The baptism of Jesus in Mark 1

The lectionary gospel reading for this Sunday, the First Sunday of Epiphany, is Mark’s rather compressed account of Jesus’ baptism by John in Mark 1.4–11. Just over a year ago, when such things were normal (remember that…?) I went with my family to see a film—the final episode of the nine main instalments of the … Continue Reading

Can we believe in baptism?

Questions around the meaning and practice of baptism have divided the church, and until recently questions around its importance, its efficacy, and key issues such as the baptism of children have led to heated debate. Stephen Kuhrt, vicar of Christ Church, New Malden, thinks these questions continue to be important. This led him to the unusual … Continue Reading

What are the Additional Baptism texts doing?

The latest Grove Worship booklet Accessible Baptisms introduces the Additional Baptism texts which were published at the end of last year. The author, Tim Stratford, was in parish ministry for many years, for some time in an outer estate in Liverpool, before becoming Archdeacon of Leicester in 2012. Like the best of sermons, the booklet starts … Continue Reading

Promoting Christenings

The Church of England has just launched a new website for those interesting in having their children baptised, or ‘christened’ as the website mostly calls it. (The language here is a little odd: at one point it says ‘Baptism is the heart of the christening’; I had thought the two words were usually used synonymously.) And very impressive it is too. Or is it?

Is baptism enough?

Anglicans often get into difficulties with baptism. On the one hand, there continues to be a difference of view between those who are happy with the Church’s policy of baptising people of any age (i.e. including infants) and a minority who would take a more Anabaptist position and associate baptism with articulated profession of faith by the … Continue Reading

ASB Baptism liturgy

I have reproduced here the baptism liturgy from the Alternative Service Book (1980). It is not currently authorised for use without specific permission. It is not without its problems, and there were questions asked when it was introduced. But it is interesting to note its directness and simplicity compared with Common Worship, and its extensive … Continue Reading

Experimental Baptism

The Church of England has just published ‘additional’ texts in accessible language as an alternative to the current text of Common Worship Initiation Services. These have been produced in response to a motion brought by Liverpool Diocesan Synod to General Synod in 2011. But the new texts have not, so far, gone down very well. … Continue Reading

What is wrong with Common Worship?

General Synod, the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’ has voted to look at a revision of the Common Worship Baptism service. There has been debate about the difficulty of the language; can you expect non-church-goers to understand the idea of the ‘kingdom of God’ for example? But that is not the issue for me—it is much broader than that. The whole service is far too complex, and the language is fussy and, to be honest, at times pompous. The double set of triple vows simply seems unnecessary, and does not make practical sense when it is used.

But this is not the first time Common

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