Support the Café

Search our Site

Giles Fraser: I regret that the devil is being made redundant. He’ll be much missed

Giles Fraser: I regret that the devil is being made redundant. He’ll be much missed

Giles Fraser writes in the Guardian in response to proposed changes in the Baptismal Rite in the Church of England which would remove references to Satan.

Unfortunately, however, the Church of England has just agreed to take the devil out of the baptism liturgy. “Those who work with young people give constant advice that references to the devil are likely to be misunderstood in today’s culture,” the Bishop of Truro told the Church of England’s General Synod this week. What a pity. I’m going to miss the devil and all his works. I always thought those passages rather importantly referenced that little bit of Michael Corleone in all of us. And by their omission, we are being taken still further along the road from baptism as an expression of the big themes of death and resurrection to baptism as a polite middle-class naming ceremony. Once again, it feels like the church is chopping off its own balls.

Wickedness flourishes in the dark, when it is not faced or recognised

Baptism is not supposed to be nice. It’s a simulated drowning. The old person is put to death so that the new person can emerge. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into His death?” asks Paul, polemically, in Romans. This is what it is to become a new person, to be reborn – or born again as evangelicals like to say. In film terms, think Neo being unplugged from the Matrix and unceremoniously spat out into reality down that slimy artificial birth canal. His old self had to be put to death in order for his new self to emerge into the light.

And here is the true site of Christianity’s confrontation with secular humanism. Let me put it baldly for argument’s sake. Christians have a generally dark and negative view of human nature. Which is why human beings need to take such drastic existential measures as baptism: death and resurrection. This is not a disparagement of human beings – simply a realistic assessment of the egotistical stuff from which we are made.


posted by Jon White


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Elouise Weaver

When we deny evil, Satan, Lucifer, the devil, dark powers, demon spirits –we call God a liar.

Bro David

Satan and Lucifer are two different beings in the Old Testament.

Nick Porter


Philip B. Spivey

“The fault dear Brutus is not in the stars…”

Nick Porter

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Elouise Weaver

Satan is happy to keep us any where on his spectrum. Whether it be our denial, our busyness, our mild annoyance, or our full-on participation …but if we confess Jesus as LORD, he flees.

Philip B. Spivey

The neatest trick the dark side of the human soul ever pulled is convincing the world that ” the devil made me do it.”

Nick Porter

Devil gives a nudge but our choices are ultimately on us.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café