Saturday, November 18, 2006

To ++Gomez on the Anglican Covenant

The Episcopal Majority sent the following letter on November 10 via FedEx to the Most Reverend Drexel Gomez (Archbishop of The West Indies) , who has been appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to chair the group to design an Anglican Covenant for the Anglican Communion. The Steering Committee determined that we would not simultaneously publish this as an "open letter," but would give the Archbishop a reasonable period of time in which to acknowledge receipt of our letter. Having received no acknowledgement from the Archbishop, we now publish the letter here to state some of our key concerns about the need for and content of an "Anglican covenant."

November 10, 2006

The Most Reverend Drexel Wellington Gomez
Archbishop of The West Indies

Dear Archbishop Gomez,

Greetings and peace to you in our Lord Jesus Christ!

We are writing to you on behalf of The Episcopal Majority, a newly constituted organization representing what our former Presiding Bishop and Primate, the Most Reverend Frank Griswold, has aptly called the "diverse center" of the Episcopal Church. With some concern, we have noted the tenor and general direction of discussions on a possible "Anglican Covenant." We are writing at this time to appeal for a common reaffirmation of the de facto covenant that already binds our beloved Anglican Communion and indeed has done so since 1888, namely the Lambeth Quadrilateral.

Conceived and upheld over time as a basis for full communion and mutual recognition of ministries between Anglican churches and other Christian denominations, the Lambeth Quadrilateral was most recently reaffirmed as a common instrument of ecumenism by the Lambeth Conference of 1978. The Quadrilateral quite clearly affirms as the terms of full ecclesiastical union acceptance of the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as being "the rule and ultimate standard of faith," the Nicene Creed as "the sufficient statement of the Christian faith," the Dominical Sacraments and the Historic Episcopate, "locally adapted…to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church." Surely the same standards for ecclesiastical unity must apply within the Anglican Communion as well, rendering discussions of any additional standards for full membership in fact a revision of the Quadrilateral itself. This has clear and significant implications for the life of the Anglican Communion, for our very polity and for the ecumenical relations of the various Anglican churches with other Christian communities.

If what has for more than a century been the common Anglican vision of ecclesiastical unity is to be revised, it seems to us the starting point can only be, indeed must be, the Lambeth Quadrilateral itself. And if the Quadrilateral requires revision – something of which we are by no means convinced – it is incumbent upon any proponents of revision to articulate clear, broadly applicable theological and ecclesiological reasons why this revision appears necessary. Is the Nicene Creed, for example, no longer the sufficient statement of the Christian faith? Are selected biblical interpretations above and beyond the Creeds now to be canonized in addition to the Holy Scriptures? These questions beg a clear and direct answer grounded in sound theology, rather than politics.

Much is at stake in terms of Anglican polity and ecumenical relations – not least more than a century of shared Anglican standards for the unity to which our Lord calls us. In a spirit of reconciliation and love for our sisters and brothers throughout the Anglican Communion, we respectfully submit that the Lambeth Quadrilateral must remain the standard for ecclesiastical unity and the firm foundation for any further discussions of Anglican interdependence.

Very truly yours in Christ,

The Rev. William R. Coats & The Rev. Christopher Worthley (for The Episcopal Majority)


Anonymous Paul Bagshaw said...

Can I draw your attention to the Modern Churchpeople’s response to the Covenant at This is a reasoned argument against the proposal.

11/21/2006 11:36 AM  

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