Philip Turner–The Covenant: What Is It All About?

It seems to me that the understanding of communion that has shaped the proposed covenant is vastly superior to the theologically vacuous one favored by many with progressive views and to the impractical confessional one favored by many with more traditional convictions. It provides a way to sustain a thick form of communion within the changes and chances of history and within the conflicts occasioned by differences in culture. It provides a way through history that does not reduce communion (as in the progressive case) to the chance overlap of moral commitments or (as in the traditionalist case) to a fixed point in the history of the church that can serve as a theological north star. The ship that is the church is best guided by common immersion in Holy Scripture and mutual recognition born of a grace filled struggle in the light of scripture’s witness to arrive at truth. That is what the covenant is all about.

It saddens me that the chances for general ratification are in decline. I am still hopeful that most of the provinces will ratify the proposal. The recent actions of South East Asia and Ireland strengthen that hope. Nevertheless, hope in this case might disappoint. It is possible that the covenant will fail. If it does fail, the present disputants, because of the positions they hold, will miss the full scope of what has been lost. The great problem in the history of the church is how fidelity to the apostolic witness is to be maintained within the changes and chances of history. Anglicans have an answer to this question that the disputants in this fight have missed. It is a powerful answer, but it may indeed be lost without the disputants knowing what has actually happened….

I believe that Anglicans have addressed this question, though unwittingly, in a different and more adequate way””largely through a Book of Common Prayer.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Covenant, Ecclesiology, Theology

9 comments on “Philip Turner–The Covenant: What Is It All About?

  1. St. Nikao says:

    Note to ACI – Because the Covenant was stolen through the Harlem globetrotterish hijinks of the revisionistas in Jamaica and neutered (or spayed if you prefer) while in their custody, it is now worthless as a tool for the maintenance of order and discipline in the church of Jesus Christ. It’s a joke.

  2. cseitz says:

    Tell it to SE Asia, St Nikao.

  3. Sarah says:

    I suspect that if people haven’t “gotten it” by now, they never are. I’m one of those people and I’m guessing, at this point, that nobody will be able to help me.

    So I offer the following comment with resignation and simply in an effort to communicate rather than hope for something that I’ll be able to understand.

    I do not understand this assertion by Dr. Turner: “At the base of this logic stand two terms–”mutual accountability” and “recognition” (4.2.1). Both progressives and traditionalists have missed the significance of these terms and in consequence neither party understands the covenant proposal adequately.”

    What I do not understand is how the Covenant offers [i]anything at all[/i] that we haven’t already tried and had utterly fail. Our entire Anglican experience was based on the notion that provinces would work together and desire recognition from one another.

    But that’s been proven false. [i]Certain provinces do not care if they do things so radically in departure from the Gospel that other provinces will withdraw recognition.[/i]

    So at this point the idea that we should write something down that puts into text what has already been tried and found wanting just boggles my mind.

    How would putting into written words what the Anglican Communion used to be — a group of Provinces who were accountable to one another in exchange for recognition — help anything get better? The question and the process that the Covenant asks was shouted back in 2003 [and indeed probably whispered much earlier], and the answer was “no.” Since 2003 the answer has been a repeated “no.”

    I don’t understand re-asking the question and thinking that it will help matters.

  4. cseitz says:

    I thought the way SE Asia handled this was very careful.

    I see the Diocese in Europe (C of E) has also signed today.

    Dioceses in TEC that are in the full progressive mode are saying No. I think the question is whether, if conservative portions of the wider communion adopt/subscribe, TEC will isolate itself.

  5. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “…TEC will isolate itself”.

    Will that matter at all if Canterbury still issues it Lambeth invitations?

    And, once again, by default or otherwise, if it “strays”‘ and is not disciplined, Canterbury and co. demonstrate that homosex is now the teaching of the Anglican Church.

  6. David Hein says:

    No. 5: “Will that matter at all if Canterbury still issues it Lambeth invitations?”

    I don’t know. What would happen if a bunch of provinces signed on and TEC did not? Would there then be two tiers? And where would that leave mainstream Anglicans within TEC? CP parishes and dioceses sign on–and get recognized?

    Do the rules or statements provided thus far give any answers? If not, what’s the best guess?

  7. Fr. Jack says:

    I am sorry to say that the essay misses the point entirely. The Anglican Covenant is unable to effect any real solutions due to the fact that the language used is subject to different meanings. Note: I did not write different interpretations. Rather, the language of the covenant, and indeed the language of Christianity, now has radically different meanings imported into it by the those who embrace wholly different world views. Same words – different meanings – no effect.

  8. cseitz says:

    Canterbury and Lambeth invitations? I think we are farther down the trail of collapse than that.

  9. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    So I guess the Structural train is off the track, and it’s going to stay there.