim is that nobody who has been made bishop by someone without this magical power is a true Bishop"

Please don't denigrate the beliefs of others as "magical". In any case, I don't think you're correct. The claim is that those consecrated as Bishops by existing Bishops are true Bishops. It makes no claim about other Bishops whom God may or may not have called at other times and in other ways. In much the same way those of us in the Catholic tradition would assert that when a validly ordained priest celebrates communion according to a valid form and using appropriate matter we know that the ordinary things of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. That may also happen when a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Church of Scotland does the same, or when a house group with no ordained members breaks bread and shares a cup together, but we don't have the same assurance that it does.

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 10:53am GMT

"- baptism of the celebrant is not necessary, everyone is born with the intrinsic power to baptise." - Jane -

How curious!

Then, why bother with Sacraments at all? If there is no intrinsic power'grace bestowed therein?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 7:33pm GMT

From the February 1892 issue of The Arrow, a monthly publication of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City:

"THERE is a growing feeling among the Metho-
dists in this country in favor of using in their services the liturgy drawn up by John Wesley. One
of our metropolitan newspapers informs us that should that be adopted there would then be no difference between the Methodists and the Episcopal Church. Perhaps."

Posted by: Richard on Friday, 2 February 2018 at 10:22pm GMT

So Cross was I at Kate's last remarks, I called her 'Jane' by mistake. Sorry Jane!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 5:27am GMT

"But, as several of us have said, a number of our brothers and sisters in the Church of England do believe in apostolic succession. For them it is a big deal and clearly full communion between those brothers and sisters and the Methodist Church is not possible. Pursuing a policy which increases the divisions within the Church of England itself, seems foolhardy" - Kate
But, as well as increasing divisions within the CofE, it would reduce divisions in the church as a whole. Unless we say that the CofE is all that matters, there is surely a balance to be struck?

Posted by: John Swanson on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 8:38am GMT

It is often argued on this blog that Jesus had nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality. It seems to me he had even less to say on the subject of apostolic succession.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 9:46am GMT

Ron

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2W.HTM

"When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly."

According to the Vatican, any person with the right intention can licitly administer baptism. You might not like it, but that is Catholic thinking on the matter. And there is no doubt that baptism confers grace but it is the sacrament which does so, not the celebrant. This is what liberals like me find offensive - the idea that somehow the background of the celebrant is in any way relevant. All that matters is intent and the power of God. No particular words, actions, or people are necessary. God and intent suffice to empower a sacrament - and the Articles list the 3 sacraments in the Anglican faith.

Posted by: Kate on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 10:01am GMT

""When an ordinary minister is absent or impeded, a catechist or another person designated for this function by the local ordinary, or in a case of necessity any person with the right intention, confers baptism licitly." - Kate (per Vatican) -

The term "A Catechist or other person designated for this function by the local Ordinary (Bishop) - or,in a case o NECESSITY, any person with the RIGHT INTENTION, confers baptism licitly" - in the first place, Kate, (1) you will notice that anyone licenced by the bishop is authorised, and secondly (2) in case of necessity - any person WITH THE RIGHT INTENTION - obviously someone who knows what Baptism is all about and has been, themselves, a recipient!

Are you suggesting that an unbaptised person would "have the right intention"? And how would you qualify that intention if they have no personal experience of the sacrament?

I'm sorry, Kate, that your anti-clerical slip is showing, but your belief in the (in)efficacy of the grace of the Sacraments is not a mark of the Anglican Church anywhere - except perhaps in Sydney. However, even they - the fundamentalists - would not necessarily understand your view as a woman. They are patriarchalists.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 February 2018 at 8:36pm GMT

If memory serves, valid "intent" in Catholic theology means the intent to "do what the church does" in the sacrament, regardless of what the minister of the sacrament believes that to be. So in the event that an infant is born who is unlikely to survive long enough for a priest to be summoned a baptism carried by an unbaptised nurse at the bedside would be valid so long as they intended to baptise (and used water and a trinitarian form).

Posted by: Jo on Sunday, 4 February 2018 at 7:33am GMT

While it clearly is most likely that someone performing baptism will themselves be baptised, it is not actually necessary. There are good reasons, I think, why the Lord organised it that way. Suppose two or three people in a rural Afghan village heard the Good News. There might be no minister in hundreds of miles, quite possibly no access even to someone who has been baptised. Yet they could baptise each other and found a church. And that church would be fully the equal of any church claiming historic apostolic succession.

"And how would you qualify that intention if they have no personal experience of the sacrament?"

Are you suggesting that the Lord doesn't recognise intent? That the Spirit won't infuse whomever performs a baptism because they are not ordained or baptised? Baptism is a sacrament. It is backed by a guarantee from God.

Posted by: Kate on Sunday, 4 February 2018 at 1:55pm GMT

Kate If those two or three people 'heard the gospel' in the middle of absolutely nowhere - it is not clear how, who from or what they actually heard - where would they even get the idea of 'baptism' or 'church' from at all? We might even wonder why God bothered to send Philip to Ethiopian eunuch. I agree that approaches to church order and authority can be become forms of godless power play - but your scenario is so speculative and on the remotest end of the spectrum as to be impossible to engage with.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Tuesday, 6 February 2018 at 2:15pm GMT

@Mr Runcorn The Ethiopian Eunuch was not on the internet, whereas Kate's hypothetical remote Afghanis may have learned Christianity on line, perhaps even from Thinking Anglicans.

The RC quote about persons authorised to baptise licitly by a bishop means an RC bishop. Yet RCs recognise Protestant baptisms as valid, not because they regard Protestant ministers as somehow authorised, but because illicit baptism is valid, by whomever administered.


There were long running disputes in the nineteenth century, sometimes over whether people baptised by dissenting (e.g. Methodist) ministers could be buried in C of E churchyards, since at that time unbaptised persons could not be.

Several cases concluded that baptism by persons unauthorised by the Church of England were valid baptisms and conveyed membership of the C of E. The question of whether Methodist ministers had any special authority was not argued, the point was that the validity of baptism did not depend on who performed it. Lay baptism is valid, according to Anglicanism.

One point which hardly arose in the past is what is to be done where the authorised minister unacceptably delays a baptism. In such cases it may be lay baptism is necessary, but necessary or not, it would be valid.

Posted by: T Pott on Wednesday, 7 February 2018 at 11:00am GMT
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