March 25, 2017

February 24, 2014

Three Excuses for Bishop Salmon’s Inexcusable Invitation

I have noticed the following three excuses for Dean Salmon’s inexcusable invitation making the rounds.

Excuse 1: What harm could one sermon by a false teacher do to these orthodox seminarians? It’s hard to know where to begin. The premise seems to be: it’s okay to invite false teachers to preach if we’re relatively sure that no one will be influenced by what is said.

First: How do you know no one will be influenced? Can you read minds and hearts? The fact that according to the Dean there are three seminarians attending Nashotah who requested this invitation does little to support the contention that the student body is beyond corruption.

Second, the New Testament instructions with regard to false teachers are clear and direct: they must be completely repudiated. Who are you to decide that these instructions do not apply to seminaries? Where is this seminary exception clause found in the New Testament? 

Third, it is interesting that when you actually read the New Testament instructions for dealing with false teachers and the examples of the way the apostles themselves dealt with them you do not see this sort of results-oriented American pragmatism. Nowhere do we find Paul or Peter or John writing something like: Do not welcome a false teacher unless you are relatively sure that no one will be led astray. Certainly leading people astray is a central concern since that is what false teachers do. But the worry seems to be broader and deeper. It’s not only that this or that congregation might be harmed, but also that the teacher’s ministry will be legitimized and promoted and his claims to be a Christian teacher affirmed. Maybe no one in the household to which John writes in his second letter would be swayed by the false teachers he warns against but welcoming them is to participate in their false ministry. It adds legitimacy to their work. The promotion and acceptance of a heretic by a solidly orthodox body tells the watching world that the differences between the two really aren’t all that important and that perception is precisely what Hell strives to instill.

Excuse 2: Nashotah House chapel is located in a seminary. It is not a regular congregation. The New Testament instructions are given to congregations. Therefore the passages you cite are inapplicable.

First, most New Testament letters are written to specific congregations or groups of congregations but it does not follow that the instructions are only for those congregations and no one else. So when John writes, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7), he’s writing to a specific set of people but the instructions are, obviously, applicable to all Christians everywhere. And, in the same way, when John writes “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” (2 John 1:10-11) we righty apply these instructions beyond house churches in the first century. The principle could not be clearer: give no aid or comfort to those who lead the Lord’s little ones to hell.

Second,  can you imagine what Paul might say to this kind of hair splitting? The Galatians respond to Paul’s letter: “Dear Paul, you wrote that the Judaizers are accursed and eternally condemned and that we ought not to listen to them because they teach a gospel that damns…but how about we let them preach to our pastors in training?” Is anything more absurd? Christian leaders do not put heretics behind any pulpit anywhere for any reason. It’s unbelievable that anyone has to actually say that. We do not let servants of Hell preach from our pulpits. Is the logic difficult here? Is the reasoning obscure?

Excuse 3: You’re overreacting. If people pull their funding and diocese stop sending students we risk destroying a venerable orthodox institution over one little sermon.

No one is overreacting.

First, The Dean of Nashotah House has, in direct violation of God’s word, invited a heretic to preach from a pulpit set apart for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The difference between what Bishop Salmon has done to the pulpit at Nashotah and what King Ahaz did to the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 28:16-27) is only one of degree. Both have taken something set apart for the glory of God and the gospel and given it over to the worship of idols.

Second, the Dean’s invitation is itself a sermon, a lecture, a course in surrender. Through it, future Christian pastors are taught that handing over their pulpits to ravenous wolves, allowing lies to be spoken to people under their care, is not only inconsequential but beneficial if it might result in “peace” and increased financial support.

No right thinking bishop or pastor should want to expose his seminarian(s) to a Dean bent on that course of instruction and no Christian would want to support an institution offering such a course financially.

Overreaction? Hardly. The response has yet not been as strong as it can and must be. But hopefully, it has only just begun.

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Well put, Fr. Matt.

Re the third point - if this is not dealt with, then that failure WILL destroy the venerable orthodox institution.

Therefore those who love Nashotah house should be prepared to speak out strongly, take a determined stand and cut funding.  It is the only way that the orthodox within the faculty will be able to reassert control and draw the institution back from the brink of the abyss, where +Salmon is apparently determined to lead it.

[1] Posted by MichaelA on 2-25-2014 at 02:26 AM · [top]

I think a wait-and-see is better. Cutting funding forever only pushes them more into the other camp, if only from financial necessity.

Of course there is reason for anger. Surely the leadership must have known that this decision would be explosive. And the concept of a Pax-Nashotah is unbiblical and a flimsy shield to hide behind.

However, there is an opportunity here for some sort of engagement that may prove constructive. A total cutting-off, in my view, is premature until further information emerges.

It is wise not to use up all one’s ammunition at the very start of a battle. Also young, impressionable minds have a chance to observe and learn.

[2] Posted by Adam 12 on 2-25-2014 at 08:03 AM · [top]

Who said anything about “forever”. Cut funding until the situation is rectified. If there is repentance, let the flow of money go on as usual?

Who said anything about “anger”? I don’t see much anger at all. I see a reasonable coherent response to an act of collaboration with hell.

And yes, young impressionable minds are at stake…that’s why swift decisive action must be taken.

[3] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 2-25-2014 at 08:26 AM · [top]

The only engagement that might prove constructive would be if the P.B. were invited to a class on modern heresy and given a chance to espouse her views, and afterwards the class could be tested to see if they detected the false teachings and how they compare to the ancient heresies.

[4] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 2-25-2014 at 09:34 AM · [top]

If one reads Dr. Munday’s blog posts carefully, it is clear that far more than “one little sermon” is at issue.  The dismantling of a “venerable orthodox institution” is a gradual process which has been going on since Dr. Munday was removed as Dean.  It took this action and Bishop Iker’s faithful response to bring it to public attention.

It seems to me that we have in miniature a repeat of the decline and fall of TEC.  At first there were many who said we should wait and see, not be hasty, etc.  What if we lose the voices of the orthodox?  I see the same thing going on here.

All indications are that it is too late for TEC.  Is it too late to save Nashotah?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Being silent will certainly not help.  Once again we will be able to watch Church history unfolding before our eyes.

[5] Posted by Ann Castro on 2-25-2014 at 09:54 AM · [top]

I think before making any permanent decisions, it would be best to see what the board does between now and May 2, and its actions at the next board meeting.  +Jack Iker’s resignation makes quite clear that while the board may have “kicked around” the idea that the PB be invited to campus, they were not consulted individually or corporately on the decision to put KJS into the pulpit.  Simply put, although several of the orthodox bishops were away at the last board meeting, there were still several orthodox in the room, and there is no report or minutes from that meeting indicating anything like “the board voted 10-7 (with 4 members absent) to approve inviting the presiding bishop of TEC to preach from the pulpit of St. Mary’s Chapel.”  There is, rather, the vague indication that some form of visit was discussed.  Bishop Salmon himself indicates no decision or specific plan or vote on the part of the board, but that it was left up to him (Anglican TV interview).

It is clear that bishops Martins and Salmon called around AFTER the invitation had been sent (Dan Martins says as much on his blog) to try to put fires out, and Martins says he went to see +Keith Ackerman personally.  I am a contributor (occasionally, of small amounts) to Nashotah, and word has come to me via various circuitous routes (I understand it also was put up on facebook) that either Martins or Salmon would be happy to take calls or email from contributors to assuage any concerns we might have.  But let me put it to them this way- when they have completely satisfied +Jack Iker’s concerns and convinced him to rejoin the board, or I receive notification that +Keith Ackerman is now chairman of the board, or the new Dean is ________, then we have something to discuss.

What needs to be faced here is that Nashotah is no longer an Anglo Catholic seminary, and has not been for years.  It is the only remaining TEC seminary where Anglo Catholics can still learn something of their traditions, and which tolerates their theology and practice.  This is not to demean or challenge the orthodoxy of Trinity or Wycliffe, but their theology and liturgical practice are definitely not Anglo Catholic, and I catch enough flack around here to imagine that neither school is going to be training anyone in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In point of fact, I don’t know that one learns such at Nashotah anymore, either.  Nashotah’s information on the website indicates all manner of liturgical usage, but read between the lines, seems very much focused on the ‘79, as opposed to the English or American missals derived from the Sarum usage of the early CoE. 

Personally, I do not see how any diocesan bishop in TEC can be considered Anglo Catholic anymore, and precious few clergy and congregations.  At best, they exist in little enclaves here and there, with no proper episcopal oversight, and as clergy retiring it is unlikely that bishops will be “encouraging” those congregations to accept their affirming catholic alternatives.

[6] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-25-2014 at 10:42 AM · [top]

Thank you, Matt, for stating the truth so clearly.

The apostles did not go slowly, nor take a calm approach, nor deal gently with people promoting heresy.  That Anglicans do so is a shame and reproach.  If we are not standing firmly for the Gospel, we are giving way to Satan.  There is no third way in Scripture.

[7] Posted by Kay on 2-25-2014 at 10:51 AM · [top]

Nailed it, Matt.

[8] Posted by Christopher Johnson on 2-25-2014 at 11:47 AM · [top]

As always, thank you Fr. Matt.  In following this story, I am reminded of the following:

When “Niceness” is Not a Virtue

When confronted with false teaching or discovering a false teacher, a Christian leader who is not moved to indignation and anger does not, at that moment, share the mind of Christ.  And one who does not respond with rapidity and zeal when there is a wolf in the fold does not, at that moment, walk in the way of Christ who is the great Shepherd of the sheep.

                Matt Kennedy
                March 29, 2011

[9] Posted by Great Western Heresy on 2-25-2014 at 12:43 PM · [top]

If I were a bishop with one or more seminarians in Nashotah House, I would issue specific instructions that they were either to walk out at sermon time, or be completely absent from chapel that day.

[10] Posted by desertpadre on 2-25-2014 at 12:45 PM · [top]

#10, If +Love, +Brewer, and +Abp. Duncan were to all give orders to be absent that day, the St. Mary’s Chapel would be a relatively empty place….....presumably Bp. Salmon will make sure the faculty are there and the organist.  Of course all kinds might be out in the “court of the Gentiles”.......

[11] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 2-25-2014 at 01:13 PM · [top]


[12] Posted by ckaem on 2-25-2014 at 02:08 PM · [top]

If you do that, you can count on the bishops of Milwaukee and Chicago to bus in pro-KJS people to pack the pews.

And, lets be real, +Salmon did not issue this invitation without the support of the TEC bishops.  No reason to think they would support any sort of boycott of the event.  If they were not supportive of the invitation, the vote of no confidence would have already been called, and they would be looking for a new Dean.

For whatever reason, knowing full well that the ACNA members of his board would be very much against this (and I can’t imagine that bishop Lawrence is happy, and as I recall another clergy member is also from SC).  So, Salmon MUST have the support of the TEC board members, either on the basis of actually being in favor, or because it is, from their point of view, the lesser of two evils (lot of nice lakefront property there, Nashotah, would make a great place for some retirement condos…we have more seminaries than we really need….)

[13] Posted by tjmcmahon on 2-25-2014 at 02:49 PM · [top]

Thank you Fr Matt at #3.  I do not understand why Adam 12 at #2 assumed that I meant cut funding permanently - of course you would restore funding as soon as the institution withdraws the invitation to Ms Schori. 

I also agree with tjmcmahon at #6 - clear warnings should be given before taking action such as cutting funding.  That is not only fair, it also maximizes the impact.

[14] Posted by MichaelA on 2-28-2014 at 01:49 AM · [top]

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