Some Reflections about.Communion and Covenant

I have been looking attentively over some arguments put forth by some scholars in recent days about the significance of the proposed Anglican Covenant as a legitimate way to overcome the conflict that we are living within our Church.

With full respect for the people who adopt this strategy as a legitimate way to overcome the crisis, I would like to point out some limitations in the construction of an theological instrument without considering the more heartfelt incarnational meaning of the word Koinonia.

As I said in the Epiphany West Conference in Berkeley, I reaffirm that Communion is built with feelings more than in theological agreements. This is the most profound meaning of the Greek sense of Koinonia.

Sharing the holy table, dreaming together, acting jointly in the world motivated by the God's love does not demand, necessarily, a theological covenant.

When people starts to feel the need of a clear and a consensual definition on beliefs, as an agreement that makes demands on everyone who subscribes to it, communion is under serious risk. Historically, agreements are the result of a political negotiation between opposite parties.

No theological agreement is able by itself to overcome the trauma of rupture in personal relationships. The Missio Dei is generated from love and not from ecclesiastical policy. The primary place of the Christian Faith is a table where all the world is invited to share the food of life. Around that table Christ himself offered to his friends and gave them the most powerful proof about love. All the Law was completed and surpassed by the sharing of bread and wine with friends. Reverence, kind words, remembrances, love and dreams were the ingredients of that dinner, not discussion about orthodoxy or theological considerations about correct hermeneutics or such issues.

By no means do I want to underestimate the role of the theology, the speech "about" the faith, that can be useful to instruct us for a better dialogue with the rationality of the world. But I want to reaffirm that it cannot solve differences. In the past years of the Enlightenment (or Modernity as some scholars prefer to call it), the search for a minimum consensus was important. But in our era the level of inter-subjectiveness is replacing the idea that of universal and definite truth.

My basic question is: can a covenant built on a set of principles or statements resolve the crisis? When someone decides not to share the most important symbol of love and friendship in relation to others, koinonia is off the agenda.

What is more important? The table or the theology? A good and useful theology is generated by the table and depends upon it -- not the contrary! Remember the way of Emmaus: the breaking of the bread was the final discovery!


John disse…
I am very much in agreement with this point of view! The current activity at the level of the Communion has it all backwards -- communion comes first, not theological declarations and agreements!

Estoy muy de aceurdo con esta perspectiva! La actividad actual a nivel de la Comunion anda al reves, pero primero viene la comunion, no las aclaraciones y acuerdos teologicos!
Luiz Coelho disse…
I often see this interconnected with my idea of tradition.

One of the reasons I consider myself an Anglo-Catholic (or a Catholic in the Anglican Tradition) is because I tend to emphasize tradition. And tradition, imho, and especially Anglican tradition is the vision of a round table at which Calvin and St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Hooker, Paul Tillich, the Wesley brothers and even Marcus Borg sit and discuss about varied subjects related to the Christian faith.

And of course that is a fantasy. Many of those would not agree with some of the views that were presented there and leave the table. I see the Anglican faith, however, as this fantasy of having all those important thinkers and theologians discussing forever, and of course starting from a set of beliefs in common (the creeds? the Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral perhaps?)...

And what strikes me about that is that, to be Anglican, imo, is to take part of this table and agree with some of Calvin's arguments, or with some of St. Thomas Aquinas' arguments, or even with Bishop Spong's arguments... But always understand that others can see those issues from a different way... and what binds us are the common principles that we defined as a rule of "being part of that table" and not the hot topics that arise from the discussions there.

Sadly, the Anglican Communion lost this concept of sharing this table with all those who were here in the past and all those who are here now. Some want pre-formatted answers. Others want to follow entirely what just one (or a group of) theologian wrote.

And when we lose that, not only we lose the sense of being a communion. We lose the sense of being catholic. We become protestants, following one man or a small group of men... Nothing against the protestants, but when we become confessional "Anglicans", we lose this wonderful "autonomy" to agree with some concepts X wrote, but prefer Y when it comes to other subject.

The lost of this sense of communion and respect over disagreement is, to me, the lost of Anglicanism's most important feature.

Anônimo disse…
Teu posicionamento me parece correto e é sensível ao que há mais nuclear nas relações humanas: sentimento e compaixão. Uma Igreja sustentada em pura racionalidade não é Igreja, é ciência. Um abraço, Yamil
John disse…
Last night I used your statement in the context of a prfesentation to a local congregation on the current conflict in the Anglican Communion. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the point of view you expressed!

Anoche utilice su comentario en el contexto de una presentacion ante una congregacion local sobre el conflict actual en la Comunion Anglicana. Todos quedaron muy entusiasmados con el punto de vista que Ud. expreso en el ensayo.

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