I am not surprised by the decision of Executive Council to recommend “not to adopt” the Covenant. Their arguments are not particularly concrete, however, so it is hard quite to know what the problem is as they see it.
For instance, the council expresses concern that the ministry of the laity is not sufficiently profiled, even slighted. Yet there are numerous references in the Covenant to the “people” of the Church, the “whole people” of the church or of God and so on, all in the context of ministry, and, of course, this “people” is the “laos” of the “laity”. So one wishes to know more specifically.
Again, there are “constitutional” concerns, such that one might worry whether adoption of the Covenant would somehow subvert the laws of the TEC. One wonders what these are. The Council’s report contains an appendix with an earlier set of opinions from the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons; but if the items noted here are the basis for the Council’s worries, I am indeed perplexed. For instance, the Commission’s report writes: “Paragraph 1 of the Introduction speaks of the biblical treatment of the ‘communion in Jesus Christ.’ It includes the ‘Communion of the life of the Church,’ as the basis for the existence and ‘ordering of the Church. A fair interpretation of this text is that our “Communion in Jesus Christ” coexists with our Communion as constituent members of the Anglican Communion.” The Commission thinks this is odd, as if communion in Christ ought perhaps NOT to “coexist” with being in communion as Anglicans! For, as they go on, such “coexisting” communion seems to “imply” that the Communion’s order might take precedence over TEC’s Constitution. Indeed, it would if it were truly “coexisting” with “communion in Jesus”. But, the Commission says, this is deeply problematic! Imagine, Christ over the TEC’s Constitution! Let us leave aside the fact that, even if Christ and TEC’s Constitution were ever in conflict, there is no reason for TEC to follow Christ, anymore than TEC need follow the desires of a covenanted Anglican Communion.
All I can glean from the council’s decision is that they do not want TEC to be in a position where TEC’s autonomy will have PREDICTABLE consequences with respect to other Anglicans; they would prefer that they all be UNpredictable, indeed anarchic such as we see in the present age. This seems to me irresponsible. But perhaps I am missing something.
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