I have argued that the “Anglican Covenant” is not fit for the purpose and won’t do what its proponents intend it to do. I have argued that the actual issue is homosexuality and the Anglican-Covenant-as-solution does not address the issue. Now, as provinces begin to sign the Covenant, my points are being underscored.

The Province of Southeast Asia has adopted acceded to the Anglican Covenant, adding a Preamble to the Letter of Accession. Others may know what process was used by that province to make the decision and if the preamble was voted on by something like a General Synod/Convention or if that Province is still very much in the control of the men in purple in the photo provided. Certainly they are not reticent about criticising the process by which the CofE men in purple are appointed: “The Anglican Communion should adopt more uniform processes in the election and appointment of bishops, to ensure that such processes are not held hostage to local politics and to parochial understandings of the episcopal office.”

Now the Province of Southeast Asia explains what it means by signing the Covenant:

our accession to the Anglican Communion Covenant is based on the following understanding:

(a) that those who accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant will unequivocally abide by Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its spirit and intent;

(b) that those Provinces and Dioceses whose actions violate Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as well as subsequent Primates Communiqué statements that have placed a moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops and the authorization and implementation of public rites for the blessing of same sex unions, are expected to rescind their actions, and bring their public doctrine and practice in line with Lambeth 1.10, before acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant; and

(c) that Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant should bear authentic witness to the orthodox faith by an unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms in all aspects of their communal life. (Mt 19:4-6; Rom 1:21-32; 1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:16-26; Eph 5:3-14; Col 3:5-14; 1 Thess 4:3-12; 2 Tim 3:1-5; Heb 13:1-5; 1 Pet 4:1-11; 2 Pet 2:13-22; Jude v18-21; Rev 18:1-8).

(d) that the Primates Meeting, being responsible for Faith and Order, should be the body to oversee the Anglican Communion Covenant in its implementation (Anglican Communion Covenant Section 3.1.4.IV and South-to-South Encounter, Fourth Trumpet, 21).

The issue is homosexuals. The Covenant is not about homosexuals but is the touted solution. So we will sign the Covenant, which says absolutely nothing about homosexuals, on the now-public understanding that in signing it we are actually signing not what the Covenant says but our own “solution” to the homosexual issue. And for good measure: part (d) in contradiction to what the Covenant actually does say.

The question is which is to be master that’s all

The Anglican Covenant is clearly declared meaningless.
Or, quoting from that highly insightful Anglican cleric Lewis Carroll (Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson):

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”

A final example: The Church of Ireland in subscribing to the Covenant has explained in its official press release:

The Covenant sits under the Preamble and Declaration of the Church and does not affect the sovereignty of the Church of Ireland or mean any change in doctrine.

As has been made clear by an anonymous Church of Ireland blogger, the Church of Ireland interpretation of its subscription to the Covenant is effectively the same as the Diocese of Quincy’s rejection of it.

“When I vote for the Covenant it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

This reinforces the point of the Maori vote against the Anglican Covenant. They have experience of signing a covenant which appears to say “A” and finding others who signed it interpreting it not as the “A” it appears to say, but as “B”.

Where would the Anglican Covenant lead here? A retraction of our NZ divorce and remarriage stance as part of the “unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms”? A retraction of the validity of the ordination of women? That’s when the fabric of the communion began to tear. That’s when impaired communion really began (not, as Southeast Asia fantasises in points 1 & 6, with the ordination of Gene Robinson to the episcopate). Women being ordained wasn’t part of the “the faith that was once delivered to the saints across the Communion”… Then there’s our three-Tikanga structure – the first issue to have ever given rise to a motion from the Primates’ Meeting (negative)… “No. It won’t lead to any of those sorts of things. That may be what the Covenant says. But what it really means is…”

Postscript: The Church of Ireland has been very clear it has not adopted the Anglican Covenant, it has subscribed to it. The Province of Southeast Asia has “acceded” to the Anglican Covenant. Let’s be… ummmm… clear…
People so far have only been able to visualise a two-tiered communion resulting from the Anglican Covenant proposal. Are we looking at a… ummmm… 38 tier communion? What we used to call provinces…

pps. Rev. Mark Harris has written a helpful expansion of some of these points.

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