I know the question may seem weird, but I was reading an old history book the other day and the author seemed to be an old high Church Anglican that put a lot of weight on ceremony and I was very surprised to see that he equated 'confirmation' with the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. What I am wondering is if this was just an old idea entertained by some, or is actually a popular understanding by any modern Anglicans?

Here is the sort of thing this guys was saying (funny I think he was the brother of the famous writer William Wordsworth);

"Certain it is that the ancient Fathers speak of Confirmation as ministered by Bishops—as successors of the Apostles—for the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost on the baptized." (CHURCH HISTORY to the COUNCIL OF NICÆA A.D. 325 by CHR. WORDSWORTH, D.D.p67)


1 Answer 1


It is part of the Anglican service of confirmation that the Bishop lays hands on the candidate and says "receive the Holy Spirit". This has been true for a long time and is still true today. So no, this is not an outdated or unusual idea at all, and is widely believed by modern Anglicans.

Different denominations do mean different things by "Baptism of the Spirit", and it's not intended to mean that the Holy Spirit was absent from the candidates life before.

  • so are you saying it is common in the Anglican church to say until a person is 'confirmed' they have not been Baptized in the Spirit (which is what this author really meant). Of course the author assumes they have the Spirit. ....also do you have any quote. By the way...I ask as I have never encountered this idea until now and actually attend and teach in a Reformed Anglican church myself for the last several years. Nobody in my Anglican church would ever imagine this but I thought maybe it was a common belief in the high-church
    – Mike
    May 20, 2015 at 9:43
  • The issue is that "Baptized in the Spirit" means different things in different denominations. In Pentecostal and Charismatic denominations it's associated with a 'second experience' and often speaking in tongues and supernatural gifts. Those things aren't very prevelant in the Anglican church, so if that's what someone means then there is nothing in the Anglican church that is associated with it. On the other hand if you mean 'receiving the blessing of the Holy Spirit', then confirmation is absolutely associated with that. It's written specifically into the service. May 20, 2015 at 13:09

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