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We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia: Northern Churchman

We Wish You a Merry Saturnalia? The Northern Churchman There is a familiar feel to this time of year. The Christmas advertising on television, the darker evenings, the Carol Services – and the inevitable scoffers who call the Christmas story a myth. Not ‘Once in Royal...

Mark Pickles: The Story of Two Trampolines

Gospel-Driven Anglicanism By the Revd Dr Mark Pickles The Story of the Two Trampolines:  A passage that is frequently referred to during times of great revival is Isaiah 64:1-3:  “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your...

Ten Thousand Bibles for London’s Children

TBS Auxiliary Meets Ten Thousand Bibles For London’s Children The Greater London Auxiliary of the Trinitarian Bible Society was delighted to report at its Annual Meeting held on 15 November that over 10,000 Bibles have been distributed to London schools since the...

Good News for Egypt’s Christians

Barnabas Fund Reports Good News for Egypt’s Christians The government of Egypt licensed 125 churches and church-affiliated buildings on 14 November. It is the 24th batch of approvals made since the government committee overseeing the licensing process started work in...

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw

Church Society’s Response to MP Ben Bradshaw In the aftermath of Desmond Tutu’s daughter being refused permission to preside at a funeral in a Church of England parish, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw told The Guardian that the “C of E must move swiftly to welcome lesbian...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness? By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins Who’s your righteousness? "The Lord our Righteousness" was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach...

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963

Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act of 1963 Persons Against Whom Proceedings May be Instituted. Proceedings under this Measure may be instituted against an archbishop, any diocesan bishop or any suffragan bishop commissioned by a diocesan bishop or any other bishop or a...

Editorial: Joy to the World Cup

Editorial Joy to the World Cup The result of the 2022 FIFA World Cup is already in. And it appears the Church of England has lost. The latest advice from the Church of England’s Support Hub is for parishes to consider the timing of Christmas Carol Services to avoid...

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership

Symes to Step Down from Anglican Mainstream Leadership By Chris Sugden Andrew Symes is to stand down as Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream on January 1, 2023, after nearly ten years in post. Rev Symes, 56, who had earlier served with Crosslinks in South...

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension

Retired Bishop Given Life Suspension By George Conger The former Bishop of Ramsbury has been suspended for life from the ordained ministry after he admitted to having sexually abused two women. The Daily Mail reported the Rt Rev. Peter Hullah had been the subject of...

Infant Baptism & Regeneration

The charitable language of Thomas Cranmer’s baptism service has been a problem in Church of England history. Some hear the seeing-now-that-this-child-is-regenerate language in the baptism liturgy and assume that Anglicans hold to the Roman Catholic understanding of baptismal regeneration. But the Church of England, and Thomas Cranmer in particular, did not have this in mind. In the 1530s the archbishop was convinced of the Lutheran teaching of justification by faith, and “the question that would occupy Cranmer for the remainder of his life was how exactly the sacraments of the church fit into this new narrative” (Ashley Null). For Cranmer, then seeing everything through the glasses of solifidism (faith alone), the key to understanding sacramental grace (baptism and holy communion) is faith — receiving the grace of the rite rightly — by faith — “they that receive baptism rightly” (Article 27 “Of Baptism”). 

Roman Catholics believe that the sacraments (ex opere operato) automatically and always effect what they signify – that the bread and wine of Communion is the actual, corporeal body and blood of Christ whether it is received by a faithful penitent or accidentally by a mouse under the communion table nibbling the crumbs. And everyone who is baptised, newborn or adult, is automatically born again. Anglicans, on the other hand, view the instrumentality of the sacraments connected to faith, which is necessary for the reception of God’s grace. Catholics say that a person is born again when they are baptised. Anglicans say that God’s grace is communicated in the sacrament, and when this is received by faith in the hearts of God’s elect, they are born again.

Whenever he speaks of someone’s faith, Cranmer charitably assumes they are believers. This is not just “English politeness,” but a humble acknowledgement that God is God and we are not. Cranmer assumes that an infant or child who is brought for baptism is a believer, just like he believes this for everyone who dies and is buried from the church. Everyone knows that this isn’t true of all infants who are baptised, and it’s certainly not true of everyone who dies. But who is to decide in each of these cases but God alone? In the case of baptism, who would otherwise then decide when someone is old enough for baptism – or mature enough – or faithful enough? Are adults who are baptised knowledgeable enough or faithful enough? Surely not! Should this be the minister’s discretion to determine what only God knows? The Anglican baptism service uses charitable assumption in its baptism language, and this, put along side of the Articles of Religion, declares the importance of a faithful response to the grace that God gives us in the sacraments for them to effect what they signify. Bishop J. C. Ryle said, “The person baptised is pronounced regenerate upon the broad principle of the Prayer-book, that, in the Church-services people are charitably supposed to be what they profess to be”.

The Revd Chuck Collins is the Director of the Center for Reformation Anglicanism in the USA.  www.anglicanism.info 

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