London (AFP) – A former Anglican bishop on Sunday criticised a new trial version of the Church’s baptism service that no longer calls for parents and godparents to “repent sins”.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said the move, which is being trialed until Easter in around 1,000 parishes, was part of a “constant dumbing down of Christian teaching”.
“Instead of explaining what baptism means and what the various parts of the service signify, its solution is to do away with key elements of the service altogether,” Nazir-Ali told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
“Rather than the constant ‘dumbing down’ of Christian teaching, whether for baptism, marriage or death, we should be spending time preparing people for these great rites of passage.
“It is best to call a halt to this perhaps well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily-swallowed soundbites,” he added.
The original version asks parents and godparents if they “reject the devil and all rebellion against God”, and if they “repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?”
No mention of the devil or sin is made in the trial version.
The trial is backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans.