Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Covenant approach permutations

Getting my head around some things to say tonight about the Covenant I am wondering if these are the main approaches being taken to the Covenant these days (in no particular order of perceived strength of support):

- Disinterest By many conservative Anglicans who see it as achieving nothing; by many Anglican worshippers who have no idea what it is about.

- Opposition to the Covenant (i.e. all of it) Reasons include that it is designed only to exclude people (gays, lesbians) and churches (TEC) from the Communion; that it will prevent any reasonable development in Anglicanism which responds to changes in Western culture; that it will invest power in the hands of bigoted, extreme conservative Anglicans; that it will lead to a pope-and-curia led Communion.

- Opposition to the 'teeth' part of the Covenant (i.e. Section 4) The first three sections are seen as harmless enough in their restatement of Anglican essentials, but Section 4 is viewed with concern because it could actually have effect on the life of member churches of the Communion. Some of the concern is whether the body with power according to this section, the Standing Committee of the Communion, is the right body to make decisions or is a trustworthy body to be invested with such power.

- Support for the Covenant Without the Covenant the Communion will disintegrate further. Some may view the Covenant as a 'magic bullet' which ensures survival of the Communion, but most understand there are no guarantees which come with the Covenant - it will strengthen the Communion to the degree that the Covenant is embraced and honoured in years to come.

- Open to the Covenant with questions For reasons such as respect for ++Rowan, recognition is given that the Covenant is an important proposal, not to be lightly dismissed nor to be shown disinterest. But questions are posed which reflect arguments for and against the Covenant: will the Covenant be a control over the member church to which I belong? Is it really necessary for the Communion's future: can't we all get along? Are current processes for dealing with disagreement really broken? Wouldn't the Covenant - if operating decades ago - have prevented the ordination of women?

Currently I am of the view that the key question is not whether we should have the Covenant or not, but what kind of Communion do we want to be.

1 comment:

Andrew Reid said...

Hi Peter,

I would probably add another category under "Opposition to the Covenant", that relates to some evangelical groups, especially in the GAFCON movement - "Fails to address the crises in the Communion". This opposition is not about exclusion or centralisation, but rather about dealing with different gospels and breakdown in trust. A covenant can't hold a communion together that has 2 or more different gospels existing within it. A covenant can't hold a communion together, where people believe others have cause irrepairable damage to the Communion, and are continuing along that same path.

On your last point about what kind of Communion we want to be, I think that's a very helpful question, but it's very difficult to get a clear answer to it! There's always 4-5 answers to those kind of questions from different parts of the Communion.