Skip to comments.What Does It Mean?
Posted on 05/23/2006 6:38:38 PM PDT by sionnsar
The breaking of the news of plans by Canterbury to form an Anglican covenant with two tiers as a means of avoiding a breakup of the Anglican Communion has gotten much attention in the last few days among Anglican bloggers. Some, like Matt Kennedy believe it is the dawning of a brand new day in the Anglican Communion and that the revisionists will soon be on the run. Others are not quite so enthusiastic. Perhaps the most interesting comment is by Newbie Anglican who declared it to be big news but no one knows what it is yet.
At this point I am taking a believe it when I see it attitude. I have no qualms about the sincerity of many of the primates who wish to deal with this issue directly. It is when the process is covered in the fudge so common of Anglicans in the West that I have my doubts. I was there at the 1997 convention of the Episcopal Synod of America (remember them?) when the Good Shepherd Statement (the convention was at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont) was adopted and there was the promise of setting up the alternate American Anglican witness to the ECUSA. I remember the address by the leaders of that convention declaring that now was the time and they would not be deterred. Well that is almost a decade ago and the declaration adopted with so much promise is just one of a series of forgotten positional statements by orthodox bishops and other leaders within the ECUSA.
It all depends on how this thing will work. If this process is to be in the control of bureaucrats in the Church of England (such as the Anglican Consultative Coucil was for so long) then there will be little if any consequences for the ECUSA and their revisionist agenda will go on as planned. However, if the second tier is intended as a warning before permanent exclusion from the Anglican Communion it might just work after all.
Overall, the main problem I see with the covenant idea is that is based upon consensus rather than truth. The implication is that the ECUSAs positions are not wrong because they are heretical but that they are wrong because they are unilateral. The revisionist thinkers are free to whine to the rest of the Communion about how unfair it all is and attempt to browbeat them into submission.
The assertion by some that the precise confessional statements by many Protestants is not in keeping with Anglican catholicity is laughable. While Catholic theology may have a wider spectrum of that which is considered acceptable than the more sectarian splits in overtly Protestant groups, there has always been in Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism very distinct ideas of what was NOT allowed. The Ecumenical Councils all very precisely declared certain beliefs to be outside the bounds of the Christian faith. The foundational documents of Anglicanism are clear in their dependence on the Holy Scriptures and the witness of the early Church both would exclude the agenda of the revisionists in the Episcopal Church.
So now we all wait and see what the Archbishop of Canterbury has in mind. The leak of his plans may very well be a flag run up a pole to see if Anglicans will salute it. I think it best to wait for details of the plans before rendering a permanent judgment. If this is a plan with some definite consequences for the promotion of false doctrine, then the Communion may well survive. If it is just more of the same empty threats, then I doubt it will have much effect. Relying on covenants without explicit paths of disowning those who violate it is folly. The Church has had a covenant for two millennia that Jesus himself announced at the Last Supper and fulfilled at the Cross. The Bishops of the Episcopal Church swore before God to defend that covenant. If they can not keep their promises to the Lord of the univierse, why should we expect them to keep their promises to the Archbishop of Canterbury?
How about a two-tiered marriage covenant?...I't be OK for one spouse, who wants to cheat, but the other wants to remain faithful..yup..that would work..
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