The embarrassment would not be simply that we will have rejected the Covenant by then but that we will have nothing to offer in place of the Covenant as a constructive alternative pathway for the good health of the Communion. Our argument against the Covenant is largely focused on mythical views of the Covenant - that it will affect our sovereignty (this is a specific concern of Maori, relating to tino rangatiratanga, but it is a concern of Pakeha), that it will be punitive.
But, you say, our views are not based on myths. This is the reality of the prospective Covenant, is it not? Try this from the Man himself, the ABC, ++Rowan Williams (paragraphing and emphases mine):*
"This of course relates also to the continuing discussion of the Anglican Covenant.As if our minds are dulled, and our hearts are hardened, ++Rowan goes on in the next numbered paragraph of his Advent letter to write:
How it is discussed, the timescale of discussion and the means by which decisions are reached will vary a lot from Province to Province. We hope to see a full report of progress at next year’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting.
In spite of many assurances, some Anglicans evidently still think that the Covenant changes the structure of our Communion or that it gives some sort of absolute power of ‘excommunication’ to some undemocratic or unrepresentative body. With all respect to those who have raised these concerns, I must repeat that I do not see the Covenant in this light at all. It sets out an understanding of our common life and common faith and in the light of that proposes making a mutual promise to consult and attend to each other, freely undertaken. It recognizes that not doing this damages our relations profoundly. It outlines a procedure, such as we urgently need, for attempting reconciliation and for indicating the sorts of consequences that might result from a failure to be fully reconciled.
It alters no Province’s constitution, as it has no canonical force independent of the life of the Provinces. It does not create some unaccountable and remote new authority but seeks to identify a representative group that might exercise a crucial advisory function.
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."
"These questions are made all the more sharp by the fact that the repeated requests for moratoria on problematic actions issued by various representative Anglican bodies are increasingly ignored. Strong conscientious convictions are involved here. No-one, I believe, acts out of a desire to deepen disunity; some believe that certain matters are more important than what they think of as a superficial unity. But the effects are often to deepen mutual mistrust, and this must surely be bad for our mission together as Anglicans, and alongside other Christians as well. The question remains: if the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ? And we should bear in mind that our coherence as a Communion is also a significant concern in relation to other Christian bodies – especially at a moment when the renewed dialogues with Roman Catholics and Orthodox have begun with great enthusiasm and a very constructive spirit."You are the man, ++Rowan. Don't back down. Tell it like it is. But will we listen?
Will we do the theological hard yards in ACANZP to work out what our understanding of the church is in relation to Christ Jesus himself?
Or will we settle for a 'mess of pottage', for an amalgam of myths about the Covenant, interesting thoughts about what the Spirit is saying to the 'No Covenant' movement but to no one else, and contradictory logic in which Anglican churches may have their constitution and canons but the Communion may only have a schedule of meetings to which less and less people come?
*Declaration of interest: I am hoping the ABC will give a theological lecture in Christchurch while he is in Aotearoa, arranged by Theology House. I am thinking the title of the lecture could be, "Why I think my hosts are wrong about the Covenant but could yet change their minds!" Mind you that might only fill a small hall. I think ++Rowan could fill quite a large arena here in Christchurch with a topic such as "Why I think Richard Dawkins is wrong but could yet change his mind for these reasons!" or "The gospel of love in a world of conflict and competition."