Thinking Anglicans

Instead of the Anglican Covenant

Jonathan Clatworthy has published an article at Modern Church entitled Instead of the Anglican Covenant.

Proponents of the Anglican Covenant sometimes challenge opponents to suggest alternatives. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, in his 2011 Advent Letter to the Primates, wrote:

I continue to ask what alternatives there are if we want to agree on ways of limiting damage, managing conflict and facing with honesty the actual effects of greater disunity. In the absence of such alternatives, I must continue to commend the Covenant as strongly as I can to all who are considering its future.

This article seeks to respond to the challenge. It can only be a partial response because unlike the Covenant’s proponents, who are supported by the resources of the Anglican Communion Office, opponents work on a voluntary basis and none has the right to speak on behalf of all. The matter is complicated by the marked reluctance of proponents (with honourable exceptions like the Bishop of St Asaph) to communicate directly with opponents at all. This means that nobody in particular has been asked to offer an alternative. This one expresses the views of Modern Church and the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

Normally, opponents of a suggested change are under no obligation to present an alternative change. In this instance we understand the challenge to stem from a sense of crisis and a concern to do something to resolve it. The question, as we understand it, is: if the Anglican Covenant will not be the solution to our current problems, what will?

20
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
20 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
Grandmère MimiErika BakerFather Ron SmithGeoffMalcolm French+ Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Una Kroll
Guest

Oh yes, Jonathan. Yes, yes. Thank you for formulating something so succint. I so long for the Anglican Communion to adopt such a strategy and stop this bitter infightling that is causing such damage to our Gospel missiona nd teaching. Una

Tim Chesterton
Guest

As an evangelical I look forward to Jonathan’s defence of the right within Anglicanism of some dioceses and provinces to explore lay presidency at the Eucharist without interference or censure from other parts of the Communion.

Geoff
Guest

“As an evangelical I look forward to Jonathan’s defence of the right within Anglicanism of some dioceses and provinces to explore lay presidency at the Eucharist without interference or censure from other parts of the Communion.” – Tim That’s because, as an evangelical, you would draw a false equation between revisiting a tertiary question of moral theology and altering the fundamentals of sacramental theology. Such is the distortion of authority that (the itself extra-biblical doctrine of) sola scriptura leads to. For the “evangelical,” there’s no difference between re-reading a few passages of Paul and abolishing the Mass as we know… Read more »

badman
Guest
badman

The analysis would be stronger if it grappled explicitly with the point made against the consecration of Gene Robinson which was that it did not form part of a debate but was a unilateral act which pre-empted the outcome of the debate.

I agree with the analysis, and I supported the consecration of Gene Robinson, as I still do.

But it is, precisely, in the spirit of Anglican debate and discernment that points like this should be addressed, rather than overlooked or ignored as here.

Dan Barnes-Davies
Guest

As I commented on yesterday’s AMiA article, create the post of:

Enforcer for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Simple and elegant! 😛

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Goes to show how very powerful our prejudices are”… I think in this case prejudices against evangelicals. Tim is not one little bit like the people you describe here and I think his question is fair. If we say that we need to find a new way, or returning to an old way of living with different ideas about the authority of Scripture, then it’s not wrong to test how that would play out with a topic that hasn’t been discussed to death and where views are completely polarised. I happen to believe that the same approach Jonathan Clatworthy proposes… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest

I agree with Tim and Erika on this one. Far from being a deliberate challenge to the Communion as a whole, +Gene Robinson was legitimately elected by the Diocesan Convention of New Hampshire where he was well known for many years. The only thing that put his qualifications for the post in doubt was his sexual orientation. If New Hampshire forced an issue, it was not over the unity of the Communion, but over the issue of whether same-sexuality is some willful rebellion against God and the natural order, or a predetermined natural variation little different from green eyes or… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Geoff, you are making some very strong assumptions about my views on homosexuality and gay marriage. I’m not aware that you and I have ever discussed this before, so I would caution you against assuming that you can predict what my belief and practice on the subject is simply because I said I am an evangelical. With regard to your comment, you’ll remember that C.S. Lewis once said that one of the differences between Christians is precisely the relative importance of each particular difference. To you, gay marriage is revisiting a minor point of theology, while lay presidency is destroying… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Frankly, I would say that if an “evangelical” province wished to experiment with “lay presidency” they should do so. Late patristic scholar the Rev Canon Richard Norris used to respond, when asked, “What do you call a lay person authorized by a bishop to preside at the eucharist?” “A priest.” In the old thinking on ordination (still perhaps current in some circles) it was the handing over of the communion vessels that was at the heart of “ordination.” Frnakly, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, given the rich history of the presbyterate in relation to the episcopate,… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

I apologize to Tim if I have gleaned his position on that one issue incorrectly from his exchanges with Malcolm French. Nevertheless, I would regard founded prejudice against a faulty theological system in a different class from ill discerned prejudices against groups of people based on unchosen traits. By relegating the threefold ministry to “cultural context” I’m afraid Erika only reinforces my point. As to sola scriptura, I would place the assumption that any rule not committed to writing in the Bible is “of man” pretty squarely in that category. I do agree with Tobias at least insofar as lay… Read more »

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

Thanks to all for the high quality of exchanges n this thread, so far.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Geoff, it’s really very simple. When people seem to be proposing an Anglican free-for-all (i.e. an arrangement in which all items of faith and practice are seen as negotiable), I want to know which of two options they are advocating: (a) a true free-for-all, in which everything is up for grabs, or (b) a limited free-for-all, in which some things are up for grabs and some are not. If it’s (b), then I want to know who has authority to decide which items are essential and which are not. And the nature of the two lists will differ from person… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

My gut (that part of me where the Host settles) is with Geoff, but my brain is with Tobias.

I think a certain “Principle of Gamaliel” might apply to lay presidency. [Though I would *try* to avoid (receiving Communion by) it, given the choice!]

Malcolm French+
Guest

Having been drawn in, I don’t care for the formulation described by Geoff that “New Westminster fiddled with marriage, so Sydney can fiddle with the Eucharist.” But I would agree that, within Anglican comprehensiveness, New Westminster fiddling with Marriage and Sydney fiddling with the Eucharist are both permissible and problematical. Either will result in strained – or perhaps even broken – communion among parts of the Communion. The difference, of course, is that I wouldn’t propose to toss Sydney out. Neither would I propose “relational consequences” or any other namby-pamby euphemism fr a swift boot to the testicles. However, were… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Geoff, “By relegating the threefold ministry to “cultural context” I’m afraid Erika only reinforces my point.” The question is never “what would I do”, but “how do I respond when others do something I don’t want them to do”. As Tobias points out, there is enough theology to make it possible, in theory, for traditionalists to accept Sydney going its own way here. As Tim asks, ultimately, it’s a question of who decides what truly matters to Anglicanism. Is the mechanism proposed by the Covenant really giving us the true mind of the whole church? And as Malcolm says, even… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

I suppose my limits to the free-for-all would be the Quadrilateral, but I would also note that no one’s “proposing” anything. Difficult as it may be for us to remember having “always been at war with Eurasia” so long, the No Covenanters are actually the status quo. I would be inclined to treat lay presidency however previous generations of Anglicans treated their “hot buttons”. “some … see gay marriage as … contradictory to scripture.” My problem with this is that it can only go so far on bare assertion. Sin is a real condition comprised in real acts, not an… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Geoff, I like your argument here – on the fact that same-sex and heterosexual relationships have no specific difference in moral ‘oughts and shoulds’ – as far as love, and not just lust, is involved – even in the Scriptures.

In this context, it needs to be understood, also, that physical loving is not confined to the act of intentional procreation. If this were so, then we would have probably reached the limits of the sustainable population of the world already.

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

“As an evangelical I look forward to Jonathan’s defence of the right within Anglicanism of some dioceses and provinces to explore lay presidency at the Eucharist without interference or censure from other parts of the Communion.” Tim, I’m somewhat puzzled by your challenge to Jonathan on lay presidency, when he is not even here in the discussion. And because he wrote in opposition to the covenant, must he then take up the defense of every possible controversial issue that might come up in the communion? With regard to lay presidency, as I see it, if a province wishes to experiment… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Mimi, if I understood Tim correctly, the issue is not Jonathan Clatworthy’s view on lay presidency but how his proposal would work if the hot button issue was something other than homosexuality. I’ve often noticed in the Covenant debate that the lines of those who support it vs those who oppose it follow pretty much the lines of those who are pro and anti lgbt equality. The two topics seem to be inextricably linked in the minds of those people who care about the Covenant at all and who know about it. I have often tried to ask Covenant supporters… Read more »

Grandmère Mimi
Guest

Erika, the discussion quickly moved off topic from Jonathan’s fine post on alternatives to the covenant to lay presidency. If Rowan says TINA, then Jonathan gives an answer, which, of course, may not be to the satisfaction of all. Even with your alternative explanation, I still find Tim’s comment puzzling and even a little combative, but maybe I misunderstand him.