Thinking Anglicans

two more Covenant articles

Bishop Alan Wilson asks an important question: Anglican Covenant: a Tool for…?

I am slightly bemused when I am told some big signature project is perfectly safe because it won’t make any critical difference. If not, why bother? Is there anything worth doing instead that might make a difference? But a new General Synod is about to sign the C of E up to the Anglican Covenant, pretty much on auto-pilot, some say as much out of fear of giving offence as positive endorsement for its supposed virtues. Everyone else can then back-pedal, ignore it, even, depending on where they stand in the culture wars,

* because they fear it will spank TEC
or
* because they fear it won’t,

The Covenant then joins a select number of other magnificenti in the lumber room, like the Kikuyu declaration, and life carries on. But, inquiring minds will wonder, what kind of a tool is it? What for? Whose benefit? How?

There’s a scale for assessing tools, that runs from Swiss Army Knife to Turkey Turners…

There is also provision in the article for voting on your choice of tool.

And the second article is from Paul Bagshaw who compares this issue to that of the Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure 1974. The article is titled And always keep a-hold of Nurse …. He concludes:

And the relevance of this to a Covenant is:

(a) because the CofE is a State Church it has no ecclesiology – it has had no capacity to think for itself what kind of church it is and should and could be,

(b) the CofE has had centuries of training in the arts of being subordinate and acting as though it was autonomous – it exists through a sophisticated systemic exercise of willful blindness and realpolitik.

(c) The point at which it acquired the power to determine its own doctrine was too late for it to exercise such power. From the mid-1980s ecumenical agreements and the changing shape of the Anglican Communion meant that in practice it could only make definitive doctrinal statements in concert (if not uniformly) with other churches and the rest of the Communion – see, for example, the statement on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.

So to adopt the Covenant for the CofE would simply be to accept a new overlordship while continuing to pretend it is superior to it. It will make sure its officers are embedded in the operation of the Covenant so that nothing potentially embarrassing comes to the light of public debate. And thus it will ensure it still doesn’t have to think about its ecclesiology – what principles – actually and ideally – underlie, predispose and can be used to judge the words, structures and action of the Church of England?

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Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

If the Church of England Synod rubber stamps the passage of the “Covenant” with little serious debate, they will present a spineless and bigoted image to the world. It will be one more nail in the coffin of the status quo. Let’s hope our better angels prevail.

Bill Moorhead
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Bill Moorhead

“Turkey Turners are admirably well-intentioned but essentially useless.” One of the best lines of the month!

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“Whichever way the various decision making processes go, it would be good to feel people had at least voted for something they believed in, not simply something they were too nice to ask questions about, and with (against?) which couldn’t be bothered to object

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

The above quotation from Bishop Alan Wilson got away from me before I could comment – as follows: This seems to just about put the situation of any discussion of the Covenant at the next G.S. Meeting into it’s proper context. From my distant (New Zealand) point of view, I wonder whether the subject of what the Covenant fully entails (for example: exclusion for Provinces (such a TEC) -which have moved into the 21st century with the progressive ordination of women and gays in their local situation. For Church of England General Synod effectively to signal a vote of ‘No-Confidence’… Read more »

Carl
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Thank you, Father Ron. May your strong understanding voice continue to be a motivating force in the Anglican Communion. I have read and totally agree with your writing and statements for the last year.

I do hope that you met with Bishop Kathryn on her
recent visit to New Zealand.

My prayers will continue for both you and our Presiding Bishop in the future of our communion.

Columba Gilliss
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Columba Gilliss

No mention of the attitudes and practice of Nigeria, Uganda, etc. because their use of the race/culture card triggers post-colonial guilt and its strange twin post-missionary guilt. When will Rowan and those in power recognize that?
Columba Gilliss

John Thorp
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In my view, what really condemns the covenant is that it is a very diffuse and wordy document, whose tone is bureaucratic rather than inspiring. It’s not the sort of ringing text around which people can rally. Consider some comparisons. The Nicene Creed is, depending on the translation, 225 words long. The less memorable Athanasian Creed is three times the length, at 700 words. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which first gave birth to international Anglicanism, is a bit shorter, at 675 words. The American Declaration of Independence is 1340 words long; the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights clocks in at… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

That top global Anglican leaders could dare to mention this new fangled covenant as our believer salvation from various global differences … through global policing and punishment, no less? … is beyond common sense. When such keen minds grow so patently fuzzy that they fall back on policing and punishment, we believers must suspect that the cure is worse than the spin doctored malady. Either the covenant will be signed then ignored and fudged; or it will be applied selectively … such that rabidly violent places like Nigeria or Uganda will simply be wrapped up in fake righteousness. Whitened sepulchres… Read more »

Tobias Haller
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If the Covenant would work we wouldn’t need it. If it doesn’t work (in keeping things together) why have it?

It is a tissue of aspirations barely cloaking a pessimistic mistrust.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Added to the list of comparatively short and pithy documents:

The Gettysburg Address is about 270 words; the original text of the US Constitution (without amendments) is around 4400 words.

Toby Forward
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John Thorp, you make a good point, and I can see the power of your argument. May I argue against it? The shorter the piece, the tighter it will be and the less room for ambiguity. I would like the Covenent to be as long as the Bible and the complete works of Chaucer put together, with as much ambiguity, discursiveness, poetry, legend, myth and contradiction as those works contain. That way, we’ll all be able to live together as we used to.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

The Heart Sutra says it all in few words.

True inspiration.

Also practical …

http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/heartsutra.html

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

“The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, which first gave birth to international Anglicanism…” Actually, this is a common misconception, which I wish to correct. The Quadrilateral is a valuable document, which provides a minimal definition of what we as Anglicans see as a valid church with all the essential elements. But it did not give birth to international Anglicanism. Its original intent was to serve as a basis for negotiations of either full communion or merger with other churches. How would we recognize whether another church is minimally compatible? Answer: it has all the elements enumerated in the Quadrilateral. How the Quadrilateral morphed… Read more »

Pluralist
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I have a short comment contrasting the India visit and the intentions of the Covenant, plus an outing for a new paint/ draw tablet.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/10/anyone-understand-him.html

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Toby makes a good point (hark at me !) and if it could be in various languages ancient and modern and with a sensibility like Lanark that would keep all the god / covenant botherers busy for years to come !

Ed
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Whatever the Church of England is it isn’t subordinate, as opposition to policies of the Thatcher era showed.

Fr Mark
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Ed “Whatever the Church of England is it isn’t subordinate, as opposition to policies of the Thatcher era showed.” I disagree: I don’t remember the Church being a real force to be reckoned with under Robert Runcie, Ed. Private Eye, after all, used to maintain the delightful conceit that Runcie & the Queen Mother were in fact the same person, which is why they were never seen in public together… Furthermore, there is really no history at all of the Church of England ever having taken a strong independent stand on issues of justice, is there? The present extraordinarily feeble… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

My greatest sadness about this whole “covenant” thing is the way that the word “covenant” is degraded by it – covenant is a rich theological word, not the political tool of church bureaucrats (or should be).

Does this “covenant” bear any relationship to the new covenant in Christ’s blood?

And, for those of us in Anglican/Methodist LEPs, the Methodist Covenant Service bears witness to some of these rich meanings.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

The ultimate irony is that the sign of God’s covenant with His people after the Flood was . . . a rainbow.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“I do hope that you met with Bishop Kathryn on her recent visit to New Zealand. My prayers will continue for both you and our Presiding Bishop in the future of our communion.” – Posted by: Carl on Monday – Thanks, Carl. Yes, I did indeed meet with Bishop Kathryn on her recent visit to New Zealand. She was in the sanctuary for Solemn Evensong at St. michael’s Church – together with clergy of the parish (who wore copes for the occasion)- at St. Michael & All Angels parish church in the City of Christchurch. We were most impressed by… Read more »

Savi H
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Savi H

I believe, Mark Bennet, that this Covenant sets up a rival allegiance to that of the new covenant.

JPM
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JPM

>>>My greatest sadness about this whole “covenant” thing is the way that the word “covenant” is degraded by it

Much like the way “orthodox” has come to mean “fundamentalist.”

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

he ultimate irony is that the sign of God’s covenant with His people after the Flood was . . . a rainbow.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Yes, that right, yr enfys –and great to see human diversity prefigured in the Hebrew Bible.

We were taught at Sunday school to sing :

“whenever you see a rainbow
remember God is Love”