The Pros and Cons on the Anglican Covenant: From Episcopal Life Online

There are two essays on Episcopal Life Online that are worth the read, giving opposing views on the value and use of the Anglican Covenant.

"Consider facts about proposed covenant, not myths" rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Austin, Texas, takes the "con" side.

"Covenant aligns with Episcopal identity." rector of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, takes the "pro" side.

Read them both. Bruce Robison is also co-signer of D020, which proposes that General Convention indicate its adherence to the spirit of the Covenant while its final form is being perfected and until we formally vote on it at a future Convention.


  1. Because I have not known them personally, I cannot speak for the rest of the members of ACNA on this matter, but it's hard for me to separate what I do know about Bod Duncan's intense and often charming anglophilia from much of the discussion of the covenant. I know that my own milder anglophilia has been a small, but real, feature of the pleasure of being an Episcopalian. On some level, England, and by extension Canterbury, remain terribly attractive--the ABC is still the Leader of the Cool Kids on some level--the folks with the real gothic architectural masterpieces, the Dorothy Sayers mysteries, the great flower displays and brilliant vestment makers, with Henry Purcell and George Herbert and Ralph Vaughn Williams and Keeble College and Percy Dearmer--all that profound beauty and all that interesting history that we so love to feel officially connected to. So we're all scrambling to hang on our spiffy lineage. ACNA wants very much to be able to claim this lineage and be legitimated by it. And many liberals in TEC, as Rev. Stockton points out, are still in thrall both to a very 60s understanding of the value and nature of unity AND want to remain part of the Lambeth "in" crowd. As irritated as I've been by the ABC's post-colonial wimpage over the past few years, his failure to stand up or forth in any significant way has given us the gift of making it clear that Canterbury has very little to offer TEC. We can drink tea, sing Arthur Sullivan hymns with gusto and rejoice in our lineage without any help from Canterbury. It's good to remember that the English king responsible for the Anglican church was a right beast, and that there's nothing sacred about England no matter what T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis thought. We no more need to bow to Canterbury than we need the approbation of Archbishop Akinola. If the rest of the Communion can agree to allow TEC to move forward on a matter of human and civil rights without having what amounts to tantrums, then there's no point in TEC pulling out. But if the rest of the communion chooses to turn its back on us and embrace our brothers and sisters in ACNA instead, then that is the right of the rest of the communion. None of what happens in that sort of separation is dire--assuming that no one is going to engage in actual pogroms or take to burning anyone else at the stake. Rome did not die because Canterbury and Wittenburg left it, though many involved in those processes behaved horridly. Even the Inquisition gave up the rack.

    Also, if we sign on to any covenant which, implicitly or explicitly, condones excluding any group of humans from full humanity--women, gay folks, third world folks--then we are complicit. Is Lambeth worth that complicity?


  2. Fr. Robison writes a very thoughtful essay, but I think that it is Fr. Stockton who has really nailed the issue. Ironically, it is Fr. Robison who gives the most salient quotation from the preface to the 1789 Prayer Book: "This Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or further than local circumstances require." I am inclined to think that that statement, together with the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (including the Scriptures, the Creeds, the Sacraments, and the Apostolic Ministry), makes for an entirely sufficient Anglican Covenant.

  3. Frankly, I am a nit-picker when it comes to written documents. (I confess, a professional predilection) I’m sure we can agree it is patently unwise to sign anything before reading it. I would suggest that compliance with this covenant creates an assumption that one actually agrees with it. Such compliance makes it that much more difficult to back away later. (Perhaps the actual intention of this resolution)

    Since TEC didn’t have much to do with this document, I can see no reason to abide by it in the hope that we might like the final document. I could never counsel such behavior if there is a real chance the final document would be used against interests I’m charged to protect. We are called to turn the other cheek, not put the club in the other’s hand.

    WSJM has the most authentic point I’ve heard lately. Don’t we already have the elements of a covenant in place? Haven’t we been abiding by at least the spirit of those instruments all along? Does anyone suggest TEC has stopped abiding by these instruments? (I suppose one does) Will putting this together in one document improve anything? I think, not.

    Let’s face it; this covenant business has nothing to do with matters of faith, but everything to do with matters of practice. All history suggests argument over the means of achieving goals causes most of the problems. Is there any agreement we frail people can create that changes the fact of Baptism? For once, can we agree to disagree? Isn’t that the heart of “Anglican” practice? A new document, 500-odd years after the fact, suggests, at minimum, nothing good can come of it.

  4. Since TEC didn’t have much to do with this document,

    Not so Point of Order. TEC has two prominent theologians on the writing committee. Much more than most provinces!


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.