Wednesday 3 November 2010

Good: Against the Covenant, but er...

It is late in the day, but the anti-Covenant forces are building and another has been launched. Supporters include the retired Bishop Peter Selby. The recent article by Andrew Goddard in favour of the Covenant, in regarding the Modern Church/ Inclusive Church advert as disingenuous, has been shown to be itself disingenuous because he wrote:

The Standing Committee is neither required to grant permission to anyone nor authorised to forbid anyone in relation to anything in any province. The most it can do is to respond to tensions by making proposals to the Instruments and provinces about relational consequences between churches.

For example, one relational consequence even before the Covenant has been passed has been to exclude The Episcopal Church and Southern Cone from representation in ecumenical councils, on the basis that by ordaining a lesbian bishop and crossing boundaries respectively these Anglican Churches no longer sufficiently represent Anglicanism. In the new Covenant, they would be relegated to an outer ring of such associate Anglican Churches as well.

However, this new coalition (coalition is the in-word these days) website does have an interesting passage. I very much approve of it, if I thought it was true:

We believe in an Anglicanism based on a shared heritage of worship, not on a set of doctrines to which all must subscribe. Our understanding of Anglicanism leads us to view the covenant as profoundly un-Anglican.

I was under the impression that Anglicanism does have a set of doctrines. There is the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, and the Nicene Creed. The Thirty-nine Articles have been relegated to an affirming nod in the spirit of them, but the liturgy of Anglicanism still struck me at my last encounter (well over a month ago, I don't think there have been any changes since) to be highly dogmatic in repetition. Clergy make promises to preach in a certain affirmative way no matter what they think themselves. The Gloria sings that "you alone are the only Lord", which seems a pretty dogmatic statement to me (especially when you don't believe it, or indeed believe precisely otherwise).

Richard Hooker is cited by the website for his three legged stool. Three legged stools can be imprecise and still sturdy, and very good for uneven floors. However, against this the Presbyterian, and arguably Puritan moderate Richard Baxter who was said to affirm the minimum of Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer and Ten Commandments. The Apostles Creed is rather looser on the doctrine of the Trinity if not inconsistent with it. Although the Bible-only Puritans wrenched themselves out of the Church of England to avoid being forced to assent in full to the Book of Common Prayer, itself a dogmatic action, the existence of a moderate Presbyterian voice allowed a liberal direction legitimacy as the wealthy congregations passed down the generations, to be picked up later and reinvigorated by ideological Unitarians. So, yes, Hooker was in favour of reason, as indeed the Presbyterians realised that the sole source of command, the Bible, actually had to be read and comprehended. They soon realised its Arminian, Arian and Unitarian content, from which most Anglicans have steered clear along with members of other credal Churches.

I don't have a cartoon of either Hooker or Baxter (though I do of Lindsey and Socinus) but all of them can now be seen via my Facebook gallery.


Thinking Anglicans has a choice quote from N. T. Wright still promoting a Covenant and yet thinking of life without one:

...the loudest voices tend to win, or at least drown out the other ones, and I have seen that happen and it’s not a pretty sight.

He may be speaking from experience, at least regarding the volume button and its attractiveness.

At Fulcrum Simon Cawdall will vote for the Covenant in the General Synod because he wants more discussion. He is not being completely disclosing. He will vote in favour of it because he wants it. People who don't want it should vote against. It is a place where decisions are made.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

Thanks for your support in our quest :)