Thinking allowed

Additional Texts for Holy Baptism (GS 1958A)

The Agenda for the Feb­ru­ary ses­sions of the Gen­er­al Syn­od was pub­lished recently. On Thursday after­noon, the Altern­at­ive Bap­tism Texts return to the Syn­od after the revi­sion com­mit­tee stage:

The fol­low­ing items (full details of which are con­tained in Spe­cial Agenda II – see page 9) will be taken:

600 Altern­at­ive Bap­tism Texts (GS 1958A)
– Report of the Revi­sion Com­mit­tee (GS 1958Y)

and the note on page 9 says:

Art­icle 7 Business
Con­sid­er­a­tion of a Report by the Revi­sion Com­mit­tee (GS 1958Y)
The Chair of the Revi­sion Com­mit­tee (the Bish­op of Truro) to move:
600 ‘That the Syn­od do take note of this Report.’

1. Notice of motions for re-com­mit­tal under the pro­vi­sions of Stand­ing Order 77(a) must be giv­en in writ­ing to the Clerk to the Syn­od by not later than 5.30pm on Tues­day 10 Feb­ru­ary 2015 (Stand­ing Order 10©). Any such motions will appear on a Notice Paper.

2. If no such motion is car­ried, the litur­gic­al busi­ness will auto­mat­ic­ally stand com­mit­ted to the House of Bish­ops under Stand­ing Order 77(f).

The texts (GS 1958A) and the report of the Revi­sion Com­mit­tee (GS 1958Y) can be found with oth­er papers for this group of ses­sions here.


  • As sched­uled for Thursday after­noon, the ‘Take Note’ motion was moved by the Chair of the Revi­sion Com­mit­tee (the Bish­op of Truro) and was approved.

    Accord­ingly these Altern­at­ive Bap­tism Texts, as revised by the com­mit­tee, now go to the House of Bish­ops, who have the respons­ib­il­ity for intro­du­cing texts in their final form for the Syn­od to approve. Approv­al of texts altern­at­ive to those in the 1662 BCP require two-thirds major­it­ies in all three Houses of the Synod.

  • James says:

    “Those who work with young people give con­stant advice that ref­er­ences to the dev­il are likely to be mis­un­der­stood in today’s cul­ture” quoth the Bish­op of Truro in com­mend­ing these new texts. It’s a pity he did­n’t take advice from some theo­lo­gians, his­tor­i­ans, social sci­ent­ists and even ther­ap­ists! I won­der if he spoke to some par­ish priests work­ing in places where ‘the dev­il and all his works’ are mani­fest in bul­ly­ing indi­vidu­als in church life, or where abuse is rife in the com­munity, or struc­tur­al evil is felt most acutely through eco­nom­ic and polit­ic­al factors? So, once again, the Church of Eng­land has been enabled to pro­pose a change in its doc­trine through the tweak­ing of litur­gic­al texts. If the Bish­op of Truro and his revi­sion com­mit­tee had placed more emphas­is on the need for lit­er­ate and ima­gin­at­ive clergy, who would rel­ish the pos­sib­il­ity of work­ing-through the exist­ing texts and help­ing “those who work with young people” and fam­il­ies seek­ing bap­tism for their chil­dren to make con­nec­tions between the lan­guage and images of the liturgy and the world they inhab­it, we might stand a chance of over­com­ing the mis­un­der­stand­ing to which he refers. As Giles Fraser says in today’s Guard­i­an “wicked­ness flour­ishes in the dark, when it is not faced or recog­nised. This is why I regret the devil’s passing. He was a power­ful and sym­bol­ic rep­res­ent­a­tion of human evil… at his best, he was a very human pro­jec­tion of ourselves and our darkest nature. And that is some­thing we face not nearly enough.” 

    I hope Syn­od mem­bers will be robust, once these texts come back for approv­al, and that the House of Bish­ops invite some ser­i­ous theo­lo­gic­al minds to engage with these texts, too. If we change the doc­trine of bap­tism by tweak­ing the texts, where will that place our sig­ni­fic­ant ecu­men­ic­al rela­tion­ships (think ARCIC and Lima, for example)? 

  • Will Richards says:

    First, the dev­il is removed from the bap­tis­mal liturgy because such ref­er­ences are likely to be “mis­un­der­stood.” Does that now mean the funer­al liturgy needs to be revised to remove expli­cit ref­er­ences to death, because these may prove prob­lem­at­ic in a cul­ture that does­n’t like to talk about it (Death is noth­ing at all…)? Or what about ref­er­ences to the life-long cov­en­antal char­ac­ter of mar­riage, in a soci­ety where divorce rates are so high? And we had bet­ter get rid of that old Trin­ity chest­nut while we’re at it, because that’s bound to con­fuse isn’t it?

    Yes please. More theo­lo­gic­ally lit­er­ate clergy and rather less of these “access­ible” texts which simply sug­gest we’ve lost our nerve.

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