Covenants and Anglicans: An Uneasy Fit
AbstractAlthough there is a strong movement within Anglicanism to produce a Covenant, this article argues against such an approach. Postponing dealing with today's problems by leaving them for a vaguely worded future document, instead of trying to clarify and resolve them now, and live in peace with one another, is evasive action that solves nothing. Also, some covenant proposals represent a veiled attempt to limit the role of women and homosexuals in the church. The article's core argument is that covenants were specifically rejected by Anglicans at a time when they swept the Continent in the sixteenth century. The Church of England had specifically rejected the powerful hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church and the legalism of the Puritans in favor of what was later to become the Anglican via media, with its emphasis on an informal, prayerful unity of diverse participants at home and abroad. It further argues the Church contains sufficient doctrinal statements in the Creeds, Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1886, 1888, and the Baptismal Covenant in the American Church's 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Covenant proponents argue their proposed document follows in the tradition of classic Anglicanism, but Quinn demonstrates this is not the case. He presents Richard Hooker and Jeremy Taylor as major voices articulating a distinctly Anglican perspective on church governance, noting Hooker `tried to stake out parameters between positions without digging a ditch others could not cross. Hooker placed prudence ahead of doctrinal argument.' Taylor cited the triadic scripture, tradition and reason so central to Anglicanism and added how religious reasoning differs from mathematical and philosophical reasoning. The author notes that the cherished Reformation gift of religious reasoning is totally unmentioned in the flurry of documents calling for a new Anglican Covenant.