Bosco Peters and Tobias Haller have both written wonderful pieces on the Anglican Covenant. The recent very different sorts of "pro" covenant decisions made by the Province of South East Asia and the Church of Ireland have made these posts important reads. Read them both.
The GAFCON crowd seems, unlike the Province of South East Asia, unwilling to sign on to the Anglican Covenant believing it to be too weak and the enforcers too westernized to do much in terms of discipline. South-East Asia assumes the Covenant can be understood rightly to both require strong assent to Lambeth 1998,1.10, and strong enforcement by the Primates. SEA thinks somehow that its opinion will be shared by other Provinces. Why I don't know.
The foundational mistake, never corrected, is the idolatrous lifting of a single resolution of a Lambeth Conference to status not even granted the Lambeth Quadrilateral. Lambeth 1998, I.10 has become a marker for puritanism of the worse sort. That resolution will continue to plague the Anglican Communion in till someone or some body had the courage to gut it and turn it into an offering and a sacrifice. Meanwhile it will tempt even the most faithful into an idolatry unworthy the people of God.
Meanwhile the Church of Ireland seems to think it can sign the Covenant and still maintain autonomy. Good luck to that one too.
The Anglican Covenant is being considered here in The Episcopal Church with considerable thoughtfulness, both in dioceses and on a Church wide level. While particular dioceses have opined one way or another about the Covenant, we know that Deputies have a freedom to vote as they believe right rather than vote the will of those who elected them (it is often pointed out that they are deputies, not representatives). So while the diocesan opinions pro or con will influence the Deputies and Bishops voting in General Convention, much will depend on the debate and hearings at Convention itself.
I am disposed to vote against the Anglican Covenant, but am committed to hearing the arguments out. Perhaps a good reason for voting for the Covenant will be presented and I will change my mind. But I have to say neither the Church of Ireland or the Church in South East Asia has given me reason to rethink my stance.
Some argue that it might be appropriate to vote for the Covenant with the understanding that it could be changed or perfected later (sort of like - for us Americans - adding the Bill of Rights to the Constitution after it passed. Such hopes for change are a chancy business at best and we can not assume wide spread support for new elements being added to the Covenant.
Others believe we need to adopt the Covenant in order to "stay in the game." They argue that those who were going to break have (GAFCON folk) and that the rest of the provinces are in no mood to act punitively towards the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church. But what then do we do with South East Asia? They have signed on precisely demanding a rigorous separation out of those who disobey Lambeth 1998, 1.10. If our signing on went otherwise uncontested, I suspect SEA would buy out.
My sense is that there is no reason to buy on in order to stay in some game. The Episcopal Church is what it is. We ordain women and partnered gay and lesbian persons to all orders of ministry. Having made previous decisions that they are, along with the straight men, worthy children of a loving God, we have decided that they by baptism may explore the sacramental vocation to marriage and ordained ministry. We do this and we are not going back.
If South East Asia prevails in its insistence to the idolatrous conformity to Lambeth 1998, 1.10, then we will not be fit for the Covenant. If the Covenant is seen as not requiring obedience to Lambeth 1998, 1.10 then SEA will leave in a snit and we could indeed sign on, but why would we want to? If signing does not widen the community of churches belonging to the Anglican Communion but in reality is a source of division, why sign?
The only argument I can find for signing has been the thought that moderate voices and churches in the Communion will prevail and since the carping right has crapped out it leaves churches willing to continue in communion at the table. That being the case, it is argued, we should be there. If we are not, then some of the right will return to the table, and voila, it will be theirs.
The problem with this analysis is that it is entirely political. It does not address the problem that the Anglican Covenant is a really bad theological, historical and "Anglican" idea. "Staying at the table" is a very high level and abstracted sort of ecclesial ideal. There is nothing in Scripture, Reason or Tradition to support the notion that unity in a small part of fractured Christendom has anything to do with the unity that Our Lord prays for, nothing to support the notion that we are called to unity as a Communion in some particular way that cannot be expressed in ecumenical relations with one another.
Perhaps, as I have suggested often in the past, we ought to think of the Anglican Communion as a particular form of ecumenical life, one in which a rich heritage of liturgy, understanding of Scripture and history, and foundation in poetic sensibility prevail.
I look forward to the debate at General Convention. I hope all deputies and bishops are preparing for first class discussion while there. But as yet I see no reason to buy on to this flawed and contrived document. It possesses neither theological bite nor poetic sensibility. It is a mostly uninteresting compendium of already well understood Anglican ideas along with an un-enlightened sense of the role and function of the episcopate on a synodical level. It is a mess.