Martyn Davie: The Anglican Covenant and the Instruments of Communion

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In this paper I examine theologically the nature of the Instruments of Communion and the proposal made about them in section 6 of the draft Anglican Covenant.

I begin by looking at what we mean by communion with the help of Andrei Rublev’s icon ‘The Old Testament Trinity,’ before going on to look at how the word and the dominical sacraments are the primary means by which we enter into communion with God and each other.

I then argue that alongside these primary instruments of communion there are also secondary instruments of communion given to the Church by God in order to ensure that the word is rightly preached and the sacraments duly administered and that God’s people respond to Him in a life of unified obedience. In the Anglican tradition these secondary instruments take the form of an episcopal form of church government with personal, collegial and communal aspects.

I further argue that the four ‘Instruments of Communion’ represent the development of this Anglican form of Church government at the international level and that they have a necessary function in allowing the Communion to operate according to is true nature as a manifestation of the Church of Jesus Christ. The proposals made about them in section 6 of the draft Covenant are entirely sensible and the criticisms of them ill founded.

Finally I note that while the Instruments of Communion have a proper God given authority that needs to be respected, this authority is based on their fidelity to God’s self-revelation in word and sacrament and their authority creases when and if they take decisions that transgress this limit. I also contend that this point needs to be made explicit in section 5 of the draft Covenant.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican CovenantAnglican IdentityAnglican Primates* TheologyEcclesiology

Posted July 14, 2007 at 6:23 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Freddy Richardson+ wrote:

Having just participated in a Diocese of Tennessee clericus discussion of the draft Covenant, which left much to be desired on several levels, I truly wish that everyone had been required to read Dr. Davie’s excellent essay prior to coming.  In 18 pages he manages to offer us a biblical, theological, ecclesiological, practical, and even visual, persuasive argument for the implementation of a Covenant in the Anglican Communion.
If you are at all interested in the Covenant process - read this essay!  Thanks, Kendall, for posting.

July 14, 8:42 am | [comment link]
2. Freddy Richardson+ wrote:

I left out “historical” in my above list - it should read “a biblical, theological, ecclesiological, historical, practical, and even visual…”  raspberry

July 14, 8:58 am | [comment link]
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