Bonnie Anderson challenges laity to live into baptismal covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(ENS) Part of the responsibility of living in community is building relationships. That may mean connecting with someone who has a different set of beliefs or cultural standards. That may mean, as the Gospel reading for August 24 suggested, that the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together.

"Does one person, like the Archbishop of Canterbury, for instance, have a ‘corner on the truth market?'" asked Anderson in her sermon. "Has one particular group been given the gift of pure truth and the rest of us just can't hear it?

"I don't think so. Right now the how of coming to the truth is as important as getting to the truth. Right now, the way in which the Anglican Communion goes about the search for the elusive truth is as important as the truth itself."

Through relationships characterized by intimacy and vulnerability, "we come to know the truth," said Anderson. The relationships between bishops that were forged and fostered at the Lambeth Conference are an important beginning to this journey for truth. But laity, priests and deacons all must be a part of building relationships and making connections so that the truth of Christ can be made known to the world.

Anderson challenged each group to live into the baptismal covenant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

51 Comments
Posted August 27, 2008 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Henry Greville wrote:

Am I the only English-speaking person who thinks the words “living into” convey no clear meaning?

August 27, 8:57 am | [comment link]
2. Jeff Thimsen wrote:

There at least two of us.

August 27, 8:59 am | [comment link]
3. Scott K wrote:

Is it true that TEC is the only Anglican church with a baptismal covenant?  I find that surprising - can anyone confirm it?

August 27, 9:05 am | [comment link]
4. Daniel wrote:

One word - bafflegab.

August 27, 9:10 am | [comment link]
5. libraryjim wrote:

The Roman Catholic Church’s Rite of Baptism can be found here and [url=http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm]here.

The Catechism explanation of the Sacrament of Baptism

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

August 27, 9:15 am | [comment link]
6. libraryjim wrote:

bother, forgot to put my url close bracket around the second link.  Oh, well, at least it didn’t send the message off the edge of the page!

JE <><

August 27, 9:17 am | [comment link]
7. Tar Heel wrote:

Is “living into” found in Ireneous’s famous dictionary?  If not, it should be.

August 27, 9:17 am | [comment link]
8. libraryjim wrote:

and it was the wrong url at that! That was the link to the catechism!  My cut and paste failed me

here is the actual link

Boy, batting 1,000 today!

August 27, 9:18 am | [comment link]
9. RomeAnglican wrote:

It’s telling that she sees fit to brag that her/TEC’s understanding of baptism diverges from that of all other Anglican churches.  And, of course, what she’s really doing (under the guise of “living into” the baptismal convenant, whatever that means) is telling lay deputies they need to declare independence from the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury on issues of sexuality.  This is a typically pompous, hubristic, and snide little meditation by Ms Anderson, but not unrepresentative of those who now lead our church.

August 27, 9:29 am | [comment link]
10. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Granting that language evolves, count me among those mystified by the phrase “living into X.”

August 27, 9:33 am | [comment link]
11. phil swain wrote:

“... insisting that other people take you seriously.”  Try being serious.

August 27, 9:38 am | [comment link]
12. Br. Michael wrote:

I think the new buzzword is “relationship”.  And this means that the great sin is breaking relationship.  Thus, unity is to be preserved at all costs regardless of what TEC does, because if the orthodox do not go along they they are guilty of breaking relationship and unity.

I think that is where they are going with this.

August 27, 9:51 am | [comment link]
13. JeremiahTOR wrote:

I’ve been reading TitusOneNine daily for a long time now, but this article has finally motivated me to register, in order to comment:
“Through relationships characterized by intimacy and vulnerability, ‘we come to know the truth,’ said Anderson. “
Whatever happened to Scripture, Reason, and Tradition???  Or the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life?  Do we only look to each other now?
I guess this is the new three-legged stool:  Relationship, Intimacy, and Vulnerability.

August 27, 9:53 am | [comment link]
14. D. C. Toedt wrote:

Now that I’ve read the piece, it sounds like it was an interesting speech. 

I like the idea that TEC’s baptismal rite includes a voluntary, public commitment to live up to a certain standard of conduct, over and above beyond a mere statement of belief and renunciation of Satan. Requiring such a commitment as a condition of membership might perhaps be unique among Anglican churches. But it’s certainly not unique among other organizations: • Foreigners seeking to be naturalized as U.S. citizens must take an oath of allegiance, including promises to fulfill specific obligations. • Civilians seeking to join the military must take a similar oath upon enlistment or commissioning. • A boy seeking to join the Boy Scouts must take the Scout Oath (which is repeated at virtually every Scout function).

Some other parts I liked about Anderson’s speech as reported:

... Anderson urged the group to dismiss the preconceived, triangle model of ministry, with the bishop at the top and the lay people at the bottom. In reality, she said, ministry is a circle, and lay people should look to clergy and bishops to help—not tell—laity how to discern gifts and carry out ministry.

“To be a lay person does not mean you need to do only ministry in the church,” she said. “Use your primary vocation—living for God—to ground you in your life and in your secondary vocation.”

August 27, 10:03 am | [comment link]
15. Katherine wrote:

Great first comment, #13.

Here’s Anderson:  “That may mean, as the Gospel reading for August 24 suggested, that the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together.”  No, the pursuit of truth is about, er, truth.  Christians believe it exists.

August 27, 10:05 am | [comment link]
16. Eastern Anglican wrote:

Ms. Anderson is seriously deficient in her theology and ecclesiology, that much is certain. However, there is more at play here and not subtly. 

I was present at the Saturday event referenced in the above article and got the same mantra:  we are unique (read superior), we have a baptismal covenant, and bishops, priests, and deacons should be careful as we laity will not have you usurping our democratic authority.  Oh, and did you know that the House of Deputies is superior to the House of Bishops as there were no bishops when the HOD was formed.  She actually said words to this effect, which means the great rewrite continues moving from the Gospel to our own history.  (I believe +William White presided at the 1st GC?)

It underlies what is actually occuring in TEC.  We are now a GC church ruled by democratic processes where a 51% majorit dictates doctrine and dogma for all, and if the bishops won’t move us forward in our agenda the HOD will just have a GC coup.  As one follows this it becomes ever more clear that TEC is not a member of a catholic church, but a protestant one in pretty vestments.

Another major problem is the enshrining of the Baptismal Covenant as the beginning and end all of the Christian life.  In the interpretation of the BC all emphasis is placed on the last three promises (proclaim by word and example, seek and serve Christ in all persons, strive for justice and peace and respect the diginity of all) without requisite attention that the BC begins with the classic Apostles’ Creed and includes such promises as continuing in the apostles teaching, and whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.  Of course, this is par for the course in a church where the only sin is not respecting someone’s diginity (by which we mean approving of all behavior).

Now it can be seen clearly in her own comments that we do not rely on a power outside of ourselves.  We don’t need to listen to God, just ourselves since we are God.

Finally, the BC has one other major problem in my book.  It begins too late—it should start with the renounciations.  I believe that my baptism had those as a part of it, why should I not reaffirm those as a part of my BC?

Sorry for the long post, but if we get the leaders we deserve then Ms. Anderson is the perfect leader for TEC’s HOD, at least she’s clear where she want’s to take us.

August 27, 10:11 am | [comment link]
17. driver8 wrote:

I know, I feel confused every time I hear “live into”...the tension, the challenge, the Baptismal Covenant, the Communion, the future, the boredom. I just don’t know what it means. Where does it come from? Is it originally therapeutic language of some sort?

When did TEC folks begin using “live into”? Where did they get the phrase from?

August 27, 10:29 am | [comment link]
18. Randy Muller wrote:

Has one particular group been given the gift of pure truth and the rest of us just can’t hear it?

I don’t think so.


I don’t think so, either.  Anderson is doing the very thing she accuses others of.

August 27, 10:29 am | [comment link]
19. Katherine wrote:

driver8, I don’t think it means anything.  It is an all-purpose phrase used to muddy the waters.

August 27, 10:31 am | [comment link]
20. Cennydd wrote:

Ms Anderson’s words would put me to sleep.  My commitment to Christ and His Church was made when I was eleven years old, and it has never changed, so why is it even necessary to have a “Baptismal Covenant?”  Once baptized, once committed!

August 27, 10:39 am | [comment link]
21. ElaineF. wrote:

Babble…

August 27, 10:43 am | [comment link]
22. Jeffersonian wrote:

Surreal gibberish.

August 27, 10:56 am | [comment link]
23. driver8 wrote:

I’ve done a quick and unreliable search of Google News and it looks as if progressive TEC bishops began to use the phrase at least by the mid 90s. There are a very few usages by Episcopal clergy reported dating back to the early 90s - perhaps indicating that the phrase was being used in some seminaries but not in widespread use? The phrase was also used in some very progressive Roman Catholic journalism around 93 and 94.

I still have no idea about its original context. Anyone know?

August 27, 10:56 am | [comment link]
24. Phil wrote:

Frame the baptismal covenant?  Put it on the wall?  ECUSA is evolving into a cult, with an odd fetish for its sub-Christian, creepy revision of “baptismal covenant.”

August 27, 10:59 am | [comment link]
25. The_Archer_of_the_Forest wrote:

No. 1 and No. 2: that was my first reaction as well. Hehe…

August 27, 11:05 am | [comment link]
26. phil swain wrote:

D.C., if TEC “dismisses the triangle model of ministry” don’t you think that the principle of Truth-in-Advertising would require the church to remove the word Episcopal from its name?  Shouldn’t the church be living into Truth-in Advertising?

August 27, 11:12 am | [comment link]
27. Intercessor wrote:

Real people do not use the phrase “living into.” It is a code word for one or all of the following:
1-The Listening Process
2-Indaba
3-Being in “The Tension”
4-Mother Jesus
If you are inspired by the above terms please stay away from me and my family.
Shalom,
Intercessor

August 27, 11:33 am | [comment link]
28. Stuart Smith wrote:

If the clergy are only resources to help the laity find their own way, well…guess what?...TEC has jettisoned the notion of Apostolic Authority and ministry!  If bishops, priests and deacons are not to oversee, pastor and serve in a unique role which Bible, Prayer Book and Tradition/tradition clearly indicate they DO, well, yes, Bonnie Anderson is promoting a most Protestant and un-catholic vision for the life of the Body of Christ.  And, the clear benefit for those who reject Biblical, creedal, ecclesiastical authority:  the majority of laity can and will do whatever they want with God’s Word and Will.

August 27, 11:44 am | [comment link]
29. BrianInDioSpfd wrote:

I think that the baptismal covenant is actually in the examination questions not the part called baptismal covenant.


Question Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces
of wickedness that rebel against God?
Answer I renounce them.
Question Do you renounce the evil powers of this world
which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?
Answer I renounce them.
Question Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you
from the love of God?
Answer I renounce them.
Question Do you turn to Jesus Christ and accept him as your
Savior?
Answer I do.
Question Do you put your whole trust in his grace and love?
Answer I do.
Question Do you promise to follow and obey him as your
Lord?
Answer  I do.

The Creed and most of the other questions in the so-called baptismal covenant are not that bad, if you don’t redifine the words.
I think on the basis of the following questions one could legitimately argue that ++KJS and Bonnie Anderson have renounced their baptism:


Celebrant Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the
prayers ?
People  I will, with God’s help.
Celebrant Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People I will, with God’s help.

From my perspective they have not continued in the apostles’ teaching but have invented something foreign to it.  Nor have they persevered in resisting evil, but instead have called evil good.
Perhaps living in a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ is different from ‘living into’ the baptismal covenant.

August 27, 11:48 am | [comment link]
30. Mike L wrote:

The problem with Bonnie and her ilk is they must have very short retention abilities, because when they talk about “their” baptismal covenant, the only thing they seem capable of remembering about it is the very last question. “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” The rest of it just gets discarded.

August 27, 11:49 am | [comment link]
31. Phil wrote:

#26, bingo.

August 27, 11:51 am | [comment link]
32. Ken Peck wrote:

She said, Anderson challenged each group to live into the baptismal covenant.
While I share puzzlement as to what exactly [l]live into might mean, I think striving to be faithful to the baptismal covenant is something to be commended, remembering that the first promise of that covenant after confessing the Apostles’ Creed is to “continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers.” It would seem to me that the rest of the Covenant must be understood in terms of continuing in the apostles’ teaching.
As for the pursuit of truth, Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) He also said the “word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Perhaps she needs to pursue, find Jesus who wants a relationship with her.

August 27, 12:13 pm | [comment link]
33. Philip Snyder wrote:

That may mean, as the Gospel reading for August 24 suggested, that the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together.

Excrement!
The pursuit of truth is about following Jesus Christ.  “Who do you say that I am?”  “You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life!”  The journey is important, but it is more important to know to where we are going. 
I am sick and tired of the mantr “Truth is not a destination, it is a Journey.”  Truth IS a destination.  Truth is a Person. 
The other mantra I am tired of is “We can’t know the truth, so my truth is just as valid as your truth.”  That is sophmoric BS.  We can know the truth - it is Jesus Christ.  None of us will fully comprehend the truth, but that is no excuse for ignoring what has been revealed to us by the Truth himself.  I will never comprehend my wife.  I look forward to unravelling the mystery that is my wife for the rest of our lives.  But, just because I can’t fully comprehend my wife, does not give me leave for sleeping with another woman based on mistaken identity.
There is objective truth and we have been given a revelation to that truth.  It is recorded in “The Apostles’ teaching.” (which is found, primarily in Holy Scripture, and secondarily in the Tradition of the Church.).

As for the Baptismal Covenant, I challenge Ms Anderson and all clergy and laity to “live into” the Covenant by continuing in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship first and foremost.  This means that we cannot bless what the Apostles’ teaching calls sin nor can we raise up to ordained ministry, people who do not hold the Apostles’ teaching or are willing to break with their fellowship.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

August 27, 12:16 pm | [comment link]
34. moheb wrote:

This is very timely. Tonight at our Bible study we will be looking at Pilate’s question to Jesus:” What is truth?”[John 18:38].

It is nice to know that ” the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together” and that “the how of coming to the truth is as important as getting to the truth…the way in which the Anglican Communion goes about the search for the elusive truth is as important as the truth itself.” Had Pilate asked Ms. Anderson, she would have enlightened him!!!

August 27, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
35. Br. Michael wrote:

Pilate would have said something like “What!?”

August 27, 12:37 pm | [comment link]
36. Choir Stall wrote:

Anderson challenged each group to live into the baptismal covenant.
Great. Which part? Rejecting Satan? Following Jesus as the only Lord and Savior? Or is it always just about being the local little version of Social Services and sprinkling charity to the worthy poor?
It has to be the WHOLE thing or none.

August 27, 12:41 pm | [comment link]
37. Tikvah wrote:

In the late 90’s my former diocese was big on “living into the dream of God;” intelectual sounding and totally meaningless. Besides, does God dream? It never did make sense to me.
T

August 27, 1:23 pm | [comment link]
38. Jim the Puritan wrote:

I praise the Lord that I was baptized under the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and thus received a Christian baptism with no New Age cultic “Baptismal Covenant” attached.

August 27, 1:26 pm | [comment link]
39. palagious wrote:

I don’t ever want to know the truth, because in knowing the truth I might have to obey God and not myself.  Avoid the truth, it only gets in the way of a good time!

August 27, 1:36 pm | [comment link]
40. IchabodKunkleberry wrote:

Instead of asking Jesus “What is truth ?”, Pilate should have asked Him if he wanted to “live into the truth of crucifixion”.

August 27, 1:56 pm | [comment link]
41. Hakkatan wrote:

Several people above said that Ms Anderson is “protestant.”  She is not even that.  Protestants are Christians, and she may profess to be one if asked—but her expressed and her goals indicate otherwise.

August 27, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
42. Hakkatan wrote:

That should be “expressed beliefs.”

August 27, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
43. Milton wrote:

Ms. Anderson, you, like most of TE"c”‘s bishops, flunk Hermenutics 101.  How in the name of sweet Reason, for you the second person of the trinity, does the Aug. 24 Gospel reading,

Matthew 16:13-20
When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

get this interpretation?

That may mean, as the Gospel reading for August 24 suggested, that the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together.

Jesus has just finished telling Peter that his insight is not the result of any sort of ridiculous “journey” or any human effort (flesh and blood), but by divine revelation by the Father of the objective truth about Jesus’ divinity, solid and objective (more so!) as any rock, upon which divinely revealed, solid, objective truth Jesus will build HIS church, not TEc’s “our church”.  Outrageous!!!  What galling sophistry!!!  Bonnie Anderson and her ilk who infest TEc are those who John described as “always learning (or obfuscating) and never coming to a knowledge of the truth”.  Blind guides of the blind!  Pity those who they lead into the ditch!

August 27, 2:40 pm | [comment link]
44. Milton wrote:

This was the cooler, later, more measured response smile I posted at Episcopal Life:

Ms. Anderson, your interpretation seems to defy the plain sense of the text of the Aug. 24 Gospel reading:

Matthew 16:13-20
When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Your interpretation:

“That may mean, as the Gospel reading for August 24 suggested, that the pursuit of truth is not about the end product of defining truth but about the journey together.”

Jesus has just finished telling Peter that his insight is not the result of any sort of “journey” or any human effort (flesh and blood), but by divine revelation by the Father of the objective truth about Jesus’ divinity, solid and objective (more so!) as any rock, upon which divinely revealed, solid, objective truth Jesus will build HIS church, not “our church”. 

Such an interpretation brings you perilously close to being one who John described as “always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth”.  Interpreting from what is actually in the text (exegesis) is far more faithful than reading meanings into or superimposing meanings onto the text (eisegesis) which are nowhere to be found in it.  Or, if you prefer transient, changing, ephemeral “truths” you agree upon in a group (not like the objective mathematic truth by which you and your bank arrive at your checkbook balance), then better dispose of Scripture altogether and “live into” your authentic feelings and urges of each fleeting moment.

Any odds on its actually appearing as a comment there? wink

August 27, 3:16 pm | [comment link]
45. SHSilverthorne+ wrote:

I’m not sure where she comes up with the idea that TEC is the only province with a baptismal covenant.  Unless my eyes deceive me, the Canadian modern rite has “The Baptismal Covenant” written in big, bold-faced letters as the heading for the baptismal vows.  Perhaps it means something different in Canadian.  It’s a very nuanced language, and hard for foreign prelates to understand ;>)

Stephen+

August 27, 4:42 pm | [comment link]
46. Cennydd wrote:

I wonder who gave Ms Anderson her license to preach?

August 27, 5:57 pm | [comment link]
47. midwestnorwegian wrote:

Livers into the covenant: Shalom idiots.

August 27, 7:56 pm | [comment link]
48. Nikolaus wrote:

Combine Ms Anderson’s half-baked blather about the Baptismal Covenant with the growing prevelence of open communion and you really make a mess of any serious baptismal theology.

August 27, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
49. Now Orthodox wrote:

Trust the Word!  Not your insights, instincts and feelings.  The Word is our salvation.  Insights, instincts and feelings come and go;  and usually they lead to conclusions that are not of the Holy Spirit.  It is pitiful to rely ourselves instead of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Peace,
Barry

August 28, 12:31 am | [comment link]
50. Dilbertnomore wrote:

The real Trojan Horse of the 1979 BCP is contained in the so-called baptismal covenant. It is the holiday bush on which can be hung any innovation the ‘church of what’s happening now’ wishes to lurch into.

For those whose memory is shorter than 30-years long, I suggest a comparison of baptismal services in the 1928 and 1979 BCPs. Prepare to be amazed at the bait and switch achieved in 1979.

August 28, 8:54 am | [comment link]
51. Cranmerian wrote:

Last I checked, the Biblical model for covenants involving God were initiated by Him first.  God made a covenant with Noah; God made a covenant with Abraham.  The ‘79 baptismal service is reversed.  The “baptismal covenant” says “Hey God, here’s what we’re going to do, and be sure and bless us for doing it.”  I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

Dr. Toon has been banging this drum for a very long time about the serious theological problems with the ‘79 baptismal service.  I too am thankful to have been baptized with the ‘28 service.

August 28, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
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