Comments: GS: proposed amendment on the covenant

It is an improvement to bring it back to Synod, indeed it is the barest necessary. It does not, of course, address whether the Covenant is the means to do the job that apparently cannot be done otherwise, and whether a Covenant could be written that does not seriously set back Affirming Catholicism, forcing it to prefer keeping an institution together in some sort of forced unity against its principles of inclusion and affirming difference.

When you look at the split point of the Church in all this, it is somewhere within Open Evangelicalism where some would go off with Conservative Evangelicals for the evangelical content, whereas others would stay with liberal types for the more open atmosphere. When it comes to the Covenant, one can see that MCU is against it, that Fulcrum is for it, and Affirming Catholicism in between is divided between its loyalty to difference and its loyalty to the whole institution. This reflects its "official" ethos, although it no longer can represent the cohering functions of the old Broad Church.

Well we are all loyal to the whole institution, or should be, but the issue is the price to be paid and that to keep Conservative Evangelicals happy. In my view it is the Conservative Evangelicals, abroad and here, who should be deciding what to do. Yes they can be facilitated, if possible, so long as the Churches can continue with their developing understanding of Anglicanism. Being in favour of inclusion means including Conservative Evangelicals too, but the problem is they are not in favour of the inclusion of others except on their restrictive and excluding terms. Well, if so, it is ultimately up to them to do something about it.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 3:05pm BST

Pluralist - it was not conservatives who defied the AC (despite the ABC and Primates practically begging) in was not conservatives who "tore the fabric of the Communion".......this is why it is not conservatives who have to respond to the Tanzania Communique etc etc

Some around here hoped Fulcrum and Anglican Mainstream people could be split....but it seems more like the "liberal" groups which are not dominated by a single-issue are actually not vehemently against a covenant and do want to keep the Communion together.......maybe there are lots of peoplelike Ford who do not agree with me on Lambeth 1.10 but also do not agree with TEC's actions in the AC from 2003 onwards

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 3:27pm BST

It's dictatorial autocracy. That's what you want isn't it NP? This may come as a shock to you, but some of us don't wag and pant to the authoritarian dictates of the conservative agenda. Some of us have lives that we live and walking in the life of God makes it better. This bureaucracy of the soul that you would have us live in is a very cheap faith. You can keep that noise to yourself I'm not listening.

Posted by Curtis at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 4:37pm BST

Of course Synod should not be sidelined.

So will Synod get to vote on the proposal to add the Primates to the ACC ex officio?

The Canadian Synod rejected the idea.

Posted by Paul Bagshaw at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 5:21pm BST

No Curtis - it's just common sense. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

There is no reason for the AC to stay a house divided given that the AC can survive very well without the minority which divides it. The Tanzania Communique is a last chance for those people to commit to the AC or go their own way.

Be clear, the AC needs and wants to be a healthy, united, growing organisation......not at the mercy of any minority who will not keep to agreed positions.

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 5:29pm BST

Simplistic assertions are now "thought"?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 5:49pm BST

NP, maybe it's not my place to say this, but could you consider commenting specifically on articles rather than using them as a jumping off point to say things you have said so often before?

It would be more interesting.

Posted by badman at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 6:46pm BST

"it was not conservatives who defied the AC"

Really! So the GS and the conservatives in the US who disobeyed Lambeth and didn't engage gay people in discussion, crossed diocesan boundaries and such, the Consevos who stirred up strife with their bishops so they could paint themselves out as persecuted, they haven't played their part? And the Anglican Church has ALWAYS been a house divided, NP, and she's done quite well till now. I asked before, do you think we should have gotten rid of the Evos when they were in the minority because they didn't agree, often quite insultingly, with the rest of the Church?

And the Church is not some "organization", NP. We don't all have the worldly understanding of the Church that you do. For some, She is the Earthly icon of the Kingdom of God, called to a very different standard from any worldly organization. The world cannot tolerate paradox, we can: God is one, yet three; Christ is God, yet man; Mary is virgin, yet mother. Perhaps we are being called now to show the world a better way, not the "my way or the highway" approach that characterizes so many worldly groups like businesses, political parties, and, judging by you, Evangelicals.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 6:57pm BST

"A house divided against itself cannot stand."

NP, when Abraham Lincoln cited these words of Our Lord, he did so to warn the PRO-SLAVERY faction, not (as you do) to defend it.

Male, female, black, white, gay, staight: ***ALL*** are one in Christ! :-D

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 7:41pm BST

NP, discussion of the draft Covenant has been pre-empted and rendered irrelevant by the recent spate of irregular appointments and consecrations in North America. If the purpose of the Covenant was to put the present Episcopal Church out of the Communion, while replacing it with an "orthodox" province, then that purpose has now comprehensively failed.

I am not the one who is saying this.

Dr. Peter Toon, a man of impeccable orthodox credentials, has recently written:

"Most regrettably in the period of testing and waiting, patience recently ran out; Lambeth July 2008, it seemed, was too far away; righteous anger and holy indignation made their impact; Africans long held down by British colonialism flexed their new muscles and took (precipitous?) action! Here again the opportunity provided by Divine Providence for a path to reform and renewal appears to have been blown. And this time blown first in Africa and then in the USA."

Dr. Toon's article, and the subsequent discussion, are at

The comments are well worth reading, especially that of "David+" (his identity an open secret):

"The idea of waiting until Lambeth 2008 would have been a disaster. The Archbishop is proving to be a part of the problem, not the solution. A new American provence [sic] is going to have to come about despite him, sad to say. And that is why we will most likely end up with a new Orthodox Anglican Communion as well and independent of the See of Cantebury [sic]."

Inn short, your vision of "a last chance for those people to commit to the AC or go their own way" no longer corresponds to reality, unless you mean it to apply to those "Global South" bishops who initiated this round of irregular appointments.

Posted by Charlotte at Tuesday, 3 July 2007 at 9:48pm BST

Absolutely, Charlotte, the continuation of the same old mantras does not see the shifting that has gone on (which could shift again, I'd admit): that a new Orthodox Anglican Communion, as they would call it, will be a new creation of these African provinces should they be able to co-operate, with their own centre. "TEC Global" will not be launched at all, but the existing communion will be the vast majority of the provinces and Conservative Evangelicals will have to decide what to do.

So when NP says, "The Tanzania Communique is a last chance" I say, Are you sure you've got that right, NP?

(Is there a difference, by the way, between "a last chance" and 'the last chance'?)

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 2:28am BST

badman - do have a look above and you will see that the subject is the proposed covenant....and I was responding to pluralist and curtis.

Ford - the AC has listened for decades.....but most of us do not define the word to mean "agree".

Ford, I think you might agree that there is a need for church order and some honour in standing by agreed positions?

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 7:10am BST

The article and thread Charlotte mentions on T19 are interesting.

The toys and prams seem to be flying through the air in most conservative places at the moment.

There is an air of desperation, working its way out in a regular mixture of personal attacks, instant canonisation of allies, threats and the like, with the most recent legal news from California fanning the flames.

There has always been a strong element of farce in the way these divisions play out publicly. In recent weeks we have seen the collapse of the conservative lobby into the parody of “orthodoxy” articulated by David Virtue etc.

The comment from David+ lays out the game plan rather too well.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 8:08am BST

This is an article about a specific forthcoming General Synod debate. Please try to make your comments here relate to that subject...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 8:45am BST

"the AC has listened for decades"

Really? When? How? You won't even acknowledge whatkind of "listening" went on in your parish, leading me to believe there was none at all, and your continued shouts of how much listening has gone on are just not true. If you are telling the truth, then please, I'm all ears, tell me what your parish did.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 11:08am BST

"by the end of the year" is scrubbed by the amendment. Does this mean a November Synod is not thought necessary? How will this affect the tight timetable in the run up to Lambeth 2008?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 11:12am BST

Maybe the amendment assumes a November group of sittings, which may mean that the timetable may involve a response by December or somewhat later. I would argue that the matter before General Synod is of sufficient importance that perhaps a day in November could be set aside for debating such a response.

I am sure that this will be clarified by the mover when the amendment comes up at Synod.

Posted by Ren Aguila at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 3:11pm BST

Nov. 5, maybe?

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 5:23pm BST

I too think the deletion of "end of the year" is important.

It means that the Bishops can't have it both ways. If they want to rush things, they will have to have an extraordinary Synod. If they want an ordinary Synod to consider it, they will have to slow down a bit.

The House of Bishops seem to have been caught up in the Primates' general lack of interest in other sources of authority in wishing to present Synod with a fait accompli, which Synod can only accept or reject (and will therefore feel under pressure to accept), rather than allowing it to contribute to the formation of the draft.

What matters is getting this thing right, not getting it through.

Posted by badman at Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 8:43pm BST

badman says "The House of Bishops seem to have been caught up in the Primates' general lack of interest in other sources of authority in wishing to present Synod with a fait accompli...."

fait accompli??
- just like TEC is 2003 presenting the AC with a fait accompli, arrogantly expecting everyone to accept what TEC had done....even though so many had said they would never do that - fait accomplis have been seen in the AC as in 2003 but the Tanzania Communique is not one of these.....TEC can repent and stay in the AC if it CHOOSES to do so

Posted by NP at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 12:31pm BST

Would NP please clarify for me the justification for the Rwandan incursion into TEC territory long before 2003? I am aware that Einstein made predictions about the relationship between time and velocity, but it would be a very precipitate consecration indeed which forced time to run backwards.....

Posted by Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 12:58pm BST

Mynster - I am sure you are aware that heretical ideas were prominent in ECUSA long before TEC existed

Posted by NP at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 1:58pm BST

"the justification for the Rwandan incursion into TEC"

Dare I say reverse colonialism? It's not hard to see it in the Nigerian statements, might it be there in Rwanda too?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 5:05pm BST

Then NP you will kindly stop wittering on about Gene Robinson and concentrate on hard pre-2003 'heretical' tendencies in TEC (ie, referenced, and of greater significance than the heresies which occur in all provinces in different ways). Gene Robinson is clearly NOT the issue if the Rwandans felt justified in moving in before 2003, so justify, justify, justify.

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 6:49pm BST

I've just realised that NP holds that the Rwandan Church believed it possessed the moral high ground of Anglicanism pre-2003.

Occasional outbursts from Jack Spong being tolerated by TEC therefore outweighs the Rwandan Church's toleration of genocide (and even outright complicity in same) as against traditional Anglican standards. Include me out of such traditional morality, please....

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 6:55pm BST

"heretical ideas were prominent in ECUSA long before TEC existed"

There weren't all that many Evangelicals before the Pentecostals and the Baptists started moving up the social ladder, NP. Up till then, TEC was quite 'orthodox'.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 8:00pm BST

Jack Spong is one of the great Evangelists of our times. Why snipe at him ? He has faithfully followed his leading, with courage and hope.

Posted by L Roberts at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 11:19am BST

L Roberts,
I don't accept some of his statements, nor the rationale for them, but I confess to not being as exposed to his work as I should be in order to have a solid opinion of him. His 12 Theses inform my understanding of his basic attitude. As one example, to deny the Virgin Birth simply because of what we now know about human gestation is odd. I'd suggest to my Lord of Newark that God invented the process, and, being God, He can manipulate that process how he wants. I cannot connect with the soullessness, to me, of the arguments that would bind God to the "rules of nature" the He Himself invented. Spong's God seems to be a very powerful human being, not omnipotent since He can't even break His own rules. It seems pretty soulless to deny the miraculous because it doesn't conform to the laws of physics as we currently understand them. I would have thought that to be the point of miracles! Sorry, but religion allows me to explore that side of the human experience that cannot be adequately expressed in words and studied by science. His abandonment of that in favour of science not only leaves me cold, but would take away what is the prime reason for practicing any religion. As to why I chose Christianity, that's another matter.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 6:30pm BST

Bishop Spong's writings seem to me to be a compilation of material that has originally been written by other authors. There is nothing new in "Liberating the Gospels". I wish there was!

Posted by Cardinal Wardrobe at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 9:59pm BST

Spong was brought up a literalist and fundamentalist, and he came to reject this approach to faith to the extent that he set out to show that nothing in the bible can be taken literally, but that that doesn't remove anything from its deep and important theological meaning.

In that he has managed to hold on to the core of Christian faith despite throwing out every single literal interpretation, he is one of the modern mystics in my view.

You don't have to agree with every one of his premises to accept him as a man of true and deep faith. It would be closer to Richard Holloway's "Love that haunts the universe" than to the Christianity preached in most of our churches, but it has all the fire, the passion and the faith in what the deepest truth of Jesus Christ can be.

If you don't mind disagreeing with a writer and can still see his strengths, he is well worth reading.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 10:25pm BST

You know, a religion which wants to rewrite science or change history to somethng else is hardly "incarnational" is it? These sort of detailed little bits hardly interest me. I'm more interested in in the strange Jewish teacher and preacher and his eschatological ethics than any froth about having to be born in the wrong town or as if he didn't have a human father. And then looking at that, looking critically at Christianity as a whole, and being reflective, the issue then is where we and I are going and how I always seem to be in a place I'd rather not start from.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 6 July 2007 at 11:48pm BST

"the strange Jewish teacher and preacher"
Fair enough, but what did the strange Jewish teracher teach that was in any way distinguishable? To me, devoid of the Incarnate God, Christianity is a pretty insipid and poorly thought out moral code. I'm not being argumentative here, what would attract you to Christianity without the, shall we say, supernatural aspects? For me, Buddhism would be far preferable in that respect.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 12:19pm BST
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