Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest Post on Authority

I am honored to offer you a post from the House of Deputies / Bishop's private blog. Fr. Jim Stockton, as am I, is a read only member of that list who submits posts via full members from time to time. I generally find his contributions logical and on target.

Note that Fr. Jim's email address is below and he has received a copy of this post. So you can comment here and he will be able to see and respond or you can comment to his email account directly. Also below is the address of his own very excellent blog.

Welcome to our blog Fr. Jim! Thank you for permission to post the following.


No argument can be made for the proposed covenant that is not an argument for what the Virginia Report termed 'a universal authority' in the Anglican Communion. It may be the case, but I personally have not noticed anyone contend that the proposed covenant would give new power to the so-called 'four instruments.' To the contrary, just as was suggested by the commission behind the Virginia Report, then as was recommended by the commission behind the Windsor Report, a single universal authority (one, not four) is now proposed by the text of the proposed covenant. This single universal authority would be the Standing Committee. The text of the proposed covenant claims that the covenant would not interfere with the respective constitutions and canons of the Churches of the Communion, but the claim is contradicted by the very proposal of the Standing Committee itself. For those arguing in favor of the proposal, or considering doing so, I suggest that they attempt to explain how it is that the surrender of the autonomy and autocephaly of each Church of the Communion is a step forward. I suggest that they explain how this proposal is not massively contradictory of the Church of England's own origin in its historic rejection of the interference of foreign authority in its own affairs; how it is not also contradictory of TEC's origin in similarly rejecting England's rule over its affairs. There is a reason that we are not hearing arguments made along these lines. No argument can be made for the proposed covenant that is not an argument for a trans-provincial and universal authority whose powers would supersede that autonomy of each Church of the Communion.

No argument can be made for the proposed covenant that is not an argument for ceasing to honor the contexts of ministry in which each of the Churches of the Communion exists. One can certainly suggest the possibility that the affects upon the Anglican Communion of TEC's rejection of the proposed covenant would be negative. Surely, then, one recognizes also the possibility that the affects of TEC's adoption of it would be negative to at least the same degree. What witness to the age-old Anglican ideal of the contextualization of ministry would be undone by TEC’s adoption of the proposed covenant? What witness in the wider context of the U.S. and the world to the Love of God for all would be undone? It is quite right to note that what TEC does in response to the proposal can and will affect countless lives, both within and outside the Episcopal Church and within and outside the Communion. We need to take this responsibility very seriously. So, it is important to note that choosing not to adopt the covenant is not equivalent to fleeing the argument. Nor is it equivalent to leaving the Anglican Communion. It is choosing to fight by claiming our rightful place in the Communion, by protecting the legitimacy of our contextualized ministry, and by inspiring other Churches to do the same. No argument can be made for the proposed covenant that is not an argument for ending the recognition and respect for the particular contexts of ministry in which the Churches of the Communion serve. To argue for the proposed covenant is to argue that the differences are irrelevant.

No argument for the proposed covenant can be made without first denying these very important realities.

Jim +

The Rev. James V. Stockton
The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection
2200 Justin Lane
Austin, Texas 78757

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