By J. Parnell McCarter




Norman Shepherd is leaving an ugly trail behind him.  First, there was the case of Presbyterian minister Scott Hahn.  As reported in the Standard Bearer (see http://www.prca.org/standard_bearer/volume79/2003mar01.html ), Norman Shepherd was influential in Scott Hahn’s embrace of Roman Catholicism:


“The teaching of justification by faith and faith’s works by these prominent, influential Reformed and Presbyterian professors and ministers has practical consequences.  It leads impressionable Presbyterian and Reformed souls back to the bondage of the Roman Catholic Church.  That this is no idle fear, but grim reality, has been testified by one such impressionable former Presbyterian, Scott Hahn.  Hahn fell away to the Roman Catholic Church, for which he is now an apologist to other Presbyterians.  In his and his wife’s book recounting their apostasy, Hahn tells the world how Norman Shepherd encouraged him in his conversion to Rome.  By his own studies, Hahn discovered that the Protestant and Presbyterian doctrine of justification by faith alone was wrong.  “Sola fide [by faith alone—DJE] was unscriptural!”  Hahn continues:


  I was so excited about this discovery.  I shared it with some friends, who were amazed at how much sense it [Hahn’s belief of justification by faith and works—DJE] made.  Then one friend stopped me and asked if I knew who else was teaching this way on justification.  When I responded that I didn’t, he told me that Dr. Norman Shepherd, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary … was about to undergo a heresy trial for teaching the same view of justification that I was expounding.  So I called Professor Shepherd and talked with him.  He said he was accused of teaching something contrary to the teachings of Scripture, Luther and Calvin.  As I heard him describe what he was teaching, I thought, Hey, that is what I’m saying.  Now this might not seem like much of a crisis to many, but for somebody steeped in Protestantism and convinced that Christianity turned on the hinge of sola fide, it meant the world (Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Home:  Our Journey to Catholicism, Ignatius, 1993, p. 31).”



More recently there is the case of Presbyterian minister Gerald Tritle.  Here is how Gerald Tritle described his defection to Romanism in response to an email query by Jeremy Williams:


From:  Jeremy Williams <beavertonoregon@y...>
Date:  Fri Dec 5, 2003  2:06 pm
Subject:  More on Tritle (email and response)


I didn't know if Tritle's defection to the Catholic
church was influenced by Shepherd or not, so I asked
him and he responded back to me. The subject to my
query was '2 Public Questions' so I could post the
query and response here.


Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 03:35:02 -0800 (PST)
From: "Jeremy Williams" <beavertonoregon@y...>
Subject: 2 Public Questions
To: tritle2000ad@a...

Hello Pastor Tritle,

My name is Jeremy and I recently read your
announcement about leaving your congregation on your

I spent some time thinking about your movement from
the Springfield Reformed Church to the Catholic church
and I was hoping you could answer 2 questions for me.

1. Would you characterize Springfield Reformed Church
as a Reconstructionist church?

2. Did Norman Shepherd or the new perspective on Paul
influence your decision to migrate to the Catholic

I wouldn't be so concerned except that I am a
Reconstructionist and I don't fully understanding your
published reasons for migrating. I thought perhaps
that the thinking that consumed Scott Hahn may have
also influenced you.

I know that you are busy and do not have time to talk
to people that you do not know right now, but I would
really appreciate an answer. Thank you.


Jeremy Williams

Tritle's response:


From: Tritle2000AD@a... Add to Address Book
Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 15:07:31 EST
Subject: Re: 2 Public Questions
To: beavertonoregon@y...

Good afternoon, Jeremy,

I appreciate your email. Thanks for writing. I have
been amazed as of late as to how many hundreds of
folks have seen the open letter regarding my joining
the Catholic Church. Our web site at Springfield
Reformed was quite popular as it received nearly 100
hits per week from all over the world. I'm glad to
give a brief answer to your very good questions.

First, carrying the Augustinian torch of
reinterpreting and reconstructing the world according
to God's Word, and as Christians who labor with others
who have this same doctrinal conviction, we, as a
church, are busy interpreting and reconstructing
society in accordance with the Word of God, with the
aid of the grace and Spirit of God, and anchored in
the Postmillennial hope of God. Since we are
partakers of the New Covenant in Christ, we glorify
God and enjoy Him in all of our respective roles as
sons and daughters of God, husbands and wives, fathers
and mothers, and vocational workers. So, in this
sense, one aspect of our ministry to the church has
been (past tense since we stopped assembling)
Christian Reconstruction.

Second, regarding Norman Sheperd, I recently served
our congregation sermons on the *Justification of the
Saints*. Those sermons along with the accompanying
discussions after the worship truly deepened our
understanding of covenantal theology and James'
"justification by works." I brought forth the
Scriptures, Trent, Westminster, the Reformers,
Shepherd, and Shepherd's opponents. In presenting
Shepherd, an acquaintance of Rev. John Martin, our
other Presbyter, I wanted to depict the usefulness of
the concept of covenant in reconciling Paul and James.
Shepherd believes that it would do much for the cause
of ecumenicity in the church. Doctrinally, I tend to
agree, but emotionally, Reformed churches and others
have vested interests in staying away from Roman
Catholicism--some interests not so eternally noble or

I believe that the Auburn pastor conferences brought
aspects of justification to the forefront for
identification and analysis. Remember, that Shepherd,
Wright, and others have been around a lot longer than
Wilkins (et. al.) and the Auburn conferences. With
over 150,000 American converts to the Roman Catholic
Church this year in the U.S. alone, Christians,
especially conservative theologians, are seeing the
truths of the Roman Catechism. The Roman Catholic
Church indeed believes in the necessity of grace for
salvation. I found myself even agreeing with Trent. I
have always maintained a position that I must be
honest with the Scriptures. I cannot hold to Sola
Fidei, or Sola Scripture anymore, in light of the Word
of God. A man is indeed justified by His works. A
recent OPC overture still denies James 2:24. It were
as if Reformed folks want to remain willfully blind or
use forced logic to contort James' words--but you read
all of that in the sermons. Auburn and Shepherd were
catalysts, but not the primary straws or reasons as to
why I joined the Roman Catholic Church.

Thank you again, Jeremy, for writing. I would be
curious to know how you even landed on our site (I
always find how people find us, facinating).

Our Lord Jesus Christ reigns, and His Kingdom rules
over all,





Despite the pernicious nature of Shepherd’s theology, various prominent men in the “reformed” Christian movement continue to promote his theology.  John Robbins of The Trinity Foundation (http://www.trinityfoundation.org/) has reported on the case as follows:


“A few years ago we published an essay in The Trinity Review (go to the Review Archives at our website, www.trinityfoundation.org , to read "Protestant Pastors on the Road to Rome") by Elizabeth Altham, a Roman Catholic journalist reporting on the conversion of Protestant clergymen to Rome.  Just before Thanksgiving another Presbyterian preacher, educated at a conservative Presbyterian seminary,  converted to Rome, with the help and encouragement of the Coming Home Network, a Roman Catholic society that furnishes moral and financial support to Protestant clergymen considering Rome. Responding to an inquirer, this Presbyterian clergyman said, "A man is indeed justified by his works. A recent OPC [Orthodox Presbyterian Church] Overture still denies James 2:24. It were as if Reformed folks want to rermain willfully blind or use forced logic to contort James' words.... Auburn [Avenue Pastors Conferences] and [Norman] Shepherd were catalysts, but not the primary straws or reasons as to why I joined the Roman Catholic Church."   Once again, we see the theology of Norman Shepherd and the Moscow-Monroe Axis contributing to what B. B. Warfield called "perversions" to Rome.
    I contacted the Coming Home Network and asked them some questions about their activities. Below are the answers to my questions kindly sent by their assistant director:
JR: How many Protestant clergymen are you presently working with?
CHN: Currently we have 839 ministers on our roles [sic]. 
JR: How many Protestant clergymen have you helped to join the Roman Church?
CHN: Of these 839 ministers, 483 are now in full communion with the Catholic Church.
JR: What are the trends: Are the numbers increasing?
CHN: Yes the numbers are increasing.  We have had a 34% increase of non-catholic clergymen contacting us this years as compared to last 
JR: Is there any denomination that predominates in conversions?
CHN: The largest single denomination is Episcopalian, the second largest are ministers from the Baptist tradition.
JR: Which seminaries have these men been educated in?
CHN: We have not kept a scientific record of the names of the seminaries in which the ministers were educated.  They tend to be from all over the USA and the world.
JR: Are there other groups like yours working to facilitate such conversions?
CHN: No, we have been told by sources in the Catholic Church that we are unique in our work with non-catholic clergy.
Comment: The Coming Home Network keeps the list of clergymen it is presently working with confidential. But if you have been hearing some strange sermons lately, you might want to ask your pastor--especially if he has been reading Norman Shepherd or N. T. Wright--if he is considering Rome and is in touch with the Coming Home Network. There are at least 350 clergymen out there who are.”

And prominent ministries like Steve Schlissel’s Messiah’s Congregation are promoting Shepherd’s theology.  For example, consider this statement at http://www.messiahnyc.org/supportus.asp : “Donate $25 or more and you may request this excellent primer on covenant thinking:
The Call of Grace: How the Covenant Illuminates Salvation and Evangelism, by Rev. Norman Shepherd. Rev. Shepherd is one of the most humble and honest exegetes you will read. His supreme purpose is always to discover and explain what God says in His Word. (110 pages.)”


It is truly time for Protestants to wake up and see the wolves roaming through Protestant territory.