Monday 19 May 2008

Covenant's New Purpose: Division

Here is an article by Christopher Seitz and backed by Philip Turner of the Anglican Communion Institute that argues for a division in the Anglican Communion. Here is an early passage:

This is for a two-tiered composition to emerge, with the largest bloc of Anglicans genuinely interested in and committed to Communion to remain as such, and a second tier to ‘take courage in both hands’ and declare their intention to develop a form of Anglicanism stressing federal arrangements, based upon commitments to new teaching in the area of human sexuality, and an emphasis on the larger theological systems that undergird these commitments.

Can anyone offer any evidence that this outcome is not foregone, when all the dust settles?

The argument is that what emerges could have some sort of ecumenical relationship:

The point of this appeal is the reality before us that two versions of Anglicanism have emerged, and that associating them in any principled way can only happen in the framework of ‘ecumenical relationship’ (whose character can then be clarified, as can the political shape of disengagement).

Later on in the article it argues still for a Covenant:

What is not grasped in most of these reactions is that there are no alternatives but a covenant if the Communion is not to divide, or perhaps one should say, remain divided and broken.

So, the idea is that the Communion should divide, and that there should be a Covenant because if there isn't one the Communion could divide. But the solution to the problem is the equivalent to the problem!

Why has Christopher Seitz come to this view? Because too many Churches have rejected the Covenant for its original constraining purpose.

We mention this specifically in the context of the present covenant design team work and published reactions to it. Many reactions offer the opinion that the covenant idea is un-anglican or in other ways distasteful, ill-conceived, and so forth.

In other words, the Covenant is a dead duck as originally intended. What he really means now is this plea: Can those who are the more progressive please leave, and leave the Communion conservatives with structures? The answer to that is a rather obvious no. A Church is not going to divide itself. There is a Church and that Church is what it is. It does not accept the accusation put on to it by others and no one is asking anyone to stay, or indeed asking them to leave. That is the case for all tendencies in every Anglican Church around the world.

It seems now that at least two people and perhaps an Institute advocating a Covenant sees that it will achieve nothing. Without the Covenant the Anglican Communion will divide. With the Covenant the Anglican Communion will divide.

If one takes a closer view the Covenant is now intended to produce a civilised divorce with terms more favourable to one party, the Covenant party, than they would otherwise achieve. Sounds like one more reason not to have a Covenant to me. After all there is an invasive New Jerusalem being formed in, er, Jerusalem very soon that would suit the conservatism of the Covenant party. What is wrong with that then? Fallen out recently?

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