Monday, 7 December 2009
Sydney Anglicans (a definition for American friends: evangelical Anglicans of the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia's largest city, who are collectively probably the most influential representatives of Christianity in Australia outside of Roman Catholicism) are having an interesting informal discussion about the place of infant baptism in the congregations of their archdiocese (my post title links to this discussion). It seems that infant dedication services are becoming an option alongside baptism in some of their congregations which are heavily under the influence of American Reformed Baptists like Mark Dever.
I must say this is not the first time I have noted how far evangelical Anglicanism has wandered from the 39 Articles of Religion, which, whatever their failings may be, would not be a bad place to hoist one's flag if one wanted to be an evangelical Anglican. After all, much of what is best in the Articles is a result of the direct influence of the Augsburg Confession, while most of what is questionable or ambiguous comes from the attempt to make them as inclusive as possible of the spectrum of English religious belief at the time of their final drafting.
I suppose that fact reminds us that the sort of pragmatism that can permit both a dedication service and the sacrament of holy baptism to be offered to infants in the same congregation has always been at the heart of the Anglican experiment.
(Perhaps it might also lead us to ask our evangelical Reformed friends, of whom evangelical Anglicans and Baptists like Dever are a sub-set, whether the covenant is a strong enough ground on which to base infant baptism - there has always seemed to me to be some ambiguity inherent in this position in Reformed theology, but that is really another discussion.)