Friday, April 04, 2014

Wisconsin Governor Refuses Atheist Demands to Remove Scripture from Social Media Pages

From here:
The governor of Wisconsin is refusing the demands of a prominent atheist activist organization to remove a Scripture citation from his Twitter and Facebook pages.

As previously reported, the Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter to Walker this past week after becoming aware that he had simply posted 'Philippians 4:13' as his status on his social media accounts last Sunday. The Scripture reads, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"This braggadocio verse coming from a public official is rather disturbing," FFRF wrote in the letter. "To say, 'I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me,' seems more like a threat, or the utterance of a theocratic dictator, than of a duly elected civil servant."

It demanded that the governor delete the post, contending that it is unlawful for Walker to endorse religion on his official social media pages.

"On behalf of our membership, we ask you to immediately delete this religious message from your official gubernatorial Facebook and Twitter," the letter stated. "May we hear from you at your earliest convenience?"

However, Laurel Patrick, the press secretary for Walker, told reporters this week that the governor will not bow to atheist demands.

"Governor Walker will not remove the post on his social media," she wrote in an emailed statement. "The verse was part of a devotional he read that morning, which inspired him, and he chose to share it."
Read it all.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Truer words...

An article in the Daily Telegraph dealing with the challenges ahead for Church of England Archbishop Justin Welby elicited the following comment from a reader:
Religion is founded on a notion that it has teachings or scriptures from a divine (supernatural) source, and this source is provides insights into ultimate truths which can not be discerned by mere mortals investigating nature.

Any religious institution which believes it needs to modernise its beliefs is admitting that its beliefs have never had such a divine source - they are man-made and, like all man-made things, need to be modernised periodically.  Consequently, that institution no longer represents a spiritual belief system, but is simply a political organisation which pretends to be founded on spiritual beliefs.

That pretty much sums up the Church of England.
This comment is not only my quote of the day, it may be the quote of a lifetime.  And it reminded me of something I said in a recent sermon:
I have an abiding distrust for what C. S. Lewis called "chronological snobbery."  Chronological snobbery is the notion that the ideas of our own day are better than the ideas of a bygone day just because the ideas are in our day.  Chronological snobbery feels that things are truer because they are newer.

Now there is a difference here: Truth in areas such as science is a matter of discovery.  So, indeed, new discoveries may invalidate previously held ideas and replace them with new ones.  The discovery that the Earth revolves around the Sun, instead of the older idea that the Sun and other celestial bodies revolved around the Earth, is just one example.

I remember when I was young, being at my grandparents’ house and looking up the word “atom” in an old dictionary (from around the year 1900).  The definition said that the atom was the smallest particle of matter and could not be divided.  Well, by then (early 1960’s), even as a child in grade school, I had already been taught about protons, electrons, and neutrons—and, indeed, I knew that the atom could be split with powerful and sometimes destructive force.  In science, new discoveries teach us new truth.

However, in Christian faith and theology, truth is a primarily a matter of revelation, not discovery.  Oh, we may discover new insights out of what has been revealed in Scripture.  But we do not discover new truth that invalidates the clear revelation God has given us.

For example: we will not come to a new discovery in theology that God is an impersonal force, not a Person, that Hell does not exist, that human beings are not sinners because of the Fall, that the atoning death of Jesus Christ is not necessary for salvation—though there are theologians writing, teaching, and holding distinguished professorships who will try to tell you each of those things.  These theologians and denominational leaders and people who follow them believe that theologians today can formulate ideas that make the truth of Holy Scripture, the faith once delivered to the saints, obsolete.

A pointed example from our own day:  Some people want to redefine marriage, and they say that Jesus never said anything that would prohibit doing so.  What Jesus did say that bears on the issue is this:  Speaking to a group who had asked him about divorce, Jesus says, “Have you not read, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-6)

So the teaching of Jesus is that this is God’s design for human sexual relations, and he grounds it in the creation order (Genesis 2:24).  And, sure enough, whether you are Chinese, or Indian, or a member of a tribe living in the jungle, men marry women and women marry men, and that is how we got 7 billion people living on the planet.  Because the creation order is a reality even in cultures that have never been influenced by the Bible.  So when we talk about redefining marriage, we are talking about not merely something that the Church has never done before, we are talking about something that human civilization has never done before.

Observing truth from the creation order that is consistent with the truth of God in revelation is known as “natural law.”  Natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human existence and deduce binding rules of moral behavior.  In jurisprudence it serves as a means by which the laws of given political community or society may be critiqued.

If you follow confirmation hearings of Supreme Court justices you may remember nominees being asked what their views were on natural law (such as Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and Chief Justice John Roberts).  You see, there are politicians who don’t want justices who believe that there is a “givenness”—a revealed nature—to the way things are, and that there is a natural order of things with which laws must be consistent.  It interferes with the idea that we can make up laws to do whatever we want.  But I digress.

This chronological snobbery of which I was speaking is irrational because being new is no guarantee of being true.  It’s pure arrogance to think that a thought in my head is better than a thought in the head of St. Athanasius, Thomas Aquinas, or Martin Luther, just because I live in the twenty-first century and they lived in centuries past.  There is no logical connection between the truth of an insight and the century when God puts it into somebody’s mind.

Many of the theological errors we see today are really the heresies of a past age in new packaging.  So I try to flee every temptation to be a chronological snob.  C. S. Lewis prescribed at least one antidote.  He said that every third book you read should be from outside your own century.  It was good advice.
Numerous commentators have noted, for more than twenty years, that there are two religions in the Episcopal Church.  (Just try Googling the phrase "two religions in the Episcopal Church" to see the copious number of references.)  By extension, this might be said as well for the Anglican Communion.  If one is willing to take a step back and look at the larger picture, is probably most accurate to say that there are two religions today both calling themselves Christianity, and the battle between the two is being fought in every historic Christian tradition.

The difference between these two religions is described succinctly by the comment I quoted from the Daily Telegraph.  It is the difference between what J. Gresham Machen called "Revealed Religion" and "naturalistic liberalism," which, as Machen said, "is not Christianity at all."

How the conflict between these two religions will play out remains to be seen--except I believe I can say with certainty that when, in response to Peter's confession, Jesus promised, "upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," it was not the false Christianity of naturalistic liberalism that he was talking about.

This means that "revealed" Christianity will ultimately be seen as the victor (at least by God, whose verdict alone matters), even if it is the martyr's victory.

The great frustration in the meantime is that there are ostensibly orthodox Christian leaders (be they bishops, seminary presidents, trustees, etc.) who do not realize there is a battle or, if they do, are not willing to fight it if it means martyrdom—or even a loss of temporal position, prestige, or institutional connections.

I don't need to dwell on what our Lord thinks of such worldly compromises and lukewarmness.  Scripture is abundantly clear on that.

But it is, as I say, frustrating to see orthodox Christians ostracized for raising the alarm and to see institutions lost so that their leaders can remain in comfortable slumber.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

The Prayer of St. Patrick (Sometimes also called The Lorica of St. Patrick — from around the year AD 377)

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preaching of the apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and near,
Alone or in a multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Words for Our Time (written 107 years ago)

I am distressed by some common theological tendencies of our time, because I believe them to be false to both science and religion.  How men who have ever felt themselves to be lost sinners and who have once received pardon from their crucified Lord and Savior can thereafter seek to pare down his attributes, deny his deity and atonement, tear from his brow the crown of miracle and sovereignty, relegate him to the place of a merely moral teacher who influences us only as does Socrates by words spoken across a stretch of ages, passes my comprehension.

Here is my test of orthodoxy: Do we pray to Jesus?  Do we call upon the name of Christ, as did Stephen and all the early church?  Is he our living Lord, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent?  Is he divine only in the sense in which we are divine, or is he the only-begotten Son, God manifest in the flesh, in whom is all the fulness of the Godhead bodily?  What think ye of the Christ? is still the critical question, and none are entitled to the name of Christian who, in the face of the evidence he has furnished us, cannot answer the question aright.

Under the influence of Ritschl and his Kantian relativism, many of our teachers and preachers have swung off into a practical denial of Christ’s deity and of his atonement.  We seem upon the verge of a second Unitarian defection, that will break up churches and compel secessions, in a worse manner than did that of Channing and Ware a century ago.  American Christianity recovered from that disaster only by vigorously asserting the authority of Christ and the inspiration of the Scriptures.

We need a new vision of the Savior like that which Paul saw on the way to Damascus and John saw on the isle of Patmos, to convince us that Jesus is lifted above space and time, that his existence antedated creation, that he conducted the march of Hebrew history, that he was born of a virgin, suffered on the cross, rose from the dead, and now lives forevermore, the Lord of the universe, the only God with whom we have to do, our Savior here and our Judge hereafter.  Without a revival of this faith our churches will become secularized, mission enterprise will die out, and the candlestick will be removed out of its place as it was with the seven churches of Asia, and as it has been with the apostate churches of New England.

I print this revised and enlarged edition of my “Systematic Theology,” in the hope that its publication may do something to stem this fast advancing tide, and to confirm the faith of God’s elect.  I make no doubt that the vast majority of Christians still hold the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, and that they will sooner or later separate themselves from those who deny the Lord who bought them.

When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.  I would do my part in raising up such a standard.  I would lead others to avow anew, as I do now, in spite of the supercilious assumptions of modern infidelity, my firm belief, only confirmed by the experience and reflection of a half-century, in the old doctrines of holiness as the fundamental attribute of God, of an original transgression and sin of the whole human race, in a divine preparation in Hebrew history for man’s redemption, in the deity, preĆ«xistence, virgin birth, vicarious atonement and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, and in his future coming to judge the quick and the dead.  I believe that these are truths of science as well as truths of revelation; that the supernatural will yet be seen to be most truly natural; and that not the [faithful] theologian but the narrow-minded [skeptic] will be obliged to hide his head at Christ’s coming.

Augustus Hopkins Strong (President and Professor of Biblical Theology, Rochester Theological Seminary), Systematic Theology, published in May 1907.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fr. Keith Roderick, Requiescat in Pace

I received word this morning that Fr. Keith Roderick, who most recently had been serving as Provost of St. Paul's Cathedral in Springfield, Illinois, died in his sleep during the night.  Fr. Roderick had faithfully served for many years in the Diocese of Quincy and was one of my canonical examiners when I was ordained nearly 25 years ago.  Fr. Roderick was also a son of Nashotah House.  His death will be a personal loss for so many.

My condolences to his wife, Mary Beth, and the Roderick family.  May his soul rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Deacon Terry Star, Requiescat in Pace

From Episcopal News Service:
The Rev. Terry Star, a 40 year-old deacon in the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, has died suddenly at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin, where he was studying for ordination to the priesthood.
Read the full article.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.

My condolences to Deacon Terry's family and friends, and to the Nashotah House community.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Clarification


A recent graduate of Nashotah House, whose opinion I value highly, has written in response to an earlier post to say that it sounds like I was impugning the orthodoxy of the three students who requested that Bishop Salmon invite Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at Nashotah House on May 1.

So I want to clarify that it was not my intention to impugn the three students, and I have revised that piece in order to make this clear.  The point I was making is that, when you follow Bishop Salmon's strategy of reaching out to Episcopal dioceses where the Presiding Bishop's teaching and actions are viewed more favorably and less critically, you are going to attract students to Nashotah House who think it is perfectly all right to invite Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach in the Chapel.  My issue is not with the students but with the invitation.  Students ask deans for things all the time; and it is the Dean's responsibility to know when to say yes or no.

On a purely human level, I understand where these students are coming from.  Whether you are relatively new to the Episcopal Church or you have been brought up to respect Episcopal Church structures and leaders, and you have the opportunity to get to know the Presiding Bishop, I can understand that you might want her to approve of your career path and the seminary that you are attending.  If you love the seminary you are attending and discover that it is a place where she would actively discourage you from going, you would want to do something to remedy that situation, including inviting her for a visit.

So what would I have said if I were still the Dean, and these three students had come to me with the suggestion to invite her?  I would say this:

First of all, the Presiding Bishop spoke in Milwaukee just last year.  (All three of these students, whose identities I have since learned, and for whom I have deep respect, were students at the House at that time.)  There was an opportunity for students at Nashotah House who wanted to hear and and interact with the Presiding Bishop to do so then.

I would say to these students that while Episcopal Presiding Bishops have been getting progressively more liberal since Edmund Browning, Katharine Jefferts Schori in some ways represents a radical departure, actively engaging in false teaching about the nature of God, the unique divinity and saving work of Jesus Christ, as well as the authority of Scripture--an example of which is her handling the account of Paul's healing of a demon possessed girl in Acts 16 in a way that I am forced to conclude reflects a deliberately perverse interpretation of that passage.   

Further, this particular Presiding Bishop has deposed and sued (and is still suing) bishops on Nashotah House's Board of Trustees and numerous alumni and loyal supporters of this House.  Currently, she is engaged in lawsuits against supporters of the House in the Diocese of Quincy including suing the Bishop, the clerical and lay members of the Standing Committee, and the rectors of each parish personally and individually with an un-Christian and heartless disregard for their personal circumstances--all in an effort to get back buildings that the Episcopal Church does not need and cannot use.  (The Episcopal Church tried the same tactic unsuccessfully in its current lawsuit against the Diocese of South Carolina, headed by Bishop Mark Lawrence--another Nashotah Trustee.)

Indeed the Presiding Bishop has spent a reported $40 million on lawsuits against Christians, many of whom support this seminary and what it stands for.  If she would like to heed the clear teaching of 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 and cease her un-Christian hostility toward our Trustees, alumni, and supporters, then we could perhaps discuss an invitation, not to preach in Chapel, but to come and see, and dialogue.  I doubt that will happen in the 16 months remaining in her term as Presiding Bishop, so let me say to you that, in the larger scheme of things, you really do not need this woman's advice or approval on your path as you seek to serve Jesus.

But there is one other thing:  During my time as Dean and President, this House has exemplified what one Trustee Bishop dubbed the "Pax Nashotah."  This term refers to the relative peace that exists in our community between those who are called to serve in the Episcopal Church and those who are called to serve in other jurisdictions.  We are not concerned with the jurisdiction our students come from or in which part of God's vineyard they will serve after graduation.  We are simply here to help our students become the best priests and ministers they can be.  Having a preacher whose teaching stands so clearly stands outside our Statement of Identity and whose actions have been so harmful to our trustees, alumni, supporters--and even to the parishes from which some of our students come--would cause great distress to your fellow students and to the peace and welfare of this community.  I am afraid I must say no to your suggestion that I invite the Presiding Bishop to preach here.

[I would pray that, if it were explained this way, the students themselves would understand the inappropriateness and potential harm of this invitation to the community.]

Finally, I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.  I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.  And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  (Acts 20:28-32).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Phil Ashey: Why Our Seminaries are Strategic


I highly recommend the latest column by the Rev. Canon Phil Ashey of the American Council, reflecting on the importance of seminaries in the renewal of Anglicanism in the Gospel:
The struggle for Gospel truth in The Episcopal Church (TEC) was really lost many years ago when most TEC seminaries abandoned any faith in Christ as the one, unique Lord and Savior of all people everywhere, and lost faith in the Holy Scriptures as the divinely inspired word of God and the ultimate authority in all matters of faith and practice. This battle was lost long before the 2003 unilateral TEC innovation of consecrating a non-celibate homosexual as bishop and leader for the whole church, and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster’s authorization of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions—both in direct violation of settled Biblical and Anglican teaching (Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10)
Read it all.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sarah Hey Responds to Bishop Salmon’s Video Explanation



On the Stand Firm website, Sarah Hey has written an eloquent response after watching a video in which Bishop Ed Salmon explains (defends) his invitation of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at Nashotah House on May 1 of this year.  I invite you to read Sarah's whole response.  Below is a comment that I shared on Stand Firm, which also helps to explain my own deep concern and involvement in this matter.
“I have rarely been more heart-destroyed than tonight.”  Yes, Sarah.  Thank you for this.  I had the same reaction when I first read the news.  If my comments elsewhere have seemed somewhat impassioned, or if I have crossed the bounds of propriety in commenting on the actions of my successor, imagine spending the prime years of your adult life—age 46 to 56—leading the institution that has now done this. 
Why on earth would the House be concerned that the Presiding Bishop doesn’t like the House or desires people not to attend the House?  *Of course* she wouldn’t like the House! It favors the Gospel.  *Of course* she wouldn’t want seminarians to attend the House.
This is precisely the attitude I kept in mind throughout my deanship.  And one of the things that saddens me most about this whole affair is that students at the House are no longer being led to view the situation this way.  Instead of being taught to be valiant for truth and to take risks for the sake of the Gospel, they are being led by example to “go along to get along,” and that dialogue with heretics and even having them in your pulpit is a good thing if it promotes better relationships.
“Heartsick.”  “Heart-destroyed.”  Yeah, that describes it.

Claim: “Schori discouraged attendance at Nashotah”


As more information becomes available about the invitation of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at Nashotah House on May 1 of this year, Bishop Salmon has made the claim that the invitation stems from a concern that the Presiding Bishop, either directly or through representatives, tried to discourage three students (a male deacon who serves on the Episcopal Church's Executive Council and two women students) from attending Nashotah House.  The thought seems to be that this invitation might improve relations between the House and Bishop Jefferts Schori and cause her to say nice things about the House in the future, or at least not discourage students from attending.

As I pondered this claim, several observations occurred to me:

1.  In 15 years on the faculty of Trinity and 12 years at Nashotah House, I met many postulants for holy orders who had been told by their bishops or Commissions on Ministry they would not be ordained because they were too conservative.  Most of those students moved to more conservative dioceses and succeeded in coming to seminary anyway.  (Many of them became very fine priests.)  There were others who were told they would be dropped from the ordination process if they chose to go to a conservative seminary (or refused to go to the liberal seminary where the Bishop or COM wanted them to go).  These, too, usually succeeded in being adopted by a more conservative bishop and coming to TSM or Nashotah anyway.  But, in 27 years, I never met a student who had directly or indirectly received career advice from the Presiding Bishop as to which seminary he or she should or shouldn’t attend. 


2.  Over the years, I met a lot of liberal bishops and COM members who said they would not send students or give money to the seminary I represented unless we ___________.  (Fill in the blank.)  The truth is that they were never going to send students or give money to the seminary I represented anyway.  They just wanted to put pressure on us to change to fit their liking.  Which leads to a third observation that governed my deanship at Nashotah:

3.  A seminary that is intent on being truly orthodox is never going to give Episcopal liberals the "warm-fuzzies" the way General, or Virginia, or any of the other TEC seminaries will.  So stop trying!  Stop trying to play the Episcopal game!  Try being a faithful evangelical and catholic seminary that honors our Lord and that can serve the larger Anglican tradition and beyond.  Go fish in ponds where conservative students can be found.  Go to the Forward in Faith Assembly, the AMiA Winter Meeting, the ACNA Assembly, and meetings of CANA, PEAR, the REC, and the continuing Anglican churches.  Recruit on the campuses of Wheaton College, Gordon College, Taylor University, Asbury, Biola, and other Christian colleges.  Reach out to those Evangelicals who are still on the Canterbury Trail.  Reach out to those orthodox Anglo-Catholics who can’t possibly find another seminary in North America that will meet their needs.

At the rate the Episcopal Church is shrinking, you aren’t going to have that pond to fish in much longer anyway.  So concentrate your energies on the vibrant Global South and those expressions of North American Anglicanism that are associated with them.  Think long term.  Think what your seminary is going to look like 20 years from now.  Think about whether it will still glorify God 20 years from now.  Because, realistically, a seminary that tries to appease the Episcopal Church will not only have a liberal PB preaching in the chapel 20 years from now, it will be performing same sex marriages in the chapel 20 years from now (or much sooner)—and engage in a lot of soul-destroying, heretical teaching along the way.

So “Schori discouraged attendance at Nashotah.”  That’s an outstanding recommendation if ever I heard one.

Friday, February 21, 2014

If I had it to do all over again


On August 1, 2001, I became Dean and President of Nashotah House Theological Seminary.  I had spent the previous fifteen years as a faculty member at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, where I had directed the library, been an associate dean in three different capacities, and gone from assistant, to associate, to full professor in Systematic Theology.  Trinity had been formed in 1976 because a growing number of both Evangelical Episcopalians and those who had been involved in the Charismatic movement were convinced that none of the existing Episcopal seminaries could ever be reclaimed from the heterodoxy into which they had fallen or produce biblically faithful clergy who were capable of leading congregations in spiritual renewal.

From the beginning, people associated with Trinity realized that, if they were to be part of a spiritual renewal in the Episcopal Church, they would necessarily have to be somewhat counter-cultural to it.  One could not seek to be part of renewing the Episcopal Church while buying into the status quo.  Although I never heard it explicitly articulated, I think there was an implicit understanding on the part of some that, if the Episcopal Church could not be spiritually renewed and returned to biblical orthodoxy, an alternative would have to be found--or created.  This explains why so many Trinity alumni were among the early members of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), and John Rodgers, the Dean/President under whom I first served at Trinity (and one of the wisest and godliest men I have ever known), became one of the first two bishops consecrated for the AMiA.

During my years at Trinity, I happened to meet the professor who was then teaching Systematic Theology at Nashotah House (around 1994).  We were discussing which textbooks we used for teaching theology, and he remarked that he used John Macquarrie's Principles of Systematic Theology.  I gulped, and explained that, at Trinity, we treated Macquarrie in a separate course on Contemporary Theology where we did apologetics against him.  (I should add that this theology professor left Nashotah House before I began as Dean, and I had the opportunity to select his successor, who is thoroughly orthodox.)

Macquarrie was originally a Scottish Presbyterian who eventually became Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford (from 1970 to 1986), but who, in 1965, had become an Episcopal priest in the United States while teaching at Union Theological Seminary.  Timothy Bradshaw, writing in the Handbook of Anglican Theologians, described Macquarrie as "unquestionably Anglicanism's most distinguished systematic theologian in the second half of the twentieth century."

After I moved to Nashotah House I discovered that the House had made Macquarrie an honorary Doctor of Canon Law in 1986.  But the fact is that Macquarrie's understanding of God is best understood as panentheism, "the belief that the Being of God includes and penetrates the whole universe."1  Macquarrie is a bridge between the existentialism of Martin Heidegger, the pantheism of Paul Tillich ("God is being-itself, not a being.") and Process Theology.  This existentialist and panentheistic foundation underlies the metaphorical theology of Sallie McFague, quoted approvingly on a number of occasions by Katharine Jefferts Schori.  I mention all this merely to make the point, once again, that ideas have consquences; and the current state of the Episcopal Church and other Western mainline traditions is the consequence of academically respectable theology that has gone from speculative, to heterodox, to pagan.

Both prior to joining the faculty at Trinity and throughout my tenure there, at various times I studied with and had good collegial ties with a number of faculty in other Episcopal seminaries, some of them legends from whom I learned a great deal But these professors, all of whom are now retired or deceased, were the exceptions, and the Episcopal Church isn't likely to see their kind again.  If I may be excused a bit of hyperbole, theological education in Episcopal seminaries for most of the past 50 years has been like the Curate's Egg--excellent in spots, but, on the whole, rotten.  To be more precise, Episcopal seminary education has concentrated on preparing men and women for a career in the Episcopal Church (note my choice of words) but has been utterly incapable of equipping them for biblically-faithful, Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered ministry.  In short, I experienced first-hand, through my own studies and relationships, the precise reason why the founding of Trinity School for Ministry was necessary.

So, when I became Dean and President of Nashotah House, I had the same perspective.  It was not enough to prepare people for careers in the Episcopal Church.  It was vital to prepare them to be faithful to Holy Scripture and the Catholic faith and order of the Church, and to enable them to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Though I make no pretense to Solomonic wisdom, upon becoming Dean and President at Nashotah House, I did pray Solomon's prayer:
Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (2 Kings 3:9)
To understand much of what happened during my time at Nashotah House, it is necessary to look at trends that have occurred in the Episcopal Church in recent decades and to understand some trends--what futurists such as John Naisbitt call "megatrends" that are having an inevitable impact on the Episcopal Church in the US and the larger Anglican Communion.   

There have been two competing (and irreconcilable) trends in the Episcopal Church for the past fifty years:  A growing spiritual renewal and a growing theological heterodoxy.

Most observers generally agree that the Charismatic movement in the Episcopal Church began with the Rev. Dennis Bennett's experience of the Holy Spirit while he was rector of St. Mark's Church in Van Nuys, California, in 1960.  The next thirty years saw a remarkable spiritual renewal that included leaders such as the Rev. Terry Fullam, from St. Paul's Church, Darien, Connecticut, and a list of other leaders and parishes that is much too long to list here.

Alongside that Charismatic renewal, Evangelicals in the Episcopal Church, which had long been a small and beleaguered minority, began to find new life and strength, and a sense of their own identity.  They were aided in their self-discovery by Evangelicals from the UK, Australia, and elsewhere.  There were organizations dedicated to promoting renewal in the Episcopal Church, but there were numerous, seemingly spontaneous examples of spiritual renewal popping up all over the Church as well.  Several entire dioceses began to take on the character of the renewal movement.  Those who had been touched by the Charismatic renewal and the Evangelical resurgence came to grips with the realization that no existing Episcopal seminary was capable of training biblically faithful, Spirit-filled clergy to serve and lead parishes.  This realization led to the founding of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry.  

Increasingly, those affected by spiritual renewal and those being led in the direction of theological heterodoxy began to diverge.  In large part, this divergence occurred as theological liberals in the Episcopal Church became even more radical and began to act in ways contrary to the biblical and historic faith and order of the Church.  The Rt. Rev. Thad Barnum chronicles the liberal trajectory of the Episcopal Church and the orthodox response in his marvelous book, Never Silent.

During the 1990's and 2000's, I was a Deputy to the General Convention five times and observed this trajectory first hand--a growing rejection of biblical authority, a growing acceptance of departures from historic Christian norms in faith and morality, and a complete unwillingness to discipline those church leaders who departed from these norms.  In addition, I witnessed the growing marginalization and persecution of orthodox Christians in the Episcopal Church.  In the space of a few years, it seemed as though the Episcopal Church had become an environment that was toxic for an orthodox Christian.  The formation of the Anglican Mission in America (in 2000) and the Anglican Church in North America (in 2009) were the inevitable result.

In 2008-2009 two things happened that affected Nashotah House: (1) The Great Recession; and, more significantly, (2) the departure from the Episcopal Church of four of Nashotah House's most supportive dioceses: Fort Worth, Quincy, Pittsburgh, and San Joaquin.  They would later be joined by another diocese that sent a considerable number of students to the House: South Carolina.  

During my time as Dean and President, I tried to make Nashotah House a place where Anglicans of whatever stripe could prepare for ministries in the Church.  Students from TEC, AMiA, ACNA, continuing Anglican churches and other jurisdictions worshiped and studied side-by-side.  Jurisdictions didn't matter; students were there to become the best clergy and lay leaders they could be and to prepare to serve wherever God called them.  The House was a wholesome and peaceful place.  It was a time one faithful Bishop referred to as the "Pax Nashotah."  But it was not to last.

In 2010, in response to a growing number of Episcopalians in the Milwaukee area who were feeling alienated from their parishes, I led Nashotah House to begin holding Sunday morning worship services that were open to anyone (as were all of Nashotah House's daily services).  Several parishes in our area had been decimated in the years following the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop in TEC.  One local parish went from an Average Sunday Attendance of nearly 300 to only 100 in the space of a few years.  The parish my family and I attended had gone from nearly 150 ASA to 35 in the same period.  Another local parish went from 160 ASA to 60.  The Diocese of Milwaukee didn't seem to care where these departing Episcopalians were going; they were just upset that a portion of them started worshiping at Nashotah House.

The Sunday morning congregation, which took the name St. Michael's (after the historic bell tower on Nashotah's campus) did not start out to be an ACNA parish.  Despite rumors to the contrary, it was never my intention for it to be an ACNA parish.  As with students who came to Nashotah House, I was not concerned about jurisdictions, I was merely concerned to create places for faithful worship and teaching; and I thought that a congregation that was, to some degree, integrated into the life of a seminary could be  beneficial for both students and congregants.  In fact, members of the Sunday morning congregation did not become an ACNA parish until after I stepped down as Dean and left St. Michael's to work with another congregation in the Milwaukee area.  It was only then that St. Michael's formally organized as a parish separate from Nashotah House, called another priest to be their rector, and affiliated with the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh.  

The opposition to my remaining as Dean was driven ostensibly by Bishop Ed Salmon's contention that I was getting Nashotah House in trouble by being too closely allied with those who were outside of TEC.  The reason I use the word "ostensible" is that it should have been apparent to all concerned (and should be doubly apparent in retrospect) that Bishop Salmon was using his position as Chairman of the Nashotah House Board of Trustees to undermine my position as Dean and President and to take the job for himself.  

Bishop Salmon could point to the fact that in the period 2009-2011 we saw a downturn in enrollment and contributions.  In answer to this, it should be obvious that four of our most supportive dioceses in terms of students and contributions had left the Episcopal Church, experienced a reduction or even a freeze on new postulants for holy orders, had their parish and diocesan funds frozen by the courts, and were having much of their current income consumed by litigation costs.  In addition, the US was experiencing the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. 

In my last year as Dean and the year following, a majority of the student body at Nashotah House came from ACNA dioceses.  The downturn we were experiencing was a temporary one as the ACNA found its legs and began to take off.  The House could have weathered this period and emerged as a seminary that, while continuing to train any students from TEC who wanted an orthodox seminary education, was free from TEC's unwholesome influence.  As proof of this one only has to look at Trinity School for Ministry, which took Episcopal out of its name and the Episcopal shield out of its logo.  In  recent years, Trinity has had no students from TEC in their incoming classes.  Yet, they have not only survived, they are thriving.

My experience at both Trinity and Nashotah House has led me to conclude:

1.  You can be an Anglican seminary outside the control of the Episcopal Church and still survive.
2.  You cannot be a seminary in the Episcopal Church and remain orthodox.

In witness to that, I point to the following news I received today: Bishop Iker Resigns in Protest From Nashotah House Board (because Bp. Salmon has invited Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach in Nashotah House's Chapel), an event that is shocking and tragic to many alumni.

Just as my "getting the House in Trouble" by reaching out to the AMiA and the ACNA and starting a congregation in the seminary chapel may have been the low point (as some would reckon it) of my deanship, the scandal of inviting Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach in the seminary chapel will probably go down as the low point of Bp. Salmon's deanship.  I can only say that I would put the low point of my deanship up against the low point of Bp. Salmon's deanship any day.  (I would also gladly compare the high points of my deanship with the high points of his.)


In Bp. Salmon's first interview as Dean and President, Doug LeBlanc reported
 

Salmon said he plans to strengthen relationships, both among seminary faculty and staff and between the seminary and bishops of the Episcopal Church. (Emphasis added.)
Well, now we see where that has led, don't we?  Salmon is further quoted as saying, 
"The name of leadership is relationships - people connecting with each other and working together," he said. "Our broken relationships in the Church are a testimony against the Gospel." 
No, Bishop, the heterodoxy of the Episcopal Church, in general, and of Katharine Jefferts Schori, in particular, are a testimony against the Gospel.  We are called to separate ourselves from false teachers; and a shepherd, whether of a diocese, a parish, or a seminary, is called to protect his flock from wolves.  In the words of the ordination vows Bishop Salmon took:  “Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to do the same?”  To lead a seminary like Nashotah House in these days, and to fail to keep that ordination vow, is to see your seminary turn into another Seabury-Western, or General, or worse.

In conclusion, let me point to three overarching conclusions:

1.  There is no movement today in the Episcopal Church capable of sustaining orthodox Christians or fostering the growth of orthodox congregations.

2.  In the absence of any movement designed to promote repentance, renewal, resurgence, and revival among orthodox Christians in the Episcopal Church, those Christians who remain in TEC are fighting a holding action and will ultimately lose through attrition.

Which leads to a third conclusion (which I say with great sadness):

3.  You can have orthodoxy or you can have the Episcopal Church, but you can't have both.

"Wait," some will say, "I am still in the Episcopal Church and I am orthodox, so I have both."  If that is true, then you are part of the remnant that is involved in fighting a holding action (whether you realize it or not).  So while your present situation may be safe for the moment, apart from divine intervention, the faith you hold, and the parish or diocese to which you belong (if they are still orthodox) will be lost in the next generation, if not in your lifetime.   

There are some, like Bishop Salmon, for whom relationships are more important than orthodoxy; and, in their cases, my words will fall on deaf ears.  History and the Righteous Judge before whom we both will stand will have the final say.  But, if I had it to do all over again, I would gladly, proudly, do the same.

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[Postscript:  I originally wrote the autobiographical part of the material in this post months ago but did not publish it because I was determined not to criticize my successor.  I wrote it mainly for my own journaling and reflection.  It is only this latest news of Bishop Salmon's decision to invite Katharine Jefferts Schori to preach at the House that has caused me to change my resolve.]