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The Trinity Tragedy - The Demise of a Lutheran
Theological Seminary

Called to Common Mission (CCM), the ecumenical agreement between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church in the USA, is arguably the greatest act of deception ever cultivated by an ecclesial denomination in the history of North America.


Whereas many ELCA seminaries have wittingly or unwittingly supported the grand deception in CCM, the administration of Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio has set Trinity apart as a prime proponent of the ecumenical ideology which underpins CCM. Ideologies by their very nature are contrary to the essence of intellectual integrity and academic credibility. More importantly, however, ideologies do not serve or advance the gospel.

Michael Root, a professor at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and a member of the ELCA's CCM drafting team, is a chief exponent of the ecumenical ideology which has created CCM. Despite a formal complaint lodged with Trinity regarding the unsatisfactory nature of Professor Root's scholarship in relation to CCM paragraph 11, Trinity's administration has taken no action. Instead, Trinity's administration not only supports CCM's unsatisfactory scholarship but also supports the deception inherent in CCM. In so doing, Trinity Lutheran Seminary demonstrates a failure to uphold basic academic and ethical standards befitting a Lutheran institution of theological learning. The paragraphs below summarize the beginning of the demise of Trinity as a Lutheran theological seminary.

Complaint Concerning the Unsatisfactory Scholarship
Professor Michael Root in Relation to Called to Common Mission

Martin Luther writes, "To err does not harm the church, but to remain in error - this is intolerable" (LW 38:171).

Given Professor Root's apparent inability to regulate his "scholarship" to comply with commendable norms and standards, a request for intervention to rectify the matter was sent in June of 2001 to Mark Ramseth, the President of Trinity Lutheran Seminary (click on Complaint Letter and on Complaint Paper).

In his response to this complaint, President Ramseth indicates that he is either unwilling or unable to ensure standards of academic excellence at Trinity. Furthermore, President Ramseth seems to think that the successful misleading of the ELCA's national legislative body makes such deception acceptable. Finally, President Ramseth apparently considers unnamed and unspecified opinion more compelling than the clear evidence before him (including Professor Root's own admissions) that CCM is fundamentally flawed (click on Ramseth Response).

The Trinity Tragedy

As shown in the Complaint Paper, on the 29th of June 2000 just prior to its General Convention, the Episcopal Church in the USA was informed that CCM was fundamentally flawed. Contrary to CCM paragraph 11, the Lutheran Reformers in Article 14 of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession could not have been referring to "historic succession" in the office of bishop (or "historic episcopacy") in any form. Quite simply, at that time (1530-1531) the Reformers did not know what the concept of "episcopal succession" was. Furthermore, according to research published in 1995, when the concept of "episcopal succession" was "rediscovered" (or invented) in 1538-1540, the Lutheran Reformers rejected it out of hand. Therefore, the members of the ELCA, and particularly the members of its 1999 Churchwide Assembly which passed CCM, have been wrongly led to believe that the Lutheran Reformers desired to have an Episcopalian- or Anglican-style church.

When responding to the Episcopal Church regarding this information, Professor Root admitted to knowing since 1995 of this research which undermines CCM. Professor Root further admitted that Article 14 of the Apology does not, in fact, refer to "episcopal succession." Finally, Professor Root's qualifications to these admissions involve unsatisfactory scholarship recognized internationally as being without credibility.

So, why did Professor Root help to draft CCM paragraph 11 contrary to information known to him for many years? Unfortunately, Professor Root is both silent and unrepentant on the matter.

Also, why has Trinity's administration failed to investigate the complaint made regarding Professor Root's unsatisfactory scholarship in relation to CCM paragraph 11? This failure to investigate and the support shown to Professor Root by Trinity's President, Mark Ramseth, serve only to demonstrate that fundamental principles of theological and ethical accountability are no longer paramount at Trinity Lutheran Seminary.

As a result of this situation, Trinity is now being drawn into a tragedy of as yet untold proportions. Professor Root's ecumenical ideology and Trinity's support thereof mean that Trinity Lutheran Seminary can longer be considered to be an institution of credible academic standing. At Trinity, systematic ideology is apparently preferred to systematic theology. At Trinity, historical accuracy seems to have been superceded by historical invention. At Trinity, while racial, gender, age, and other forms of intolerance are condemned, the principles of seventeenth-century Anglican religious intolerance are coveted. At Trinity, serving Christ as the way, the truth, and the life does not seem to compete with serving the ecclesial creations of carnal imaginations.

The Trinity Tragedy is set to grow. Although Trinity has many fine academics on its faculty, in the course of time even the work of Trinity's indubitable scholars will be called into question by the demise of credible standards at the seminary. The Trinity Tragedy will inevitably expand to include the seminary's students and graduates. Why would anyone pay tuition to attend a seminary where one may be supplied information known to be false? Why would a congregation wish to call Trinity graduates if it is uncertain whether such graduates have received a sound Lutheran training? How can this developing tragedy be arrested?

Arrest the Trinity Tragedy

When the church in Luther's day put human doctrines and ordinances before God, Luther advocated a withdrawal of support. Luther writes,

"Get busy now; spread the holy gospel, and help others spread it; teach, speak, write, and preach that man-made laws are nothing; urge people not to enter the priesthood, the monastery, or the convent, and hinder them from doing so; encourage those who have already entered to leave;..." (LW 45:68)

Lutheran theological students attending a Lutheran seminary should be confident that they will receive a Lutheran theological training. As is plain from Professor Root's "scholarship" in relation to CCM, it is not unlikely that students taught by Professor Root may receive information which unbeknownst to them is contrary to the Lutheran Reformers and to Lutheran doctrine.

As Trinity's president is unable or unwilling to address the situation, CCM Verax on behalf of concerned Trinity alumni shall undertake the following measures to effect change. Until Professor Root is no longer affiliated with Trinity Lutheran Seminary, CCM Verax will:

  • Work to discourage donations of financial and of other support to Trinity,
  • Work to discourage new students from attending Trinity,
  • Work to discourage all Trinity students from taking courses taught by Professor Root,
  • Work to encourage current Trinity students to transfer to another seminary,
  • Offer support to faculty and staff at Trinity who stand opposed to CCM, especially to those Lutheran professors who may experience personal or professional harassment for teaching Lutheran doctrine at a Lutheran seminary.

Freedom Scholarships

In order to facilitate some of these objectives, CCM Verax will offer (donations permitting) Freedom Scholarships to eligible Trinity Lutheran Seminary students. Students may become eligible for Freedom Scholarships either by navigating their degrees at Trinity without taking courses from Professor Root or by transferring to another, more confessional seminary.

Letter Campaign

If you wish to communicate your support for the CCM Verax campaign to arrest the developing Trinity Tragedy, please send a written message to Trinity's President, Mark Ramseth. A link to a precedent letter can be found at the end of this paragraph. As the precedent letter shows, copies should also be sent to The Association of Theological Schools, which accredits Trinity, and to one or more of the daily newspapers suggested. CCM Verax would also be grateful for a copy of your letter, but that is not required. Click here for the precedent letter.



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