I was initially quite concerned when I heard about the so called ‘covenant’ delivered to Archbishop Rowan by a group of conservative evangelical Anglicans last week. (I use the word ‘covenant’ in inverted commas as a covenant is an agreement betwen two people, which this is not.) The ‘covenant’ basically says that they are going to bypass Bishops they don’t like, withold their contributions to diocesan funds if they feel like it and ordain whoever they want to. You can read it here should you want to.
I was alarmed to see that it came from groups including the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), a group representing a range of evangelicals within the C of E.
But all is well – and in this case I’m glad I was very slow in saying anything about this story. It turns out that the covenant does not even have the support of the council members of the CEEC, let alone any of the member organisations or ordinary members. Bishop Pete of Willesden and the Ship of Fools (and a member of the council) is publicly distancing himself from it and I very much doubt that most members of institutions such as the Evangelical Alliance, Scripture Union, New Wine, the evangelical theological colleges (Ridley Hall Cambridge, Wycliffe Hall Oxford, Cranmer Hall, Durham, Oak Hill College London, Trinity College Bristol, St. John’s College, Nottingham) all of whom are represented on the council were even consulted let alone support the ‘covenant’. The “CEEC President and Chairman sign new Covenant on behalf of CEEC” headline really is rather made up.
The final nail in its coffin was this response by the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright. If you only read one link on this story this is probably your one.
If I were a member of any of the organisations listed above I’d be asking my CEEC representative (or college principal) a difficult question or two. As Tom Wright said: “It looks as though the authors are hoping that the members of their organizations will not dare to challenge them, though when we work through the document we find plenty of reasons why they should.”
- Fulcrum statement. In fact the Fulcrum site is a good site to wander around – evangelicals trying to approach these things in a sensible way.
- PRELUDIUM: Giving Covenant a Bad Name
- Simon has been posting the news links on this at Thinking Anglicans – you’ll need to scroll down over the posts from the last week.
- Bigbulkyanglican: Anglican identity
- Steve Tilley: Make or Break
- Andrew (Tall Skinny Kiwi): “But it looks to me like the beginning of a conversation.” Sorry Andrew – can’t agree. This is an attempt to disrupt the conversation.
- Richard comments: Happy Lawyers in Virginia, Unhappy Covenanters in the UK
Update: A great post by Paul Roberts – A lament for Evangelicalism
Remember how you were once concerned above all other things with bringing the Good News to people who didn’t know who Jesus was and what he has done. Now all you seem interested in is sex and church politics, as if without the Church getting straightened (sic) out on this issue, the gospel somehow is powerless. Do you still believe in the gospel? Or are you so concerned about the purity of the Church that you’ve made the gospel a function of ethics or ecclesiology. From where I sit, you seem to have lost your first love, your first passion, your driving force. At the turn of the 21st century, you could have lead, harmoniously, the whole of the Church of England, into an era of unrivaled creative passion for evangelism. Instead, you ran into a churchy ghetto, became sex-obsessed, and started talking only to yourself.