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Anti-Americanism and the Anglican Covenant

Anti-Americanism and the Anglican Covenant

Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church discusses Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral Stephen Doll’s paper “Anglican Covenant – Bishop’s Council” which was circulated to all bishops in the Church of England. It intends to support voting for the Anglican Covenant and has the Archbishop of Canterbury’s approval (including the anti-American rhetoric):

This article is a response to the paper ‘Anglican Covenant – Bishop’s Council’ by Peter Doll, Canon Librarian at Norwich Cathedral. At the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion it was circulated to all the bishops in the Church of England. To have been given the Archbishop’s imprimatur is significant; presumably Dr Williams approves of its content, including the strong anti-American tone.

Here is the Conclusion in Clatworthy’s response:

Doll has presented many criticisms of American Anglicanism as arguments in favour of the Anglican Covenant. I have offered responses to each of them as I understand them.

The argument from hope for a new age seems to be a simple error, a lack of familiarity with New Testament scholarship. Two other arguments surprise us for appearing at all: the disapprovals, respectively, of elected bishops and the search for personal fulfilment. In these cases Doll settles for a minority view. Of the other arguments I have claimed that the majority, if accepted at all, turn out to be arguments against the Covenant. These are the arguments from imperialism, isolationism, individualism and truth, justice and communion.

This leaves two arguments which, if accepted, do present a case for the Covenant. These are the desire for greater integration at the expense of federation, and the opposition to rationalism. Greater integration can be established by two different means: uniformity of belief, or an agreed structure designed to protect diversity of belief within the one church. The Covenant would promote the former; Classic Anglican theology has in the past favoured the latter. Doll understands this only too well, and looks forward to the new authoritarianism. Others do not.

Similarly, the attack on rationalism illustrates a debate which has echoed through the centuries. Is there a proper place for individuals and communities today to question inherited religious beliefs and discover new insights? Or is it the duty of Christians to believe what they are told, accepting that divine revelation is supreme over the thoughts in the minds of mere humans? These two views have battled against each other since the later Middle Ages. The pendulum has swung back and forth, and Doll rightly sees that the Covenant would give it a decisive nudge away from human reason.

Again, some would welcome the change but others would not. Doll has, in the end, helped us to see just how high the stakes are.

To read the point by point refutation of Doll’s essay to to Modern Church.


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tobias haller

Actually what Doll wants is Federation — a union bound by pledge to a Covenant — rather than a confederation, which is about what we have now. The root of “federation” is the Latin “foederis” = covenant.

I’m also not surprised that Doll gets the principle “What touches all must be agreed to by all” backwards. It is anciently and orgininally intended to protect the rights of a minority; but in Windsor-think it has come to mean precisely the opposite: the minority submitting to majority rule. Some people don’t understand the meaning of the word “all.”

Doll wants the Communion to gang up on TEC, and projects his own desire for control upon America.

Leslie Scoopmire

Mr. Clatworthy lays out a logical and concise refutation of the arguments used in the attempt to impose the Anglican Covenant. I particularly like his differentiation between “unity” and “uniformity.” Especially after the completely ridiculous suggestions made recently in the CoE regarding appeasement of those opposed to women bishops, the claim that we Americans are imperialist in our attitudes of tolerance and we just won’t wait for the “rest” of the Communion to catch up to our position is absurdism at its finest. I recommend that everyone on either side of the Covenant issue read the entire article at Modern Church.

David Allen

Or is it the duty of Christians to believe what they are told, accepting that divine revelation is supreme over the thoughts in the minds of mere humans?

Is not one persons “divine revelation” another’s “the mind of mere humans?”

Bro David

Jamie McMahon

I remember when I headed to the UK in 2003 from from the Diocese of New Hampshire. Just about everyone that I met in the Church of England would ask me about +Gene. American exceptionalism was particularly tied together around the issue of his election and consecration and the Iraq war, also new at that time. I seem to recall spending a lot of time explaining this link to people on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially to more liberal friends back in the US who were (understandably) horrified that their decision to consent to +Gene’s election was being seen in the same light as President Bush’s push to go to war.

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