Bishop Pierre Whalon reflects on the Anglican Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

People continue to go back and forth about the proposed Anglican covenant, perhaps more so (if possible) since Archbishop Williams' July 27 essay, Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future, in which he commented on the actions of General Convention. The upshot of Cantuar's piece is that a Covenant is desperately needed if there is to be an Anglican Communion, that is, a “theologically coherent 'community of Christian communities'.”

More recently, a group of Episcopal scholars, along with the Bishop of Durham, has opined that the 2009 General Convention has already rejected the Covenant, particularly in Resolution D025—brushing aside the last (and in rhetoric, the most important) paragraph that acknowledges continuing disagreement among Episcopalians on how to fully include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. This piece seems to deploy a “hermeneutic of deep suspicion”—that is, if they say one thing, they really mean the contrary. Up means down, right means get the picture.

Let’s all try to remember D020. Convention 2009 asked all the dioceses to consider carefully a Covenant draft which is still not out yet.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* International News & CommentaryEurope

Posted September 30, 2009 at 1:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. seitz wrote:

It would be good if the Bishop took more care with his prose. It is hard to know what the actual point is, even with allowance for post-modern writing. There is the usual boilerplate that the resolutions don’t mean what everyone who wasn’t there reads them to mean, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. Then there is the idea that the covenant is not finished and so one can’t evaluate it as has ACI and NT Wright, re: TEC (in spite of the fact that 3 sections were approved at Jamaica and the 4th is pending, upon review). The title and certain sentences suggest that the point is: covenant is a bad idea and some won’t sign, leaving aside TEC. Or: I don’t like the covenant. The final footnote then suggests that ‘Bishop in Synod’ is preferable to something akin to, one could hazard, the General Convention of TEC and this form of governance. Or, I think that is what it means. If the real point is to say that covenants are bad ideas and some will not sign anyway, fine, let that be said. We shall have to see then whether such a view wins out.

September 30, 9:43 am | [comment link]
2. Stefano wrote:

As someone who is at least bi-lingual Bp Whalon is aware of the difficulties of translation. My Japanese is a little rusty but the idea that covenant can only mean contract does strike me as a little strange. For one thing, the idea of Contract is a little different in Japanese than it is in English. At least according to Akio Morita of Sony and I believe others have concurred it is less adversarial and more conciliar in dealing with breaches and conflicts. It also is surprising to me in light of Japans very old history that they would have only one word for what we would call a covenant. Japanese is very good at bringing in outside words into their language. They even have a specific set of characters for loan words. Perhaps the translator of your indaba group was incorrect or was misunderstood.

It would seem that the challenges of Anglican ecclesiology is linked to obedience but perhaps the obedience to what could be more explicitly spelled out. I had thought that this was a goal for the Covenant.

September 30, 10:38 am | [comment link]
3. BpPWhalon wrote:

Well, I didn’t know I was writing postmodern prose. The point is simple: let the Covenant process continue until its end. No premature cutting off, in either direction. I would say this isn’t postmodernism, it’s a plea for openmindedness.
As for my quote of Bishop Cundy, it was an aside, a footnote about a friend whom I miss. His point is interesting (to me, at least), in light of all the discussion of what Anglican ecclesiology is or isn’t.
Concerning translation of the word, “covenant,” I had fun in a recent column entitled “Covenant—was ist das auf Deutsch?” Bishop Hirota’s point was echoed by the Bishop of Hong Kong in English, so I don;t think the translator was mistaken. However, if the NSKK considers the Covenant document in an open-minded fashion, maybe they will re-think their position.

October 2, 5:43 am | [comment link]
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