A stray thought about the Covenant

Does the Covenant look any better if you can perform the mental feat of forgetting the history of the document when you read the current text?

If you could push from your mind the facts that:

a. the Anglican Covenant began its life as a reaction to the consecration of Gene Robinson,

b the head of the Covenant Design Group participated in the consecration of schismatic bishops to work in the United States,

c a member of the group served on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy,

d. the Archbishop of Canterbury and influential English bishops have made known their impatience with the representative nature of Episcopal Church governance

would the covenant, as it now stands, be worth signing?

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Category : The Lead

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  1. The covenant in any form would not be worth signing. I prefer our baptismal covenant. It is perfect and sufficient.

  2. Peter Pearson

    In a word, “NO.”

  3. No.

    I mostly agree with Bonnie. (Well, delete Section 4 and it might be bearable. But still unnecessary.)

    Dr. Poon’s article (link this morning on Thinking Anglicans) presents a pretty good example of why not to sign it.

    “d. the Archbishop of Canterbury and influential English bishops have made known their impatience with the representative nature of Episcopal Church governance.” Unlike the sad case of the Titanic, when the C of E goes down, TEC and other representatively-governed Anglican churches will be standing by to pick up the survivors.

    (Hmm. The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic comes up in two years. Just saying….)

  4. tgflux

    I’d still be asking “If The Quad ain’t broken, why fix it?”

    JC Fisher

  5. paigeb

    “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…how was the play?”

    Paige Baker

  6. tobias haller

    If the Covenant continues to be spun in the direction Poon and others want to push it, it must be resisted at all costs. It may be too late to spin it back the other way, try as [some of us] might.

    Though, of course, if everyone signs on then we are back to square one, since the Covenant has no force apart from those who are part of it!

  7. John B. Chilton

    Tobias Haller has been supportive of the covenant as he reads it. It’s interesting to me that today provides he answer, though not as a direct response to Jim’s question which is, in a word, “No” if it is interpreted like Poon does:


    “The change to the structure of Anglicanism that Poon reads into the Anglican Covenant (whether it is really there or not is another matter) is dramatic, and false to this rootstock of Anglican identity. While I am not opposed to some formalization of relationships within the Anglican Communion, or even some spelled-out rules of procedure for addressing difficulties which might arise between the members of that “fellowship of autonomous churches” (which is my most generous reading of the proposed Covenant), I have absolutely no wish to be part of a “world church” with a central command. I would truly hate to see the essence of Anglicanism boiled away, and the remainder reduced to a mess of pottage that is not even a good imitation of Rome.”

  8. Here is the Poon link:


    Two points, related, that must be resisted: 1) There is no ecclesiological defecit. This is simply a way of saying that more authoritarian provinces have no way of forcing their will on the rest of us. 2) There is little desire in the Communion to become a Church. We are all already members of Churches, and most of us have no desire to transfer our membership. Those who want the Communion to become a Church are those who suppose they will have the power to control the new body. This is all power grubbing, plain and simple. The theology is tacked on to justify the urge to control.

  9. Michael Russell

    My position is:

    Sign the Covenant and then begin prosecuting all those listed in the post that started this. Two can play the victim game and we have good grounds based in several parts of the Covenant to ask for time outs for lots of people who now seek our harm.

    That way, when they refuse to sanction Gomez et al we can tag the hypocrisy and move on to be the leper-witness in the WWAC.

  10. While I might be open to the idea of AN Anglican Covenant, the only one on offer is THIS Anglican Covenant. And THIS Anglican Covenant is an frontal assault on the very essence of Anglican ecclesiology.

    As Jim rightly points out, the only ecclesiological defecit we have today is that the pompous prelates in Nigeria and Africa do not currently have the means to force the North Americans to harry and persecute homosexuals.

    And as Tobias rightly points out, THIS Anglican Covenant would leave us a pale imitation of everything that is wrong with the Church of Rome.

    Malcolm French+

  11. This is one document that could stand to go back to the beginning and start over – maybe with the 5 marks of mission or some other base if we need anything at all

  12. E Sinkula


  13. In the absence of these facts, it would not be worth signing. In their presence, it is not even worth considering. It is a contemptible document born of homophobia, and if adopted it would cause God’s children to stumble.

  14. Paul David

    I have only one suggestion for the Anglican Covenant, cut it into pieces 5” X 3”. Thread it on string and hang it in the smallest room in the house and use appropriately.

    Paul BDA

  15. Christopher Evans

    I agree with Tobias and I will go him further.

    I might point out that some of us have been warning that Poon’s interpretation has beens the underlying trajectory from the beginning. The Covenant began not as a means to express more clearly, yet broadly and generously, Anglican profession as developed over five centuries of conversations, nor did the Covenant begin as an expression and naming of the bonds of affection in Christ Who holds us as one. The Covenant began as a tool to reshape our Anglican ecclesiology to bring TEC (and the ACofC) into conformity (into line) and was undergirded by a tendency from the start to a particular bent toward Reformed theology with a strong preference for Roman Catholic ecclesiology. The worst of two worlds in my opinion. At every stage it has ignored the historical complexity of our conversations and the impetus out of which Anglican ecclesiology proudly and necessarily looked to Patristic Churches for a more faithful ecclesiology not rooted in hegemonic and authoritarian centrality. Yet, all of this was the Covenant’s inception and it should not surprise us that it is also the interpretation begin given it.

    We can spin all we want to make rotten oranges taste sweet, but if the tree is bad, so will be the fruit.

    And I might add given the current ills of Rome, it is time to recognize the positive benefits of traditional Anglican ecclesiology, dispersed authority, as well as theologizing, many authorities.

    Dispersed authority and many authorities! That should be our reply.

  16. Christopher Evans

    Further, the Covenant has been in the background badly misguided by certain versions of Communion ecclesiology from Zizioulas that do not adequately account for accountability necessary because unlike the Communion of the Three, we in communion are not perichoretic in the same way. The result is a tendency to an ecclesiology that looks an awful lot like codependence rather than interdependence. Thanks to Fr. Bill for leading me to Volf.

  17. Thanks, Christopher and others for the additional thoughts. I’ve been writing about “provinciality” and its capacity to allow for both diversity and peace for a long time. May I remind folks of my “Anglican Triad” from 2005 — which IMHO provides a sound reading of where we really ought to be in Classical Anglicanism?

  18. No, not no thank you, simply ¨no¨…the very idea that I would allow some of the Primates to oversee even a simple Childrens Sunday School Class would be out of the question…the destructive GAFCONNING folks need educating as to how to get along/love their brothers and sisters at The Body of Christ. No signing on-dotted-line encouraging more abusive behavior.

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