In her remarkable letter of April 9 Gill Stanning overlooks one thing,
she is effectively denying the Sufficiency of Scripture regarding
a sacrament (Thirty-nine Articles, Article 6: Of the Sufficiency
of Holy Scripture).
she is soon to be ordained, by her
own confession, she will be unable to inform her future parishioners as to
their duty is to baptise their infants
knows both sides but concludes no one
can really know as the Bible is unclear on this point
position is completely different to the
convinced Baptist or Paedobaptist for whom the Bible is clear and is a
sufficient rule of faith and practice.
she care to apply the precautionary principle she must in practice
become a Baptist. She cannot assure
her parishioners that infant
baptism is Christ's will. For
her it might not be and so it could be an innovation, no baptism
at all and therefore best avoided. On the other hand, she must clearly
believe that it is rightly done when applied to unbaptised believers
answering for themselves. So invoking the precautionary
principle, rather than risk sacrilege, she must advise believers'
baptism and that alone.
this raises the important question.
If for people like Gill Stanning, the Bible cannot answer such basic questions — what are we to do? Either the Bible is a
sufficient rule of faith and practice and does clearly teach
us our duty regarding the sacraments
or not. If not, we must have some other rule, we must have some
living voice within the Church such an
Ecumenical Council or
consensus of Bishops either that or some individual such as the
Pope or the local Bishop. Is this what she wants or should we abandon all pretence to order and simply allow everyone
do what seems right to themselves?
different was classic evangelical Anglican thinking! Those who founded
the Church Missionary Society did in the
conviction that our Bible-based principles of
Gill, her inability to explain the Scriptural duty
of baptism is proof of her integrity of submitting to the Bible alone.
To me it is simply proof that she is unsure of a foundational doctrine
of Christi’s religion.
no matter how much she boasts of her ability to exegete Scripture, her
lack of clarity on this basic principle of our Faith must question
her suitability for ordination —not because she is a woman but
because it would similarly raise a question in the case of a man holding