15.2.15

Speak (not) of the devil?



Christian Today runs the story of those potential changes to the baptism liturgy for the Church of England that I have reflected upon for Church Society

Recently (February 2015) the debate went to General Synod and discussion ensued regarding whether references to sin and the devil are appropriate against the backdrop of a modern, western, twenty-first century, enlightened, rationale.

Are we to accommodate the liturgy to the context we find ourselves in?

Ruth Gledhill describes how the 'Bishop of Truro, Timothy Thornton, said the new baptism texts were being drafted because of concerns that the present services were too "complex and inaccessible" to non-churchgoers.'

I am not sure that this is really the case. 

Surely people are able to use their minds to conceive of ideas in the liturgy. I prepare candidates of all ages and have rarely come across a person misunderstanding the imagery of drowning to the old identity and rising to the new, putting on armour to stand valiantly against all that the world and sin and the devil throws at us. 

In fact, it is just this kind of language that we should be safeguarding. 

On Monday I spoke on Premier radio about the feminisation of the church. Many commentators on such a phenomenon describe how a gospel without power, without the language of radicalism, battle and armour, without the sense of revolution and counter-culturalism; without that sense of having something very real for which to contest, is perhaps one of the reasons behind the church's hemorrhaging men.

The over-emotionalism of songs that require participators to call on a Jesus whom they are desperate for, in love with and can not breathe without, is doing little to keep men in the pews.

Instead the daring and adventurous, the black and white real language of the baptism rite is an important way to counteract this phenomenon of a church that leaks men. I wrote about the importance of the retention of radical language in the baptism rite when I knew that baptism-lite was being tested in a few parishes. I draw your attention again to my thoughts over at Crossway magazine and ask you to consider whether in the continual adaptation of our liturgies to contemporary culture's social mores we might be in very grave danger of completely changing the gospel message to placate the god of our times: a kind of political correctness gone mad.

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.