Thinking Anglicans

MCU opposes new Draft Covenant

Press release from the MCU available here:

MCU opposes the Draft Covenant

The proposed Anglican Covenant (The St Andrew’s Draft) would only make the church more autocratic and outdated, says the Modern Churchpeople’s Union (MCU).

‘It takes the Anglican out of Anglicanism and there wouldn’t be much left’, says the MCU General Secretary, Jonathan Clatworthy. ‘Until now we have lived together respecting differences of opinion. This Covenant would mean every time there’s an objection someone will lay down the law’.

The wording of the Covenant itself is a clear improvement on previous drafts. But the sting is in the tail. An Appendix to the Draft Covenant sets out ways in which members of the Communion could be disciplined.

Members of the Anglican Communion would be asked to commit themselves to accept a ‘request’ from the Archbishop of Canterbury or the global Primate’s Meeting. If they refused the request they could ultimately be expelled from the Communion.

MCU objects to the Covenant because it would centralize decision-making and reduce the traditional autonomy of Anglican Provinces. Just one Anglican Province could object to developments elsewhere and so changes could only be made at the speed of the slowest. Churches would become increasingly out of date.

MCU believes that the threat of expulsion will impoverish Anglican church life. The short timescales envisaged are likely to stunt discussion and suppress the search for consensus. The character of the international ‘Instruments of Communion’ which currently bind the Communion together would be changed as they take on semi-judicial roles.

The practical result of the St Andrew’s Draft Covenant would be a much more centralized, authoritarian and unadventurous Communion. It is likely to magnify disputes and to turn them into judicial processes. It is likely to leave the Church less able to face the challenges of the modern world.

To read the Appendix mentioned above go here.

And for more material on the Covenant from MCU, go here.

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drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

Thanks to MCU, their qualms state some of my qualms. Leaving scholarship to one side while asking the Primates to be our leading theologians aka high court judges will only result in the sorts of fiasco that we saw at Lambeth 1998 and elswhere/else-when: Some really IN bishop trying to exorcise demons of homosexuality out of a gay clergy person? Or refusing to really be equal and fair to all neighbors while exchanging views in platforms built by the likes of FIF or Reform or gasp Anglican Mainstream? Or refusing to stay in meetings or join in Eucharist because this… Read more »

Robert Dodd
Robert Dodd
12 years ago

Bravo, MCU! Given traditional Anglican trust and respect, a new covenant would be unnecessary. Absent these qualities, it could only further divide the tottering Anglican Communion.

“No!” is long overdue!

Lister Tonge
Lister Tonge
12 years ago

Bravo! This does say very well why what is proposed sounds so foreign to the ears of some of us. The draft looks too much like a Constitution for the Anglican Communion, whereby an institution would be created in place of a work of the Spirit. Surely we can see that such a change arises directly and solely out of the felt need by some for Letter in place of Spirit. When we know that ‘the letter killeth’, why would we be wanting to hand such an instrument to some who seem to want it for that express purpose?

Prior Aelred
12 years ago

This seems to put it all out there very clearly — anyone from the Reagan era still have “Just Say No!” buttons?

The fact is that the Windsor Report was a bad & rushed job & the Covenant notion is just another example of this (IMHO).

Could there be a good “covenant” (wrong word for the Scots)? Of course! But none of the proposals so far even come close. The best comments have all been politely worded objections.

John Henry
John Henry
12 years ago

No Covenant as proposed, and the Bible Traffic Wardens will walk and start their own alternative Anglican Communion which allows the Letter of Scripture, as understood by them, although their interpretation may be contrary to what the authors intended, to trump and stifle the Spirit. After all, in their view, we are not saved by Christ but by covenantal nomism (i.e., boundary issues that determine who is in and who is OUT).

poppy tupper
poppy tupper
12 years ago

my real worry about this, is what we will call the bishops if we enter into a convenant. john hind, bishop of chichester is very helpful about the present situation: ‘The formal mode of address of the Bishop of Chichester is “My Lord Bishop”.’ it’s important to get these things right. http://www.diochi.org.uk/

but we’ll be without a rudder on all this if we move into a new conventual relationship, and then where will we be? it’s very worrying.

Cheryl Va. Clough
12 years ago

There are some who are not going to “play ball” unless this covenant is brought in. They don’t know how to be civilized to people who disagree with them nor tolerate them having a voice. However, if this covenant was brought in, they would be amongst the first to work out how to use it and to organize the lynch mobs to expunge the impure. Don’t worry, look globally, there’s enough evidence now of how some souls misuse power to “control” the cleanliness of parishes and/or dioceses. The tactics of shunning, back stabbing, misrepresentation, censorship, hate sermons, sabotage, setting snares,… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Leonardo Ricardo
12 years ago

Fr. Jakes not buying into it either:

http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“such a change arises directly and solely out of the felt need by some for Letter in place of Spirit” Exactly! As to why, I think it’s because they need to have clearly expressed laws. It may be based on fear that God will not love them if they disobey a law, thus the laws must be clear lest there be confusion or oversight, and they end up tortured for eternity. It may be because clearly expressed law makes it easier to see who is better than whom as judged by the degree of their obedience. The first is justification… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 years ago

The appendix clearly needs to be rewritten, but at least the idea of mediation might be retained. After all, we might not be in this mess if we had done a better job of talking to each other we might have managed to avoid this mess in the first place.

Jon

christopher+
christopher+
12 years ago

Yes, indeed, bravo!

By the way, has anyone ever seen a good justification for why the provinces of the Anglican Communion should have a different standard for full communion amongst themselves than for full communion with other churches outside the Communion?

If the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral already establishes the minimum standard for full communion, as it does – while also allowing adequate room for diversity and local needs – why then do we need something new at all?

What exactly makes this proposed double-standard for full communion necessary?

Joe Cassidy
12 years ago

So what would happen if the Church of England ran afoul of the instruments, if the C of E were asked to agree that they had withdrawn from the meaning of the covenant? Would the See of Canterbury (which is the Canterbury diocese and not the Archbishop alone) be out of communion with itself? I ask this because I think it points to the problem of defining formal systems, systems of rules: they often (and famously in philosophical terms) tend to contradict themselves. As Lister said, the letter killeth, and no ‘lettering’ is going to obviate the need to attend… Read more »

John-Julian, OJN
John-Julian, OJN
12 years ago

What is happening here is an attempt to start a new Church: the world-wide Anglican Church (which has never existed before)!

Writing it down has the imminent capability of destroying it altogether.

drdanfee
drdanfee
12 years ago

Well yes I do feel a lot of bullying going on in the conservative realignment campaign, but then one gets numb to it after so many years of childhood and youthful threatening hellfire sermons in the USA Bible Belt growing up. If only I had a dollar or two for ever single needless, sleepless, restless hour of the night and day, sadistically tortured and troubled not by real good conscience but by the nastiness and meanness of the bully preacher and his own neurotic bad conscience, given as gospel. Rowan’s interest in having a covenant is not at all clear… Read more »

Prior Aelred
12 years ago

Joe Cassidy —

That is an excellent point!

I think this is a case of the C of E leadership assuming that what has happened elsewhere can’t happen to them (& they are delusional).

“What exactly makes this proposed double-standard for full communion necessary?
Posted by: christopher+”

The gays!

Pluralist
12 years ago

It says We, the Churches of the Anglican Communion, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, solemnly covenant together… And the paragraph 8.4 has (a) the Church involved may declare voluntarily that it relinquishes the force and meaning of the purposes of the Covenant, or (b) the Council shall resolve whether the Church involved may be understood to have relinquished the force and meaning of the purposes of the Covenant. Am I losing something here? Is this the same thing as being removed from the Anglican Communion? Because 8.5 as well as trying to get said Church back into the Covenant,… Read more »

Virginia Gal
Virginia Gal
12 years ago

I wonder what the results would be if there was a non-binding/no names released survey of the primates, just two questions. 1) Do you really want a formal covenant? and 2) do you think it will preserve the Anglican Communion?

Much too direct, of course – but I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority would just as soon let the yellow light turn red.

Nom de Plume
Nom de Plume
12 years ago

Joe speaks wisely about legislating for disunity. From another perspective though, consider the possiblity that diversity is in fact a necessary precondition for unity. (Not original to me, see Vatican II). If so, then the sort of unity that some would press for is really uniformity, which is actually an illusion of unity. Provincial autonomy is necessary for the development of authentic contextual theology, which gives rise to more diversity, which gives rise to the opportunity for God to reveal the sort of real unity that we cannot create with covenants, and this covenant pays lip service to Provincial autonomy,… Read more »

counterlight
counterlight
12 years ago

I second many of the comments above, particularly Joe Cassidy’s remark that the Covenant would be a triumph of hard-heartedness.
Not only do I fail to see any need for anything beyond what we already share, I don’t see the emergency. And yet, so many people feel it is urgent that we put up sandbags and barbed wire right now. What exactly needs to be protected, and from whom?

4May1535+
4May1535+
12 years ago

Christopher+ (10:45 GMT), I think that this is precisely where +Cantuar might have deployed his formidable mind to great advantage–that is, in explaining why our relationship with him is more valuable than our (TEC) relationship with the ELCA or why his relationship with us should have different ground rules than his relationship with the Scandinavian Lutherans or Old Catholics. Perhaps no one has asked him to do so, but (as I have said here before: this is my day for repeating myself) I suspect that there actually _isn’t_ any such reason, other than sentimental Anglophilia (and, mind you, I type… Read more »

robert lewis--St. Louis MO
robert lewis--St. Louis MO
12 years ago

did i miss something? is the word “reason” nowhere to be found in the text?
and a not-so-minor note: the Archbishop of Canterbury is referred to specifically as “he”– sorry, guys. this whole thing is patriarchal, condescending, and firmly rooted in pre-modern concepts about the world and society.

Paul Bagshaw
12 years ago

Robert – on reason, Clause 1.2.2 says: to uphold and proclaim a pattern of Christian theological and moral reasoning and discipline that is rooted in and answerable to the teaching of Holy Scripture and the catholic tradition and that reflects the renewal of humanity and the whole created order through the death and resurrection of Christ and the holiness that in consequence God gives to, and requires from, his people; The commentary on it says: One of the questions addressed to the Design Group was “Where in the Covenant does the lively and responsible role of human reason, so consistently… Read more »

Paul Bagshaw
12 years ago

Pluralist, as I read it 8.4 says the offending Church has a choice – they can jump or they can be pushed out. 8.5 says, implicitly, that if the offending Church changes its mind and repents of its actions (i.e. accepts the finding of the court that has just expelled them) they may be readmitted to the club. (The same clause was in the previous draft.) And all this is based on the presumption that to be part of the Anglican Communion is identical with being a signatory to the Covenant in good standing. No more ‘in communion with the… Read more »

Lister Tonge
Lister Tonge
12 years ago

The above are some of the best contributions I have seen on TA.

Further to Joe’s point about being railroaded: Yes, I do feel that. Instruments or no Instruments, I am not selling my birthright for this mess of potage and I have no intention of breaking communion with TECUSA.

Pluralist
12 years ago

I’m still baffled – genuinely. Gomez in interview said no exclusions and TEC would not be excluded, and whilst it says “We solemnly Covenant together” it nowhere says that being in the Anglican Communion is ended by not accepting the Covenant. If everyone (you all see to agree) and the MCU is right, then the tentative appendix does make this unacceptable in an authoritarian sense. Clearly it is centralisation, legalism, relying on those who can’t and should not have to be relied upon to make their conclusions. It is not Anglican. But if my puzzlement is that this amounts to… Read more »

Prior Aelred
12 years ago

Pluralist —

Maybe this is the sort of thing that the ABC had in mind (who knows) with that long ago suggestion of a “two-tier” Communion — there would be those in Communion with Canterbury & then there would be the signatories of the Covenant (although I’m not sure who will be left to sign on).

Pluralist
12 years ago

Thanks Prior Aelred – and quite.

What then if another Church produces a different Covenant, and that also recognises the Archbishop, but is just a set of simple Anglican statements and no disciplining structures. Many that could not sign the first might sign this.

The St. Andrews Covenant would deflate in a second. The new draft might be called Sharia, just for fun.

christopher+
christopher+
12 years ago

4May1535+, “There isn’t actually anything theologically significant about the Anglican Communion as opposed to other communions we are part of, and the Covenant is in part an attempt to legislate such significance into existence, even at the price of betraying such Anglican history as we do have in common.” Very well put! I plan to keep asking this question, by the way, because we keep hearing how very, very critical it is that we Anglicans now develop a covenant. Nonsense. This is only necessary if all provinces really want to have dictated to them by a very few other provinces… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 years ago

I’m concerned by the apparent lack of concern for building up charity among the comments here and elsewhere in the Anglican blogosphere. How can one increase charity in a group that has been afflicted by infighting? The only way I know of is to find some way to encourage all sides to choose to trust the others and to work together in things on which they already agree. Tat is the only reason I can see for pursuing an Anglican covenant. Granted some will try to use it to purge the communion of “undesirables,” and we need to be on… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
12 years ago

“…a mechanism for reminding each province of the importance of remaining accountable to our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

You see, that’s the problem. I have never considered myself to be accountable to anyone except my own conscience and God, at least as regards matters of faith.

Ford Elms
Ford Elms
12 years ago

“The only way I know of is to find some way to encourage all sides to choose to trust the others and to work together in things on which they already agree.” So why is a convenant necessary for us to do this? We did it quite well for 500 years till now. There is a group of conservatives who are quite clear that their issues go way beyond the “gay thing”. They have grave concerns about what they see as apostate innovations from “liberals”. This covenant is a means of ensuring that people, by force, are restrained from going… Read more »

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