Covenant videos critiqued

Now that IASCUFO has decided to make a case for the Anglican Communion Covenant to the average Anglican in the pew, it’s clear that they were never really prepared to make the case in the first place. And they certainly weren’t prepared to handle serious dissent.

Andrew Davison, a tutor in doctrine at Westcott House, Cambridge writes in this article:

We are in union, in communion, in the Body of Christ. We belong not because of our efforts, but as a gift. We might sometimes, any of us, think of this as an odd sort of gift, as we look around the Church and see the people in our family – but it is a gift. The task is to learn to act like it’s true. It’s a task of the first importance. It’s just that the proposed mechanism (and unfortunately mechanism’ is exactly the right word), the Anglican Covenant, sends a shiver down my spine. It is theologically flawed, unreconciliatory, and profoundly at odds with the genius of our Anglican tradition. It deserves to be rejected.

We should start instead from the theology encapsulated rather brilliantly in the Eucharistic preface for unity in Common Worship:

And now we give you thanks because of the unity that you have given us in your Son and that you are the God and Father of us all, above all and through all and in all. Amen.

Paul Bagshaw at Not the Same Stream, blogs on the problems with the three videos just released.

Suddenly there’s a little flutter of pro-Covenant publicity. Clearly the No Anglican Covenant Campaign has got people rattled.

There is one very good reason why those who want the Covenant have been so tardy in asserting their case: serious opposition was never expected.

I am confident that there was a conscious policy of not provoking discussion, of not dealing with the issues or the detail. I believe that the planned tactics have been to assert the merits of the Covenant in bland and general terms and to repeat there is no alternative. The calculation was that if this twin message was reiterated often enough, people would be lulled into passing the Covenant on the nod.

Reception of the Covenant

Hence the new talking-heads videos described as “empty of critical content” by Mark Harris. They come from a sub-group of the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO). This group is tasked with facilitating the reception of the Covenant across the Communion.

But, please note, this is reception after the Covenant has been adopted. It was never anticipated that the group would need to explain or justify the Covenant in order to convince the voters of each Province to vote in favour. Here ‘reception’ means a PR exercise to induce people to like the Covenant once it was a legal fact that they could do noting about. (Admittedly ‘reception’ has always been a poor starveling in the spectrum of Anglican ecclesiology.)

What the’s problem with these presentations? Well….

The immediate and obvious problem with these presentations is that they are aimed at reassuring those who are already on board or who know nothing about the Covenant.

They don’t address the text in any detail. They don’t explain the context of organizational change in the component parts of the Anglican Communion. They don’t acknowledge the sanctions embedded in Section 4. They don’t specify the entailed changes in relations between Provinces or between Provinces and the central organs of the Communion except by the bland phrase: ‘mutual accountability’. Any ‘concerns’ that they acknowledge are simply denied.

Nor do they specify what is wrong with the present arrangements. In the absence of a clear description and diagnosis of the wrongs and inadequacies of the present Communion there is no way to judge whether this particular Covenant is going to redress any of the issues. Nor is there any discussion of what might be changed or lost as a result of implementing the Covenant.

So, take my advice, don’t buy a pig in a poke.

An afterthought:

Oh, and there’s one last small but perfectly formed symbol of the relationship between those preparing the ‘reception’ of the Covenant and the rest of us. It’s a statement tucked underneath each clip: ‘Adding comments has been disabled for this video.’

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