Monday, February 19, 2007

Report from the Anglican Covenant Design Group

The Report from the Anglican Covenant Design Committee was released today. You can read it here ... (I have so far only skimmed it) ... and below are some what-I-found-to-be interesting commentary from around the blogosphere.

And in case you need to refresh your memory about "where 'we' stand" on the whole Covenant issue here's a link to A166 -- the resolution we passed in Columbus regarding the Anglican Covenant. Do note the language "... support the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission." While I remain unconvinced that this "covenant" process is an authentic expression of our traditional Anglican ethos it is of interest to me that this long expected report is falling so short of the hopes of our neo-Puritan brothers and sisters and going too far for the rest of us.

Here are some other opinions:

The Stand Firm folks stand firmly convinced that the report is more "Anglican Fudge;"

Jim Naughton offers an overview including this helpful contextual comment: [I] think that this formulation gives too much power to the wrong group of people. I expect others inside and outside of our Church will raise similar concerns. Also, as a resident of our nation's capital, I can't help pointing out that the smaller the group that wields power, the fewer people special interest groups have to impress with their generosity in order to get their way.

Dan Martins has this to say on his blog Confessions of a Carioca:

I have not yet read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested it. But I have given it a couple of looks, as well as monitored some of the initial reactions. The chorus at Stand Firm is, as one might imagine, overwhelmingly gloomy in its assessment. To some extent, I think it's because they were expecting a dog and what they got is a cat, and now they're upset because the cat won't bark ... A "dog" would have been a doctrinal covenant that clearly addresses the currently present issue: sex. I won't get too deeply into the quagmire of whether Anglicanism is a "confessional" movement. I have always been under the impression that it's not, but my ecclesiological formation has always been on the Catholic end of the Anglican spectrum. In any case, what we have to consider now is a relational covenant--a set of ground rules for how the autonomous provinces are accountable to one another interdependently.

John Kirkley asks some great questions about what that "relational covenant" looks like on the ground: (see also: What About the Other Three Orders of Ministry????)
If we are going to have a global Anglican Church, rather than a Communion of Anglican Churches, then why not have the ACC be the final arbiter, as it is the only representative body within the Communion that includes laity, clergy, and bishops? If, as Archbishop Williams noted in a recent sermon that "God is present when bishops are silent," perhaps this is so as to allow other voices to be heard. I'm sure that other voices will be heard at General Convention in 2009, as well as in other synodical meetings around the Anglican Communion. The Covenant process has only just begun.

And Fr. Jake sums it up thusly:
The Primates officially get the authority they've been attempting to grab over the last few years. The buck will stop with them. There's some other parts that cause me to hesitate (the 39 Articles and the 1662 BCP?), but all in all, nothing terribly draconian in this, it seems to me.

And finally, the ever erudite Mark Harris concludes: This set of ground rules seems relational, but it is relations as determined by "the instruments of unity", which he calls the 4IU. What that gives us, friends, is not a relational covenant, but a power determined covenant. Lost in all this is the power of the voices of the widow and her mite, the poor or oppressed, the unloved and the wounded, the left out and the outcasts. This is relational between the haves only.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was perplexed by the inclusion of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion as integral parts of the Instruments of Union. Does this mean that reserving the Sacrament is going to become an issue once again, and that we're going to have to subscribe to some belief in predestination and election?

I'm also not that comfortable with the implication that the primates of the Anglican Communion are going to form a watered-down version of the Roman Curia. In my opinion, encouraging the primates to meet together and legislate things globally could lay the foundation for a negative situation.

Aside from that, it was hilarious to read the actual text of the proposed Covenant after seeing all of the emailed speculations that it was going to be roughly equivalent to the Decrees of the Council of Trent. Priceless!