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Sydney rejects Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21 2011 p 7. October 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sydney has rejected the Anglican Covenant. The 11 October vote by the 49th meeting of the Diocese of Sydney Synod likely spells the death knell for Dr Rowan Williams’ plan for a global agreement to set the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

Support for the Covenant peaked in the run-up to the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, however, Dr Williams’ untimely intervention into the Covenant debate and changes made to the document have alienated both left and right.

Liberal dioceses in New Zealand, Australia and the US have rejected the plan as un-Anglican, while the Global South Primates last year stated that “while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

The Sydney motion was moved by Dr Mark Thompson of Moore College, and assistant chancellor Robert Tong, and followed a September recommendation by the diocesan standing committee to reject the Covenant.

In his report to Synod, Dr Thompson said the Covenant was “the wrong approach to the crisis in the Communion; the proposed Covenant has serious theological flaws; and it just won’t work: it won’t solve the crisis.”

The difficulties in the Anglican Communion “ought to have been addressed in terms of the New Testament patterns of fellowship rather than with a fresh appeal to law or regulation,” Dr Thompson said.

He added that “fellowship is nourished by our common commitment to truth and so faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture; it is undone by a refusal to submit to the teaching of God’s word.”

Creating a Covenant that establishes a “new legal structure that is incapable of distinguishing between the betrayal of biblical principle on the one hand, and unpopular but faithful adherence to biblical principles on the other” will not work, he argued.

Dr Thompson cited five theological flaws in the proposed agreement. “It fails to give sufficient attention to historic Anglican formularies; It embodies a confused ecclesiology; It expresses an inflated view of the Anglican bishop; It gives formal expression to an accrual of inordinate power and authority by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Covenant fails to give due weight to the teaching of Scripture.”

The Anglican Communion Covenant as it has been drafted is “fundamentally concerned with maintaining structural and institutional unity rather than with biblical faithfulness,” Dr Thompson argued.

“Those who have created the problem won’t sign it; and if they did without repenting of the departures from the teaching of Scripture it would only demonstrate the uselessness of the Covenant itself. What is more, a number of orthodox Anglican provinces throughout the world have already indicated they won’t sign it for various other reasons,” he noted.

“It’s the wrong way of dealing with the problem; the draft given to us has serious theological flaws; and in the end it just won’t work,” Dr Thompson said.

Synod adopted the motion by an overwhelming majority.

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