Thursday, 29 June 2006

InclusiveChurch on the Anglican Covenant

PRESS RELEASE

Inclusive Church is grateful to the Archbishop of Canterbury for his reaffirmation of the breadth and diversity of the Anglican tradition.

His recognition of this fundamental principle and mark of Anglicanism - the catholic, reformed and liberal strands of the Communion - offer a sound basis for our journey forward together.

But we have profound concerns about the process of agreeing any Covenant. The quick response of some of the more conservative parts of the Communion indicates that they see a Covenant more as an instrument of division than an instrument of unity.

The terms and wording of any document will need to “renew our positive appreciation of the possibilities of our heritage” in the Archbishop’s words. A Covenant must therefore give value to the strands in our tradition, not excluding reason from our theological method but finding a new way of expressing the Anglican approach to the faith in today’s world.

If we are to approach the process of agreeing a Covenant with honesty and integrity we must as Provinces and local churches be willing to be open about our own present situations. Many provinces have practices which other parts of the Communion may not support. For example, the blessing of same-gender relationships happens regularly in this Province even if not officially acknowledged. There are ongoing issues around the world over the tacit acceptance of lay presidency and polygamy.

The possibility of a two-tier Communion should not therefore be seized upon as a way to exclude those who support the full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church. The Church of England is in various ways very similar to the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada and many of us would hope to strengthen our links in the future. It is likely that any wording designed to exclude TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada would also exclude the Church of England.

We are also uncertain whether a Covenant would affect the unilateral activities the Windsor report hoped to end – for example the election by the Province of Nigeria of Revd Martin Minns as bishop for a missionary initiative in North America.

We have serious concerns about the way a Covenant might be applied locally in the future. Proposals before the Church of England’s General Synod for the ordination of women as bishops are specifically designed to avoid parallel jurisdictions. How can we reconcile that with the proposal to have “constituent” and “associate” members of the Communion? Is there not potential for division even at Deanery level?

Ultimately we believe that we are already brought together by the covenant of Baptism. An Anglican Covenant, to reaffirm the bonds of unity for our Communion, will have to reflect the essential inclusiveness of the Baptismal Covenant.

Revd Dr. Giles Fraser, President, InclusiveChurch
Revd Giles Goddard, Chair, InclusiveChurch 07762 373 674

office@inclusivechurch.net
www.inclusivechurch.net

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 June 2006 at 2:29pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Jim is naive like so many others. Williams had to know his comments would spur our schismatics into action. It is hard to believe all this was not done in concert. For too long the neutrality and fairness of Wiliams have been assumed. Nonesense. The logic of his position (as well as his actions) set him on this course from the beginning. He would ahve to side with our disesnters. And did. What is the surprise here? Jim and other have been politically naive.

Posted by: William R. coats on Thursday, 29 June 2006 at 2:57pm BST

Wise words that chap, especially the `think before you leap' approach.

Odd; `inclusive' means including the potential of having fellowship with these right-wing conservative types. Hard for those folks who believe in division to reciprocate...

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 29 June 2006 at 3:43pm BST

Bravo. If the covenenat of baptism doesn't do, what will? Of course the difficulty is that nobody so far has been so bold as to say they exclusivley own baptism, or? The implicit message so often from the right in the realignment campaign seems actually to presume just that, hence all the high anxiety about being touched/contaminated by the de facto lists of untouchables.

The clear way ahead theologically seems clear, but neglected, even by the keen minds of Canterbury: Reaffirm baptism as the core of Anglican covenant, and trust all else to Jesus over time as we journey, do witness/service, and inquire together.

The contamination taboos about women and queers are fed by similar irrational hysteria, to the point that we all know and hear the hidden messages. Take away - or at least turn down the volume - on the urgent fear of contamination from untouchables, and we still may differ though we hardly have to keep fighiting about it.

If baptism is our covenant way forward, and Jesus is our leader, then we can afford to work out in continuing relationships - step by step in innumerable situations of complexity and tension and difficulty - what we cannot work out by legalisms, institutional meetings or board or committees, and so forth.

So very good to hear from you, Canterbury. Now, could you lead on baptism being sufficient? Stop stumbling into the new conservative traps that tell us, in effect, that baptism is not sufficient and that some new processes of confessional new conservative Inquisition are needed to guarantee baptism as covenant. Either Jesus is the guarantor of baptism as covenant among us, or we indeed are allowing this silly realignment campaign to morph us into its own self-fulfilling prophecy of two religions at war with one another.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 29 June 2006 at 3:45pm BST

Did the ABofC actually mention a threesome of "catholic, reformed and liberal strands" in the Communion ? I just found reformed, catholic and cultural-and-intellectual "concerns"... Now to me "cultural and intellectual concern" means understanding and communicating Christianity in the surrounding culture - *not* turning Christianity into something more palatable (aka "less offensive") to the surrounding culture.

Liberalism seems to be little more that the outcome of allowing social and cultural conditioning to dictate what Christians should believe, and how they should conduct themselves !

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 29 June 2006 at 11:27pm BST

Given that the real baptism that matters is the baptism of the Spirit (note how 1 Peter 3:21 says that the water symbolises the actual baptism), and that the mark of the Spirit in our lives is putting to death the sinful nature and obeying God's laws (amongst other things, of course - see Romans 8) then I would argue that those who deliberately keep on sinning (Hebrews 10:26) have in fact not been baptised by the Spirit at all. Or, if they have, then they have rejected his work in their lives and have trampled the Son of God under foot.

Baptism is sufficient for unity- but not some human ceremony. The true baptism of the Spirit leads to faithfulness, obedience and a transformed life.

I am sad to say it, but the Bible says that those who continue to walk apart from Christ in deliberate, unrepentant sin (even though they may claim allegience to Jesus) are indeed outside of this unifiying baptismal covenant.

Posted by: James Jack on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 8:14am BST

James: I have a finite number of stones in my back garden. When you have attained an instantaneous and permanent perfection yourself, you'll be welcome to come and collect a few to throw at other people.

By what process do you state that `the Bible *says*' (my emphasis) anything?

My Bible also contains the words `judge not, that you be not judged yourself'. By what process do you omit this, which I would deem relevant, in your comment?

Perhaps you should get it straight. We all fall short of the glory of God, you & me included, and baptism with the Spirit is no guarantee that you won't do so again later today. Christianity is a path from acceptance over time becoming more Christ-like, and I wouldn't be seen daring to dictate *when* the Spirit should tell someone that any particular aspect of their life is wrong.

This means that, even if you think homosexuality is some kind of "sin", in a realistic Church with fallible members at all levels, you have to acknowledge that it might be right (by God's timing) for someone with any particular "fault" (as you perceive it) to be in any given role because variously God appoints them there, and/or they meet other criteria. It might be (maybe even should be) a rare occurrence in the case of certain forms of "sin", but the bureaucracy must never stifle the potential.

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 1:51pm BST

Looks like baptism doesn't take !

Those who proclaim 'God & Christ' language most vociferously seem to be the most badly behaved. Especially those who know 'what is true' for others; and 'how the rest of us ought to behave'.

Hardening of the oughteries is a life (& sense of humour) threatening condition. Much better, surely, to rejoice in the hardening --however temporary-- of other members, which can bring relief and joy!

How did the earthy, lively messsage of Jesus ,turn into a cult of joyless 'perfectionism', wearing down the individual's sense of self & aliveness; & natural human connectedness ?

( Don't take my word for it: Dip into David Copperfield; Hard Times; The Poisonwood Bible; Riders in the Chariot (P.White),Father & Son (E. Gosse) and if these are too scriptural,for you, you could turn to The Song of Songs, or Esther. )

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 5:01pm BST

Dave,

I think of myself as a liberal, remembering that the root of this term is "freedom."

I am convinced that I am saved by "the Lord, the God of Israel" who, as Zechariah sang, "has come to his people and set them free." As I live into the covenant of my baptism, I strive, with God's help, to live out this freedom by keeping myself and my actions free from anger, hatred, fear and oppression in my whole life (including my political life) and by bringing this freedom to others.

If it looks to an observer that my life as a Christian and my political life are similar (perhaps, even the same) I take this as a compliment that indicates that the direction of my life is perceived as consistent. My direction is set, however, by the Spirit and not by political fads.

Posted by: Nick Finke on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 5:02pm BST
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