I’ve been out, busy in ministry, but have now had a little time to read some submissions about our ‘refusal’ to confirm half baked Christians.
Yesterday I visited Rwabutura Parish where we had a good and warm confirmation service. There I laid hands on young Christians who answered the catechism questions well, as the church requires. I thank the Archdeacon and his team for the work well done on the candidates!
Today I visited Rwengando. When I put questions to candidates, I noticed two sets: one that was well prepared, and another that was fumbling and struggling.
When I asked, the Parish Priest admitted that those who could not answer were students from a nearby Secondary School. He informed the church that he had advised them not to come (because they were not ready), but their (Lay) Chaplain didn’t comply and still brought them – half baked as they were! I didn’t confirm that set of students. I laid hands on the ready ones, but gave the unready students more time for preparation.
Call it ‘disappointing’, call it ‘refusing’ call it ‘denial’ or what, the church’s position is clear: It commands us not to confirm unprepared or half baked confirmation candidates.
The good news is that, despite the few isolated cases, these days most clergy are doing an excellent job in preparing their _balonde_ well. I thank them!
Also, Christians who understand the mission and ministry of a true and sound Church continue to heartily appreciate our stand.
Of course, I sympathize with those who don’t get confirmed (where it happens), and I also get disheartened when I don’t confirm them. It brings me joy when I reach a place and find young Christians thoroughly prepared. When they are not ready, I don’t confirm them. By the way, I don’t ‘reject’ them. I give them more time to get well prepared.
Here are some reasons why I don’t, and should not confirm unprepared, ill prepared, or half baked confirmation candidates:
- The church, in which I’m a servant, commands me not to. Refer to the Book of Common Prayer (Zaburi), page 254. This means that there is a standard, not *by* me, but *for* me, which I’m bound to observe.
- As a Christian, theologian and Bishop in Christ’s church, I know that it is wrong to commit someone onto an obligation of which he or she is ignorant. Many Christians end up not grounded in their faith, and this has serious consequences, soon or later in their life’s journey.
- Minus emotions or ill counsel, even the young candidates and their parents/guardians themselves know that it is wrong. Remember, when these young Christians become of age, they’ll look back and begin to discredit and judge the church’s actions.
- I and all clergy agreed on these standards. We shall ‘help’ those who have not conformed.
- If I have not confirmed candidates of Parish A, how and why would I confirm those of Parish H, when both fail to meet the standards?
- There are great benefits when as Christians we put these truths in our minds and hearts.
Some of you have seen Benon’s submission, who is in Japan. I appreciate it. However, I advise him to walk humbly over things of faith and the church. It takes more than ‘an in depth study of close to four decades’ for anyone to declare him/herself an authority over theological and ecclesiastical matters of faith.
The views and standards my dear son Benon is making an attempt to challenge are not a result of forty years of study, but of thousands of years of deep study, contemplation, revelation and research by thousands of biblically informed and cultured Christian minds and hearts. They came to these conclusions about certain church practices after seeing much more than what Benon shouldn’t claim to have seen, and known much more than he can claim to have known. Again, I appreciate such opinions, but still advise: walk carefully!
Let me bring a few of Benon’s assertions to your attention. He claims “I took upon myself to read the bible in depth and asked *for* the Holy Spirit to help me understand it in addition to other theological training I attained.” By the way, the use of _for_ in that statement is interesting!
That aside, any alert Christian knows that not every theological training is sound. Today, the entire Christendom is awash with wayward and pseudo theologians and false teachers, who derive their claims from the same Bible. I expect Benon to be aware of that!
Also, my dear Benon, with your experience and exposure as an authority on biblical theology, if you still can assert that according to Anglicans confirmation is a sacrament; that the Bible is silent about confirmation (despite the host of verses in the New Testament that talk about ‘laying on of hands’, which is what confirmation is); that the act of confirmation is derived from Jesus’ words in Mark 10:13-16; that confirmation is confirming someone in his or her faith; then I have a reason to advise you again to walk carefully and humbly!
Beloved, the text in Mark 10:13-16 to which Benon refers, is related to baptism, not confirmation! To the recipient, confirmation bestows full membership in his or her local congregation.
The roots of confirmation are found in the New Testament. In this part of the dispensation, scripture is awash with records of the apostles bestowing the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands.
Among others, three texts make it certain that laying on of hands was a sign of the impartation of the Holy Spirit: Acts 8:4-20; 19:1-7 and Heb. 6:1-6.
Dear Benon and all, notice in Acts 8:14-17 how evident it is that only the apostles would carry out this act, imparting _pneuma_, through laying on of hands.
A simple exegesis should have helped you to realize that this act or rite was done later to those who had received baptism.
So, confirmation is a right that often includes a profession of faith, by an already baptized person. In our context as biblical and evangelical protestants, it is required for full membership in one’s respective church, and it is also recognized secondarily as a ‘coming of age’.
This is why it is necessary that one should know and confess what one believes (before getting initiated into it), and the kind of life and duty the Spirit that is bestowed on him or her expects him or her to embark on!
Some of you love your church, are committed to serving the Lord, have survived consequences of folly, etc… because the Spirit is leading you and hid Christian virtues in your hearts. They are in your subconsciousness, feeding your conscience and informing your decisions. This should also explain why one can also be and remain lost or confused along the way, even when one is a professing Christian!
Beloved, I heartily appreciate your inputs. A number have informed my mind and heart. Most of you have seen what the Lord is doing, and support our stand. I thank you!
For some, I advise that you don’t request the person of the Bishop to go ahead and confirm candidates, even when they are not well prepared, simply because if I don’t, it breaks their hearts and those of their parents, etc.!
I agree that it disturbs, but at the same time I feel betrayed when some Christians begin to ask their Bishop to do wrong, in the name of being passionate and considerate! When emotions flare, reasoning declines. Let us all unite and build a strong foundation for Christ’s church.
For the old, the mentally wanting, the dumb, and other special needs persons, the Priest usually informs us in advance.
Some say that I should select those who correctly answer the questions and leave those who don’t. Sometimes I do, especially when three or so are exceptionally wanting compared to the rest. Nonetheless, this should be done earlier by the Priest in charge.
Please, get on board and commit yourselves to doing what pleases God in His church! I can assure you, the Lord will bless you. It is our duty, both the clergy and the laity, to work together and promote what builds the church of Christ on a firm foundation.
Rt. Rev. Johnson Twinomujuni, West Ankole Diocese
Source: www.mknewslink.com a greater western Uganda news website