Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor, Uganda Christian University and consultant to the Covenant Design Group, has written an evangelically minded revision of the Draft Covenant. He begins by making several comments, among them:
"The events of the past decade in the Communion have made clear, in a way not seen since the 16th century, the need of a strong statement of doctrine and discipline among Christians in our tradition. The question, in my view, is not about the need for a Covenant but about its adequacy to meet the theological, spiritual and missional challenges facing the Christian Church in general, and the Anglican Communion in particular, from within and without.
I offer the comments below to articulate an Evangelical perspective and corrective. I believe that the great debates and events of the Reformation remain foundational for our Christian heritage. In a world where Evangelical Christians are spreading rapidly, including those in many Anglican Provinces, it is important that our convictions be represented in an all-Communion document.
The Draft Covenant is, in my opinion, an orthodox statement of the Christian faith; it is less characteristically Evangelical. I propose that with relatively minor amendment, this document can express more fully the Anglican Evangelical perspective."
If this is the evangelical agenda, meant to be incorporated in the Covenant, it becomes clear that the notion of the Covenant is precisely an instrument for the radical overthrow of Anglicanism. Its replacement, if it were to happen, would be by a "Global Anglican Communion," so named by Dr. Noll. The GAC would be formed around a Covenant that would include both matters of doctrine and discipline. This would mean that certain matters, for example the possibility of blessing same sex relationships or the ordination of a person in any relationship that includes sexual expression other than hetersexual marriage, could be declared off limits for any discussion.
Under the heading of "relatively minor amendment" Dr. Noll includes this:
"(4) uphold the biblical vision of God’s image in humanity as male and female and our Lord’s teaching on the unchangeable standard of marriage of one man and one woman (or abstinence)."
This amendment is not minor. Indeed it is a new section to that part of the Covenant.
Dr Noll also suggests the following is a relatively minor as well:
" (2) uphold the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as God’s Word written and to ensure that biblical texts are interpreted in their plain and canonical sense, through the preaching and teaching of pastors, the regular reading of the people, and the oversight of bishops and synods, building on our best scholarship, believing that scriptural revelation must continue to illuminate, challenge and transform cultures, structures and ways of thinking"
All of which means that the standard for biblical inquiry will be "plain and canonical" sense. For a considerable period of the Church's history the plain and canonical sense was that the world was created some six thousand years ago. Are we ready for that to return? The plain canonical sense related to the virgin birth, touted by fundamentalists as one of the "fundamentals," if taken as a "plain" sense of "God's Word written," relies on questionable translation skills of those working with Hebrew scripture prophecy and a strong possibility of reading into the prophets the existing veneration of and deep respect for Mary. What if the prophetic prediction was about a young woman, not a virgin who stayed that way even though pregnant? What if it wasn't about the coming Messiah at all, but about someone else? Are we ready to be examined and found wanting on each item of the creed by those who would judge on the narrow interpretation of scripture provided by the keepers of the Truth, who it turns out just know "the plain and canonical" sense if it all?
Well, perhaps some of us are ready. I am not.
These are no minor changes. Dr. Noll is making a last ditch effort to bend the Covenant to the evangelical agenda.