Comments: Covenant - Andrew Goddard writes again

A predictably mealy-mouthed and profoundly-flawed defense from Goddard based on what he reads as the purpose of the "covenant."

What it all boils down to - in very many words - is "Well, really, when *I* look at it, the covenant *might* not do anything at all."

Not needed, then. Get rid of it.

There is the typically political defense of "It doesn't *explicitly* say that!" That's the unkindest cut of all, as it - once again - presumes that we are so stupid we have no idea who wanted this and what was intended from the start with it.

Finally, Goddard gives a rather facile basis for his defense by claiming the entire concern is about discipline, when it has long been established the concern is about a sneaky little grab for centralized power.

The pro-covenanters have to really be running scared to present this sort of "argument."

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 11:16am GMT

Goddard is incredibly disingenuous. Anyone who has followed the history of the Windsor Report, the various Lambeth and primates meetings, the cross-province interferences, etc. knows precisely who is sponsoring the covenant, what it is intended to do and why.

As we say on this side of the pond, if you put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 12:04pm GMT

A very lengthy document which basically glosses over the disciplinary and control element in the project. The covenant attempts to set in formal structure the means to define which traditions within Anglicanism are acceptable and which are not. And the danger and expectation in this, is that the covenant becomes an instrument for conservative anglicans to repudiate, marginalise, and isolate liberal anglicans. This dismissive outlook can be seen in the comments here which portray liberal christianity as a failed paradigm and a sell out to secularism... rather than as a legitimate, thoughtful and arguably progressive work of the Spirit within the life of the Church.

TEC (and large numbers of others in other provinces) seek an inclusive approach to anglicanism where diverse responses to scripture can find expression, but where the centre does not control or define whats right for the margins in a 'one-size-fits-all' approach which ignores cultural variations. Instead it seeks to set 'oneness' and 'unity' in Christ at the centre.

The covenant, in contrast, provides the mechanisms for imposing conditions and controls on what anglican provinces may believe in good faith. It provides the mechanism whereby failure to comply may lead to exclusion from the communion, by alleged non-conformity to what a Communion dominated by conservative provinces demand (including restrictive views on issues like homosexuality).

The author of the article seems a little ingenuous (or caught in a mindset and agenda).

The covenant is an instrument to define, to contain, to limit what provinces and individual anglicans may or may not practice and believe in good faith.

It is an instrument that potentially embeds conservatism (rooted in the influence and sway and dogmatism of conservative provinces) and as such is a supreme threat to the diversity and complex integrity of the Anglican identity, which is not uniform, but which - in allowing for openness and diversity in Christ - provides space for grace, not drift towards dogmatism, control, and the marginalisation and exclusion of those we disagree with.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 12:29pm GMT

I can summarize the article for you. Yes, I read it. Here you go:

Our (liberal) opponents lie! Opponents (liberals) are dumb! Opponents (liberals) can't read! Obfuscate, confuse, bury with misleading rhetoric. LIBERALS = EVIL FOOLS! If we can pull this one off, we can truly get our way despite being a very small, angry minority who like to claim majority status. We shall overcome all things liberal because we don't like them!

Hope that helps.

Posted by Priscilla Cardinale at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 12:29pm GMT

Interesting to watch Andrew Goddard begin to give truthful answers to my questions about the Covenant.

1) Yes, says Goddard, the Covenant is intended to be disciplinary.

2) Goddard claims: "The covenant itself does not – despite IC/MCU’s repeated assertions - redefine the Anglican Communion to exclude the Americans." Why? because, says Goddard, the Americans will probably not sign it and thus will exclude themselves. That's a bit of verbal trickery well worth observing.

3) The Covenant will not hinder mission because, says Goddard, conservative evo/charismatic movements and churches are growing, and young people join them. He fails to mention that the 95% of the English nation who no longer want anything to do with the Church of England reject it precisely because of such fringe conservative views.

There is no word from Andrew Goddard as to whether the Covenant's discernment process would be permitted to conclude that the Communion is not of one mind on the issue of faithfully partnered gay and lesbian ordinations.

However, there is one big hint that it would not. Goddard uses the phrase "clear mind of the Communion" when discussing the ordination of women. Astoundingly, in the light of recent events in the Church of England, he claims that the "clear mind of the Communion" is to allow women to be ordained.

By using this phrase, he drops a very big hint that no discernment superseding Lambeth 1.10 would be permitted to emerge. The evangelical party which dominates the Church of England at the present moment holds that Lambeth 1.10 is not only the "clear teaching of the Communion" but also that it may not be revised or revisited.

So Goddard, at least on a close reading, is less disingenuous than the other two commenters to date. The Covenant is disciplinary; it is intended as punishment specifically for the Americans; it will serve as a kind of "shock and awe" to frighten others into accepting Lambeth 1.10; and it will cement conservative evangelical control over the Church of England and the Communion.

Posted by Charlotte at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 12:29pm GMT

'If anyone seriously believes that the covenant has been kept quiet then they have obviously had no interest in the life of the Communion over the last six years. If they want to understand what is being proposed and to contribute intelligently to the discussion in the Church of England then they will need to pay much more attention'.

The unpleasant arrogance of this remark is breathtaking. Those who are steeped in the politics of the Church of England may well be familiar with the Covenant, but these people are not the man or woman in the pew, let alone those who serve on Deanery or indeed Diocesan Synods. Only recently I was asked before the General Synod elections by an elector what the Covenant was about. I remember little if any mention of the Covenant in the election addresses of synodical candidates. There has been no formal or informal discussion and presentation to the informed laity. Yes, the Covenant is supposed to be sent to the diocese for discussion after the forthcoming synod, but really on a take it or leave it basis. No one who is outside the synodical governance of the Church is likely to get any say in what it says or it's adoption. Yet despite what this writer and others are saying, it is so obvious that the Covenant is going to alter the very nature of both the C of E and the wider Anglican Communion. And if it isn't, then why are they bothering?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 1:25pm GMT

I don't think I want to engage over much with a piece of writing which uses the word falsehood and similar ones, over and over; while accusing MCU and IC of bad faith, pure and simple.

Would the so-called 'Covenant' protect us from this kind of stuff ?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 3:40pm GMT

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, Chair on the Design Group for the Anglican Communion 'Covenant' (sic) is on record as having said:

'THE PUNITIVE ANGLICAN COVENANT: Various Provinces will be forced out of the Anglican Family because ¨what you are doing is an offense to the integrity of the family¨ +Drexel Gomez'.

This is the kind of background to it. And its thrust and creative genius springs from a deeply and virulently anti-gay impulse.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 3:44pm GMT

Long winded articles achieve less - a basic lesson for students. If you believe in Churches that have discipline, then it is for those Churches; there is no central Anglican Church where some discipline can be delivered. The Covenant is an innovation in this respect, in producing relational consequences or ways to create in and out groups. As for ordaining women, Andrew Goddard takes a snapshot now, but if they were starting out ordaining women think about the deeply felt cultural objections around the world and how these would have slowed action to zero any national Church decisions on pain of having that Church removed to an outer orbit of the Anglican Communion, no longer apparently being fully representative of that Communion by central diktat.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 4:12pm GMT

Has Fr Andrew Goddard had time to read the article in the Church of England Newspaper by Canon Sugden? I think he should make time and then the light might dawn for him on points 1, 2, and 3. Then there could be other conclusions he would arrive at.

Posted by Commentator at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 5:48pm GMT

Lipstick on a pig redux.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 9:11pm GMT

"...and if NEITHER the facts nor the law are on your side, pound the table!" (Andrew Goddard re-enacts the ol' lawyers' saying)

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 18 November 2010 at 9:39pm GMT

I'll link to both items in a new article later today, but just for convenience now:

1. The article referred to by Commentator, is i assume this one

2. The source of the quote from (now retired) Archbishop Gomez is I believe this one

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 19 November 2010 at 8:55am GMT

Mighty strange!

What struck me most was Goddard's rather unpleasant tone, clearly others here felt the same.

It is strange to find myself on the conservative - no change - side of this debate!
Even stranger to be making common cause with the likes of Chris Sugden, but there you are.

My position in all of this is that structural changes will not solve our present problems, the thinking behind the Lambeth Commission was flawed and all that has followed has been to our detriment making the problem worse rather than better.

I am not presently an advocate for an "Anglican Church", as Rowan often calls it. I do not think my Church is ready for this, neither is there any call for it - even though there is a natural sympathy with Rowan and a wish to see his problems at an end.

Neither do I believe that this is the "only way forward" - It is the only measure presently on offer - but I believe that we need to go back to the beginning and start again. There is nothing good that has been achieved by this present process that might be lost, in fact the opposite is the case - there is much harm that might yet be undone.

Neither am I among those who believe that our present Communion has "an ecclesiastical deficit" - we are not like some other churches but in trying to conform to their model and "fill the power vacuum at the heart of the Communion" we are in fact sacrificing one of those gifts that gives us our strength - which is our vulnerability!

Even though it may be needed even desirable to see the Communion function more effectively together. I would see that as a long term project, one much more likely to succeed effectively in a post post-colonial era. It is something that should be close to all our hearts.

More specifically the Communion leaders have not made a good case for the Covenant.
The burden is on them to prove - this is a change they are trying to foist on us all and a change that says to stand still and do nothing is to put yourself at a disadvantage, I find that very poor.

Mr Goddard's allegations that those he attacks are spreading some neurotic unreasonable fear is rich!
His own mates, those sad lads over at ACI have done their utmost to undermine the heart of our Communion life - spreading a deeper and more virulent disease - to the point that (if one believes their rhetoric and analysis) there is virtually nothing good or worthy of saving in all our life.
Indeed only recently they were arguing that the Covenant was fatally flawed because it had not anticipated the developments that had taken place in the Standing Committee ....

Hmmmm .... I have always thought Fulcrum, Kings and Goddard and those ACI chums as one of the worst things that has happened to our church. Fissiparous to the core!!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 19 November 2010 at 12:31pm GMT

What a sad note. So much for the encouragement to stay with the subject matter and not with personal comment. I had hoped TA would indeed be 'thinking.' It isn't.

Posted by cseitz at Friday, 19 November 2010 at 10:29pm GMT

I note again that the Rev. Dr. Seitz has not answered my question. So here it is again: Is the discernment process of the Covenant open to a discernment that faithful Anglicans are not of one mind regarding the ordination of partnered gay and lesbian persons? Or would the Covenant shut down the discernment process if this discernment began to emerge from it?

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 2:08am GMT

Dr Seitz, my comments were not personal, and I was trying to address the issues with courtesy and consideration. God bless you, and be with you.


Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 12:26pm GMT

Susannah -- and you did. Thank you.

Posted by cseitz at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 7:18pm GMT

And still no answer to my question from the Reverend Dr. Seitz!

Posted by Charlotte at Saturday, 20 November 2010 at 10:04pm GMT

Hello Charlotte, I did not know I was a guest respondent to individual questions! I am also not a spokesman for the covenant, in any formal sense. I'd conclude however that the answer to your second question is No. The covenant is a modus vivendi for conciliarism. Should the member signatories by what you call 'discernment' determine that sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage can find God's blessing, then that would be a matter for the provinces to address through the patterns called for by the covenant. The covenant is not a 'confessional document' so far as church history is concerned (and very few of those would have had the kind of filters you appear concerned about when it comes to SSBs; they assumed the teaching of scripture clear and requiring no comment on this matter). It is not the case then that the blessing of sexual activity outside of marriage is something it pronounces on.
Now I think it is clear that discussion of these matters in any kind of way that hopes to persuade opponents is probably fruitless. But as you persist, this is an effort to answer your question. I am occupied at a conference and not reading internet news just now. grace and peace.

Posted by cseitz at Sunday, 21 November 2010 at 1:40pm GMT
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