Thursday, 4 March 2010

Comments

Bruce Kaye is right on. The generalities of the agenda for the forthcoming General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada are beginning to reported on here. You can just feel and see the anxiety and pressure that Covenant politics have created in our House of bishops and Council of General Synod oozing toward Canada's General Synod 2010.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 4:35pm GMT

Of course, it is a bad idea ! Some of us have been saying this since the beginning.

It's a rubbish idea.

I can't see me ever accepting it. On principle.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 5:10pm GMT

Yes, it is a very bad idea. A good many of us have been saying and writing that it is since the Windsor Fantasy was published. We are a communion based on 'bonds of affection" not a church bound by threats. Would that the Eames / Windsor Commission had gotten that simple idea or that Dr. Williams would defend it. Absent that it is up to the synods / conventions to vote no.

FWIW
jimB

Posted by: jimB on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 6:48pm GMT

In fairness to Dr. Eames and his committee, how could they have known that suggesting an agreed statement of principles as a possible way forward would be lead the Communion to wallow in this heaping pile of cow dung?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 8:35pm GMT

Bruce Kaye presents a very thoughtful & incisive case for rejection of the Anglican Covenant as it now stands. This type of 'Confessional' document, while it might suit the Sola Scriptura stance of the Global South Primates, has proved inimical to the tradition Anglican sense of reasonable diversity, for which, hitherto, the Communion has been celebrated.

For Australia (apart from the Sydney Archbdioce under GAFCON Secretary Peter Jenson) and New Zealand to sign up to a 'Confessional' Covenant relationship with the likes of Uganda and Nigeria would be tantamount to the abandonmnet of any modern understanding of the Gospel outreach to the LGBT community. Such an action would, to all intents and pruposes, also commit us to severing the ties of Friendship with our Pacfic neighbours in the USA and Canada - something we are not prepared to do.

ASlso, the 'Sola Scriptura' mentality of the Provinces who call themselves the 'Global South Anglican' does not conform well to our post-Colonial heritage of hermeneutical exploration and inclusivity. Without the common acceptance of diversity in contextual theology and praxis, the difference between the 'Global South' idea of Anglicanism and that of the more liberated arm of the Anglican Communion, there can be no Covenant.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at 11:12pm GMT

Fr. Ron Smith wrote: "For Australia...and New Zealand to sign up to a 'Confessional' Covenant relationship with the likes of Uganda and Nigeria would be tantamount to the abandonmnet of any modern understanding of the Gospel outreach to the LGBT community."

I would suggest, Ron, that your excellent statement would have been even more appropriate if your last four words were omitted.

Any resemblance between the Christianity embodied in Jesus, and the hatred spewing churches of Uganda, Nigeria, and Rwanda is tangential at best.

While an argument might be made that we should be charitable to such provinces, hoping that "that they may know we are Christians by our love,"it may also be said that we -- CofE, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, TEC, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, others -- should lend no credence to such sources of hatred by refusing to enter into any covenant (even if was written as clearly acceptable to all of us) with those three provinces, and others of their ilk.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 4:03am GMT

And the interesting thing about Bruce Kaye is that he is an Australian evangelical - studied at Moore College. Don't know if he'd use that label now (in Australia) but when he worked over here he identified himself with the evangelical part of the Church of England (he was senior tutor at St John's Durham) and wrote papers for the 1979 National Evangelical Anglican Congress at Nottingham.

Posted by: Frozenchristian on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 10:08am GMT

Malcolm when you write "In fairness to Dr. Eames and his committee, how could they have known that suggesting an agreed statement of principles as a possible way forward would be lead the Communion to wallow in this heaping pile of cow dung?", Your feelings on the Covenant come through. But what is your take on how the Covenant is playing out in your part of the Canadian church? What do folks in your part of the Church expect from GS 2010 with regard to "ongoing discernment", to use the argot of church bureaucrats, of human sexuality and The Covenant, both of which are big ticket items on the GS 2010 order paper? -Rod

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 1:32pm GMT

I don't have any particularly reliable means of measuring attitudes around here apart from my own observations which are, inevitably, filtered through my own perspectives.

That said:

1) In our diocese, we have avoided the worst of the sexuality wars by simply not playing. There is broad agreement across the spectrum here that, while we disagree on the presenting issue, there is no logical reason that this issue should be a Communion breaker within this diocese. Having almost collapsed under the Residential Schools issue (where we would have likely been the next diocese to go bankrupt) and facing serious issues of financial viability, we have more important things to do that self-immolate over secondary and tertiary issues.

2) For better or worse, that also means, though, that perspectives on both sexuality and the Covenant were not significant considerations in the election of clerical and lay delegates to General Synod. None of the candidates (so far as I know) ever explicitly indicated their thinking on either issue. We've elected, I would say, a split delegation, slightly weighted to the reasserter side. The bishop is a moderate conservative on the sexuality issue and his rhetoric is broadly supportive of the Covenant, at least conceptually.

3) Outwith this diocese, I don't really have a clear sense of where things are at in the Ecclesiastical province. If I'm consistent with past prognostications, I tend to overestimate the strength of the reasserters.

All that said, Rod, on another thread you spoke about the value of Thinking Anglicans and Episcopal Café, seeming to wish we had something similar in Canada. I don't know how many progressive Anglican bloggers there are in Canada who blog with any regularity. What interest would you have in creating a Canadian sister to these two progressive flagships?

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 2:50pm GMT

Malcolm, with regard to your query about interest in a progressive blog in Canada, see my posting in reply to you on Thinking Anglicans 'Faith and politics" March 2nd. I asked you about a read on the issues in your part of the Canadian vineyard. Here in Nova Scotia , there was a lot of extensive study done over several synods on human sexuality going back a decade and a half ago. I think we've talked it out. A recent "intentional listening " group did precious little on the issue in preparation for our most diocesan recent synod in 2009.Interestingly though, a conservative cleric from Anglican Essentials sponsored a motion trying to get the diocese to go on record to say it "affirms and recommits its recognition that marriage is the union of one man and
one woman to the exclusion of all others and that any union other than this is contrary to God’s
Word." It failed. It was the youth delegates, speaking very passionately in numbers, and almost to a person, who made a huge contribution to it being voted down. If our mean age as a church were lower, younger, this would be a non issue.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 4:04pm GMT

A key argument for the Covenant came from those who felt tainted (contaminated?) by actions in another part of the Communion (specifically the acceptance by TEC of people as full members of the church irrespective of their sexuality).

The conservative logic was that the doctrine of one was the doctrine of all. They repudiated toleration of such difference as an Anglican virtue.

Covenant mechanisms, they explicitly hoped, would enable the repudiation of unacceptable actions (and actual or implicit doctrine) by the repudiation of the Province as a whole.

Consequently any Province which now accepts the covenant will thereby formally accept that the actions (and stated or enacted doctrine) of all other covenanting parties are acceptable. That includes support for the death penalty for homosexuals.

As a citizen of this country I strongly dissociate myself from this government's actions when gay people who have fled in fear of their lives are returned to certain parts of Africa. As an Anglican I want to strongly dissociate myself from those Anglican churches which tolerate or fuel homophobia.

I do not want anyone signing a document on my behalf which will formally endorse such attitudes as legitimate elements of official Anglican teaching.

Posted by: Paul Bagshaw on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 4:13pm GMT

"The conservative logic was that the doctrine of one was the doctrine of all. They repudiated toleration of such difference(sic)as an Anglican virtue. Covenant mechanisms, they explicitly hoped, would enable the repudiation of unaccept-able actions (and actual or implicit doctrine) by the repudiation of the Province as a whole. Consequently any Province which now accepts the Covenant will thereby formally accept that the actions (and stated or enacted doctrine) of all other covenanting parties are acceptable. That includes support for the death penalty for homosexuals." - Paul Bagshaw, on Friday -

Precisely! Thank you Paul for this clear and simple statement on the problems assosicated with the promulgation of a 'Confessional' Covenant. This is why, Jerry, I too feel that our principle objection to signing the Covenant, is that it would commit us (under its 'confessional status) to acting the same towards the LGBT community as do the Provinces of Uganda and Nigeria - both of which Provinces of the Communion have deep-rooted and Communion-breaking attitudes towards Gays.

That is the problem with confessional religious relationships. They presume that "one Theology Fits All" - which is clearly not the case, any longer, in the Anglican Communion. Not could such a thesis be enjoined on the dissenters from the actions of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada -who may want to enforce the Covenant on the rest of us.

The only way out, as I see it, would be to form two different types of covenanted relationship -

1: 'Anglican Covenant' - on the basis of shared diversity, including the acceptance of LGBTs and Women as bearers of the Image and Likeness of Good (as it was before the present impasse); and

2: 'Global South Anglican Covenant', which binds it's assenting partners to biblical inerrancy, The Thirty-nine Articles & the exclusive use of The Book of Common Prayer (Oh! and yes: the harrassment and execution of homosexuals).

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 5 March 2010 at 10:47pm GMT

I can't apparently comment on Bruce Kaye's blog without signing up for a blog of my own, which I don't want, so....

A very helpful series of articles! I find the distinction between provincial autonomy and provincial responsibility particularly helpful.

In paragraph 21 of post number 5, Dr Kaye states that "What is being claimed is that it is already clear that particular attitudes to homosexuality are part of the central beliefs of Anglican Christianity and as such should apply in every cultural context, and also that such a definition of Anglican Christianity must be enforced in relations between provinces."

Yes, but there is also some confusion of local and universal cultural contexts in the debate. At times certain protagonists claim that their opposition to open same-sex blessings or open ordination of gay clergy in other provinces is because of the particular cultural contexts of their own provinces, citing factors such as engagement with conservative Islam or a particular missionary context. Often one is left with the impression that such claimants do not grasp that the Western churches such as those in North America also live in particular cultural contexts which, as noted in paragraph 7 of the same post, have been shaped in part by the engagement of the churches in civil rights movements.

The Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988 and even 1998 requested provinces to engage in dispassionate study of homosexuality. Some have done so, but obviously some have not. Certain provinces have come to certain conclusions based on that study process, and now are being told, rather rudely at times, that they must not act on those conclusions. Such a demand is received as a demand that they must willingly discriminate against members of their own churches, in violation of their principles of grace and inclusion. They feel that they are being asked, not simply to sacrifice their autonomy for the good of the Communion, but to abdicate their responsibility in their own context.

One question regarding the study requested by Lambeth 1978, 1988, 1998: was this intended merely as an academic exercise?

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Monday, 8 March 2010 at 1:58pm GMT

"One question regarding the study (of the issue of homosexuality) requested by Lambeth 1978, 1988, 1998: was this intended merely as an academic exercise? - Nom de Plume -

If so, then the rules of the game were certainly not applied by certain provinces of the GAFCON contingency. At least one African Provincial Primate solemnly declared that he wouldn't have a bar of it - pronouncing the whole idea of sexual differentiation to be 'diabolical' How does that fit in with theological competence and Christian compassion, I wonder? And this is the sort of provincial attitude that all other Provinces of the Church are supposed to bond with on the basis of a newly-devised Covenant!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 8 March 2010 at 8:43pm GMT
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