The recent perusal of a paperback book of sermons by the Lady Primate of TEC entitled A Wing and a Prayer (Feb 07, Morehouse) has further convinced me of the very great spiritual danger there is in the use of the Service of Baptism in The Episcopal Prayer Book of 1979. In particular, it is the use of its "Baptismal Covenant" which the Lady Primate made a central feature of her installation in Washington National Cathedral recently.
Now I concede that with a lot of charity, it is possible to read the Service of Baptism in the 1979 Book as if it were truly a genuine Rite to administer the Dominical Sacrament. In fact, I think that many priests have brought to it a doctrine of Baptism (gained from the classic editions of the BCP editions) and many still do so. However, its real meaning is in the radical theology of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The liberal, progressive reading and use of this Baptismal Rite since 1979 has been to negate Baptism as the Sacrament of Regeneration (birth & entry into the Church, the kingdom of God and eternal life, with the forgiveness of sins) and make it the Sacrament of (liberal, progressive) social Activism. That is, everyone baptized by this Rite is made a member of a community whose primary calling is to be the advocates and bringers of peace and justice ( e.g. via the U. N. Millennium Goals) and to respect the dignity of all persons (e.g., to take people, just as they are, in their "God-given orientation"). That this is how it is understood is clear from the stated themes and agendas of successive General Conventions, the many references to it by Frank Griswold when Presiding Bishop, learned articles on it in Episcopal sources, and, very recently, the sermons/talks of the Lady Primate. In fact, since their theism is nearer to Pantheism than to classic Trinitarian Theism, then these liberal progressive Episcopalians are committed to deity as deity is in, through and with the cosmos and world. The immanence of God is what they emphasize. There is little or no provision for the transcendent, supernatural life of the age to come and the new heavens and new earth brought in by the act of God as the transcendent Lord. The Gospel is for them good news of the improvement of this world for the benefit of human beings therein; salvation is not from sin but from poverty, discrimination and the like.
I must confess that it is a constant surprise and great pain to me to see that the "orthodox" who resist "the revisionists" in the Episcopal Church (I mean of course members of the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the Americas and so on) actually use this Rite and think it is fine. Further, I was really horrified a few months ago to read how the Network Bishops used the Baptismal Covenant as the basis of their claimed profession of orthodox faith to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Amazing indeed! It will be difficult for me ever to forget this!
This week is released my Essay/Booklet of 64 pages entitled: MYSTICAL WASHING & SPIRITUAL REGENERATION. In it I do three things: (a) state with clarity the received Anglican doctrine of Baptism as a Sacrament of the Gospel of Jesus; (b) explain the work of The Episcopal Church in the rejection of this classic doctrine, and the creation of a new doctrine of Baptism to fit its pantheism/panentheism and liberal progressive social views; and (c) offer the classic 1662 Services of Baptism and Confirmation in contemporary English. I do the latter with a view to (i) helping people learn anew or afresh what is the received dynamic teaching in these classic Services, and (ii) making it possible for "orthodox" Episcopalians to use this TEXT/RITE instead of that of 1979 as a sure way of proclaiming the Gospel and being free of the "revisionism" of The Episcopal Church. [Note the same service is printed in larger format in The Mandate for March/April, 2007 which can be read and downloaded from www.pbsusa.org ]
To purchase using a credit card a single copy of MYSTICAL WASHING please go to: www.anglicanmarketplace.com and for multiple copies at reduced price call 1-800-PBS-1928.
I shall be pleased to received informed comments from those who do read the Essay and/or use the Service.
Thank you very much,
Dr Peter Toon ( firstname.lastname@example.org)