The paper goes on to make the case that:
- There is a substantial and well-developed body of Anglican thought utilized in expressing the commitments in the Covenant text. This body of precedent includes the articulation of several foundational concepts used in the Covenant, including “shared discernment,” “accountability,” “autonomy,” and the comprehensive term “Communion with autonomy and accountability.”
- There are specific commitments in the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant and show that they require (i) that there be Communion-wide decisions (“shared discernment”) on issues affecting the unity of the Communion and (ii) that all covenanting churches then recognize the decision reached by the Communion’s shared discernment.
- There is discernment of the Communion on the issue of human sexuality is unequivocal. All four Instruments of Communion have spoken with one voice for over a decade, both in terms of general teaching and through specific recommendations.
The response has been swift from our friends across the Potomac, inferring that resistance to the New Thing God is Doing is futile. Jim Naughton at The Other Cafe for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington calls one of the great theologians of our day a "shrinking violet," while complaining that anyone who disagrees with the New Thing God is Doing (including the Archbishop of Canterbury himself) is working "to make the Communion safe for the most vicious sort of anti-gay bigots." Now who would that be? He also complains that those who disagree with the actions of The Episcopal Church are "clumsy and transparently self-aggrandizing."
Instead of taking on the content of the paper, this is what happens. Individuals are attacked personally and called vicious names. This pattern is what made so many of us wary during the recent Smile Offensive at General Convention. Those With Whom We Disagree were far too nice. It was all joy and Happy Feet. There is no way one can spit out this type of language and then go around telling people how wonderful they are and oh, by the way, "here's my business card, let's do lunch." It was so Umbridgean and disingenuous and Jim's frustrated rhetoric provides us insight into the reality on the ground.
The Episcopal Church is in a Level Five conflict. It's not getting better, it's getting worse. We continue on this trajectory and the entire communion is affected. The best thing would be for The Episcopal Church to withdraw for a time certain, work through their theological issues, and then come back. Perhaps in that time, the rest of the communion will have worked through and discovered that yes, God is Doing A New Thing and glory hallelujah. Or not. Then The Episcopal Church can decide whether or not it belongs in the Anglican Communion.
Read N.T. Wright and CSI's paper here.