21 September 2007

Covenant is going nowhere

The proposed Covenant will not come into force in the Anglican Communion. Wales has said no, and so will many other provinces. This particular brand of innovation will not be welcomed by Anglicans, except for those who see this as an opportunity to further their takeover agenda. This is what got reported: "Dr Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales said he fears the draft covenant will lead to one voice on controversial issues, such as homosexuality, which members would have to sign up to or leave." In other words, we are not, nor do we wish to be, a confessional church.

Some people don't like that, and those are the folks who are setting up their dissident Communion in Pittsburgh later this month. Of course, the problem is that those who favor litmus tests usually can't agree for very long on what matters. That's why we have a proliferation of parallel jurisdictions in place now, and it's why there's an ever-increasing number of "continuing" churches.

Here's the thing. For those who take catholicity seriously, two things become clear. First, I may not innovate without a good reason (and without consequences). Second, I will be willing to accept variance on non-essentials, because I accept that notion that the Church is for everyone, not just for those who agree with me. What we have here is not, primarily, a battle over bible-versus-culture. Instead, much of our struggle is catholic-or-confessional. And, to be fair, many so-called progressives have secularized the church to the point where it is no longer recognizably Nicene -- but those examples are a minority, despite conservative attempts to pretend that ECUSA is a "new religion."

But I digress. My point is this. As I have said all along, the proposed covenant is an attempt to hijack authentic Anglicanism. It will not succeed, especially once the Akinolites leave the table, and the rest of us progressives and moderates are left to figure out how to get along with one another.


fatherjones.com said...

I would applaud the derailment of the Draft Covenant as it stands, both for what it says, and for the times that we are in. i appreciate very much Barry Morgan's words.

Force is not of God. Covenant is about abiding love, hesed, and faithfulness, not coercion.

Paul said...

Which leaves the black box question:

The Draft Covenant may not survive, but the Covenant is not dead. It will disappear into a black box where someone - who? - will assess the responses to date and return with another draft.

Simply by having gone through the black box and emerging the other side the next draft will be more definite, more authoritative and more difficult to amend.

So that's the black box question: who compiles the next draft? By what process? ++Gomez and the current Covenant Design Group? ACC staff?

And why doesn't it all have much wider discussion? Anyone might think that Anglicanism was a hierarchical structure rather than a voluntary body.

Scott Gunn said...


Who would discuss it? In the developing world, most parishioners probably are not allowed to do so. In the UK, ECUSA, etc., most people are more concerned with local matters than with the Covenant -- as it should be, I think. The people who are likely to discuss this are bishops, bloggers, and a few folks at the (mostly right) extremes.

By the time this draft dies, it may be a moot point. If the Akinolites leave (which they seem likely to do), then no one who is left will have the energy for this. The Quadliteral and the ancient creeds are enough of a guide for us, most people will say. And I'll agree with them.


Scott Gunn said...

Er, make that Quadrilateral.

Not enough caffeine yet here.


Robert said...

I agree with Bishop Morgan and my priest colleagues here. In my detailed response to the Draft Covenant sent to 815 in late May, I said that I thought the Draft lacked something essential: it is not Anglican in spirit.

I agree Fr. Gunn that the AC already has a covenant in the Lambeth Quadrilateral. I would also add the Elizabethan Settlement and Hooker's theology, both of which the ultra-evangelicals here and abroad would like to get rid of.

During our vacation in Scotland this summer my wife and I learned about the 17th covenanters, and began to understand why I was so uncomfortable with the Draft Covenant. I don't think the AC needs a written Covenant. It needs to recover a spirit of fidelity to our unwritten covenant with one another and with God in Christ.

Bob from Boone