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The Flat Church - What Happens When the Church is Run by the Hoi Polloi...
a worker in the vineyard ^ | 6/23/2006 | Fr. Lee Nelson

Posted on 06/24/2006 6:38:13 PM PDT by sionnsar

"I think we've failed the Gospel. I think we've failed to live up to who we are as the people of God by not fully embracing all the baptized in the Body of Christ."

Susan Russell in an interview with StandFirm.
My library is significantly void of liberal theology texts, so I am admittedly somewhat limited in an ability to engage the subject of modern baptismal theology. But, I think the above quote from Susan Russell about says it all. There has been a notion afloat in the Church that the Sacrament of Baptism is a sort of SUPERsacrament - that it goes above and beyond what we have always said of it, and that now the sacrament contains the kernels of all the others. Three years ago in Minneapolis a bishop said that she didn't see why Gene Robinson shouldn't be consecrated because all the sacraments are, after all, contained in Baptism and therefore he already had the gifts, so why not the office?

Couple this startling expansion of language with a complete revisioning of baptism in terms of liturgical practice. No longer are the baptized charged to "confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner, against sin, the world, and the devil; and to continue Christ's faithful soldier until their life's end." (1928 BCP, 280)

They are instead told "we receive you into the household of God. Confess the faith of Christ crucified, proclaim his resurrection, and share with us in his eternal priesthood." Well, it sounds nice, especially with a whole congregation saying it, but is it faithful? Do all the baptized share with Christ in his eternal priesthood? Is this even what the Reformers had in mind with the "priesthood of all believers"? It is fine and good to say that every Christian has a priestly ministry of sorts - but it is not the eternal priesthood of Christ. That is a priesthood of an entirely different sort, but one can quickly see why one would now believe Baptism to be more potent than it once was. In the 1979 BCP, new lines were added (not surprisingly the most oft-quoted by revisionism) like "Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?" This is not to say that justice and peace should not be qualities of the baptized, in fact they are - but by a different means. Justice and peace are not strivings, but rather the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in baptism. Justice being a cardinal virtue, and peace being a fruit of the Spirit. But that is not what the Prayerbook says. It makes it quite clear that we are not talking about spiritual gifts and virtue, no, we are talking about political action and social justice.

In addition, now it is rubrically required that baptisms take place within the liturgy and publicly.

And, it's strange really. The question is not often enough "what kind of baptized person are you?" It is "are you baptized?" And the sacrament now qualifies the person for all sorts of rights, and entitlements, and offices. All of this in the name of "restoring ministry to the people" and "becoming a baptismal church." What we are left with is a rather flat church, the sort of church that reflects a certain egalitarianism. We have ditched the Church's proper hierarchy for egalite and in this, have opened the door to baptizing, not only the person, but the culture. Bishop Duncan said that "we've thrown out the baby and kept the bathwater." I disagree. It's really more that we've exchanged the living water of baptism for the decaying water of secularism. And so, it should not surprise anyone that Susan Russell speaks of baptism as embracing all people (meaning not only people, but lifestyles and habits and ideologies).

The Church has instead taught that Baptism is God's embracing of the individual person. The person is cleansed of sin, made a member of the Church, and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. But, revisionism takes the basics to a whole new level. The person is rather released from moral obligations other than social justice, made a priest on the level of Christ, and given all gifts for ministry. The effect is that we have become a church with no use for catechesis, no use for doctrine. It is then, no wonder that so many are saying with a false sense of charisma that the Holy Spirit is leading in a new direction. Classically, that is called blasphemy, but an Episcopalian wouldn't know blasphemy if bit him in the rear.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant; Other non-Christian
KEYWORDS: anglican; baptism; ecusa

1 posted on 06/24/2006 6:38:16 PM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Houston_Texans; impatient; weps4ret; kellynch; Crackhead Willie; meandog; gogeo; ...
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 06/24/2006 6:38:54 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | SONY: 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0urs)
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To: sionnsar
< nit picky mode >

"The hoi polloi" is redundant.

"hoi" is a transliteration of the Greek definite article "the" - ‘oi - with the diacritical mark representing the "h" breathing. So "the hoi polloi" is like "the Rio Grande River".

< /nit picky mode >

3 posted on 06/25/2006 11:13:50 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother ((Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment)))
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