3/19/2014

Standing Corrected

In my last blog, O Theophilus, I wrote, "Nashotah House, a Seminary of great historical and current value, issued an invitation to the Presiding Bishop to come to the House. Nashotah House draws its students from a range of churches most of which are self described as Anglican churches. Only a fraction are from The Episcopal Church now, but historically the House was distinctly Episcopalian."

Bishop Dan Martins corrected me, noting that while it may be a fraction, my comment was misleading. It is a fraction, but a big one... about 50% are from Episcopal dioceses.  So, I stand corrected and made the change in the text to reflect that.

I also got several notes that remarked that bishops had said they would not send their candidates to Nashotah or to Trinity. Bishops and committees of one sort or another have been given to fairly blanket condemnation of this or that seminary on the basis of difficult experiences with graduates from those institutions. That is unfortunate, even if understandable.  

When I went to the Episcopal Theological School in the mid 60's (seems very very long ago) there were bishops who would not send their seminarians there, believing that Joe Fletcher and his situation ethics, and biblical criticism, and social concerns of the school bordered on heresy. They were wrong. (I mean, look at the results!)

Over the years I have visited all the accredited seminaries except Bexley Hall (the Crusty Old Dean could invite me, hint hint).  I found them all to be interesting places, each with some portion of what I would want from theological education. And yet I remain a child of The Episcopal Theological School and its successor  The Episcopal Divinity School (from which I have a D. Min.).  Since the current slamming seems to be about Trinity and Nashotah, I want to comment about them.  

I remember being impressed that Trinity rose up out of a more or less slum neighborhood and was itself a kind of mission station in the greater Pittsburgh area.  That lent an interesting flavor to the interest of students and faculty in mission.  At least they saw mission as both about near and far. 

Nashotah House struck me as most nearly achieving the sense of a community of prayer and study.  It was hard to come onto the grounds and not be immediately struck by the "House" being a household of the faith. 

I have very little patience with people who stereotype institutions (or people for that matter.)  It is certainly true that the general spirit of each institution is different and the graduates tend to reflect the seminary and its approach. My sense is that dioceses are well served who have a mix of seminarian graduates represented. Monochromatic systems do not seem to me very healthy, mostly because Jesus Christ - who we all follow in our own stumbling ways - is constantly surprising and astounding our best efforts to keep Him and the theology that surrounds Him under control.  

So, I stand corrected.  
 

3 comments:

Ann said...

My bishop would not let me go to EDS so I went to Harvard! LOL. I did take classes at EDS and attended their weekly chapel - I learned that they were not really radical but very mainstream in worship and ethos.

Bob McCloskey said...

Hi Mark,
I sat through the HOB meeting at General Convention [Minneapolis} debating a request to recognize and support Trinity. 2 bishops afterward told me that it was most unfortunate to have an institution committed to C of E style evangelical partisanship.

That same meeting was the one which considered a measure to allow clergy to divorce and remarry [which upon approval witnessed the eventual spectacle of several episcopal divorces]. In particular one anglo-catholic opponent of the measure was asked by a colleague what he would do if a church burned down including the reserved sacrament. As I recall the way he put it was: Would you go and sweep up the remains and continue to reverence the ashes?
Partisanship in both directions!
Pax, Bob

Lionel Deimel said...

That an extraordinary fraction of the clergy who have undermined and, ultimately, left The Episcopal Church are products of Trinity (formerly “Episcopal”) School for Ministry is not an accident. When one of its professors (along with Bishop Bob Duncan) appeared on the infamous “Choose This Day” DVD that encouraged Episcopalians to leave their church, I concluded that it was time to drop TSM as an “Episcopal” seminary. My impression is that TSM is less radical than formerly, but, with Episcopal seminaries experiencing difficult times, why do we need another one? The percentage of Episcopalians at TSM is today vanishingly small.