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But Bishop Colin Buchanan would have none of it!    

"Jeremy Collingwood and Steve Daughtery attacked the Common Worship infant baptism rite, and correspondence has followed.  As I helped write the A S B text (which they like), and have stood close to the CW rite the House of Bishops and the Initiation Services Revision Committee, I put up defence. I too have some points of preference for the ASB rite, but they are simply points of preference, and are balanced by points where I prefer the CW text. Overall I commend the CW rite, and have written a Grove Booklet, being published next month, for that purpose.

The two do themselves try to sound fair (even conceding an ASB weakness), but still leave a general impression that they have taken against the service, and have then gone looking for any stick with which to beat it.  

Their first small complaint is about length — yet, if the mandatory parts of CW pages 352 to 361 are followed, there may be 90 seconds more text than in the comparable parts of the A S B (if they count optional parts, then they themselves are opting for longer rite). But the length of baptism services derives from imponderables of which Commissions cannot take account — the songs, the preaching, the numbers of candidates, the distance to march to a font an back, and the disruptiveness of young siblings in baptismal families.

Their second small complaint is a fear lest the rite ‘assume that baptism is to take place in the context of Holy Communion’ — but that is not assumed, as page 348 (and the official folding card) make dear.

Their first big complaint concerns the place of a response by parents and godpar­ents. They write that this response began the A S B rite, but in C W ‘the support of chil­dren in their Christian growth is left until the Commission at the end of the service [and is there done wrong]’ (italics and square brackets mine). I read this with total incredulity. What, I thought, of the careful questions to parents and godparents in ‘Presentation’? I read on, following the cross-headings from the rite which high­lighted each of their paragraphs (‘The Liturgy of the Word’, ‘The Decision’ etc.), all in a very clear sequence. BUT — and it is an extraordinary BUT — the section on C W page 352 entitled ‘Presentation of the Candidates’ is simply omitted by them. I read their article again; I went to the book­let and card offprints; I checked Visual Liturgy; and the Presentation section appears in every official text there is. It comes at the very beginning of the major divi­sion ‘The Liturgy of Baptism’, before ‘The Decision’. After an optional ‘presentation’ of the infant candidates to the congregation (which might be simply introducing families by name, or might be omitted), there is first a question to the congregation about welcoming and upholding the candidates (adult, child or infant), and then come immediately the two questions which are unique to the baptism of children:  

Parents and Godparents, the Church receives these children with joy.  Today we are trusting God for their growth in faith

Will you pray for them, draw them by your example into the community of faith and walk with them in the way of Christ? and

In baptism these children begin their journey of faith.  You speak for them today.  Will you care for them, and help them take their place within the life and worship pf Christ's Church?

Now, one might argue about whether these questions overlap each other, or whether they match the ASB form ‘you must answer both for yourselves and for these children.’ Those are the arguments we had on the Revision Committee, and I address them in my Grove Booklet. BUT (I need capitals) it looks either mischievous or incompetent to enter the C E N’s public arena, there to omit all mention of the cru­cial texts under your nose, and then to build your case upon the alleged total absence of such texts. For a boxer to deride his opponent’s strength is one thing; but to insist he has failed to arrive and so claim a walkover, when in fact the man is visible in the opposite corner, is quite another — the combat cannot then even start, let alone be decided.

Their other big complaint concerns ‘baptismal regeneration’. They acknowledge that ‘Scripture uses efficacious language’ about baptism, but think we should not. But surely scriptural language has prima facie claim? This was the BCP language to which indeed the 1850 Gorham Judgment gave the interpretative key); this was the ASB language; and this is the C W language.

I can here only begin a rationale; but if believers treat their children as believers (eg,. by saying the Lord’s Prayer — or almost any prayer - with them), then, as with adults, it is proper to treat baptism as a true beginning. If clergy suspect they sometimes baptize children of unbelievers (as the two hint), those cases are anomalous and no basis for drafting liturgy. We could provide words like We pour some water on you and hope the gospel will reach you one day’, but that is so far adrift from the Scriptures (and so promiscuously promoting ‘indiscriminate baptism’) as to be ludicrous. Sacraments function by serenely stating their own effi­cacy, just as hymns assume it is believers who sing ‘ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven’.

A real argument awaits, a longer one; but let it be joined with the whole text in view. "

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