Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process: Liturgical Explorations toward a Realized Baptismal Ecclesiology

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process: Liturgical Explorations toward a Realized Baptismal Ecclesiology

Article excerpt

Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process: Liturgical Explorations toward a Realized Baptismal Ecclesiology. By Susan Marie Smith. Foreward by Louis Weil. (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, Princeton Theological Monograph Series, 2012, Pp. v, 271. $31.00.)

Christian Ritualizing and the Baptismal Process successfully asserts the vital importance of liturgy as a tool in the processual transformation of baptized individuals. The premise of Susan Smith's book is "that the life of the baptized is a process, in which development stages, or crises, or turning points, afford opportunities to affirm or disaffirm the unity with Christ forged in baptism" (11). Smith begins by building support for her thesis based upon the sacramental theologies of Augustine of Hippo (chapter 2), Thomas Aquinas (chapter 3), and John Calvin (chapter 4). Through this discussion Smith seeks to refute the notion that sacraments are objects received by those being baptized and instead develops a paradigm of sacrament as a mode of relationship between God and Cod's people.

In Part II, chapters 5 and 6 review early church baptismal history with copious attention given to the reiteration of the already easily accessible work of Alan Kreider in The Change of Conversion and the Origin of Christendom. While Smith does an admirable job of summarizing this book for those who may regrettably now never read it, her summary is extremely redundant for those acquainted with this short monograph. This relational paradigm of sacrament is then further explicated in chapter 7 arguing strongly for the role of lheosis in the Christian life and making significant use of Chauvet's emphasis on response-giving as another useful construct in understanding the baptismal process. This is by far the most thought provoking sections of Smith's book. One of the book's greatest strengths is Smith's skill in holding the paradox of the already/not yet nature of baptismal life in its creative tension. Chapter 8 reviews James Fowler's stages of faith development with minimal attention given to the substantive critiques that have been offered to stage theory. …

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