Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yes or YES to the Covenant

My attention has been drawn to a video presentation re the Covenant produced by the Anglican Communion office and featuring my bishop, +Victoria Matthews.

Thanks to our friends at Thinking Anglicans I have learned of a new pro Covenant coalition. Cool, eh! Check out Yes to the Covenant. I like their byline, 'Serious about uniting Anglicans worldwide.'

That's the thing you see: opponents to the Covenant are not serious about uniting Anglicans worldwide. Some do not think that Anglican unity matters, others think it is unachievable, some think the Covenant is likely to increase disunity. But any which way, what you will never hear from an opponent to the Covenant is a serious exposition of an alternative route to worldwide Anglican unity.* GAFCON are not serious about it (for whatever the merits of the Jerusalem Document, it is Anglicanism 101 to know that the language in it appeals only to the conservative wing of global Anglicanism). TEC and its fellow travellers are not serious about it, otherwise they would not continue to act in ways which Anglicanism 101 teaches us will divide rather than unite.

Yes, the Covenant looks like it is being divisive (dioceses voting for/against it) but, in fact, it is exposing the lack of seriousness about Anglican worldwide unity. Yes, the Covenant alone will not unify us, but the Covenant is a challenge to us to get serious about unity. Saying 'no' to the Covenant is saying 'no' to worldwide unity because it is a refusal to take the first step (signing the Covenant) on the journey to global unity among Anglicans.

It is Lent. How about giving up opposition to the Covenant for Lent? Say 'Yes to the Covenant'.

[*I am not saying that those against the Covenant are not serious about Anglican unity in general terms, demonstrated, e.g., by praying faithfully for such unity.]


carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

[O]pponents to the Covenant are not serious about uniting Anglicans worldwide.

This is not strictly speaking true. Before you can unite Anglicans worldwide, you must first establish the essential criteria that defines being an Anglican. That is the source ofthe conflict. If your definiton of Anglican is "someone who is a member of a church that has traditionally been a part of the Anglican communion" then your effort ay unity is stillborn. To apply such a definition would demand that two very different and antithetical religions find some way to co-exist in the same organization. That's impossible.

As always, you resist a sharp doctrinal boundary. You refuse to say "To be called an Anglican you must believe X, Y, and Z." You want fuzzy broad boundaries. You don't want to attach specific expositions to creedal statements because many members would choke on accepting those expositions. But broad fuzzy boundaries make for a broad fuzzy church. When that fuzziness extends into Theology proper, Christology, Soteriology, and Anthropology, then you have the makings of doctrinal chaos. That is Anglicanism today. Chaos is never an adequate basis for unity.


Peter Carrell said...

Hi Carl
A lifelong journey in Anglicanism has taught me that Anglicanism can always do with more doctrinal sharpness and will never tolerate complete removal of fuzzy edges. A difference between us is that I can work in Anglicanism with a degree of fuzziness and I accept there will always be battles going on about what that degree is.

I could be wrong and you could be right but what I have never seen Anglicanism do in the five or so centuries since the Reformation is sign up to and stick with doctrinal crystal clarity (noting that even when the 1662 BCP and the 39A were signed up to, the C of E didn't stick to it for long).

Father Ron Smith said...

Good response, Peter. I've been a baptised Anglican for 82 years, and if I don't know what Anglicanism is all about by now - I may never have used my God-given faculty for truth - as it has been revealed to me.

On that same you-tube web-site that has been released by the pro-Covenant group, there is also an excellent piece by 'Mr Catolick' with contrary arguments.

If anyone is interested, it can be accessed through my web-site - kiwianglo.

Mark Harris said...

So if I give up being against the Anglican Covenant for Lent can I start up again after Easter?

Don't think so.. sorry dear friend. I'll give up being against the Anglican Covenant when it becomes clear that TEC and Canada and (watch out) NZ aren't thrown out for one thing or another because they signed on to a Covenant that immediately would put them before the bar.

By the way, Ash Wednesday is a good cure for most unnecessary blithering. Today Ashes reminded me that I don't need most of this anxiety about the future of Anglicanism. It's OK. God will provide sufficient rooms for us all. Only some will have a view, but I'm not complaining.

Pray for my mother who is days from death. She is satisfied as am I, and confident that it is time.

Peter Carrell said...

TEC won't be thrown out, Mark!

I will say a prayer for your mother.

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,
Your criticism that GAFCON is not serious about Anglican unity fundamentally misrepresents them and the Jerusalem Declaration. They are calling for a return to what used to unite us as Anglicans - the Scriptures, the Creeds, the 39 Articles, salvation through Christ, the liturgy, the 3-fold order, etc. These points used to unite the whole Communion, not just the "conservative wing", while allowing for some diversity of practice and differing belief on secondary matters.

The Jerusalem Declaration does not lay out administrative mechanisms (unlike section 4 of the covenant), because its purpose is to re-state traditional Anglican identity rather than lay out an alternate plan for the Communion. Also, the current mechanisms (ABC, Lambeth, Primates' Meeeting, ACC) could work to resolve our differences if they were allowed to function properly.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Mark,

So sad to hear about your mother. However, she sounds pretty prepared for Paradise. God bless you all.

Did you get to see the 'Mr Catolick video, by the way? I think it should be shown at every upcoming presentation on 'The Covenant'. It is really serious theology and very well presented.

Agape, Ron

carl jacobs said...

TEC won't be thrown out

No, it won't, and that's the problem. The Covenant's intent is to give the illusion of discipline without actually providing any discipline. The Covenant could never be used to actually discipline a church like TEC because the CoE would soon stand in that self-same dock. In a very real sense, TEC protects the left flank of the CoE.

I originally thought that liberal would realize that controlling the covenant was more important than the words of the covenant, and so they would sign up to it with no problem. But they have decided the principle is more important than the control. Even the idea of discipline is anathema to them. Well, except for discipline that occurs from violating church canons. Then they become quite fundamentalist.


Father Ron Smith said...

"TEC protects the left flank of the CoE." - Carl Jacobs -

That's call koinonia - as differing from schism, which is what some in the group have already preferred.

Carl, your paranoia is showing!

Anonymous said...

How incredibly frustrating for you, Peter, that you have to become increasingly strident and illogical: “opponents to the Covenant are not serious about uniting Anglicans worldwide” apparently manifested, you say, by “some think the Covenant is likely to increase disunity”! [You yourself realise your tirade and later add an asterisk].

“What you will never hear from an opponent to the Covenant is a serious exposition of an alternative route to worldwide Anglican unity”. Note “NEVER” – soon followed by a comment, “the current mechanisms (ABC, Lambeth, Primates' Meeting, ACC) could work to resolve our differences if they were allowed to function properly.”

Are you noticing not a single comment is agreeing with you?

How excited you get that a couple of people in England have started a new website. “Cool, eh! “

The Anglican Communion official site cannot even bear to allow both sides of the discussion to be heard! Church leaders are flown to international meetings and produce pro-covenant videos which are then officially promoted (produced and edited by your bishop - not much happening in your diocese at the moment?) – how irritating it must be that they get only about 10 hits a day. Fr Ron’s Mr Catolick gets more views!

And then those on the videos cannot even agree with each other, nor with what the Covenant actually says - Revd Canon Professor Paul Avis says the Covenant won’t affect doctrinal teaching, belief, or ethical standards. Really useful then! The Covenant’s purpose, he says, is that it is going to “help us to behave in a more Christian and charitable way to one another”!!! This is a serious, official, viewpoint!

Little wonder that all that is left for you is a plea to give “up opposition to the Covenant for Lent”.

Remember that we do not give up what is bad for Lent – as Christians we are enjoined to always do that. What we give up in Lent are things that are good in themselves.

Hence, you know it - opposition to the Covenant is good.


Peter Carrell said...

I fear Alison that many of your points are valid :)

I cannot think why the ACO has not asked me to help them. Perhaps I am too enthusiastic for the Covenant?

Those negative comments? Now there is a mystery. Why do people who disagree with me/this site come back for more opposition? I sincerely hope none of my readers are sad masochists!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Andrew,
I think that quite naive of GAFCON if it thinks those things united us any time in the recent past. The 39A stopped uniting even the C of E in the 19th century.

My point about the JD is that it does not represent a serious attempt to unite the vast majority of Anglicans. (It does, of course, represent a serious attempt to unite a sizeable number of conservative Anglicans). Again, the JD might not set out a new mechanism but that only underlines its lack of seriousness in respect of the reality of Communion life: the Communion needs new strengthening and some revision of its present structures and the JD/GAFCON do not front up to this. (I appreciate that JD/GAFCON seriously thinks that current structure will do the job; but the thinking has not been appropriate to the situation).

So, no, I don't think I am fundamentally misrepresenting the situation.