Thinking Anglicans

Tom Wright: A Confused 'Covenant'

Following Fulcrum’s earlier initial response, now comes Bishop Tom Wright’s very detailed (over 6000 words) and very critical analysis of ‘A Covenant for the Church of England’. You can read it all here.

I am surprised that this document (‘A Covenant for the Church of England’, hereafter CCE) has been issued, and sorry that its clear grasp of some issues is not matched by clarity or wisdom on others. I fully understand what the Bishop of Rochester has referred to as the ‘strength of feeling’ which it demonstrates, but could wish that this had been matched by strength of thinking, both in the strategic decision to make this move at this time and in the detail of much of the document…

Fulcrum forum discussion here.

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Erasmus
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Erasmus

Bishop Tom Wright writes “it has been put to me that what the document is doing is to signal support and affirmation to those parishes that feel themselves to be under attack by unsympathetic bishops”.
He also writes “I am bound to see this move as a cynical stab in the side from people I thought were friends and allies”.
Somehow there needs to be a restoration of trust and relationship between Conservative Evangelical parishes and their Bishops.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

One feels somewhat of an intruder in this exchange between “old” pals. That being said, it is rather disingenuous of Tom Wright to forget that there were two strands of development in the sights of those recruited to the Lambeth Commission. American and Canadian developments were at the forefront of this brief, but the Sydney proposals and what lay behind them were also very much in mind. What we see in the Reform “Covenant” is the Sydney theological agenda and their belief in “inevitable realignment” given renewed (if not fresh) expression. I can only think that Blessed Tom has his… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

My first reaction the Reform’s “Covenant” was to think that it was undermining Bishop Wright’s work of using every proposal as a weapon against the The Episcopal Church. He was able to do this by pretending that all the Anglicans in the world agreed with him over and against the Americans. His charade has been exposed. Let me say that I have been extremely puzzled by what has seemed to have happened to “New Testament” Wright since his elevation. I was always impressed by his scholarship and his friendly dialogue with people with a different point of view, but his… Read more »

Mark
Guest
Mark

Wright says: “I agree with the implied premise, that the root problem we face in the Anglican Communion is one of deeply faulty theology… The problem is basically an American (and to a lesser extent Canadian) one, since in ECUSA/TEC there have been specific and apparently binding resolutions of General Convention, and actions in various dioceses, which explicitly and demonstrably go against the unambiguous teaching of the Lambeth Conference, the ACC and the Primates.” It’s striking that, after saying the problem is “deeply faulty theology,” the worst he indicts us with is going against Lambeth, the ACC, and the Primates,… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I tend to agree. I think its clearly something he is uneasy with – but then, I tend to think that despite the protests to the contrary, Christian homophobia is often strongly linked to its original, psychological meaning. I’ve seen this in action in work I have done with those of that view – what they really can’t cope with is the thought of gay sex. Odd really. I don’t fancy the idea of straight sex, but I honestly never think about it, so its not an issue. I wonder why those who clearly have such a problem with same… Read more »

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

+Wright’s rebuttal is as much from the heart as the initial CCE was. He’s upset at what he sees as a betrayal by people he believed to be, if not friends, at least on good enough terms with to have told him what they were planning. However, putting hurt feelings to one side, the Bishop’s comments seem to me pretty accurate. Reading the two side-by-side made me realise what a poor piece of work the CCE actually is. Can it really be true that the Covenant was a year in the making? There seem to be some fundamental omissions in… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

N. T. or Tom (postmodern habit or entertainment world of different names for different faces!) obviously has some spare time! >Maurice Wiles and Denis Nineham; the 1970s report Christian Believing was probably the all-time low water mark of Anglican ‘thinking’; The Myth of God Incarnate gave a similar picture. That might have been the time to protest – and some of us did, and have continued to do so not least in the normal Anglican way, by preaching the gospel and out-thinking bad theology with good.it will polarize opinion in deeply unhelpful ways, leaving many in the church to suppose… Read more »

Charlotte
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Charlotte

Bishop Tom Wright may be betrayed and purged by the extremist Evangelicals in England and the U.S., but he will continue to be welcome in the Episcopal Church. I can be quite certain of that.

John Richardson
Guest
John Richardson

Just a small request – can we please stop calling this the “Reform” covenant. It is not. It was drawn up by a mixed group, including some Reform members, but not a “Reform” group. I think the Reform label came from Inclusive Church who misunderstood the original source.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I have a feeling that just like Global South communiqués we may soon see a list of those who “have not seen it” – “did not approve the final draft” – “never knew it existed” …….

But for the moment let us call it the Reform and current allies ultimatum.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Well Martin, here’s what Richard Turnbull has just released: http://www.ceec.info/library/positional/Covenant.htm Statement from the Revd Dr Richard Turnbull, Chairman of CEEC “explaining the significance of CEEC’s support for this sigificant document”: We welcome the responsible and thoughtful initiative represented by this Covenant. It recognizes the depth of concern across the traditions of the Church of England of those who seek to teach and live by the Scriptures as their ultimate authority, and makes a serious effort to address the current issues within a challenging but workable framework. We believe the process of consultation with all parties concerned has been thorough and… Read more »

Simon Butler
Guest
Simon Butler

John is right…it’s not the “Reform” covenant…it’s a group of individuals who are trying to bolster their views by placing the names of impressive-sounding groups after their own names. As far as I’m aware, none of the groups they ‘represent’ have given anything like approval of this. My own view is that this announcement is badly-timed and poorly thought-through..most of these complaints have been aired by many of the most conservative evangelicals for decades.

Giles Goddard
Guest

We got the idea that Reform was behind it from their website – http://www.reform.org.uk/restore.php?page=http%3A//www.reform.org.uk/pages/press/press.html as posted by Simon! Are we at IC alone in thinking that the “Covenant” (whoever was responsible for it) was rushed out to coincide with the Tanzania and Uganda declarations and the Virginia vote? That would explain some of the inadequacies in its drafting. I know we’ve heard a lot about conspiracy theories this week but the number of announcements and Communion-threatening events in one week is surely too high to be a coincidence? And if they are connected, should we also be thinking about what… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Sure John, I am happy to call it The Confused Covenant instead 🙂

J. C. Fisher
Guest
J. C. Fisher

“Bishop Tom Wright may be betrayed and purged by the extremist Evangelicals in England and the U.S., but he will continue to be welcome in the Episcopal Church. I can be quite certain of that.”

Well, Charlotte, per Cantuar, perhaps not “welcomed” but certainly invited. Included. NOT excommunicated. ;-/ (And, unlike ++KJS in many quarters, even addressed as “Bishop”!)

Simon S, if the *worst* thing one could say about this “covenant” was “confused”, that would be undeserved tribute indeed!

JPM
Guest
JPM

Well, I was, in my simple, homespun way, just pleased to see that Wright was in England commenting on something happening in England, considering how he seems to spend all his time in the U.S. lecturing us benighted colonials on how we should behave.

Still, it’s hard for me to get all choked up on his betrayal by his fellow fundamentalists.

It reminds me of the old story about the frog and the scorpion.

dave williams
Guest
dave williams

Maybe after reading the personal abuse directed at him here, Tom Wright will feel a lot more at home with his “old friends” again.

nope the document perfect but you can sympathise with the intent of humble and effective bible teachers such as William Taylor and Vaughen Roberts when compared agaisnt the constant bile poured forth against them on these pages

Mark
Guest
Mark

Dave said, ‘Maybe after reading the personal abuse directed at him here, Tom Wright will feel a lot more at home with his “old friends” again.’

I’ve just looked over the comments on this page and I don’t see much in the way of personal abuse or “constant bile” (as you say later on). There is disagreement, but it all looks pretty polite to me. This is not a rhetorical question, Dave: What are you objecting to?

Colin Coward
Guest

Until now, Tom Wright has not been a bishop I would have seen as an ally of Changing Attitude – quite the reverse when it comes to Civil Partnerships! But he has become an ally in challenging all groups and individuals who want to do their own thing without any respect for the authority or tradition of the Church of England. At Changing Attitude, we might be accused of wanting to do our own thing when it comes to the place of LGBT people in the church, but we do within the church and closely with General Synod and bishops.… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

So, Colin – doesn’t this add up to a split? I know the principled stance you take and you know I disagree with it – a a breakaway, gay-friendly, TEC and Canada-aligned church is the only Anglican thing I would now want anything to do with! But if we have Reform et al, Nazir-Ali etc. essentially behaving in a secessionist way, is a split going to happen? I have always thought that what happens within the CofE may well be key. Looks as if we have our home-grown Bishop willing to lead the conservatives towards the New Reformed Anglican Church… Read more »

Andrew Carey
Guest
Andrew Carey

Colin Coward wrote: “We continue to hear rumours from inside Nigeria, rumours that Peter Akinola is trying to get Anglican Nigerians in the UK to set up independent congregations and that a certain George Carey is frequently on the phone to Abuja (Andrew, as disinterested person, I’m sure you’ll deny this on behalf of your father).” Colin, having spent a little bit of time with you over the years, I have to say I really am disappointed with this. This sort of rumour-mongering does not square with the decent person who I’ve met. You seem to imply that even if… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

I too have been reviewing the comments for abuse etc and can find none.

But then I have not Dave Williams’ eye …….

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Dave Williams: I don’t get it either. Many of us have welcomed +Wright’s comments. Where there is disagreement of sections, the words haven’t been harsh. Unless, of course, you see anything other than fulsome praise and nary a murmur against as “personal abuse”.

Colin: if you can substantiate your rumours, go ahead. Otherwise, you’re looking more than a little vindictive.

NP
Guest
NP

since some of you are struggling to find the abuse Dave referred to – I think +Durham might well feel somewhat abused in JPM saying: “Well, I was…. pleased to see that Wright was in England commenting on something happening in England, considering how he seems to spend all his time in the U.S. lecturing us benighted colonials on how we should behave.”

Dave Williams
Guest
Dave Williams

Simon and JPM, I was responding 1. To the specific comment that described Bishop Tom and his fundamentalist friends. It seems that for all the complaints about strident evangelicals that the folks here have a blind spot as to what constitutes very offensive comments! That was by JPM so I assume he will come back and assure us that he didn’t intend to label Bishop Tom or those people on that list including John Stott, Dick Lucas, William Taylor as “fundamentalists” 2. The general tone of many comments on these pages -which I think Andrew Carey was also perhaps picking… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Dave Williams, Allow me to paraphrase, just to point out the situation: “The general tone of many comments on these pages….. Comments that go unchecked and unrebuked including serious allegations against church members in America, the use of the word ‘pervert’, a…… post accusing ‘gay people’ of having psychological problems.” My changes are in quotes, yet this statement is still true. My point is that you see things as offensive to Evangelicals (I honestly don’t know what the difference is between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, I mean no insult here, I genuinely don’t know) while many on the other side see… Read more »

NP
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NP

Ford – since when is being an investment banker a sin?

I suspect investment bankers give through their taxes very much more to the poor through the Welfare State and the NHS etc than you or me…..but even if this were not true, it is a bit silly to relegate a legal job to sinner status

JPM
Guest
JPM

NP, Tom Wright has missed few opportunities to interfere in the Episcopal Church and has given considerable aid and comfort to our schismatics. It is not abuse to say the truth, even when the truth is unpleasant. To paraphrase one of your favorite documents, the Bishop of Durham hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of America. >>>That was by JPM so I assume he will come back and assure us that he didn’t intend to label Bishop Tom or those people on that list including John Stott, Dick Lucas, William Taylor as “fundamentalists” Fundamentalist is as fundamentalist does. I have… Read more »

Kay Wisniewski
Guest
Kay Wisniewski

Whatever happened to the blessed idea of a Broad Church and Communion? Is it outdated to not want to bully God’s people into a party line? We all share in our biblically-based creeds and baptismal covenants, in our heritage of acceptance of different customs in different places, why can’t that be enough? I know I’m just whistling into the wind, but the Holy Spirit has done some amazing things and I’m not ready to give up on such amazement. Ever. Nor are most of us ordinary, church-going types. No one knows God’s Will, but there is a rumor it tends… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP, loaning money at interest was a sin for roughly 1500 years. Scripture, the Fathers, and many in our own Anglican tradition are quite clear on that point. It ceased to be a sin a few centuries ago when the Church compromised yet another of Her principles in the interest of being popular with society. You may think it is no sin now, but that’s just because you have forgotten how it happened, or you don’t want to acknowledge it.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

Ford – since when is being an investment banker a sin?

Umm… something about taking interest on a loan……….?

FWIW I seem to remember that at one point, more of the moral strictures of the Church were levelled against usury than against sex, on the grounds that there was something ‘against nature’ about money ‘breeding’ but then the emerging middle classes managed to switch much of the ‘interest’ opprobrium on to sex. I’m sure someone with knowledge will correct me.

JPM
Guest
JPM

The Church had quite a lot to say about usury, back before they decided to give in to secular culture: St. John Chrysostom on lending at interest: “Nothing is baser, nothing is more cruel than the interest that comes from lending. For such a lender trades on other persons’ calamities, draws profit from the distress of others, and demands wages for kindness, as though he were afraid to seem merciful. Under the mask of kindness he digs deeper their grave of poverty; when he stretches forth his hand to help, he pushes them down. . .” St. Leo the Great… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

chaps, fyi – “investment bankers” do not make loans (they do mergers and acquisitions) so please do not smear the poor boys and girls who work so hard – they pay for lots of social services when their bonus-millions get taxed, you know!!

I do not loan money at interest……I agree, the Bible prohibits it

NP
Guest
NP

Oh….before I get negative responses to mergers and acquisitions and capitalism in general, remember if you see a field with buried treasure in it or find a pearl of great value, you are supposed to buy it – for the profit it will give you JC used capitalist parables!!! Shock horror! Yikes, his language was not always as “inclusive” as some would like and now he is positive on capitalism too…..after all, he told us we would always have the poor with us and his great commission (have a look TEC!) was not go into all the world to fight… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
Guest
mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)

“investment bankers” do not make loans (they do mergers and acquisitions)

Ah, so these are the folk who enable asset-stripping, 5-cents-an-hour outsourcing and all the rest, but retain moral integrity by doing so at arm’s-length…. Sorry to have accused them of usury.

dave williams
Guest
dave williams

JPM,

So just to check.

Because I personally know one of the signatories and have appreciated the preaching and writing of many of them, you consider me a fundamentalist? Do you also agree with the comments of previous posters calling Evangelicals Bigots? Do you consider me a bigot.

dave williams
Guest
dave williams

Ford, Thanks for your comments -and I agree with you that comments using abusive language against gays should not have come through either. My point is that 1. Simon claims to vet the posts to stop this happening 2. There is this superior attitude here that we have a group of liberal, thinking, tolerant, nice people against the “nasty” “intolerant” “bigoted” Evangelicals -but what we are seeing is that the language is as harsh and exclusive from the other side -only merseymike seems willing to admit this exclusiveness. So my message to them is either drop the language or drop… Read more »

dave williams
Guest
dave williams

As for loans at interest -what a fantastic topic -what should we be doing as churches to make sure that doesn’t need to happen?

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP, Sorry, I used the worng word. So, if you agree the Bible prohibits usury, why are you so vocal about gay people and so silent on the damage usury has done to society? Surely all sins are equal, don’t you think usury deserves as much attention as you are paying to gay people? And do you really think that paying taxes in a socialist democracy somehow fulfills our responsibility to feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Taxes are merely rendering to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s. If Ceasar spends some of that money helping the poor, that… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Dave, I do not consider all evangelicals bigots and from what I have seen posted here, I do not think that you are a bigot.

It is undeniable, however, that many bigots do dress up their hatred in piety. If you don’t believe me, pay a visit to Virtue Online.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“JC used capitalist parables!!! Shock horror!” No He did not use “capitalist parables”. They would have been absolutely incomprehensible to a pre Modern audience, had He tried. “Yikes, his language was not always as “inclusive” as some would like and now he is positive on capitalism too…” A free market, that is the p e r s o n s being free to go to the market unhindered to sell whatever, is a rather late phenomenon. 19th to 20th centuries. So again, no. “… after all, he told us we would always have the poor with us and his great… Read more »

dave williams
Guest

JPM, Thanks -perhaps then we can get on with discussing significant issues -and please I ask again let’s get onto some wider subjects- without trying to second guess who is and isn’t a bigot. I’m sure there are Evangelicals who are bigots just as there are liberals and catholics who are bigots too. The Virtue site isn’t one I visit -but take your word for it. There are some nasty sites out there but it’s nothing to do with them being “Evangelical” indeed there’s always someone to the right of you and one delightful site lists a lot of those… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Goran – your comment is laughable – I merely pointed out that there was no left-wing, anti-capitalist bias in JC’s words…..it is quite amusing how predictable it was that I would get left-wing bias in response to my comments (and since I am an economist, even though I studied at left-wing Cambridge, I know how misguided the comments against mergers etc are since they are part of creating an efficient, healthy economy – and I am pleased England had reforms in the 1980s which leaves us with a very much stronger economy today than France and Germany – just ask… Read more »

dave williams
Guest

So if we are going to talk about usary then there should be a practical approach to dealing with the issue (assuming we genuinely mean we want to do something about it) First thing -from memory, I think there has been some historical debate about what it means -does it exclude all interest or can it be charged in order to cover things such as inflation, administration costs etc -so not at an excessive rate? Secondly -what then should Christians do when they need money? Thirdly -should Christians use the banking system and if not what practical arrangements should be… Read more »

Dave Williams
Guest
Dave Williams

David Rowett,

I think you are confusing a role with a corruption of that role. In other words -yes some Investment Bankers are assett strippers who wreck lifes in the same way that many other people use unethical business methods.

However, it is as much about helping businesses to invest effectively to strengthen their ability to operate. For example my previous company spent some time investing in the US to consolidate its position in certain markets whilst selling some elements of its European business to other European businesses.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Dave Williams, I believe the argument that usury is OK as long as the interest isn’t excessive goes back to Wesley. By that argument, homosexuality is OK as long as it isn’t excessive. The Bible uses words that have been taken to mean homosexuality but may not have that precise meaning, unlike usury, so if we can debate what the Bible means by usury, surely we can debate what it means by homosexuality. As to Christians taking part in usury, I believe it was Augustine(or Aquinas) who said that paying interest is not sinful, just the charging of it. Further,… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

Ford – I am still following the bible and will not lend at interest

Colin Coward
Guest

Too many threads and too many comments flowing on TA for me to keep up with them all. I’d missed Andrew Carey’s challenge to me to withdraw what I described as a rumour about the previous Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, being in frequent contact with Archbishop Akinola in Abuja. I’ve returned to my sources in Nigeria, and they confirm that what I wrote was true. Therefore I should withdraw the word ‘rumour’, and if Andrew says he’s checked with his father, and he hasn’t made contact with Peter Akinola once since he retired, then I am being lied to… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

NP,
I assume you’re still following the Bible and won’t have a gay relationship either. If that doesn’t stop you from telling gay people they shouldn’t practice the “sin” of homosexuality, why aren’t you as vocal against those who practice usury?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

NP wrote: “Göran – your comment is laughable – I merely pointed out that there was no left-wing, anti-capitalist bias in JC’s words….. it is quite amusing how predictable it was that I would get left-wing bias in response to my comments …” O dear, “left wing bias” indeed… I merely pointed out that 1) there is not any Chicago School Anarcho-Capitalism new speak in Christ’s Gospel, and that 2) such – being entirely a late modern phenomenon – would not have been comprehensible to anyone in pre Modernity. Simple as that. NP continued: “… (and since I am an… Read more »