Saturday, September 16, 2006

And then there were 10?

How does one read the most recent letter from The Very Rev. Paul Zahl, Dean and President of Trinity Seminary? Are there now 10 official seminaries in The Episcopal Church and not 11?

I hope the link will be up soon at, but until it is, here is the copy of the letter. Very interesting read.

(Any typos are mine, and not attributed to the original piece. Text appears in the Sept./Oct. 2006 issue of Seed and Harvest)

"We are now in a new phase. Something has actually changed, and Trinity is part of it.

A milestone was reached in the Episcopal Church's General Convention last June. This has permanently changed the landscape. It has also opened up a new way for the School.

At its General Convention in Columbus, the Episcopal Church left orthodox Christianity behind, decisively and definitely. I wish we could change this fact, but we cannot change it. The election of Presiding Bishop Schori, whose views incline to heresy in faith and morals; the overwhelming turning away from a resolution submitted in favor of the Way, the Truth, and the Life; the overwhelming rebuff delivered by the House of Deputies to the Windsor Report; and the utterly unprincipled face-saving motion forced through at the last moment; these things confirmed the direction in which the Episcopal Church has been sailing for several decades now. I do not see how we can be a part of this anymore. To Bible-formed sensibilities, it is unendurable.

Maxine gave me a wonderful present last year. It is a little paperback entitled Let's Face the Facts about Flying Saucers. Now this title can be interpreted in exactly two ways, depending on whether you believe, well, in flying saucers. But the flag under which the Episcopal Church is now flying cannot be interpreted in two different ways. It can only be interpreted in one way. Let's face the facts.

We now have to place ourselves under a different flag.

Fortunately, we have always put another flag over and above the Episcopal Church flag. In Bach-cantata language, this is "Jesus' Blood-Bespattered Banner" (Cantata 80). It is the red flag of the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

What does this mean for Trinity?

We will stand with Bishop Duncan and with the Anglican Communion Network. We will work alongside ECUSA wherever they will have us - and fortunately, there are still bishops who do and will. We will work alongside the Anglican Mission in America, and other Anglican bodies whose banner, too, is red. And we will work with and for the Global South and all other Anglican Communion bishops and bodies who hold true to the Center of our Faith. Oh, and we will work gladly with evangelical Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Methodists, and all others for whom their "banner over me is Love." We are Anglican evangelicals, but always evangelical first - which is to say, Bible Christians first.

And there is another thing to say. Trinity School for Ministry can serve the traditional side of American and world Christianity in a particular and maybe even unique way: As Cranmerian Anglicans, we can draw on the great resource of God's Grace, fulfilled through the end of the Law in the death of Christ (Romans 8:1-4; 10:4), and concede nothing to Pharisaism. In other words, we can be people of Grace, because the Law has been fulfilled. So maybe we can be a little more hopeful, a little less strenuous, a little more open-ended, a little more Holy Spirit-impelled than traditional Christians sometimes come across as being, at least in the world's eyes. Love goes a long way! It goes a lot further than demand. When love is grounded in the demand of God fulfilled in the Judged Life of the Savior, then the love we give is free and undemanding, yet effective and transforming in the truest sense.

I saw a headline on a Pittsburgh newspaper the other day. It read "Ashes of Husband Incorporated into Diamond Ring." Instantly, on sight, I choked up. What a touching image! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Trinity is all about. The sacrifice of Christ creates the lustre of all ages, and even the death of a church can shine, like a nova, in the lives of its Easter survivors.

Love, ever,

*****If there are any typos in this, please let me know so that prompt corrections can be made.

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