Acceptance of the proposed Anglican Covenant is being urged by the Archbishop of Canterbury's office, officials of the Anglican Communion Office, those who think it will make no difference, those who want to please the ABC, and those who think it will show some kind of good faith with others. Bishop Saxbee at the last General Synod in the Church of England notes that Anglicanism IS a covenant already and warns "for every difficult and complex problem there is an answer that is simple straight forward and wrong" and this answer is wrong. And that this covenant is "more about factory farmed religion than free range faith"
Listen to Bishop Saxbee's speech to General Synod in February:
And the Rev. Canon Alan T. Perry, canons expert from the Anglican Church in Canada reviews the Anglican Communion's Questions and Answers for the proposed covenant:
Alongside its rather thin Study Guide, the Anglican Communion Office has also recently published a document of Questions and Answers. To give some credit, this document is much more meaty than the Study Guide, which might be better described as a sales brochure. A careful read of the Questions and Answers in conjunction with the proposed Covenant itself may help stimulate some actual critical thinking, which is a good thing.
The document correctly notes that “there is ... only one true covenant: that which we receive in Christ as God binds himself to us.” Which begs the question: why, then, this paper Covenant? Do the authors not see the irony of how much they dignify the proposed Anglican Covenant by comparing it to the biblical covenants? Do they not see how poorly it fares in relation to the New Covenant in Christ?
Oh, but “our Covenant uses words from the Bible and our Church tradition.” Yes, but that does not make it Holy Writ. I can quote Shakespeare until I am blue in the face and never once be mistaken for the bard himself. And, as we shall soon be reminded in our Sunday Gospel reading, the devil is capable of quoting scripture. So the fact that the proposed Covenant is liberally sprinkled with words and phrases from scripture and from previous ecclesiastical documents (all carefully footnoted) means exactly nothing. What is important is what the proposal actually says, what it is likely (or unlikely) to achieve, what are the possible and probable side-effects. And about these, we see very little, if anything, emanating from the Anglican Communion Office.
Question 9 asks, “Will the Covenant strengthen central control within the Anglican Communion?”
Again, a surprising answer: not at all! “It must be stressed,” the document soothes, “that the Covenant continually emphasises the autonomy of the provinces of the Communion.” Yes it does. But then it undermines that autonomy with a vague and arbitrary process by which the Standing Committee can threaten Relational Consequences against any provinces that has the audacity actually to exercise its autonomy.
Finally, question 10 asks, “Why might people be nervous about the Covenant?”
The only answer here appears to be that the Covenant is new. And Nervous Nellies are always worried about novelty. But, “we can be confident that the Covenant is the result of a careful process of consultation, debate and prayer.” Actually, I’m not so confident. There has been very little careful study or debate, even if there has been a fair bit of prayer. Although we do need to differentiate between prayer and wishful thinking. And as to consultation, it has often been hurried or involved processes designed to elicit consensus and agreement. Just over a month before the Covenant Design Group was appointed a number of Anglican scholars were approached and asked to provide some background papers to help the Group do its work. The deadline was impossibly short, just a few weeks and in the midst of the already busy season of Advent. And within ten days of the Design Group being announced, it had met and produced the first draft. Notice of the first meeting was so short that some members of the Group were unable to attend. And they can have given no more than the most cursory glance at the background materials. That’s not careful; it’s rushed. And in spite of a great deal of effort to go back and clean up that initial work through the text three drafts, the proposed Covenant still shows evidence of that initial rush.
Read it all here