At every baptism the congregation has the opportunity to renew our journey of faith by reciting with those about to be baptized (or their sponsors) the Baptismal Covenant, better known as the Apostles’ Creed. In 1985 with the publication of the Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada an additional five questions were asked. As far as I can tell these questions, each with its origin in scripture, were original to the BAS. It has been copied by other parts of the Anglican Church and other denominations.
The first part of the Covenant concerns itself with beliefs: what do Christians believe? We believe in God, we believe in Jesus Christ, we believe in the Holy Spirit. In the early Church, when people came to be baptized and made members, belief was only half the concern. They were also concerned, as are we, with questions about what Christians do. Faith is, after all, primarily a question of action.
So, the five questions helped the newly baptized, their sponsors and the whole community remember what we have committed to do as baptized people. We will: 1) continue in fellowship and prayer; 2) resist evil and repent; 3) proclaim by word and example the good news; 4) love our neighbour as our self, and; 5) strive for justice and peace.
I love these five questions. I think they are the best of what the BAS has to offer the modern Church. It expresses so wonderfully our common responsibility as people in Covenant with God to strive to be in right relationship with God and with one another.
At the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in July of this year, these questions were improved upon. Our faith, guided by the Holy Spirit evolves. Now we express in the liturgy that true righteousness means being in right relationship with God, our neighbour and with God’s creation. A sixth question was added.
Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of God’s creation, and respect, sustain and renew the life of the Earth? - I will, with God’s help.