Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go read Tim, and, a thought on the Anglican Covenant

Tim has started a really interesting series on 'The Anglican Way of Following Jesus', kicking off here, which looks to be really good (not least as Tim is so heavily tempted by/ influenced by the Anabaptist tradition).

However... (you knew that was coming) I wanted to pick up on something that Tim wrote: "We agreed that we were both heartily sick of hearing about the Anglican covenant (from both its supporters and its detractors)". I can understand that, it's not as interesting or as soul-feeding as all the things that Tim will be writing about, but I want to argue that it is something important to consider - or, perhaps better, I want to describe the way in which it is important to consider it.

Consider the small print:
This is for aspirin - that all-round miraculous wonder-drug. For the vast majority of people in the vast majority of cases, all you need to know is to take one or two three or four times a day, and your pain will be eased.

In the same way, when it comes to the faith, all you need to know in the vast majority of cases is 'Jesus is Lord', and then 'take the pill', ie apply it in your own life - and then your pain will be eased.

The small print is there to give much fuller and much more specific guidance; it sets out what the aspirin is for, and it outlines how it is possible to abuse the aspirin, possibly in life-threatening ways. It is not intended to cover 'normal use' - it is designed for those who have some understanding of the drug (and to cover the company's back in case of a lawsuit of course!) and need to know more specific details about how and when to use aspirin.

I think the Anglican Covenant is like the small print (I think the Creed is, too). It is not for 'normal' time, it is for the exceptions, the times at the margins, it is precisely an 'in-house' conversation. And yet, for all that, this is why it is important. If you get the small print on drugs wrong, it is likely that people will die. If you get the small print on the Covenant wrong, it is also likely that people will die - spiritually (and, actually, sometimes physically too).

That's why we argue about it, and that is the nature of its importance.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure the Covenant is important. However, at the moment in the Anglican blogosphere it is in serious danger of eclipsing the Gospel (which we have to fight really hard to keep front and centre in the Anglican blogosphere anyway!).

    Also the abusive tone in which the issue is being debated is not bringing much credit to Christ and his Gospel.

    And I don't know why dozens of blogs all feel they have to make basically the same point. It reminds me of a comment a friend of mine once made at a synod: 'Everything that could possibly be said on this subject has already been said, but not everyone has said it yet!'

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