February 14, 2011

Compare and Contrast: the Covenant

Inspired by a conversation with Dr. Katherine Grieb, and my own creeping suspicion that folks are still reacting (and abreacting) to clauses in the earlier drafts of the proposed Anglican Covenant that are no longer there, I have prepared a handy parallel "disharmony of the versions" to show some of the movement that has taken place over the course of the various drafts. It can be accessed through this link. You can read on line or download the pdf from there. I take full responsibility for any errors in transcription, but have made every effort to give an accurate reflection of what the Covenant said and says.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

8 comments:

gracerector said...

Tobias: Thanks for doing this. It is very helpful and instructive. I wonder what your take-away from the exercise is. It seems to me that, either than the question of whether a covenant is necessary or useful, there is nothing in the first three sections as they currently read that gives me qualms. And the insistence, in the later drafts, that the covenant does not supersede the canons and constitutions of local churches seems to make it toothless. But then I'm not a canon lawyer, so I might be missing something.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks Fr Jonathan. My take, at this point, is that the current draft cedes no authority to any of the Instruments that they don't already have -- that is, it is already in the power of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to "recognize" who is or isn't in communion with the C of E, and for the ACC, with the consent of 2/3 of the Primates, to amend the schedule of membership in the ACC. "Realational consequences" have already arisen ad hoc without any covenant to grant that -- just like real life, eh? -- and since the "penalty" for violating the covenant is more or less the same thing as might well happen by not signing on to it (noting the "powers" already vested and the ad hoc relational reactions and bilateral disassociations) -- the covenant itself seems to be less and less a constitution or governing document and more and more a kind of aspirational pointer towards continued fellowship. The additional factor is the "you've got to be in it to win it" -- any changes to the covenant in a less Godly direction (as urged by some in the GS) can best be thwarted by moderates and progressives being part of the discussion. In the long run, what started as an intended curse could morph into a blessing, if people of good will and unity (not uniformity) rather than the urge to judgment and division form the bulk of the conversation. The recent Primates' Meeting seems to point in that direction, and I think it a good one.

Christopher said...

What I notice in the first section is an overly romanticized notion of communion. Without a quote from say 1 Cor 11-12, something of the concern for the most vulnerable, the least, the despised goes missing as orientation of how we are together. In other words, the other side of the ethical core of Paul's fruits of the Spirit is muted.

Christopher said...

In other words in the Introduction there is that modern ecclesiological tendency to overconflate the nature of the relationships of the Person Three with our relationships on the created level without resource to the other half of Paul's concern not just for sin, but for the vulnerable, the least, the despised, those considered of no account. With that is then a subtle tendency to act as if the church itself is not often deeply ingrained by the worldly.

On the whole, the first 3 sections, however, are palatable. It may be as with the Quadrilateral, that the first three sections will be widely accepted, and the 4th gently shunted aside. I could live with that. I have to say that the motivations, however, do taint section 4, no matter how generous I would like to be, and there is an institutional focus on the Communion in such a way that the Reformations we have experiened as Anglicans in our history do not mitigate nice resource to a romanticized notion of what has more than once been required to shift the course of the Church(es). And that being so, we lost some goodies, like the Methodists.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Good point, Christopher. As with many such documents, there is an inevitable "who's in who's out" based on the defining affirmations. This was true even of the beloved Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I confess that at this time I've read only the Section 4 comparisons in their entirety. Therefore, I will comment only on that section. As I see it the mischief lies in the "mays" - "may do this," or "may do that...."

Section 4.4.2 also includes a couple of "shalls", which I presume means "must be done."

While there is much improvement over the first two drafts, if the covenant is accepted in the third draft as is, the relational consequences could end up anywhere on the map or nowhere. The covenant still looks like a sorry and daft document to me.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Mimi, I take your point. I've been doing a lot of an exercise my CPE instructor used when we students were engaging in anxious worry about the future: he asked us to articulate the very worst thing that could realistically happen, and then he'd gently ask, "And what would you do then?" Sometimes all he would have to say is, "And...???" It was very helpful.

To be frank, I believe the Covenant is more problematical in the things it might lead us not to do than in the things that might be done to us. (Hey, that's a thought that may be worth posting!)

Grandmère Mimi said...

Tobias, I know that stressing about what might happen, is so often an exercise in futility. The next to worst that could happen is that TEC could be assigned to second tier. The worst would be removal from the Communion. And I confess that I've about reached the point where I would not be devastated if either of those consequences came to be. The bonds of affection and the relationships that are established would still exist.

For me to put a stamp of approval on the covenant, and I won't have to vote (TBTG!), would be an exercise in hypocrisy.