Monday, February 19, 2007

First Glance

The Convenant Design Group has just released their draft of an Anglican Covenant and a related report, both of which are now publicly available through the Anglican Communion website.

There will be much discussion and debate forthcoming over the draft covenant, but here are a few off-the-cuff reactions:

  • The document seems to me too long to be fully digestible and ultimately helpful to the breadth of Anglicanism. While Scripture stands very much at the center of our tradition, Anglicanism, historically, has relied on what are essentially short texts (i.e. the Creeds) for definition of ecumenical and doctrinal unity. Moreover, the draft points to the 39 articles as a point of definition for Anglicanism, which lengthens the texts of definition for our unity even further. (Incidentally, the 39 Articles are understood as historic documents, not definitional ones, at least in the Episcopal Church.) Simply providing more text to interpret and to apply may not be ultimately productive. I for one, remain concerned that we are edging here on forming a confessional global Church, which might undercut the essential governing structures of local provinces too much to gain ratification enough for the Covenant to be viable.
  • On a positive note, while there will likely be disappointment that the covenant does not address the present disputes on the table, outlining ways to handle inter-provincial disputes may prove useful as the Anglican Communion moves forward.
  • There are here appeals to the Bible as final arbiter in disputes over morality. This could be read to suggest that at least one side in the present disagreement over human sexuality disregards the Bible as having final moral authority. The drafters leave a great deal to the generosity of the interpreters of the draft in this regard. Could this language be used against the Episcopal Church? It already has been. It seems to me, these provisions only would open up more opportunities to dispute interpretation, and will probably not be, by themselves, helpful in settling much.
I'm sure there is a great deal more to say about this draft and its accompanying report. Again, these are only first impressions, and they may be subject to a great deal of change and correction.

I hope to have a chance to review these documents more thoroughly in the coming days, and we will likely be seeing a great deal coming from the Primates and others who have been charged with mulling over this initial draft.


KJ said...

Not to place any pressure on you, but of course, we are waiting for your insightful analysis.

R said...

Okay, kj, I relent! :)