September 1, 2011

Worthwhile Pro-Covenant Essays

Reading material favoring the adoption of the Anglican Covenant is largely a boring and depressing enterprise. The most common “argument” asserts that the Communion is in crisis, and the Covenant offers “the only way forward.” Some proponents assert that little will change if the Covenant is put into effect, which, of course, raises the question of how the Covenant is going to “rescue” the Communion from its “crisis.” Others invoke the need for “unity” as the primary rationale for Covenant adoption, though one has to ask why the unity of The Episcopal Church with the Church of Uganda should be more important than our church’s relationship with, for example, the United Methodist Church.

The Living Church, which has long been critical of The Episcopal Church and which has adopted a strong Anglo-Catholic orientation in recent years, has been publishing a series of essays in favor of Covenant adoption in its magazine and on its Web site. Whereas I find the case made for the Covenant in these pieces ultimately unconvincing, the essays are at least interesting, offering more compelling arguments than I have seen in many places, particularly the material from Lambeth Palace and from the Church of England.

Technical limitations apparently preclude The Living Church from listing all the essays in its series on the Covenant in one place that will remain visible from its home page over time. For that reason, and in order to encourage more substantive debate concerning the Covenant, I have added a page to Lionel Deimel’s Farrago listing all the essays in the series, along with their dates of publication, authors, and links to the essays themselves. You can find the page “Essays Favoring the Anglican Covenant from The Living Church” on my Web site here.


  1. Thanks very much for this, Lionel. I agree that Chris Wells has done a much better job than almost anyone else, including the official bodies of the Communion, in assembling a series of effective and substantive pro-Covenant arguments.

    Bruce Robison

  2. I agree that the Wells essay is persuasive, but not necessarily for the adoption of this particular covenant. A certain kind of unity can become an idol and there is something providential in my view about the diversity that we see among Christian churches. It is was a Provost of Coventry who wrote, "What kind of church would our church be if everyone in it were just like me?" There is unity which does not require agreement but a commitment to love one another. My fear is that this proposed covenant will do little to strengthen our commitment to love, but will encourage us to complain about one another. We have too much complaining already and love seems to be in short supply.

  3. Fr. Daniel makes an interesting point, bt one I think that cannot stand. As the British proponents of athe covenant have said repeatedly, this is the only covenant on offer.

    I suppose in theory, there may be a covenant that even the most opposed would consider. I find it hard to imagine that document, but it could perhaps spring to life from the ashes of the document now before the churches. But the first thing needs happen - the death of the covenant.

    Maybe after Dr. Williams and this covenant leave the stage, there could be another effort. This document and this archbishop with his propensity for mistreating honest disagreement (read the late Colin Slee on that subject!)have littered the landscape with clerical, intellectual and political debris. Not a bed from which a phoenix can rise.



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