Thinking Anglicans

Anglican Covenant – Ten Reasons Why Not

From the No Anglican Covenant Blog:

Ten Reasons Why the Proposed Anglican Covenant Is a Bad Idea

  1. The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into a contentious, centralized aggregation of churches designed to reduce diversity and initiative. The Covenant would institutionalize the “Instruments of Unity” as never before and would give extraordinary power to the newly enhanced Standing Committee.
  2. Under the Covenant, churches will be inhibited from undertaking new evangelical or mission initiatives for fear of offending other Communion churches and becoming embroiled in the disciplinary mechanisms set up by the Covenant.
  3. The centralization of authority envisioned by the proposed Covenant is cumbersome, costly, and undemocratic. In an era in which power and authority are being distributed in many organizations in order to achieve greater efficiency, responsiveness, and accountability, what has been proposed for the Communion seems out of step with current thinking regarding large organizations.
  4. Although the proposed Covenant is offered as a mechanism to achieve unity, its immediate effect is to create divisions. Churches that cannot or will not adopt the Covenant automatically become second-class members of the Communion. The inevitable application of the disciplinary provisions of Section 4 will likely further distinguish between “full” members of the Communion and less-than-full members.
  5. The proposed Covenant is dangerously vague. Sections 1–3 of the Covenant, which are seen by many as innocuous, leave much room for divergent interpretations. Section 4 makes it all too easy for any church to “ask questions” about the actions of another, which may then be subjected to unspecified “relational consequences.” There is no sure measure of what behaviour is likely to be acceptable, no checks provided against unreasonable complaints, and no guarantee that “consequences” (i.e., punishments) meted out will be commensurate with the alleged offence.
  6. The proposed Covenant runs counter to the gospel imperative of not judging others. It is all too easy for Communion churches to complain about the sins of their sister churches while ignoring or diverting attention from their own failures to live out the Gospel.
  7. The proposed Covenant encourages premature ending of debate. Rather than taking the advice of Gamaliel (Acts 5:38–39) and seeing how controversial matters play out, the Covenant evidences an eagerness to “settle” them. This is an unfortunate temptation to which the Communion seems subject. It has too quickly concluded that “homosexual practice” is “incompatible with Scripture” and that adopting the Covenant is “the only way forward,” neither of which is either intuitively obvious or universally agreed upon.
  8. The notion that we need to make “forceful” the “bonds of affection” is fundamentally flawed. If we need force and coercion to maintain relationships between Communion churches, there is no true affection, and the very foundation of the proposed Covenant is fraudulent.
  9. The proposed “Covenant” seems more like a treaty, contract, or instrument of surrender than a covenant. In the ecclesiastical context, a covenant is usually thought of as an agreement undertaken in joy and in an atmosphere of trust—baptismal and marriage covenants come to mind. The proposed Anglican Covenant, on the other hand, is advanced in an atmosphere of anger, fear, and distrust, and with the threat of dire consequences if it is not adopted.
  10. The proposed Covenant is not the only way forward; there are better options. The Anglican Communion would be better served by remaining a single-tier fellowship of churches, allowing disaffected members to leave if they must, while keeping the door open for their return. Any alternative position cedes too much power to those willing to intimidate by threatening to walk away.

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penwatch
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penwatch

Something wrong with your numbering Simon, ten or nine reasons? That apart, the Covenant as currently proposed will seal permanent schism between three factions: First, those who will sign out of weariness, lack of real knowledge of what is being proposed or simple loyalty to Rowan Williams. This would include the General Synod of the C of E. Secondly, those who can’t sign up as the Covenant is designed to punish or ostracise them. This includes the North Americans and perhaps Provinces like Brazil. Thirdly, those who won’t sign up either because they don’t think the Covenant is ‘strong’ enough… Read more »

peterpi
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peterpi

Simon, thank you. Those ten reasons are sound, solid, and right on!
No Covenant! No how, no way!

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

“Ten Reason Why Not” is an example of truly excellent journalism. I commend Thinking Anglicans for publishing this insightful piece. It is all the more disturbing that the Archbishop of Canterbury would try to promote the Covenant after reading this. It is profoundly disturbing in that it appears to follow the Roman Catholic model of top down authority that stems from a central Teaching Office. The Roman Catholic model has failed and the Latin Rite Churches are in deep crisis as a result of this way of being Church. The Covenant as described in these paragraphs, if in-acted, would try… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

You’ve neglected to include #10.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Amen and Amen!

Tom
Guest
Tom

How can this site continue to call itself ‘thinking’ if it’s willing to repost without comment utterly baseless accusations regarding the covenant. These ten ‘reasons’ demonstrate as much logic as those found on creationist websites.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Numbering now fixed.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Yes, many of the claims here are ….. well, shall we say a little above fanciful! But 1,5,8,and 10 have (without the exaggerations) my head nodding. For me, a Covenant enthusiast, this awful document is a creature of its time a veritable Treaty of Versailles (criticised as both too harsh and not harsh enough, yet leading to a deeper disaster) – and what I object to most strongly is the great and lasting Covenant it robs us of. That Covenant I hope for may be a generation or two away – but with the passing of this mean thing the… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Tom,

The logic was sound. You just don’t like the realities highlighted. Think before you post about others’ thinking.

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Would Tom like to expand on his assertion? I think we must be reading very different documents. The Ten Reasons don’t make baseless accusations, they draw inferences from the text of the covenant – and to my mind, very reasonable ones.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Tom
maybe you can thinkingly engage with the reasons then and explain why they’re wrong instead of just dismissing them? Because to unthinking, uncritical me they look quite compelling.

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

To penwatch: I hope you are not suggesting that ACNA is legitimate by saying that they would not agree to sign. They are not being asked to sign. They have no standing nor reason to sign and they are schismatic. It’s bad enough that Duncan hangs around at the Gafcon meetings and calls himself an archbishop, but this doesn’t automatically entitle him and his crew to anything.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

‘How can this site continue to call itself ‘thinking’ if it’s willing to repost without comment utterly baseless accusations regarding the covenant’. Firstly surely it is the purpose of this site to post exactly this sort of information so that those of us who wish can make our own comments. Secondly, it is exactly this sort of dogmatic non-argument which alarms those of us who actually are thinking about what the Covenant could mean. Tom clearly wishes to see no argument or discusion about the need for the Covenant itself and one can only infer that he would also wish… Read more »

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

A vibrant, co-operative fellowship? That’s not the Anglican church I recognise from reading TA.

ref: 6, it’s easy to pick and choose the ‘gospel imperative’ which most suits our argument. There’s another ‘gospel imperative’, which crops up regularly in the New Testament, of not tolerating false teaching and divisive leadership.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

So Tom, what exactly are your objections aside from invective?

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

This is what I call inspired. Thank you.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

Amen and well done It doesn’t take rocket science to know that when someone is designing a hammer, they intend to use it as a hammer. The covenant is about giving some souls a hammer because they haven’t got mechanisms to control that which they don’t like or under stand. How many times did we hear Lambeth 1.10 being touted as a disciplinary tool against the US Episcsopal Church, even though they weren’t present and never participated in the document’s development or endorsement? The same thing will happen with this document. Some will sign, and then state that others are… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

This is the problem, and it predicates the following points in a false way: “The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into…” But we do not at present have such a thing, whose tranformation by an evil covenant would do this or that. We have a broken communion in which a major percentage of provinces are out of communion with TEC. If there is a vibrant, numerically sizeable fellowship, it is presumably the vast bloc represented by the Global South. What is the “vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches” that this statement refers to? I agree… Read more »

Cornelius
Guest
Cornelius

“We are not and have never been a ‘confessional’ Church” … apart, of course, from the creeds, the Prayer Book and the Thirty-Nine Articles, all of which are C of E doctrine (Canon A5), to which all clergy give assent. Now read the preface to the articles: they are to be taken only in their “literal and grammatical sense” ! It seems to me that we have two / three completely separate churches in the C of E (reformed catholic (ie Anglican); liberal catholic (eg Bp Saxbee); and would-be-Roman catholic (flying-bishops-R-us)). Similarly, there are three communions all calling themselves Anglican… Read more »

murdoch
Guest
murdoch

I wish the contrivers of this anti-covenant list hadn’t started off on a false note: “The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into a contentious, centralized aggregation of churches.” No, the transformation has already occurred, and defeating the covenant won’t put the communion together again. (The centralization isn’t formal as yet, but the Archbishop and some Primates act as though it were.) “The historic church” is as much a fiction as “the Anglican Communion,” both reflections of Empire. The Roman Empire, which evolved into The West, and the American Empire, which supplanted the British one,… Read more »

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

Just to correct any misapprehensions that may arise from my participation in another thread running at the moment, let me say I wholeheartedly agree with this set of 10 reasons, and especially with penwatch’s discussion of them.

Edward Prebble

Fr Mark
Guest

cseitz “…a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into… But we do not at present have such a thing.”

Well, I don’t know about that. I come across many Europeans in the course of travels across the continent, and they are often well-educated young professionals, and often (ex-)Roman Catholics too, who long for the sort of vibrant lead the Episcopal Church in particular has taken to be followed by the traditional churches in Europe, which are dying fast at the moment for lack of engagement with the realities of European society and thought.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“The proposed Anglican Covenant would transform a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into…” But we do not at present have such a thing”

I think the model, cseitz, is Lambeth ’08, and its Indaba (seemed reasonably “vibrant, cooperative” to me!)

If some wish to exclude themselves—as they did then—that’s not the fault of those who DO choose to fellowship!

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Cornelius – the Declaration of Assent and the Preface to it in the Church of England is a fairly layered document – and it was constructed that way so that clergy of all colours can make it without it only being interpretable in one way. And even with this Preface which is very open to a number of different interpretations I think it is true to say that the Church of England is not a confessional church as the phrase has generally been understood – there is no particular Credo that is peculiar to the C of E that we… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

I am trying to be factual, not antagonistic. The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others. Of course a whole lot of anglicans like each other and that is very nice. But it is not the 80Mil member Communion but instead represents something like 20% of that. That is fine. But to speak of something vibrant and cooperative that is at the same time an Anglican Communion under threat by a covenant is simply false. Others note this above. The ‘vibrant and cooperative fellowship’ is… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

JCF and Fr Mark — if fourteen provinces do not attend the Dublin meeting, then the ‘indaba’ idea will have shown itself unsustainable. Don’t complain about the messenger. These are now facts on the ground. My concern is that the ‘Ten Against’ idea only fantasizes about what are actual realities in the world-wide communion. The Lambeth Conference is now in the rear-view mirrot. Of course there can be a ‘vibrant fellowship of cooperation’ amongst liberals. But they will be small in number vis-a-vis the wider Communion, and to speak of them as the status quo is misleading at best. The… Read more »

Richard Grand
Guest
Richard Grand

It has been said that there is no such thing as unique Anglican doctrine or teaching. There is only Catholic teaching that Anglicans maintain in its Creeds.

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

“… vibrant, cooperative, fellowship(s)” do exist in the Anglican Communion from diocese to diocese, even between and amongst dioceses which disagree. The members still work together in mission.

Pluralist
Guest

I would have thought that the issue is not as such what needs fixing, but that the Covenant is the means to create a greater problem than exists at present. The Anglican Communion is balkanising, but all the Covenant will do is make that formal. If the thing is spinning apart, the notion of banging in a few formal nails at the centre to hold it together just leads to it flying apart with more force. The Covenant will make no difference to the groupings or the exclusive confessing element at one end and the socially inclusive and a little… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

It’s vibrant and cooperative APART from the parts that want to be in absolute control – those parts being self-styled as “orthodox.” APART from those politically-motivated, dirty-trick “orthodox” who premeditated a covenant to silence all opposition, we were just fine. That being the case, perhaps the problem isn’t those who change their views, but those who can’t. That’s atrophy, and it’s unhealthy. In some cases, it becomes septic and needs to be removed.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Mr Seitz:

“The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others.”

So we’re back to numbers again. I can only presume that is why you consider the Global South to be “the main lines of Anglicanism.” Funny, I would have thought the main line of Anglicanism must, perforce, run through Canterbury…which is still in full communion with TEC.

Fr Mark
Guest

cseitz: if some people won’t go to meetings or receive communion from others, then they’re just a few grown men exercising their right to be a bit childish from time to time. That’s one of the freedoms people have, and even that is a better sign of vibrancy than a forced conformism, isn’t it?

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

“if fourteen provinces do not attend the Dublin meeting”

cseitz, it’s not 14 provinces that won’t be in Dublin, it’s 14 angry primates who are threatening not to come. Frankly, I don’t understand their posturing and naked hostility. It seems to get them nothing.

They should know that “les absents ont toujours tort.”

Jim Beyer
Guest

Yes there is a lot of anger and mistrust in the relationship now but that is part of being dynamic and vibrant. What is not dynamic or vibrant is a church ruled by a central authority that dictates thought and eliminates conflict (cf. Rome.) As to cooperative, consider the many ministries of TEC in Sudan. Do we agree with the Sudanese? Not always and some of the disagreements are sharp edged. But(!) we do cooperate and we do ministry together. I think those of you who object to the first point are making Dr. Williams’ and Rome’s fundamental error —… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

So we have those who have not changed their views on Christian marriage, and those who moved forward with a new revelation. This is uncontroversial. If the former wish to covenant and remain a Communion, and the latter do not, what is the problem with that? No one is being coerced. The name calling could cease. The vibrant and cooperative could be that, each in their own realms. Those who dissent from the Communion and its teaching would be honest dissenters (see Turner’s recent essay). But to say that the covenant will destroy a vibrant fellowship is nonsense. At most,… Read more »

Bill Moorhead
Guest

cseitz “…a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches into… But we do not at present have such a thing.”

A lot of us do have such a thing (yes, even, and especially, in TEC!). Dr. Seitz evidently does not, and it would seem that he is intent to keep it that way. Perhaps his definition of “a vibrant, cooperative, fellowship of churches” is “churches that agree with me.”

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

“Of course there can be a ‘vibrant fellowship of cooperation’ amongst liberals.”

As opposed to those who believe that it is their God-given right to rule.

Kurt Hill
Guest
Kurt Hill

“We are not and have never been a ‘confessional’ Church” … apart, of course, from the creeds, the Prayer Book and the Thirty-Nine Articles, all of which are C of E doctrine (Canon A5), to which all clergy give assent. Now read the preface to the articles: they are to be taken only in their ‘literal and grammatical sense’” !—Cornelius The Articles of Religion have never been very popular in the American Church. In the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were dissected and cut down to twenty. In the first authorized Prayer… Read more »

Fr John
Guest
Fr John

Indeed Amen.

Was the synod so deaf to these reasons, or simply afraid to offend Rowan.

Wghat is the new synod, a bunch of yes persons. God forbid!!!

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Mr Seitz:

“The vibrant and cooperative could be that, each in their own realms. Those who dissent from the Communion and its teaching would be honest dissenters (see Turner’s recent essay).”

IOW, we can all agree to cooperate with those we already cooperate with. In some areas, this is called “preaching to the choir.” Cooperation starts from disagreement, not agreement…if we’re all in agreement, there’s nothing to cooperate about, is there?

Fr Mark
Guest

cseitz: “So we have those who have not changed their views on Christian marriage, and those who moved forward with a new revelation. This is uncontroversial.”

But, with respect, this happened (in the 60s/70s?) when mainline Protestant America accepted remarriage after divorce, and European Christians still held to the traditional teaching… yet here we are decades later, and they managed not to break communion over the issue, in fact, the Europeans even, by and large, came round to the American innovation.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC” I thought we were having a conversation, cseitz? It seems you—representing the “main line”?—have instead set yourself up to TALK DOWN at those of us in the (infernal?) depths of TEC. “The Lambeth Conference is now in the rear-view mirro[r]. Of course there can be a ‘vibrant fellowship of cooperation’ amongst liberals.” You’re saying there were only “liberals” at Lambeth? I wish! [Also recall, one bishop—whom you’d probably term a “liberal”, though he wouldn’t—was *forcibly excluded*] Maybe then we would have, once and for all, gotten rid of… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Communion is only at present a broken reality, with the main lines of Anglicanism globally out of communion with TEC and others.” – cseitz – It all depends on what you call ‘the main lines of Anglicanism’ really, doesn’t it, Mr Seitz? I think you really refer here to this entity: “Those in the network of Anglican Mainstream are committed to the traditional biblical teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality. Anglican Mainstream International is a coalition” To give one’s own organisation a fine-sounding title such as ‘Anglican Mainstream’ does not, per se, mean that the title truly… Read more »

Nixon is Lord
Guest
Nixon is Lord

You’ve forgotten Point #11, the most important of all: Nobody cares.

JeremyB
Guest
JeremyB

“Main lines of Anglicanism” — would those be scripture, tradition, and reason?

Nom de Plume
Guest
Nom de Plume

“But, with respect, this happened (in the 60s/70s?) when mainline Protestant America accepted remarriage after divorce…” Back up at least a century and a half. It all began when Western societies began changing the traditional understanding of marriage and replaced it with the love match. The notion that the partners in marriage choose each other, rather than having the choice made for them, is the beginning of all the other changes in marriage, including divorce and remarriage. Now, if we can just go back to the good old days when marriage had nothing to do with love, and everything to… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Why would anyone wish to be in communion with GAFCON or ACNA or Uganda or Nigeria? Sorry, but numbers don’t make up for bad teaching, violence, degradation and hatred. It’s time to cut them off cleanly. We have nothing to gain from continuing with them, and isolating the violence forces it to turn back on and consume itself. Have nothing to do with these people – let them, including those who come here to pretend reasoned argument, be as tax collectors and sinners to you. Call them to repentance, share food with them if you wish, but don’t treat them… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Or, the eleventh reason might be that the power of clergy(men) will increase while laymen and clergy and lay women will be on the margins of decision-making, as I mentioned in another thread. The comment comes from WATCH:

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Is this ‘Thinking Anglicans’ or something else? An echo chamber of liberal outrage? The point was very basic. Let the Communion remain as before, and those who wish to dissent and move forward with a New Truth do so unencumbered by association with the vast bulk of the Communion. Many of us do not want a surrogate called ‘Lutheran World Federation’ of national churches for anglicans. ‘Mr Seitz’

Fr Mark
Guest

cseitz: “Let the Communion remain as before, and those who wish to dissent and move forward with a New Truth do so unencumbered by association with the vast bulk of the Communion”

Tush and pish, cseitz: remember that “new truth” could have been the phrase to denominate any of the many steps forward in recent centuries which you no doubt accept. Caricature can be far more unthinking than “liberal outrage” (if only there were in fact some of that in the C of E!).