CONFIRMATION

I can recall a conversation I had many years ago about infant baptism with a person who was trying to convince me that I had not truly been baptized. It was at this time that I brought up that I had been confirmed, and on that occasion, I had made a faith statement similar to the one allegedly required before baptism. A few days later my friend came back to me and told me that there was no scriptural basis for the confirmation rite, and that probably the rite had to be invented because my church had abandoned the scriptural form of baptism. At that time, I could not argue with my friend. On the occasion that I did ask a priest on this subject, he conceded to me that there was little or no scriptural backing for the confirmation rite. It was not until I did my own digging that I found out any differently.

First, there is some very good Scriptural evidence for the confirmation rite, but before I start with this, it may be prudent to explain what confirmation is to those who may not be familiar with it. Traditionally, confirmation is preformed on a young teen. The person is presented to the Bishop. The person makes a faith statement. Then the Bishop lays his hands on the subject. I think you might be able to see how one who supports "Believers Baptism" would find this very suspicious. It is very tempting to discern that water baptism has been replaced or substituted with the laying on of hands. In order to clear up the confusion, Letís start with the name. In todayís English, when one says the words "confirm" and "confirmation," our modern definition is usually brought to mind. (To establish as true or genuine:) Some synonyms would be: authenticate, notarize, affirm, certify, corroborate, prove, and validate. If we strictly hold to this definition we will miss the true and deeper meaning of the rite. If we look at the word with its common, older definition then we can shed some light on this. If you look at the King James you will find that "confirm" is often used to translate the Greek "episterizo" meaning to support further, i.e. reestablish, or strengthen. It is when we look at the rite through this meaning that it will start to make sense. The confirmation rite (the laying on of hands by the Bishop) signifies the imparting of the Holy Spirit on the believer. This is not to say that before this rite is performed that the subject was void of the Spirit for one has to have the Spirit before he can believe. (I Corinthians 2:14) I call the Spirit the great enabler because it is the work i.e. support of the Spirit that enables us to lead Christian lives. Please reference these Scriptures.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Acts 8:14-17

 

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:5-6

You may be able to discern that this rite is closely related to or a completion of baptism because every time it is mentioned, it is in the context of baptism. Please note that baptism and the laying on of hands can happen together or separately. Please also note that an Apostle always does the occurrences of the laying on of hands. Phillip not being an ordained Apostle was unable to impart the Spirit by the laying on of hands. Peter and John being Apostles were called in to perform this function. This is one reason why this rite is reserved for a Bishop. (See the chapter on Church government) I think you can see that the Apostles considered it important to perform this rite because they traveled not a small distance to perform it. This is an important rite, which has lost its place amongst the majority of Protestant churches. I would go as far to say that you do not have thoroughly biblical Christianity without it.

There is much debate about the Gifts of the Spirit in the Church today. According to the biblical accounts there were a plethora gifts that the subject received when this rite was performed, and many will say that these gifts are no longer with us. To them I will say that no matter how you boil it down, there are still many gifts of the Spirit that you must recognize. Faith, Hope, and Love are a least three. I can use all the help I can get on these three, and the Holy Spirit is the best (only) source were I could get support or confirmation. In closing I will say that Confirmation is not a ceremony were one proves his worthiness to enter full communion with the body of Christ, but a gift from God to a child of God in the form of the Spirit to support, strengthen, and confirm him in his Christian journey.