Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Oh, Come On! The Anglican "Covenant"

I am not the best authority on the machinations of all that is happening with the Anglican Consultative Council meeting and their Ridley draft of the Anglican Covenant... blah blah blah. To get the detailed account of all this, you can do as I do and read Fr. Mark Harris' blog here and here.

From what I've read at Harris' PRELUDIUM, and at STONE OF WITNESS, there is this Ridley document which purports to be some kind of "Take it or leave it" letter to the various provinces and churches of the Anglican Communion which is supposed to define what it is to be a member of the Anglican Communion. However, no one really has to sign on to this thing. But if they don't sign on, then they will be outside of "the covenant". I don't really understand what that is supposed to mean... and I honestly don't know that I'm willing to take the time to try to understand what that is supposed to mean.

So much of what has driven this desire to adopt a new covenant (which should not at all be mistaken with the "new covenant" Christ made with humanity at the Last Supper) all comes back to the retirement of NH Bishop Doug Theuner. When +Theuner retired, the Diocese needed a replacement (duh!) and when it came time for that election, the people of the Diocese voted for V. Gene Robinson, a priest well known to all of them because he had run the Sign of the Dove Retreat Center in central New Hampshire for years... and been the Canon to the Ordinary. His election was, is, and always will be legitimate, fair, Godly, and a no-brainer. They didn't... and won't ever... need a "focus group" approval from the rest of us to pick their leader. No diocese, or province, should need to get prior clearance from people with NO clue about the needs of the folks living and worshipping in that diocese or province.

But because of +Gene, and the ordination of women, and the 1979 BCP, and any number of other "things" that might have caused some members of the Anglican Communion to get their knickers in knots, we now have this Covenant craziness coming into play as a last ditch stand to keep everybody together. Unfortunately, it may end up having the opposite effect of driving us further apart, especially if it (a) doesn't require everyone to actually sign it and (b) if consent to the covenant means sacrificing LGBT people. Let's be clear: that seems to be the real intent of the thing: to find a common ground that commonly punishes queers and the bishops who support them. That's not going to fly. Certainly, that seems to be the attitude that the GAFCON crowd is pushing. That, and a demand that the "liberals" in North America repent for what they have done. Sorry: electing a qualified person to the episcopate does NOT require repentance. And if we're expected to repent for that action, then I would ask Orombi of Uganda and Akinola of Nigeria to repent not only for trying to interfere and instigate theft of church property in the United States... but also for encouraging the persecution, beatings, and terror inflicted on gay Anglicans within their own African provinces. On your knees, gentlemen!! It starts, "Most merciful God: we confess that we've sinned against you in thought, word AND deed..."

But I digress. What I believe the Anglican Consultative Council, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and all the other members of the church hierarchy ought to be doing is cracking open their prayer books to one of the most important, and God-centered, covenants we already have. It's called the Baptismal Covenant. Truly, if we (and I mean EVERYONE) would spend a good long time studying the words and commitments we make to God and each other in that covenant, and mark, learn and inwardly digest them... we would not need this Ridley document, or any other document.

God has made the covenants with God's people and I believe God is at work in the world, calling those sheep who have felt estranged back into the fold. Bishops and clergy are empowered to serve as the earth-bound shepherds of all of these members of God's people. They shouldn't supercede the authority granted them through Jesus Christ by thinking they can "do it better" than what has already been done through the act of baptism. Please, folks: get a grip and get back to God!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boy, you hit this one right on the head, my dear. I think I have said to you on occasion that the Baptisimal Covenant that we say when we baptise young or old persons is the answer and we say it with our priest and in front of the Congregation. I think that +Gene would agree with you. And your history of how he was selected is right on as well, and those African Anglicans should wake up and smell the roses.