The Rev. Nate Rugh argues that the Anglican Covenant is not Anglican and quotes Michael Ramsey in arguing against the Anglican Covenant at a parish Forum at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The Case Against the Anglican Covenant
by the Rev. Nate Rugh posted at the No Anglican Covenant blog
Let’s face it, Anglicanism has a dirty little secret, but it’s not what you think. Anglicanism’s secret is that it is not sure it actually exists. What is Anglicanism? Is there such a thing as Anglican Theology? Like every- thing else in Anglicanism, you probably won’t get the same answer from any two Anglicans. The 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, thought there certainly was such a thing as Anglican Theology, and he thought that it was quite different from other brands of theology. Ramsey said, “[Anglican the- ology] is neither a system nor a confession (the idea of an Anglican “confessionalism” suggests something that never has been and never can be) but a method, a use and a direction, it cannot be defined or even perceived as a “thing in itself,” and it may elude the eyes of those who ask “What is it?” and “Where is it?” It has been proved, and will be proved again, by its fruits and its works.”
To Ramsey, following in the footsteps of Richard Hooker and most Anglican Divines, Anglican Theology is a tool. It is a tool that is intended to bring us into deeper relationship with God and with our neighbor. It is meant to facilitate right praise, prayer, thanksgiving, and service. Ramsey said of Hooker’s theology that it did far less and far more than the theology of Calvin and Luther. It did far less because it did not offer a complete scheme or system of Biblical doctrine or an experiential assurance of justification or an infalli- bilist system of dogma. But it did far more because it involved the whole of the person, rather than only parts. It upheld Scripture, Reason, and Tradition as authoritative sources for the theological project. To quote Ramsey again, “It dealt with the whole man, both by its reverence for his reason and his conscience and by its refusal to draw a circle around the inward personal element in religion and to separate it from ‘the world of external things.’”
As a result, Anglican theology is often messy. We disagree a lot and we always have. We don’t have ready- made answers or assurances beyond our reliance on Scripture and the Creeds, the Tradition, and our God- given minds. And all of these things need to be interpreted. There is no system or final arbiter for a right answer. This side of the eschaton, “we look through a glass darkly.” And yet, we have survived and thrived because of this fact. We should be astounded by the resiliency of Anglicanism. Its comprehensiveness and its ability to deal with profound disagreement are nothing short of a miracle. Our theological heritage has enabled us to hold on to our ways, or to return to our ways when we have fallen astray, while at the same time, allowing us to respond to new ways and new contexts. We should be looking to export it, not dismiss it.