I argue that the ecclesiology expressed in the American 1979 Book of Common Prayer is, in addition to being a baptismal ecclesiology, also inherently missional. After briefly attending to debates about patterns of initiation, I turn my attention to the prayer book’s theology of ministry, wherein all ecclesial ministry is rooted in baptismal identity. I weigh the relative merits of considering the laity as an ‘order’ within the Church, and consider the diaconal nature of the Church and its mission. I finally pursue the connections between between a baptismal ecclesiology and Christian mission. This involves a consideration of the prayer book’s baptismal liturgy (with particular reference to the baptismal covenant), and of the fact that baptism implicates the Church in mission because it implicates Christians in the paschal mystery.
Paul Avis, A Ministry Shaped by Mission (London: T&T Clark, 2005), p. 1. Emphasis original. Avis further notes that the phrase ‘whole Christ’ should be understood to refer to the totus Christus, head and members (p. 3), and that the Anglican Marks of Mission are deficient, as they make no mention of worship or integral practices like the Eucharist (p. 16).
Taken up in Avis, Identity of Anglicanism, pp. 112–116; Paul Avis, ‘Is Baptism “Complete Sacramental Initiation”?,’ in The Journey of Christian Initiation: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives, by The Faith and Order Commision of the Church of England, ed. Paul Avis (London: Church House Publishing, 2011), pp. 6–21; ‘Journey of Initiation’; Joe Goodwin Burnett, ‘Reconsidering a Bold Proposal: Reflections, Questions, and Concerns Regarding a Theology of Confirmation’, Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 1 (2006), pp. 69–83; Paul Gibson, ‘Baptismal Ecclesiology—Some Questions’, in Equipping the Saints: Ordination in Anglicanism Today (Dublin: Columbia, 2006), pp. 35–44; Hill and Roppelt, ‘Initiation in Anglicanism’; Meyers, Continuing the Reformation, pp. 1–18, 132–146, 162–190; ‘Baptism and Confirmation’; ‘Fresh Thoughts on Confirmation’, Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 3 (2006), pp. 321–40; Leonel L. Mitchell, ‘The Theology of Christian Initiation and the Proposed Book of Common Prayer’, Anglican Theological Review 60, no. 4 (1978), pp. 399–419; Susan Marie Smith, ‘Confirmation as Perlocutionary Response to Infant Baptism in the Episcopal Church: A Suggestion from Liturgical Hermeneutics’, Liturgical Ministry 9 (2000), pp. 72–83; Kathryn Tanner, ‘Towards a New Theology of Confirmation’, Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 1 (2006), pp. 85–94; Turrell, ‘Muddying the Waters’.
Avis, Identity of Anglicanism, pp. 115–116; ‘Complete Initiation?’, p. 15; ‘Journey of Initiation’, pp. 54–59. See also Harriett Harris, ‘Baptism in the Journey of Christian Initiation’, in The Journey of Christian Initiation: Theological and Pastoral Perspectives, pp. 60–65.
Avis, ‘Journey of Initiation,’ pp. 58–59; Identity of Anglicanism, pp. 114–115 (the term ‘cursus’ is found here). Also noted by Sykes, Unashamed Anglicanism, pp. 14, 21. This approach is also taken by World Council of Churches, bem, §§ 11–16. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (San Francisco, Ignatius, 1994) also holds that initiation is ‘accomplished by a journey…[comprising] several stages’, but notes that it ‘can be covered rapidly or slowly’, (§ 1229) and that in both the Latin and Eastern rites a ‘single celebration of the three sacraments of initiation’ is normative (§ 1233). A distinction is maintained between the baptism of adults and infants within the Western rite, though (§ 1231).
Avis, Shaped by Mission, p. 88. This is also the understanding of The Faith and Order Advisory Group of the Church of England, ‘The Mission and Ministry of the Whole Church: Biblical, Theological and Contemporary Perspectives’, Church of England Website, 2007, p. 120, https://www.churchofengland.org/media/1229854/gsmisc%20854.pdf. Accessed January 2, 2015.
Avis, Identity of Anglicanism, pp. 78, 131. I do not mean by this that there is no baptismal basis for women’s ordination, which, I believe gives witness to the common salvation of women and men in Christ as well as the priestly character of the entire people of God within whom the presbyterate serves a representative function. I simply suggest that the baptismal covenant and the questions of rights or justice is the wrong place to turn for this basis.