Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

6/28/2006

An Anglican Covenant?

A well-written overview of where the Anglican Communion is as of today is found in The New York Times article, Anglican Plan Threatens Split on Gay Issues. In the article, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams throws his weight of office behind a plan for an Anglican Covenant. The idea is to create a statement of faith and one is either in or out based on the decision of whether to sign the statement or not.

The proposal seems logical enough and probably fairly describes where we are headed. Yet, one of the things I always loved about The Episcopal Church was that we had never been a confessional church. Other protestant churches had created tight statements of belief at the time of the Reformation on who was in and out. Detailed dogmatic statements were then viewed as critical as a group separated itself from Rome to become "the real church."

Elizabeth I in prayerWhen Elizabeth I took over as head of the Church of England, the burning theological question was "How is Christ present in communion?" Her answer was the surprising, "I want a window into no man's soul." The unifying factor then a since was worship using the Book of Common Prayer. The guiding principle being that of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, meaning "The Way of Praying is the Way of Believing."

If this seems to wishy washy, remember that our way of praying includes routine use of the two historic formulations of the Christian faith—The Nicene Creed and The Apostle's Creed. In fact, The ancient (used at least since 150 a.d. in baptisms) Apostle's Creed forms the basis of The Episcopal Churches Baptismal Covenant.

I had hoped it was in our baptismal covenant that we could find unity still. That covenant is action oriented, as in the baptismal covenant we commit ourselves to the faith of the Apostle's and service toward others in Jesus' name, I thought we were doing enough to hold us together. The Archbishop of Canterbury disagrees and we are now on track to get a new Anglican formulation of faith. I pray that it comes to reflect God's spirit and desire for the church as it currently only seems to reflect the spirit of the age, a setting in which a new covenant may need to be created every decade as clarity is needed on new issues.

Perhaps I am wrong. I am certainly prepared to be so. But I prefer that we not put minimum standards on paper and require consent. I don't like this even though I would likely find it wasy enough to consent to the actual words of the covenant. I prefer that we put our faith into action and make it real. Putting faith into action seemed more real and more important before the political wrangling began to determine who was in and who was out.

But work toward an Anglican Covenant has begun and will continue. I pray that through this process what we do brings glory to God.

peace,
Frank+
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church

3 Comments:

  • At 6/28/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger Ryan said…

    Frank,

    I had not yet heard of this, though I guess deep down I suspected something of the sort would be coming. And I like it about as much as you do. Drawing up these sorts of covenants will be tough work, and it seems like we've covered this ground before. Remember the ecclesiastical trials of Bishops Pike and Right? How they argued about what was kerygma (the absolute core of belief, and what was adiaphora, lit., "things that do not matter"? Seems like the same sort of thing. Another blog I read said of general convention, "[we] majored in the minors too much". An Anglican Covenant seems like it could fall to the same temptation. I am much more comfortable with being united by common worship from the Book of Common Prayer (or one of its authorized derivatives) and by the adage you cited, lex orandi, lex credendi. Let us pray for the church.

    -R

     
  • At 6/28/2006 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The creation of an Anglican covenant raises several issues. For the Global south and the ECUSA leadership to agree on dogma is problematic. There are so many zealots on both end of the theological spectrum just in the ECUSA that I can't see how we could come to any meaningful covenant among ourselves, much less others. And when the ECUSA can't in good conscience agree to the covenant, will the churches who CAN agree and do not wish to walk apart from the Anglican Communion be allowed to leave? Probably not without a fight, and probably not without abandoning their buildings and starting over.

     
  • At 6/29/2006 11:36 AM, Anonymous Kenny said…

    Frank,

    Statements of faith are interesting things to me.

    In the first place, I'm not thrilled with them because they mean that somewhere along the line someone's lost sight of what the Bible means. I come from a background where I prefer to think of the Bible as the inspired word of God and it provides guidance on most any issue of importance in our lives. The statement of my belief is found there, primarily. Anything else is either a summation of the Word or, hopefully not, an addition or a contradiction.

    In a way, though, they're like tithing. They're not requirements for salvation and shouldn't be requirements for membership in a congregation but they can be very telling about the state of your commitment both to the local church and to God. We show our spiritual state by putting our faith into action. Tithing means parting with some of our material possessions not because God needs it but because we need to show ourselves how much we're committed. Where do our loyalties lie? God or mammon?

    A statement of faith is important because what comes out of our mouths is a reflection of our spiritual state as well. Good water and foul don't come from the same spring.

    I post this with hope that it makes sense and isn't contradictory in nature. Thanks for the opportunity for feedback.

     

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