Friday, November 5, 2010

Why a Covenant is a good idea

Following on from the post below about the newly announced Anglican Republican Party of No Coalition of No (Covenant), it may be worth re-stating simply why the Covenant is a good idea.

(1) To be Anglican is to be open to the new and to be responsive to changing circumstances.

(2) In the early part of the 21st century the Anglican Communion has been faced with changing circumstances, namely the recognition that increasing diversity of theology and praxis has stretched the bonds of affection to breaking point.

(3) Thus a new need has arisen to offer definition of what it means to be (a) Anglican, and (b) in formal global Communion as Anglicans.

(4) Further, recognition that there is division about what it means to be Anglican has led logically to the conclusion of the necessity of a means of discipline in respect of (b) above in order to deepen our fellowship as a global Communion (note, the discipline is not in respect of (a) ... anyone and any church may lay claim to be 'Anglican', it is not a registered trademark).

(5) The Covenant is the proposal on the table: Sections 1-3 in respect of (1) - (3) above and Section 4 in respect of (4) above.

What is intriguing about the Coalition of No is that their talk of shared Anglican heritage of worship and Hooker's classic and normative theology is entirely in agreement with the analysis (1) - (3) above. Their disturbance is over the possibility of discipline if alternative ways of being Anglican are proposed. What would they do if Anglicans in the Communion went against Hooker and our liturgical heritage?


Brother David said...

What would they do if Anglicans in the Communion went against Hooker and our liturgical heritage?

The question is way too open ended to be answered.

Could you work on the grammar in points 3 and 4. They are really difficult for me, with my second language English, to follow well. If you aim it at someone in primary school you will surely make it so that I can understand it!

In regard to #2, it has stretched bonds of affection only for con-evos. Not one via media, progressive or liberal church or individual has thrown a tantrum or broken, or even threatened to break, table fellowship with anyone.

Regarding #4, if you must discipline someone, then indeed break fellowship and form a union where you may discipline whomever and as often as you must. The rest of us are not looking for disciplining anyone.

Peter Carrell said...

Suem comments (apologies for needing to post this way - I accidentally deleted Suem's comment rather than published it!)

I have to say that I find it a stretch to think that the Anglican Covenant (as your very first point) is about being open to the new and to changing circumstances!

If I thought the Covenant was about facilitating open discussion and understanding, or strengthening mutual bonds despite our differences, I'd be all for it.
Perhaps it IS about that (I don't think it is in all honesty) - even if it was, is it right to ask people to sign up to a document around which there is so much fear and suspicion and, on the other hand, so much cynicism?

Another problem is that people have such different expectations of what the covenant will be and achieve. Some may genuinely want it as a means to foster mutual respect and consideration - I am sure you do- but you cannot deny that others will want it to be an instrument of discipline, a weapon. Thus the Covenant itself and its use and effectiveness are bound to become a bone of contention and conflict. We already see this happening - it is not even in place and it has caused further discord and disaffection from both sides.

It is less likely to be an outer and visible sign of an inner and invisible grace, and more likely to be a visible sign of an inner discord in our body!

You cannot create love and grace and harmony through a document, especially when that love, grace and harmony is so signally lacking in the first place.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
Sorry - those clauses were badly written - have tried to improve!

No problem with those churches not having tantrums. But is that true? There seems to be some kind of tantrum about the Covenant ...

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem,
I have always appreciated the document which does create love, grace and harmony: Scripture!

Suem said...

If our approach to scripture is not only to say, "this is my reading of scripture", but also to say, "any other reading is unacceptable" - then that is also a document which can also bring discord.

However, I would agree that the only way to resolve these conflicts would be if we all truly lived by gospel values.