Senior members of the Church of England have criticised its new baptismal vows, which delete the words devil and sin from its text.
The previous version published in 2000 asks parents and godparents: “Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?”
Under the new alternative the vicar will ask godparents and parents: “Do you reject evil? And all its many forms? And all its empty promises?”
Speaking out against changes in The Mail on Sunday, former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said: “It is best to call a halt to this perhaps well-meant effort before it further reduces the fullness of the Church’s faith to easily swallowed soundbites.”
And Alison Ruoff, a lay member of the General Synod – the governing body of the Church of England – said the new wording is ‘weak and woolly’ and lacked conviction.
“By removing all mention of the devil and rebellion against God, we are left to our own vague understanding of what evil might or might not mean”, she said.
The Church’s liturgical commission drafted the new service to include “culturally appropriate and accessible language”.
But the Church of England says the new material does “not replace or revise the current Baptism service but would be available for use as alternatives to three parts of the service”.
A spokesman said: “At its last meeting the House of Bishops agreed that the additional materials should be piloted and they were sent to over 400 for a trial period which lasts until the end of April. The texts have no formal status without approval by General Synod.”
The Church of England came under fire last year after a commission recommended services to mark homosexual relationships.