A commenter to my previous post suggests that the Covenant has led to a lot of expenditure of energy, making among other observations this statement,
"The Anglican Covenant has been a huge distraction – taking time, money, and energy."
I want to argue a contrary view to this estimation which I am sure is shared by many Anglicans.
Let's think, for instance, about how a common view opposing the Covenant is expressed (in my words): "The first three sections are okay, we could sign to them, but section four is unacceptable." The Covenant as a circulating draft has had the interesting effect (I argue) of focusing Anglican minds on what we believe together in common (sections 1-3) and has led to a strong recommitment to affirming orthodox, creedal doctrine. Prior to the kerfuffles of the past decade would global Anglicanism have engaged in such an exercise in affirming orthodoxy? If it had would it have led to such agreement?
Simultaneously through this past decade I suggest we have seen less willingness on the part of dioceses to vote for or to accede to bishops better known for how little they believe than for how much they believe. (For evidence recall the bloke in the US whose theology was quasi-Buddhist whose election as a bishop was not confirmed; think also of where the John Spongs and John A.T. Robinsons (Honest to God version) are working as active bishops in today's church ... hardly anywhere, maybe nowhere).
If global Anglicanism is reaffirming that it is a Christian movement which adheres to doctrinal orthodoxy rather than celebrates ever increasing diversity of theology and/or believing as little as possible, then Covenant time x energy x money has been worth it.
This does not mean that all is well or going to be well with global Anglicanism. The rejection of section 4 of the Covenant is diversity asserting its dominance in Anglican thinking. Worse it represents a strange hesitancy, perhaps even a loss of courage. When we live in our member churches with canons and constitutions which permit (reasonable) diversity unexpectedly we seem to be scared that a form of canons-cum-constitution (which is what the Covenant is for the Communion a global Anglican organisation) will not permit (reasonable) diversity. If we do not support the Covenant with a sufficient majority for the Covenant to be a working document in our global life then at the very least the Covenant is an idea whose time has not yet come.
There is a certain negativity in finding out that we are not ready to be what we could have been (a genuine branch of the universal church), but that result (if confirmed by the rejection of the Covenant) will be worth knowing ('Whatever Anglicans are, globally they are not and do not want to be a church'). The time, energy and money spent on the Covenant will have yielded a sure result which will influence our ecclesiology for decades if not centuries to come.
Not the ecclesiology this writer wants to pursue, but never mind, it could be time to explore the Protestant character of Anglicanism with greater appreciation!