In response to Steve Noll’s excellent piece on why Trinity (and Nashotah, from which I hold an honorary degree) must be supported by Network and Common Cause bishops, I would add only a couple of thoughts:
First, It is not just retired bishops like +Ben Benitez and +Alex Dickson who in their day refused to send students to Trinity. It is also quite a number of current Network bishops who have sought all kinds of alternative roots, as you suggest, and in some cases refused to allow students to come to Trinity. It has been frustrating for Trinity Deans to watch capable candidates be spirited off to England, Canada and other US seminaries who then, upon graduation, are almost totally unconnected to the US Episcopal/Anglican renewal scene, and woefully uninformed about historic Anglican evangelicalism. No one is saying that Ambridge is a great tourist destination, especially in February. But theological education there is solid, biblical, Anglican, and thoroughly in touch with all the theological currents in the wider church. Those who have suggested that qualified candidates, who wanted to come to Trinity, or might have come with a bit of encouragement, would “do better” to go elsewhere have to bear some responsibility for the chaos the Episcopal Church is in today. The fact that some of these bishops are my friends makes me very sad.
Secondly, the system that we now have is itself confusing. Frequently, I’ve heard bishops say that they are “willing” to have candidates go to Trinity. However, when the candidate goes before the Commission on Ministry, they are told that they must be broadened, and go elsewhere. This is a case of one playing “good cop” and the other “bad cop.” One senses collusion in these decisions.
Thirdly, it has become clear to me over the years that stereotypes about Trinity have nothing to do with the reality that one finds there. The stereotypes, however, are a necessary defense by the liberal leadership of TEC against any willingness to countenance the thought that historic biblical theology, coupled with missionary zeal, has a place within North American Anglicanism. Of course, this is historical nonsense. But the misrepresentation lingers. It is necessary that the liberals stigmatize Trinity as fundamentalist, or narrow, or anti-women, or hate-filled, or whatever — not because any of these labels stick, or have the slightest relationship to reality, but because they protect the users from actually facing the facts: Anglican evangelicalism has both an historic and a current place within North American Anglicanism, and until the recent unpleasantness was making great strides towards leading TEC backward to its roots, and forward to its true missional calling.
–(The Rev. Dr.) Peter Moore is a former Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry