Thursday 17 February 2011

Not a Whiff of No: the Q and A

Oh what Questions and Answers about the Anglican Communion Covenant!

It asks first the question about what is a Covenant. Yes, Lord Sacks described a Covenant. But he did not describe this Covenant, which is not a Covenant in his sense.

It asks how and why has the Covenant been written:

The Lambeth Commission on Communion was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Anglican Primates, in response to developments in North America with respect to same-sex relationships.

So that's clear then. It is about same-sex relationships, at least initially. It will be about more (restrictions) later.

This Covenant text has been arrived at only after a thorough process of consultation at every stage of its development.

Yeah: with whom? Only at the top; only among a select few.

How will the Covenant deepen our Communion?

The Anglican Communion is more than a federation of churches. It is a ‘Communion’ with a shared life, not simply a shared set of beliefs. The Anglican Communion Covenant is not therefore only a doctrinal statement.

Indeed, it is about behaviours: those to be restricted like gay blessings and ministry by people in active gay relationships. But as a doctrinal statement it is a reinforcement.

The Covenant will deepen our Communion by providing a constant reminder of our shared life...

In other words, it won't just sit on the shelf and be forgotten. Innovation (part 1)?

The importance of the biblical notion of covenant for the Christians of the early Church has been re-emphasised by Anglican and Roman Catholic thinkers in recent decades. It would therefore be a mistake to associate covenant theology with any particular Church tradition or branch of Christianity.

Aha! Roman Catholic too, see. Not just Presbyterian. Let's keep going:

It also looks to the tradition of the Church as an authoritative source for our self-understanding.

Yes but the tradition of Anglicanism is not to have Covenants, and the programme of centralisation is an innovation.

It is hoped that all the provinces of the Anglican Communion will adopt the Covenant. However, it is possible that some will not. It is important to recognize that if a province does not adopt the Covenant, this does not mean that it is no longer a part of the Anglican Communion....

No, but any such province will be second class.

if a Church is deemed to have broken the Covenant.

By whom? Who decides such a momentous act? Well, we get the answer: but it is centralised, isn't it.

It is important to stress that there are already ‘relational consequences’ of certain decisions made by particular provinces of the Anglican Communion. Those consequences are frequently chaotic in nature.

Oh pulling a fast one here. Yes, they are also informal. They are not built in to a new structure. They reflect an absence of bonds of affection, but also there are lots of routes of relationships that still function. So how organic will the changes be in each of the Anglican Churches that now exist?

The Church is continually prompted and led by the Holy Spirit in ways which we cannot anticipate or foresee. Rather than quench the Spirit, the Covenant will help us to discern the Spirit’s leading more effectively together, as a Communion of Churches and a body of Christians.

...The process of discerning the prompting of the Spirit and the future of the Church is therefore not only a local or regional matter; the Covenant reminds us that such discernment belongs to the whole Church, local and global.

Ah yes, as in the United States and Uganda together. I think I'll grow a beard, and it will stretch from the United States to Uganda. Not that it is about one to ones:

It is sometimes said that the Covenant will increase central control within the Anglican Communion. However, it must be stressed that the Covenant continually emphasises the autonomy of the provinces of the Communion.

Come on, and pull the other one: simply see above and see my previous blog entry on how it also goes deep into parish and individual believer life.

Oh, there is agreement with the Covenant being centralisation, via some weasel words: does affirm the importance of our interdependence and mutual responsibility.

So it is innovation (2) then? Yes it is: does represent a new venture and another stage in the life of our Churches. Anything new of this kind brings with it a certain degree of anxiety concerning future developments.

And there we have it: the development of the Anglican Communion in the direction of a Church.

And, again, all the answers on the Q and A were one way. Not an answer in the direction of No. So hopefully these above should help for those who want to vote No as provided by a friendly outsider who is pleased he got out.


June Butler said...

Very good parsing, Adrian, especially from one who is not longer even an Anglican.

Covenant = sex, centralization, authority, discipline, consequences.

June Butler said...

That would be "no longer even an Anglican".

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

So long as parsing doesn't involve opening my purse.

June Butler said...

Fair enough, Adrian.