August 6, 2009

No Anglican Covenant

I have never thought that an Anglican covenant was a good idea. Although some ground rules about how Anglican churches should behave toward one another would be welcome—see “The Covenant We Do Need”—“covenant” is really too grandiose a term for such an agreement.
No Anglican Covenant logo
In reality, the push for a covenant is about stopping theological development within the Anglican world and, should progress rear its ugly head, to punish the purveyors of it. Of course, The Episcopal Church is the most obvious candidate for discipline, but other sacrificial lambs await on the horizon.

Reading, thinking about, and, finally, writing about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s latest words concerning our Anglican future has convinced me that (1) Rowan Williams has an exulted sense of purpose that is a menace to Anglicanism, and (2) nothing good can possibly come of the Anglican covenant effort. Its potential for mischief, on the other hand, is limitless. As I said in “Reflecting on the Archbishop’s Reflection”:
In fact, what Williams and other primates have been doing is portraying themselves as conservatives, preservers of the Anglican status quo. In reality, they are revolutionaries, trying to hoodwink the naïve and the over-courteous into abandoning the fellowship that has been the Anglican Communion in favor of a radical centralization intended to enforce doctrinal uniformity. This is the underlying purpose of the Anglican Covenant. Terms such as “mutual responsibility” are thrown about by the archbishop as a kind of spiritual blackmail intended to intimidate churches such as our own into giving up their birthright of ecclesiastical autonomy. Williams derisively dismisses “mere federation” as though it were not what the Communion has been these many years.
I am hopeful that the recent General Convention resolutions and what may be a new militancy within the Church of England will help make approval of any covenant by Western churches less likely than it had seemed only a few weeks ago.

Having spent far too much time writing my response to Archbishop Rowan Williams, I am not yet ready to write the definitive denunciation of the Anglican covenant process. I am, however, ready to suggest that Episcopalians and other moderate and progressive Anglicans must begin now a campaign against any Anglican covenant, lest our churches approve whatever comes along out of simple but misguided Anglican civility.

As a tool for the resistance, I offer the anti-covenant logo displayed above. I do not claim to be a graphic artist, and therefore realize that others may be able to devise a more exciting logo for the campaign. There is, however, something to be said for simplicity.

I invite others to use the No Anglican Covenant logo to show your opposition to the dangerous innovation that is the Anglican covenant. Because I realize that my graphic may not be suitable for all occasions, I offer a larger version of it here, from which you can generate your own appropriately sized graphic for the Web or for paper documents.

Update, 10/8/2010: For additional versions of the No Anglican Covenant logo and information about using it in other contexts, click here.

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