Both Dr Thompson and Prof Noll argued that the exclusion of theologians and leaders of the Gafcon movement weakened the credibility of the document. "If the Covenant Design Group truly wishes to be inclusive, it needs to sit down with the leadership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and seek to incorporate the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration into the Covenant," Prof Noll said. "Any hope" for the future of the Anglican Communion, Dr Thompson said, "lies with those faithful bishops and other leaders whose voices could not be heard at Lambeth because they had chosen to gather in Jerusalem.
Interpretation: Gafcon wants to run the whole show. Any Covenant that falls short of imposing a "confessional standard" on Anglicanism will never meet their demands. (There! I summarized the whole article in two sentences!)
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October 30th, 2008 Posted in Anglican Covenant, Global Anglican Future Conference | By George Conger, CEN
THE PROPOSED Anglican Covenant is an "exercise in futility," theologians affiliated with the Gafcon movement tell The Church of England Newspaper, and the current draft is beset with "a considerable degree of theological confusion."
On Oct 22, the Anglican Covenant Design Group chaired by Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies (pictured) released a commentary on the proposed pan-Anglican agreement drawn from comments made by bishops attending this summer’s Lambeth Conference. The 33-page "Lambeth Commentary" has been distributed to each of the Communion’s 38 provinces, with the request that they offer their comments on the commentary as well as the underlying draft of the Covenant by March 9, 2009.
The Design Group said it hoped the Lambeth Commentary "will stand alongside the St Andrew’s Draft [released in February 2008] as a critique and as a stimulus for study and response."
The Covenant Design Group will meet in March 2009 to develop a new draft based upon the provincial responses and submit the final report to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) at its May 1-12 meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The Lambeth Commentary suggests the Anglican Communion adopt a form of alternative dispute resolution to resolve its divisions over doctrine and discipline, citing the examples of conflict mediation, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chinese community centres,’ and the racially segregated Anglican churches of New Zealand.
The Commentary also urged the Design Group to permit dioceses to endorse the Covenant. During the Lambeth Conference, ACC Deputy Secretary General Canon Gregory Cameron said the St Andrew’s Draft did not envision dioceses being the primary signatories of the Covenant. However, the Lambeth Commentary urged a reconsideration of this view, noting if "the canons and constitutions of a Province permit, there is no reason why a diocesan synod should not commit itself to the covenant, thus strengthening its commitment to the interdependent life of the Communion."
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told members of the church’s Executive Council on Oct 21 that she would "strongly discourage" consideration of the Covenant at the July meeting of General Convention. "The time is far too short before our General Convention for us to have a thorough discussion of it as a church and I’m therefore going to strongly discourage any move to bring it to General Convention. I just think it’s inappropriate to make a decision that weighty," she said. However, critics note the 2003 decision by General Convention to affirm the election of Gene
Robinson was made in less time.
This week the Sydney theologian Dr Mark Thompson, Dean of Moore Theological College, argued the covenant process would not resolve the problems before the Anglican Communion.
The actions of Bishop Schori and New Westminster Bishop Michael Ingham since Lambeth "have made clear that the covenant idea simply will not deal with the real issues."
The "Lambeth Commentary itself refuses to deal with the real issues," he noted, observing that the Covenant was "entirely irrelevant" and would "make no difference to the current situation and will be unable to prevent future challenges of the same magnitude," Dr Thompson said.
The present draft of the Anglican Covenant made a "simplistic appeal to the biblical covenants" in support of its agenda, yet the biblical covenants "were instituted by God as a gift which provided a framework for understanding Israel’s relationship with him. At the heart was hearing, believing and obeying God’s word. They ought not be confused a covenant between human beings," he said.
The Lambeth Commentary was also unclear as to what it understood the Covenant to be, describing it both as a "central text" while also "speaking about it as a ‘foundational document’." Dr Thompson added that there was an "ecclesiological confusion when the ‘local church’ is described as ‘that portion of God’s people gathered around their bishop, usually in the form of a territorial diocese’," —- a description of the church not supported by the Articles of Religion.
It was "simply untrue" to say that the Windsor process and the Anglican Covenant were the "only game in town," Dr Thompson said. "It is the unwillingness of the current leadership of the Communion to deal directly and biblically with the crisis created by the American and Canadian revisionists, its prevarication and personal compromise that has radically deepened the crisis and ensured that the covenant as it is proposed simply will not work."
Prof Stephen Noll, Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University told CEN the "most important requirements of a workable covenant are doctrinal substance and disciplinary efficacy. The drafts to date have fallen short on both counts." Both Dr Thompson and Prof Noll argued that the exclusion of theologians and leaders of the Gafcon movement weakened the credibility of the document. "If the Covenant Design Group truly wishes to be inclusive, it needs to sit down with the leadership of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and seek to incorporate the principles of the Jerusalem Declaration into the Covenant," Prof Noll said. "Any hope" for the future of the Anglican Communion, Dr Thompson said, "lies with those faithful bishops and other leaders whose voices could not be heard at Lambeth because they had chosen to gather in Jerusalem.
"The St Andrews Draft of An Anglican Covenant, and the Lambeth Commentary on that draft, are institutional responses to a situation that can only be resolved by much, much more," he concluded.