Thinking Anglicans

more from opponents of the Anglican Covenant

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a press release, available as a PDF here:

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has added three new Patrons to its special group of eminent Anglicans opposing the proposed Anglican Covenant. The new Patrons are

  • The Rt. Revd. James White, Assistant Bishop of Auckland, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
  • Dr. Muriel Porter, OAM, journalist and author, Anglican Church of Australia
  • The Revd. Canon Dr. Sarah Coakley, Norris-Hulse Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University, Church of England.

…“The disturbing theological vacuity of the Covenant document nonetheless comes with a hidden iron fist: do not be misled by its rhetoric of friendly collaboration between national churches,” writes Prof Coakley. “The Covenant bespeaks a quite different ecclesiology from that of Cranmer’s ‘blessed company of all faithful people,’ and profoundly alters what it means to be Anglican. The deepest theological challenges of our day cannot be answered by hapless bureaucratic manipulations of our theological tradition.”

Diarmaid MacCulloch has recorded a video in which he opposes the Covenant: see Diarmaid MacCulloch Adds To The Video Debate.

And, he also written a covering note Historical Problems with the Anglican Covenant for a learned paper The Anglican Covenant and the Experience of The Scottish Episcopal Church: Rewriting History for Expediencies Sake.

I would like to recommend most highly this historical article by the Ven. Edward Simonton, Archdeacon of Saint Andrews in the Diocese of Montreal. It is a marvelously clear, learned and well-informed introduction to the history and significance of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, which reveals just how shoddy and ill-informed are the historical arguments which have been used to promote the introduction of a so-called ‘Anglican Covenant’. Simonton guides his reader through the history of a Church in Scotland which is a complete contrast to that of the Church of England, yet which is just as ancient in its episcopate. This is particularly important because one of the planks of the ‘Covenant’ is that the Anglican identity, on which its attempt at universal discipline is based, looks to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the 1662 Prayer Book. This is simply not so in the case of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which one has to remember was up to 1707 a Church in an independent kingdom, Scotland…

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Malcolm French+JeremyDave MarshallPrior Aelredrjb Recent comment authors
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rjb
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rjb

+James White is an excellent man. Good to see he’s bringing his very considerable gifts to the movement.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

All three patrons are excellent. The ‘No’ campaign is notching up some heavyweight theologians, historians and commentators. I would be inclined to take them more seriously than the motley collection of bishops in favour. I do hope that by ‘Super Saturday’ this week, when six more English diocesan synods vote on the Covenant, the electorates will have taken time and trouble to be really well informed about just what is being proposed. This is really the last chance for pro – Covenant groups to stage a come back. Alternatively, and in my opinion sensibly, most of the six will vote… Read more »

Chris Smith
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Chris Smith

This ill-conceived “Covenant” is also perhaps the current Archbishop of Canterbury’s attempt to form an Anglican Magesterium loosely modeled on the model used by Roman Catholicism. It is an attempt to take us backward in time as if the Reformation itself never happened. It is an attempt to “control” us. The imperial top-down magesterium model is not working in Rome and is being challenged by millions of Roman Catholics as a model that does not reflect Jesus. It reflects Roman Emperors. The Covenant moves us in that direction and it is unacceptable. Shame on Rowan Williams for participating in this… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thank you, finally, yes, finally we get the straight scoop on the Anglican Covenant and the several CLEAR reasons for NOT approving it by dioceses at The Church of England! Watching yesterdays video, the ABC non-spelling out why ¨the Anglican covenant¨ MUST BE APPROVED doom, seemed plain despotic as he not-so-subtly scolds those who would disagree with him…him, it´s about him and his well plotted scheme (and specially selected cochairs of the Covenant Design team)…some even say he had a very mean look in his eyes for being *questioned* about the wisdom of the Anglican Covenant at ALL!… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Bishop Jim White will bring many gifts into the Coalition. Having been a well-loved parish priest and a theological educator in ACANZP before his elevation to the episcopate, he has many gifts. An advocate of the LGBT community for some time, +James is a most welcome addition to the hierarchy.

Ben
Guest
Ben

What’s any of this got to do with Diarmaid MacCulloch? Yes, a fine church historian, but he no longer identifies himself as Anglican. Indeed, when questioned at a recent lecture series a friend attended, he described himself as “an outside observer of the Christian church”.

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

It’s got everything to do with Diarmaid MacC. His note, and the paper he commends, shows that claims for the C of E to be the unique mother church of Anglicanism, and/or for the 1662 prayerbook to be its founding constitution, are simply false. This obviously matters for TEC, given the Seabury affair, as much as it does for Scotland.

Considering that one of the pro-Covenant documents circulating is a historical travesty from a canon theologian in Norwich, it’s an essential corrective.

I hope that non-Anglicans (including me) are not discouraged from reading and posting on this site.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Ben, the fact that Professor Diarmaid McCulloch may consider himself to be no longer an Anglican may have more to do with his negative experience of the Church, than that he might not be qualified to offer an educated opinion on its ecclesiology. After all, he probably knows more about the actual history of Anglicanism than many of the distinguished scholars who write books about it.

clark west
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clark west

Sarah Coakley’s comments seems the more significant to me, given both her strong theological commitments as well as her relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury. No one can accuse her of being less than fully Anglican in her identity. Does anyone know the origin of this quote–has she spoken publicly on Covenant matters?

For that matter, what about the current Lady Margaret Professor at Oxford, George Pattison? Has he come out with any views on the Covenant?

From a curious Yankee across the lake.

John
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John

Good question about DM. The answer, I think, is that he still partly identifies himself as a ‘cultural Anglican’. But I do wish that all those public commentators who defend the C of E (usually against Dawkins or the current Pope) would actually do something useful – like going to church.

Stuart
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Stuart

Diarmaid received his recent knighthood dressed in clericals and identified by the palace as “The Reverend Professor”. So he seems to be half in, half out (the default Anglican position…)

Pluralist
Guest

I myself questioned the value of having Diarmaid MacCulloch as a patron, because of the declaration he made at the end of his recent television series.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2012/02/so-what-if-diarmaid-maccolluch-opposes.html

On the other hand, he doesn’t have any other primary church identity (I go every week to the Hull Unitarians; I’m its best attender) and he still uses ‘we’.

Gregory Cameron’s posting is easily countered point by point, and that’s the basis of my latest offering http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2012/03/greggs-changes-sides.html in case anyone should get the wrong idea in the real world. The notion is the new one of ‘confessing’ that perhaps works in both directions!

JeremyP
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JeremyP

Diarmaid MacCulloch was ordained deacon in 1987 in Bristol Diocese. Crockford would not list him if he had resigned those orders. So he is entirely entitled to be described as the Revd Professor if he so desires. And given that the Church of England is an Established Church I would have thought that one of our most eminent church historian’s view of this business is of great interest to all members of the Church of England however he might describe his present personal position.

Prior Aelred
Guest

An ad hominem attack on Professor MacCulloch seems strong evidence that his factual statements cannot be refuted.

Dave Marshall
Guest

@Stuart: Yeah. At the opposite end of the academic scale I referred to myself recently as a semi-church person. But I distinguish between “Anglican” and “Church of England”. I don’t have much interest in or sympathy with many of the trappings of global anglicanism. My attachment is to the C of E as an institution committed to the spiritual welfare of all in its geographical area. Some might call that parochial; I see it as the only realistic approach an institution can take if it wants to engage with more than a small religious minority who happen to value “anglican… Read more »

Kurt
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Kurt

“This obviously matters for TEC, given the Seabury affair, as much as it does for Scotland.”— Iain McLean Quite true, Iain. Archdeacon Simonton didn’t have space to outline the many significant influences that the Scottish Church has historically had upon American Episcopalianism, from at least the time of the Rev. Dr. James Blair. Dr. Blair came to Virginia from Scotland and was the Bishop of London’s Ecclesiastical Commissary (administrative vicar) for that Province from 1689-1743. Blair came to the New World as part of the “first wave” Scottish clergy who were escaping religious repression at home. A second wave came… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

Ben, it is irrelevant whether Diarmaid MacCulloch is an ‘outside observer’ or what his current status is. What matters is what he says and whether it is correct or not.

I believe that he is an authoritative and informed source of information whose views are to be taken seriously.

rjb
Guest
rjb

I have mixed feelings about MacCulloch’s intervention. Of course he is welcome to his opinions (doubtless grounded in his immense erudition), but as a non-Anglican surely he cannot expect his views to be regarded as entirely relevant by those of us having this discussion from within the church? I have many views on what I would like to see happen in Muslim communities, based on my academic study of Islamic history and culture over a number of years, but I don’t imagine Muslims would take me terribly seriously if I were to start telling them what they should believe and… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

DaveM: interesting, and very well said.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Glad to see Dr. Muriel Porter on board. She has a good slant on the goings-on of the Sydney Diocese in the Australian Church – a situation that identifies with the disaffected of GAFCON

american piskie
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american piskie

I think that the Church of England is not as exclusive as rjb would like us to be. Until Prof MacCulloch resigns his orders (or is deposed) then he can participate in the election of his parochial representatives on the Deanery Synod. So in the narrow sense he has a very proper interest in the affairs of the C of E. (Of course if he were a layman he’d have to declare himself a member of the C of E or church in communion, but as a cleric he doesn’t.) More generally, as long as we have a church by… Read more »

rjb
Guest
rjb

I certainly have no wish for the Church of England – or the Anglican Communion for that matter – to be “exclusive”, and I’d certainly agree that there are voices to be heard from the margins (though I’m not quite sure an Oxford professor of Church History can claim to be all that marginal). But Diarmaid MacCulloch has said repeatedly and on the record that he does not regard himsself as a Christian. (I suspect some commenters here are sceptical about DM’s claims to not be a Christian at all, which seems a bit presumptuous to put it mildly.) His… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

I would be perfectly happy to hear the opinions of Richard Dawkins or the Chief Rabbi about the Anglican Covenant, since the two major arguments in its favor are “It is essential for the survival of the Anglican Communion” & “It doesn’t really change anything” (“It will hurt Rowan’s feelings it is doesn’t pass” doesn’t really constitute an argument, IMHO). Logically, these are mutually exclusive. If anyone has a good argument in favor of the actual text of the document, I have yet to hear it.

Dave Marshall
Guest
Dave Marshall

There’s obviously a breadth to both relevance and authenticity. That means they can be thrown around in a fairly meaningless way. But equally, when related to ‘the Gospel’ they seem essential attributes. Otherwise whatever that means is going to have no value. While defiantly counter-cultural may have its moments, I mostly find a moderate sounding, making sense approach to God and Christian tradition more interesting and constructive. A more creative expression of faith, I guess, that I suspect is ultimately more radical and effective in confronting negative aspects of culture.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

The Archbishop of Canterbury is arguing in favor of the Covenant by saying that unspecified non-Anglicans like it.

Given that Williams is arguing from non-Anglican authority, I doubt it matters how Anglican MacCulloch is.

Malcolm French+
Guest

Far be it to me to speak for Professor MacCulloch, but I recently had occasion to ask him about the matter of how to refer to him. He has neither resigned nor been deposed from his orders. However, since he is effectively not functioning in those orders, he does not generally use the styles associated with them – ie, “the Revd.” He was referred to with that style at his recent investiture because, as a person in clerical orders, the manner of his investiture and the style by which he subsequently addressed is different. Thus he is not referred to… Read more »