Ask an Anglican: Baptism and the Good Thief

Scott writes:

I know you’ve talked about baptism in your videos and blog and also justification by faith alone. However, I am confused on the Anglican position of baptism being required for salvation. I can understand on one side that Baptism is the way we receive grace, but on the other side it seems that Baptism is still a “work” or activity that a person is doing in order to be saved. A common response that I hear about baptism not saving a person is the thief on the cross next to Jesus. This leads me to other questions about infant baptism, but I’ll keep it to one question for now.

Thank you for your time. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and watching the videos. It is helping a lot; I am considering attending an Anglican church after growing up fundamental Baptist.

This is a question that comes up a lot in conversations about infant Baptism, and the answer in this case is inherent in the question itself. It seems like Baptism is a work. It seems like Baptism is something that we do to impress or appease God, to try to earn our salvation. But in fact, everything about Baptism, including the very act of presenting a child to be baptized, is the work of God.

Baptism and Election

The classical Anglican view of Baptism is that it regenerates us, giving us the grace of the cross through which we come to faith and ultimately to salvation. I can understand how it might seem from the outside like the classical Anglican view is simply a form of works righteousness. After all, if Baptism does all of this for us, than clearly we must be performing our own salvation by seeking Baptism for ourselves or for our children. What is missing from this equation, however, is an understanding of the doctrine of election, the teaching that God chose those who would be saved “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). The act of baptizing either adults or infants is not a way for us to usurp God’s action in the world. On the contrary, it is the fulfillment of His promise.

Baptism and Preaching as Physical Means of Grace

The active party in Baptism is not the person being baptized, nor (in the case of infant Baptism) the parent bringing forward his or her child, nor even the priest who is administering the sacrament. All of these people are intimately involved in what is going on, of course, but the one who is actually acting is God Himself. Or, to be more specific, the one who is acting is the Holy Spirit who is binding the baptized to God through the instrument of God’s Word. This is no different than what happens when the priest preaches. The priest speaks the Word of God from the pulpit, the people hear it, and the Holy Spirit uses this Word to inspire faith in them, through which they are justified by the work of Christ on the cross. In both cases, God is using something physical to bring about spiritual renewal. In Baptism, that physical thing is the water. In preaching, it is the actual voice of the preacher and the vibrating of your inner ear as you hear that Word. Either way, the action is entirely God’s. In God’s absence, preaching is just noise and Baptism is just a bath.

The Good Thief

These physical means are given by God for our spiritual sustenance. According to Scripture, they are the only means through which we can know that God is acting to give us His grace and make us whole, and thus without them we have no assurance of salvation. Baptists sometimes protest that the example of the Good Thief disproves this assertion, but in fact it does the opposite. Let us recall the story of the Good Thief, which takes place as Our Lord is hanging on the cross dying:

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

What we have in this moment is a man coming into direct contact with the Word of God, the Word made flesh, Jesus Himself. This man, in the presence of the crucifixion, is drawn by the Spirit to recognize the Word. God speaks a Word to this man, and the speaking of that Word, which he hears physically in his ears, makes manifest the promise of the cross in this man’s life. He receives the gift of eternity directly from his Lord. And that is exactly what happens to us in Baptism.

The only way that this passage becomes proof that we do not need Baptism is if we believe this is a story about the thief’s actions, rather than about God’s actions. The thief on the cross realized that this was his chance to get himself a get-out-of-hell free card and he took it. If that is the case, than faith itself is simply a work done by the believer in order to save himself. There is no such thing as justification by faith alone, because faith is just another form of human work. However, if this is a passage about God and His direct action to save us through His Word, than this moment is itself baptismal. It is a foretaste of what would be given to all Christians through Baptism. God Himself speaks the Word that saves the thief and God Himself speaks the Word that saves us. In Baptism, God says to us, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” And to reject that reality would make us just as foolish as if we were saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Baptism and Faith are Either Free Gifts or New Laws

If Baptism does not actually do anything but symbolize a commitment that you have already made to God in your heart, than Baptism also has to be a work. In fact, it’s worse than that. Baptism actually has to become a new kind of law, because it is something that God asks us to do for no other reason than to make Him happy. It is a pointless gesture that we are nevertheless compelled to act out. But if it is truly God choosing us and making us one with Him through His cross, then it becomes the source of not only the greatest grace but also the greatest hope, because we can look at our Baptism and know for sure that God has chosen us to receive salvation. Baptism is a promise that immediately delivers the thing that it promises. It is a sign that gives us what it signifies. It is Christ Himself covering us with His most precious blood.

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Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
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22 Responses to Ask an Anglican: Baptism and the Good Thief

  1. Joshua says:

    aul assured the Galatians, “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27). In and through baptism a most intimate link between the sinner and the Savior is promised and assumed. Other New Testament passages affirm that the gift of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and salvation are bestowed through baptism. They are not just symbolized or pictured in baptism; baptism is said to give these blessings. Through Baptism the Holy Spirit works to create or strengthen faith and brings the gifts of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation (Titus 3:4-7, 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38-39). We should never deprive children of baptism, “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

  2. Joshua says:

    The thief on the cross did not despise or reject Baptism either. He just did not have a chance to be baptized. If he would have lived and been taken off of the cross, he would have been baptized.

  3. Father Thorpus says:

    W00t W00t Fr. J! There’s stuff here I need to steal for my next baptism sermon.

    There’s a basic confusion in the question that could lead us to another answer. When Paul speaks in Romans and Galatians about being justified by faith apart from works, it isn’t works in general. It’s works “of the law” – not any law, not every law, but a specific law – the law of purity and sacrifice revealed to Moses and passed on in Jewish tradition. Paul isn’t saying that we don’t have to DO anything. That’s why we have James (doesn’t anyone read James anymore?) as a needed corrective – not to Paul, but to the easy misconception that Paul is preaching a faith that is inside only and never need be seen externally or practically. The basic confusion evident in the question is in the definition of ‘works’ – the way it’s preached in Baptist circles, it could mean “works of the Jewish Law” or “following Christian ethical rules” or “good works such as almsgiving” or “anything whatsoever you might be required to do as part and parcel of being in this covenant, at pains of its invalidation.” Paul clearly means only the first; though we often read him as ruling out charitable deeds such as almsgiving, James specifically adds that back into the mix. Following Christian ethical rules may not ‘earn’ us justification (I don’t understand the preoccupation with this among Protestants – who wants a mechanistic salvation without a personal God anyway?) but it is a legitimate requirement for being in the covenant, such that without that you’re taking your eternal soul in your hands, as it were. As we live into the covenant, we find it is in fact a very demanding relationship: Christ will have our all, not our pittance. So we shouldn’t be hyper-sensitive to concerns about ‘works’ such that we give that label to everything required of us as part of the Covenant identity. Did not Jesus say to the rich young ruler, “Go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor; then come and follow me.”? Was this a ‘work’ that would have ‘earned’ him salvation? It’s a moot question, because Jesus commanded him to do it! Jesus has that authority, after all. In the same way, we strive to enter into the straight gate; we do “unto the least of these;” we work in the Kingdom because that’s what kingdom people do, and if we aren’t working it’s debatable whether we really are Kingdom people.

    In my view, losing sight of the importance of works to our salvation is precisely the danger of an over-emphasis on Justification by Faith, and leads us to this very profound conundrum, which the questioner has aptly expressed. We can retreat to sacramental theology to solve the question of baptism, but then we’re still left with what to do with the i-don’t-know-how-many passages of Holy Scripture that urge us to do ‘works’ so that we may be saved. The question will always come up again: if not with Baptism, then with charity; or almsgiving; or prayer; or church attendance. A broader answer is needed than just sacramental theology.

  4. Robert F says:

    I understand your explanation of the nature of baptism, and I want to believe it for a number of reasons, not least among them the very selfish reason that I have great aesthetic antipathy toward Evangelical worship styles and cannot envision myself finding spiritual succor in a non-liturgical church. The thing that keeps bothering me , though, is what I see as “the facts on the ground.” Those facts are all those people who, as infants, have been baptized properly, using the Trinitarian formula and water, and who have grown up to have not the slightest interest in being Christian. There are just so many of them. I understand that I cannot judge a persons heart, but really, to claim many of them as Christian because they were baptized seems both counter-intuitive and against the evidence. I know that God works in mysterious ways, but it gives the appearance of God failing to deliver on baptismal promises when we make strong claims for the power of baptism and the evident results are so meager. It causes me to doubt paedobaptism even though I don’t want to.

    • Jeremiah C says:

      I can only think of some of Paul’s reply in Romans 9 when he posed the question about so many Israelites not believing. Did that make God’s promises null? No, it created more opportunity for the faith to spread. You are right in saying that God’s ways are mysterious.
      Another thought that strikes me is the question of what these churches and parents and god parents did to nurture the faith amongst these children who have now abandoned the faith as they have grown older. Could it be that that faith was never nurtured after they were baptized? Much like all of us need to receive the gospel continually, lest we become hardened in our deceits, the same applies to these cases. For one to never live out their baptisms is for one to lose out on the faith that has been given.

      I know that that probably doesn’t do justice to the struggle, but maybe it is a help. I read a book a number of years ago by Bishop Mark Hanson of the ELCA that was really good in dealing with the promises of baptism. He candidly speaks of taking one of his sons to a drug rehab clinic and how all he could do was cling to the promises of God in baptism for his son. It was quite beautiful to read. It was called Faithful and Courageous Christians in Unsettling Times. Unfortunately, too many of us assume that a one time encounter with the triune God will take care of us for a lifetime but that is just utterly unbiblical. We need to keep going back and need to be taught to always go back, even when we don’t “hear” an answer because we are called to be faithful, not just have a one time faith experience. I fear that too many people, both sacramental and “altar-callers,” have presented the faith like this. We can only go to these people and meet them where they are and speak the Gospel to them over and over. I remember a story of a Lutheran pastor absolving someone into the faith. Every time he saw his friend, who had always refused to believe, the pastor would tell the man that he forgave him for the sake of Christ’s work on the cross. The man always balked. But after years of this, the man finally broke down and confessed Christ because he couldn’t get away from the reality that he knew he was a sinner in need of that forgiveness that was constantly offered to him! Again, another beautiful story of God’s grace!

      Peace!

    • Joshua says:

      We say to them, and to ourselves, precisely what the Bible says to us all: Regardless of when or how the Holy Spirit gave you saving faith in Christ, through baptism or the written or spoken Word of the gospel, rejoice and give God thanks for the gift of faith that he graciously gave you through the gospel.

      Recognize that saving faith is a living thing, never static and not to be confused with intellectual knowledge or mere memory of Bible history. Saving faith is and must be maintained by the Holy Spirit who initially created it in the human heart. He does this through the same gospel in Word and in sacrament (in this case the Lord’s Supper).

      Your privilege and responsibility, then, is to cling to the gospel in Word and sacraments, cheerfully and thankfully make use of the Holy Spirit’s chosen tools to nurture and preserve you in faith and equip you for ministry to your neighbor. Personal, private, and public use of the means of grace is Christian lifestyle and always will be. Give thanks for this as well.

    • MichaelA says:

      Robert F, I have encountered many baptist pastors who report the same problem – falling away after baptism is not just restricted to pedobaptists! These (godly and honest) baptist pastors express great concern at the number of their young adults who get baptised “because its the thing to do”, yet it doesn’t show fruit in their lives.

      In this respect, I think the baptist and the pedobaptist are faced with the same challenge: do not be disheartened, and do not give up on teaching and witnessing to the flock. Whether we baptise adults or children, we have to remember that that is not the end of our responsibilty.

      We all know the verse, but let’s not forget that it actually contains three separate commands:

      “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

      Teach, baptize, make disciples. Each is essential.

      • Robert F says:

        But Baptists do not claim that regeneration comes through baptism, but solely by faith; for them, baptism is important as an act of obedience and witness by someone who has already been saved by grace through faith. Baptists have much less riding on the efficacy of baptism than Anglicans and Lutherans do.

      • MichaelA says:

        Well, it does depend on the type of baptist – they have a pretty wide spectrum of belief on the actual effect of baptism.

        But isn’t the issue really the same even on the batpist beliefs as you describe them? If the baptist pastor can see that there is no objective sign of belief in the lives of his baptised people, then he is in the same place we are: a real fear that they are not actually believers.

        We can argue about whether they never really were, or whether they were but apostasized etc. But the truth is we can’t see into their hearts anyway. All we can do is observe their outward behaviour, and if they appear to be living a life of sin, and they die tonight without having truly repented and sought forgiveness, I would have thought any minister baptist or anglican will fear for their souls.

  5. Joshua says:

    With all do respect to Fr. Thorpus, I would say that one of the bigger problems is that both Bapto-evangelical protestants and Roman Catholics have not been teaching sola fide. I would say that Paul and James complement each other also but in a totally different way. Faith is not a decision that we make. Neither are we justified by faith working through love. We are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Good works do nothing justify us before God. When Scripture says that God saves people who “do not work” (Romans 4:5), and that he saves us “not by works” (Ephesians 2:8-9), “apart from observing the law” (Romans 3:28), “no longer by works” (Romans 11:6), and “not because of righteous things we had done” (Titus 3:5), etc., the answer becomes clear. Our good works are not “necessary for salvation” in any way, shape, or form—directly or indirectly, wholly or in part, before or after we are saved, etc.
    But this doesn’t make good works “optional” for a Christian. One reason is that God still commands them. The Bible’s teaching of justification by faith alone does not turn the 10 Commandments into the 10 Suggestions. Through our good works, we worship and glorify our Savior God (Romans 12:1-3). We show that our faith is alive and well in front of others, who can’t see our faith but can see the actions that faith produces (Matthew 5:16). And through our good works we love and serve other people. God doesn’t need our works, but our neighbor does. “Good works are necessary for salvation” would be a false statement. “Good works are necessary” is true–not for salvation, but for plenty of other reasons. Roman Catholics (then and now) answer: No, we are saved by faith PLUS love and good works. Faith alone in Jesus Christ as Savior does NOT save! Unless faith is completed by love and good works it cannot save us.” Put another way, then, Roman Catholics say that faith in Jesus is INSUFFICIENT to save us. Faith alone is not enough. Our faith must be “formed by love,” which means that the burden of proof falls on our love. Only if we are loving enough, can our faith save us, say Roman Catholics. How much love is needed? How many good works? How much effort? Unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church cannot tell you this. It merely answers (then and now) “Do your best and hopefully that will be enough.” But how do we know when or if we’ve done our best? And what about the Biblical teaching that if we are trying to placate God with our love and good works, God demands perfection, not the best we can do?! (see Matthew 5:48; James 2:10; Lev. 19:2; Galatians 3:10-11)

    Faith without works is in fact dead! Faith will always show itself in works, but those works do nothing to justify us before God. Salvation is all of Gods work and none of our work.

  6. Joshua says:

    With an improper understanding of sola fide, people have an improper understanding of the grace that is freely given through the sacraments. Works play no part in our justification. Attempting to follow the ten commandments do nothing to justify us before God. Faith is a gift from God. We need to be sure that we do not confuse justification with sanctification. We Anglicans are quite open on the understanding of sanctification. But we are justified solely by the merits of Jesus Christ We drastically need a reaffirmation of Sola Fide in the Anglican communion. The Anglican understanding is not compatible with either Roman Catholics or.Bapto-evangelicals. It is very important to bring our babies to be baptized. Its about what God is doing and not what we are doing in our brains.

  7. MichaelA says:

    All good points. Here are some more:

    Baptism is a sign or seal (or sacrament) of the new life; but it is not the new life itself.

    In the same way, the other great sacrament instituted by Christ, Holy Communion, is a sign or seal of our communion with Christ; it is not the communion itself.

    In either case, the sign/seal/sacrament becomes effective for us through faith.

    The Anglican reformers stated this explicitly about baptism in Article XXVII (“they that receive Baptism rightly”). They also stated it explicitly about the Lord’s Supper in Article XXVIII (“to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ”).

    So faith is necessary for baptism to be effective, but baptism can take place even when faith is not (yet) present. This was the point the apostle Paul made when he wrote of the one instance of baptism occurring in the Old Testament:

    “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” [1 Cor 10:1-5]

    All of Israel, hundreds of thousands of them, were baptised in the cloud and the sea, including babes-in-arms and infants. Some of them never had true faith in God (which was essential for salvation in the Old Testament as well as the New – see Hab 2:4 and Hebrews 11), and with them God was “not pleased”, despite their baptism. But those who joined faith to baptism (then or later) knew the full benefits of their baptism.

    So we today baptise everyone who is a member of the church, infants or adults, just as God baptised all the people of Israel. If they join faith to their baptismal seal, they will know the full benefit of the sacrament.

  8. Father Thorpus says:

    Another fruitful way of thinking about infant baptism that ends up not guaranteeing a person’s sanctification is that it is, in fact, effective, just as God promises it will be. The work is totally God’s and indissoluble., bringing us into His kingdom However, people can apoststasize; we can, if we work hard enough, reject God definitively. This puts us in the unenviable position of having once sworn allegiance to our rightful King but later turning to join the rebels. It’s bad enough that we start out at enmity with God; bad enough that we have a continual struggle against our sinful nature. But to join up with God and then turn back to rebellion makes us no longer just enemies, but traitors. Not a comfortable place to be at the Last Day. But there will be traitors. It is told to us in Holy Scripture that many will fall away, and their love will wax cold. We don’t have to dream up some fantastic, gymnastic idea about how maybe their Baptism didn’t ‘take’ or maybe their faith wasn’t real or their upbringing wasn’t up (down?) to par. No need – apostasy is real. Some folks just plain cough up the football when it comes down to stiff opposition on the goal line. The parable of the sower is all about this: Jesus didn’t say that the seeds the sower sowed were somehow duds; He pointed to the work of a real enemy, and the failures of human depth, and the thorny temptations of worldly weeds. If a person falls away, Baptism isn’t at fault. Let God be true and every man a liar. Keep believing in God’s action as effective, even if every single baptized human falls away. The fault in such cases cannot lie with God.

    • MichaelA says:

      “Another fruitful way of thinking about infant baptism that ends up not guaranteeing a person’s sanctification is that it is, in fact, effective, just as God promises it will be.”

      I agree: “as effective as God promises it will be” – not more effective than God promises it will be, and not less. God never promises in Scripture that baptism apart from faith will save. It is a sacrament of new birth – very real, powerful, but yet not the new birth itself. As we are reminded: “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” [Mark 16:16]

      “If a person falls away, Baptism isn’t at fault”

      No indeed. Nor, if a baptised person never comes to faith in the first place, is baptism at fault. God does everything he promises in baptism, but if we will not take hold of what is promised, we have only ourselves to blame.

    • MichaelA says:

      “The parable of the sower is all about this: Jesus didn’t say that the seeds the sower sowed were somehow duds”

      Very good point. The outcome of sowing is determined entirely by the state of the soil at the time the seed lands in it.

      The soil is the human heart. If my heart is stony or thorny or hard, the outcome is inevitable from the time the seed lands – no fruit. Conversely, from the moment a seed falls into good soil the outcome can only be abundance.

      The outcome may seem different to the outside observer – the seed springing up in thorny ground can *look* just as good as the seed sown in good soil. But the final result of each was inevitable from the moment they were sown.

      Now of course, seed can be sown again. Ground that is hard or thorny can be ploughed. If the seed that formerly failed (because of the state of the soil) is then sown again into ground now ploughed, the result will be very different. But it is the state the soil is in when the seed lands in it that makes the difference.

  9. Father Thorpus says:

    Joshua, this is a long-standing dispute between me and Fr Jonathan. I can’t agree to your diagnosis of the sola-fide problem because sola fide is neither true, nor biblical, nor Pauline, nor Catholic, nor Patristic, nor essentially Anglican – merely Lutheran, and I would not have us partake of another man’s mistakes. As long as the list of scriptures is ‘proving’ sola fide, so long also is the list of scriptures in which it is made just as explicit that human agency of some type is indispensible to salvation. Luthan theology is fine if you have only half the Bible, or are willing to explain half of it away instead of letting it speak to us in its plain sense. Let us not take Luther’s mistaken point of view that *any* human agency in soteriology means *only* human agency. St. Paul does not require this of us (Luther does). Holy Scripture allows us sola fide only insofar as faith in the cross is and must be, from the human perspective, the beginning of the process of salvation (call this “justification” if you like but the Bible does not consistently parse salvation this way.). No other door into the sheepfold exists. But God’s grace goes before and after our faith (the Calvinists are right on this score), and human agency through the fruit that we bear and the way we interact with Church and Sacraments is also said, in Scripture, to be absolutely essential for us to be saved – not just for our neighbor’s health and well-being, nor even for the health of his soul! It is our souls, themselves, about which St. James voices concern. Narrow indeed is the way, and few there are who find it. All the pieces are necessary, and they must be sustained throughout our earthly existence or all may yet be lost.

    • Joshua says:

      So what your saying is that after Baptism God’s grace is only offered to those who keep his holy commandments? Yes interaction with the Church and sacraments are essential for us to be saved. But Jesus atoning death on the cross conquered all sin (original and actual). He didn’t just bleed for us so that now we could be “good people”. Grace can be rejected and we can deny the Holy Spirit. Prevenient grace is entirely free and unelicited and unearned. Without it coming to us as an unearned and entirely free gift, we would remain mired in sin. The gift is normally bestowed upon us by God at baptism. The new life of grace begun thereby is nourished and fed by the normal means of grace (the other sacraments, prayer, etc.), and expresses itself through our life in the world. Good works do not earn salvation, but are not optional. They are the appropriate, grateful, loving response of redeemed sinners to the free love they have received. We play no part in our own justification. I am open to sanctification, but I think what your saying is the result of Anglicans emphasizing our doctrines to be more in line with Rome or the Orthodox than what they clearly are. This is something that both Rome and the Orthodox recognize.

      With love in Christ Father Thorpus,

      Joshua

      • Joshua says:

        we are forgiven and enter heaven by “Faith Alone.” “For we maintain that a man is justified [declared innocent, righteous] by faith, apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28). Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have been tempted to believe that faith in Jesus as Savior (or faith in the Gospel promise) is not enough. They have been tempted to believe that something WE do must be added to faith: our keeping of God’s Commandments, our love, our holiness, our victory over sin, or something else that we do. But the Scriptures consistently teach that we are saved through faith plus NOTHING. We are saved by faith ALONE.

        Since God truly promises heaven as a gift to the human race on account of Christ, then there is only one way to receive a promised gift: faith. The moment we think that our entrance into heaven is contingent upon our conduct in any way, at that moment heaven ceases to be a gift and begins to be something we have earned and deserve. For a gift to remain a gift it must simply be received. Faith in Jesus as Savior is the open hand that receives God’s gift of salvation. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

  10. Fr. Jonathan says:

    What an interesting conversation that has sprung up in my absence! I apologize for not being able to be more fully engaged with it, but you all seem to be doing just fine without me.

    Not to be overly self-referential, but I think two of the videos I’ve done in the past may help shed some light on two of the discussion topics. First of all, in regards to Robert’s question about the many people who are baptized as infants but then never act with faith, I answered that question here: http://conciliaranglican.com/2012/01/17/ask-an-anglican-what-the-sacraments-are-for/

    There’s also a list there of some of the many scripture references that tell us what Baptism and the Eucharist are for.

    In regards to the conversation between Fr. Thorpus and Joshua about justification, this video may be helpful: http://conciliaranglican.com/2012/02/20/being-our-own-gods/

    That video goes through the material from the 39 Articles on justification, as well as showing that the verses in scripture that Fr. Thorpus refers to which give the appearance of speaking against justification by faith alone in fact do nothing of the sort. Finally, I have included there a link to the homily on justification from the Book of Homilies which is the most straight-forward statement of Anglican doctrine on the subject, including many references not just to the Scriptures but to the Fathers.

  11. Joshua says:

    One of the problems i see among the various Churches who ascribe to the title “Anglican” is not understanding that there is a base to Anglicanism. Granted we are not a confessional body but we still have formularies that need to be upheld in order to be truly Anglican. If you are a low church Anglican and you are subscribing to the belief that the sacraments are just a memorial meal, than you are not within the boundaries of Anglicanism. If you are a high Church Anglican and you subscribe to faith+works for salvation than you are not within the boundaries of Anglicanism.

    I know that there are plenty of Anglo-Catholics who believe in Sola Fide, but for the ones who do not I think we need to ask ourselves if we are Anglican or are we not? I have a very high opinion of both the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. I consider them our brothers and sisters in Christ. I feel the same way about the various protestants. We cannot however, look out into a thunderstorm and say that it’s a bright sunny day. As long as many of these bodies fail to comprehend the fullness of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we cannot be in communion with them. I, myself, have a deep appreciation for the Orthodox Church, but it would be a step backwards for an Anglican to convert their until the fullness of Christs cross is recognized. This is something that they consistently fail to understand.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Very true, Joshua. Few Anglicans today have a real grounding in classical Anglicanism. But the good news is that we have an opportunity, in this rather scattered era, to share classical Anglicanism with people and show them why it is nothing less than the Gospel itself.

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