Thinking Anglicans

The Covenant tightrope walk

The Covenant tightrope walk is the title of an article in last week’s Church Times by David Walker Bishop of Dudley.

…LOOKING at contributions to the debate, one can see a parallel with the way diocesan synods debate parish share. Ostensibly, the discussion is about principles, but (by apparent coincidence) everyone’s proposal just happens to benefit his or her own parish financially.

In the case of the Covenant, many responses rest on whether or not their authors favour a text narrow enough to expel provinces that take unilateral decisions on same-sex relationships. These authors then create the necessary theology to lead to this outcome — again, by apparent coincidence…

Please read the whole article. He also said:

…THIS IS the first significant Anglican Communion debate in which bloggers have played a major part. They were particularly in evidence in their responses to Archbishop Rowan’s Advent letter to his fellow Primates, which was hailed by some as a shot across the bows of the theological conservatives, and by others as a capitulation to the right wing.

The challenge, especially once a revised text is issued and subjected to their intense scrutiny, is how to harness the bloggers’ energies and passions for what needs to be a prayerful, reflective, and non-polemical search for the widest degree of consensus. Can they be part of the solution, not just part of the problem?

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Cheryl Va. CloughFord ElmsDavid WalkerFr MarkPluralist Recent comment authors
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drdanfee
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drdanfee

Brava to Dr. S. I am sure standing up was not an easy decision to take, but benefits all of us, wherever we may be as Anglicans. Often when reading all the standard conservative theological hoo-ha about the allegedly biblical concept of male headship of women, I find myself surmising that it is just this sort of thinking Anglican (woman) which the concept seeks to render extinct with all deliberate conservative evangelical speed. I, contrarily, constantly pray that God will raise up even more outstanding women, across all the existing Anglican believer spectrums. But then, it has been thinking women… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
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David Walker’s ending line made me laugh “old archbishops in a hurry” a Monty Python moment as lots of rhyming sentences came up old archbishps in a slurry old archbishops in a huffy old archbishops in a flurry The comment about bloggers is not a surprise. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks commented a few years ago that whenever literacy opens up a level e.g. the creation of paper, the printing press; there have been major evolutions in theology as well. Souls get to share concepts that were not shared. Dialogues occur that would not have occurred otherwise and new insights come about… Read more »

Pluralist
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Are bloggers supposed to be part of the solution. Isn’t the idea to provide some sort of scrutiny and say, hello, some real people being affected here? If the bloggers highlight the problem, it is because there is one.

Pluralist
Guest

Interesting difference between liberals in England, here claimed to be higher and communion oriented, than the dissenting liberals of the US. I would rather reckon that the liberals have this view of the Church of England, extended to the Communion as far as it may go in the present, so long as the C of E remains intact. It’s not that much different from attitudes by American liberals to TEC. Furthermore, many liberals are uncomfortable with a Covenant at all, and are just biding their time and doing the usual not rocking the boat. However, should the Covenant begin to… Read more »

Prior Aelred
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I’m with Pluralist (& others) on the Covenant (at least as conceived as punitive) — if it is necessary, it won’t work (& if it would work, it wouldn’t be needed). Re: Yankee & Brit liberals — I hate to say it, but I think it is the hypocrisy thing (& I know some Brits who would agree) — TEC is rebuked by the ABC for consenting to the election of an openly gay man while he himself presides at a secret Eucharist for gay clergy — if the glue holding the WWAC together is hypocrisy, then the sooner the… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

And I rather agree with Prior Aelred – the difference is in hypocrisy. It is like the Advent Letter – not to read by what it says straight up, but that it has to be understood in the context of private conversations, presumably on the lines that it does not mean what it says.

Pluralist
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David Walker
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David Walker

Firstly, thanks for all the comments on various stories on TA that helped me write the article. I agree that the task of bloggers is first and foremost to scrutinise, indeed to test very thoroughly, all contributions to the debate. The ability of the blogosphere to do that from the whole 360 degrees almost instantly, and then for the reactions themselves to be scrutinised in turn, is a new and potentially healthful dimension. But I am concerned when passionate critique descends into invective, ad hominem arguments and character assassination. And also when those who advance different viewpoints or challenge the… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
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“To hold two theses in tension rather than demand that one yield to the other, and to seek to live in that tension (with all its apparent contradictions) lies at the heart of the European philosophical tradition.”

I think this is the ERROR. “Holding things in tension” means doing nothing, believing in neither.

It is the Fruit we reap of the Faction and Dissention of Calvinism.

Not No, No and Aye, aye – but the inability to be Righteous in the light of the Gospel.

Running away…

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“I think that bloggers can do better. If we really care about the Gospel and the Church that exists to live and proclaim it, then it’s worth a bit more effort and self-restraint.” I’m not sure about this. Yes, in an ideal world we would all sit there politely exchanging complex ideas. Reality is that the blogging shpere is populated by the same normal and diverse people as the rest of society. Maybe it’s too idealistic to expect us all to become dispassionate contributors when the subject matter discussed affects the core of who we are. Blogging is like every… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

David W: your comments are interesting. When I read you lamenting the way blogging can turn to invective and character assassination, I started thinking about the history of the press as a medium for public debate. The British tradition of public debate in the press is very robust, and since at least the 17th century has involved lots of character assassination and invective: theological debate in Britain was for centuries fuelled by vitriolic pamphleteering, much more rabid than anything one sees on a computer screen nowadays. Perhaps we, especially in the C of E, have recently become too shy of… Read more »

David Walker
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David Walker

Thanks Fr Mark for reminding us of the vitriolic history of the print medium. The exciting thing is that from such inauspicious beginnings emerged in due course a robust mechanism that enables serious issues to be debated and allows (at least in some places) politicians and others to be held properly to account. My prayer is that blogging will also develop its “broadsheet” dimension. As a longstanding campaigner on Housing issues and also nowadays involved in pensions provision (I’m on the C of E’s Pensions Board) I’m much in favour of the rights that Civil Partnerships have brought. I also… Read more »

Prior Aelred
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David Walker — I thank you very much for you comments & for your original article, but I must confess that your comments have served only to reinforce my perception that the problems is precisely British hypocrisy — saying one thing while doing another is exactly what the ABC has repeatedly done (as evidenced by the example I suggested above) — “creative tension” doesn’t mean “doing nothing” (or doing something and lying about it). Our Lord had something to say about hypocrites (especially among the religious leaders). BTW — I certainly no not intend this as personal invective! I am… Read more »

Hugh of Lincoln
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Hugh of Lincoln

The Covenant debate at York Synod last summer was as remote as you could get from being a “prayerful, reflective, and non-polemical search for the widest degree of consensus”, but rather, an emotive, passionate and highly charged act of political theatre. Ecclesiastical politics is more interesting than the Parliamentary version at the moment – opinions really are polarised. The debate should have been given a whole day instead of the pitifully short allocation of time for such an important topic – so many wanted to speak who couldn’t. There is a sense that it is being bulldozed through. There’s too… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
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I think TA generally does a good thing of managing the boundaries. It can be a bit heated at times, but then there is honesty by most contributors and we often end up articulating the underlying premise or paradigms that lead to our positions. Goodness, sometimes we often find that we have very strong common ground but the difference is that some are just more timid about who they should acknowledge is receiving God’s grace than others. Pluralist, you’ve been busy recently and its been fun. You link quoted a sentence by the bishop “Faced with natural disasters and terrorist… Read more »

Pluralist
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I wrote my blog about what David Walker said before reading his reply above; however, the other feature of blog-world is to then go back and alter it. The alteration was to address the issue of hypocrisy, and put it into context, and somewhat say where this hypocrisy arises. Briefly. It’s not my main point, though.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2008/01/walker-across-another-tightrope.html

Pluralist
Guest

Cheryl, it was simpler than that (though you can rely on me to make something simple become complicated). Temperamentally I like the Bishop of Lincoln, but to be honest I was baffled by what he was saying. I assume it was in some way meditative. Plus I think the letter writer gave a good argument (though if he pursues it then it goes much further).

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

David W: yes, you are right to say that the RC Church vehemently opposed the gay marriage law in Spain. Yet it was passed with 66% public approval. Result: further marginalisation of the Church. RC Mass attendance is in freefall across Europe at the moment: over-hierarchical churches can lose the sensus fidelium, the essentually bottom-up nature of Christian practice.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Pluralist Don’t worry. I’m tired of religious scholars who look like they are playwrights for the “Yes Minister” series. I now just cherry pick core assumptions that flavour the paper or can lead to erroneous conclusions. Sometimes that might seem that one sentence is blown out of proportion, and in one sense that is true. But if you don’t challenge the presumptions, then souls can’t see where their mental models fall over. One recent favourite was challenging the myth that Jesus’ teachings were the predication of how grace was meted out. No, Jesus was preordained and acknowledged at birth. To… Read more »

David Walker
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David Walker

Such a lovely picture you’ve done of me on your website, Pluralist!

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“he could make a right real botch of things and God would still have woven it into something useful.”

But Cheryl, this assumes that Jesus isn’t God.

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

Ford Jesus is not all of God. He wasn’t female. Jesus had the character of God and was a portion of God, but Jesus was not and never could be God in God’s entirety. No human can encounter God in God’s entirety. It would kill them and thus there would be no testimony. God can “tone down” a manifestation to the level safe for humans to encounter and discover. Jesus is the highest acknowledged manifestation for this planet. No one is going to compete with that or take that away from Jesus. Jesus’ existence did not change the existence of… Read more »

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“He wasn’t female.” Neither is God. He’s not male either. Being one gender or the other is a fact of our existence, not God’s. If the both of us are made in the image and likeness of God, then the relatively minor differences in our anatomies can’t mean anything in defining that image and likeness. God is not one or the other, neither is He both, He is beyond gender. “Jesus was not and never could be God in God’s entirety.” Which is not traditional, Athanasian Christology. You are free to believe this, Cheryl, and I don’t disresepct you for… Read more »

Cheryl Va. Clough
Guest

If you need Jesus to be more than what he is in order to trust in him. So be it. Other souls who know what Jesus is and what he was ordained to do still trust in God’s choice to use Jesus as the beacon of hope and salvation for all humanity, irregardless of where they are on this planet or anywhere else in the universe. We don’t need him to be more than what he is. However, his disciples are not allowed to break fundamental covenants without being disciplined. Jesus might have rebuked the Teachers of the Law, but… Read more »