Friday, November 2, 2012

ACC: the gift that keeps on giving credence to Covenant

There is no need for further satire about the ACC and the Covenant. Today's support for the Covenant comes directly to us from the largest internal bureaucracy associated with ACC, the Department of Irony. Here is Charles Waldegrave, Kiwi cleric, social justice leader and theologian speaking to ACC on gender-based and family violence:

"In his opening remarks last evening, Charles Waldegrave reflected on peace as a theological concept.
Peace, he said, flowed from the notion of covenant, and from right relationships. Abuse, he added, was “non-peace”, and a violent relationship with a partner or child was an assault on the fundamental covenant between people and God.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, chaired last evening’s presentation, and in his concluding remarks he reflected further on the problem, and on ways the Communion was dealing with it.
Yesterday's Safe Church resolution was part of the answer, he said. And further reflection on the nature of covenant would also be helpful.
Covenant, he said, involves “the self-restraint of power. The parties to covenant agree to be for one another, and not for themselves.
“We have to get away from the idea that the essential human action is control, rather than response.” "

So, once again, ACC-15, tackling an important human issue and agreeing wholeheartedly on the significance of the issue and on the Christian response to it, is faced with the importance of "covenant." Covenant contributes to human shalom, to setting forth the fundamental terms of justice in respect of relationships and to constraining human wickedness. What is not to like?

What might Covenant do for the Anglican Communion? To paraphrase Charles Waldegrave and ++Rowan Williams, Peace for our Communion will flow from right relationships undergirded by the Anglican Covenant which itself in its substance mirrors the fundamental covenant between people and God. The Anglican Covenant (despite contrary claims) involves the self-restraint of power because the parties to the Covenant agree to be for one another and not for themselves.

So, ironically, the ACC which appears likely not to give any particular boost to the progress of the Covenant keeps finding itself either making covenants (cf the charter of the other day) or being taught that covenant is key to social progress.

Are any of the members of the ACC able to see irony bars when they are being waved in front of them?

I have my doubts.

By the way, despite much vitriol being poured on David Virtue, he provides a great news service. Go here for a catch up on key moments in ACC-15 to date.

14 comments:

Bryden Black said...

Actually Peter; not only is it ironic, but also plainly tragic. The shadow boxing +VM highlighted continues apace.

Shawn said...

The vitriol and outright hate that is directed at David Virtue is just another example of the hypocrisy of some liberals, who claim loudly that they alone are the standard bearers of love, forgiveness and inclusiveness, but then pour out vitriolic hatred against David for providing a useful service to conservative Anglicans, and an important witness against the ongoing train wreck that is TEC.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Covenant contributes to human shalom, to setting forth the fundamental terms of justice in respect of relationships and to constraining human wickedness. What is not to like?"

And, quite obviously, this is THE reason why the GAFCON Provinces do not subscribe to the Anglican Covenant - especially those that insist on injustice against Gays.

The NO COVENANT basis is something rather different. It is about the problem of control by conservative, correctional forces that would outlaw any modern understanding of gender and sexuality.

Daniel Weir said...

Perhaps the question is not that liberals like me don't want a covenant, but that we have read this one and don't think it's the right one. One Scottish Episcopalian was offended by the suggestion that people are rejecting the covenant in their minds and not the one written, asserting, I think correctly, that Scottish Episcopalians had read the document carefully and decided that it did not reflect their understanding of what it meant to be Anglican. That was, and has been, my conclusion every time I have read it.
It is worth noting that vitriol has poured both ways in the Communion. Neither the label David Virtueless for Mr. Virtue nor the Wicked Witch for Bp Jefferts Schori has helped.

Father Ron Smith said...

Thanks, Daniel, for your valuable contribution to the subject of the Anglican Covenant, and its general unsuitability for liberal Anglicans like you and like me.

Without the liberality of Provinces like New Zealand, TEC, and others who value the ministry of Women and others who bear the Image and Likeness of God (along with the heterosexual male of the species) - there would have been no Women Clergy in Anglican Churches. Nor would LGBT people have the freedom to be recognised by the Church as normal human beings like everyone else.

Progress on important matters like gender and sexuality could never have been made under the auspices of the disciplinary ethos of the disputed Section 4 - requiring the agreement of ALL Provinces to any advance made - on human justice matters - that did not fit in with the most conservative Province.

The Church of England for instance, may never have got around to ordaining women, in any capacity - let alone to the episcopate, which they are still struggling with in that branch of the Church.

It is notable, too, that the Dioceses of the C.of E. - where the 'rubber hits the road' - have also voted against the Covenant as it is now formulated. So what price a Covenant that cannot be subscribed to by the Province of the Primus-inter-pares?

There are valuable ideas in sections 1 to 3, which already are in place in the Communion - basic to 'Faith and Order' that most Anglicans already agree to - without enforcement from any magisterial body - such as the Covenant has in mind.

As Nigeria and Uganda and other like-minded Provinces have decided to form their own Covenant - based on the Jerusalem Statement; what need have the rest of us to sign up to their specific requirements of association - some of which are inimical to traditional Anglicansim?

Bryden Black said...

Thank you Daniel for pointing out the nature of the two-way street calling. Frankly, one reason I prefer to comment here on ADU is due to its level of politeness, as opposed to some other sites where I have given up due to the "vitriol" you refer to.

Thanks heaps to our host for keeping this milieu going!

Bryden Black said...

I think there are a number of confusions and contradictions running in Ron’s latest comment endorsing Daniel’s views on the Covenant.

Irrespective of the now pretty well failed RCD, ordination of women to the priesthood is not dependant upon Ron’s premises at all. For example, I recall as if it were yesterday, a past CMS Gen Sec from Australia, based in Sydney NB, whose argument in favour of the ordination of women, presented in the mid 1980s, began at Gen 1, referencing the Imago Dei. It then also encapsulated the witness of Mary Magdalene on Easter morning, linking that with the criteria for Judas’s replacement in Acts 1. Etc. I will not bore readers with the entire thing. But the point is this.

Careful exegesis is quite easily capable of supporting women’s ordination, building a thorough theological case. Just as there are a few exegetical arguments that appear to deny it, which truthfully require attention as well (like those in the Pastorals).

However, to extrapolate from a position in favour of ordaining women to the presbyterate/episcopate to then endorse certain further stances re those who deem themselves members of the LGBT communities is ... a canard. True; the doctrine of “liberalism” might be able to do so quite readily. But it is hard to do so exegetically; on the contrary, while of course all humans of whatever disposition bear the mark of the Imago Dei, some of our behaviours seriously mar that divine image, with the Scriptures calling such actions “sin”. This distinction seems to ever elude Ron in a number of his posted comments. Which continues to raise therefore the entire matter of authority around the Anglican Communion, and rightly so.

Just so, the matter of some form of “obligation to loyalty” - i.e. a Covenant - will not go away, so long as folk wish seriously to stay in Communion. But then perhaps it is becoming increasingly obvious that diverse people’s actions, from whatever quarter their claims (!), will determine the realities of “walking apart” during this decade. So how serious are we?! What exactly are we prepared to hold on to? And what are we prepared to surrender - for what greater good? Answers to such questions generate as ever key matters of due authority, the sources of our beliefs and actions.

Shawn said...

The claim by Ron that without liberal provinces the AC would never have valued or ordained women is simply untrue.

I have attended several evangelical Anglican churches in Auckland and all of them valued women and either supported or had ordained women clergy. Outside of the AC some evangelical churches have had ordained women pastors since at least the 19th century. Many of the early suffragettes were also involved in the temperance movement and held views that some liberals today would scornfully describe as fundamentalism. The charismatic renewal in the 70's and 80's did a great deal in some denominations to promote the ministry of women.

Liberalism is not necessary for the Church to value and/or ordain women. In fact in the long run it is antithetical to women because it associates a legitimate issue with a failed and widely rejected ideology.

Liberalism has brought little if anything of value to the Church. Instead of growing churches it creates catastrophic declines in membership and church attendance. Instead of peace and unity it has crested a viscous civil war and precipitated the potential splitting of the global communion. Instead of reasonable and Biblically grounded reform, it insists on an extremist social and sexual agenda derived not from Scripture but from the Cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School and driven by the politics of the secular Left and an excessive devotion to the fashionable idols of secular modernism.

The Covenant would not have prevented the ordination of women. It might have helped to reign in an extremist agenda that has seriously damaged the Communion.

"To be unaware of the putrefaction of the modern world is a symptom of contagion by it.". --- Nicolas Gomez Davila.



Father Ron Smith said...

"To be unaware of the putrefaction of the modern world is a symptom of contagion by it.". --- Nicolas Gomez Davila." - per Shawn -

Nihilism at its very worst. an idea bereft of Christ's Redemption!

"God so loved the world......"

How very different was the unscripted preaching of ++Rowan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Christ's college this morning.

Shawn said...

The world that God loves is the world He created. That world is an icon of God's glory, full of goodness, beauty, wonder, terror, mystery and majesty.

The modern "world" is just the latest manifestation of the fallen world created by human sin and rebellion. It is not the World, it is a set of ideological assumptions about the world, assumptions which proceed from a human-centric rather than a God-centric worldview. In fact modernist ideology proceeds from an assumption that God either does not exist, or that He is an absentee landlord as in Deism.

In short modernism is a form of idolatry, and it is those idols that Davila calls the putrefaction of the world.

Ironically, one of those modern idols is nihilism, especially when it comes to truth claims and objective moral standards.

The problem with Liberal Christianity is that it has compromised with the nihilism of modernist ideology to such a degree that it has lost the ability to practice Biblical discernment. For Liberal Christianity modernist ideology has replaced Scripture as the litmus test of truth. Some liberal Christians have become so deeply compromised that they no longer realize how culturally captive they have become. As Davila puts it, "Modern man is a prisoner who thinks he is free because he refrains from touching the walls of his dungeon."

Real hope is on Christ alone, not in the modern idols of liberalism and cultural Marxism.

The resurrection of Christ is the sign that the warrior-king of Israel has conquered and put to public shame the false idols of fallen humanity, including those fashionable idols of modern liberalism that some who post here are so devoted to.

Real hope is that God in Christ will free the created world, the icon of God's glory, from bondage to the putrefaction and decay of sin.

Until then we, as children of the Lord of the Holy Wild, are called out of the world to wander the roads of desolation and glory, pilgrims on the Way, aliens and outsiders to the world of false idols. We wander with Christ in the wilderness, in the desolate places of the world, preaching good news to the wretched of the earth, our hearts open to the signs and wonders of creation, to the glory of God in all things and all places.

Bryden Black said...

As I keep saying in my Culture and Theology unit:

The last creature to ask questions of the water is the fish.
Then; the first time the fish knows itself to be the creature it is is when it caught and on dry land.

Taken out of Adam and baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit into himself = the NT Catechism, of which Rom 12:1-2 is the perfect fulcrum. Just so, "become in the Holy Spirit who you are in Christ Jesus" was the catch-cry of the Early Church.

Yet, as Bosco keeps saying here on ADU: there's little formation nowadays ...!

Anonymous said...

"As Davila puts it, "Modern man is a prisoner who thinks he is free because he refrains from touching the walls of his dungeon.""

Thank you, Shawn - a great quote I may use in my next sermon. Liberalism regularly fails through (among other things) its inadequate grasp of the Fall, i.e. the pervasive fact of human depravity, which no amount of ignorant sneering at 'Calvinism' can efface, but only confirm. The well-spring of liberalism is the heroic-classical view of man (or rather, some men) of the ancient Greeks, which is stirring as far as far as it goes (ask anyone who has read Homer) but ultimately tragic and despairing. Biblical revelation gives us the truer picture, and in our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Man and humanity restored.
If only Plato and his star pupil Aristotle had sailed to the Persian province of Yehud and learnt divine wisdom there!

Father Ron Smith said...

In response to your 'Anonymous' contributor; the fact is that we liberals are only too aware of our common sinful nature. We are humble enough to believe that it is only through the sinlessness of the Incarnate Christ that we are wholly redeemed. Any other idea - of human self-sufficiency - is cruelly unrepresentative of the Gospel, and a problem for the self-righteous.

We do know about the FALL, of which the 'Exultet' on Holy Saturday has this to say: "O happy fall of Adam, without which we may never have known the love of so great a Saviour and Redeemer." This says everything a Christian needs to know - about our common human culpability and God's miracle of redemption. (Of course, the 'good' may not feel they have need of it!)

Shawn said...

Evangelical theology teaches grace alone, not self-sufficiency. And we do not consider ourselves the good and the righteous. That conceit is more evident in those claiming to be enlightened and morally superior on the issue of homosexuality.

Liberalism does downplay human sinfulness, and promotes a legalistic form of salvation by works of the law, though in the case of liberalism the law is political correctness.