A bad idea whose time has come

The blog of St. Thomas’ Church in Dupont Circle in Washington, DC says the Anglican Covenant is a bad idea whose time has come.

The writer has read the series on the Covenant on the Daily Episcopalian, read and listened to the discussion at the Tutu Center last month and summarizes why the Covenant is a bad idea.

It’s a bad idea for some fairly simple reasons:

* It is disingenuous (lacking in candor, giving a false appearance of simple frankness, calculating). Under the guise of a laudable quest for the unity of the Body of Christ, the Covenant not only is divisive, but actually would enable the disenfranchisement of gays and lesbians in the Anglican Communion, and all national churches — read: The Episcopal Church — who fully recognize gays and lesbians as full participants at all levels of the life of the Church.

* While the current draft explicitly states that “to covenant together is not intended to change the character of this Anglican expression of Christian faith,” in fact for Episcopalians it does propose a radical revisionism, making the so-called “bonds of affection” among the members of the worldwide Anglican Communion more important than the bonds of the radical hospitality of the love of Christ, particularly for the outcast, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised. The Covenant seems to forget: the measure of the kingdom is that “the last shall be first, and the first last.”

* The genius of the “primacy of Scripture” for Anglicans as the first and irreplaceable source of authority for our understanding of God and all creation is being replaced by a creeping authoritarianism of “the Word of God” – interpreted as if the past 400 years of Biblical scholarship had not even taken place.

* The broad and open doors of the Anglican tradition are being replaced by a rigid and boundary-guarding traditionalism, whose purpose is not really passing on the “tradition,” anyway, if “traditio” means passing on the scandalous story of God’s extravagant forgiveness, unconditional love, and boundless hospitality, which we enjoy not because of our merits, but because of God’s gracious gift to us — not because of our deserving, but because of God’s unswerving faithfulness. God doesn’t let us in the door because we believe the right doctrine; we believe in God because we trust what God has done, which includes letting the likes of me in the door, and inviting me to the table without asking me first to try to be anyone other than the person God has created me to be.

* The ecclesiology, or theology of the church, that defines Anglicanism as a communion based in our common baptism into the laos tou theou — the people of God, the laity — is being replaced by a new quasi-catholic clericalism. And while claiming that “Churches of the Anglican Communion are not bound together by a central legislative, executive or judicial authority,” the Covenant would authorize the bishops of the church to act as ultimate arbiters of biblical interpretation and theological belief.

* It is a cynical document, based largely on self-interest, guaranteeing the numerical majority of ultra-conservative primates the ability to demand doctrinal and behavioral conformity, and in the absence of that, to be authorized to pronounce non-conformists to be anathema, denounced and banned from full participation in the communion of the Body of Christ.

This Anglican Covenant is just a bad idea. But if its time has come, then it is time for the Episcopal Church to stand up and say “No!”

Read it all here.

Past Posts