07 March 2011

Another Sign the "Anglican Covenant" is a bad idea

If one engages in the discussion of the so-called "covenant" one argument that appears frequently is that to pass the thing is some variant of "holding the communion together." Dr. Williams has himself used that theme when personal loyalty appears an ineffective argument. The argument fails in its face because Dr. Williams has already failed and the communion is not together. To make my case on this point I offer the following from Nigeria.
Bishop Derek Jones’s reception by the Church of Nigeria regularizes his already well-established ministry in the ACNA and CANA of leading the Chaplains Deanery, which supports chaplains in the U.S. military, the Veterans Administration, in vocational settings such as police and fire departments, in hospitals and hospice, and in varied marketplace ministries and volunteer opportunities.

Bishop Jones is a former U.S. Air Force combat fighter pilot, and retired as a Lt. Col. He was ordained in 2001, and went on to help the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) develop its administrative infrastructure and plant churches in Liberia. He quickly rose through the ranks to be consecrated a bishop in 2007, and was received by the ACNA in 2010. He and Connie, his wife, have two children, and live in their home state of Alabama.( http://www.anglicanchurch.net/index.php/main/page/206/)

I do not know "bishop" Jones. He may well be a very decent man, and based on his Air Force history he is clearly a solid leader. The "Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches" is not and has never been in communion with Canterbury nor has it any standing in the other so-called "instruments of unity."

In 1958, Lambeth discussed the issue of those churches claiming catholic orders without any relationship with the communion and concluded they were not acceptable.

Now ACNA, CANA and the (formerly) Anglican Church of Nigeria are autocephalous which means their autonomous and independent status places their bishops outside the hierarchy of other churches. So in a real sense they do not need Canterbury's recognition. In addition, they have in concert with the other "GAFCON" churches made it clear they consider the covenant document unacceptable.

You cannot hold together something that is apart! As the American saying goes, they have left the building. They boycotted the blue tents of Lambeth. They continue to intervene in other countries, not only USA and Canada, but more recently England. No Indaba, no "covenant" indeed no process within the Anglican Communion will bring them back.

As much as I wonder about his powers of observation, Dr. Williams is a reasonably bright man. He knows, or should know that the time for holding the communion together has long passed. What then does he think he is doing with the horribly inept, theologically weak, juridical mess of the "covenant?" One hears several suggestions:
  • Punish TEC and AC Canada
  • Stifle change
  • Achieve some sort of magesterium so that Rome will be more willing to recognized Canterbury
  • Manage change
I am not buying any of them.

Canada and TEC are going to be 'punished' by what not being permitted to spend money supporting our critics? Even if we are tossed out of the Anglican Consultative Council thus saving both churches millions of dollars, we will be fine. Where Canterbury will find the roughly 60% of the communion budget they will be tossing over the side is less clear.

Change does not stifle well and Dr. Williams knows it. He is enough of a historian to know change always happens.

Rome under B 16 has made itself clear. Its current sheep steeling efforts are designed to raid and dismiss not to unify.

Managing change is actually different from stifling it. One can look at phased introductions, concepts like the "doctrine of reception" that was used to finesse the issue of women clerics and any number of other things. But even a cursory reading of the mess that is section four of the covenant draft makes it clear that the thing is binary. Either a change is or is not "un-Anglican." That is not about managing, it is about refusing to change. Dinosaurs refuse to change -- that is why we have museums.

I conclude there has to be another purpose. I used to think it was a club intended to force TEC and AC Canada to disavow their affirmation of all the baptized. Now I wonder. There is simple hubris, but is that enough? No one with any sense could think the thing will actually produce unity, so what is its purpose?


Anonymous said...

I don't understant the desire to engage in religious activities. You waste time, energy and money.
You also have to deal with people who are often eccentric and for what?

JimB said...

Anon, could you pick a nom de plume for use here. It is difficult to know when I am writing to different people when they all have the same name. I do not require real names -- hey I am glad when someone bothers to comment! But it does make my life a touch easier if you use an alias that is consistent. Thanks!

I actually believe that there is a divine creator who has an interest in the creation. That is a pretty common thought, nothing special on my part. And like many who at least try to be serious thinkers on the subject, I am prepared to admit I may be wrong. In fact I could be wrong at several levels:

There may be no divine creator.
The creator may not care a whit.
Jesus may not be the most direct link to the creator with the most correct message about the creator's concerns.
TEC may not be an optimal or near-optimal way to approach Jesus and thereby the creator.

If I have to guess that last is the lease likely to be wrong. That is, if I am to approach Jesus and ultimately God, then for me and my (alleged) intellect, TEC appears the optimal road. That is true regardless of the standing of the higher levels of potential error.

I do not think I am wrong, that is I really think God is, created, creates and cares.

You are free to think I am wrong at any level. Maybe there is a better way to God, maybe TEC is not the best road and maybe there is no divine at all.

I can only approach that level of denial as an abstraction. That is I am convinced that there is God, creation ongoing and that God cares about us.

So I can accept that you do not understand why I bother. It is nearly impossible for me to understand how you can be where you are.

If we can consider each other's positions and views without rancor and agree to discuss them civilly we have achieved something worthwhile. That is why I write and why I am so obviously angry at those who allege to believe and insist on condemning anyone who thinks anything they do not accept.

I hope that helps.


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