19 June 2007 by Simon Sarmiento
Annex 2 of GS 1661, the paper by the Bishop of Chichester, is now available here.
This seems to damn the Covenant idea with rather faint praise. And the suggestion that this is all being terribly rushed is a veiled criticism of the process in itself.
This is getting interesting.
Well that didn’t amount to much.
He needs to describe how Anglicanism is distinctive, then, and if he cannot then it is stuck with disagreement, unless this is understood too.
Here’s a telling point:
_Depressing though it is to admit, support for and opposition to the idea of a covenant usually tends to reveal immediately where people stand on some of the more substantive theological and moral questions involved in our present crisis._
This is precisely why the Covenant is adding to division, as if it could cure the gap.
_“Nothing” will lead to irreparable damage to the Anglican Communion, and consequently to the Church of England; the wrong kind of covenant likewise._
If you are going to say a Covenant but not the wrong kind, a text is needed as to what it might look like. He could have suggested one. It is supposed to be regulative too.
A different approach is to look at the disagreements, describe where positions have come from, and work out an Anglican ecclesiology of handling difference.
When you cannot make a statement of unity, make a statement of difference. It might help to clarify and assist how people relate to each other.
It would take me an hour or two, including editing. It’s not that difficult.
The undertow in the bishop’s discussion reminds me so powerfully of just why we NOW suffer a conservative realignment campaign: The new Anglican conservatives, reinvigorated by the opportunities to denounce homosexuality in no uncertain terms, are also taking this occasion to denounce everybody for not being as serious about following Jesus of Nazareth as they claim they are. We are in deep crisis, because they are serious and everyone else is lacking.
What, exactly, is missing from the seriousness of the rest of us? Could it be penalisms of all forms and sorts? Could it be our Anglican Global North-South-Central willingness to let a wide variety of believers work out their salvation among us, welcome in community, with thanksgiving and trembling before G-D, without the sheer necessities of always being weighed by the conservatives among us and found always wanting?
To distract us from this underlying realignment assumption, we are further loudly told that our alleged lack of seriousness is innately threatening to a special conservative brand of Anglican conscience. God has given us conservative believers, not any longer as brother and sister Anglican pilgrims, but as a special tactical pilgrim police unit. Alas.
So yet again we are being told we are in crisis.
I think it more accurate to say that the conservative realignment believers are in crisis, because new data is slowly but surely winning the day in a number of daily life realms over which they aspired, thanks to their closed views of truth and special conservative revelation authority, to receive and apply sole – and highly visible – Anglican religious power or control.
Penal religious controls, at that? Tribunals, watchdogs, and a very curious special tool kit of realignment conservative presuppositional discernment practices – which demonstrate their utility by enacting the privilege to ignore this or that piece of data, along with the modern research tool kit which weighed it, in favor of keeping a church life Status Quo.
Reminds me, then, just why I am still a progressive or liberal believer. I change for the better, often, if not daily. And even my best tool kit, more slowly, can change for the better.
It would be a huge mistake to enshrine a maladaptive covenant into permanence because of a hasty over-reaction to a created crisis. It would equally mistaken to lose ones way to the graven image of maladaptive dogmatism. A lot of us already have.
“It should indicate those areas of faith (including morals) and order where unanimity of heart and mind belong to the nature of the faith itself and are essential for Eucharistic communion.”
My concern is whose morals should we be adopting? Those who worry about the “immorality” of being compassionate to GLBTs but are indifferent or even condone the slandering and bashing of women?
There is also an inference that being immoral in once sense means you are unsuitable in all senses. Moses was deemed unfit to enter the Holy Land because he used force when he struck the earth for water (metaphysically he could be called a wife basher). Yet God deemed that Moses was worthy enough to take his people into Exodus and lead them for forty years. Joshua did not lead the people through Exodus, but he was worthy enough to lead them into the Holy Land.
Looking for uniformity as per the Catholic Church is not necessarily healthy either. Their legacy is a proposition that since Jesus Christ is in their lives, they no longer have the need for sex. This has evolved into a debarcle. History and court cases demonstrate that the clergy do have sex, and that there has been a culture develop (independently in multiple denominations) that if priests do have sex, they should hide the evidence. They have repeated colluded to hide their peer’s indiscretions of having sex with nuns, children, male or female parishioners or prostitutes. If their theology was so robust, why were there so many “breakouts” where priests had sex anyway, even though they were supposedly satisfied with Jesus Christ?
So we’ll bring in a convenant which is to be regurgitated of what it means to be an Anglican, and through priestly authority repress any evidence that indicates the theology does not work in practice. That way, if no one is saying bad things about them, that means they aren’t doing them… That might work for the sycophants, but it doesn’t wash with God.
“I argue for an Anglican Covenant but not for any Anglican Covenant”
But members of the GS (and other Provincial legislatures) will not get a look in on the content. The process (except in TEC) is to seek approval in principle now, to get endorsement of a revised draft at Lambeth 2008, and approval of a further revision at the ACC in 2009.
Then each Province will be told – here’s the text, it’s not open for amendment because it has the approval of all the international Instruments of Unity. Please endorse it.
Legislative bodies will not get the opportunity to debate the detail. And just who writes the revisions between each stage will be largely hidden from public view.
It is because modern technology enables so many to participate that the crucial decisions will be taken by very few. From the Windsor Report on each report on the Covenant has spotted the difficulty of obtaining general participative assent, and each has successively shortened the timetable and reduced the number of people who may have any real influence over the content.
Yes Paul Bagshaw, the necessity then of rejecting this Covenant comes earlier than it might otherwise have been.
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