Seeing this title to an article:
Anglicans set to remove Satan from Baptism
T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis predicted it
I tracked it to another webpage and then to another and I got to the one
below. It does have significant quoting of Eliot and Lewis.
The Washington Times
By Anne Hendershott
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Declaring that the devil has departed from the Church of England’s baptism
service, The Guardian reported on June 20 that “a simplified baptism which
omits mention of the devil” is now favored by the clergy who have
test-marketed it throughout the United Kingdom. Claiming that the
traditional rejection of the devil and all rebellion against God “put off
people who are offended to be addressed as sinners,” clergy claimed that
they found it much easier to ask parents and godparents to make vows that do
not mention Satan.
Responding to a population “which sees no pressing reason to spend Sunday
mornings or any other time in Church,” the Guardian reports, the new and
improved baptism service also deletes the instruction to the godparents that
the child will keep God’s commandments, and learn what a Christian “ought to
know and believe to his soul’s health” — promising only that the church
“shall do all that we can to ensure that there is a welcoming place for you.
We will play our part in helping you guide these children along the way of
The decision to delete the devil from the ritual reveals that the Church of
England may be losing its sense of sin — and its need for salvation. More
than 60 years ago, T.S. Eliot wrote about the sense of alienation that
occurred when social regulators — like the church — began to splinter and
the controlling moral authority of a society is no longer effective. He
suggested that a “sense of sin” was beginning to disappear. In his play “The
Cocktail Party,” a troubled young woman confides in her psychiatrist that
she feels “sinful” because of her relationship with a married man. She is
distressed not so much by the illicit relationship, but rather, by the
strange sense of sin. Eliot writes that “having a sense of sin seems
abnormal she believed that she had become ill.”
Writing in 1950, Eliot knew that the language of sin was declining even
then. Yet most of us would assume that the concept of sin was still strong
because the churches — like the Church of England — seemed so strong.
Looking back, though, it seems that the sense of sin was already beginning
to be replaced by an emerging therapeutic culture. Within a growing culture
of liberation, people no longer viewed themselves as sinful when they drank
too much, took drugs, or engaged in violent or abusive behaviors. Rather,
such actions were increasingly viewed as indicators that such individuals
were victims of an illness they had little control over.
Sociologist Philip Rieff warned in his now-classic book of the 1960s, “The
Triumph of the Therapeutic,” that “psychological man was beginning to
replace Christian man” as the dominant character type in our society. Unlike
traditional Christianity, which made moral demands on believers, the secular
world of “psychological man” rejects both the idea of sin and the need for
salvation.” The transformation is now complete in the Church of England.
Satan has been called an “evil genius” because he has been able to convince
so many that he does not exist. In his satirical “Screwtape Letters,” C.S.
Lewis creates a senior demon named Screwtape who is instructing Wormwood,
his young protege, on how best to capture a soul for hell. He tells him that
the most effective thing he can do to bring souls to hell is to convince
people that Satan does not even exist. “The fact that devils are
predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any
faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to
him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he
cannot believe in that, he therefore cannot believe in you.”
Unlike the Church of England, which is helping people move away from
thoughts of the devil, Pope Francis has spoken often of Satan as the “prince
of this world,” and the “father of lies.” He cautioned in his book “On
Heaven and Earth” that “Satan’s fruits are destruction, division, hatred and
calumny.” In response, the faithful are beginning to flock to a shepherd
that reminds them that it is the “work of the devil” to ignore the plight of
the poor and to reject the humanity of all persons — including the weakest
and least powerful.
One wonders why the Church of England will even bother to perform baptismal
ceremonies at all when the real purpose of such a service has been lost.
Rituals are important, though, as author, P.D. James writes in her chilling
novel “Children of Man.” Set in a dystopian world in the year 2021 in which
the entire human race has become infertile, the author describes a society
in which the last child had been born two decades earlier, and where the
“new trend” in cities such as London is to hold elaborate christening
ceremonies for kittens — replete with flowing white christening dresses and
lace bonnets for the feline newborns. In such a society, the clergy is
pleased to preside over the ritual because it gives so much joy to the
childless “parents” of the kittens.
The Church of England’s revised baptismal ritual will be voted upon next
month in Kent at their General Synod. It will likely pass because it has
been driven by a powerful division within the clergy, which is determined to
demonstrate that the Church of England is a progressive church that no
longer needs to recognize the need to renounce Satan in order to live in the
freedom of the children of God.
Anne Hendershott is professor of sociology and director of the Veritas
Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville,
Ohio. She is the co-author of “Renewal” (Encounter Books, 2013).