I have been thinking about the way the so-called covenant is being advanced and opposed. I think it is telling and I wonder if you see what I see.
- On the blogs of the members of the No Anglican Covenant Campaign, on the Facebook page and Internet site of the group (see the links to the left here) and on various other blogs you will find carefully constructed arguments against the document.
- On various "traditional" or "Orthodox" sites you will find arguments against the thing on an "effects basis." That is, the reason to oppose the so-called "Covenant" is that it does not permit the self-defined holy people to smite the evil ones (the progressives). So it lacks a desired effect.
While I can only welcome the opposition, the argument is weak. In fact section four does permit the archbishop of Canterbury with a few cooperative primates to impose sanctions (neatly called something else, "relational consequences") on those he chooses to persecute. Without ratification, he and Canon Kearon have already attacked two provinces. The effect may not be what the "orthodox" want but it exists none-the-less.
- In the discussion of the document at various meetings (cf. General Synod) it is advanced not on merit (Well that is fair - it has none!) but as a matter of loyalty to Dr. Williams, or the whole communion.
No one is advancing serious arguments for it: instead one hears about "holding the communion together." How that is to happen when as is likely a great many provinces refuse to endorse and some have effectively withdrawn now it is never explained.
I find this fascinating as we could expect its authors to form such a support group quite naturally. Unless as they should be they are somewhat ashamed of it. I would be.
There is an historic parallel. When the Treaty of Versailles was written, John Maynard Keynes, Sir Winston Churchill and a number of others attacked it as the horrible mistake it was. Almost no one defended it on an intellectual or logical basis. Rather they attacked the former German government for starting WWI. The treaty went into general effect (note that the USA did not ratify it) and we saw the rise of WWII. One thing is clear: relational consequences happen.
Where are the voices for this thing, the arguments that section four makes sense? There are not any and that is perhaps a logical consequence of what it is. Why are no defenders or proponents as engaged in the discussion as we opponents? I can think of some reasons, but beyond elitism ("we are the archbishops and we say so!") I suspect there is little enthusiasm for discussion where one can only look silly.
The proponents really do not have much of a case and so silence and fear, "let's hold things together" are in play instead. Or so it seems to me.