Dearly beloved in Christ, What do you think of baptism and regeneration of the human soul? Perhaps it may seem a pedantic question, or removed from the practicalities of being an Anglican Christian, but there are deep implications in it: 1. If we are regenerated (changed from the children of wrath into the sons of justice) by our faith only, then baptism is a symbol of that and nothing more. Water, in the non-sacramental, symbolic meaning of 1., does nothing to our soul, except that it is a sort of public sign or seal of personal Christian faith. 2. If we are regenerated by the mystical sacrament of consecrated water only, then the faith of the individual may itself be of no consequence to the inward cleansing. Holy water, in sacramental, super-symbolic meaning of 2., works ex opere operato, by the work worked, confering spiritual regeneration of the soul just by pronouncing the words "N., I baptise thee in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost." and pouring the water. The first possibility makes baptism a ceremony of profession, and places deep emphasis on internal, personal, profound conversion of life and morals before sacraments. From this point of view, legalism is de-emphasised. The second possibility makes baptism a necessary component, or even the highest movement of a soul in the beginnings of faith. It places a deep emphasis on the outward, ecclesiastical, communal, and sacramental nature of baptism. From this point of view, interior conversion is de-emphasised. ~ Speaking in terms of what you wish to do and what you actually do, Ambrose bishop of Milan (339-397) has this fascinating passage in his Exposition on the Holy Gospel according to Luke: Book 1, section 9, after speaking of the way the apostles and disciples of Christ lived, and how we often live. Cyril bishop of Jerusalem (313-386) is even clearer in the prologue to his Catechetical Lectures to newly baptised and those about to be baptised (catechumens): So far I am just learning the Fathers, but it seems to me that they were neither evangelical personal-conversion-ists, nor catholic ex-opere-operato sacramentalists. They were classical, "high and dry" anglicans of the laudian type, who emphasised interior faith which is completed by the mysterious beauty of the sacrament of baptism, forgiving sins and placing one inside Christ - but only on condition that deep personal conversion precedes baptism and proceeds after baptism. This synergy is seen in John 3:5, I think: "Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter unto the kingdom of God". It is not one nor the other, but both. What sweet teachers we have in the Fathers, who so loved the Scripture! They were all Anglicans! Opinions?