NORMAN SHEPHERD AND FALLING FOR ROME
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:
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.