Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2011

On using a sledgehammer as a screwdriver

The Rev Bosco Peters blogs on the proposed Anglican Covenant:
I have tended to be wary about devoting much energy to the Anglican “Covenant” here. I do not see much value in debates that generate more heat than light. We can so easily get distracted – making majors out of minors…

The Church of England is debating the “Covenant” in 44 diocesan synods. To help, The Church Times newspaper has recently produced a good resource with the pros and cons of the “Covenant”. (PDF Here)

I have tended towards the approach that if you have a problem because you lost something in the garden, to get a solution that’s where you should be looking – even if the light in the house is better! I do not think that the “Covenant” is the appropriate tool as a solution for the “problem”, just as I do not think that a sledgehammer is the appropriate tool as a solution for screwing two planks together.

The “problem” is the ethics of committed same sex relationships. Discussing that is IMO what should be happening. Of course, for some, there is nothing to discuss.

The recent article from an evangelical perspective in the Church of England Newspaper (this newspaper “normally adopts a conservative evangelical stance“) may offer a way forward for some. The article highlights the way that Jesus underscores the end, the purpose, of things – over the means (cue food laws and the sabbath). It, then, is careful about not mixing the creation accounts, and goes on to see marriage as the means for fulfilling our yearning for completion (rather than the end).

read more at his blog.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Covenant Guide from Church Times

Church Times published a very helpful guide to the Anglican Covenant just over a week ago. It is now available to non-subscribers on the Web and has been added to the Resources page of the No Anglican Covenant Web site here.

The guide is a 12-page PDF file containing both pro and con essays about the Covenant. It also includes the text of the Covenant, along with thoughtful (and thought-provoking) annotations. It begins with an introductory essay titled “The Covenant: gift or shackle?” which explains the pictures of ribbons and bows, on one hand, and chains, on the other, that decorate the document. The essay concludes with this:
Ultimately, its [the Covenant’s] effect on the Communion cannot be known in advance. To vote in its favour, therefore, is to step into the dark. Such is the present state of the Communion, however, that to vote against it might well lead Anglicans into similar obscurity.
BowThis sets the tone for a document that ultimately leaves decisions about the Covenant to the reader.

The first essay, by Pat Ashworth, “Through uncharted waters with Dr Williams at the helm,” is something of a history of the Covenant from the vantage point of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In “An alternative to Nigeria v. the United States,” Bishop Gregory Cameron offers a somewhat rosy picture of the Covenant, suggesting that it represents a typical Anglican compromise:
Anglicanism historically seeks a via media, even if the extremes and the via media have often been reinterpreted. The Covenant is the latest in a long line of documents articulating central ground. It will not end arguments, but it does set out the grounds for continuing communion: core affirmations, and a coherent account of our life in Communion. Early indications are that, in fact, when provinces weigh the arguments, they can affirm the Covenant’s balance of autonomy and interdependence.
The Rev. Marilyn McCord, in “Born of outrage, this is just confusion,” also reviews events that led the Communion to where it is now, and she finds that history something of a muddle:
Will it strengthen the Instruments of Communion to give the Anglican Communion more institutional coherence, or will the Communion go back to being a fellowship group with co-operative ventures? How can we — why should we — sign a document when we cannot tell what it means?
ChainDr. Norman Doe returns to the theme taken up by Bishop Cameron, that the Covenant represents a rational middle way. His essay is “Not red nor green: amber is the Anglican colour.” After asserting that the Covenant does not embody a “red-light” model in which the Communion limits the freedom of provinces nor a “green-light” model in which provinces are unconstrained by the Communion, he says
Rather, the Covenant sees partnership between the Communion (the family) and each autonomous Church as the primary manifestation of Anglicanism, one that protects the autonomy of the province (its legal freedom), subject to the competence of the Communion (through its instruments), to guide in a limited field of highly contentious matters of common concern (the “amber-light” model). This is the Anglican way.
Next, the Rev. Canon Simon Killwick weighs in with his essay “We must work internationally.” He is in no hurry to settle anything, being more concerned with how the Church goes about making decisions:
Truth and unity go hand in hand in the Christian tradition: we cannot discern truth in isolation from the rest of the Church. Because the Church is essentially international, the discernment of Christian truth can take place only on an international basis. The Anglican Covenant embodies this insight, and commits provinces to listening to each other, and to the wider Church, in the discernment of truth.
The reward for the most arresting image goes to Dr. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. His contribution is the essay “A useful compendium, but lose the chocolate teapot.” Wilson finds the first three sections of the Covenant “clearly express a reformed Catholic view.” But he goes on to say
The procedural fourth section is a chocolate teapot. Do with it what you will, but do not expect it to hold boiling water. I would detach it from the useful stuff as quietly and as tactfully as possible. Lawyers say that this cannot be done, but I seriously question whether a civilisation capable of conquering space can really be that incapable.
The next essay, “It cannot stop the unravelling,” comes from the Rt. Rev. John Akao, who offers an African view on the Covenant. He complains that African voices have not been listened to. This paragraph perhaps best captures his frustration:
The present Covenant distracts the orthodox Anglican voices from the main issues currently in contention in the Communion. It seeks surreptitiously to engender perpetual talking, and dissipation of valuable time, energy, and human and material resources in endless meetings, which have so far led nowhere, while in the mean time the erroneous teaching and practices are being consolidated. African voices are aligned with the voices of GAFCON, the Global South, and the All Africa Bishops’ Conference.
The final essay in the Church Times guide comes from the Ven.Glynn Cardy. It’s title is “We’re too independent for this.” Cardy is from New Zealand, whose church, in comparison to other Anglican churches, might be seen as idiosyncratic. Cardy predicts that his church will not adopt the Covenant. Being a small, culturally diverse church, it has had to be very innovative to survive. He fears, among other things, that the Covenant will not be encouraging to innovation. He clearly does not see the need for the uniformity desired by no many Covenant proponents:
Lastly, it will be difficult to win support for the Anglican Covenant in New Zealand, because it is trying to impose a form of centralism upon a Church that is increasingly pluralistic. A Christ-centred world is not one where everyone thinks similarly, or agrees, but one where we celebrate that they do not. To impose sanctions on those who differ is to close our ears to what we may need to hear.
Although “The Anglican Covenant: a Church Times guide” is not the typical Anglican study guide that asks questions to be answered and discussed, it is perhaps ideal for any group seriously interested in evaluating the wisdom of adopting the Anglican Covenant.

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Power to the Laity

I have received a very encouraging email from an English lay person that makes so many good points that I thought I would just post it (with permission):

My sense is that the vast majority of Anglicans 'in the pews' have only dimly heard of the Anglican Covenant, if at all. Most of those who have heard of it have been lulled into a false sense of security by the soothing noises coming out of Lambeth Palace and other places. They are under the impression that the point of the Covenant is some sort of administrative housekeeping, which is only of interest to Anglican anoraks and geeks.

Somehow we need get across to the ‘poor bloody infantry’ the point made by Jonathan Clatworthy which you reproduced in November:
we might imagine that every Anglican in the world, on reading Sections 1-3, would agree that it is a fair statement of Anglicanism. It might then appear that persuading the provinces to commit themselves to it would not change Anglicanism at all. However it would. Firstly, the contents of Sections 1-3 would initially be accepted as a description of Anglicanism, but as soon as the Covenant was in force they would turn into a criterion of Anglicanism. Even if the authors of the text are right to think it accurately expresses what Anglicans actually believe, once the provinces have signed up to it it will then become possible to tell people that if they want to count as Anglicans they will have to believe it.
If you wish to know more about the author and join her quest, then go to my post HERE and join in the debate on her website.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Common prayer, common language?

It is an old observation but no less true: England and America are two countries separated by a common language. Adding Canada into the mix adds French and another separated English!

In 1993 there was no canonical bar in the American canon law to the episcopal election and consecration of a partnered gay man. In fact the exact opposite was true: our canons disavowed discrimination based on "sexual orientation." When Gene Robinson was elected to be diocesan in New Hampshire the election was perfectly legal.

At the conference of bishops which assembled to discuss the election, Presiding Bishop Griswald was asked quite seriously, why he did not simply veto the election so that the controversy would subside. He has spoken about this publicly and said in my hearing that when he was able to stop laughing he explained that the presiding bishop has no authority to veto any election. His English friends were stunned.

We had entered a realm of misunderstanding. A "presiding bishop" in our parlance "presides" that is acts as the chair person at meetings. The English expected him to 'preside' by being in charge. Literally, once the election was canonically lawful, there was nothing Bp. Griswald could do about it. Leaving aside whether or not he wanted to stop the election the most he could have done was to recuse himself as consecrating bishop -- but he would have been required to send a delegate!

Which led to three tracks. First the Windsor Report and its eventual illegitimate child, the "Anglican Covenant;" second ongoing schismatic developments; third an often overlooked effort by Dr. Williams to correct the usage of some terms most especially, "official," "public, "invitation," "request" and especially "bishop."

The Windsor authors in deciding that something must be done to appease the angry Africans "invited" those who either voted for or participated in the consecration of bishop Robinson to "excuse themselves" from various meetings and boards. Imagine the shock when the Americans showed up! Such an "invitation" in English English means "do not come." In American English it meant "think about it and act correctly." Ooops.

The Windsor authors also called for several moratoria: No more "public rites" blessing Lesbian or Gay households ( this applied to Canada;) no more openly gay bishops and no more "incursions." Incursion itself is a polite word for organized sheep stealing with attendant efforts to steal church assets.

In America, a moratorium carries a term. So we might say, "we will declare a moratorium until 2015" or "....until the next meeting of the committee." What we do not do is declare a moratorium without end. Not so we have learned in England where a moratorium can be declared and left untouched until as one folk song has it, "the times do alter."

We know, we all know, that on any given weekend there are more blessings of more homosexual unions in England than in Canada and the USA.
  • In Canada these are done under specific publicly approved canons.
  • In the USA they are done under a clause permitting a "generous pastoral response" to the changes in our civil law.
  • In England they are done under cover.
In England there is no published rite, no official canon position and bishops simply do not notice. A couple can get blessed in England but not recognized. I am reminded of the old line that there is no divorce in Italy and only Roman Catholics can get it.

We Americans are not so good at what the English call "polite conduct" and we might well call "hypocrisy." We prefer to call a "spade a spade." So TEC allows "pastoral response" while the English think we are being obstinate as we and they do exactly the same things. "Two peoples, separated by a common language" indeed. A prior version had a typo here induced by the cut and paste process. The red type is corrected. My apologies.

TEC's general convention after the publication of the Windsor Report engaged reluctantly, in consideration of the "request" (the English meant "mandate" in American English) for a "moratorium." What to do? Remember American canon forbade and continues to forbid discrimination based on sex. The general convention officially did what it does best -- nothing.

Some wanted to accommodate the British desire to appease the Africans. So a sort of non-moratorium was born. The house of bishops in something of a historic moment, did something. They acted very British, and adopted a resolution promising to vote "no" in the confirmation process on episcopal elections where the person elected's "manor manner of life" could be construed to be a problem for our conservative brethren. "Manner of life" was code for "open homosexuality." That promise like the moratorium it was not, had a lifespan. Specifically, it went away when the next general convention convened.

Meanwhile, in England Dr. Williams was it now appears upset that Americans and Canadians did not know how to be proper bishops. Here they were acting as though laity had something worthwhile to say! So we see Lambeth and every other meeting he controls focused on the subject of how to be a bishop. One wonders how those bishops who remember when he was a priest receive his instructions.

In this context let us consider the so-called "covenant" and the latest, lamest excuse for it, "spank the yank."

The document will destroy the communion and replace it with an evangelical dominated, juridical and curial church. In fact, Dr. Williams now refers in public to "the Anglican Church" even though no such body has yet been agreed to by The Church of England! Why do this? Why destroy the communion? Well, to punish the Americans and Canadians of course!

Have you ever heard of a child refusing to do homework because he disliked the teacher? Guess who got the bad grade?

Ratifying the destruction of the communion to spank North Americans will leave the church of England with the largest number of gay bishops (it is probable they have that now, America has the largest number of honest gay bishops.) England already leads the world in gay unions blessed, but Canada's expulsion will solidify the lead. And yet the idea is that the "covenant" punishes North Americans.

We will be fine over here. Already the "covenant" is having an impact and "spanked yanks" along with disciplined Canadians are establishing flat networks with other autocephalous churches. So for instance we continue to provide aid to poor Ugandans albeit without the Anglican Communion's involvement; the diocese of Virginia, Chicago and St. Louis have direct relationships with Sudanese diocese and a number of diocese have relationships with Mexican diocese. We do that without Canterbury. Toss us out, "spank" us and we will simply continue.

Remember that child? In a "Yank" free world (one wonders how the Canadians take that designation?) the Anglican "Church" will lack a lot of resources, a source of energy and development. It will inevitably become static. In fact the leading voices for the so-called "covenant" openly call for a static institution with a static theology. Static institutions die. Children who refuse to do homework fail.

In attempting to spank us for doing publicly what the English do privately, the Church of England will doom the communion. Slapping someone hurts your own hand.

It is easy to be anti-American albeit hard to be anti-Canadian. Using the Americans as a whipping boy is simple, and in some ways satisfying. It is also a bit hard to defend. We are after all responsible for G.H.W. and G.W. Bush, Twitter, Charlie Sheen and Snooky. Near the end of World War Two, there was actually a discussion in France about whether we or the Germans were the greater threat. The issue remains undecided in some French minds yet today.

Killing the Communion to put us down won't work. It will succeed in destruction of the communion, but not at hurting TEC. We will shed the schismatics and move along networking with friends and probably annoying un-friends. It also won't protect England. Rearward in Faith will have its schism over women bishops regardless.

If this is the best reason available to proponents of the "covenant" (it is) then there is no reason to advance it. That of course is precisely the proponents' problem. And it explains the devious parliamentary tactics some are attempting. They cannot defend the thing on its merits so they put down the Americans. If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, anti-Americanism is his last offensive weapon.

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Reasons to reject the proposed covenant

Lionel Deimel has posted his views on the proposed Anglican Covenant at his blog. Dr. Joan Gunderson argued the "pro-covenant" and Deimel gave the reasons to oppose it. Here are his comments:
Having just reported on a presentation of the pros and cons of the Anglican Covenant—see “Pittsburgh Covenant Debate”—I was a presenter myself in another such program last night. My talk, which I delivered at a Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh meeting at Church of the Redeemer, was titled “Why the Anglican Covenant Should Be Rejected.” Because the talk was rather long, I will only provide a brief summary here. You can read the whole speech in a PDF file here.

I summed up my view of the Covenant in this paragraph:
Unfortunately, the Anglican Covenant is a bad idea, badly implemented. Arguably, it is neither Anglican nor a covenant. The notion that such a pact is desirable is based on faulty assumptions, and the Covenant has been promoted out of mean-spirited motives. The proposed agreement has the potential to cause a fatal division of the Anglican Communion, whether or not it is adopted by a majority of its churches. Its potential for harming our own church is significant, and our ability to evade injury may be limited.

Most of the talk was devoted to supporting these assertions.

After giving a brief history of the Covenant and a summary of its contents, I addressed what I called technical problems. I identified two such problems: a strange adoption process and a dangerously vague compliance-enforcement mechanism. Here is some of what I said about the way the Covenant is being adopted:
There is no specified time period within which churches must act. Presumably, this is because the governing bodies of some churches meet infrequently. Our own General Convention meets every three years, for example. In principle, churches could take a year, or decades, or centuries to dispose of the Covenant. The failure to require timely response to the Covenant is potentially problematic, since enforcement of its provisions is placed in the hands of churches that have “adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption [emphasis added].” The Covenant does not specify what constitutes being “in the process of adoption.” Presumably this odd provision follows from an even stranger one, namely that “This Covenant becomes active for a Church when that Church adopts the Covenant through the procedures of its own Constitution and Canons.” (Compare this to the case of the U.S. Constitution, which did not go into effect until 9 of the 13 states had ratified it.)

I then discussed the nature of Anglicanism, building on my paper “Saving Anglicanism,” which I wrote shortly before the 2006 General Convention was called upon to respond to the Windsor Report. No doubt, this paragraph will be controversial:
It is the latitudinarians, the broad-church Anglicans, who are most characteristically Anglican—one might even say the pure Anglicans. It is the broad-church people who willingly accept diversity within Anglicanism, concentrating on Christian mission, on one hand, and on their own spiritual journeys, on the other. Meanwhile, the radical Protestants, usually characterized today as Evangelicals, and the radical Catholics, usually described as Anglo-Catholics, continue their efforts to remake Anglicanism according to their own ideals. This struggle has been more or less active during various periods in the 400 years following the publication of Hooker’s Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.

I went on to say that the extreme Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics are rejecting the Covenant, whereas the latitudinarians have no use for it. Only the institutionalists willing to trade belief for unity—Rowan Williams most notably among them—seem to have any enthusiasm for adopting the Covenant.

I then focused attention on the more prosaic difficulties with the Covenant, drawing on arguments that have been advanced elsewhere. One of my arguments restated an interesting point made by the Rev. Nate Rugh in his talk a week earlier:
Not only will the Covenant encourage Communion-wide conflicts, but it will also encourage dissidents in local churches to bump up their disputes to the Communion level, rather than trying to reconcile them in the national or regional church. This is exactly what Bishop Duncan did, even in the absence of a Covenant.

I concluded by listing some of the ways the General Convention might consider responding to the Covenant. This is a tricky subject that involves both what deputies might want to do and concerns about how the actions of the General Convention might be perceived. Not only do I lack a clear vision of what the church’s legislative assembly should do, but I was reminded, in the discussion following my presentation, that the voting rules of the House of Deputies might have an important influence on what resolution is put forward. Effectively, for any important vote, a super-majority is required. Because any resolution is therefore difficult to pass, wording becomes very important. Is failing to pass a resolution adopting the Covenant equivalent to passing a resolution rejecting it? What is the effect of rejecting a resolution to not adopt the Covenant? There may be an opportunity to employ some creative ambiguity here, but I am going to save thinking about that for another day.

Here is how I actually concluded my talk:
Our church will be criticized, irrespective of what it does. Why not do the right thing and reject the Covenant? I suspect that many churches are waiting to see what the Church of England, the Anglican Church of Canada, and The Episcopal Church are going to do. A rejection by the Church of England is, unfortunately, unlikely, as English Anglicans pay great deference to their bishops, and particularly to their archbishops. It therefore falls to the Canadian and American churches to say the obvious—the Covenant is not a good idea. Rejecting the Covenant may or may not derail what seems like an unstoppable express, but, at the very least, we will not be complicit in destroying Anglicanism or paying for the destruction of our own church. In the end, our mission might be to pick up the pieces of the Anglican Communion and reconstitute them as a fellowship that is truly Anglican

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lichfield becomes the First English Diocese to Adopt Covenant

(Taken from Lesley's Blog)

Today, Lichfield voted on whether to accept the Anglican Covenant. The invited speaker, Bishop Graham Kings, could not attend the synod and so Andrew Goddard, who is also an avid supporter of the Anglican Covenant introduced the debate.

A motion was proposed to adjourn the debate and refer the Anglican Covenant to the deaneries. This was defeated, the voting figures after a re-count being:

For: 47
Against: 60
Abstentions: 2

A debate ensued that was longer than scheduled. Most people were happy with Sections 1-3 but there was concern about Section 4 because the language was of contract rather than covenant. However, the motion on the adoption of the Anglican Covenant was passed comfortably:

BISHOPS: For: 4; Against: 0; Abstain: 0
CLERGY: For: 39; Against: 11; Abstain: 1
LAITY: For: 57; Against: 9; Abstain: 1

Lichfield is the first English Diocese to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant. To see the official announcement click HERE.
The Bishop of Lichfield, Jonathan Gledhill, is one of the most Conservative and is one of the six bishops who joins with the former Archbishop, George Carey to pronounce English Law to be anti-Christian because of the gay equality laws. Hence, perhaps this result was to be expected.

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More News and Views on the English Dioceses

From Lesley's Blog:
I have already reported on what happened in Wakefield when they voted on the Covenant at Diocesan Synod on the 12th March. I hadn't realised that Hereford had been due to vote on the Covenant at Diocesan Synod on the 5th March. In the same way that I could find nothing on the Wakefield website, I can also find nothing on the Hereford website, although they have written an item on "Women Bishops - Join the Debate". Where is the debate about the Covenant? It is strange really, because it is such an important piece of legislation.

Read more HERE

The Simple Massing Priest reports:

With the usual balance and evenhandedness one might expect, the official website of the Diocese of Lichfield boasts that the diocese "could be the first in the Church of England to adopt the Anglican Covenant" when they vote on it tomorrow. 
Of course, the boast was predicated on the incorrect assumption that Lichfield would be the first to have any vote on the proposed Covenant. In fact, they appear to be third. 
But they could still be the first to pass it, because Oxford chose to refer the matter for further discussion at deanery synods, and Wakefield rejected the thing outright

Read more HERE


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wakefield diocese commentary

The latest crop of side links in the blog have some fascinating things there, to which I don't have time to do justice. Perhaps the most important, or newsy, is the decision by the diocese of Wakefield to reject the proposed Anglican Covenant. If this is repeated across the rest of the Church of England's 44 dioceses, it will mark the final, crushing failure of Rowan Williams' foreign policy. Good riddance, too, say I. Although the general synod voted in favour of this, that was largely out of sympathy for the Archbishop, and to show that they at least take him seriously even if no one else now does. Out in the diocesan synods there is no sympathy vote and the whole absurd and cumbersome structure is considered on its merits.
And from Lesley's Blog:
I am both amazed and delighted that the Anglican Covenant was defeated in Wakefield. Some of us spent time scrabbling to get information about what happened. I didn't even know that the debate was happening. Some dioceses have lots of people who are part of our 'No Anglican Covenant' campaign, but Wakefield is certainly not one of them. I will have to visit the town when I am better to pay tribute, it has now been dubbed 'Wakeful'.
Read the rest HERE.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wakefield diocese rejects Anglican Covenant

Press Release from Modern Church, Inclusive Church and the No Anglican Covenant Coalition

First English diocesan vote rejects Anglican Covenant

Modern Church, Inclusive Church and the No Anglican Covenant Coalition are pleased with the result of the first diocesan vote on the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Both clergy and laity (the latter overwhelmingly) rejected the Covenant at the Wakefield Diocesan Synod meeting on Saturday 12th March.

While recognising the need to avoid the bitter controversies of recent years, we are glad that this Synod does not believe the Covenant is the way to do it.

We believe we should retain the traditional Anglican openness in which provinces govern themselves and disagreements are resolved by openly debating the issues free from threats of sanctions or schism.

The proposed Anglican Covenant offers instead a process for suppressing disagreements by establishing a central authority, with power to pass judgements and penalise dissident provinces by excluding them from international structures.

We trust that other Church of England Dioceses will have the courage to follow Wakefield’s example.

Further information:
Rev Giles Goddard, 07762 373674,
Rev Jonathan Clatworthy, 0151 7276291,
Rev Lesley Fellows, 01844 239268,

A Liberal Makes the Conservative Case Against the Covenant

A debate of sorts was held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sunday afternoon (13 March 2011). The Revd. Nathan A. Rugh, curate at nearby Calvary Episcopal Church, presented arguments against adoption of the Anglican Covenant. (I have discussed the event on my own blog.)

Rugh, an avowed liberal priest, told the audience that we was presenting a conservative case against the Covenant. His argument was that adoption of the Covenant would forever change the nature of Anglicanism. In particular, it would change our polity, our relationships, and our approach to theology.

Here are some excerpts from Rugh’s address:
The centralization of power in the Standing Committee created by the Covenant will make the Communion more strictly hierarchical. It will invest power mainly in bishops, who make up most of the Standing Committee’s members, and in the hand of bureaucrats in the Anglican Communion Office. There would be no one to appeal to beyond the Standing Committee, and its decision would become law. Our church’s democratic polity would be threatened as a result, as power is taken from the hands of laypeople and rank-and-file clergy, and moved into the hands of bishops.

Moreover, the Covenant could weaken the bonds of affection internally within the member churches themselves. Inevitably, local disagreements will be easily internationalized and harder to resolve. Forces within a member church will ultimately appeal to the Communion level for resolution, and thus appeal to a political process more than to mutual care and regard. The Covenant grew out of such an appeal following the Episcopal Church’s decision to consecrate the Rev. Gene Robinson. The Covenant has the potential to make such appeals a regular and disruptive feature of our common life.

As a result, Anglican theology is often messy. We disagree a lot and we always have. We don’t have ready-made answers or assurances beyond our reliance on Scripture and the Creeds, the Tradition, and our God-given minds. And all of these things need to be interpreted. There is no system or final arbiter for a right answer. This side of the eschaton, “we look through a glass darkly.” And yet, we have survived and thrived because of this fact. We should be astounded by the resiliency of Anglicanism. Its comprehensiveness and its ability to deal with profound disagreement are nothing short of a miracle. Our theological heritage has enabled us to hold on to our ways, or to return to our ways when we have fallen astray, while at the same time, allowing us to respond to new ways and new contexts. We should be looking to export it, not dismiss it.
You can find a link to Rugh’s whole talk here on the No Anglican Covenant Web site.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Conservative Thumbs-down

David Phillips, general secretary of Church Society, has written a very negative essay about the Anglican Covenant, calling it “a waste of time.” Many readers of this blog will find Phillips’ opinions irritating, but he is honest about his views and forthright in his analysis. He finds the doctrinal statements of the Covenant weak—he would prefer something along the lines of the Jerusalem Declaration—and he is clear in his opposition to the centralization of authority that an active Covenant would bring about. He declares that “we do not want an Anglican Papacy or Inquisition.”

You can access Phillips’ unimaginatively named essay “The Anglican Covenant” on the No Anglican Covenant Web site here.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Documents from Modern Church

The Modern Church Web site has had a good collection of material opposed to the adoption of the Anglican Covenant. It has now added a section of resources for use by Covenant opponents within the Church of England. Especially notable among the new materials is an 8-page essay by Jonathan Clatworthy titled “The case against the Anglican Covenant.” Besides giving yet another Covenant history, Clatworthy places the Covenant in the context of competing philosophies, which is helpful for understanding what is at stake in the Covenant debate, not only within the Church of England, but in other Anglican churches as well.

The new Modern Church documents have been added to the Resources page on the No Anglican Covenant Web site beginning here.

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