Bishop John Rodgers (ACNA) responds to Archbishop Williams’ understanding of the Communion Covenant
December 19th, 2009
The following quote is from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s December 18th video talk and describes His understanding of the nature of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant and its function.
"It's not going to be a constitution, and it's certainly not going to be a penal code for punishing people who don't comply," he said. "But what it does represent is this: in recent years in the Anglican family, we've discovered that our relations with each other as local churches have often been strained, that we haven't learned to trust one another as perhaps we should, that we really need to build relationships, and we need to have a sense that we are responsible to one another and responsible for each other. In other words, what we need is something that will help us know where we stand together, and help us also intensify our fellowship and our trust."
While I agree with the Archbishop that Anglicans do need to learn to trust and to be responsible to one another, I am convinced that this view is far too weak to serve a Communion as a unifying Covenant. Christian faith arises from God’s authoritative Word in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures as sealed in us by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures either declare the Gospel and the contents of the Apostolic Faith and the Sacraments of the Gospel celebrate the same or they do not. Anglicans have either rightly understood and believe in the Lord who is revealed in and through that Gospel and Apostolic Faith or we have not and do not. This fundamental matter needs to be decisively addressed and declared unambiguously.
Anglicans are not and never have been a “natural” family learning to trust one another irrespective of our Faith. Rather we have been from the beginning and are a confessing family united in the Gospel and the Apostolic Faith as set forth in the Scriptures, and as taught by such teachings of the ancient Fathers, and the early Ecumenical Councils as are agreeable to the same Scriptures. This Apostolic Gospel and Faith, as Anglicans understand them and celebrate them, are set forth in the Catholic Creeds, the 39 Articles of Religion, and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal. If we cannot confess that Gospel and Faith together, we have no unity to confess and intensify.
We do have a constitution in the Gospel and Apostolic Faith as we Anglicans have received it, and any Communion Covenant should celebrate and confess it authoritatively, clearly and thankfully. Nothing less will do.
Have a wonderful Christmas and Christmastide,
+John H. Rodgers Jr.
Bishop in the Anglican Church of North America