Monday, September 27, 2010

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008): The Catechism and the Order of Confirmation


Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on Virtue Online in 2008. It has been revised and expanded.

Introduction

In this eighth article in my series on An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), I examine the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). The Anglican Mission and the Prayer Book Society of the USA jointly produced An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) principally as a service book for Anglican Mission churches but with an eye to its adoption by other Anglican jurisdictions in the United States, Canada and other countries. The services of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) have been described as revised versions of the services of the classical Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) contains a number of deviations from and additions to the services of the classical Anglican Prayer Book, drawn from the 1928 American Prayer Book, the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book. Consequently, An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) bears a greater resemblance in the doctrinal content and forms of the services to these major Prayer Book revisions of their day than it does to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The doctrine of the classical Anglican Prayer Book, a doctrinal standard for the Anglican Mission in accordance with its Solemn Declaration of Principles, is for a large part altered or obscured. This is particularly evident in the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008).

Promotions of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) present the book as showing the different "classical" treatments of the same services in the 1662, 1928 American, and 1962 Canadian Prayer Books. An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), however, does not offer for examination the services of these three Prayer Books in parallel for comparison but brings together into revisions of the classical Anglican Prayer Book services elements from the services of the three books and the alternative services of the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book and other unidentified sources. What is unsaid is that An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) has a theology of its own and that theology is a far cry from the biblical and Reformation theology of the 1662 Prayer Book. The contribution of the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book to the revised services of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is also unacknowledged.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) substitutes different standards for Anglican doctrine and for the Anglican tradition of worship for what the Anglican Mission adopted in its Solemn Declaration of Principles. This may be attributed in part to the tendency of the compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) to gloss over the significant theological differences between the 1928 American revision, 1928 proposed English revision, and 1962 Canadian revision and the 1662 Prayer Book. In order to see the differences between the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of these three books, Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, and An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) and the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of the classical Anglican Prayer Book, a brief examination of the origin of Confirmation as a rite, its history, and its development in Anglicanism is warranted.

A Post-Apostolic Rite

In the Bible we find no credible evidence that the apostles, much less our Lord, instituted the rite of Confirmation. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament we find a number of passages that describe the practice of laying on of hands [1] but none of these passages describe a primitive form of Confirmation. In its normal descriptions of baptism the New Testament makes no mention of the laying on of hands—not in crowds like the three thousand (Acts 2:41), the five thousand (Acts 4:4) or the Corinthians (Acts 18:8); not in households like that of Cornelius (Acts 10:48), Lydia (Acts 16:15), the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:33), Crispus (Acts 18:8) or Stephanas (1 Cor 1:16); and not among individuals like the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38) or Paul (Acts 9:19). What we do find is that baptisms in the New Testament Church included prayer for the Holy Spirit and laying on of hands only in unusual circumstances. We find no evidence that any New Testament baptism included an anointing. [2]

We do not find any evidence in Acts 8 and 19 that Luke was establishing a precedent—that Luke’s intention was that prayer for the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands should be seen as an accompaniment to all baptisms for all time and for all churches. In the Bible mandatory practices are prescribed or commanded. While our Lord commanded us to baptize and be baptized and to give thanks over bread and wine and to share them in remembrance of him, we find no injunctions to invoke the Holy Spirit upon those who have been baptized and to lay hands upon them.

In the New Testament we find a close association between hearing the Word of God and believing in Jesus Christ and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. [3] The New Testament also associates the gift of the Holy Spirit with baptism. [4]

In his commentary upon Acts William Larkins points to our attention:

The clear teaching of the apostles and their customary practice is that the giving of the Spirit is a birthright of every Christian, received at conversion (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 12:3, 13). Acts gives no consistent pattern for a second-stage giving of the Spirit by apostolic laying on of hands, as Roman and Anglo Catholic teaching on confirmation would assert, or with extraordinary manifestations such as prophesying and speaking in tongues, as Pentecostal and charismatic teaching on baptism with the Spirit would contend (Acts 8:14-17; 10:44-48; 16:31-34; 19:1-6). Therefore the Samaria experience must be viewed as extraordinary, not normative.[5]

Larkins goes on to explain that the mission of the Church was cross-cultural and not just to the Jews but to all nations. God delayed the Holy Spirit in the case of the Samaritans in order to preserve the church’s unity and its mission’s integrity in the face of centuries of enmity between Jew and Samaritan:

If God had not withheld his Spirit until the Jerusalem apostles came, converts on both sides of the cultural barrier might have found Christ without finding each other. Neither Samaritan nor Jewish Christians would have been assured that the Samaritans were truly regenerate and the spiritual equals of regenerate Jews (compare Acts 15:8-11). What Luke teaches us, then, is that the unity of the church and the unhindered advance of its mission into all cultures is so important to God that he will delay giving to a converted people what is their birthright, the salvation blessing of the Spirit, in order to ensure that these realities will be fully preserved. So the church today should deal with the matter of the Spirit's coming from the same standpoint. [6]

In the combination of questions that Paul asks the Ephesians in Acts 19 it is clearly evident that Paul assumes a convergence of faith, the gift of the Spirit and baptism at conversion. [7] Based upon their responses Paul concludes that the Ephesians are unconverted. His corrective is to preach the gospel to them, emphasizing that Jesus is the Messiah who was to come, to whom John’s message pointed. [8] Larkin stresses:

Not as part of baptism but in order to communicate to these twelve that they are now incorporated into the church and the Spirit has indeed come, Paul lays hands on them (compare Acts 8:17). The Lord in his mercy gives outward manifestations, "other languages" (the NIV margin should be followed if the parallel to Pentecost [2:4] is to be fully shown) and prophecy, confirming to them that full salvation blessings are indeed theirs now. [9]

Larkin summarize what may be learned from Acts:

As we reflect on conversion experiences at Pentecost, in Samaria and at Caesarea with Gentile God-fearers, what is unique to the various first-century situations and what is normative for all time? Unique items, given to demonstrate to various groups and to Jewish Christian observers the direct incorporation of various groups of non-Jews into the body of Christ, are the apostolic laying on of hands and the extraordinary manifestations of the Spirit's presence, speaking in other languages and prophecy. Necessary precedents having been set, there is no need in God's economy for their normative repetition in every Christian's experience (Acts 15:7-11). But "repentance, faith in Jesus, water baptism and the gift of the Spirit . . . belong together and are universal in Christian initiation" (Stott 1990:305; Lk 24:46-47; Acts 2:38-39).Separating from Unbelieving Tradition (19:8-10)[10]

The post-apostolic rite of Confirmation was originated in fourth and fifth century Gaul. The development of the rite was accidental. The bishop’s post-baptismal anointing and imposition of hands became disconnected from the rite of Baptism and eventually acquired a theology significance of its own, one that has over the centuries diminished the meaning of Baptism. [11]. What the apostles had done in Acts 8 and 19 bore a superficial resemblance to what the Western Church was doing, and it was on the basis of this superficial resemblance that the Western Church connected its practice with that of the apostles. The Western Church began to interpret Acts 8 and 19 as the origins of Confirmation. It read its own later practice back into the two Acts passages. Its misinterpretation of these two passages became enshrined in the tradition of the Medieval Church and formed an integral part of its view of the theological significance of Confirmation. The idea developed that Confirmation was a completion of Baptism and that the Holy Spirit was given at Confirmation and not Baptism. The rite of Confirmation would eventually be seen as necessary for salvation.

In the Letter to the Hebrews "instruction about washings," or "cleansing rites," and "laying on of hands" are mentioned in a list that includes repentance from "useless rituals," faith toward God (but not Christ), the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2). The juxtaposition of "washings’ and "laying on of hands" in the same list reinforced the opinion in the Medieval Church that the rituals of Baptism and Confirmation were joined together in the New Testament Church. However, this interpretation of Hebrews 6:2 is purely conjecture. There is nothing in the passage or its context to support it. The authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews is traditionally attributed to Paul. Nothing in Paul’s writings support this view. The New Testament practice of laying on of hands includes healing and setting apart and commissioning for ministry. Nothing in the Letter to the Hebrews precludes Hebrews 6:2 being a reference to one or both of these practices.

The reference to "washings" and the imposition of hands in Acts 6 is cryptic. We cannot beyond possibility of doubt say to what this passage is referring. While Hebrews 10:22 appears to refer to Baptism, we do not know with certainty of what the "washings" of Hebrews 6:2 is speaking. Baptism in the New Testament is generally referred to in the singular. The particular word used in Hebrews 6:2 is derived from the Greek verb "to wash" and has associations with ritual purification. As we have seen the reference to the imposition of hands may be to healing of the sick or to ordination and commissioning. The arguments made for one interpretation or another are inconclusive. The text is obscure and therefore susceptible to oegesis. Such a passage does not offer proof that the rite of Confirmation is apostolic.

By the twelfth century Hugo of St. Victor and other medieval theologians were calling the rite of Confirmation a sacrament. At the Council of Florence in 1439 Pope Eugene IV designated Confirmation as a sacrament by papal decree. From then on Confirmation was a recognized part of the sacramental system of the Church of Rome. It was not only believed to confer grace but also to be equal in power to the other sacraments of the Church. It was viewed as an objective rite that functioned ex opere operato, conferring the gift of the Holy Spirit regardless of the faith of the recipient.

A Bastard Sacrament

The Protestant Reformers rejected Confirmation as a sacrament. Among their principal objections were that Christ did not institute Confirmation. The rite had no real Scriptural basis. It was a development of the late patristic and early medieval period. The Church of Rome used Confirmation to deny that the Holy Spirit was given at Baptism and to maintain that the Holy Spirit was given only through the laying on of hands and anointing. The Church of Rome also taught that Confirmation completed Baptism.

The German Reformer Martin Luther at various times dismissed Confirmation as "Affenspiel," or "monkey business;" "L├╝genstand," or "fanciful deception;" and "Gaukelwerk," or "mumbo-jumbo." [12] The Swiss Reformers Ulrich Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin also rejected Confirmation. Calvin referred to Confirmation as one of the five "bastard sacraments" of the Church of Rome and as "a noted insult to Baptism." [13]

Like the Continental Reformers, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformers rejected the medieval sacramental system but retained its vocabulary. They, however, applied the term "sacrament" only to the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They concluded from their study of the New Testament that Christ had instituted and the apostles had confirmed only these two ordinances as sacraments for the church. They also retained the idea that the sacraments are means of grace, vehicles through which God applies grace to believers. Like their Reformed brethren on the Continent they insisted that such grace only accompanied the proper administration and appropriation of the sacraments.

A Catechetical Rite

In the fifteenth and sixteenth century a number of reformers desired a ritual for children by which they would appropriate the baptismal promises and vows made on their behalf at their baptism. John Hus, the Bohemian Brethren, and the humanist reformer Erasmus advocated such a ritual. We also find this desire for appropriation of baptismal promises and vows among Reformed theologians. Calvin, while he decisively rejected Confirmation as a sacrament, believed that the examination in the catechism and blessing of adolescents baptized as infants was an ancient custom. He wrote: "This laying on of hands, which is done simply by way of benediction, I commend, and I would like to see restored to its pure use in the present day." [14]

Martin Bucer, the leader of the Reformation in Strasbourg, advocated a catechetical process that included instruction, public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and laying on of hands. Bucer was forced to leave Strasbourg in 1549 after he refused to sign the Augsburg Interim. He came to England at Cranmer’s invitation in the same year and was appointed the Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. Cranmer, influenced by the Bohemian Brethren and Bucer, reformed the medieval sacrament of Confirmation into a catechetical rite for children that included prayer and laying on of hands. Children were, upon completion of this rite, admitted to the Lord’s Supper.

In the First Book of Common Prayer of 1549 the section entitled "Confirmacion, wherin is conteined a catechisme for children" includes an explanatory rubric, a Catechism, and an Order of Confirmation. The explanatory rubric that precedes the Catechism contains no suggestion that Confirmation is a sacramental rite instituted by Christ or the apostles. It also rejects the Medieval idea that Confirmation establishes the salvation of the confirmand.

To the end that Confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying of such as shall receive it (according unto Saint Paul’s doctrine, who teacheth that all things should be done in the Church to the edification of the same) it is thought good that none hereafter shall be confirmed, but such as can say in their mother tongue the Articles of the Faith, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and can also answer to such questions of this short Catechism as the bishop (or such as he shall appoint) shall by his discretion appose [=examine] them in. And this order is most convenient to be observed for divers considerations.

First, because that when Children come to the years of discretion and have learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, they may then themselves with their own mouth, and with their own consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same: and also promise that by the grace of God, they will evermore endeavour themselves faith fully to observe and keep such things as they by their own mouth and confession have assented unto.

Secondly, forasmuch as Confirmation is ministered to them that be baptized, that by Imposition of hands and prayer, they may receive strength and defense against all temptations to sin, and the assaults of the world and the devil: it is most meet to be ministered when children come to that age that partly by the frailty of their own flesh, partly by the assaults of the world and the devil, they begin to be in danger to fall into sundry kinds of sin.

Thirdly, for that it is agreeable with the usage of the Church in times past: whereby it was ordained that Confirmation should be ministered to them that were of perfect age, that they being instructed in Christ’s Religion, should openly profess their own faith, and promise to be obedient unto the will of God.

And that no man shall think that any detriment shall come to children by deferring of their confirmation, he shall know for truth that it is certain by God’s Word, that children being baptized, have all things necessary for their salvation, and be undoubtedly saved.

The insertion of a Catechism into the Prayer Book is a development of the Reformation. The 1549 and 1552 Catechisms covers the promises and vows the godparents made at the candidate’s baptism, the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.

What may be significant for our purposes is not the 1549 Order of Confirmation but the 1549 Order of Baptism. For Cranmer the Holy Spirit was given in Baptism. After the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles’ Creed the priest adds the following prayer:

Almighty and everlasting God, heavenly Father, we give thy humble thanks, that thou hast vouchsaved to call us to knowledge of thy grace, and faith in thee: Increase and confirm this faith in us evermore: GIVE THY HOLY SPIRIT TO THESE INFANTS, that they may be born again, and be made heirs of everlasting salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

After the infant has been baptized and vested in a white "Crisome," the priest anoints the infant upon the head, saying these words.

Almighty God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and hath given thee remission of thy sins: HE VOUCHSAVE TO ANOINT THEE WITH THE UNCTION OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT, and bring thee to everlasting life. Amen.

Cranmer’s wording of this prayer and the anointing that accompany it suggests that he sought to incorporate into the 1549 Order of Baptism at this juncture in the service elements of the medieval rite of Confirmation, juxtaposing them in close proximity to the water baptism. The words, "…anoint thee with the chrism of salvation," accompany the first post-baptismal anointing in the Sarum rite. Cranmer substitutes for these words those that accompany the second post-baptismal anointing that the bishop normally performs in the Roman rite. This second post-baptismal anointing is a peculiarity of that rite. [15] The incorporation of these elements into the 1549 Order of Baptism further suggest that Cranmer, even at this stage, regarded the rite entitled as "Confirmation" in the 1549 Prayer Book in the Reformed sense of a catechetical rite for children.

In determining the theology of a particular rite in the 1549 and 1552 Prayer Books, we must look at the entire rite and not the individual elements in isolation from each other. We must also be wary of taking just a quick glance. Rather we should closely scrutinize each element, how it fits with the other elements, the overall arrangement of elements, and what that tells us. A casual examination of rubrics and texts of the Prayer Book may led us to make conclusions that a closer look does not support. As with Scripture we must not come to the book with a fore-drawn conclusion of what a specific part of it means. We must not put too much weight upon superficial resemblances and the like.

Both the 1549 and 1552 versions of the prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…" are adapted from a Latin prayer that appears in the rite of Confirmation in the Medieval Sarum service books but which originally came from the Gelasian Sacramentary where it appears in the rite of Baptism. The fourth century writings of Ambrose of Milan also locate the prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the baptismal rite. [16] After a quick glance in which they note the reference to the Holy Spirit and the "gifts of grace" in both versions of the prayer, some infer that both prayers are petitions that God give to the confirmand His Spirit and with the Holy Spirit the gifts of the Spirit. They do not note the differences between the two prayers. They also do not consider the other elements in the two rites and how they affect the meaning of the two prayers.

In the Second Book of Common Prayer of 1552 Cranmer dropped the prayer "Sign them, O Lord…" from the Order of Confirmation. It contained the phrase, "Confirm and strength [sic] them with the inward unction of thy Holy Ghost, mercifully unto everlasting life." He revised the prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…". He struck out the words, "Send down from heaven we beseech thee (O Lord) upon them thy Holy Ghost the Comforter, with the manifold gifts of grace," and replaced them with the words, "…strengthen them, we beseech thee, (O Lord,) with the Holy Ghost the Comforter, and daily increase in them the manifold gifts of grace…". He moved the prayer to a position immediately before the laying on of hands. He altered the words accompanying the laying on of hands to "Defend, O Lord, this child with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever, and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he comes unto thy everlasting kingdom. Amen." These alterations presuppose that the confirmand has received the Holy Spirit. This should indeed be the case if the confirmand has heard the message of the gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, or as Cranmer himself believed had been given the Holy Spirit in Baptism. It must be noted that Cranmer did not believe that the Holy Spirit was invariably given in Baptism but that the Holy Spirit was normally given in the sacrament. Consequently, the language of the 1552 Office of Baptism employs the principle of charitable assumption, and after the child has been baptized, the rite speaks as if the newly baptized had indeed received the Holy Spirit. In the rubrics after the order of Confirmation "the Curate of every Parish, or some other at his appointment" was directed to "diligently upon Sundays and holy days half an hour before Evensong" to catechize the children of the parish and further directed "all Fathers, Mothers, Masters, and Dames" to cause their children, servants, and apprentices to attend these sessions. The final rubric, "And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion: until such time as he be confirmed" was revised to "And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time he can say the Catechism and be confirmed." These changes placed greater stress upon the learning of the Catechism that preceded the Order of Confirmation.

Whether we take full note of the peculiarities of a specific rite of Confirmation determines how we understand that rite. Colin Buchanan points this fact to the attention of John Hartley in response to a comment Hartley had made, "One of its disadvantages of the BCP baptism service is that the BCP sees the giving of the Holy Spirit as belonging more to confirmation than to baptism, so the service seems to us a bit inadequate by biblical standards." The 1662 Order of Confirmation is not susceptible to this understanding as Buchanan draws to Hartley’s attention. [17] Either Hartley did not look too closely at the rite or he failed to distinguish between receiving the Holy Spirit and increasing in the Holy Spirit. The 1662 Order of Confirmation certainly contains three prayers that include references to the Holy Spirit but they are not "prayers for the Holy Spirit". All three prayers presume that the confirmands already have the Holy Spirit! This points to the danger of assigning a particular interpretation to a rite without really looking at the rite itself, which has unfortunately happened throughout a large part of the history of Anglicanism for the past 400 years.

With the ascension of Mary Tudor to the English throne in 1553, the 1552 Book of Common Prayer and its catechetical rite for children was abolished and the Medieval Sarum service books and their sacrament of Confirmation were restored. Mary died in 1558 and her younger sister Elizabeth ascended the throne. The Elizabethan Act of Uniformity of April 1559 reestablished the 1552 Prayer Book and its reformed rite. Except for a few small but significant changes in 1604, this rite would be the one used in the Church of England until the revision of the Prayer Book at the Restoration in 1661.

In his Apology of the Church of England, John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury under Elizabeth I, wrote the classical defense of historic Anglicanism against Roman Catholic charges. The Apology served as an interim confession of faith of the Church of England until the adoption of the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion in 1571. The churchwardens of all English parish churches were required to obtain a copy of the Apology and place it where the parishioners could read it. Jewel limited the sacraments to two: "We acknowledge that there be two sacraments which, we judge, properly ought to be called by this name; that is to say, baptism and the sacrament of thanksgiving [eucharist]. For thus many we see delivered and sanctified by Christ, and were allowed of the old fathers, Ambrose and Augustine." [18]

”The Homily on Common Prayer and the Sacraments” from the Second Book of Homilies published early in the reign of Elizabeth I recognizes only two sacraments—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper:

And as for the number of them, if they should be considered according to the exact signification of a Sacrament, namely, for the visible signs, expressly commanded in the new Testament, whereunto is annexed the promise of free forgiveness of our sin, and of our holiness and joining in Christ, there be but two: namely Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord. [19]

The homily goes on to acknowledge that "ancient writers" have given the name of sacrament to "any thing whereby an holy thing is signified," including "not only the other five, commonly of late years taken and used for supplying the number of the seven Sacraments: but also to divers and sundry other ceremonies, as to oil, washing of feet, and such like…". However, in doing so, these writers did not intend that these rituals should be generally considered to be or regarded as "in the same signification" as the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. [20]

After drawing attention to Augustine’s affirmation of only two Christian sacraments in his writings—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the homily further points to our attention:

And although there are retained by the order of the Church of England, besides these two, certain other Rites and Ceremonies about the institution of Ministers in the Church, Matrimony, Confirmation of the children, by examining them of their knowledge in the articles of the faith, and joining thereto the prayers of the Church for them, and likewise for the visitation of the sick: yet no man ought to take these for Sacraments, in such signification and meaning, as the Sacrament of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are: but either for godly states of life, necessary in Christ’s Church, and therefore worthy to be set forth by public action and solemnity by the ministry of the Church, or else judged to be such ordinances, as may make for the instruction, comfort, and edification of Christ’s Church. [21]

As we can see, the homily, when referring to the rite of Confirmation describes it in terms of the examination of the children in their knowledge of the articles of the faith, to which is joined "the prayers of the Church for them." It makes no mention of laying on of hands or sealing with the Holy Spirit. It appears to categorize Confirmation with "such ordinances, as may make for the instruction, comfort, and edification of Christ’s Church."

”A Homily Concerning the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost and the Manifold Gifts of the Same for Whitsunday” from the Second Book of Homilies also makes no mention of the laying on of hands. In what the Thirty-Nine Articles describe as containing " a godly and wholesome Doctrine" and judge should be "diligently and distinctly" read in churches to the people that they may understand them, we should reasonably expect to find some mention of the imposition of hands in connection with the gift of the Holy Spirit if it figured in the authorized teaching of the Elizabethan Church. But it is conspicuous by its absence. What the “Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday” emphasizes is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer—what the apostle Paul calls "the fruits of the Spirit." The homily is sharply critical of those who claim to have received the gift of the Holy Spirit but do not evidence its fruit.[22]

In one of his sermons Edwin Sandys, an exile during the reign of Mary and the bishop of Worchester and of London and Archbishop of York during the reign of Elizabeth I, affirms the Reformed view of the sacraments. They "are two in number, instituted by Christ to be received of Christians: By the one, which is baptism, we are received and incorporated into the church of Christ; by the other, which is the eucharist or the Lord’s supper, we are nourished and fed unto life everlasting" [23]

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the Church of England’s official confession of faith, agreed upon by Convocation in 1562 and enacted into law by Parliament and given the royal assent in 1571, is based upon the Forty-Two Articles of 1553. Article XXV. "Of the Sacraments" also affirms the Reformed position:

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five, commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

Puritan Objections

During the reign of Elizabeth I the Puritans raised a number of objections to Confirmation. In Worship and Theology in England from Cranmer to Hooker 1534-1603 Horton Davies lists their three main objections:

The Puritans objected to Confirmation as virtually the creation of a third sacrament, which since it required a bishop for its administration, seemed to reduce the significance of the other two sacraments which required no bishop for their administration. It was also felt that the Lord’s Supper added the grace of Confirmation of Baptism and that a separate service of Confirmation was therefore otiose. In the third place, the Puritans objected to the laying on of hands in a manner that was un-Apostolic while claiming to follow the model of the apostles.[24]

At the Hampton Court Conference of 1604 the Puritans drew to the attention of James I and the English bishops that the Thirty-Nine Articles were a contradiction of the teaching of the Prayer Book since Confirmation was, according to Article XXV, "a corrupt following of the Apostles." James and the bishops dismissed this objection as frivolous. [25]

A Holy Rite

In the 1604 revision of the Elizabethan Prayer Book of 1559 the title of the section of the Prayer Book containing the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation was changed from "Confirmacion, wherein is conteined a catechisme for children" to "The Order of Confirmation, or laying on of hands upon children baptised, and able to render an account of their Faith, according to the Catechisme following." The text in the 1559 Catechism "First, that I should forsake the devil, and all his workes and pompes, the vanities of the wicked worlde, and al the sinful lustes of the fleshe…" was altered to "First, that I should forsake the devil, and all his workes, the pompes and the vanities of the wicked worlde, and al the sinful lustes of the fleshe…". The questions and answers on the sacraments were also added in 1604. These began with the following question and answer:

How many sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?
Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

The title of the Order of Confirmation itself was changed from "Confirmation" to "Confirmation, or laying on of hands." The linking of Confirmation with laying on hands in the title of the section of the Prayer and the Order of Confirmation was intentional. While the 1559 Order of Confirmation connected the laying on of hands in the rite with the apostolic practice of laying on of hands, neither the Preface to the 1559 Catechism nor the 1559 Order of Confirmation itself directly stated or implied that the rite was apostolic. In linking Confirmation and laying on of hands together the 1604 revision takes the position that the apostles instituted the rite.

In the 1559 Order of Confirmation the word "bothe" was struck from the versicle and response, "Our helpe is in the name of the Lorde." "Aunswere. Whiche hath made bothe heaven and earth." The versicle "Lorde hear our prayer" was altered to "Lorde hear our prayers."

In the early seventeenth century High Church Caroline divine Jeremy Taylor, referring to Confirmation as a "Holy Rite," described the rite in sacramental terms but stopped short of calling it a sacrament. He argued that Confirmation was apostolic on the flimsy basis of Acts 8 and 19 and Hebrews 6. He took the position that the Holy Spirit is bestowed through the laying of hands at Confirmation:

But the principal thing is this: Confirmation is the consummation and purification, the corroboration and strength, of baptism and baptismal grace; for in baptism we undertake to do our duty, but in Confirmation we receive strength to do it. In Confirmation we receive the Holy Ghost as the earnest of our inheritance, as the seal of salvation." [26]

The High Church Caroline divines, however, rejected the Roman Catholic sacramental system. Bishop Lancelot Andrewes wrote:

For more than a thousand years the number of seven Sacraments was never heard of. How, then, can the belief in seven Sacraments be catholic, which means, always believed?[27]

Archbishop John Bramhall who, with John Cosin, defended the Church of England from its Roman Catholic critics during the Interregnum and worked assiduously to keep the Royal family then in exile from becoming Roman Catholic, wrote:

Our Church receives not the septenary number of the Sacraments, that being never so much as mentioned in any Scripture, council or creed, or father, or ancient author, but first divided in the twelfth century by Peter Lombard; decreed in the fifteenth century by Pope Eugenius IV, and established at Trent.[28]

A Restored Rite

With the abolition of episcopacy and the banning of the Prayer Book in 1646 the rite of Confirmation fell into abeyance. By the end of the Interregnum in 1660 a large segment of the population was unconfirmed, and was not particularly "desirous to be confirmed."

The Restoration revision of the Prayer Book of 1662 is substantially the 1552 Prayer Book with some modest changes. The Restoration bishops separated the Catechism from the Order of Conformation and dropped the explanatory rubric at the beginning of the Catechism. They changed the title of the Catechism to "A Catechism that is to say an instruction to be learned of every person, before he be brought to be confirmed by the bishop. They slightly altered the rubrics at the beginning and end of the Order of Confirmation, combined them, and moved them to the end of the Catechism, except for the rubric, "And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time he can say the Catechism and be confirmed." This rubric was altered to "And there shall be none admitted to the holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be ready and desirous to be confirmed." and moved to the end of the Order of Confirmation. They gave much greater emphasis to the public examination and instruction of children, servants, and apprentices in the Catechism in the rubrics at the end of the Catechism. Curates were directed to catechize the children on Sundays and holy days after the second lesson at Evening Prayer, instead of half an hour before Evening Prayer, as previously had been the case. This meant that the children’s parents and masters would be present during the catechizing and would benefit themselves from overhearing the examination and instruction of the children.

The Restoration bishops added a fuller version of the Ten Commandments and made two emendations to the section of the Catechism on the sacraments, which had been added in 1604. They altered the answers to the questions:

What is the outward visible sign or form in Baptism?"

Why then are infants baptized, when by reason of their tender age they cannot perform them?

They, however, did not add any additional sections to the Catechism.

The Restoration bishops added to the Order of Confirmation a Preface drawn from the opening part of the explanatory rubric dropped from the beginning of the Catechism:

To the end that Confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying of such as shall receive it, the Church hath thought good to order, That none shall be confirmed but such as can say the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; and can also answer to such other Questions, as in the short Catechism are contained: which order is very convenient to be observed; to the end, that children, being now come to the years of discretion, and having learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, may themselves, with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same; and also promise, that, by the grace of God, they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe such things, as they, by their own confession, have assented unto.

They also added the ratification and confirmation of the baptismal promise and vow to the Order of Confirmation and inserted the collect, "O Almighty God Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern…" after the prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who makest us both to will and to do such things as be good and acceptable unto thy Majesty…".

During the period immediately following the restoration of the Stuart monarchy the Church authorities sought to impose the requirement of knowledge of the Catechism as the prerequisite for full, participatory membership in the Church of England, including admission to the Lord’s Supper. In this effort they succeeded. However, they were not successful in reducing the low number of Confirmations. Until the very late seventeenth century both clergy and laity showed little interest in Confirmation. During this period Confirmation was presented as an opportunity to make a public profession of faith and to ratify and confirm the baptismal promise and vow made on one’s behalf at Baptism.[29]

A Sacred Thing, A Mystery

In the seventeenth and eighteenth century the Non-Jurors and the old High Church party continued to maintain and teach that the rite of Confirmation was an apostolic ordinance and that the bishop conferred the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands at Confirmation. Bishop of Connecticut Samuel Seabury, the first American bishop and a High Churchman, favored a theology emphasizing sacramentalism and apostolic succession and promoted this view of Confirmation in the fledgling Protestant Episcopal Church. So did Bishop of New York John Henry Hobart, a leading High Churchman of the early nineteenth century.

The Order of Confirmation of the First American Prayer of 1789 closely follows that of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. We do not see evidence of Anglo-Catholic or High Church influence in the American Prayer Book until the revision of 1892. The Preface was made optional and the following lection was added:

Hear the words of the Evangelist Saint Luke, in the eighth Chapter of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles.

WHEN the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Both changes were significant. The option of omitting the Preface enabled the bishop and other ministers to reduce the catechetical emphasis of the rite. The lection, Act 8: 14-17, suggested that confirmands received the Holy Spirit when the bishop laid hands upon them. It made the rite more sacramental.

During the early part of the nineteenth century the Tracts for the Times were published in England. Their publication marked the emergence of the Oxford Movement, also known as the Tractarian Movement and the Anglo-Catholic Movement, which eventually displaced the old High Church party in the Church of England and changed the identity of High Church school of churchmanship in Anglicanism.

The later Tractarians—also known as the "Ritualists" and the "Romanizers"—represented not only a revolt against the Evangelical and Latitudinarian parties but also the old High Church tradition. [30] They did not disguise their sympathy for the Church of Rome. They rejected the English Reformation and the Elizabethan Settlement and celebrated the decrees of the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation. They broke down the hedge that separated the Church of England and the Church of Rome and imported Roman doctrine and practices, including the Roman sacramental system into the English Church. They argued that the Church of Rome had preserved the ancient traditions of the Church in their purest form. As the justification for their introduction of Roman doctrinal and worship innovations that had never been a part of the English Catholicism before the Reformation they claimed that if the Reformation had not occurred, these innovations would have become a part of the Catholic religion in England as they had in other countries that had not experienced the influence of the Reformation. They engaged in liturgical experimentation, altering the services of the Prayer Book and adding elements from the Medieval and Roman service books. They created much turbulence in the Church of England with their defiance of measures adopted to discourage their ritualism and Romanization of the English Church.

The Tractarian Movement quickly spread to the Protestant Episcopal Church where it flourished. The principal check to its growth and influence, the church’s Evangelical wing, almost half of its bishops and a third of its clergy in the 1840s and 1850s, was removed with the succession of the more conservative Evangelicals in 1872 and the subsequent conversion of the remaining Evangelicals to Broad Church liberalism.

A Sacrament in Everything But Name

By the 1920s the Anglo-Catholic party had attained a decided ascendancy in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1925 the General Convention under Anglo-Catholic leadership passed a resolution abolishing the Thirty-Nine Articles as a doctrinal statement of the Protestant Episcopal Church. The 1925 General Convention also gave initial approval to a proposed revision of the American Prayer Book that made a number of radical changes in that Prayer Book. [31] The resolution doing away with the Articles was to come before the 1928 General Convention for a second vote but was quietly dropped after the proposed Prayer Book revision was given final approval.

The 1928 revision added the following prayer to the Prayers and Thanksgivings:

For those about to be Confirmed

O GOD, who through the teaching of thy Son Jesus Christ didst prepare the disciples for the coming of the Comforter: Make ready, we beseech thee, the hearts and minds of thy servants who at this time are seeking to be strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, that, drawing near with penitent and faithful hearts, they may be evermore filled with the power of his divine indwelling; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The prayer clearly ties the gift of the Holy Spirit to the laying of hands at Confirmation.

The 1928 revision made several changes in the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of the American Prayer Book. Among these changes was that two Office of Instructions replaced the Catechism. The questions and answers in the First Office were based upon the 1662 Catechism, exclusive of those on the sacraments. The questions and answers in the Second Office were principally based upon a supplement to the 1662 Catechism that the lower house of the Convocation of Canterbury compiled in 1887 but which was never authorized. [32] The Second Office of Instruction contains following questions and answers:

Question: What is your bounden duty as a member of the Church?
Answer: My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom.

Question: What special means does the Church provide to help you do all these things?
Answer: The Church provides the Laying on of hands or Confirmation, wherein, after renewing the promises and vows of my Baptism, and declaring loyalty and devotion to Christ as my Master, I receive the strengthening gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Two prayers conclude the Second Office of Instruction. The first prayer also suggests that the Holy Spirit is given at Confirmation:

Grant, O Lord, that they who shall renew the promises and vows of their Baptism, and be confirmed by the Bishop, may receive such a measure of they Holy Spirit, that they may grow in grace unto their life’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The 1662 Preface was dropped from the Order of Confirmation. A form for presenting the confirmands to the bishop similar to that at Ordination was added. As in the 1892 American Prayer Book, the Order of Confirmation contains the lection from Acts 8. In addition to ratifying and confirming the solemn promise and vow he made, or that was made in his name, at his baptism, the confirmand also promises to follow Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

With these changes the Order of Confirmation was transformed into a sacramental rite, completing the transition away from the catechetical rite of the 1789 American Prayer Book begun in the 1892 revision. In the 1928 American Prayer Book Confirmation is a sacrament in everything but name only. The absence of a specific reference to Confirmation as a sacrament, however, does not keep the teaching of the 1928 American Prayer Book from being a contradiction to Article XXV.

In 1928 the English Parliament rejected for a second time a proposed revision of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The measure authorizing the use of the new book had been approved in the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the Church Assembly, and passed in the House of Lords but had been defeated in the House of Commons in 1927. After further revision the book and the accompanying measure were resubmitted to the English Parliament only to be defeated again in the House of Commons. In defiance of the English Parliament a resolution authorizing the use of the alternative versions of the services in the book was approved in the Upper House of the Convocation of Canterbury in 1929 and a number of the revised services were used in some dioceses of the Church of England in subsequent years.

The proposed 1928 revision of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer added a number of new prayers to the Prayers and Thanksgivings. They included the following prayer:

For Candidates for Confirmation.

Let us pray for those who are being prepared for Confirmation.

V. Let thy loving Spirit lead them forth;
R. Into the land of righteousness.

O GOD, who through the teaching of thy Son Jesus Christ didst prepare the disciples for the coming of the Comforter: Make ready, we beseech thee, the hearts and minds of thy servants who at this time are seeking the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, that, drawing near with penitent and faithful hearts, they may be filled with the power of his divine indwelling; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Like its counterpart in the 1928 American Prayer Book, this prayer ties the gift of the Holy Spirit to the laying on hands at Confirmation.

An Alternative Order for Confirmation of the 1928 Proposed English Book of Common Prayer moves the 1662 Preface to the beginning of the rite where it becomes an introductory rubric. The words "…ratify and confirm the same…" are altered to "… ratify and confess the same…". The rite substitutes the following Preface for the 1662 Preface:

Dearly beloved in the Lord, in ministering Confirmation the Church doth follow the example of the Apostles of Christ. For in the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles we thus read :—

They therefore that were scattered abroad went about preaching the word. And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ. When they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John : who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet he was fallen upon none of them : only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

The scripture here teacheth us that a special gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed through laying on of hands with prayer. And forasmuch as this gift cometh from God alone, let us that are here present pray to Almighty God, that he will strengthen with his Holy Spirit in Confirmation those who in Baptism were made his children.

You, then, who are to be confirmed must now declare before this congregation that you are stedfastly purposed, with the help of this gift, to lead your life in the faith of Christ and in obedience to God’s will and commandments; and must openly acknowledge yourselves bound to fulfil the Christian duties to which your Baptism hath pledged you.

The Preface states that Acts 8 teaches that the gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed through the laying of hands, inferring that the imposition of hands is the normal vehicle through which God imparts the Holy Spirit. Acts 8, however, as we have seen, describes an unusual situation. It cannot bear the weight of such a claim.

The bishop, in requiring the renewal of baptismal vows, is given the choice of asking a single question or three questions, before he proceeds with the confirmation. The single question is taken from the 1662 Confirmation Service, except that the words "ratifying and confirming" have been altered to "ratifying and confessing…". The three questions are adapted from those addressed to the baptismal candidate in the rite of Baptism for adults in the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book. After the renewal of the baptismal vows An Alternative Order for Confirmation is substantially the 1662 Confirmation Service with the exception of the blessing and the final rubric. A charge to the confirmands precedes the blessing:

Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no man evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted ; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all men; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be upon you, and remain with you for ever. Amen.

The final rubric takes from the minister of the parish the determination of whether an individual is ready and desirous to be confirmed and therefore may be admitted to the Holy Communion and gives it to the bishop:

And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion, until such time as he be confirmed, or be found in the judgement of the Bishop to be ready and desirous to be confirmed.

Beginning in the nineteenth century Anglicans became involved in a prolonged debate about the role of the Holy Spirit in the rites of Baptism and Confirmation. This debate was engaged far more vigorously in England than in the United States. In the late nineteenth century A. J. Mason argued that, while Baptism cleanses from sin, it is incomplete without the seal of the Spirit that Confirmation bestows. [33] In the twentieth century Gregory Dix went further than Mason and drew a sharp distinction between baptism of water and baptism of the Holy Spirit. He insisted that the Holy Spirit was operative not in Baptism but in Confirmation. [34] Geoffrey Lampe built a stronger case from many of the same sources from the Bible and the Early Church that the Holy Spirit is fully at work in Baptism. [35] Dix’s two-stage theory of Christian initiation, however, received much more attention in the United States than did Lampe’s rebuttal of that theory. [36]

In 1962 the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada authorized for use the last exclusively traditional language Prayer Book produced in the twentieth century.
The Prayers and Thanksgivings of the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book included two prayers for those being prepared for Confirmation:

O GOD, who through the teaching of thy Son Jesus Christ didst prepare the disciples for the coming of the Comforter: Make ready, we beseech thee, the hearts and minds of thy servants who at this time are seeking the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, that, drawing near with penitent and faithful hearts, they may be filled with his power; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Or

O ALMIGHTY God, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: We humbly commend unto thee those who are about to renew before the Church the solemn vows of their Baptism, and to seek thy heavenly grace in the laying on of hands. Guard them from the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and give them grace to devote themselves wholly unto thee, body, soul, and spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first prayer expresses the view that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are conveyed through the laying of hands. The second is not as explicit but expresses a similar view, that the laying on of hands is a vehicle through which God applies grace. Both are in essence saying in contradiction to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion that the laying of hands is a sacrament.

A number of revisions were made in the 1662 Catechism. The following questions and answers were inserted in those on the sacraments:

Catechist. Why then are infants baptized?
Answer. Infants are baptized so that, being received into Christ's Church, they may grow in grace and be trained in the household of faith.

Catechist. How can infants promise repentance and faith?
Answer. Their Godfathers and Godmothers make the promise for them.

Catechist. When do they take this promise upon themselves?
Answer. When they are confirmed by the Bishop and, through prayer and the laying on of hands, are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

A Supplementary Instruction was added to the Catechism. It includes these questions and answers:

Question. What is the work of the Church in the world?
Answer. The work of the Church in the world is to offer to God on behalf of all men the worship which is his due; to make known to all men the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and to unite all men to God in one family.

Question. How did our Lord provide for the life and work of the Church?
Answer. Our Lord sent his Holy Spirit upon the Church and upon his Apostles.

The Order of Confirmation begins with the presentation of the confirmands to the bishop similar to that at Ordination. It is followed by a challenge by the bishop also similar to the one used at Ordination:

Bishop. Take heed that the persons whom ye present be duly prepared and meet to receive the laying on of hands.
Minister. I have instructed them and inquired of them and believe them so to be.

The presentation and the challenge carries the implication that Confirmation is the "ordination of the laity," which is how proponents of the two-stage theory of Christian initiation frequently described "the distinctive grace of Confirmation" in the twentieth century.[37]

The 1662 Preface has been replaced by a longer Preface implying that Confirmation is an apostolic rite:

Brethren, these are they to whom we purpose, God willing, to administer the Apostolic rite of the laying on of hands.

The Church has thought good to order that none shall be confirmed, but such as can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and are further instructed in the Church Catechism, set forth for that purpose.

We are assured that these persons present, being by baptism members of Christ's Church, are prepared as aforesaid, and we are assembled here to bless them by the laying on of hands with prayer.

This order is very convenient to be observed.

First. Because it is evident from sundry places in holy Scripture that the Apostles prayed for and laid their hands upon those who were baptized; and the same is agreeable with the usage of the Church since the Apostles' time. This holy rite is reckoned in the Epistle to the Hebrews to be one of the first principles of Christ.

Secondly. In order that persons, having come to the years of discretion, may acknowledge openly the vows made at their Baptism and dedicate their lives to the will of God.

Thirdly. In order that by prayer and laying on of hands they may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit, manfully to fight under the banner of Christ crucified, against sin, the world, and the devil, and to continue Christ's faithful soldiers and servants unto their life's end.

The Preface is followed by two lections, the first from Acts 8 and the second from Acts 19. These lections with the reference to Hebrews 6 in the Preface form the basis of the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book’s claim that the rite of Confirmation is apostolic. As we have seen, there is no credible evidence to support this claim. Acts 8 and 19 describe unusual circumstances. The laying on of hands to which Hebrews 6 refers is unclear.

As in the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, the bishop, in the 1962 Canadian Order of Confirmation, in requiring the renewal of baptismal vows, may ask a single question or three questions, after which he proceeds with the confirmation. After the Renewal of the Baptismal Vows the 1962 Canadian Order of Confirmation follows the 1662 order except that "Confirm and…" has been added to the phrase "…strengthen them, we beseech thee…" in the 1552 prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…". "Confirm" appears to be used in the sense of God establishing the salvation of the confirmands and points to the sacramental character of the Canadian rite.

For those occasions when Confirmation follows immediately after Baptism, a shortened form is provided.

Scriptural Initiation

In 1964, two years after the authorization of the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book, John Stott gave an address on the subject of "The Baptism and Fullness of the Holy Spirit" to the Islington Conference of Evangelical clergy. Stott subsequently expanded his talk and the Intervarsity Fellowship published it in booklet form. The following summary of Baptism and Fullness was taken from Roger Steer’s Guarding the Holy Fire: The Evangelicalism of John R. W. Stott, J. I. Packer, and Alister McGrath:

First, he argued, the fullness of the Holy Spirit was one of the distinctive blessings of the new age. Just as the ministry of John the Baptist was to baptise with water, so the characteristic of the ministry of Jesus would be to baptise with Holy Spirit. When we repent and believe, Jesus not only takes away our sins, but also baptises us with the Holy Spirit. It is this "baptism" or "gift" of the Spirit which makes our experience of the fullness of the Spirit possible.

Second, the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the universal blessing for all who repent and believe. Since Pentecost, the Spirit has come to indwell all believers. The general teaching of the New Testament is baptism, including baptism in the Spirit, is an initial experience. True, there are a few narrative passages in Acts which may suggest a special experience subsequent to conversion, but they occurred in special circumstances and are not normal for us today. The norm of Christian experience is a cluster of four things: repentance, faith in Jesus, water baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Though the perceived order may vary a little, the four belong together and are universal in Christian initiation. The laying-on of apostolic hands, together with tongue-speaking and prophesying, were special to Ephesus and to Samaria (as described in Acts), in order to demonstrate visibly and publicly that particular groups were incorporated into Christ by the Spirit. The New Testament does not suggest that these specific episodes would be the normal experiences of Christians. The emphasis of the New Testament is not to urge on Christians some new and distinct blessing, but to remind them of what by grace they are, and to recall them to it.

Third, the fullness of the Holy Spirit is a continuous blessing to be continuously and increasingly appropriated. In response to the invitation of Jesus recorded in John 7, we are to keep coming, to keep believing and to keep drinking of the living water he offers.

As for the supernatural signs associated with Pentecost, they are no more typical of every baptism of the Spirit than those on the Damascus road are of every conversion. What is the evidence of the Spirit’s indwelling and fullness? As with baptism, so with fullness, the chief evidence is moral not miraculous. The chief mark of a person filled with the Spirit of God will be seen in the Spirit’s fruit (love, joy, peace…), not the Spirit’s gifts. It is wrong to think of being filled with the Spirit as a sort of spiritual inebriation in which we lose control of our selves. Under the influence of the Spirit we gain control of ourselves.[38]

Steer goes on to write:

Stott ended his booklet with a plea to his readers constantly to seek to be filled with the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit. ‘Can we not gladly occupy this common ground together,’ he asked, ‘so that there be no division among us?’ The main condition of being filled is to be hungry. In this life we can never be filled to hunger no more. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ (Matt. 5:6), implying that hungering and thirsting after righteousness is as much a permanent state of the Christian as being ‘poor in spirit’ or ‘meek’ or ‘merciful.’ ‘So let neither those who have had unusual experiences, nor those who have not, imagine that they have ‘attained’ and that God cannot fill them any further with himself!’ [39]

Stott’s emphasis upon repentance and faith in Jesus, the moral nature of the chief evidence of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness is particularly important today when individuals whose lives fall far short of the moral and ethical standards that God has set for followers of Christ in the Scriptures claim to have the Holy Spirit solely upon the basis of their baptism, confirmation, or such manifestations as glossolia, or speaking in tongues, which they attribute to the Holy Spirit. Or they maintain that the Holy Spirit is operative in their efforts to normalize in the Church and in society at large life styles that are from the viewpoint of the Bible displeasing to God, going as far as claiming special illumination of the Holy Spirit that supercedes and supplants the clear teaching of the Bible.

In 1968 the bishops of the Anglican Communion meeting at Lambeth commended a sections report on baptism as full initiation to the continuing study of the Church as a statement of the views of the bishops concerned.

In 1970 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA considered a proposal for reuniting the rites of Baptism and Confirmation into a single rite. This proposed rite restored the prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to its original position in the baptismal rite. It also restored the post-baptismal anointing that Cranmer had dropped from the 1552 Prayer and made it optional. While the proposal made the bishop the chief minister of the reunited rite of Baptism and Confirmation, it also authorized the priest to act in the absence of the bishop as Vatican II had authorized the delegation of the laying on of hands and anointing by Roman Catholic bishops to Roman Catholic priests. The House of Bishops recognizing that Episcopalians who had been taught that Confirmation was an apostolic rite separate from Baptism and was the completion of Baptism might not accept the proposed rite suggested a compromise. In this compromise the baptismal rite retained the prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the priest laid hands on the newly baptized and anointed the newly baptized with chrism. This anointing with chrism is what originally was "confirmation" in the early Western Church and is "confirmation" in the Eastern Churches to this day. A second rite, entitled "Confirmation," would consist of the candidates’ personal appropriation of the promises and vows made on their behalf at their baptism, followed by the imposition of hands and prayer by the bishop. The compromise recognized that the two rites are open to two different interpretations. The first rite may be interpreted as a reunited rite of Baptism and Confirmation and the second rite as simply the candidates’ owning of their Baptism-Confirmation. Or the first rite may be traditionally interpreted as Baptism and the second rite as Confirmation. This compromise, with some changes, eventually became the rites of Baptism and "Confirmation" in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

Traditionalist Anglo-Catholics have criticized the 1979 rite of "Confirmation" because it does not contain those elements that they believe are essential to the sacrament of Confirmation. However, the 1979 rite of Baptism is, from the standpoint of those who crafted the rite, the rite in which the newly baptized is "confirmed." Marion Hatchett advocates that the title of "Confirmation" for the second rite should be replaced with the original title for the rite from Prayer Book Studies 18, which is "Reaffirmation of Baptismal Vows with the Laying on of Hands by a Bishop." [40] This might reduce the confusion that its present title creates.

In 1971 the report of the Commission on Christian Initiation to the General Synod of the Church of England explicitly linked the receiving of the seal of the Spirit in baptism with "sacramental completeness of initiation" in baptism. This reports, also known as the Ely Report, stated, "Baptism cannot be added to or supplemented or ‘completed’. It is the one and complete sacrament of Christian initiation." [41]

In 1977 J. I. Packer wrote I Want to Be a Christian as companion to his widely read Knowing God. I Want to Be a Christian is an overview of Christianity that covers "the content of the three formulae that have always been central to Christian catechizing"—the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, as well as baptism and conversion. It is a useful popular level group study resource and has gone through a number of printings. In Chapter 11 - Baptism, Confirmation, and Confession Packer quickly dispels the notion that in the rite of Confirmation the bishop’s laying on of hands and prayer for strengthening of the Holy Spirit means that the fullness of the Holy Spirit has been withheld in some way from us up to that point or that through Confirmation we receive the Spirit and his benefits in unique ways that we otherwise cannot. "Such ideas are common," Packer writes, "but are really superstitions, reflecting medieval belief that confirmation is a sacrament, which Peter and John were administering when they laid hands on the Samaritans after praying for the Spirit (Acts 8:14-17), and that sacraments are ordinarily the only means of conveying the blessings they signify." [42]

"The gesture of laying hands on the person you pray for as a mark of goodwill and concern as did Peter and John to the Samaritans, and Paul to the Ephesian disciples, and the Antioch leaders to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 19:6, 13:4), and Paul and an unidentified eldership to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 4:14)," in the sense of sign that is given by God and which guarantee a particular blessing, Packer goes on to write, is not a sacrament. The New Testament knows only two sacraments in this sense—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Scripture also shows that the gifts of grace signified and guaranteed to believers by the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper may be given apart from them. [43]

After emphasizing the New Testament idea of initiation as becoming a Christian-in-the-church, Packer further stresses:

Certainly, too, scriptural initiation involves faith, exercised and professed; reception into the believing community by baptism in the triune name; and receiving, or being sealed with, the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13ff.; 4:30). But it is not true, as some has supposed, that confirmation supplements baptism by signifying the gift of the Spirit. In the New Testament baptism signifies all aspects of entering new life in Christ, including the gift of the Spirit (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Confirmation, however, is not part of scriptural initiation, for it is not a biblical ordinance at all.[44]

Packer goes on to ask the rhetorical question, "But if it is just church tradition, why practice it? Is it worth retaining?"

Packer’s answer to this question is "Yes." He gives two reasons for doing so—one theological and one pastoral. First, the rite of Confirmation provides for one element in Christian initiation, which infant baptism does not provide—the opportunity to profess our faith personally before the church. Publicly professing our faith is God’s will for those who are old enough to do so (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Timothy 6:12). A personal profession of faith shows that we are ready to properly appropriate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and to receive the grace that God applies to believers through this vehicle. Second, Confirmation is the point in Christian nurture where we exchange "junior, sponsored membership" for "adult membership in our own right, based on personal acceptance of the commitment to faith and renunciation of the devil, the world, and the flesh which our sponsors made on our behalf." We confirm in our own person the solemn promise and vow made in our name at our Baptism. The church, having heard us confirm our faith by professing it, prays with the bishop that we may be confirmed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit for the fulfillment of our commitment. [45]

In 1987 Michael Green also sought to clear away a number of misconceptions about Baptism and Confirmation in his book Baptism. In discussion of the relationship of Baptism and Confirmation he first draws to the attention of his readers what Confirmation is not:

Confirmation is not the topping up of baptism as the entry into the Christian life. There is no justification for such a view in the New Testament. It is no supplementary rite. Repentance, faith and baptism are the human conditions for receiving the new life in Christ, membership of his family, the forgiveness of sins and gift of the Spirit. Baptism alone is the rite which initiate a person into the church; not baptism and something else, i.e. confirmation.[46]

Green then point to our attention what Confirmation is:

It is first and foremost, a profession of faith….Confirmation is, second, a domestic rite bringing the candidate into full accreditation and recognition within a particular branch of the Christian church…. Third, confirmation is a commissioning for service…. [47]

Pentecostalism places "baptism in the Spirit" after water-baptism as a "second-blessing". Modern charismatics in the Roman Catholic Church have embraced the Pentecostal two stage theory of Christian initiation and equate "baptism in the Spirit" with the rite of Confirmation and laying on of hands and anointing. Charismatic Anglo-Catholics have taken a similar view of the relationship of Confirmation and "baptism in the Spirit."

Green draws to our attention that the passages of Scripture that those who subscribe to the Pentecostal explanation of Spirit-baptism cite as proof of their position, do not, upon careful reading, support that position. [48] He concludes from the seven references to "baptism in the Holy Spirit" in New Testament that Spirit-baptism is not a second experience, but "an unrepeatable, if complex, plunging into Christ, with repentance and faith, justification and forgiveness, sonship and public witness, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the seal of belonging, all being part of initiation in Christ.’ [49] While all these parts of Baptism belong together, we may experience them at different times in our lives. What some Christians call "baptism in the Holy Spirit" is the discovery in actual experience what has been potentially ours all the time in our baptism. Green suggests that "release" in the Spirit may be a better term. We "posses our possessions"—we notice and use for the first time what has been ours all along, experiencing a new dimension in our Christian life and fresh manifestations of the Holy Spirit.[50]

At the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation in 1991 a new consensus appeared to have emerged on the role of the Holy Spirit in baptism. This consensus asserted unequivocally that baptism is complete sacramental initiation, including the gift of the Holy Spirit, but did not identify the seal of the Spirit with any particular portion of the rite. However, the Anglican service books that have been published since 1991 suggest that this consensus has not been received throughout the Anglican Communion. [51] Anglicans continue to appear to be divided in their understanding of the meaning of Confirmation as they have for the past 400 years.

Trial and Error

It is against this backdrop that we must first examine the doctrine of the Catechism and the Confirmation Service of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which with the Holy Scriptures and the Thirty-Nine Articles form the standard of doctrine and worship that the Anglican Mission adopted in its Declaration of Solemn Principles. We then shall examine the doctrine of the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of Services in Contemporary English from the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (2006), which was authorized for restricted trial use in the Anglican Mission for a limited period of time, and is the predecessor of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). We will conclude with an examination of the doctrine of the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) and a comparison of that doctrine with that of the 1662 Prayer Book.

The 1662 Catechism is, with the addition of 1604 explanation of the sacraments and a number of alterations, the 1549 Catechism. Its original purpose was to serve as an exposition of the baptismal covenant. The 1662 Catechism has not only been used as manual of instruction for those preparing for Confirmation but also as an authorized statement of doctrine. The 1662 Catechism recognizes only two sacraments that Christ has ordained in his Church—Baptism and the Supper of the Lord. The Catechism further defines a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure thereof." Like the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, the 1662 Catechism teaches that in order to be properly regarded as a sacrament, the sign must be instituted or commanded by Christ. Neither the apostolic practice of laying on of hands or the post-apostolic rite of Confirmation meet this definition. We have already taken note of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer’s emphasis upon the public catechizing of the young.

The three prayers containing references to the Holy Spirit in the 1662 Confirmation Service do not ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit or the gifts of the Spirit. Rather they are petitions for the continued working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the confirmands. They presuppose that the confirmands have received the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives. The first prayer asks for the strengthening of the Holy Spirit and the increase of the gifts of grace. The second prayer–the 1552 benedictory prayer said at the laying of hands—asks God to defend the confirmand with his heavenly grace so he may continue God’s forever and daily increase in the Holy Spirit more and more until he comes to God’s everlasting kingdom. The first two prayers bring to mind the words of the 1549 and 1552 Preface:

Secondly, forasmuch as Confirmation is ministered to them that be baptized, that by Imposition of hands and prayer, they may receive strength and defense against all temptations to sin, and the assaults of the world and the devil: it is most meet to be ministered when children come to that age that partly by the frailty of their own flesh, partly by the assaults of the world and the devil, they begin to be in danger to fall into sundry kinds of sin.

The two prayer and the preface acknowledge that the confirmands need fresh daily supplies of grace to help them to weather the temptation to sin and the assaults of the world and the devil and to persevere until the end.

The two prayers with their petitions for daily increasing in the gifts of grace and daily increasing in the Holy Spirit point to the continuous blessing of the fullness of Holy Spirit that is the believer’s to continuously and increasingly appropriate:

‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:37-39 NIV)

The Holy Spirit is a fountain welling up within the heart—the innermost being—of the believer, filling us with his presence and working within us.

The third prayer, or collect, was adapted from a prayer in the Order of Confirmation of the Cologne Church Orders. It first appeared in the 1549 Prayer Book and is filled with Scriptural language and references:

”Almighty and everliving God, who makest us both to will and to do those things that be good and acceptable unto thy divine Majesty" comes from Philippians 2:13.

"Let thy fatherly hand…ever be over them" is gathered from 1 Kings 8:24; 1 Chronicles 29:12,16; Ezra 7:9,28; Nehemiah 2:18; Job 10:9-10, 27:11; Psalm 31:5, 119:173, 139:5, 144:7; Isaiah 50:2, 59:1, 66:14; Ezekiel 3:14; Daniel 5:23; Luke 1:66; and 1 Peter 5:56 for starters.

"…let thy Holy Spirit ever be with them" is a positive rewording of Psalm 51:11, "Cast me not away from thy presence: and take not thy holy Spirit from me."

"…so lead them in the knowledge and obedience of thy Word, that in the end they may obtain everlasting life…" is derived from Deuteronomy 12:28, 30:16; Ezekiel 37:24; John 3:36; Romans 2:8; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 5:9; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 John 5:2, and other passages of Scripture.

The laying on of hands is seen in this prayer as way of certifying—or assuring—the confirmands of God’s "favor and gracious goodness toward them," and not as a vehicle through which the Holy Spirit or his gifts or some previously absent benefits of the Spirit or aspects of his ministry are conveyed. Only in this first sense is the imposition of hands seen as following the example of the apostles.

The three prayers echo the kind of sentiments that we find in the prayers of the apostle Paul in his epistles, his prayers for those among whom he labored. These prayers reveal his pastor’s heart and his ongoing concern for their spiritual well-being and growth. They are the type of prayers that the confirmand would need at this important stage in his faith journey, at which he owns for himself his baptism and the baptismal promises and vows made on his behalf, and publicly professes his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

As in the 1552 Order of Confirmation, the prayers of the 1662 Confirmation Service are a large part of the service. As we have seen, the laying on of hands is not even mentioned in the description of Confirmation in the Elizabethan Homily on Common Prayer and the Sacraments, only the examination of the children in their knowledge of the articles of faith and the prayers of the Church. The particular interpretation of the imposition of hands given in the 1549 prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who makest us both to will and to do those things that be good and acceptable unto thy divine Majesty…" is that of a gesture of benediction reminiscent of Genesis 48:8-20 and Mark 10:13-16. As in the 1552 Order of Confirmation, the laying on of hands and accompanying prayer in the 1662 Communion Service are a benedictory ritual and nothing more. Those who interpret the 1662 rite as sacramental are assigning their own interpretation to the rite and not paying attention to the rite’s interpretation of itself.

Confirmation in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer may be accurately described as a rite in which persons come to age of discretion and instructed in the essentials of the Christian faith confirm—or ratify—the vows made for them at baptism, and in doing so publicly profess their faith before the church. The church in turn offers support to them in form of prayer with laying on of hands.

The Catechism of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 is substantially that of the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The Order of Confirmation includes a shortened form to accompany Baptism. This form consists of the presentation of the candidates to the bishop, a contemporary language version of the versicles and responses beginning "Our help is in the name of the Lord, a contemporary version of the 1962 Canadian revision of the prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…," and the laying of hands with a brief prayer or blessing for the candidate. The form contains two brief prayers and a blessing for use with the imposition of hands. The first prayer is a contemporary English version of the 1552 prayer, "Defend O Lord…;" the second prayer is taken from Order of Confirmation of The Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer and also appears in the Order of Confirmation of the Anglican Church of Kenya’s Our Modern Services (2002, 2003):

Strengthen, Lord, your servant N with your Holy Spirit; empower him for your service; and sustain him all the days of his life. Amen.

The blessing is used when the bishop recognizes an individual from another Christian body and receives that individual into membership. It is adapted from the one in the Order of Confirmation of The Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer:

N. we recognize you as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and we receive you into the membership of this Communion. May God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless, preserve and keep you. Amen.

The long form for Confirmation consists of a contemporary English adaptation of the 1962 Canadian Preface, two optional lections: Acts 8 and Acts 19, the 1962 Canadian renewal of baptismal vows (first option), a contemporary language version of the versicles and responses beginning "Our help is in the name of the Lord, a contemporary English version of the 1962 Canadian revision of the 1559 prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…," the laying of hands with a brief prayer or blessing, the versicle and response "The Lord be with you" "And with your Spirit," an invitation to prayer, two versions of the Lord’s Prayer—one traditional and one contemporary, and contemporary English version of the 1549 prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who makest us both to will and to do such things as be good and acceptable unto thy Majesty…;" the collect, "O Almighty God Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern…;" and the 1549 blessing, "The blessing of God Almighty, the Father…". The Preface modeled on that of the 1962 Canadian Order of Confirmation, the two optional lections taken from Acts, the contemporary English version of the 1962 Canadian revision of the 1552 prayer, "Almighty and everliving God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate…," and the second prayer for use with the laying on of hands make the long form for Confirmation more sacramental than catechetical. With the title of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 we would reasonably expect the Order of Confirmation to be a contemporary English translation of the 1662 Order of Confirmation. This, however, is not the case. Like the 1962 Canadian Order of Confirmation, it bears a family resemblance to the Alternative Order of Confirmation of the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book.

It is worthy of note that the Alternative Order for the Ministration of the Publick Baptism of Infants and the Alternative Order of Confirmation of the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book are the only two rites from that Prayer Book, which are no longer authorized for use in the Church of England. Their view of Baptism and Confirmation does not square with the Church of England’s doctrinal position on Baptism as the one and complete sacrament of Christian initiation. On the other hand, the 1662 Prayer Book’s rites do.

The Catechism of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is essentially the Catechism of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662, to which has been added a section entitled "The Church and Ministry" adapted from the Second Office of Instruction of the 1928 American Prayer Book. This section includes the following questions and answers:

Question: What is your binding duty as a member of the Church?
Answer: My binding duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church; and to work and pray and give for the spread of his kingdom.

Question: What special means does the Church provide to help you to do all these things?
Answer: The Church provides the Laying on of hands, or Confirmation. Here, after renewing the promises and vows of my Baptism, and declaring my loyalty and devotion to Christ as my Master, I receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit to give me inner strength.

First, these questions and answers suggest that the church is not the Body of Christ but a building—"to worship…in his Church…". This view is not Scriptural. The answer would conform to the teaching of Scripture if "in his Church" were dropped. It is not found in the 1928 Second Office of Instruction from which these questions and answers were adapted. Or if it were replaced by "with his gathered Church" or a similar phrase.

Second, these questions and answers take the position that the laying on of hands and confirmation are synonymous. This is emphasized by the placement of the comma after "laying on of hands." As we have previously seen, while the laying on of hands is an apostolic practice, it is not an apostolic ordinance. Confirmation itself is a post-apostolic rite.

Third, they suggest that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are solely given through the imposition of the bishop’s hands at Confirmation, a view which we have also seen is not biblical. They further suggest that the gifts of the Spirit are given separately from the gift of the Spirit. While the Spirit may have been given at Baptism, his gifts were withheld. In saying that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given through the laying on of the bishop’s hands, they may also be expressing in muted form the unscriptural doctrine that the Holy Spirit is given through the imposition of the bishop’s hands. This doctrine ties the imparting of the Holy Spirit to a physical action and denies the sovereignty of God to give the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit as he wills (John 3:5-8, Hebrews 2:4). The Scriptures tell us the circumstances under which the Spirit was given in conjunction with the laying on of hands were unusual. The most we may conclude from these passages is that God may bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit at the imposition of hands under particular circumstances but he does not do so invariably under all circumstances. The Scriptures, however, link the hearing of God’s Word, faith in Christ, and the gift of the Spirit. [52] Baptism is also included in this equation.

Fourth, they take the position that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the purpose of giving the confirmand "inner strength," a decidedly unscriptural view. The New Testament tell us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to individual members of the Body of Christ for the building up of the whole Body of Christ. If, for example, we are given the gift of faith, it is to strengthen the faith of our fellow Christians. They are not gifts to ourselves but to the entire Church! If we see the gifts of the Spirit as gifts to ourselves, we fall into the same snare as the Corinthian pneumatics. Paul’s teaching was intended as a corrective to their misunderstanding of the place of the gifts of the Spirit in the Body of Christ. Even the gift of tongues, of a personal prayer language, is ultimately for the building up of the church. Those who receive the gift of tongues are released to pray in new ways and through that gift to minister to their fellow believers in new ways. It is not given to them so they can think of themselves as super-Christians as did the Corinthian pneumatics and become puffed up with pride and self-importance.

The section adapted from the Second Office of Instruction of the 1928 American Prayer Book also contains a number of questions and answers on the historical threefold ministries of the Church. These questions and answers repeatedly refer to the second ministry as that of "Priest." The Church’s threefold ministries are derived from the New Testament ministries of deacon; presbyter, or elder; and overseer, or bishop. The New Testament recognizes only two priesthoods—the unique priesthood of Christ and the royal priesthood of all believers. These questions and answers do not contain an explanation that as used in the classic Anglican Prayer Book the word "priest" is a contraction of the word "presbyter." In their repeated reference to the second ministry as that of "Priest" they take a decidedly unbiblical position.

The Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is also essential the Order of Confirmation of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 with a small number of significant changes. The title of the longer form for Confirmation has been changed from "The Order of Confirmation or Laying on of Hands upon those that are baptized and have come to years of discretion" to Confirmation or laying on of Hands on those who are baptized and are ready to publicly declare their commitment to Christ." The optional lections from the Acts of the Apostles have been dropped. The first prayer for use with the laying on of hands has been altered from "Defend, Lord, this your servant…." to "Confirm and defend, Lord, this your servant." The contemporary English version of the 1552 blessing has been replaced with a contemporary English version of the blessing from the 1928 Proposed English prayer Book, "Go forth into the world in peace…".

At first glance the addition of the words "Confirm and…" to the prayer "Defend, Lord, this your servant…" appear redundant since the bishop has already prayed earlier in the rite that God confirm and strengthen the confirmands with the Holy Spirit. Its addition, however, does not appear to be accidental and suggests that the compilers intended to alter the meaning of this prayer.

I have searched for possible sources of this addition. This search was limited to the few books of my library that I have with me here in Kentucky and the electronic editions of Anglican service books available on the Internet. In the 1549 rite of Confirmation before the bishop signs the sign of the cross on the foreheads of the confirmands and lays hands upon their heads, the minister reads the following prayer "Sign them (O Lord) and mark them to be thine for ever, by virtue of thy holy cross and passion. Confirm and strengthen them with the inward unction of thy holy ghost unto everlasting life." The Church of England’s Alternative Service Book 1980 moves the prayer, "Defend, O Lord, your servant…" to a position after the laying on of hands and substitutes for this prayer the words "Confirm, O Lord, your servant N with your Holy Spirit" at the laying on of hands. Both the Church of England’s Common Worship (2001) and the Church of Ireland’s Book of Common Prayer (2004) change the wording of "Defend O Lord, your servant…" to "Confirm…O Lord, with your heavenly grace…".

By adding the words "confirm" to the 1552 benedictory prayer at the laying on of hands the compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) appear to be placing greater emphasis upon the laying on of hands and making this action the focal point in the rite where God "confirms"—establishes—the salvation of the confirmand through the bishop’s laying on of hands. This clearly goes beyond the 1662 Prayer Book’s understanding of the rite of Confirmation, and expresses a sacramental view of the imposition of hands.

The 1662 rite of Confirmation is catechetical. Based upon the Catechism, the Preface of the longer form for Confirmation, the contemporary English version of the 1962 Canadian revision of the prayer and the two prayers for use at the laying on of hands in both forms for Confirmation, the rite of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is sacramental, with the laying on of hands represented as a sign of receiving or sealing with the Holy Spirit. The Anglican Mission has adopted the Holy Scriptures, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as its standards of faith and practice. However, both the Catechism and the Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) do not conform to these standards. Here again, it is quite reasonable to expect that they should.

Conclusion

A great deal of work went into An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), it must be acknowledged, and those who worked to translate the traditional language of the earlier prayer Books into a form of contemporary English suitable for worship deserve our thanks and commendation. At the same time An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) is a flawed book. Its theology does not adhere to those standards that Anglican Mission has adopted. The doctrinal content of the book is a contradiction of the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the formularies to which the founders of the Anglican Mission committed themselves and their posterity. The book also does not make sufficient allowances for the peculiar needs of the twenty-first century mission field.

The late Peter Toon was the principal editor in the compilation of Services in Contemporary English from The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 (2006) and An Anglican Prayer Book. He was also a major contributor to both service books. Peter not only championed the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, serving as the president of the Prayer Book Society for more than ten years, but he also championed the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, the two stage theory of Christian initiation, and the claim that the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are conferred by the imposition of the bishop’s hands at Confirmation. The theology that is embodied in An Anglican Prayer Book (2008), which is sometimes referred to as “the Toon Book,” is clearly the theology that Peter championed. This includes the doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice to which the composite Order for the Administration of the Holy Communion of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) gives expression. This rite brings together elements from the 1662 Prayer Book, the 1928 American Prayer Book, and the 1962 Canadian Prayer Book.

An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) may be described a monument to Peter’s own personal theology. It is also a striking illustration how easily anyone seeking to render the language of The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 more understandable to a new generation may be tempted to also change the doctrine of the Prayer Book.

Anglican Mission clergy and congregations that are committed to the Anglican Mission’s adopted standards for doctrine and worship will need to work out with their bishop what Prayer Book will be used at Confirmations. They may wish to ask their bishop to use the Confirmation Service from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer since it clearly adheres to those standards.

The Anglican Mission’s Council of Missionary Bishops would do well to appoint a task force to revise the Catechism of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) so that it is compatible with the Holy Scriptures and to draft a revision of the Order of Confirmation of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) so that it is closer to the 1662 Confirmation Service.

One option that the Anglican Mission’s Council of Missionary Bishops might want to pursue is to undertake a revision of the Prayer Book that is basically a contemporary English "translation" of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which, like the 1928 Proposed English Prayer Book, would have additional alternative versions of services, the use of which by congregations would be purely permissive. A major drawback to this approach, however, is that it would result in a Prayer Book that would only conform in part to the adopted standards of doctrine and worship of the Anglican Mission. But at least the resulting Prayer Book would have one set of rites that met these standards.

We cannot hope for a renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America, using a Prayer Book that in a number of significant ways is not really Scriptural and gives more weight to "the traditions of men" than to the Word of God. Such a Prayer Book does not restore the Bible to its rightful place in the Christian life. Rather it perpetuates the very conditions that have undermined the authority of Scripture in The Episcopal Church and other Anglican provinces. The presence of unscriptural doctrinal content also greatly weakens the effectiveness of the Prayer Book through the power of God’s word to transform lives. It keeps alive unscriptural teaching in the Church.

The 1662 Book of Common Prayer is not perfect. But the 1662 Prayer Book is much more Scriptural than a number of subsequent Anglican service books, including An Anglican Prayer Book (2008). It is regrettable that the compilers of An Anglican Prayer Book (2008) did not devote their energies and resources to rendering into good contemporary liturgical English the services of the 1662 Prayer Book and incorporating into these services a measure of flexibility essential for the twenty-first century mission field. Instead they compiled a service book that is not only notable for its deviations from the biblical and Reformation theology of the 1662 Prayer Book but also for its obliviousness to the realities of the twenty-first century.

End Notes

[1] See Genesis 4:8, 14-15; Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 8:10, 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Job 9:33; Matthew 8:3,15, 9:18,25, 19:13,15; Mark 1:31, 5:23,41 6:5, 7:32, 8:23, 25,10:16, 16:18; Luke 4:40, 8:54, 13:13; Acts 3:7, 6:6, 8:17,18,19, 9:12,17, 28:8, 13.3; 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:22; 2 Timothy 1:6; and Hebrews 6:2.
[2] See Paul Turner, "Biblical Roots of Confirmation," http://www.paulturner.org/confirmation_roots.htm See also Paul Turner, Ages of Initiation: The First Two Christian Millennia (Collegeville, Mn.: Liturgical Press, 2000).
[3] See John 7:38-39; Acts 6:5, 11:24, 10:44-46, 11:13-17, 15:6-9, 19:2; Romans 10:17, 8:15-16; Galatians 3:3,5,14,26; 4:6; Ephesians 1:13-14; and 1 John 3:23-24, 4:13-15.
[4] See Matthew 3:11,16; Mark 1:8,10; Luke 3:16, 21-22; John 1:32-33, 3:5; Acts 1:5, 2:38, 9:17-18, 11:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-5; and Titus 3:5.
[5] See William J. Larkin, Acts, Volume 5, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press, 1995) http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getBookSections&cid=5&source=
[6] Ibid., http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getCommentaryText&cid=5&source=1&seq=i.51.8.1
[7] Ibid.
[8] Ibid. http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getCommentaryText&cid=5&source=1&seq=i.51.18.3
[9] Ibid.
[10]Ibid.
[11] See Paul Turner, "Biblical Roots of Confirmation," http://www.paulturner.org/confirmation_roots.htm See also Paul Turner, Ages of Initiation: The First Two Christian Millennia.
[12] See Ted Peperkorn, "Confirmation in the Early Church: A Historical Survey from the Early Church to the Present," http://blog.higherthings.org/peperkorn/article/460.html
[13] See James A. Whyte, "Confirmation/Admission to the Lord’s Supper," The Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology (Louisville, Ky.: John Knox Press, 2001) p. 40.
[14] Ibid., p. 40. See also John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion 4.19.4,13.
[15] See Marion J. Hatchett, "The Rite of Confirmation in the Book of Common Prayer and in Authorized Services 1973," Anglican Theological Review 56 (1974), p. 30.
[16] See Ruth A. Meyer, "By water and the Holy Spirit: Baptism and confirmation in Anglicanism," Anglican Theological Review, Summer 2001. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3818/is_200107/ai_n8993961/pg_1
[17] See John Hartley, "Downgrading 1662 Confirmation?" Baptismal Integrity, http://www27.brinkster.com/johnhartley/bi-up45-p8.html See also Colin Buchanan, Anglican Confirmation (Grove Liturgical Study 48; Nottingham: Grove Books, 1986).
[18] See John Jewel, The Works of John Jewel; The Third Portion, Vol. III, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1843) p. 62
[19] See Ian Lancashire (ed.), "Homily on Common Prayer and the Sacraments," The Second Book of Homilies, Short-Title Catalogue 13675, Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1994). http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk2hom09.htm
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] See Ian Lancashire (ed.),"Homily on the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost for Whitsunday," The Second Book of Homilies, Short-Title Catalogue 13675, Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1 (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1994). http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk2hom16.htm
[23] Edwin Sandys, The Sermons of Edwin Sandys, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1841) p. 87.
[24] See Horton Davies, Worship and Theology in England from Cranmer to Hooker 1534-1603 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. 267.
[25] W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles (Philadelphia, Pa.: Philadelphia Theological Seminary, 1996) p. 354.
[26] Gerard Austin, The Rite of Confirmation: Anointing with the Spirit, (Collegeville, Min.: Liturgical Press, 1985) pp. 71-72.
[27] W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of Theology: An Introduction to The Thirty-Nine Articles, p. 354.
[28] Ibid., p. 354.
[29] See James F. Turrell, "Confirmation, Catechizing, and the Initiation of Adults in the Early Modern Church of England" (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 2002).
[30] See Kenneth Rexroth, "The Evolution of Anglo-Catholicism," (Continuum, 1973). http://www.bopsecrets-org.pem.data393.net/rexroth/essays/anglo-catholicism.htm
[31] See E. Clowes Chorley, The New American Prayer Book: Its History and Contents (New York: Macmillan Company, 1929). http://anglicanhistory.org/bcp/chorley1929/index.html
[32] See Marion J. Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (San Francisco: Harper, 1995), pp 573-574.
[33] See Arthur James Mason, The Relation of Confirmation to Baptism (London: Longman, Green and Co., 1891).
[34] See Gregory Dix, Confirmation, or Laying on of Hands? (London: S.P.C.K., 1936) and Gregory Dix, The Theology of Confirmation in Relation to Baptism (Westminster, Md.: Dacre Press, 1946).
[35] See G.W.H. Lampe, The Seal of the Spirit: A Study in the Doctrine of Baptism and Confirmation in the New Testament and the Fathers (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1951).
[36] See Massey Shepherd, The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary (New York: Oxford University Press, 1950), p. 271 and The Worship of the Church (Greenwich, Conn.: Seabury Press, 1952), pp. 166-186; and Associated Parishes, Christian Initiation: Part I-Holy Baptism (1953) and Christian Initiation: Part II-Confirmation (1954).
[37] See Ruth A. Meyer, "By water and the Holy Spirit: Baptism and confirmation in Anglicanism"
[38] See Roger Steer, Guarding the Holy Fire: The Evangelicalism of John R. W. Stott, J. I. Packer, and Alister McGrath (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 1998) pp. 229-230.
[39] Ibid., p. 230.
[40] See Marion J. Hatchett, "Unfinished Business," Leaps and Boundaries: The Prayer Book in the 21st Century (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 1997).
[41] See Christian Initiation: Birth and Growth in the Christian Society, (Westminster: Church of England Board of Education, 1971) pp.30-31.
[42] J. I. Packer, I Want To Be A Christian (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1977) p. 149. I Want to Be a Christian, retitled Growing in Christ, was republished by Crossway in 1994 and 2007.
[43] Ibid., p. 149.
[44] Ibid., pp. 149-150.
[45] Ibid., p. 150.
[46] See Michael Green, Baptism (London: Hoddard and Stoughton, 1987) p. 102.
[47] Ibid., pp. 104-105.
[48] Ibid., p. 130.
[49] Ibid., pp. 131-134.
[50] Ibid., pp. 136-138.
[51] See Ruth A. Meyer, "By water and the Holy Spirit: Baptism and confirmation in Anglicanism.
[52] See endnote [3].

5 comments:

Soul Deep said...

It'd be nice to, with linguistic care, modern-English the 1662.

Why not start with Morning Prayer, then the Eucharist, and publish them, with the idea of producing a whole modern English 1662?

Can't we get a taker out there somewhere?

Robin G. Jordan said...

Soul Deep,

It's in the works.

Soul Deep said...

Thanks!

Will be willing to pay for said edition...

Reformation said...

Ditto on that, both to Robin and Soul Deep.

Although this caveat, I don't think the old BCP is incomprehensible due to language--at points yes, but overall, no. Methinks this an unexamined proposition sold since the 1970's, to wit, the archaic language is incomprehensible. It is not incomprehensible. I use it daily.

Having said that, would be willing to work with a "tight translational" equivalence version for awhile.

Also, Robin, enjoyed your long bio. Helpful. Glad you are retired and can lend your expertise voice to us in the Babylonian Captivity. Solid stuff here by you.

Tired of these neophyte converts to Oxfordism with the HOV-virus lecturing life-long Anglicans about classical Anglicanism. Sometimes they are the loudest.

Reformation said...

Robin:

Pondering this more fully.

The 1662 BCP is quite comprehensible en banc, en toto, minus a few places.

It would be salutary for all ACNA Bishops and Clergy to use--as it--at MT/EP/Litany, plus Scripture readings for 3 years. Let THEM discover it's power.

Otherwise, methinks we've been sold a bill of goods, to wit, incomprehensible. Any user of it will find it otherwise. Sounds like an excuse for poor use.

This matter is percolating.

Ya just gotta feed yourself after ya look around at the leadership.

For this scribe, trust not only has been broken...it is gone. We're in the period of the Judges. Yeah, the Captivity.