Chris Sugden: An Anglican Communion Covenant

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The concept of agreeing to disagree fails to do justice to the nature of the commitments and convictions that command our loyalty and obedience and bind us together. What we disagree about is not what has brought us together. We have not come together because we have diverse views on things. Diversity of opinions is not what people have committed themselves to. This is a via negativa – we do not agree on this, we do not agree on that.

The focus of the paper by Colin Slee and his colleagues is on agreement and disagreement. “The Covenant is an attempt to impose agreement where this did not exist before”. “A true family cannot exist without disagreements”. “The Anglican tradition of living with difference”. This is typical of the current approach to religion in a secularist context. It is argued that since there are disagreements on some matters, it follows that there is no standard of truth, no body of authoritative teaching at: all that is left is the expression of various views, agreements and disagreements.

But this is surely too sweeping. Because some matters are contested it does not imply that all are. And if some are, and some are not, a method is needed to establish where the mere existence of dissenting views means there is no body of authoritative. Take, for example, the incarnation of the Son of God, or the Trinity: there may be people, very distinguished people, in the Anglican Communion who at one time or another have expressed deep reservations about some fundamental matters of those doctrines. But those doctrines remain authentic Anglican doctrine, even though some have dissented from them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantAnglican Identity* Theology

3 Comments
Posted June 28, 2007 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. john scholasticus wrote:

‘Neither has been elected to the post’. This in relation to Colin Slee and the Regius Professor. The implication is that both are appointees. But they aren’t. In particular, the latter is the product of a scrupulous academic assessment process. And how many bishops or archbishops are ‘elected’? The false and cheap rhetoric gives the game away.

June 28, 2:34 pm | [comment link]
2. Billy wrote:

John S. you pick at a nit while the logic buries you.  What Chris is saying is so correct ... Slee and his buddies (and our national TEC hierchy) don’t want a covenant; they don’t want anything that is objective, to which they can be held.  As Chris says, they are in power now, so they want to be able to do all the interpretations without reference to communion-wide requirements or “covenants.”  They don’t want a covenant because they know they are well beyond the pale on what they are presently demanding of the
AC.  As long as they can claim there is nothing in writing (and, of course, they somehow dismiss the Bible as a “book of poetry,” in the words of Stacy Sauls), they can do as they please and have everything decided by majority vote.  A covenant will provide basics from which they cannot stray and will require them to go through a process to make changes ... and those basics and that process are the hurdles they can’t get over, and they know it.  Thus, their strenuous opposition.

June 28, 3:27 pm | [comment link]
3. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

British polity or American polity or Anglican polity?  Sugden summarizes the real political struggle brought about by the American imperialism in the Anglican Communion.  Too clearly ECUSA/TEC denies its responsibility and causal role in moving from an unwritten constitution to a written one WHILE trumpeting from the HOB about throwing off the bonds in the War for Independence.  And Sugden clearly delineates that it is a power struggle.  Accountability rather than (im)plausable deniability, that’s the ticket for the Anglican Communion - and the standard to which all should be held - yes, even the Brits and the Americans!

June 28, 10:18 pm | [comment link]
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