Bishop Alan Wilson asks an important question: Anglican Covenant: a Tool for…?
I am slightly bemused when I am told some big signature project is perfectly safe because it won’t make any critical difference. If not, why bother? Is there anything worth doing instead that might make a difference? But a new General Synod is about to sign the C of E up to the Anglican Covenant, pretty much on auto-pilot, some say as much out of fear of giving offence as positive endorsement for its supposed virtues. Everyone else can then back-pedal, ignore it, even, depending on where they stand in the culture wars,
* because they fear it will spank TEC
* because they fear it won’t,
The Covenant then joins a select number of other magnificenti in the lumber room, like the Kikuyu declaration, and life carries on. But, inquiring minds will wonder, what kind of a tool is it? What for? Whose benefit? How?
There’s a scale for assessing tools, that runs from Swiss Army Knife to Turkey Turners…
There is also provision in the article for voting on your choice of tool.
And the second article is from Paul Bagshaw who compares this issue to that of the Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure 1974. The article is titled And always keep a-hold of Nurse …. He concludes:
And the relevance of this to a Covenant is:
(a) because the CofE is a State Church it has no ecclesiology – it has had no capacity to think for itself what kind of church it is and should and could be,
(b) the CofE has had centuries of training in the arts of being subordinate and acting as though it was autonomous – it exists through a sophisticated systemic exercise of willful blindness and realpolitik.
(c) The point at which it acquired the power to determine its own doctrine was too late for it to exercise such power. From the mid-1980s ecumenical agreements and the changing shape of the Anglican Communion meant that in practice it could only make definitive doctrinal statements in concert (if not uniformly) with other churches and the rest of the Communion – see, for example, the statement on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry.
So to adopt the Covenant for the CofE would simply be to accept a new overlordship while continuing to pretend it is superior to it. It will make sure its officers are embedded in the operation of the Covenant so that nothing potentially embarrassing comes to the light of public debate. And thus it will ensure it still doesn’t have to think about its ecclesiology – what principles – actually and ideally – underlie, predispose and can be used to judge the words, structures and action of the Church of England?