On covenant making

Mark Harris has called my attention to the Inter Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission’s response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposal for an Anglican covenant.

Paragraph 3. 3 caught my eye, given that conservatives are unhappy with the current Panel of Refrence and liberals are suspicious of Archbishop Gomez’s leadership of the working group established by Archbishop Rowan Williams to begin crafting the covenant:

“These observations suggest an important corollary to the concept of covenant-making: any covenant requires an instrument to interpret it. There is no such thing as a self-interpreting covenant any more than there are self-interpreting scriptures. A covenant implies an interpretive body to decide on what level of polity it is best addressed and whether or to what extent it has been breached. This result is more than a curiosity in a tradition such as Anglicanism where authority is dispersed rather than centralised in a pope and/or magisterium. The subtle interplay between persuasion and coercion characteristic of the Anglican way complicates any simplistic attempt to resolve conflicts by appealing them to one figure or body. Nevertheless, issues of intensity, extent, and substance require a solution in a way that will be satisfactory to the great majority. Otherwise resentment grows and mistrust materialises in ways harmful to the spread of the gospel, the mission of the church to anticipate the reign of God.”

And note this fascinating descriptive phrase in 4.4: “the informal gathering of bishops at Lambeth.” Otherwise known as the Lambeth Conference.

And finally this at 4.7: Lobby groups are a natural form of persuasion in any large community. However, this process is open to corruption when persuasion and influence are exercised in private. Such a tendency can have the effect of corroding the trust and openness which is vital to our walking together. It may be that there should be some code of ethics among us in regard to private lobbying activities. Such a code would inform our common understanding and fellowship.

Bishop Joe Doss also has an essay on the covenant on the Episcopal Majority site.

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