Friday, 24 February 2012

Anglican Covenant: reports and reactions

Updated 9 March

The Church Times reports this week on the progress of voting in English dioceses on the Anglican Covenant: Covenant tastes defeat in diocesan voting.

ALMOST a quarter of C of E dioceses have now voted against the Anglican Covenant.

It was debated last weekend by the diocesan synods of Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury, and Rochester, and rejected by all of them — in some cases, despite impassioned pleas from bishops.

Just five of 15 English dioceses have so far approved the Covenant, which must be debated by diocesan synods by the end of March.
Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to the General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England…

And there is this:

in a letter in the Church Times today, the patron of the coalition, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, writes: “Those bishops who back this ill-thought-out and poten­tially disastrous measure should get the message, and let the Covenant quietly subside into the swamp of bad ideas in Anglican history.”

The letters page is subscriber-only for another week but I expect this text will appear elsewhere shortly.

A splendid speech given last Saturday to Leicester diocesan synod by David Jennings is available here.

The Diocese of Norwich held an ‘Anglican Covenant Listening Seminar’. By far the best of these papers is the one by Andrew Davison available here (PDF).

Update That paper has since been revised to add some comments in response to the recent video from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the new version is here (PDF).

There have been several comments about the new website:

And there have been several comments about the new videos published by the ACO:

And, from Scotland Kelvin Holdsworth has written Remember the Anglican Covenant?

…In Scotland it is quite hard to find anyone arguing in favour of the Covenant. At last year’s General Synod we had pseudo-Indaba groups which reported pretty negatively on the whole business and it was difficult to find anyone from any of the groups who had encountered anyone at all who thought well of the proposal. The message which I’ve consistently heard since then from around the church is people saying that the Anglican Communion is very important to us but that the kind of communion that the Covenant proposes is not the kind of communion that we see as being desirable. Indeed, the strong message seems to be pro the Communion but against the kind of setup that would be a consequence of accepting the Covenant. The presumption that there would be widespread disagreement about the Covenant in Scotland doesn’t really seem at this stage to be holding up. So far as I can see, there isn’t a great deal of disagreement at all about it…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 24 February 2012 at 11:28pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England | Scottish Episcopal Church

Even as an outsider, I agree that the Davison paper is a very good one in the sense that it theologises the already 'organic' connections believers have with each other.

It makes me think of language my group sometimes uses when it says 'We covenant together to', meaning * already in place *, and that's because we are already identifying as Unitarians, rather than the simplistic inference that we are starting to do something not already done. The error of the Anglican Covenant is that there is division that needs bringing together, whereas the foundational theology is that people are already together and have disagreements. This is a very good insight. It at a simpler level is the mistake made between unity and uniformity.

Posted by: Pluralist on Saturday, 25 February 2012 at 3:18am GMT

1. 'Covenants that are between one human being and another, or one nation and another, are unimportant'. Wrong. Consider marriage and personal covenants in the Bible: 'And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.' (1 Sam. 18:3)

2. 'the Letter to the Ephesians (quoted in the Covenant)emphasises that on the contrary Christ’s death abolishes divisions'. Fallacious unqualified use of division. Elsewere, Ephesians promotes behavioural division: 'So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.' (Eph. 4:17 -19)

Christ and the apostles recognised the necessity of the disciplinary division as a last resort: 'and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.' (Matt. 18:17).

'If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.' (2 Thess 3:14)

'But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.' (1 Cor. 5:11) How schismatic!

3. 'The worst thing, theologically speaking, is that it doesn’t see that this unity is fundamentally a gift and a given.'

It may be a gift to believers, but it is not a given for those who profess Christ, and yet contradict apostolic authority. 'There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism', but St. Jude states, 'I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.' (Jude 1:3)

It is only as we contend for that apostolic faith ('built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone') that we can truly 'agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.' (1 Cor. 1:10)

The process of unity may invoke the ostracism of the obdurate, but needs NO COVENANT.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 25 February 2012 at 12:43pm GMT

I see that Sheffield and Chichester have accepted the Covenant on 25 Feb

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 1:34am GMT


It was Winchester, not Chichester.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:07am GMT

Thank you Peter, I must get my eyes / memory tested !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 11:59am GMT

Why on earth, if the GAFCON Provinces are out of it, would the rest of us need the Covenant to remain who we are - in fellowship with one another in Christ?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 2:46am GMT
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