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News – Archbishops’ damp squib

February 2008

Archbishops’ damp squib

The Church of England has issued its response to the Anglican Covenant first mooted by the Windsor Group and then put out by the Covenant Design Group (CDG). The General Synod gave the archbishops authority to respond on their behalf; and the fears of many Evangelicals have been realised. In effect the response completely rewrites the original CDG version.

The issue under scrutiny is the acceptance of homosexual practice by sections of the churches in the Anglican Communion, for example in the consecration of homosexual bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions. The aim of the covenant is to provide an agreement which national or provincial churches can adopt and by which disputes can be resolved.

Commenting on the archbishops’ response, David Phillips of Church Society believes it has failed to provide leadership in three main areas – the role of Scripture, the question of sexual immorality, and the nature of the communion amongst Anglican churches.

Mr Phillips believes that far from upholding the role and authority of Scripture as the standard by which issues are tested, the response subtly weakens Scripture by putting the focus on how it is interpreted and received rather than what it states.

The archbishops’ response takes issue with the idea of biblically derived moral values, stating that this concept ‘assumes a deductive approach to the relationship between Christian ethics and the Bible to which many Anglicans would not subscribe’. But this is precisely the point; and where the division comes.

Some Anglicans believe what the 39 Articles of Religion claim: that the Bible is the Word of God and morality should be derived from what God has said; others do not derive moral values primarily from Scripture. The archbishops’ response makes no attempt to address the primary source of division in Anglicanism.

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