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The Editor of Update responded

 What you see as wrong with Common Worship Baptism depends on what you saw as the problems with the ASB service which the new one tries to correct. If I was asked to list the weaknesses of the ASB, I would say:

·        despite rubrics (and the Canons), the ASB service looks like a stand-alone service, which therefore starts in an unfriendly way,

·         the separation of the decision questions and the baptism ones is artificial, and makes it look like the candidate is “half a Christian” at the signing with the cross,

·         God blesses people not water,

·         the language of unconditional regeneration in the welcome and the prayers is unwarranted.

Clearly my list is very different from General Synod’s, and that’s why I’m not very impressed with the new service either. The remedy to the “unwelcoming start” of the A S B is not to reword the contract but to ensure that the service starts with worship, and the welcome would be better replaced by an exhortation (as in the  B C P ). I pray your article will be right in that the C W service will be revisited quickly.

The Rev John Hartley - Bradford

Further contributions came as follows:

“Full marks to Jeremy Collingwood and Steve Daughtery for re-opening the debate about the new Common Worship Baptism rite. Its seri­ous shortcomings are well summarised in their article. Leaving aside its impractical length, it is the theological questions that are most serious. Whichever of the alternative prayers you use, baptism ex opere operato is implicit throughout the liturgy. Many of my evangelical friends say they use the new rite. However, on closer inspection I have not found one who does so either without heavy use of scissors or by changing the words to reflect a more evangelical (and Anglican) understanding of baptism. This liturgical anarchy rather flies in the face of our ordination vows to use ‘only those services which are authorised by canon’. I do not feel free to adopt this scissor and paste option, nei­ther can I in all conscience use a rite that strongly implies ex opere operato baptismal regeneration. Option 3 (still under P C C consideration) is to change our baptismal theology to fit the new rite. This would have a dramatic effect on our parish’s evangelism strategy. All I would need is a local fire appliance and a megaphone. A quick blessing of the water and a drive around squirting the fire hose at parishioners while shouting the liturgy of conditional baptism at them should suffice to get most of them into heaven in fairly short order.”

The Rev Richard Jackson Rudgwick, - Horsham  

"Jeremy Coilingwood and Steve Daughtery in their article in March 9 edition express the hope that General Synod will  revise the Baptism Service so that churches will not shy away from the new service.

 Where  I serve, we have felt the need to write a more satisfactory service. My deanery  declared its dissatisfaction to the Bishop when the service appeared as a GS paper, and nothing has happened to meet my fundamental objection.

Unlike your article which begins from A S B l980 as the standard of orthodoxy, I would start from first principles, and find the service inadequate for three reasons: 

1          It is theologically unsound in not calling for an appropriate commitment on the part of the Parents and Godparents - the  point that your article makes.             

2                    It is pastorally inappropriate in presupposing that Baptism is essentially a rite for infants, this particulalry in an ecumenical context here where we are in a Covenant relationship with churches practising Believers’ Baptism.

3                    It is untraditional, divisively not having commonly agreed texts with other denominations.            

We are in the process, regrettably, of writing our own service, which in a L E P we are entitled to do. But, wanting to respect my ordination vows, I plead with the C of E to revise this service as a matter of urgency.”

The Rev Paul Sandford - Dronfield

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