Baptism liturgy under fire

The Church of England is trying new ways of wording the baptismal liturgy so it can be understood by people making the promises. Religion Dispatches reports some of the criticisms:

The Church of England has been accused of “dumbing down” the baptism service following the introduction of an alternative liturgy in which parents and godparents need not repent of their “sins” or reject “the devil.”

In the traditional version of the service, parents and godparents are asked: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?” and “Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbor?”

In the alternative version, now being tested in 400 churches, parents are instead asked to “reject evil and all its many forms and all its empty promises.”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian says:

The story that the Church of England is abandoning sin is almost complete nonsense: an experimental rite of baptism is being tried out in some parishes which omits mention of the devil. But it is unlikely to gain permanent approval, and is in any case only one of many attempts since 1980 to pretty-up the granite face and jagged edges of the traditional rite.

The truth is that we are no longer puritans, but the Book of Common Prayer, which was for centuries the real constitution of the Church of England, is a deeply puritan or Calvinist document, suffused with the reality of sin and the danger of evil.

Few people now care about the details of the christening service – about 10% of babies in England are now baptised according to the rites of the Church of England. But the difficulties of sin and hell and the devil remain.

BBC has a discussion here:

The Church of England’s new version of the baptism takes out reference to the devil. Nicky asks: has the Devil had his day?

Bishop Alan Wilson has it all on his Facebook page and says about the Daily Mail story on the issue:

“One of the silliest non-stories in history. The ‘old traditional wording’ dates back to, er, 1998…”

…and his post has already produced 170 comments!

How do you explain those promises about the devil in the BCP? What wording do you think works?

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