Showing items filed under “G: The Font, the Table, the Pulpit”

Baptism in the Episcopal Church - What We Offer and What We Share

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It ought to be a shame that down every Main Street are dozens of different denominations. Christ means His Church to be one.  But we can take some solace in the fact that many of the Churches, at least those who agree to infant baptism, recognize one another’s sacramental act. If you become a Roman Catholic you are not re-baptized (and vice versa).  Baptism at least is in large measure ecumenical, a crucial vestige of our undivided past (and future).

However, in our Prayer Book there was a deliberate effort to reclaim the full baptismal process which we see in the early Church. Emphasis is placed on the ‘baptismal covenant,’ both the Creed itself and some promises that describe our common life. So baptism is reclaimed as an act of the whole people of God. And the close connection between confessing the faith, being involved in service and mission, and upholding one another in prayer is underlined. We may not have lived up to all of this yet (an argument to continue using our present book!), but the directions it points us are valid. This centrality of the sacrament as entailing a covenant reaffirmed by the community as a whole is a distinctive contribution of ours. (We may also see evidence of it in the resources for the catechumenate which is found in the Book of Occasional Services, though used more rarely). 

Read the rites for catechumens in the BOS.

Our Vaunt Stilled: Incompleteness, Disagreement, Exploration, and the Spirit of Anglicanism

Descriptions of traditions tend to make them seem more perfect and more successful than they in fact have been. Perhaps better to leave this work to our neighbors, who probably have a more jaundiced view!

Anglicanism once had a monarch who could settle disputes, which is a mechanism with deep problems of its own, but at least it was clear. But once we entered the modern era, and Anglicanism spread to other countries (such as ours), the question of how to resolve disagreements, became more vexed.  The question at hand, and the underlying questions of how to decide, how to read the Scripture, whether to make room for dissent or not, have gone hand in hand.

Anglicanism has a history which is one long fight- catholics and protestants, modernists and traditionalists, etc.  There is really no era in which this was not so, although at key times in our earlier history there was a deeper deposit of agreement behind what was being fought about. 

Meanwhile, our history since the Reformation has presented us with an on-going imperative to seek reunion. Rome is our historic mother, the eastern churches our non-papal cousins, the Methodists the lost branch of our family. We all struggle with the same issues of interpretation which the modern era has thrust upon us. Archbishop Michael Ramsey liked to talk about a pervasive sense of incompleteness which drives us ecumenically and is itself a source of humility.  We are not self-contained, and this self-awareness ought be found in our parish as well as our denomination. It will become yet greater as denominationalism itself becomes problematic in the coming generation.

What passages of the New Testament are crucial in thinking about disagreement and incompleteness?


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