Anglican Covenant Noll Evangelical Commentary 2007

Noll, Evangelical Commentary on Draft Covenant 1 June 07

Sec. 6: The Unity of the Communion

Proposed Amendment

(6) We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of instruments of the Communion, we will consider that such churches have relinquished membership in the Anglican Communion.

Throughout history, the Good News has caused division, and the church has faced the twin dangers of heresy and schism. Scripture warns against attacks from without and within. The Covenant should make clear that a member church's "walking apart" is not simply a matter of taste but of substance and carries with it a final exclusion. I assume the "extreme circumstances" will include a due process such as that proposed in "To Mend the Net" and The Windsor Report, and that further reconciliation would involve re-incorporation in a replacement entity that does uphold the Covenant. As noted above, it is impossible to imagine that this necessary change will be incorporated at a Lambeth Conference in which the offending members are full participants.

Sec. 1 Preamble

Proposed Amendment

... in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the saving love of God for a fallen world accomplished through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, to maintain the unity of the Spirit etc.

Explanation: The theme of salvation is a silver chord woven through all the Scriptures and of particular importance in the proclamation that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim 1 :15), In my view, emphasis found in the Draft on God's responding to the needs of the world is a corollary of God's saving act in Christ and is addressed adequately under Section 4.

Sec. 2: The Life We Share: Common Catholicity, Apostolicity and Confession of Faith

Proposed Amendment
Each member church and the Communion as a whole, affirms:

... (5) that, led by the Holy Spirit, it bears witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, etc....

Explanation: As each of the first four subsections is stated in the present tense, so also the classic formularies listed in subsection (5) should be regarded in that tense, as having normative force. The Thirty-Nine Articles, Prayer Book and Ordinal remain the only universally recognized statement of Anglican doctrine, and they are enshrined in the Constitutions and Prayer Books of many Provinces, They represent the key Reformation insights into the faith, complementing the catholic creeds on the one hand and the Lambeth Quadrilateral on the other.

Sec. 3 Our Commitment to Confession of Faith

Proposed Amendment
In seeking to maintain the faith given once for all to the saints, each Church commits itself to ...

(1) uphold and act in continuity and consistency with the catholic and apostolic faith, order and tradition, and the historic Anglican formularies;

(2) uphold the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as God's Word written and to ensure that biblical texts are interpreted in their plain and canonical sense, through the preaching and teaching of pastors, the regular reading of the people, and the oversight of bishops and synods, building on our best scholarship, believing that scriptural revelation must continue to illuminate, challenge and transform cultures, structures and ways of thinking;

(3) place former subsection (2) here on the sacraments;

(4) uphold the biblical vision of God's image in humanity as male and female and our Lord's teaching on the unchangeable standard of marriage of one man and one woman (or abstinence);