Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cavalcade of Comment on Covenant

There is a lot of comment around on the Covenant these days. Here are three things which have caught my eye, with gratitude to those who alerted me to them!

(1) An enlarged Goddard exposition of the Covenant's virtues in reponse to the English campaign to expose its vices. Here for the whole (it is longish). An excerpt (from the conclusion):

"In summary, their response to the covenant reveals that they are far from being the authentic voice of Anglicanism or the Church of England. Instead, they are at risk of seeking to remake the Communion in their own particular Western liberal image and thus make it captive to what Oliver O’Donovan described as The failure of the liberal paradigm in his first Fulcrum sermon on subjects of the day (now published by SCM as A Conversation Waiting to Begin). At root, their ill-informed polemic suggests that ultimately they cannot accept that their own tradition in Anglicanism must – like evangelical and catholic perspectives – also learn ‘to live with certain tensions or even sacrifices’ if it is to be truly Anglican. As a result, they rail against a covenant one of whose main strengths is precisely that it prevents any one part of Anglicanism from heading where they sadly risk heading - ‘in a direction ultimately outside historic Anglicanism’."

Then two provocative comments on Titus One Nine responding to posting +Graham Kings' Fulcrum/CiF column:

(2) From Sarah's comment:

"I certainly wish that it weren’t so. But since the Covenant does nothing to fix the AC’s issues—TEC will still be representing the AC with vim and vigor as a full member no matter what it does—it appears that there will simply be permanent division within the AC. The informed middle right has made it clear they aren’t leaving. So what we have is the informed middle right coupled with Sydney-type folks [by that I mean the folks who never needed “the center” to hold anyway] over there in one segment. And then the foaming raging heretics over here in one segment. And then the uninformed moderates just sort of standing about.


I look for those chasms to deepen and broaden, and for participation in the various official bodies of the AC to continue to greatly decline, since there’s no real reason to participate in such bodies with gangrenous TEC."

In posting this I am not agreeing to each and every adjective used! But I think Sarah captures well the sense that some observers have that nothing is going to change for the better, with or without a Covenant. We're doomed to disintegration!

(3) From Chris Seitz's comment:

"One thing I do not understand is the so called progressive position on this. I accept that they view with great caution/loathing the covenant (though one can wonder why, especially since the present SC is completely on their side). What is unclear is what kind of global anglicanism they envisage. It is not like default to the status quo, by killing the covenant, is workable. The communion is shattering. Is the point that this is all OK, and that then everyone gets to do what they want? Global associations will get reconfigured to track with this? The churches in various provinces will divide and splinter? This is the price for moving ahead with SSBs and it is worth it?

The covenant sets forth a vision for Communion, in continuity with what the Communion has been and reliant on healthy instruments (which aspect is now not present). If not this, what do the progressives want in terms of international anglicanism of a workable sort? One can get the impression that ‘all is well’ so long as the dreaded covenant is defeated. But all is not well. Unless one just wants to say those were arrangements we never liked anyway, and goodbye to them."

Chris Seitz (yes, the one involved with the ACI) makes a point well which I share. No Covenant could well mean No Communion. Are we happy with that? Some seem to be! Perhaps we should get used to the idea ... especially if Sarah is right and we are doomed.

Then, added Friday morning (NZ time), an article by Chris Sugden and Vinay Samuel (H/T Virtue):

(4) "The current Covenant process interminably delays judgement and leaves little hope of discipline and thus of consistency. We are left in a permanent state of dialogue and conversation. This has practical implications at parish level when churches have to decide how to relate to same-sex couples requesting blessing and bringing surrogate children for baptism. If the covenant process in the Communion becomes the state of affairs in the Church of England, its practices could be so contradictory that chaos would result. Endless appeal could be made to conviction, openness, listening and time while practices and actions continue which go against the teaching of the church whether in a parish or whole diocese.


The above argument could therefore suggest abstention in the vote in General Synod next week for the following reasons:

The Communion needs recognition of orthodox teaching and for proper and appropriate boundaries. The Covenant does not achieve that purpose but substitutes conviction for truth. Some wish to travel further in the direction in which the Covenant is supposed to point, but do not wish to support the very weak approach of the current Covenant. Where the current Anglican Communion process is going today could be used to allow for English Dioceses to move in TEC's direction tomorrow on the grounds that this is accepted Anglican practice."

On this analysis we are doomed to (endless) dialogue! There could be worse fates, and disintegration would be one of those. But I am challenged here to think of an aspect of the Covenant process, that it could allow for even basic creedal beliefs to be put up for consideration (i.e. if and when one member church developed teaching contrary to the creeds) and thus plunge the Communion into a long, if not endless discussion over matters (apparently) settled many centuries ago. Whereas I had thought that S1-3 of the Covenant confirmed that settlement.

16 comments:

liturgy said...

“One thing I do not understand is the so called progressive position on this. I accept that they view with great caution/loathing the covenant (though one can wonder why, especially since the present SC is completely on their side).”

This slip betrays what the Covenant is seen to be here – a way to get power over others. It’s confusing isn’t it: here’s their chance to get more power – why aren’t they taking it?!

Peter, what you continue not to address: if in your opinion the Covenant won’t go back over past decisions but only affect new ones from henceforth, then it doesn’t in any way address the issues of TEC or ACC that concern people, as they are in the past and, hence, have the precedent to continue after signing.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Naturally this is a tiny edge of a very small cog in a large machine speaking here, so I could be wildly wrong, but:

(1) I assume as a matter of natural justice that were the Covenant implemented tomorrow by virtue of all 38 member churches signing up, then what would not be revisited are the decisions of TEC to confirm the elections of +Gene and +Mary. Nor would there be visitation on ACCan's approach to SSB's, namely not to synodically approve them (while effectively nodding and winking to their bishops to provide for them happening, albeit not formally etc).

(2) Future possibilities for Covenant-based questioning of developments remain. This (so I understand in respect of what has not happened but is being worked on) could include TEC and ACCan coming to a formal synod/convention authorised canon/rule on SSBs; a future election of a new +Gene or +Mary (on the basis that a developmental trend was emerging, which continued to cut against 1.10 (1998); to say nothing, of course, of a response to a move by (say) Wales or England to elect/appoint their own +Gene or +Mary (or any other province, but Wales and England are the two which have come closest in recent years).

Of course one imagines that into a Covenant-based discussion about such matters would come a view from TEC and ACCan that such things, albeit informally, have happened for years, precedence, facts on the ground, this is our contextualised mission etc.

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

You really should not bring these to our attention. I have not the time to visit every blog in Anglicandom, and some I would not visit in a hazmat suit, so I would not know about some of these statements.

Some light commentary -
foaming raging heretics The pot calling the kettle black. Little Stone Bridges Sarah, the Neanderthal who must wipe the slobber from her lips to keep from shorting out another keyboard. No one at the Viagraville website has anything on her when it comes to raging or foaming.

bringing surrogate children for baptism A surrogate is a substitute. What is he accusing gay and lesbian couples of doing here, asking the church to baptize pets? (We have all heard of the few that were recently communed. +Holy St Francis, pray for us.+) Why did he not just say what he actually meant, bastards? These faggots and dykes are actually bringing their bastards to the church for baptism!

"Allow the little children to come to me, do not stop them."

Seitz, yes, of Four Guys and a Website = an Institute fame, echos the complaint of +Cape Town during his jaunt to Merry England this past summer. They are saying, "How dare these people ask the church to love and nurture their kids!" Who wants the task of measuring them for their millstones?

But David, the Covenant is not about homosexuality.
"This is the price for moving ahead with SSBs and it is worth it?"
"This has practical implications at parish level when churches have to decide how to relate to same-sex couples requesting blessing and bringing surrogate children for baptism."

Juan said...

Dear Peter

I read Andrew Goddard’s commentary on recent critique of the proposed Anglican Covenant with interest. There is much in it with which I agree. I am trying my best to keep an open mind on the subject, but every now and then I feel a twitch of concern. Here is an example from Mr Goddard’s paper.

He writes, “…in many significant areas – notably but not solely those expressly articulated in section 1 of the covenant – a consensus has already been reached among Anglicans. While that consensus may indeed be wrong, it exists and needs to be respected even when it is being questioned … In speaking of ‘such time as consensus is reached’ there is no acknowledgment that the church does not actually believe the will of God is only to be found in some consensus which may arise among Christians at some future point in time. Rather, Anglicans believe that although as sinners in history we never know God’s will fully and perfectly, it has been revealed in Christ and in the Spirit-inspired biblical witness to him, to which both tradition and reason are ultimately subordinate.”

Would Mr Goddard cast Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as one of those matters on which Anglicans have reached an (albeit potentially erroneous) consensus? Reading further, would Mr Goddard also argue that respect for said consensus should accordingly oblige Anglicans to bar homosexual people from holy orders and to withhold the blessing of committed same-sex relationships until such time as a new consensus presents itself? How, I wonder, would such a new consensus develop? If my reading of Church history is correct, what now stands for doctrinal orthodoxy were hotly contested issues of disagreement, often resulting in an untidy pile of corpses, before the victor got to write the history. Is the Covenant project an attempt to avoid a repeat of the doctrinal battles of the past by mapping a more reasoned approach to disagreement among Anglicans, or is it a strategy to paralyse those who are working for change?

Now, I can appreciate the appeal of the covenant from the perspective of those who find themselves in the inner Anglican circle, heterosexual men who read the bible in a particular way and with a particular theological approach (give or take a little at the margins). Sign the covenant today – business as usual tomorrow. If I were a gay Anglican completing my theological studies and readying myself for ordination, on the other hand, I suspect the covenant could easily dispatch me under the wheels of the metaphorical bus. (For me, at least, that bus passed safely some years ago.)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Juan,
Are you over indulging your imagination re bodies on the streets before new consensi emerge? :)

(1) Lambeth Conference famously changed its mind from 'stop' to 'go' on contraception.

(2) There once was a consensus re divorce/remarriage, then a new one emerged without (as far as I know) new martyrs being created.

(3) A new consensus on the ordination of women in the Communion developed (i.e. at the least that most of us whatever stripe of opinion do not think it a communion breaking issue). Again, no corpses that I know of.

On the contra side of the sheet, there are consensi which some push for, but they never quite gather support: lay presidency (once pushed from the very diocese in which I now reside); diaconal presidency.

In sum: who knows the future of the consensus re homosexuality ... but it could be different and it could be the same!

liturgy said...

"(2) There once was a consensus re divorce/remarriage, then a new one emerged without (as far as I know) new martyrs being created."

Can you articulate this new consensus please, and while you are doing it please explain why the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to preside at the wedding of the future Supreme Governor of his church because he was marrying a divorcee.

"(3) A new consensus on the ordination of women in the Communion developed (i.e. at the least that most of us whatever stripe of opinion do not think it a communion breaking issue). Again, no corpses that I know of."

It is communion breaking. Bishop Victoria Matthews has equal or less chance of presiding and preaching at a Eucharist in Sydney than Bishop Gene Robinson has.

OK - that leaves you with the non-public, unenforceable "famous" change of Lambeth voting :-)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I think a response can be made to your points but I must dash away for 24 hours or so ...
Talk later!

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_RJni9o2nQno/TOPcvklMHVI/AAAAAAAAXOo/q5lp26-IIZk/s1600/Untitled-1.jpg

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
It is true that there is not a consensus across the Communion about some matters to do with the remarriage of divorcees so, e.g. ++RW would only preside at the blessing of the wedding of HRH Charles + Camilla, but I suggest there is a consensus that the presence of divorced-but-remarried bishops at Lambeth is not a communion or Communion breaker; then there is the further consensus that divorced-but-remarried people will be treated better than they once were in the life of our church.

Again, with the ordination of women, some break communion re a woman presiding by not turning up or turning away, but the fact of women priests and women bishops being present in the life of the Communion has not (as far as I understand) led to bishops not attending Lambeth: if the Communion breaks up it will not be over women priests or bishops. Intriguingly, while Bishop Victoria Matthews would not be permitted to preside at eucharist or preach as a priest or a bishop (but, you never know, might as a deacon), I believe that ++Peter Jensen visiting Chch would receive communion at a service presided over by +Victoria. I do not have the same confidence were he to visit the Diocese of New Hampshire etc!

liturgy said...

Peter, I struggle to be convinced either that Victoria could preside and preach as a deacon in a mixed-gender congregation in Peter Jensen’s diocese; and also that he would participate in a Eucharist here at which Victoria presided and preached – but, then, I do struggle with the logic of this end of the spectrum as you know. And so I have to trust your judgements.

Hence, I think you are yet once again stressing that it’s not about this, it’s not about that, it’s really about…. wait for it…. yep: gays. Peter Jensen will go against his own strong principles about women. But not about gays.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I wonder if you are missing the point here, re Juan/my response?

Juan is raising the question whether a consensus in the Anglican Communion can change with bodies on the floor and blood on the carpet. I am simply arguing that there is evidence that a consensus can change and evidence that a consensus can remain in place.


That is all!

liturgy said...

OK, I’ve got it now, Peter: consensus can change or it can stay the same.

Peter Carrell said...

Yes, that's right, Bosco!

When consensus stays the same in the Communion that is the 'catholic' half (i.e of the description 'catholic and reformed') holding steady. When consensus changes to a new consensus that is the 'reformed' half exerting itself :)

Anonymous said...

RE: " . . . foaming raging heretics The pot calling the kettle black. Little Stone Bridges Sarah, the Neanderthal who must wipe the slobber from her lips to keep from shorting out another keyboard. No one at the Viagraville website has anything on her when it comes to raging or foaming."

Evidence of the truth of my description. My my -- who can imagine just how filled with rage they are until one catches just a little glimpse. The question is . . . why did my well-demonstrated adjectives matter so much to this one enough to cause him to demonstrate it all over again?

That's the question. Why does it matter to the one side if the other side recognizes them as foaming raging heretics. On my side, people just smile at the words above and tuck them happily away as further evidence, and motor on about their daily activities, continuing to have a good time and enjoy the blogging.

And then, the words themselves are clearly inaccurate. Clearly I'm not a neanderthal -- that's one of the things that makes what I say so irritating. Now -- not being a neanderthal doesn't make me *right* in my ideas, either. But folks *know* that I'm not a neanderthal. Plus, the last several years of my life have been some of the most joy-filled and complete and whole and fulfilling as I can imagine, and the source of any slobber on keyboards is a unique and utterly wholesome combo of diet coke and my dog, an occasional latte and some oj.
; > )

At least come up with something that can somehow express your rage enough that is also vaguely and recognizably accurate. There are plenty of good accurate adjectives to describe my ideas that could also adequately express fury from people who don't like those ideas. Then they wouldn't sound so flailing and wild and . . . ineffective . . . .

The arrows would still fall short to the ground, but they would be recognizably *arrow* rather than . . . small fluffy feathers . . .

Another way of putting it is . . . why are the folks who won the leadership of the organization of TEC just so enraged [see exhibit 5,383 above], when those who lost the leadership of the organization of TEC are having a good time and feeling grand?

"Ees a mystery."

Peter Carrell -- great series of posts over the past several days. I've greatly enjoyed them and the comments too.



Sarah

Hermano David | Brother Dah • veed said...

If this really is Sarah*, Madame N, not everyone who finds most of your behavior in your bellringer duties at Viagraville over the top, are members of TEC. There are those in other Anglican Communion churches who experience you in the same fashion.

On my side, people just smile at the words above and tuck them happily away as further evidence, and motor on about their daily activities, continuing to have a good time and enjoy the blogging.
If this were the slightest bit true then you would not be so proud of how many folks that you can ban in a day who contribute civil comments, however of a different opinion.

*The anonymous cowards can claim to be anyone. But whoever you are, I am sure that Peter welcomes your comments. It has indeed lightened the mood.

Anonymous said...

RE: "It has indeed lightened the mood."

Now see -- that was much better.

It's always best not to serve as "Exhibit A" and demonstrate the truth of a thesis right away on the very next comment.



Sarah