Towards a New Theology of Confirmation

By Tanner, Kathryn | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Towards a New Theology of Confirmation


Tanner, Kathryn, Anglican Theological Review


Confirmation is more than a simple first reaffirmation of baptismal vows. In confirmation one assumes responsibility for carrying out what one committed oneself to do at baptism-serve God with one's whole heart, mind, and soul. Like the eucharist, confirmation is a distinctive rite of strengthening and nurture, to sustain us in the difficult task of leading the Christoform life to which our baptism has called us. The Spirit is invoked here, not so much to make us God's own as in baptism, but to empower us for living out our baptismal vows. United with Christ through the Spirit at baptism, we are turned from lives of sin back to the Father; empowered by the Spirit of Christ we go forth as Christ does to serve the Father's mission of love in the world.

Recent developments in the life of the church suggest a need to revisit the theology of confirmation. The canonical questions about whether or not confirmation should be a condition for certain ministries and elected positions in the church are one such development. The answer to such questions hinges, one might presume, on clarifying what confirmation is all about. Prompting further reflection too are recent developments that tend to downplay the importance of confirmation. Confirmation, for example, is no longer a prerequisite for taking communion. And baptism might very well seem to have been elevated in significance, following the 1979 Prayer Book revisions, at confirmation's expense. If baptism is full and complete initiation into the body of Christ, what is now the point of confirmation? Along with ECUSAs new baptismal ecclesiology comes the loss, one might argue, of confirmation's raison d'être. The new baptismal rites of the 1979 Prayer Book indeed incorporate so many of confirmation s traditional elements-a sealing with chrism, laying on of hands when a bishop is present, emphatic invocation of the Spirit, a baptismal covenant suggestive of a mature Christian commitment-that confirmation threatens to collapse into it. At most confirmation simply seems to look back to baptism in reaffirmation, the first among many other such occasions of reaffirmation of baptismal vows in the church's worship life. What more might conceivably be left to confirmation as its distinctive contribution? Why even retain the rite, if confirmation is nothing more than a formal first baptismal reaffirmation?

My task is to shore up the present rite of confirmation-and indeed help reinvigorate it-by sketching a theological rationale that avoids making confirmation a simple reaffirmation of baptismal vows. There is much more to confirmation than baptism. And this can be shown without in any way jeopardizing baptism's standing as full and complete initiation into the body of Christ, as that is so properly emphasized in the 1979 Prayer Book.

What is Confirmation's Distinctive Contribution?

One way to clarify its contribution is to talk about confirmation's relationship to baptism in terms of a shift from actuality to manifestation or epiphany. What is already made real for us at baptism-our becoming one with Christ (Christ's own) and therefore set upon a new way of living-begins to be manifested as our own activity for a whole new way of life at confirmation. Everything has already happened in baptism but has yet to be revealed in our lives, made our own, personally appropriated, turned into a happening that our own lives display, until the decisive shift in our lives that confirmation establishes and marks.

Such a shift from actuality to manifestation is a better way of making sense of the contribution confirmation makes to baptism than a shift from potentiality to actuality (which suggests baptism remains incomplete without confirmation). The shift is more like a shift from an objective happening that alters our whole situation (we are now Christ's own) to our subjective response to, our coming to grips with, that changed circumstance, in correspondence to it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Towards a New Theology of Confirmation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.