Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Wakefield Nil One

It's the first diocesan vote, and it's against the Anglican Covenant. One wonders, now that at last people are being asked about this thing, people taken for granted in the Study Guide, is it possible that the little people might unbolt the wheels off the Archishop's wagon? He has approached this thing with such high level purple-based arrogance with double-speak that the little people might just have their say. Incidentally, I know a few people in Wakefield because a canon of the cathedral took on of our publicity sections at the publicity weekend in Great Hucklow and one who processes up the cathedral also takes Unitarian services in Hull from time to time. Now it should be a matter of course that any Unitarian is opposed to extra rules and regulations, never mind the use of creeds as rules of belief (although things can get sophisticated: belief rules lightly given by the front door being better than arms up the back in some places via the back door). However, I have no idea about the diocesan synod and its make-up.

Meanwhile there comes a viewpoint against the Covenant from the other side. No, he is apparently very much alive and still with us. The other side is the Church Society and David Phillips the author of an article reprinted from Cross†Way, Winter 2011, No. 119 . He takes it that the liberal side has been the leading edge against the Covenant and superficially it might be a good idea to have one to discipline naughty liberal-leaning provinces. He thinks the liberal position is duplicitous, because liberals who would not discipline against unbelief have done so for Church structures in left-leaning provinces.

Well, that's interesting. How do you define a liberal-leaning province? Well, one where there were people who walked out according to their own statements of orthodox intent and also took the property, only to be told you can of course walk out but please leave the shed behind. I remember when I left Barton and I didn't say, "Can I take this pew and that motif on the pulpit?" and they didn't say, "No." So it was a good job I didn't take them and then find some solicitor telling me to send them back.

Actually, I don't think liberals do want to maintain the structures and institutions, if not the beliefs. I think there is much to be changed. The person who wants to preserve things is the current Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the one with the ice box, and the frozen breath.

David Phillips thinks liberals might be right that, one in place, the Covenant could be beefed up. Well it could well be beefed up by addition but simply by how it is used. He thinks that this argument is negated by many conservatives also being against the Covenant. Well, why take the risk of offering something to be beefed up? He uses an argument from history, about how the Archbishop has led a merry dance against their interests, whereas the liberal side has already been dumped on by him and uses an argument from institutions - what the Covenant would do once in place by people who act on it, use it.

The problem for him and like him is that the Covenant is an inadequate definition of Anglicanism. The Nicene Creed is a sufficient statement for Anglicanism, that makes much else optional (like the Thirty-nine Articles). Well, I have heard the promises clergy make on taking up their posts, and this is the position isn't it? The articles are formularies that bear witness, and no one has to assent and consent to them any more. My problem was that, if asked, I could not consent and assent to the creeds - and I kept giving the impression that I did.

But yes, this Covenant would be an institutional matter because David Phillips sees Anglicanism as being more like Eastern Orthodoxy in its make-up than like starting to look like Rome, with a central processing unit for doctrinal and other issues of discipline. Surely a beefed up Covenant then would be more Rome-like: the only thing to really put in place is discipline inside the Church of England, each for its own? He should bring the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration to the General Synod, but of course the General Synod would not adopt it. This is why the Jerusalem Declaration will be introduced in an entryist fashion, via the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and compatible pressure groups as existing inside congregations. They'll have to be a Church within a Church, and that's something the liberals have never done. Liberals have just plodded on, looking at the latest losses, and suddenly, of necessity, an Archbishop came along who has forced them to organise and resist. Now Wakefield has loosened the nuts on the wheels.

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