Can Anglican Priests Confirm

Discussion in 'Liturgy, and Book of Common Prayer' started by PDL, May 8, 2020.

  1. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    184
    Likes Received:
    150
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    I know in the Latin Catholic Church there are some circumstances where a priest can confirm although they do general consider a bishop to be the ordinary minister of the sacrament. In the Eastern churches (certainly Orthodox and I believe Catholic) it is the normal practice for the priest to administer what is called in the East Chrismation. It is given in infancy in conjunction with baptism.

    I have never known or heard of a priest confirming in the Church of England (my church) or any other Anglican church. I would, therefore, like to know if an Anglican priest can ever confirm. I wondered perhaps if an Anglican priest if baptising a dying person would in such an emergency situation have the power to also administer confirmation.
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Active Member

    Posts:
    316
    Likes Received:
    167
    Religion:
    ACNA
    Excuse my ignorance but what is the benefit of confirmation?
     
  3. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    458
    Likes Received:
    509
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    It conveys an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Not the only outpouring of the Spirit, but an outpouring of the Spirit. My bishop is keen to point out from time to time that the Christian should experience several outpourings of the Spirit.

    To answer the original question, I have never heard of Anglican priests being authorized to confirm (it is common practice amongst Lutherans). The oil which may be -in my liturgical training should be- administered at baptism is not indicative of confirmation. Unfortunately, confirmation is falling into disuse in the Western church. I've heard too often that it's only important if one is seeking holy orders. And too many of the candidates who are put forth for confirmation have not really been catechized.
     
    PDL and Botolph like this.
  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    1,392
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    In the classic sense Confirmation is the time when we take upon ourselves in our own voice the promises that were made for us at our baptism. In our Diocese adults are normally baptised and confirmed at the same time by a Bishop. Baptism and Confirmation are clearly connected and represent signs of becoming part of the Body of Christ - the Church.

    The are some oddities and anomalies that we don't normally run into where I think the general principle of the Bishop confirming happens. I am aware of a Mitred Archdeacon (and I really don't understand where that came from) acted largely like an Assistant Bishop.
     
    Tiffy likes this.
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    795
    Likes Received:
    450
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian
    A "Mitred Archdeacon" sounds like a minister who tangled with a mitre saw! :laugh:

    Ministers shouldn't wait on tables, or they might be mistaken for the Mitre D! :halo:
     
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    940
    Likes Received:
    318
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Confirmation is a formal recognition of a baptised believer making a personal volitional commitment to Christ publicly before Christ's Church. It is right that the dignity of a high office in the church should be the primary witness to this solomn commitment. 1 Tim.4:14, 1 Tim.5:22.

    It is right also that we should associate Confirmation as a symbolic enactment of the fullness of The Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit moves invisibly and almost imperceptively, so we should not see confirmation as the point in time that a believer receives the regerative power of the Holy Spirit in their life, or even a specific point in time when the gifts and fruit of The Holy Spirit become active and evident in the life of the recipient.

    It is good and right however for each of us at confirmation to recognise the laying on of hands as an event of considerable spiritual significance, leading to further gracious acts of God in our lives which bring us closer to Him and equip us to be of greater use to Him and His purposes on earth.

    I have never heard of anyone other than a Bishop ever presiding over a confirmation, and quite rightly so. Confirmation as a ceremonial procedure however, although it officially opens access to the Lord's Table for the candidates, should not be regarded as a 'gatekeeping ceremony' for the church.

    God calls and elects His servants without any need for further affirmation by men and Confirmation should never be seen as 'conformation' to dictates of the church on earth.
    .
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  7. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    184
    Likes Received:
    150
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    Perhaps your question could be the subject of another thread.
     
  8. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    184
    Likes Received:
    150
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    That's a novelty. I've never heard one of those before.
     
    Botolph likes this.
  9. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    184
    Likes Received:
    150
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    I presume you mean the Anglican Church. I know the Roman Catholic Church still confirms. I would have to look into what Anglicans do. We do not have confirmation candidates from our parish but we also do not have people of that age group.
     
  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    940
    Likes Received:
    318
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    It certainly has not died out in the Church of England. I would say any church calling itself Anglican that has dropped Confirmation is wrongly labeled and its members entitled to a refund.
     
    Dave Kemp likes this.
  11. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    1,157
    Likes Received:
    1,392
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I do so agree. I have only struck in once, and my initial reaction was oh you just made that up!, yet none the less the more I thought about it, I realise that the Church seems to have an abundance of Suffragan Bishops, Assistant Bishops, Extra-Diocesan Bishops, and the like, most of who are in roles that make them little more that Archdeacons who can be used for Confirmation.

    From BCP

    Baptism
    YE are to take care that this Child be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him, so soon as he can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments in the vulgar tongue, and be further instructed in the Church Catechism set forth for that purpose.

    Catechism
    So soon as Children are come to a competent age, and can say, in their mother tongue, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; and also can answer to the other questions of this short Catechism; they shall be brought to the Bishop: And every one shall have a Godfather, or a Godmother, as a witness of their Confirmation.

    And whensoever the Bishop shall give knowledge for Children to be brought unto him for their Confirmation, the Curate of every Parish shall either bring or send in writing, with his hand subscribed thereunto, the names of all such persons within his Parish, as he shall think fit to be presented to the Bishop to be confirmed. And, if the Bishop approve of them, he shall confirm them in manner following.


    Confirmation
    TO the end that Confirmation may be ministered to the more edifying of such as shall receive it, the Church hath thought good to order, That none hereafter shall be confirmed, but such as can say the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; and can also answer to such other Questions, as in the short Catechism are contained: which order is very convenient to be observed; to the end that children being now come to the years of discretion, and having learned what their Godfathers and Godmothers promised for them in Baptism, they may themselves, with their own mouth and consent, openly before the Church, ratify and confirm the same; and also promise, that by the grace of God they will evermore endeavour themselves faithfully to observe such things, as they by their own confession have assented unto.

    Then shall the Bishop say,


    DO ye here, in the presence of God, and of this Congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that was made in your name at your Baptism; ratifying and confirming the same in your own persons, and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and to do all those things, which your Godfathers and Godmothers then undertook for you?

    And every one shall audibly answer,

    I do.​

    Confirmation is inexorably linked to Baptism, and whilst many understand it aligned with the Eastern practice of Chrismation, in some ways it is also differentiated. For many it was seen as the taking upon oneself the promises of Baptism, and was so connected to the admission to Holy Communion, which I think is the position held by BCP. There are many who now see that Holy Communion should be open to all the baptised, and there has been a sense in which Confirmation then seems to float nebulously and then only matters in the lives of those who seek admission to Holy Orders. There were those who argued that Confirmation completes Baptism, and that was clearly a flawed view, though most of us can see what was being argued.

    So we may ask why has the practice of Confirmation seemingly fallen from fashion? These may be some of the reasons:
    • We lost our way in Baptism and Eucharist exalting them as the great sacraments of the Lord, and lost sight of the need to teach the things of the Kingdom and the challenge for each baptised believer to grow in the knowledge and the love of God.
    • We simply expect God to do all the work in the sacraments, with no effort on our part - instant salvation!
    • We embraced the latin practice of first communion and so diminished the point of confirmation.
    • There are a lot of other things people can do on a Sunday.
     
    Tiffy likes this.
  12. Shane R

    Shane R Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    458
    Likes Received:
    509
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican
    I have spoken to 2 Roman Catholics who have not received confirmation in the past month. Both of them were significantly older than me. One was lapsed and one was a regular Mass attendee. Both had switched parishes more than once in adult-hood and the deficiency was never brought up when they were transferring membership.

    Some Anglican churches have what is usually styled a 'Vicar General.' This individual may be given limited episcopal duties such as performing confirmation or issuing annulments. I've never heard of one being permitted to ordain. I have also never heard of one being appointed to a regular diocese, only missionary dioceses'.
     
  13. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

    Posts:
    146
    Likes Received:
    124
  14. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    940
    Likes Received:
    318
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    A very helpful article. I like the bit about 'thugs' being baptised. I am almost a universalist but not quite so much as not to want to point out that it should read every person, thus baptised. (With an 's' not a 'g'). Not:

    "It is expedient, that every Person, thug Baptized, should be confirm’d by the Bishop, so soon after his Baptism as conveniently may be, that so he may be admitted to the Holy Communion."

    Other than that, a very helpful article. :laugh:
    .
     
    JonahAF likes this.
  15. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

    Posts:
    146
    Likes Received:
    124
    And... fixed!
     
    Liturgyworks and Tiffy like this.
  16. Liturgyworks

    Liturgyworks Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    759
    Likes Received:
    369
    Country:
    US
    Religion:
    Christian Orthodoxy
    Out of curiosity do you regard the Eastern Orthodox practice of Chrismation, which is often viewed as analogous to Confirmation, and which is normally performed either immediately after baptism or in the case of some non-Orthodox, as a means of reception into the church, where their baptism was deemed satisfactiry, and which is usually performed by priests, to be something distinct and different from Confirmation as practiced in the Western church?
     
  17. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    940
    Likes Received:
    318
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    As long as it is applied only to cognizant adults it sounds analagous to a C of E confirmation.

    I would not presume to tell Eastern Orthodox Christians how they should conduct their church praxis. In the Church of England I think Confirmation is a significant enough transition from childhood obedience to parents, to adulthood personal responsibility to God, to be performed ceremonially by a revered authority, i.e. a Bishop, and is analagous to a Bar Mitzva signifying attainment of individual responsibility, as that does.
    .
     
  18. PDL

    PDL Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    184
    Likes Received:
    150
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    I believe Eastern Orthodox Chrismation is analogous to Western Christian Confirmation. I have also read that the Eastern Orthodox method of baptism, chrismation and the Eucharist from infancy would be considered the norm. The same order has traditionally been maintained in the Anglican Church but with a separation of about eleven years: baptism in infancy and then confirmation and Eucharist around age 11. I was an altar server prior to being confirmed and my priest applied for permission for me to receive Communion at Mass, especially if I was serving, before I was confirmed.

    I have never quite understood the rather strange order in which Roman Catholics do these things which are usually baptism in infancy, first confession and first communion around the age of 7 then confirmation in one's teens.

    In the Roman Catholic diocese in whose territory I live there was a bishop who changed things and had children confirmed at the age of 7. All those in the diocese who were to be confirmed in a particular year were to be all confirmed on Whit Sunday (Pentecost) and by their parish priest. When he was translated to become an archbishop elsewhere his successor changed things back to what they had been before.
     

Share This Page