Author Topic: Definition and Purpose(s) of Confirmation  (Read 646 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Definition and Purpose(s) of Confirmation
« on: May 19, 2021, 06:27:13 PM »
Perhaps the most interesting finding to me in Confirmation and First Communion, is that the Lutheran Church had never had a definition of confirmation. It's something that we just did. There isn't any scriptural reference for it. I remember a seminary professor saying that he tried to find the origins of it. The best he could discover is that it was a process where bishops could confirm the faith of youth who had been baptized by priests who were later declared heretics. (I believe that in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion, bishops still officiate at confirmation services. This is one reason why The Episcopal Church has about 100 diocese where the ELCA has 65 synods; while they have about have the membership of the ELCA.)


The book looks at the early church. Tertullian in On the Resurrection of the Body, has baptizing, anointing, sealing, the laying on of hands, and admission to the Lord's Supper as part of one long ceremony.


Hippolytus in The Apostolic Tradition, has even more steps; but the baptisms, anointings, and admission to the Lord's Supper were part of one rite. The Eastern Church has kept this practice: one ceremony for baptism and first communion. The Western Church, somewhere in the third and fourth centuries, divided the two.


Anyway, the book offers "A New Definition of Confirmation."


Confirmation is a pastoral and education ministry of the church
that is designed to help baptized children identify with the life and mission of the adult Christian community,
and that is celebrated in a public rite.

In a congregation, I had the council look at our confirmation ministry. Beginning with this definition they revised our whole program. (There was the suggestion of dropping confirmation all together, but they didn't go for that.) One new, key element, was that at least one parent would be involved in each class. Statistics show that the activity of the parents in church is the best indicator of how active the children would be. Part of our program was to try and get parents more involved in the congregation.

"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Definition and Purpose(s) of Confirmation
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2021, 08:27:25 PM »

 (I believe that in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion, bishops still officiate at confirmation services. This is one reason why The Episcopal Church has about 100 diocese where the ELCA has 65 synods; while they have about have the membership of the ELCA.)


Quite correct.  Confirmation is administered solely by the Bishop.

In the ecclesial traditions you cited as well as in Orthodoxy the Bishop is regarded as the primary pastor/shepherd of the Diocese or Metropolis.  Presbyters function as extensions of some aspects of the episcopal ministry when the Bishop is absent from a parish, which is most of the time.
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Chuck

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Re: Definition and Purpose(s) of Confirmation
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2021, 11:34:27 PM »
(I believe that in the Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Communion, bishops still officiate at confirmation services. This is one reason why The Episcopal Church has about 100 diocese where the ELCA has 65 synods; while they have about have the membership of the ELCA.)

Actually, the membership for 2019 was:
ELCA = 3,265,581
Episcopal = 1,637,945
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 11:52:38 PM by Chuck »
Chuck Ruthroff

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