I came across a short piece on page 11 of today’s Daily Telegraph (18th January 2011) conveying the news that clergy in the Church of England are calling for simplified language for services of baptism ‘to help non-church goers.’
Now, I wouldn’t particularly have a problem with using simple language for the many non-Christians attending such services who make up the congregation if it were not for one thing; the service is not for them! It is for the baptism of the candidate and the promises being made by the candidate and his/her sponsors in the context of worship directed towards almighty God. How can non-Christians be worshipping almighty God?
Of course, you’ll be aware that in the vast majority of cases, we’re talking here about infant baptism. This is not the place to go into the theological arguments for and against such a sacrament, but we must surely insist that if such baptisms are to take place, they should only be countenanced where the parents and God-parents are true Christians who understand what they’re promising.
Unfortunately, within the CofE (and other denominations for that matter) thousands of baptisms take place each year where not only are most of the congregation not Christians – the parents and God-parents are not Christians either. I’ve attended hundreds of such services, and in my view they are a mockery. And our God will not be mocked! (Gal 6:7)
To spend time, therefore, discussing forms of language, is to miss the whole point of the problems involved in Anglican baptismal policy. Why change the words used for worship in order to pander to people who do not really want to worship? And why should non-Christians wish themselves or their offspring to be baptised? It is so typical of the C of E to allow the thinking of the world to affect its behaviour and mission, ultimately making it more and more like the world.