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Reconsidering a Bold Proposal: Reflections, Questions, and Concerns Regarding a Theology of Confirmation

Joe Goodwin Burnett

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The 1979 Book of Common Prayer restored the centrality of baptism to the church's sacramental economy. Since then an emerging "baptismal ecclesiology" has had positive and far-reaching implications for the church's unity, mission, and equality of ministries. Nevertheless, questions about the theology and practice of confirmation persist, especially with regard to the role of the bishop. This article affirms that "all that is involved in becoming Christian is signified in baptism," and thus any attempt to make more of confirmation inevitably ends up making less of baptism. While multiple opportunities for reaffirmation are appropriate, catechesis and formation--both for adults and for sponsors of infants being baptized--should be an ongoing and integral part of living into the baptismal promises, and should not imply the necessity of any further initiatory rite.

 
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