Thinking Anglicans

covenant primer

Giles Fraser writes in this week’s Church Times about Covenant theology for everyone.

…The Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright — basically, Mr Covenant as far the present crisis is concerned — gets it spot on: “All those who believe in Jesus belong at the same table.”

Yet there are those for whom this new testament is not enough. They want a new new testament, creating a sub-division within the category “all those who believe in Jesus”. They want to write a new new testament that will distinguish first- and second-class Christians. And the sign of this unbiblical covenant is to be sound doctrine, as defined by a small coterie of conservative Evangelicals…

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Christopher Shell
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Christopher Shell

Giles Fraser is wrong on two counts: (1) The name of the table at which all believers in Jesus sit is ‘Christianity’ or ‘the Church’. It is not ‘anglicanism’ or anything of that stable. (2) It is dangerous to equate a claim to believe in Jesus with true Christianity. Anyone can do a roll-call of dodgy individuals who have used the ‘Christian’ badge for their own manipulative ends. And in any case the term ‘believe in’ is highly ambiguous, is an inexact translation from the Greek, & needs a lot of unpacking not to mention a knowledge of Greek for… Read more »

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

CS: “It is dangerous to equate a claim to believe in Jesus with true Christianity.” It is, but the CEEC etc were not set up in judgement to assess who might use that title. As the parable of (eg) the wheat and the tares reminds us, that’s God’s business. And I do find your “the term ‘believe in’ is highly ambiguous, is an inexact translation from the Greek, & needs a lot of unpacking not to mention a knowledge of Greek for us to understand (as the Bishop of Durham does) what it means” rather patronising. For my part I… Read more »

Andrew Innes
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Andrew Innes

Christopher Shell:

Having taken Giles to task over his use of words like “believe”, perhaps, you would clarify your meaning of the term “True Christianity”.

A suggestion: instead of focussing on stated beliefs to determine who is a “true christian”, why not look for the results of sound belief, the so-called “fruits of the spirit” gentleness, kindness etc., in a person’s thoughts and actions.

By this measure, some of the most vocal on either side of this debate would be found wanting.

counterlight
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counterlight

I’m amazed by this campaign to ditch almost 5 centuries of Anglican comprehensiveness and to remake Anglicanism as a confessional church. There is already a surplus of such confessional churches out there; the Augsburg Confession, the Westminster Confession, the Roman Catholic Magisterium. The Southern Baptists in the USA (once a denomination that was proudly anti-credal) have a set of doctrines with an enforcement arm so tough and thorough that it makes Rome look like liberal democracy; they routinely excommunicate entire congregations. Is that really what we want? That’s NOT why I converted to Episcopalianism 25 years ago; indeed, I wanted… Read more »

Shawn+
Guest
Shawn+

C. Shell states, “It is dangerous to equate a claim to believe in Jesus with true Christianity.” While there might be some debate as to whether or not one believes enough about Jesus as the Christ and what that implies, centering faith in Jesus is for most Christians the basis of faith. What reformers on both side of all issues want to do is to determine degrees of completion as Christians–who is “more” Christian and who is “less” Christian, implying some kind of judgement. Fraser is absolutely dead on–leave judgement to God, embrace faith, and let each Christian determine how… Read more »

Andrew Innes
Guest
Andrew Innes

Right on! Counterlight.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“I think Baptism and the 2 Creeds we already have are sufficient confessions of faith. We don’t need turnstiles or doormen at the Altar rail.” Thanks. I agree 100%. In the US, the Missouri Lutheran Synod folks practice closed communion. To receive, you must be known to the pastor – I think your certificate of confirmation is your ‘ticket.’ In days past, you would carry a small metal or cardboard pocket token that you would be asked to show before receiving communion. You can find these for sale on e-Bay. I don’t know what travelling MLS folks do – perhaps… Read more »

John Henry
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John Henry

Dr. Giles Fraser is spot on, as he was in an earlier Church Times article in which he called the new breed of ‘fundigelicals’ “Bible traffic wardens.”

Good points, Counterlight!

Chris
Guest
Chris

Counterlight, I agree that Anglicanism – and the wider catholic Church – does not need total agreement on every theological point. But on Christ’s role in salvation there can be no disagreement for the Church to have unity. Christ makes it vary clear that the Church’s unity is solely based on our reconciled relationship with God (John 17:20-21). In ECUSA, some of our leaders reject this basic tenant of faith and thus transform the Church from the body of Christ and into a philanthropic organization that has the trappings of ceremony. ++Schori is unfortunately part of this when she claims,… Read more »

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Counterlight: You are absolutely right. We have two profound doctrinal statements – the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. Any attempt by innovators to add to this should be seriously questioned. What can they add to these creeds? WHy would they want to? Who are they drawing outside of the Church with these additions? Secondly, we claim to be a part of universal or catholic Christianity. If we come up with a narrow sectarian statement (or any statement or creed or covenant) that is not approved by an ecumenical council of the church it seems to me that we will… Read more »

JayVinVermont
Guest
JayVinVermont

Thank you, counterlight.

Happy 2007 to all.

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘.. an inexact translation from the Greek, & needs a lot of unpacking not to mention a knowledge of Greek for us to understand (as the Bishop of Durham does) what it means.’
Christopher Shell

“Who then may be saved ?”

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘But on Christ’s role in salvation there can be no disagreement for the Church..’ On the contrary, there is no agreed doctrine of atonement or salvation held by the Churches. the Creeds baldly state ‘crucified, dead and buried …he rose……’ as if to say to us : ‘make of this what you will. And by heaven that is what we have done! But fortuantely without trying to impose any one model or theory of salvation, or ‘how it works’. However, I have never quite understood, why those who go furthest in seeking to deify this Jewish itinerant preacher, Jesus, seem… Read more »

Giles Fraser
Guest
Giles Fraser

Isn’t it telling that if our evangelical friends like a passage of scripture (i.e. it fits with their view of what scripture really says) it is: ‘very clear’ (Chris). But if they don’t it is ‘highly ambiguous, is an inexact translation from the Greek, & needs a lot of unpacking not to mention a knowledge of Greek’ (Shell). Its the “plain meaning of scripture” only when it pleases them. Counterlight is of course correct. Moreover, it is significant that when the early church spoke of the word of God they didn’t mean the Bible, they meant Jesus. And of course… Read more »

pseudopiskie
Guest
pseudopiskie

++Katharine seems to believe that being a Christian means doing what Jesus told us to do rather than simply proclaiming one or another set of rigid “beliefs”. The “covenantors” seem to care more about “right” beliefs than living a Christlike life. This takes us back to the mission discussion as discussed by Mark Harris among others – http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2006/12/are-english-mission-societies-fighting.html#links Can these two philosophies live together in one church? Or is the difference so great that there should be, for example, an Anglican Communion for pure believers and an Episcopal Communion for doers?

Pluralist
Guest

Some of the arguments being made above are, in effect, arguments for no Covenant at all, or at least a Covenant that undermines one that would restrict. I doubt that this is the view of N. T. Wright, who may be Mr. Covenant but he might not be Mr Open Covenant. Giles Fraser may be a Mr. Open Covenant, although his claim about orthodoxy is one that won’t stretch to Reform and company. And some people are referring to two creeds and a baptism. Reform and company, and indeed Tom Wright, will want to know how you believe those creeds… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

This is just too much fun. “Anyone can do a roll-call of dodgy individuals who have used the ‘Christian’ badge..” Who knows, we might have prostitutes washing peoples feet with their hair and tears; lepers; perpetually menstruating women; eunuchs; tax collectors; samaritans; jews; gentiles; descendants of Ishmael and Isaac; easteners; the afflicted; the young; the old; angels; humans. For heavens sake, it sounds like any soul in creation could sit at the table. What do they think they are doing?! Setting up someone with the authority over all of earth and heaven! Even worse, they might even quote biblical passages… Read more »

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

Err, far be it from me to ask questions about sources’ impeccability, but ‘Townhall.com’ (insofar as it would load on Opera with popups disabled) seem to have a remarkable array of rather tendentious anti-liberal merchandise and general rightwing paranoia material advertised on it.

And I recall much discussion recently on the divine Word as the route to God. The assertion that +KJS is unorthodox probably indicates a lack of acquaintance with historic orthodoxy…

Prior Aelred
Guest

I am somewhat startled by the statements I occasionally read here from fellow Anglicans (I assume) that use the rhetoric that I associate with extreme fundamentalism. I wonder how much of this is associated with Scriptural inerrancy & a refusal to entertain any critical study of Sacred Scripture. With all due respect, an example in this thread is the absolutism of “Christ makes it vary (sic) clear…” & which then goes on to cite John. I dearly love John’s Gospel, but I would never make belief that the author of the Fourth Gospel transmits the ipsissima verba of our Lord… Read more »

Simon Morden
Guest
Simon Morden

Is there anyone left to defend the CCE? We have New Wine affiliated ministers wondering why their leadership have signed. We have evangelical bishops (of impeccable credentials) calling not only the timing but the content of the CCE into question. We have vicars under the authority of signatories standing up and saying ‘I did not consent to this’. Even Reform members admit that they did not see the final article, but (unwisely) gave their consent to this pig-in-a-poke. Is there anything right about it at all? As I sit here, contemplating my letter to my vicar, I’m left wondering what… Read more »

Davis d'Ambly
Guest
Davis d'Ambly

Alleluia! We agree and are correct!

Fraser’s comments are a perfect reflection of my beliefs in the matter. How we get others to agree is the point.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

But, my friends!

Do you not realise?

Can you not see?

It is the Windsor Report wherein lies the salvation of the Anglican Communion!

So, comply or perish!

Frank
Guest
Frank

As I recall it was a busy week for announcements, pronouncements, covenant drafting, and table setting arrangements for the up coming Primate meeting. The timing for this appears to be a bit suspect.

Oriscus
Guest
Oriscus

Christ did indeed claim that “I am the way, the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:5).

He never did claim that no one comes to the Father, except through *us Christians.*

++Katharine recognizes that there is a meaningful distinction to be made between Christ and the institutional Church/es as the Body of Christ.

*Why is this so difficult?

hpb
Austin, TX

Chris
Guest
Chris

Re: doctrine of atonement. TEC has a very explicit doctrine of atonement stated in the Articles of Religion: XI. Of the Justification of Man. We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only, is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification. XVIII. Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ. They also are to be had accursed that presume to… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

A remark by Pluralist sparked an interesting idea. There needs to be a movie made about this whole mess, starring Hugh Grant. They can call it “Two Creeds and a Baptism.”

Columba Gilliss
Guest
Columba Gilliss

While repeating those passages that demand belief in Christ and baptism, drinking his blood, etc., we would do well to reflect on Matthew 31ff, the parable of the tares (I forget the citation) and follow the caution given in Romans 14.4 — Why judgest thou another man’s servant?
Columba Gilliss

laurence
Guest
laurence

T’…EC has a very explicit doctrine of atonement stated in the Articles of Religion:…’

TEC may have –the rest of us do not.

Raspberry Rabbit
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Raspberry Rabbit

We’ve had “covenanters” before. As I remember we treated them badly. Much rancour ensued. They eventually started to behave (quite on their own and due to shocks and modifications of their own making) and became the quite normal and affable membership of the Church of Scotland that we now know and love. We attend their fetes and members of the Womens’ Institute occasionally wake up feeling wicked and come to one of our services with their Anglican pals. I’m all for ‘under-reacting’ to the perceived threat of the CEEC Covenant. They’re quite obviously the most disorganized and disunited portion of… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

If you leave policing in God’s hands, then you are simply betting on Jesus as Risen Lord. That gives people the heebies-jeebies who have lately awakened from their confessional self-contentment to find that Jesus is at work in places, inhabited by people they would not touch with a ten-foot pole for any number of conscientious reasons. Indeed, is there any place, anywhere in our hurting world, occupied by any people, where Jesus is not at work? I can find many places with many people where we are hardly present, let alone working in any demonstrable way to make things better.… Read more »

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

When used to follow evangelical doctrines we used to believe that one thing was sufficient for salvation, broadly summed up in John 3 v 16 “For God so loved the world that He sent His Son so that whoever believed on Him would not die but have everlasting life”. This now seems to have become somewhat overburdened with postcripts so as to read: PS Conditions Apply – make sure you read the fine print for the offer to be valid – believe in the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds – subscribe to the 39 articles of faith (apart from the one… Read more »

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

Even the articles of religion hardly close the case on atonement theology! And in CofE they are seen as of secondary, non-credal status, being documents which bear witness to the truth, but are not dogmatic statements of the faith….

Clutching at straws, I think, is the line I’m looking for

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Chris, Article XI: I agree. Article XVIII: I agree. Article XXXI: I agree, but not with the implication that the sacrifice of the Mass is a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice. But that doesn’t equate with a bald interpretation that if one does not profess the Christian faith, one goes to Hell. That is for God to decide, not you or me. The Evangelical practice of asking a bishop to affirm the “Jesus is the only way to God” which really means “say everyone who isn’t like us is going to Hell” and then claiming that any response that allows for… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

“two Creeds” Ilove the way we are down to two Creeds, now that of St.Athanasius has been dropped in embarrassment (though still printed in the BCP 1662 and still commanded to be recited on Wednesdays and Fridays). My question “How long will will you give the two that remain ?” !! True religion is not dependent upon Creeds and indeed they may stiffle healthy spirituality, going by some of the comments here. If you believe something because it’s in a Creed (rather than say, vice versa) can it be said that you truly BELEIVE it ? I think Albert Schwitzer… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

laurence: “True religion is not dependent upon Creeds and indeed they may stifle healthy spirituality, going by some of the comments here. If you believe something because it’s in a Creed (rather than say, vice versa) can it be said that you truly BELIEVE it ?” And my question to you laurence is, Why do you, as a fellow Christian, have to know what lies in the depth of my own personal heart? Why isn’t what I profess, however dishonest it could & perhaps be, enough to satisfy my need, and your acceptance to come to one table? I guess… Read more »

Cheryl Clough
Guest

There are some beautiful postings. Chris. Thanks for reposting the articles. They apply to everyone. Jesus’ actions and God’s acceptance were unilaterally from God. No amount of endeavour makes us worthy enough. I don’t think there is a need for a new covenant. Back in the late 1990s I went through a series of prayers trying to work out where Jesus fitted into the big picture in terms of other prophets, buddhas etc. Everyone was squabbling over who was more special or who was higher than who. Eventually, I for God to show me what He intended for Jesus. God’s… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘The craving for conformity of faith but the lack of any means to achieve it is a massive argument in favour of the Roman Catholic setup, which at least is intellectually coherent in its own terms.’ by: Craig Nelson The RC denomination tries to use various forms of intimidation and bullying ‘to achieve’ ‘conformity of faith’, where & when it can. These days this mainly leaves non-office holding church members free to believe and practice, according to conscience, at least in the West. So you will find plenty of theological liberalism & openness, and small families(!) in the West. However,… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

‘And my question to you laurence is, Why do you, as a fellow Christian, have to know what lies in the depth of my own personal heart? Why isn’t what I profess, however dishonest it could & perhaps be, enough to satisfy my need, and your acceptance to come to one table?’ cbfh hi there. I don’t need to in the least. I think there’s been a misunderstanding –me being unclear. I was arguing against using creeds to intrude into people’s souls, or to judge. I don’t myself go for creeds much at all. In fact I am not able… Read more »

counterlight
Guest
counterlight

It still seems to me that the task of winnowing the chaff, of sorting out the tares belongs to God alone.

When we’ve taken on that task ourselves, at best we’ve made terrible mistakes; at worst we’ve committed terrible crimes.

laurence
Guest
laurence

Happy new year ! May 2007 bring peace and good.
May we be its channels………..

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

laurence-Sorry, upon repeated reading of your letter, I must confess to reacting somewhat harshly and inaccurately.

I must confess to leaving out the word ‘only’ in reciting the Nicene and Apostle’s Creeds. Suspect I do not do this when singing, as I’ve got notes taking precedent over personal theology.

Thanks for the clarification, all the best for 2007!

laurence
Guest
laurence

hello there cbfh thanks for message, much appreciated –these things can just ‘get’ us sometimes, i know. I think its various things including ‘the instability of the signifier’ and what have you. I don’t know which country you are based in-but I often hear Cathedral Evensong , radio 3 Wednesdays, and am delighted when once in a while they intone /chant the Apostles’ Creed (rahter just say it). I’m surprised how infrequently it is sung, as in my tiny village church as a lad –very low it was too– this Creed was chanted at MP and EP every Sunday, and… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Hi laurence, yes, thanks to my relatively new foray into DSL, I get BBC 3 Evensongs as well here in bushworld. I sing Wednesday evensongs at the Cathedral in northeast Ohio and Sunday services as lead tenor at a large church with its men/boy choir about 35 miles south, in another large Ohio city. Yes, it’s nice chanting the AP in the very low Diocese of Ohio. And I also agree, it’s wonderful singing the High Holy Days when home (my job takes me away for months) in the synagogues, wonderful indulgance in the minor keys (Aeolian mode), and they… Read more »

Jon
Guest

On TEC and the Articles of Religion, it is probably worth while to note that they appear in the section “Historical Documents” and so aren’t necessarily “The Teaching of TEC” per se.

Jon

kieran crichton
Guest
kieran crichton

I suppose the question your average church musician would have to ask about this covenant is “how on earth are we to sing this….???!!”

Remarkably technocratic theologically AND in expression. Perhaps this was brought to us by the sponsors of the ASB (of blessed memory). Both defy any real attempts at poetic/musical expression.

Perhaps the test of anything emanating from the covenant discussions ought to be “could we sing it (together)?”

kieran crichton
Guest
kieran crichton

Oh, sorry – I meant the proposed covenant, not Giles Fraser’s article. Getting the threads mixed up!

laurence
Guest
laurence

hello cboifh thanks for message. Glad you get to hear it out there in ‘bush world’ –sounds great! Yes, the church whre we intoned the Apostles’ Creed was low church too. I think we and the vicar did sing everything that could be sung ! Glad you get to sing shul as well–thats really something else. You’ll know what i meant about the Shema and hitting that note on Echad -tear jerking. Yes, those minor keys ! I love the way MP and EP ars so like schul services -not surprising really i guess. Your job must keep you busy.… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

“how on earth are we to sing this….???!!” (Covenant)

What a good idea.

We believe in having bishops:
Just so long as they agree with us,
Otherwise we’ll become all funny
And hold on to all our money.

(Sorry, that’s the other covenant)

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Several points arising here: PLAIN MEANING: There are plenty of Bible words and concepts that can be easily understood, and transfer more or less one-to-one semantically into our own language and culture. However, if one wanted to pick an example of a phrase that does not transfer, ‘pisteuo eis’ (which I assume is what is meant by ‘believe in’) would be a prime candidate. Why? a- From the English point of view, one has to distinguish believing IN, THAT, and even ON (in older translations); b- Confusingly enough none of these properly translates the exact term, which means ‘INTO’; c-… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Re Andrew Innes’s first point, anyone would think that life was an essay question of this nature: ‘Please attempt doctrine or ethics but not both’. Everyone knows (??) that doctrine and ethics is a both/and matter. In any case, some people have both and others have neither, so they cannot be mutually exclusive.

So which people portray them as mutually exclusive? I’d guess the ethicists who *want* to avoid doctrine and the doctrine-specialists who *want* to avoide ethics. But our wants have nothing to do with the matter.