Friday, August 20, 2010

Covenant Clarification, attempted

From a previous post a commenter has raised some questions about what I am trying to say via comments on a (now quite long) thread of comments ... I partly plead in my defence that I find 'comment' become somewhat rebellious when too much is written!


(1) Am I confusing two matters? "... you have two different threads running currently on your site. One is your passion to have a well-defined, distinctive Anglicanism with clearly defined boundaries of in and out all neat and tidy. An Anglicanism clearly distinct from other Christians. The other is your passion for a single, unified Christian church which includes all Christians regardless of current background. You may understand others, possibly without your agility, may struggle to hold this tension as you appear to do."

(2) Am I painting my opponents' position (re the Covenant) unfairly? "It does not help the discussion to keep moving one’s own position flexibly around and yet paint positions differing to your own moving one in words that they themselves might never consider using. Here the Covenant ceases being for you the opportunity to henceforth make Communion-wide decisions (which you claim we have done previously also – but I cannot find a single one) and now the Covenant “could play a powerful role in keeping focus on what being Anglican means”. The suggestion that those uncertain about the efficacy of the Covenant can’t articulate “what being Anglican means” is IMO grossly unfair. I think that the first three clauses of the proposed “Covenant” are quite a good brief summary. ... I think we have already been given enough, including God’s covenant, and the danger is that by adding more we will actually be diminishing."


(1) Yes I am trying to work forward to unity among all Christians. I think it would be a help on this journey if Anglicans became more united, and I think the Covenant could be a means to secure greater unity because taking the Covenant seriously forces us to think about what unites us and to consider changing what currently divides us. A united Anglican Communion could then work more effectively as an ecumenical agent - a distinctive role it has enjoyed in the past, but one for which we seem to have lost our way at this current time. The Covenant would not necessarily define an Anglicanism distinct from other Christians: it could help Anglicans to become more truly Christian! We keep forgetting that on one presenting matter, the holiness or otherwise of same-sex partnerships, some Anglicans hold a belief which is considerably at variance with most Christians!

(2) Yes I may have painted my opponents unfairly. Of course non-Covenant proponents can articulate what being Anglican means. But it is interesting that 'what being Anglican means' seems to vary from liberal or progressive opponents of the Covenant to conservative opponents of the Covenant. One point of the Covenant is that it could - if we get behind it, but not if we do not - help 'what being an Anglican means' to be something we are united on, rather than something we are not (even) united on.


liturgy said...

In your discussions you appear to take a dividing point before and after 2004.
Before 2004, you claim “the Anglican Communion had a distinctive role as an effective ecumenical agent”. I’m (again!) looking for specific examples from you. I guess the examples that spring to my mind is the way Anglicanism obliterated the Plan for Union amongst the major non-Catholic churches in New Zealand. And the way that when one of the earliest ecumenical success stories, the Church of South India, was launched – they were removed from the Anglican Communion (yes, dear reader – that is possible – no “Covenant” necessary!] Are those the "positive" examples that spring to your mind also?

As for the effective ecumenical agency of Anglicanism after 2004 in which you state, “we seem to have lost our way at this current time”, are you referring to the recent Anglican-Methodist agreement here? Or the acceptance of full communion with Lutherans in the Porvoo agreement? [Or don’t we mention that full communion because of the… ahem… Bishop of Stockholm being a lesbian in a committed relationship and we are in full communion with her…]

Being at variance with other Christians goes to the heart of Protestantism. Just because we are at variance with other Christians in having bishops, I for one am not in a hurry to see us discard this.

“'what being Anglican means' seems to vary from liberal or progressive opponents of the Covenant to conservative opponents of the Covenant”. Really? Can you give examples, please, of how they depart from the first three clauses of the “Covenant” differently?

“One point of the Covenant is that it could - if we get behind it, but not if we do not - help 'what being an Anglican means' to be something we are united on, rather than something we are not (even) united on.” Quite a circular sentence, Peter. But remove Clause 4 and you might be surprised how much agreement there is!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
The imperfect Anglican Communion (re CSI), with (arguably) errant members in its midst (re the then Church of the Province of New Zealand in the 1970s), was engaged in some effective conversation with the largest church in the world (the Roman Catholic church), via "ARCIC". It was at least 'effective' in the sense that it kept going, it kept working from topic to topic, and it appears to have borne fruit, of a very limited kind, in good relationships between Catholic and Anglican leaders at various levels, including in Aotearoa New Zealand, the widespread custom of shared services on Ash Wednesday. As far as I can tell, post 2004, that conversation is stumbling.

Meantime, as you rightly observe, all has not been lost ecumenically, even without a Covenant, when one notices full communion with Lutherans, and a recent covenant between Anglicans and Methodists here in NZ (though I know of nothing which has changed as a result of that agreement :) ). However this is a fairly limited set of achievements.

My point, or, if you like, question is whether an Anglican Communion revitalised through the Covenant could achieve even more than it has to date, and in particular whether ARCIC might return to 'full steam' ahead. Then there is the matter of how our relationships with Eastern Orthodox churches are going ... [cont'd]

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco, [cont'd]
Opponents to the Covenant may or may not be focused on Section 4.

I do not sense much support for the Covenant from Nigeria (a conservative opponent) and they at this time do not seem to think a formal relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury is necessary for 'being Anglican'. Nor do I sense much support for the Covenant from the Diocese of Sydney (a conservative opponent), and they do not seem to think that constraining presidency at the eucharist to priests or bishops is necessary for 'being Anglican.' I realise that TEC may find a way to sign up to the Covenant, but many Episcopalian voices I read are opposed to the Covenant because they think that being Anglican does not mean that the traditional understanding of marriage needs to be upheld, whereas many supporters of the Covenant think the opposite.

These examples, if asked solely to focus on the first three clauses or sections, may well agree. But I suggest they disagree on other things - things which section four would encourage the Communion to address if they felt the disagreement warranted it.

The one thing which removing section four would not alter is the current stand offs occurring in the Communion. I have yet to hear from you how you think these stand offs might be addressed.