7/04/2009

The Anglican Covenant Pledge-O-Meter

In honor of the 4th of July, I am pleased to offer the Preludium Anglican Communion Pledge- O- Meter (PACPOM) by which we can determine the extent to which we as the Episcopal Church are autonomous and to what extent we are pledged to one another in interdependence. With this handy - dandy meter we can perhaps better understand just why the Anglican Covenant is not a good idea and why it is not terrible either.

The PACPOM is based on the final words of the Declaration of Independence, in which the signers stated the level of their commitment to the Declaration. They stated that for the support of this Declaration:

"we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

The PACPOM then is a way of testing the various sections of the Anglican Covenant against the high bar of the signers of the Declaration of Independence: the pledge of "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." This is the LFH pledge. The Meter registers the level to which various sections of the Anglican Covenant meet the LFH pledge.

Those sections that get a high LFH rating are the sorts of things we could imagine reciting, almost as a pledge of allegiance. Those that get low LFH ratings are the sorts of things we consider part of the specific ways we exercise our faithfulness with one another, but do not consider essential to the faith. In other words, we live within the baptized life and share communion, we recite the Creeds and read the scriptures. We would never, in its totality recite this Anglican Covenant or learn, mark or inwardly digest it as we might the primary pledges we make.

Section 1 of the Anglican Covenant: "Our Inheritance of Faith" - This is essentially the content of the Lambeth Quadrilateral with two additions (The Lambeth Sextet?). This is the "Stuff" of faith and gets high marks on the PACPOM meter. It is the stuff to which we pledge ourselves as Christians. The affirmations are core. The specific program of commitments that follow are, if viewed generously, fine. Not understood generously, they are less worthy of our pledge of LFH.

The PACPOM for Section 1:


Section 2 concerns the missional implications of Section one. "The Life We Share with Others: Our Anglican Vocation" affirms Mission as God's Mission and points us to the "Five Marks of Mission" as a guide. As a missionary church The Episcopal Church stands fully in commitment to the spirit of this section. This gets high LFH marks on the PACPOM.

The PACPOM for Section 2:


Section 3 concerns "Our Unity and Common Life." It moves from affirmations of our common life in the Anglican Communion, through an affirmation of episcopal leadership, and then to the specifics of the instruments of communion that grow from episcopal leadership in a communion of churches. It concludes with an observation of the mutual interdependence of the instruments, and the autonomy of any one to initiate or commend direction for the Communion. Section 3 gets only modest LFH marks. The belief that episcopal leadership is central is not directly tied to the specifics of how they make decisions in concert with the whole body of Christians within the Communion.

The PACPOM for Section 3:



Section 4 is titled, "Our Covenanted Life Together," spells out the expectations of life together as understood in Section 3, with direction being supplied by the instruments of unity and the constraints of caution, consensus and the mind of the church being employed. It is the least "pledge" like of the sections and the least like a covenant. Rather it is a set of statements setting out how one joins, conforms to, is expelled from or leaves the Anglican Communion. While it may be an important document, it does not rise to the level of a pledge at all. Rather it represents "standing orders" regarding membership. It gets very low LFH marks.

The PACPOM for Section 4


The PACPOM clearly indicates that as the Anglican Covenant proceeds, from first principles to procedural directives, it moves from high pledge and investment of lives, fortunes and honor, to low investment. The Anglican Covenant is not a single whole, but rather a mish-mash of matters central to the faith we have as Christians and matters of secondary importance.

But the Covenant makes no distinction between the pledges to the first and the pledges to the last. The first concerns our being Christian and committed to the Church having internal oversight in the form of bishops. The second concerns our being members of the Anglican Communion and committed to specific forms of that oversight.

Better we have an Anglican Covenant concerning primary life together, and an Anglican Communion set of procedures for membership, support, obedience, etc.

There seems, however, to be a desire to hang the procedural matters on the back of the Christian believer. The insistence that we consider the Anglican Covenant as a single whole may sink the whole thing. If so, so be it. It would only mean that the instruments of unity might have to initiate their own procedures for membership and leave it at that.

The Pledge-O-Meter makes it clear, at least to me: I am willing to stake my life, fortune and honor on Jesus Christ. I am willing to give my all for others in following the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not willing to do so for the demands for unity as determined by the Instruments of Unity.

Now, explain to me again why the Anglican Covenant does not end at Section 3:1?

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