The Downside to the Anglican Covenant

Well, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is kicking off its quadrennial meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. (I wish my church would have the good sense to have its General Assembly in Jamaica, but I digress…) One of the items on the agenda is the decision to send the latest draft of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant to the provinces:

The 14th meeting of the ACC will consider the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant, and make comments on it, but is not expected to make any alterations to the text. “The text is mature enough to send on to the provinces who will make the decisions,” said Secretary General Kenneth Kearon at the opening press conference. Canon Kearon confirmed that the covenant will only be operative for those churches which decide to sign on to it. However, he admitted that ACC-14 will need to decide whether it will be individual dioceses or provinces that will sign up to the Covenant. So it appears that ACC 14 needs to decide whether individual dioceses can sign up to the Covenant even if their province does not.

Although most conservatives (or “reasserters,” to use Kendall Harmon’s terminology) have supported the idea as insurance against the blatant revisionism they see in TEC, I’ve never been sold on the idea.

If you take the long view of this, the erosion of substantive Christianity in TEC should have never happened in the first place.  That’s a long and complicated business, and I think part of the problem on the reasserter side is that many of those who experienced it to start with bailed on the church long ago, leaving a kind of amnesia for other reasserters who woke up in 2003 and groaned to find their church in the hands of the LGBT community.  (That’s one reason why I plug away at commentary on the Anglican/Episcopal world.)

But it did.  From a marketing standpoint, it started with a relatively small group of people, at seminaries, in liberal parishes, and of course bishops such as James Pike.  But it came to take over the church anyway.  Now of course the process is more insidious because liberals have shifted from straight-up scepticism (such as you see in, say, D.C. Toedt) to this post-modern idea that God and the Scriptures are true enough to say what we want them to.  (I know that’s an oversimplification, but I don’t have the tenacity to write long diatribes like A.S. Haley, so bear with me.)  That shift actually simplifies the liberals’ job, because they can continue to push the church further away from Biblical Christianity while at the same time flushing people like Thew Forrester and Ann Holmes Redding down the ecclesiastical commode because they aren’t “Christian.”  (In Forrester’s case, it’s amazing how many bishops and standing committees have rejected him on the basis of liturgical defect rather than doctrinal or theological one, but that’s not new in TEC either.)

There’s no reason why, over time, the masters of process and elite takeover can’t repeat what they did within provices on a Communion level, and the Anglican Covenant would give them the perfect weapon to do that.  And that’s why I wish the conservatives would stick with their ecclesiastical version of the Normandy invasion on this continent and elsewhere and skip the Covenant thing altogether.

In some ways, it’s like what Abraham told the rich man regarding Lazarus:

‘Then, Father,’ he said, ‘I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house– For I have five brothers to warn them, so that they may not come to this place of torture also.’ ‘They have the writings of Moses and the Prophets,’ replied Abraham; ‘let them listen to them.’ ‘But, Father Abraham,’ he urged, ‘if some one from the dead were to go to them, they would repent.’ ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,’ answered Abraham, ‘they will not be persuaded, even if some one were to rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:27-31, TCNT.

If a group which professes and calls itself Christian can’t figure out the truth with the information they have, what do they think adding a Covenant will do?

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