Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Covenanting in the Church and in Scripture – Congruent or Discordant?

[TitusOneNine] 18 July 2007--In sum, covenants are deeply personal, relational, missional, reconciliatory expressions of the will of the One God to save, to bring into fellowship, and to oblige. This ‘obliging’ is crucial, not because God delights in commands, but because commands are given in order for grateful response to be possible. But at the very same time, commands never replace the Holy and Living God, who in his character is the desisting and forbearing Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If the gracious ‘obliging’ is cast aside, God has made provision for renewal and reconciliation, as part of the very act of covenanting in the first place.

It is not the task of those who undertake to compose a covenant, and those who obligate themselves, in Christ, to do what it asks, to imitate some precise form or event from within scripture’s panoramic account. This would be an odd kind of Biblicism, and may explain in part why the New Testament can refer reflexively to a new covenant with all high seriousness, without getting caught up in the provision of inventive new forms. The same holds true for the Anglican Communion in our day. To do this would be to undercut the dynamic and personal character of covenanting.

In the case of Anglicanism, it is the divine initiative in spreading the Gospel through the world to which we make response. We have never truly faced this moment with the kind of seriousness now required—due precisely to the success of missional expansion and the rapid character of communication and personal communion—and so it is not surprising that our time calls for a recognition, solemn and joyful, of God’s work, and of our concern to acknowledge and live within its gracious provision. That is why an Anglican Covenant is proposed by the Windsor Report and why we should undertake its relational, missional and reconciliatory calling in this present season.

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