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New baptism service is doctrinally inadequate

by
10 January 2014

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From Miss Prudence Dailey

Sir, - There has been much discussion of the inadequacies of the proposed new baptism rite, but surprisingly little has been said about its most serious failing: namely, the lack of any clear statement of baptismal regeneration, the sacramental washing away of original sin, and rebirth in Christ, in baptism - a deficiency that also afflicts the current Common Worship baptism service.

The upshot of the Gorham Judgment of 1850 was that a clergyman could not be refused institution to a living on the grounds of his denial of baptismal regeneration; but it does not follow that the official liturgy of the Church of England can legitimately gloss over this key Anglican doctrine. The doctrine of the Church of England is to be found in its formularies (the Book of Common Prayer, the 1662 Ordinal and the Thirty-Nine Articles); and baptismal regeneration is clearly referenced not only in the Prayer Book baptism service itself, but also in the catechism and in Articles IX and XVI.

It is unfortunate that, in drafting the proposed new text, the opportunity was not taken to rectify this omission. Meanwhile, those who take this aspect of the doctrine of the Church of England seriously will continue to find refuge in the baptism rite in the Book of Common Prayer.

PRUDENCE DAILEY
Chairman, The Prayer Book Society
15 Northfield Road
Headington, Oxford OX3 9EW

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