An update on the Church of England and baptism

Those of you who read my piece on the 18th January may be interested in a story in today’s Daily Telegraph (10th February 2011). It seems that members of the General Synod have now voted in favour of ‘updating’ the texts for use in baptismal services in the Church of England. For those of you who are not in the know, these texts usually come from Common Worship (2000) which itself is an update of The Alternative Service Book of 1980. So we are not talking about updating archaic language here. We are talking of – according to the Telegraph – more ‘Eastenders than the Bible.’

It is hoped that the move will ‘encourage more people to be baptised into the Church of England’ says the Telegraph. We’ll pass over the fact that baptism is into Christ’s body (the Church), and not a denomination, but we can’t overlook the silly idea that more people will be asking for baptism because the language has been simplified. Surely no-one living in the real world believes this?

The original proposal for these changes came from the Rev. Tim Stratford, team rector of Kirkby, Merseyside, who feels that traditional baptisms are not relevant to their congregations. He says some parts of the service are ‘awkward’. Examples cited of this ‘awkwardness’ are; being asked to “repent of your sins”, “renounce evil”, and “turn to Christ”. Stratford claims that the Church should be using ‘the language of BBC One, not the language of a theological treatise’, which is what he believes we have at present. In other words, the Church of England wants to drop uncomfortable ‘Christian’ bits (like turning from sin and turning to Christ) in an attempt to appear ‘relevant’ to the society around us.

It seems to me that without the religious bits, more people probably would join the C of E. And most people would be much happier not reading a Bible or trying to understand any Christian terminology, such as turning to Christ, repenting of sins and all the rest of it. They’d be much happier not having to attend Christian services too, what with all those long words and books to look at. I reckon that bingo, coach trips, coffee mornings and table top sales would be much more fun and relevant to most people today. Come on C of E, why not get really relevant, re-brand yourself as a social club and just drop the Christian religion altogether.

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