Comments: GS: Is an Anglican Covenant a good idea?

A concern that keeps coming up is the idea that the scriptures have been completely interpreted and applied. If that is the case, why is tyranny so rampant? Why are ecosystems (on the verge of) collapsing? Why are so many women raped, children abused, and souls tormented because they "deserve it" or "don't fit" or can’t protect themselves?

There are souls who have refer to Jesus for selfish reasons. They want the miracles, the authority to act with impunity, to do whatever they want to whomever they want however they want whenever they want; with no regard as to what God, their victims or others would like or approve.

Then you think about Jesus. This is a man who was given authority over heaven and earth. Could manifest as much food, healing or objects as and when he wanted. He could have permanently removed his enemies. He could have permanently removed all illnesses. He could have permanently lobotomised women so they were only capable of cleaning and breeding. He could have permanently removed GLBT tendencies from humanity.

But he didn't. He left us, with all our foibles and inadequacies, with our friends and our enemies. Thus it must be God's will that we are all here. Given the chance, I would love to refer Jesus to Ezekiel 33:29-33. Son of man, they come to you and listen to your beautiful words and instruments, but their hearts are far from you. They are greedy for unjust gain and do not put your beautiful words into practice. They violate the Law and crave tyranny over peace.

Jesus' words at Matthew 5:17-18 "“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

The Law includes providing for beasts, caring for women, and making our streets safe for fully fed children and the elderly to play. This covenant does not address fulfilling these visions, the intent is simply to stop the voices of conscience pointing out what they have failed to do. The tap dancing by some camps since the 2004 tsunami is merely whitewashing that dissolves when brushed by water.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 11:38pm BST

First reaction was, "That's a turn up for the books," but their opposition to it is actually on expected lines - the Covenant, for them, is not strong enough. It is too weak (etc.), there would not be a stronger one from its current source, and it focuses too much on structures. I took it that this one or its action would lead to a stronger one as another one or replacement, but perhaps I should have expected them to oppose it. Good if they do. Now I'll read some detailed comment...

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 12:32am BST

The Church Society is roughly right when it comes to the Declaration of Assent, or let's put it another way. Asked why the creeds cannot do the job the Covenant is being asked to do, the Archbishop said that there are historical and cultural reasons why not - in other words, they have slipped into a kind of liturgical pattern but do not often reflect actual theology in some settings today. A general definition of Anglicanism in a Covenant could be based on the Declaration or the Lambeth Quadrilateral, but it would be pointless to do it. If it adds nothing, it is pointless, but if it adds restriction, it is not wanted by many.

It is right also that it focuses on process. That is because this Covenant sees it possible that Anglicans can be inclusive of faithful gay and lesbian relationships, so long as they come to agreement through some sort of process. It ends up being the rate of change of the slowest; it is not the Anglican way regarding the ordination of women or consecrating women as bishops. Here different speeds are expected. There is a cultural argument.

The Church Society is also right about the danger of an undesirable international structure that can arise from an episcopal Church. Many others are resisting this too.

I don't agree with the Church Society that once a Church takes power to make changes that this is undesirable. It is saying change is undesirable (presumably beyond the boundaries it accepts).

Having said all this, I completely disagree with the basis of the argument - I just agree with the outcome of the argument in its sections (the process!).

We have MCU against it, Affirming Catholicism into wishful thinking, Fulcrum for it, the conversionist literalists are for it, and the traditionalist literalists are against it. How odd. Is it so divisive it is dead?

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 12:56am BST

I fully support the comment by Giles Goddard on behalf of Inclusive Church. I also think it is important that the General Synod does not shy away from the difficult and no doubt potentially divisive task of giving thought in the coming year to the character and terms of the Covenant. I hope therefore that members of General Synod at this forthcoming meeting will support the amendment proposed by the Revd Jonathan Clark (London) on behalf of Inclusive Church.

Posted by Revd Graeme Watson at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 3:46am BST

Well kudos to the evangelicals involved for being so straightfoward: (1) They seek a covenant which not only permits, but apparently requires, that all prog-lib believers, honest and lovingly partnered queer folks, and any friends of these vilified believers be, well, vilified and kicked out, no hesitations, emboldened by the clear word of God as these involved evangelicals read it. Their definition of sodomy hasn't really changed all that much, since the term was first coined in company with heresy, a link these involved evangelicals still hold dear with quite a bit of their heart.

Okay.

But wait, we get even more, more clearly. (2)Any covenant which falls short of permitting/requiring all this clearly conformed realignment Puritanism will be viewed by the real believers as inadequate. One suspects that pushed, these very involved evangelicals would quickly talk penal-legal faith as the only real and possible faith that follows Jesus of Nazareth.

Not so fast good sirs ... and, er, or madams.

We bear witness to Jesus of Nazareth, every bit as much as you, as living, risen Lord of life. We will not willingly have our call dissed any more than we would wish to diss your call, provided we all belong in the traditional Anglican big tents.

Your newfound Anglican call to judge, weigh, condemn, and kick believers out for not measuring up to your singular (heterosexuals only) holiness and empowerment as God's judges walking wide in the lands needs careful scrutiny, indeed. Are you the very spitting image of the only possible Jesus model? Really?

Alas. Lord have mercy. The covenant you seek is nothing to do with being an Anglican believer, since it breathes up all the Anglican oxygen possible, worldwide, and asks others to exit, gasping for air. Hungry for fairness. And thirsting for that special Anglican rightness of comprehension that mainly comes through ancient faithfulness combined with modern best practices inquiry into the roots, means, and call of our faith in Jesus.

Tell you what. All that will be left standing at the end of the covenant day will be your naked grasp to have exclusive Anglican power over just those believers you wish to kick out, into outer Anglican darkness … i.e., prog-libs, queer folks, and anybody who stays friends with them. Prediction? Even that will not finally make you as happy, as content to be saved away from these others, as you hope.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 4:13am BST

"This covenant does not address fulfilling these visions, the intent is simply to stop the voices of conscience pointing out what they have failed to do"

Reminiscent of the House of Bishops' opposition to the unilateral Abolitionism of Wilberforce, Cheryl?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 2:20pm BST

Cheryl, you are bang on! I find it terribly amusing that those who go around with their wrist bands and T-shirts arrogantly asking WWJD? seem the least interested in actually DOING what Jesus would do. I have a fridge magnet that says "Jesus would slap the S^%$ out of you".

drdanfee,
"We bear witness to Jesus of Nazareth, every bit as much as you, as living, risen Lord of life."

Some of those who post here have made it pretty clear that they don't think you don't actually do this at all. In fact, you really have no faith and don't believe Scripture at all. Given that I have met few Evangelicals who think differently than this, and given that they have published this on at least one occasion, I suspect it's the general Evo assessment of non-Evos. That's why you are not included by them as one of the "faithful" Anglicans, you see.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 2:29pm BST

The AC is fractured and on the verge of collapse. Without a covenant, it has no hope to survive. Whatever covenant emerges, some will be unhappy. A "big tent" covenant is not a possibility as conservatives will not recognize it. A covenant that will satisfy the GS and conservatives will force New Agers to have to find new homes. In either case, the AC as we have known it will be no more. It is silly to complain that covenants are not how Anglicans do things. They have in the past (the 39 Articles for example) and are destined to do so again.

Posted by Dan at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 4:52pm BST

The only covenant that I'm completely comfortable with is the one established by Christ and called the "New Covenant". That seems to have functioned to the benefit of innumerable souls, if not ecclesiastical power structures, for 2k years or so.

Human-made covenants are always about control. That is what they do, that is their raison d'etre. Control over doctrine, and censure rights regarding the sexuality of a bishop in the tiny diocese of New Hampshire, are antithetical to the freedom offered us in Christ's New Covenant.

Ambiguity is a hallmark of modernism and modern life. And it is the bane of most conservatives who have been battling it since Galileo and Newton. Anglicanism has always accommodated new ideas without exiling those who are less comfortable with the challenges contemporary life brings to matters of faith. We shouldn't stop now.

Codifying, limiting and 'nailing down' the ways in which we are to be in commuion is, to my mind, exactly what was done to Jesus. His teaching (especially as interpreted by Paul) created anxiety and introduced new ways in which to be in relationship with God. Jesus was 'nailed down' -- in his case, to the cross -- to prevent that sort of thing from spreading. It didn't work then, and it won't work now.

And besides, this is not a covenant. It's a pre-nuptual agreement. Covenants are forever, and detail committments that are irrevocable. This covenant doesn't do that. It makes clear it is a device of control in its procedures for punishing those who dissent. This is the establishment of methods of tyranny by the marjority, not Christian freedom.

Adopting this covenant would be akin to including divorce stipulations in one's marriage vows.

Our communion, like God's love for us, should be unconditional.

Posted by Mark C. at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 4:59pm BST

"A covenant that will satisfy the GS and conservatives will force New Agers to have to find new homes."

So anyone who isn't a conservative on this issue is a "New Ager"? I'd really like it if conservatives could, just once, acknowledge that those who disagree with them actually have faith. Given that the 39 Articles were intended to bring peace between Catholics and Protestants, their utter failure to do so, a failure which is still having repercussions 500 or so years on, should be enough to tell you that any such "covenant" is no guarantee of peace. And the 39 Articles can hardly be called a covenant anyway.

"The only covenant that I'm completely comfortable with is the one established by Christ and called the "New Covenant"."

Absolutely! A how sad that it is suddenly not enough! If the New Covenant given to us by God Himself isn't enough for us, what could possibly be?

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 6:13pm BST

“The AC is fractured and on the verge of collapse. Without a covenant, it has no hope to survive.”—Dan

Well, Dan, I don’t think that it DESERVES to survive. Particularly INFESTED as it is with fundagelicals.

Posted by Kurt at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 8:25pm BST

I am still mystified as to just what the larger outcome of all this Anglican realignment is prayerfully thought to be, by the new Anglican Evos. Will they not still have to live together with the rest of us on the same small planet? Will they not, together with the rest of us, still face urgent crisis - real crisis - issues like global warming, ODC's, fouled water or unbreatheable air, mass extinctions of species along with habitats?

What makes policing other peoples' orgasms so important that it becomes the battle line where blood must be drawn?

Above all, what keeps all this Neo-Evo false witness going as if telling lies about neighbors was suddenly the sole essence of their own special, holy godliness?

When I dig down deeper, all I get is the unmistakeable whiff of power gone large, as large as is institutionally possible among Anglican believers across the spectrums, and yet still aiming and yearning for more.

Alas. These folks will run themselves and everybody else off the cliffs, at their earliest possible opportunities - in a mad, mad, mad, mad rush to say exactly what the rest of us are, and are not worth. Alas. Lord have mercy. Evos are simply gods.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 10:09pm BST

An AC that seeks to destroy those that do not placate power brokers doesn't deserve to survive. If being in the AC means becoming Edomites who not only refuse passage but actively participate in hunting down their "enemies", then it is better that it is reduced to ashes.

The AC is in a context of a bigger problem. Namely the potential collapse of global economic systems of water supply; food distribution; manufacturing and provision of sufficient medicines, clothing, shelter; funding and access to adequate education and medical support.

Funding military ventures by diverting funds from providing basic infrastructure and opportunities to earn a living and raise a family safely for ordinary souls puts whole societies at risk of collapse. It is the equivalent of firing a gunshot at the hole in the dam in the hope that the bullet will plug up the hole. The only thing it does is tear open more of the dam, speeding the walls collapse.

We need souls who are not prepared to sacrifice children or rely on violence to build their temples. We need souls who are going to build a temple with rocks not blemished with the blood of sacrifices nor burnt through violence.

We need souls who will look after those who can not look after themselves, souls that would have evacuated from New Orleans those who could not help themselves. Souls whose fear of God is greater than the pride of their peers' paradigms and back slapping.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 7 July 2007 at 12:19am BST

"A "big tent" covenant is not a possibility as conservatives will not recognize it. A covenant that will satisfy the GS and conservatives will force New Agers to have to find new homes." - Dan

What a distorted and delusional viewpoint.

First of all, I am no "New Ager," in fact I am very far from that, and take offense at this hyperbolic sinplicity. Dan's use of that epithet would be equivalent to my calling all conservatives "mindless knee-jerk reactionaries." Sure some of each part of the spectrum probably fit Dan's description, or my hypothetical over-the-top equivalent, but most are not.

Anglicanism has been, historically, a "big tent" segment of Christianity. Some have not liked that, and some are trying to turn it into something incredibly narrow, which it has not been.

Many provinces, no longer merely in North America, but now also in Mexico and Brasil, and South Africa, and Scotland, are rejecting the attempt to narrowly construct Anglicanism. I believe that more will follow, and the GS takeover will then be soundly rejected.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Saturday, 7 July 2007 at 5:42am BST

Jerry

I agree.

I am really tired of being told what we represent and having people enter our discussion attacking us on the basis of what we are. Yet their forays bear no relationship to what we actually represent.

In the preceding week people on this forum commented that their morals were more evangelical than liberal, even though they were gay. With derision they dismissed regular TA posters. Yet, if they bothered to look at the history of TA postings, they would know that there is a fundamental respect for reverential monogamous relationships and distaste for imposition and coercion. Thus their attacks are based on innuendo of what we stand for, rather than what we actually desire.

Along the same lines, my daughter's chosen parish has decided to study 1 Peter, which covers the relationships and boundaries between male and female. Amongst my many recent fumings it that Paul and the disciples as celibate males are remarkably quiet on how to deal with abusive relationships (or was that edited away by the "divinely" ordained priestly castes?).

Paul and others' exhortations are beautiful, but where does the new testament deal with abusive husbands and the wives' options in such unfortunate circumstances?

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Sunday, 8 July 2007 at 1:59pm BST

Note how Church Society skirts around the divorce issue, as evangelicals actually cannot agree as to the meaning of heterosexual marriage, whether it is indissoluable or breakable!!!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Sunday, 8 July 2007 at 8:03pm BST

"I am really tired of being told what we represent and having people enter our discussion attacking us on the basis of what we are. Yet their forays bear no relationship to what we actually represent."

Those of us on the conservative side of the discussion kindly ask for the same consideration.

Posted by Chris at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:58am BST

"Those of us on the conservative side of the discussion kindly ask for the same consideration."

How many on the left have ever denied your faith? Claimed that you are merely seeking the approval of the world? How many have colluded to rid the Church of you? Have you been called a cancer on the Body of Christ by one of the more vocal and powerful bishops? Has anyone published a document claiming that all you conservatives believe everything believed or stated by the most extreme and heretical of you? How many websites vilify and stir up strife against you like Venomline et al? There has been bad behaviour on both sides, but can you honestly claim the behaviour of the Left towards the Right has been as bad as that of the Right towards the Left? If so, all the more reason for us to stop seeing this as a battle between "them" and "us".

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 11:39am BST

I am not aware of anyone accusing the "conservatives" of hating the scriptures, of rejecting Jesus, of despising the Gospel.

And to the degree that "conservatives" have been accused of things like scheming, plotting and schism, those accusations have been directed at specific individuals and groups, based on some fairly compelling evidence, and have not been directed, holus-bolus, against any and all who cavil at the blessing of same sex unions or the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 5:31pm BST

If you are trying to defend marriage, Chris, and judging others you should be able to defend your claim that the Bible is clear cut and explain why evangelicals cannot agree about divorce and re-marriage. After all adulterers as well as active homosexuals are to be excluded from the Kingdom of God.

If its a question of moral integrity and loyalty to the Word of God, explain this anomaly.

Its a question of motes and beams.

The Covenant will not define too finely what Anglicans actually believe on marriage.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 8:26pm BST

I know conservatives have been hurtful and I wish that would stop - but it is not a defense anyone over the age of 4 should be using to justify their own behavior.

To answer some of the specific questions raised...

The use of the term "fundagelicals" gives a decent running start to the point I'm making.

Ford you posted in this thread, "I'd really like it if conservatives could, just once, acknowledge that those who disagree with them actually have faith."

Dan doesn't speak for all conservatives, but he is right to assert that there are many liberal leaders for whom the Nicene Creed presents a real challenge (see Anne Holmes Redding as the latest example). I understand this does not include you, but you did twist his argument by first stretching it into an attack on all liberals and then by attributing it to all conservatives.

Again from this thread, "Given that I have met few Evangelicals who think differently than this, and given that they have published this on at least one occasion, I suspect it's the general Evo assessment of non-Evos."

Please be more careful about drawing conclusions from small data sets.

Ford, I know you're true to your convictions as I've also seen you assert the reality of the risen Lord to other liberals.

Malcolm+, organizing with in the structures of the church and attempting to voice one's opinion should not be considered "scheming" or "plotting." No one has ever accused Integrity or Changing Attitudes of "scheming" or "plotting," but conservative groups engaging in the same activities often have these negative connotations associated with them.

Posted by Chris at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 9:22pm BST

Neither Integrity nor Changing Attitude are trying to set up an alternative heirarchy in Nigeria / Uganda / Kenya / Rwanda / Southern Cone and cetera.

I don't have an issue per se with people organizing for their "side" of an issue at or between Synods in the hopes of an outcome they perceive as favourable.

I do have a problem with people saying (in essence) screw the Synodical proccess, if we don't get our way we will simply deny that you have any faith at all, we will drive you out of the Communion, we will replace your structures with ones more compliant to our views and (ideally) we'll take all your property in the bargain.

When one's "side" loses at Synod, one has two choices:

- One can stay. This may well include working to advance your "side" so that they can win another day.

- One can go. This may well include starting a new institutional structure.

What certain of the conservatives have chosen is to play both ends against the middle.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Monday, 9 July 2007 at 11:14pm BST

"drawing conclusions from small data sets."

But, Chris, I'm not drawing conclusions from a small data set. I have met many Evangelicals in my lifetime. The vast majority have fed my stereotype. Dismissal of non-Evangelicals is the rule, not the exception. Look the use of words like 'faithful' 'believing'(or better 'Bible believing', meaning that I believe what, the Necronomicon?), 'orthodox' (an amusing change of meaning), and on and on. The assumption, and often the clear statement, is that the rest of us have no faith at all. Sorry, Chris, but 44 years of experience tells me that the majority of Evangelicals believe themselves to be the only true Christians, and the rest of us are all faithless Hell bound heathens. If that is not their belief, it is time for their pastors to require them to behave better. I'm sure you can understand why I get frustrated when the pot calls the kettle black, since you seem to feel the same way about "liberals".

As to an attack on all Liberals, what does this mean:
"...the GS and conservatives will force New Agers...."

Seems pretty clear to me that this means one is either a conservative or a "New Ager"

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 1:44pm BST
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