09 October 2006

What do they think they’re doing?

I’m still thinking about that peculiar morning service in Oxford. One of the oddities of this church is that, in spite of being an Anglican parish church, it has its own baptistery (or, as the curate referred to it, ‘jacuzzi’). Even stranger was what they did with the baptistery the morning I was there. Several adults reaffirmed their baptismal vows and were immersed in the baptistery. The only thing that stopped this being believers’ baptism by total immersion was the omission of the trinitarian baptismal formula. Instead the person doing the dunking used a form of words that declared it to be no more than a reaffirmation of baptismal vows. But, if so, why all the symbolism of baptism? If these people simply wanted to reaffirm their baptismal vows, Anglicanism already has a perfectly good way of doing so – it’s called confirmation. As it is, these people have been given a dunking to no purpose. Without the baptismal formula, no Baptist church worthy of the name would recognize it as baptism. And without episcopal confirmation, the candidates have not in fact become members of the Church of England. It seems an entirely pointless exercise.

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