Thursday, July 19, 2007

Confirmation: Calvin didn't give a monkey's

I’m inclined to think we don’t really want to bother with Confirmation for the children of believers. Let them be repenting and believing every day, confessing their sins and declaring their faith every Sunday, witnessing moment by moment with their lives and lips. Confirmation sends the strange signal that they weren’t properly in through their baptism.

Apparently in the Eastern Orthodox church, Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion traditionally take place at the same time.

Anyway, John Calvin had rather less time for confirmation than I do. He said:

“… the devil, miserably rending the Church of God and bringing upon it his fearful destruction (of which the marks are all to evident in most parts of the world), subverting this sacred policy [of Catechism and education of the young]; nor did he leave surviving anything more than certain trivialities, which give rise only to superstitions, without any edifying fruit. Of this kind is that Confirmation, as they call it, made up of gesticulations which are more than ridiculous and suited rather to monkeys, and rest on no foundation.” (p88)

“For they [the Papists] deck out that spurious Confirmation, which they have substituted in its [the Catechism’s] place, like a harlot, with great splendour of ceremonies and splendid pomps without measure. They even, in wanting to adorn it, ornament it with execrable blasphemies, giving out that it is a sacrament of greater dignity than Baptism, and calling only half-Christians those that have not been besmeared with their rank oil. In fact the whole business consists in nothing but theatrical gesticulations, or rather the wanton sporting of monkeys, without even imitative skill.” (pp90-91)

The Catechism of the Church of Geneva that is a Plan for Instructing Children in the Doctrine of Christ (1545), Calvin, John, Calvin: Theological Treatises Library of Christian Classics Volume XXII, Translated with Introduction and Notes by J. K. S. Reid (London, SCM Press, 1954).


Daniel Newman said...

Why were you ordained into this church again?

Daniel Newman said...

The Church of England, that is, which also practices confirmation in case you weren't aware, not the Church of Rome.

Marc Lloyd said...

Yeah, the C of E does this confirmation thing, but are we that fussed about it? If child communion wins the day then it loses much of its importance. I was confirmed shortly before I went to my ordination selection conference as I think it is a condition of ordination, which I agree is a problem. But then if you think of confirmation as partly signing up to the denomination.

As for why I was ordained in the Co of E, lots of reasons:

basically biblical church (BCP, articles etc)
infant baptism
Catholic church in UK
sense of history and tradition
established by law
good boat to fish from
opportuntities in schools, hospitals, unis etc.
badge of respectability - doesnt seem like a cult
good theological training
good houses, pay, pension
no church perfect

Of course not the only true church or even nec. the best for everyone.

Perhaps we need a longer seperate discussion on this again. It wasnt cos I love confirmation - I wouldnt call that the heart of Anglicanism or a big issue. My wife, for example, has not been confirmed and I see no reason why she should be.