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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Confirmation or Reception?

In my liturgy class, we are studying rites of initiation-- baptism as well as confirmation. In my reading on the latter, it seems that there is more conflict than I realized over the theological/canonical nuances between confirmation and reception. In my home diocese, there has always been the liturgical distinction made between those coming to the Episcopal church as adults from Christian traditions which include the "historic episcopate:" (meaning apostolic succession), and those who come from more protestant denominations which do not hold to that. The latter (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc.) are "confirmed," while the former (most notably Roman Catholic and Orthodox) are "received."

I was a bit nonplussed to learn that this is not the same demarcation that is used in other dioceses in the ECUSA, let alone throughout the Anglican communion. Some draw the line instead between those who have made an adult profession of faith in another Christian denomination, and those who have not.

It will likely not surprise you to note that we do not agree on this; since when did any group of Anglicans totally agree on any point of doctrine, canon or polity?

What did surprise me was an article I was reading in favor of doing away with the distinction based on the traditional episcopate. It noted that "those from Orthodox churches, and some from the Roman Catholic Church, will not have been confirmed by a bishop." and added that "in the Orthodox churches there is no separate rite of confirmation."

Would one or two of my Orthodox readers be so kind as to explain to me how this works in your tradition?


Blogger David said...

OK, so I am not Orthodox (with a capital "O" anyway), but to me it's no biggie (sorry, don't cringe).
In my diocese the Bishop solves it by laying hands on folks no matter if it's confirmation, reception, or even reaffirmation - that way they get the apostolic hands, like it or not, or need it or not.
Bottom line, does it matter? The bishop's involvement keeps it "in line". As a Recovering Baptist, I was insulted to think my adult profession of faith in that denomination wasn't good enough and I needed to be redone - but it was cool anyway.... "MORE AND MORE"

October 12, 2004 9:51 PM  

Blogger Benedict Seraphim said...

As you noted, in Orthodoxy, baptism and chrismation are part of the same event. Technically speaking, all non-Orthodox, even Roman Catholics, are required to be baptized and chrismated upon conversion to the Orthodox Church. However, as is the case with almost all Church canons, there is the principle of economy which is observed. This principle, based on the apostolic charism of binding and loosing, gives to the bishop the grace to accept the baptism of the incoming convert, provided that the baptism was proper in form (normally meaning triple immersion in the name of the Trinity). This then allows for the convert to be only chrismated, which sacramentally, even in Orthodoxy, completes the baptism.

In short, one's coming into the Orthodox Church is always marked by chrismation.

October 13, 2004 8:53 AM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Thank you, gentlemen. I thought it must be something like that, but wanted to verify.

October 13, 2004 9:19 PM  

Blogger Reverend Ref + said...

And, debate or not, it still comes down to how your bishop wants to handle it. I've got two young couples that are looking at joining the church. Both guys were baptized (Methodist and RC), both women have never been baptized. So, in planning for the bishop's visitation, the question is, "Do I need to plan for a baptism and confirmation, or do I need to plan for a baptism and reception with laying on of hands?" I'm not the smartest cookie in the jar, but I know enough to always find out the theological/liturgical bent of my bishop.

October 14, 2004 2:24 PM  

Blogger David said...

To answer your question - YES.
The Methodist will need confirming.Or, by Canon, receiving. What ever mitre-dude wants.
The RC will need receiving.
The two adults are considered confirmed by the fact they are answering for themselves the "baptismal questions" and are being baptized BY the Bishop. Don't put them back in line for confirmation after their baptism (unless, of course, the pointy hat guy says to, but even then I would ask him - "HUH?").

October 15, 2004 10:53 AM  

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