“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6
Dear Friends in Christ, brothers and sisters in the Anglican Realignment,
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)
I experienced this loss first hand growing up in TEC, and especially when I went to seminary. In my first year of seminary, I wanted to show the reliability of oral transmission in oriental cultures in order to demonstrate the reliability of the Old Testament text. I asked my Old Testament professor if he knew of any resources I could consult to that end for my paper—as there were none in the seminary library (of course). He answered me very brusquely and unforgettably, “I am not aware of any resources that would address that point.”
So I had the good sense to call up the Old Testament department at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and consult with them. They were extremely friendly and helpful and pointed me to a number of books by highly respected Old Testament scholars (including one exactly on point by Dr. Carl Armerding). I wrote my paper and passed with flying (though begrudging) colors.
Thus began my experience with theological education in TEC. It was open to only one point of view, completely dismissive of any other scholarship, and actually hostile both inside the classroom and outside to any view of Christ or the Bible that was remotely orthodox.
Later on, when faced with the possibility of having to take Systematic Theology from a Professor who was a publicly vowed “adoptionist” (Jesus was simply a man adopted by God for a special purpose at Baptism), I elected to take a course from another liberal seminary in the city—but one where they actually took the whole text of classics by Luther, Calvin and others and opened them up for reasonable discussion and review. Again, I took the course, passed with flying colors, came back to my TEC seminary and took an exam to “opt out” of Systematic Theology—and passed with flying colors along with the comment from the professor “We do hope you come to value some of the things we consider important here at ___________ Seminary.”
Well, I didn’t. Thanks be to God.
I was fortunate that I knew Christ and the Bible long before I attended that seminary. So I was willing to pursue resources outside of my TEC seminary, to consult highly respected orthodox evangelical and Anglican scholars who held a different worldview than my professors, and to write papers and take exams that required twice the amount of work than I would otherwise have had to do to “go along and get along.”
But most of my classmates were not so inclined. Many of them are leaders in TEC today. I don’t believe that’s an accident. It is the result of being shaped in TEC seminaries by a worldview that is hostile to the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all, and to the plenary inspiration and authority of the Bible. And it is a worldview, frankly, that is not open to alternative points of view. And as a result, the prophecy of Hosea 4:6 came true in TEC: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
We must never, ever let that happen again in our Anglican Realignment. And so I was both heartened and saddened by the letter that the office of Bishop Jack Iker of the Anglican Church in North America’s Diocese of Fort Worth sent yesterday to his clergy:
“BISHOP IKER HAS RESIGNED AS A TRUSTEE on the Nashotah House Board, where he has served for the past 21 years. This action was taken in protest of the Dean’s invitation to the Presiding Bishop of TEC to be a guest preacher in the seminary’s chapel. Citing the lawsuits initiated by her against this Diocese, Bishop Iker notified the Board that he “could not be associated with an institution that honors her.” Similarly, Bishop Wantland has sent notification that he “will not take part in any functions at Nashotah” nor continue “to give financial support to the House as long as the present administration remains.”
On behalf of the American Anglican Council, we wish to extend our thanks to both Bishops +Iker and +Wantland for their faithful, consistent, unwavering witness and commitment-at great personal cost- to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible and the catholic tradition which has shaped our understanding of faithful Anglicanism.
On the other hand, we wonder what was in the mind of the Dean when he extended the invitation to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori—whose well documented un-Biblical statements about the person of Jesus Christ, the authority of the Bible, heaven and hell, the Resurrection and more, including her famous statement from General Convention 2009 that the “great heresy of Western Christianity” is the belief that one can have a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. What was the Dean thinking when he extended this invitation to preach from the pulpit of the Chapel itself, signifying the authority of her words—an unrepentant false teacher whose words and litigious/vindictive deeds would cause St. Augustine and all the Church Fathers to roll over in their graves?
Already, comments from many indicate that this invitation will cause many friends and alums of the House to cease their giving. Other members of the Board have been named and posted—will some of them resign, and cease their giving? Will this invitation result in such a decrease in giving, and in students, that Nashotah House will have to call more upon TEC, its “teachers” and prospective ordinands to make up the difference? We know where that will lead Nashotah House—into theological, moral and financial disaster.
Frankly, I left my TEC seminary saying “there must be a better way to prepare people for ministry.” So I was deeply gratified when only a year or two ago, an ACNA Task Force on Preparation Standards for Seminaries of the Anglican Church in North America submitted a number of recommendations:
“We pray that our Anglican worldview be shaped by Christ rather than culture. We long that our clergy would proclaim the whole Gospel of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, in word and deed, reflecting Jesus Christ in the world, and both hold and be held to biblical standards of morality.”
They went on to say that Anglican education and formation in ministry will be defined in terms of “character, competency and content of the standards of the world-wide Anglican Communion” – referencing in particular the Fundamental Declarations (Article I of the ACNA Constitution), and will include a Theology based upon the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Creeds, the 39 Articles of Religion, the classic Prayer Books, Anglican history, an understanding of Anglican worship built around Word, Sacrament and the Work of the Holy Spirit, and a proper understanding of the Scriptures.
The Presiding Bishop of TEC represents the exact opposite of these standards.
I don’t believe the invitation to her is an accident. It is part of an overall strategy both within TEC and the larger Canterbury/Anglican Communion Office dominated Communion to take over the seminaries with the same worldview that I experienced in my seminary days. I have written about these initiatives elsewhere in terms of the promotion of the Bible in the Life Curriculum for all Anglican seminaries coming out of the November 2013 meeting of ACC-15 in Auckland NZ. Revisionist Anglican leaders in TEC and throughout the Communion know from experience that if you can take over the seminaries with revisionist teaching on Christ and the Bible, you will produce generations of clergy leaders who will pass on the same false gospel to the people in the pews—until they can no longer even recognize what the Bible or the catholic faith has to say about Jesus Christ, salvation, the Bible, morality or daily discipleship. Just look at the history of TEC in the 20th century up to the present.
It may now be time for Bishop +Iker and other Anglo-Catholics in the ACNA to explore ways of training candidates for ministry that honor the recommendations of the ACNA Task Force on preparation Standards for Seminaries—either by partnering with an existing Catholic seminary, or perhaps establishing a new one to take Nashotah’s place. Of course, we can and must pray for the other members of the Board of Trustees of Nashotah House—that they will repent of this action and rescind the invitation, before it is too late.
Yours in Christ