Monday, 7 December 2009

Sydney Anglicans Discuss Infant Baptism


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.)

14 comments:

L P said...

What duh? You mean Anglicans are now dedicating rather than baptizing?

I am shocked by this.

LPC

acroamaticus said...

_Some_ Anglicans are...it's not officially approved, but it seems it's been going on for quite a while and in evagelical Anglican congregations in the UK too.

acroamaticus said...

_Some_ Anglicans are...it's not officially approved, but it seems it's been going on for quite a while and in evagelical Anglican congregations in the UK too.

Melanchthon said...

I'm very surprised as well. I thought even evangelical Anglicans were sacramental.

I agree with your comments regarding the 39 Articles. I have no idea why that is not a greater rallying point than it is.

Oh well, at least Anglicans of the Australian variety believe in Jesus. It's kinfd of an open question here in the Episcopal Church. :-0

Matthias said...

interesting. I worship ay a Baptist church and they have dedications for infants ,but the manner in which they are conducted reminds me of the BAPTISMS i witnessed in the LCA and the UCA.I call them Baby blessings.
However St Paul's cathedral in Melbourne has a Baptistry for adult immersions but i would hazard a guess as to when it was last used.
Is this a subtle move by the not so subtle Jensens to be all things to all things evangelical?

matthias said...

Further toyor comment about the 39 articles being framed with a veiwto "as inclusive as possible of the spectrum of English religious belief " I believe that they were framed to show how different the Cof E was to both the RCC and the Calvinists ie Dissenters. Let us remember that the original author-Thomas Cranmer whocompiledthe 42 articles was burnt at the stake by Bloody Mary for his removal of many RCC practices inthe then CofE

acroamaticus said...

Jon,

Yes, most Anglicans here have not gone down the path of TEC-USA...yet (and let's hope they don't ever). But the Sydney Anglicans are different from all the other dioceses here and elsewhere in Anglicanism; they have a distinctive history.

acroamaticus said...

Matthias,

Yes, certainly the 39 Articles recognise a boundary between Anglicanism and Rome on the one hand and Anabaptist tendencies on the other - bit within that boundary they try to be as inclusive as possible. That was Elizabeth's desire - the Articles in their final form that we see in the Prayer Book, while they owe something to Cranmer, were really the work of Matthew Parker et al; and their ambiguity over against some aspects of Calvinism was an attemp to placate the nascent high-church wing.

acroamaticus said...

Matthias,
Re your comment on the Jensen brothers, I'm not sure that they would approve - but it is certainly an atempt by _some_ Anglicans to be all things to all people.
My take on it would be that Peter Jensen would be an infant baptism only man, while Philip might appriove of dedications - but I have no hard evidence. I expect we might see this coming up at a Synod in the future.

Btw, did you get a Book of Concord?

matthias said...

There ar Anglicans and then there are Sydney Anglicans to pinch a comment from John Shelby Spong-the only thing i ever found of histo be appealing

L P said...

I worship ay a Baptist church and they have dedications for infants ,but the manner in which they are conducted reminds me of the BAPTISMS i witnessed in the LCA and the UCA.I call them Baby blessings.

The baby blessing in credo-baptist groups is somewhat a confusion. Normally they use Mk 10 for this dedication stuff. I know I used to dedicate babies when I was a Penty pastor.

But why not baptize since at least from the Lutheran side, that is a means of grace, concrete where the promise of God may be found.

matthias said...

Talking of evangelical sacremental Chirstians,can anyone here tell me if Confessional lutherans Australia is still a viable group??

acroamaticus said...

Yes, Matthias,as far as I know they are still active, although I note their website has not been updated for some time.

L P said...

Matthias,

The Victorian District of LCA ,I was told ,has been the most confessional of all the states.

LPC