The Error of the Revisionst Emphasis On Baptismal Theology

One of the interesting thoughts I had in reading Bishop Allison’s piece, linked below, was the new emphasis placed on Baptism in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and since that time, including moves to downplay or even drop confirmation, and the making of Baptism to be the mark of full membership in the Body of Christ. Such things, it seem to me, come dangerously close, if not full on, at the doctrine of infusion – that merely by Baptism we are justified, and that, thereafter, we simply become better and better people. We ultimately don’t have a need for a Savior. Of course, this can be traced as well to the dropping of the prayer of humble access in Rite II. While many questioned the need for constant repentance in the older rites. However, it is not so much constant repentance that is the point, but the constant recognition of our justification by imputation – being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, which covers us and allows God to recognize us as his own.

Interestingly, this also leads to a lack of sanctification of the Christian when the infusion is deemed to be enough. Somehow, the Roman Catholic Church has managed this problem with its discipline.

What becomes all the more problematic is when we believe the freedom we have in Christ is freedom to do what we want, rather than what God wants. The whole idea of sanctifcation for the Christian has to be the molding of our hearts, and, thereafter, our wills and actions, to what God wants. That can only be done by making God the center of our lives through the constant reminder that grace through our Lord Jesus Christ is but imputed to us. Grace must be given time to do it’s work.

Thus, the new “Baptismal” theology misses the mark on many points. Interestingly, it brings the church closer to Rome in theology. However, we, as Anglicans and Episcopalians, have dropped the discipline of Rome long ago due to the reformation doctrine of the imputation – realizing it isn’t discipline, staying within the infusion, that saves us, but Jesus Christ. However, when you mix infusion without the discipline of the Catholic Church, you get a mess – the Episcopal Church of today.

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