Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Say No to the Covenant and You Are a Baptist!

Not that there is anything wrong with being a Baptist. Indeed there is a notable point about being a Baptist who calls oneself a Baptist, namely that all is as honest as the Baked Beans label on a can of ... baked beans. Whereas one trouble with Anglicans is that we can use the label when the contents on the tin are otherwise (Catholics, E. Orthodox, Baptists, Brethren, Presbyterian are all possible realities inside the can labelled 'Anglican').

John Watson writes a lovely, straightforward essay on the question of whether we are Anglicans or Baptists in respect of the Covenant. What do you think?

Thanks to Fulcrum for publishing it and H/T to Bryden Black for drawing my attention to it.

Incidentally other stuff is going on around the Communion. A little row brewing, for example, in the C of E, as Cranmer discusses. This row relates to the article above inasmuch as the deeper issue at stake is what Christian 'communion' means.

Do we Anglicans have a "needs lots of work" understanding of communion? What does 'Communion' refer to as the label on our can of beans?


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, the alternative to your suggestion in the title might be;

"Say YES to the Covenant and you are excluding the progressive and Inclusive outreach of the Church to the 'great unwashed' ".

(n.b. the 2 words given to me for entering your site today were:

'Puric' and 'nocred')

Hear what The Spirit is saying to The Church!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Whereas one trouble with Anglicans is that we can use the label when the contents on the tin are otherwise (Catholics, E. Orthodox, Baptists, Brethren, Presbyterian are all possible realities inside the can labelled 'Anglican'). - Peter Carrell

And here, Peter, you have described the reality of modern Anglicanism. If it were not so' neither you nor I may find ourselves 'Anglicans - in communion with Canterbury!

As a reminder of the fact of our innate inclusivity, you mention an article by John Watson - a former Baptist, now an Anglcan priest - making a plea for The Covenant.

Also, of course, there is David Virtue of virtueonline, also a former Baptist, who now claims to host the premier 'Orthodox Anglican web-site' in North America. I'm not sure how long Mr Virtue has actually claimed to be 'Anglican', but he is now an apologist for the schimatic group ACNA, so may no longer claim to be Anglican as we now recognise 'Anglican'.

Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter

My reading of early church history draws a less convivial picture from the one depicted in John Watson’s article. The Council of Jerusalem may have managed to reach a settlement on the issues of its day, but by the time of Nicaea, Ephesus and Constantinople, the love had well and truly ‘left the room’. When Christians disagree, there are winners and losers. Should it be so? Probably not. All the same, this appears to be the historical pattern. So, the question remains – ‘Why should this Covenant work differently?’ Why won’t it boil down to winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’, ‘orthodox’ and ‘heretics’?



Peter Carrell said...

But Juan if we all sign up to the Covenant and all work out being in Communion as Covenanted Anglicans, why would there be winners and losers?

The point of the Covenant is not to determine winners and losers but those who are faithful to God. Surely no Christian wants to not be faithful to God!

Where there is disagreement about what being faithful to God means, is it not being faithful to God to keep working on those differences rather than to give up and fall back into groups which can be labelled 'winners' and 'losers'?

Peter Carrell said...

A small technical point, ron, but I have always understood David Virtue to be a former Brethren, not Baptist.

As you know I think being an apologist for ACNA is an honest Anglican activity!

carl jacobs said...

The Jerusalem Council is not a good parallel for the current situation in the Anglican Communion. The members at that council all shared a common gospel. The current AC would be much better compared to a hypothetical council between Christians and Gnostics in Collosae. We would have to imagine Paul encouraging all participants to dialog in order to better understand each other and to work together for common mission. Except he wouldn't have done that and we know it. We only have to read the Book of Collosians for the proof.

As always, the question returns to common Creed. It simply cannot be avoided no matter how much institutional interest there might be in avoidance. What was it that separated the Gnostics in Collosae from the Christians in Collosae? It's the question that dare not speak its name in the Anglican Communion.


Andrew Reid said...

Well, this article by John Watson really does take the biscuit!
If we took the Jerusalem Council seriously as a model for Communion relationships, we would be doing the following:
- TEC would heed the repeated messages from the Primates Meetings to desist from their current path.
- The Lambeth conference would come to a clear conclusion based on Biblical study and pastoral concern, not a pathetic statement of reflections.
- The ACC would be taking seriously the concerns of orthodox Anglicans, rather than ignoring and marginalising them and fixing their constitution so as few orthodox as possible are represented.
- The ABC would be reminding us of the Scriptural teachings relevant to this issue and the foundational elements of our Anglican heritage, rather than just keeping everyone talking.
- We would be fixing the current Instruments of Unity, rather than adding another layer on top of the four broken instruments.
- We would be valuing the Scriptures, Creeds, 39 Articles, BCP and Ordinal as the fundamentals of our received faith and tradition, rather than taking our cues from society.

Father Ron Smith said...

it may be sort of 'honest' Peter, to be an apologist for ACNA, but is it really Anglican? ACO does not recognise ACNA

re the former religious affiliation of David Virtue - it just goes to show that anyone can be an Anglican.

Peter Carrell said...

I reckon, Ron, that the Pope is kinder to we Anglicans when he talks to us as an 'ecclesial community' than you are to ACNA when you won't talk to them because they are 'not Anglican'.

As far as I know ACO does talk to ACNA!

Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter

Seeking to be faithful to God is an entirely wholesome and commendable endeavor. I don’t think that expressing doubts about the outcome of the proposed covenant is quite the same as declaring our mutual commitment to faithfulness defunct.

Not everyone views the dialogue you advocate within the framework of the covenant in the same light. For many the issues which divide us are already ‘done and dusted’. Entering into a covenant with folk who are absolutely convinced they are right – no opposition tolerated! – is simply futile. I am reminded of an old friend’s (joking) motto – ‘It is not enough that I should win, others must loose!’

If I believed the Covenant could succeed in drawing Anglicans together, I would support it. Sadly, I believe it will simply create ‘first class’ and ‘second class’ Anglicans – a possibility the Archbishop of Canterbury has already alluded to when speaking of a ‘two tier Communion’.



Anonymous said...

RE the comparison with Baptists - the label tells you nothng theologically about them - they could be reformed, 7th day, arminian, charismatic, liberal - their ecclesiology holds that each congregation is self responsible as regards doctrine and worship. Their distinctive is adult baptism - and they often bring this down to including under tens. Anglicans are paedobaptists - one of the few sticking points we Anglicans have.
Rhys Lewis

Father Ron Smith said...

Juan's reminder here that Covenant would render some of us 'Second-Class Anglicans' - is not too different from Rowan's leaning towards making Women 'Second-Class Bishops'. That seems to be a common Communion failing at this time.

Also, with respect to Carl's mention of 'The Common Creed', one wonders which one he is talking about. As far as I am aware, we are all bound by our common creeds. When Paul wrote Colossians, there was no articulated common creed - except that of believing in the Saving Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There was no Pope and there was no Anglican Communion. So comparisons may not be valid between the Church in Colossus and today's melange of Christian Churches.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to Baptists, many Baptist denominations still manage to embody a far greater degree of genuine unity, especially on the essentials, than Anglicans do. This is also true of many Evangelical groupings which hold to the independence of the local church.


Because they have a foundational commitment to the the authority of the Bible.

Ecclesiology is not the problem. The problem is theological and moral anarchy, arising from a weak approach to the nature and authority of Scripture, and the political corruption of the Church in the name of left wing "social justice".

Father Ron Smith said...

I wonder if Shawn has ever heard of a community called 'Bible Baptists' - there used to be one such church on the Hibiscus Coast. This would surely indicate that not all Baptists are agreed on the influence of the Bible.

There are more difference in faith attitudes in the Baptist Church ethos than many might understand. The one thing they do all agree on is that babies cannot legitimately be baptized. This is in direct contrast with the teaching of St. Peter, who said that Baptism was - "For you, and for your children" - without reserve.

Anonymous said...


Your confusing a name ("Bible Baptists") with theology. All confessional Baptists agree on the authority of Scripture. What differences there are on other issues are still very little by comparison to the theological anarchy that exists in mainline denominations.

"This is in direct contrast with the teaching of St. Peter, who said that Baptism was - "For you, and for your children" - without reserve."

And homosexuality is in direct contrast to the teaching of St Paul, Jesus, and the entire Old Testament.

You cannot assert the authority of Scripture on Baptism and ignore it on sexuality and marriage.

Fr. J said...

It is rather strange the way we are unwilling to be what we claim to be. I like the "baked beans" analogy. But the problem is that for at least a century and a half, Anglicans have been trying to sell themselves as a can of "whatever you want it to be." The job we face now is not just to point out how completely ridiculous that is, but to strenuously point out that in fact, the can labeled "Anglican" actually has ingredients printed on the back, and shame on us if that's not what someone finds inside.