It has been a relatively long time since I composed a blog post about the Anglican Covenant. The reason for this, dear reader, is that I have grown bored and weary. I don't mean that the intricacies of the Covenant it self have bored me - although to be honest it is not the most riveting document I have ever read. It is more that I have become increasingly dull and dispirited watching the inevitable squabbling that it has generated. Watching the reactions and voting in various dioceses and provinces around the world, it has become clear that the optimistically named "Covenant" it is not going to be wholeheartedly embraced by the majority of Anglicans. Hard line conservatives are just as likely to reject it for being "toothless" as liberals are for being "restricting". I have come to doubt the certainty of both sides; as I implied when I wrote this recipe for fudge there is no knowing what the thing will actually work out like until we have it - and that in itself seems to me a good reasons to say "No".
The only reason that I am blogging about the whole sorry matter today (when I could be doing more exciting things like watching paint dry) is that my attention was caught by a few posts that I read about it. Lay Anglica reports that there are attempts to rush the Covenant through Synod in 2012 and that pressure will be brought to bear to ensure its acceptance. I don't know if this is true, but it would not surprise me. One thing that is clear is that for the Church of England to reject the Covenant would be a disaster in terms of the position and reputation of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Covenant is Rowan William's baby, for it to be rejected on home territory would undoubtedly be a humiliating defeat. It might look worse than disloyalty and I suspect it might appear a green light for mutiny in some quarters.
Speaking of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, this recent post from Tobias Haller is also worth a quick glance. In it the author questions the need for the four Instruments of Communion and says that we do not find our "identity" in them at all. He opines that to claim to find our identity in the Instruments is " slightly blasphemous" as our identity should be found in Christ alone (isn't that the title of a hymn..?) The instruments of Communion, Haller tells us, " are all relatively recent entities not only in Christianity but even among Anglicans." But...hang on a minute, isn't the Archbishop himself one of the Instruments of Communion? Yes, Haller concedes, admitting that the office is " one that has been around since the sixth century" but emphasising that it "didn't really operate as a voice in the Communion until 1785-89, with the first Lambeth Conference being in 1867. "
Haller says the role is not “foundational or essential or definitional to Anglicanism" and he regards the Covenant as wanting to make some substantial changes in the "deep structures" of Anglicanism without there being much apparent awareness of the implications. Haller is not the first to focus on the role of the ABC, and Lambeth Palace will be aware that Canterbury has its critics and those with their vested interests waiting in the wings. A rejection of the Covenant in England would be a nasty own goal.
I think we might see concerted efforts to get the Covenant through Synod at all costs. It simply can't afford to fail here. I shall be watching events Synodical with some interest again, it might be depressing, I don't think it will be dull.
(Since writing this post it has been announced that Birmingham and Truro have both resoundingly rejected the Anglican Covenant. )