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June 14, 2012


The Underground Pewster: “Nails in Confirmation’s Coffin Lid” (And maybe even Baptism’s!)

Let me first honor his hard work with his own words:

The big ticket items can sometimes cause the bleary eyed, beaten down, church warrior to give lesser issues a pass. Why bother about arguing over something trivial like removing all references to “Confirmation” from the Canons of the Church when all that other stuff is going down?

Why? Because of the possibility that they got it wrong, and to reflect on the unforeseen consequences of wrong actions.

There by oil lamp (or maybe night vision goggles if he got his share of evil right wing blogger conspiracy dollars) in his Afghanistan cave, the Pewster has excavated a group of proposed Canon changes that will wipe the word “Confirmation” or “confirmed” out of church life, at least as a criteria for leadership roles.  The changes start at p. 156 of the ponderous General Convention “Blue Book” (which is a pasty shade of TEC pink this year.  Not even hot.)

Here’s a sample:

Canon I.4.3(d)
(d) The Presiding Bishop shall appoint, with the advice and consent of a
majority of the Executive Council, an executive director, who shall be an
adult confirmed communicant in good standing or a member of the clergy
of this Church in good standing who shall be the chief operating officer and
who shall serve at the pleasure of the Presiding Bishop and be accountable to
the Presiding Bishop.

That’s right, the Presiding Bishop can appoint a Chief Operating Officer for the denomination, and that person need not be confirmed - just a communicant.  And this gets really fascinating when we consider that General Convention might just do away with Baptism as a requirement for receiving Holy Communion.  In other words, the increasingly centralized and autocratic denomination could be run day-to-day by a person who never came to any form of Christian initiation.  In other words, an atheist or pagan can run TEC while the Presiding Bishop flies around for photo opportunities.

There are so many possibilities that stick to these Canon changes:

-Maybe TEC insiders really believe that infant baptism is full initiation into the church, as laid out in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and that there is no need to call on the Spirit for gifts of adult ministry in the church.  (One can make a serious theological case for this; I just think it has significant problems.)

-Maybe this is part of the on going feud between the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.  By wiping out Confirmation, the one distinctive role that seems to bring Bishops around to parishes is eliminated.  Bishops become just an exalted (and, if the activists have their way) expendable order of supply clergy and administrators.

-Maybe the Confirmation requirement was keeping too many TEC insiders’ non-Christian pals and “life partners” out of the expanding job openings at denominational headquarters.

Good and noble work by the Pewster in suffering through the Vogon Poetry to expose the latest elitist stylings of the TEC insiders’ club.


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38 comments

“In other words, an atheist or pagan can run TEC while the Presiding Bishop flies around for photo opportunities.”

Um, how is that going to be different than the current roster of heathens running TEC today?  Shori et al may have attended divinity school, but they obviously have no clue what Holy Scriputure actually means.

Nonetheless,  this is ridiculous and should not happen.

[1] Posted by B. Hunter on 6-14-2012 at 12:04 PM · [top]

B. Hunter I’m afraid you make a good point.  This would just turn de facto into de jure.

But as you say, ridiculous just the same.

[2] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 6-14-2012 at 12:09 PM · [top]

As I noted over at the Pewster’s site, the New York State Religious Corporation Laws require that the Wardens of an Episcopal Parish must be confirmed (or received) members of the Episcopal Church.  Changing that at the National level will not change New York State law.  You’d think the people who occupy 815 in Manhattan for pete’s sake, would know the laws of their own state.

[3] Posted by slanehill on 6-14-2012 at 12:35 PM · [top]

slanehill what an incredible point.  I guess the legal team has been busy trying to confiscate out of state property and just didn’t get around to due diligence on the Canons.

[4] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 6-14-2012 at 01:17 PM · [top]

Unfortunately; the vast majority of the inhabitants of 815, most diocesan offices, their attendant labyrinths and catacombs, either are, or were before ordination and asccession, malpracticing attorneys…those who could not makea dishonest dollar before the bar.

There is therefore absolutely no concept of, nor respect for, constitutional, civil,common,or canon law.  The prevailing law is that of the golden rule…not from Scripture…but the one which states,‘I’ll do to you in order to get mine, and you can just like it or leave!’

The sad fact is that all of the aforementioned miscreants are not still in TEO…some have crept out into the surrounding regions of Anglicania.

Kyrie eleison!
Christe eleison!
Kyrie eleison!

[5] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 6-14-2012 at 02:02 PM · [top]

Fr. Tim, I don’t think the legal team gives a rip about due diligence.  They seem to believe they are not only about the law, but that they make the law.  If they believe they can determine theological “truth”, which they obviously do, they probably believe they can determine the laws of the land as well.  After all, they have been winning case after case, parish after parish.  So they must be the smart, anointed ones, right?

[6] Posted by slanehill on 6-14-2012 at 02:04 PM · [top]

I know how Matt dislikes several aspects of Orthodox Christianity, but they do Chrismate/Confirm infants in the Orthodox Church immediately after Baptism so they may partake of the Holy Eucharist as soon as they are able, so “confirmation” is a part of Orthodox sacramental practice.  If they want to follow that practice, then it would be fine, more or less.  It isn’t part of the “western” way of doing things so it is somewhat out of place.

Given all other nonsense TEo perpetrates, admitting they aren’t really Christian in practice either seems to make more sense.

[7] Posted by Bill2 on 6-14-2012 at 03:53 PM · [top]

Even the 1979 Prayer Book obligates those being baptized, and confirmands, to solemnly affirm that they believe basic Christian tenets. For example, on page 416 the liturgy prescribes the following:

Bishop Do you believe in God the Father?

People I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

As we all know, the questions continue, and by the end the confirmand has affirmed that he believes everything in the Apsotles’ Creed. There is virtually identical colloquy in the baptism rite.

If TEC leaders must be baptized and confirmed, then they must, at least once, affirm the fundamental Christian assertions (i.e. if they are baptized as infants). If leaders are old enough to speak for themselves when baptized, they must affirm those tenets twice.

Now I’ll bet that this liturgical requirement, i.e. to affirm what you actually don’t believe, troubles some who are eager for offices in TEC. Many atheists have ethical scruples against lies. I suspect that one reason for this change is to remove that inconvenient conflict.

[8] Posted by Publius on 6-14-2012 at 04:26 PM · [top]

I think these resolutions, if passed, will be the beginning of the final slide of TEC into paganism. Lets see, baptism is all you need to be a member of the church.Terrific!  OK,  but now thanks to the diocese of eastern Oregon, you can take communion without being baptized! To be elected to any office at parish, diocesan or national level all you have to do is take communion three times a year ( for which you don’t need to be baptized) and have been faithful in corporate worship, etc. So if both of these resolutions passed, truthfully you would not need to be baptized to hold any office. Terrific news for all those pagans who want to hold office in an Episcopal parish or diocese.  So why even keep baptism ?? Perhaps because it is such a nice and convenient way to have a little party for the baby?? Hmm, I wonder what will happen when those who have not been baptized themselves are asked to be godparents ? Or will baptism have been axed by then? These resolutions are the banana peel on the slippery slope to paganism.  I agree Pewster, how did this get out of a committee? Did those who wrote this resolution decide that the communion of the unbaptized resolution was such a sure thing so they decided to go ahead and make resolutions to axe confirmation? Truly the oddest application of logic….....
SC Blu Cat Lady

[9] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-14-2012 at 05:20 PM · [top]

So . . . hypothetically speaking, an outside group, like the Wiccans or whatever, if they had been baptized as infants, could attend services and receive leadership positions and gain access to some cool property, at least in the sphere of influence that particular leadership office carried.  This is strictly hypothetical, of course, but it would be a lot cheaper to hijack an existing local edifice than to build your own and, given the small size of many Episcopal parishes, a lot easier.
Do I understand this correctly?

[10] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 6-14-2012 at 06:14 PM · [top]

Theoretically, that would do away with bishops visiting once a year for confirmation.

Blue Cat Man

[11] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-14-2012 at 06:27 PM · [top]

So . . . hypothetically speaking, an outside group, like the Wiccans or whatever, if they had been baptized as infants, could attend services and receive leadership positions and gain access to some cool property, at least in the sphere of influence that particular leadership office carried.  This is strictly hypothetical, of course, but it would be a lot cheaper to hijack an existing local edifice than to build your own and, given the small size of many Episcopal parishes, a lot easier.
Do I understand this correctly?

I think you understand correctly, Jill.  I don’t see why this would not work for Wiccans.  It seems to have worked for Buddhists, “spiritual but not religious”, atheists and other groups in parishes, and the occasional diocese, throughout TEC over the last 40 years.  As with other changes in TEC, the leadership allows the change to take place first, and then after it has happened, will then have then have the votes at GC to make the change official.  I would not be surprised to discover that some N Michigan clergy were never confirmed.  I mean, it is not like anyone would ask such an anti-inclusive question.

[12] Posted by tjmcmahon on 6-14-2012 at 06:38 PM · [top]

Jill, As long as they take Communion three times a year and are faithful in corporate worship (whatever that means), then anyone - even the unbaptized- could be elected to an office in a parish or diocese. Isn’t that special ? ; ) (anyone else remember the church lady from Saturday Night Live??)

[13] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-14-2012 at 06:48 PM · [top]

When this rolls around at GC 2012, if anybody is recovered from all the celebrations and after parties given for the “other business”, some sober individual might propose to subsitute the word “baptized” for “confirmed,” but if baptism becomes optional, then anyone voting for the substitution would be acting in a very exclusivist way.

[14] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 6-14-2012 at 08:25 PM · [top]

You know ...... who thinks up these resolutions? How and why do these absolutely ridiculous writings ever see the light of day?? Is this supposed to be the comic relief for GC 2012?

[15] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-14-2012 at 09:01 PM · [top]

Theoretically, that would do away with bishops visiting once a year for confirmation.

See guys, a silver lining!

[16] Posted by Nikolaus on 6-14-2012 at 09:14 PM · [top]

If the role of Grace is denied you can hardly expect an affirmation of the Sacraments.

[17] Posted by Paula Loughlin on 6-15-2012 at 01:22 PM · [top]

[3] slanehill,

You write:

You’d think the people who occupy 815 in Manhattan for pete’s sake, would know the laws of their own state.

I am compelled to ask why you would assume that people who have habitually engaged in outlawry for half a decade and more, and have not yet been brought before the bar to answer therefore, would make such a counterintuitive assumption?

Ought we to learn nothing from those of their repeated actions which bear witness to the fact that they not only misconstrue the civil law, but they misconstrue and misinterpret simple English language in the interpretations of their own canon law? The potential conclusions from such observation are, in my mind, inescapable:

•they are either ignorant of relatively straightforward and grammatical English or,

• they have willfully decided not to follow any rules, including the ones they have helped make or,

• their moral sense is so deluded that they believe themselves immune from error.

My personal opinion is that their lawlessness from the start has been the result of the third alternative—they have followed the progressive fallacy to its logical conclusion. They believe that they are inherently possessed of such superior intellect and reasoning power that they are the infallible expositors of all morality. They have no need of God’s revelation, because to paraphrase the KJV they have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they are as gods, knowing good and evil.

It really can be just that simple. When one decides that they know better than God, one opens the door to a level of hubris incomprehensible to the God-fearing.

Anyone should feel free to correct my analysis if you believe it is in error, and can adduce evidence to the contrary in the behavior of anyone in the ruling clique of TEC.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

[18] Posted by Militaris Artifex on 6-15-2012 at 03:59 PM · [top]

Is there a risk here that, by removing the requirement for these people to be Christian, TEC will be forced by anti-discrimination laws to hire people without regard for their beliefs?

[19] Posted by Michael D on 6-15-2012 at 07:28 PM · [top]

Not much danger there, Michael D.  No need to force them, they already do.  You may recall the Muslim Episcopal priest who was in charge of Faith formation in Washington state.

[20] Posted by Jackie on 6-15-2012 at 07:39 PM · [top]

#18. Agreed. I like your third alternative.

[21] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-15-2012 at 07:47 PM · [top]

#18

My personal opinion is that their lawlessness from the start has been the result of the third alternative—they have followed the progressive fallacy to its logical conclusion. They believe that they are inherently possessed of such superior intellect and reasoning power that they are the infallible expositors of all morality. They have no need of God’s revelation, because to paraphrase the KJV they have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they are as gods, knowing good and evil.

Actually, I agree with you.  I was being a bit sarcastic in my previous comment.  Their actions do seem to demonstrate that they believe they are above all laws, both of God and man.

[22] Posted by slanehill on 6-15-2012 at 08:08 PM · [top]

I understand and believe that it is essential for adult church members to make a mature public commitment to Christ. I also understand and believe that baptism is the sole rite of entry into the Christian Church, affirmed in the Scriptures. 

The Bible says nothing about confirmation, and its roots in Christian theology and history are unclear. Only the Episcopal and some other Anglican churches insist that confirmation can be only by a Bishop. Why is it necessary that church members receive the laying on of hands specifically of an Episcopal Bishop? How does that laying-on of hands affect our relationship to God?

[23] Posted by NotaBene on 6-16-2012 at 07:49 PM · [top]

“Only the Episcopal and some other Anglican churches insist that confirmation can be only by a Bishop.”

You apparently do not count the Roman Church among churches.  7 Sacraments, and all that….

[24] Posted by tjmcmahon on 6-16-2012 at 09:28 PM · [top]

I do count the Roman Church among churches. The Code of Canon Law of the Roman Church, Book IV, Part I, Title II, Chapter II, Canon 882 says, ” A priest can also validly confer this sacrament [confirmation] if he has the faculty to do so, either from the general law or by way of a special grant from the competent authority.”

[25] Posted by NotaBene on 6-16-2012 at 09:55 PM · [top]

Please keep this on topic - this is about the impact of deleting Confirmation as practiced in the The Episcopal Church, not a general discussion of Confirmation or comparative traditions.

[26] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 6-17-2012 at 06:32 AM · [top]

Timothy, your own opening text is about Resolution A042. That resolution in no way whatsoever proposes to delete confirmation. It proposes to remove the requirement that those entering leadership positions must have received laying-on of hands specifically by an Episcopal Bishop. My questions are entirely on the topic raised by A042 - why is it necessary that church members receive the laying on of hands specifically of an Episcopal Bishop? How does that laying-on of hands affect our relationship to God?

To discuss the deletion of confirmation would make no sense. Nobody has proposed any such deletion.

[27] Posted by NotaBene on 6-17-2012 at 11:48 PM · [top]

Nota Bene, Did you not read Pewster’s post?  The requirement for being confirmed is most definitely being reconsidered as the resolution strikes word “confirmed”  from the present canons of TEC.

[28] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-18-2012 at 08:29 AM · [top]

SC blu cat lady, I read it all - the posts, and the resolution. The resolution in no way whatsoever proposes to delete confirmation. It proposes to remove the requirement that those entering leadership positions must have received laying-on of hands specifically by an Episcopal Bishop.

The word “confirmed” would not be completely striken from the canons, only from requirements for leadership. There is nothing anywhere in the material about striking confirmation. The rite of confirmation would continue unchanged.

[29] Posted by NotaBene on 6-18-2012 at 12:02 PM · [top]

NotaBene,

Correct the rite would remain, but would anybody want it or need it?

[30] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 6-18-2012 at 12:18 PM · [top]

Nota Bene-

The rite of confirmation accomplishes two things- one is a reaffirmation of the baptismal vows for those baptized as infants.

However, the other thing it accomplishes is to signify the acceptance my the individual being confirmed of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, and recognition of Apostolic orders.  It serves as a rite of reception for those baptized in other denominations, and subject to the hierarchy and doctrine of said denomination.  It is only fitting that anyone joining TEC as an adult undergo confirmation in order to confirm that they are, indeed Episcopalians.

While one might make allowance for other members of the Anglican Communion, and perhaps ELCA if you want to allow that under the “full communion” relationship, the Apostolic orders went out the window anyway.  But why on earth would you want anyone who was NOT a confirmed (and therefore fully committed) Episcopalian in a leadership role?  Why accept into leadership someone who is unwilling to fully commit to the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of TEC, presumably AFTER having made such a commitment to another church?  (The rhetorical presumption being made by Nota Bene is that the person in question would have been confirmed in some church).

[31] Posted by tjmcmahon on 6-18-2012 at 01:05 PM · [top]

Still these resolutions that delete the requirement of being a confirmed Episcopalian for leadership position are odd for the very questions TJ raises above.

[32] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-18-2012 at 01:36 PM · [top]

Remember there is a resolution that would (if passed) allow unbaptized persons to take communion. Now there is another resolution that would allow(if passed) anyone who takes communion three times and is “faithful” in other ways to be considered for election. Taken together these resolutions would allow someone who is NOT baptized and NOT confirmed be elected to leadership position.  Is that how desperate TEC is for leaders ? that they essentially are advocating minimal requirements for a leadership position?

Also,  It has already been mentioned that NY state law requires these sort of leaders to be confirmed Episcopalians. I have seen parish by laws that also state the same thing- i.e. confirmed Episcopalians.  I know my parish has an age requirement for voting (much less being elected) as well as require being confirmed to vote. Just another example of the odd (and badly thought out) resolutions that come before GC. Believe me someone wants these resolutions to pass.  I hope someone either before or at GC points out what #3 mentioned about NY state law.

[33] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 6-18-2012 at 01:59 PM · [top]

[30] by Undergroundpewster:

Correct the rite would remain, but would anybody want it or need it?

Absolutely! The purpose of confirmation is to make a, “mature public affirmation of faith.” Every believer should want to do this. If, however, one goes through confirmation for the purpose of achieving a position of leadership, that would be grossly dishonest and a travesty of the rite.

[31] by tjmcmahon:

the other thing it accomplishes is to signify the acceptance my the individual being confirmed of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church, and recognition of Apostolic orders.

There is nothing to support this understanding in the rite. The candidate is asked only two questions:
1.  Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil?
2.  Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
If an additional commitment to the Episcopal Church is intended, there should be a question about that commitment. If there is a hidden intent to imply an extra commitment, that is dishonest and another travesty of the rite.

It is only fitting that anyone joining TEC as an adult undergo confirmation in order to confirm that they are, indeed Episcopalians.

Why? Other churches have no similar rite. If an Anglican moves to a Lutheran, Presbyterian, or Methodist church, does he never become a Lutheran, Presbyterian or Methodist because he did not undergo a rite of conversion?  It is not unusual to find former Anglicans in the leadership of these churches without any harm being done. The essential thing is their commitment to Christ and to the advancement of His Church.

It appears that there is an underlying idea here that the Episcopal faith is different from that of all other churches. That would mean either that TEC is not Christian or that TEC is the only Christian Church. Many contributors to this blog would agree with the first idea, but for a different reason. smile Resolution A042 would eliminate both ideas. If it passes, TEC is to be congratulated. Give credit where credit is due.

[33] by SC blu cat lady:

Remember there is a resolution that would (if passed) allow unbaptized persons to take communion.

I have not read that resolution, and it is not the topic of this thread. My position on baptism is stated in [23].

[34] Posted by NotaBene on 6-18-2012 at 06:34 PM · [top]

34-
“It appears that there is an underlying idea here that the Episcopal faith is different from that of all other churches.”
No, of course not.  I recognize you are only trolling, and feel yourself intellectually superior to the rest of us, but I do find it rather bothersome to have something I said so poorly misstated.  The DOCTRINE (as I pointed out in several places) of the Episcopal Church is different from that of other denominations.  If it were not so, there would only be one denomination.  That TEC has substantially removed itself from membership in the Church is, indeed, another matter.
The fact that TEC practices confirmation is indicative that it is different, and hold different doctrines, than those denominations that do not practice it.  Likewise, that TEC recognizes Apostolic succession makes it different than those denominations that do not recognize Apostolic succession.
So, if you reject confirmation how can you be an Episcopalian, and how can you be in leadership in a denomination whose doctrine, discipline and worship you reject?  Granted, of course, TEC encourages such leadership, as is obvious when looking at how many bishops have rejected the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC, and yet are bishops (the vast majority).  But, if TEC wants to be honest with itself, it needs to erase the doctrines and rubrics.
That said, this whole conversation is a moot point.  The vast majority of GC are in NotaBene’s party, and will be removing confirmation along with marriage, and no doubt vote for a study of CWOB, as they continue with the desecration of the sacraments.

[35] Posted by tjmcmahon on 6-18-2012 at 07:03 PM · [top]

“There is nothing to support this understanding in the rite. The candidate is asked only two questions:
1.  Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil?
2.  Do you renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?”

Really?  Not the confirmation I was part of. Aside from the service itself, in order to be presented at all, we had to be conversant in the office of Instruction and Catechism (including an oral exam from the bishop beforehand).  Which is to say, if you did not understand the doctrine and were unfamiliar with the Catechism, you did not get to answer the two questions in the liturgy.  Of course, I suppose in the modern day, anyone who can throw money in the plate and/or is over 10 can be confirmed without any preparation.

[36] Posted by tjmcmahon on 6-18-2012 at 07:13 PM · [top]

[35] tjmcmahon

The DOCTRINE (as I pointed out in several places) of the Episcopal Church is different from that of other denominations.

I disagree. Doctrine varies enormously across the Anglican communion, as it does also across the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist counterparts. The most liberal people in all these polities are far more alike to each other doctrine than they are to the conservative wings of their respective polities.

What is different is the forms of governance, and terminology. Even then, the forms used across each polity are enormous. Some Anglicans are almost indistinguishable from Presbyterians, or even Congregationalists, in their governance. It seems to me that differences in governance and terminology are insignificant to God. Christ is not Episcopalian or a member of any other polity, and he operates equally well in all polities.

The fact that TEC practices confirmation is indicative that it is different

Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists also practice confirmation. They require almost identical commitments, and they agree with the BCP that it is a, “mature public affirmation of faith.”

So, if you reject confirmation how can you be an Episcopalian.

A person is an Episcopalian because God in His wisdom has placed that person in an Episcopal Church at a particular time. I do not reject confirmation. I affirm confirmation provided that it is rightly understood as being a, “mature public affirmation of faith.” It is an expression of relationship to God, and is not owned by any polity.

[36], the fact that you were taught something outside the service does not mean that you affirmed it in the service. If an additional commitment to the Episcopal Church was intended, there should have been a question that addressed that commitment.

[37] Posted by NotaBene on 6-18-2012 at 08:15 PM · [top]

The committee has recommended to reject Resolutions A042, A043 and A044. Once again, TEC is choosing to declare that the Spirit can confer gifts of adult ministry only through the hands of TEC Bishops, and in no other way. This aberrant theology has led it to the dire straits in which it now finds itself. Others, such as the ELCA and PCUSA, have recognized that God can work through different forms of association. They have therefore allowed congregations to depart in peace. TEC, due to its aberration, chooses to pursue lawsuits, insisting that its path is the only path that God can follow.

ACNA needs to avoid this path. If it insists, as TEC does, that its bishops literally carry God in their hands, it has no future. How can anyone expect God to bless such an aberration?

[38] Posted by NotaBene on 7-9-2012 at 08:42 PM · [top]

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