Covenant Design Group Document Out

Read it at ACNS. We pointy-headed theology geeks are dissecting it as you speak.

OK – my initial reaction is that it all hinges on the interpretation of sections 6.5 and 6.6 of the Draft Covenant:

Each church commits itself…

to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:

5. to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:

  1. by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting
  2. if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils
  3. finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.

6. We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.

Is that enough to give the Primates the casting vote and disciplinary power? Who makes the consideration of section 6.6?? Yes, section 5 says that the Lambeth Conferences are the guardians of faith and unity, so that, I suggest makes Lambeth ’98 1:10 “anglican doctrine”. But what exactly is the process to discipline provinces that go against it?

6 Comments on “Covenant Design Group Document Out

  1. Interesting. I like the idea that they give broad assent to it ASAP and leave the details for later. It’s difficult to see why everyone is getting so het up that the primates aren’t slinging TEC out right away given that the whole point is to get them to toe the line using the covenant. Things ARE going the way most of the global south primates want it to go, and they are going that way without Akinola in charge thanks to temperate but orthodox primates such as Gomez, Chew, etc.

  2. Peter, I linked here from T19, after reading all the doom and gloom at SF. I posted virtually the same conclusion there as you did here. Not well received. “Moving chairs on the Titanic.” The key word is “autonomy.” The entire house of cards for TEC is built on that. They deny the authority of the primates’ meeting, of ABC, ACC, and Lambeth. At best they can advise. This, taken seriously and with integrity, threatens that. About 1 in 1000 of the commentators at SF trust it, however, because of past experience with TEC agreeing to sign anything, then doing something else. So it all comes down to discipline for the presenting issue and sanctuary for those who require it.

  3. I regret that I am a bit of a literalist so I am hopeful some of you can enlighten me on the real meaning here. I am wondering about section 6(3): “Each Church commits itself” The terms: “Essential Concern,” “Consistent with Scriptures” Common Standards of faith” and “the Canon law of the Churches” and how they are to be interpreted concern me. Although the document makes no pretense that the covenant” would be legally binding, it more than implies that it would be morally binding on the member churches. Should they not be willing to accept the recommendations of the Communion, they would not be considered members and would need to request readmission at a later date.

    Coming from a democratic tradition, these are my concerns:

    1. It appears that those charged with making the recommendations are first and foremost the primates. Although it appears that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been restored to the position of “instrument of communion” from “focus” of communion (Dromantine), it is to the primates that those engaged in controversy will first look for a decision regarding section 6(3) matters above.
    2. There appears to be no methodological provision to insure the involvement of the other instruments of communion or any provision to determine the “common mind” of the Communion. Would a majority vote of 51% of the primates determine the mind of the communion? If, for example, that were the case, would their decisions be open to the problem of all democracies…the tyranny of the majority?
    3. There are no lay representatives in the primates group. Many of the churches who elect primates do not include women clergy. It would appear that the primates would be taking on roles most resembling the Roman curia and magisterium. Is this, in fact, desirable?

  4. 1) “…guidance and direction.” = woolly and gutless if you’re a pessimist, especially if one is going with the flow into the “Sea of Faith” “Emerging / Converging / MDG ?Church” etc as opposed to solid orthodox, 39 Art. Anglicanism. “Classical Anglicansim” maybe…
    2) “…such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.”
    Isn’t this what faithful Anglicans have understood for a long time, and what historically ECUSA broke in 2003? ECUSA walked away and are OUT OF COVENANT with the Anglican Communion. Is that too much to read into this doc?
    I think this is quite reasonable actually, and reflects more serious, GOSPEL belief than many. 3.3 and 3.4 amongst other points are solid, aren’t they?
    IMHO, I don’t know where Rome stands in this, the “other” doc. the ABs have dropped on us, but that’s another thread altogether!!!.
    P.S. THe Primates wpould have saved quite a lot of time of they had adapted ANGLICAN ESSENTIALS, a wonderful doc. from Montreal 1994. Do you know it?
    http://www.anglicanessentials.org/pdf/montreal_declaration_aec.pdf

  5. I wasn’t expecting TEC to ‘align’ to Essentials, just hoped, perhaps, that the majority ABCs might agree to Essentials as solid expression of ‘continuing’ Anglicanism.

    So, conclusion, after all this tension we wait the response of TEC GC do we? Clerarly they DON’T fit into this covenant, nor Essentials if that were proposed (!) as they relinquished their commitment to the majority 1998!!! Unilateral behaviour like that, causing such distress to the Communion, not least failthful brothers and sisters in US, must be recognized and repented of!

    Not more of the same though, IMHO, for we trust the Living God, supreme over all our hearts and decisions. I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH, and the gates of hell (or lesser mortals…) will not prevail.
    Don’t forget, the angels will sift wheat from chaff, sheep from goats…

    P.S.I recommend excellent quotes from JRW Stott re “Contemporary Heretics”, if you have a copy of Authentic Christianity p.121 (dated 1977!) + Quotes No.251 re Tolerances /1970), No.255 “Two Safeguards” re Word and Spirit (1988) and a real cracker re deception, No 261 (1991).

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