Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Anglican Covenant--Another Reason Why I Oppose It

A fellow Anglican drew my attention to an essay by the Right Reverend Gregory Cameron (Church of Wales) in favor of adoption of the Anglican Covenant. You can read it here.
I believe Bishop Cameron's essay is either disingenuous or naive. The whole motive for the Anglican Covenant was to punish The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, no matter how deeply Bishop Cameron wants to ignore that fact.
The proposed Anglican Covenant is not in the great tradition of covenants. Biblical covenants are made between God and humanity, or between persons who promise to remain in remain in relationship with God and their fellow humans. A plain reading of the Covenant shows it's more like a prenuptial agreement -- setting out terms of divorce -- than like a covenant in which partners bind themselves together in perpetuity.
My diocese has a covenant agreement with a diocese in South Sudan. It focuses on mutual promises, spiritual growth, support, and honor. There's not a word in it about shunning and rejection. Although we know we have some significant theological differences, our covenant document is one that draws us into deeper relationship.
While there are deep theological differences between my diocese and the South Sudan diocese, our covenant agreement has been and still is a vehicle that calls us into ever-deeper relationship. Our relationship is described here: and our covenant is available here: By contrast, the proposed Anglican Covenant is litigious and offers ways to condemn and break relationship with other Anglicans.
It seems to me that the Anglican Covenant was wrong-headed from the beginning. Born of conflict, it adopts an adversarial and litigious framework. It fosters opportunities to break relationship rather than nurturing means of sustaining relationship.
By contrast, my diocese's covenant agreement with our South Sudan companions builds up the Body of Christ. It does so despite some significant theological differences. In it, we pledge ourselves to one another. We pledge ourselves to one another no matter what. We are together no matter what.
I expect I will vote against the Anglican Covenant, because it is more juridical than relational and because it is litigious rather than relational. It does not build up the Body of Christ. Instead, it sets different models of the Christian life against each other. If the Anglican "Covenant" were more like my diocese's deep covenant with our companions in South Sudan, I might be able to vote for it. But it does not.