Wednesday, February 01, 2006

do you renounce cultural evil?

Ever a provactive thinker, Mike Treston gifted me a phrase today; “cultural exorcism.” Reflecting on the place of confirmation in a post-Christendom culture, he wrote; “I think this is what is missing, excorcism was always apart of the catechesis rites of the anicent church, a cultural excorcism could be very impotant now also.” Link

To which I commented on his blog:
I really like the phrase “cultural exorcism.” That is very good. When I baptise people I ask them 3 questions as they enter the pool – do you follow Jesus, do you repent, do you renounce evil?

I have been pondering tying those questions to a more in-depth catachetical programme. That phrase “renouncing cultural evil” suddenly gives great scope for exploration of consumerism, social justice, living simply. Thanks heaps for the phrase Mike.


For more on what I actually do in terms of re-imagining baptism as ancient future:

First draft: postmodern baptismal ritual for Sunday – seeking to be connective, tactile and communal.

Central image: Bill Viola– The Crossing, 1996

Introduction: Some words about water – life-giving- cleansing – connective with God’s Christian tribe

Blessing of water: Everyone throw into baptistery handful of rose petals or bath salts. (music: Just add water by Dave Dobbyn)

The telling: The story of the individual’s journey to this point

Signing of the Cross: The sign of the cross is made on their forehead and the words;
Christ embraces you: receive the sign of his cross.
Always remember that
you are beautiful in the sight of God;
the mark of Christ is upon you:
walk free and open your heart to life,
for the Spirit journeys with you into each new day.

Words into baptistery: Question for each step down into baptistery. Candles on each step
Do you follow Christ? I follow Christ.
Do you repent of your sins? I repent of my sins.
Do you renounce evil? I renounce evil.

On confession of your faith
I baptise you in the name of Jesus
in the name of the Father who is Creator, and of the Son who is Redeemer
and of the Spirit who is Sustainer. Amen.

Gift given: Welcome to the community of faith
(music: Racing Away 1 Giant Leap)

Peace: Having welcomed the newly baptised into the church of
Christ, let us share with him/her/them a sign of peace:
The peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
The people share the peace with the newly baptised and
with one another.

Posted by steve at 09:30 PM


  1. It’s a great phrase, kind of sends tingles down the spine and I guess very anabaptist in that respect. i have had few converstaions with pastors about the whole three phase confession, and it is amazing how many do not like the last bit about evil…. like it’s some unheard of concept or soemthing

    Comment by Michael — February 2, 2006 @ 9:54 am

  2. Steve,

    I’ve been doing some thinking about this one too, since I’m getting ready to baptize someone (first baptism in first church – just graduated baptist sem. in Chicago).

    I looked through some of the older liturgies and they have a “triple renunciation” which I find really useful:

    1. renounce affiliation with spiritual evil – renouncing listening and following the devil and demons. For some, this is the first time they acknowledge there is a spiritual world beyond the mere material.

    2. renounce affiliation with cultural evil – what you were talking about here, the “cultural exorcism.”

    3. renounce affiliation with personal evil – renouncing our own desires that turn us from God.

    I guess this “Triple Renunciation” covers the bases for me – but I like the simplicity of the “single renunciation.”

    Comment by Matt — February 3, 2006 @ 6:00 am

  3. Matt, can you point me to the exact location of these? It sounds a fascinating addition to the conversation and thinking and the basis for an extended catechetical class.

    Neat to hear about the baptism. Baptisms are such life affirming rituals.

    Comment by steve — February 3, 2006 @ 7:25 am

  4. Steve –

    The form I’m using at the moment comes from the Book of Common Prayer from the Episcopal Church USA (1979):

    1. (candidate), do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?

    2. Do you renounce the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God?

    3. Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?

    I selected this format after a lot of discussion with Bob Webber (i.e., Dr. Robert E. Webber) when I was in several of his classes in seminary. He was in the process of writing “Journey to Jesus” at the time and I suspect that some of this is in there – but I’m not sure. I know that we used a modern Eastern Orthodox liturgy that involves that triple format as well (Basil liturgy, I think).

    Sorry I can’t nail it down more than that; if you want me to look deeper, I’d be willing.

    Comment by Matt — February 3, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

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