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Tracing the Theological Development of the South African Baptismal Rites: The Journey to An Anglican Prayer Book 1989 and Beyond

Andrew-John Bethke

This essay analyzes the theological changes which are reflected in successive revisions of Southern Africa’s Anglican liturgy from 1900 to 1989. The following liturgies are examined: A Book of Common Prayer—South Africa (1954); Proposals for the Revision of the Rites of Baptism and Confirmation (1967); the Church Unity Commission’s ecumenical liturgies in the 1970s; Birth and Growth in Christ (1984); and An Anglican Prayer Book 1989. The article also includes valuable source material which influenced the  revised liturgies, including two official reports on the theology of baptism and confirmation. The author finds that theological uncertainty surrounding the underpinning of current rites brings into question whether full church membership is actually granted during baptism.

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