Is it Angli­can to de­lay bap­tisms?

The Church of England - - Letters -

Sir, The Rev John Hart­ley of “Bap­tismal In­tegrity” asks: “Can it be Angli­can to de­lay bap­tisms?” (ar­ti­cle, 23 May).

Our mod­ernisers have re­moved the rule or rubric of the 1662 Prayer Book which in­structed “The Cu­rate of ev­ery Par­ish shall of­ten ad­mon­ish the people, that they de­fer not the Bap­tism of their Chil­dren longer than the first or sec­ond Sun­day next af­ter their birth, or other Holy-day fall­ing be­tween, un­less upon a great and rea­son­able cause, to be ap­proved by the Cu­rate.”

This clear rule ex­hort­ing to bap­tise in the ear­li­est days of life dis­ap­peared in 1968 when the fol­low­ing ap­peared: “Due no­tice, nor­mally of at least a week, shall be given be­fore a Child is brought to the church to be bap­tized.”

On the sur­face this ought to have sig­nalled only a mild re­lax­ation of our for­mer bap­tismal dis­ci­pline, but ei­ther through in­com­pe­tence or Machi­avel­lian in­tent, it al­lowed the in­tro­duc­tion of the “Bap­tist” ideal of de­lay­ing bap­tism so that it can be the seal on a per­sonal faith in Christ.

Ar­ti­cle 17 of our Thirty-nine Ar­ti­cles states “we must re­ceive God’s prom­ises in such wise, as they be gen­er­ally put forth to us in holy Scrip­ture...” Given this, some Angli­cans of the Evan­gel­i­cal Re­vival ar­gued: “we also hold that in­fants may and ought to be bap­tised in virtue of one or both be­liev­ing par­ents; be­cause the spir­i­tual priv­i­lege of a right unto, and a par­tic­i­pa­tion of the ini­tial seal of the covenant was granted by God to the in­fant-seed of Abra­ham: which grant must re­main firm for ever, with­out the Lord’s own ex­press re­vok­ing or ab­ro­ga­tion of it, which can never be proved from Scrip­ture that he has done.”

So whether the mod­ern prac­tice is “Angli­can” de­pends on your idea of “Angli­can”. As ar­gued by Mr Hart­ley, it cer­tainly is al­lowed and prac­tised, how­ever if “Angli­can” is taken in its older sig­ni­fi­ca­tion as in con­trast with “Bap­tist” then “Angli­can” it cer­tainly is not. Alan Bart­ley, Green­ford, Mid­dle­sex

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