Dan Martins on 4IU, Covenant, and such.

Dan Martins, over at his blog CARIOCACONFESSIONS, not surprisingly has a good short analysis of the Covenant Proposal and why he likes it. Dan is a solid clear thinker and when he says "what we have to consider now is a relational covenant--a set of ground rules for how the autonomous provinces are accountable to one another interdependently. In our present condition, this is something we need very badly," we need to listen.

This set of ground rules seems relational, but it is relations as determined by "the instruments of unity", which he calls the 4IU. What that gives us, friends, is not a relational covenant, but a power determined covenant. Lost in all this is the power of the voices of the widow and her mite, the poor or oppressed, the unloved and the wounded, the left out and the outcasts. This is relational between the haves only.

What do the "powers" in this relational covenant have? They have the assurance from the rest of us that they are called to high office. We say they are called by God to their offices, and so they are. But that does not give them God given rights to determine how we relate. It gives them opportunity to provide more or less convincing reasons for relating this way or that.

I am thinking, for example, about the various rules that govern the reception of communion, both in our own churches, among our churches and ecumenically. All the decisions from on high may seem to determine the relational covenants on which reception of communion is based, but on the ground most of us who are starved for God's Word (which is every bit as much in the reception of Communion as in the reception of Scripture) will go where we need to and find comfort there.

I respect Dan for his read on the matter. I am more sure than ever that the notion of a covenant without a discussion of power is a mistake.


  1. We also need a discussion of the ways in which language about community, tradition, and communion gets abused. There was a reason for the Enlightment. The fact that the Enlightment project was unfinished is no reason to retreat into pre-modern forms of Christianity or to romanticize the most repressive elements thereof. The Western individual needs to be rescued from individualism but a return to oppressive forms of community would be sinful. True communion is modelled on the Holy Trinity where none is afore and none is behind.

    This has been missing from most discussions of the covenant, including the WR and the current proposed covenant. The good news is that the reception process envisioned is lengthy and will go well past Lambeth.

  2. Dear Mark,

    I've expressed similar concerns on my blog at www.revkirkley.blogspot.com


  3. Forgotten or submerged in all this is the Anglican approach to authority. Some of us have gone on the assumption that authority really means the right to be heard out, or to have one's considered opinions given serious consideration. It is not the magisterium of some other churches where the right to teach is the right to compel obedience.

    I'm Ron Miller, btw

  4. Paul Bunnell19/2/07 4:13 PM

    Dan Martins asks in his analysis if the Covenant would have prevented the precipitating events . . .

    As much, or more, to the point, would the Covenant have prevented the shambles that the Primates Meeting(s) has become: "In seeking to be faithful to God . . . seek in all things to uphold the solemn obligation to sustain Eucharistic communion . . . "

    It seems (some of) the Primates have shot themselves in the foot, for if we cannot/will not meet at the Table . . . there is where our unity/communion begins, and as long as there are some (primates) who will not meet there, the PM is no Instrument of Unity . . .

    Covenant or no, the core issue remains, how (can) we live with the tensions which necessarily arise from ANY prophetic ministry . . . even during the time of testing (which is really what all the Covenant's consultation/referral is about)!

    In their dis-unity the Primate's have not shown us the way forward . . .

    Paul Bunnell
    New Westminster, Canada


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