Author Archive | Denny Burk

Zane Hodges, RIP (1933-2008)

I just learned that Zane Hodges has passed away. He was well-known for advocating that one need not persevere in the faith in order to be saved. He also favored the Majority Text over eclectic texts of the New Testament.

Dr. Daniel Wallace was one of his students and has posted some fascinating reflections on Hodges’s life. His remarks about Hodges’s relationship to S. L. Johnson are particularly interesting.

“Zane Hodges (1933–2008)” – by Daniel Wallace (Parchement and Pen)

Amend ETS: A Successful Effort

I have been away from the blog for the last week due to a busy schedule at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). Readers of this blog know that my friend Ray Van Neste and I had co-sponsored an effort to amend the doctrinal basis of the ETS and that the vote on the measure was to take place last week. Now that the meeting and the vote are over, I can tell you what happened and post a few reflections.

In short, we feel that our effort was successful, even though the Society decided not to adopt our specific proposal. The final vote was 130 opposed and 47 in favor (with 177 total votes cast, it was an abysmal turn-out for such an important vote). How can I claim that our effort was a success after we got only 26 percent of the vote? Let me explain. Continue Reading →

Carl Trueman: An Ironic Catalyst to Roman Catholicism

I have been reading Francis Beckwith’s fascinating book about his return to the Roman Catholic Church from Protestant Evangelicalism. On page 83, there is an ironic little anecdote in which Beckwith says that Carl Trueman was a “catalyst” for his conversion to Roman Catholicism. I won’t explain the whole thing here, but in short Trueman had written an essay in which he claimed that Roman Catholicism was the “default” position for the church in the West. Trueman wrote that,

“Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination, let alone the strange hybrid that is evangelicalism; in light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic” (Carl Trueman quoted by Beckwith).

Beckwith saw in Trueman’s words an insurmountable obstacle, one that would finally lead him to Roman Catholicism. Beckwith writes,

“Professor Trueman’s reasoning would serve as a catalyst for reorienting my sense of whether the Catholic Church or I had the burden in justifying the schism in which I had remained for over thirty years” (p. 83).

Of course, Trueman’s essay was not at all an attempt to draw people into the Catholic church. On the contrary, Trueman’s point was quite the opposite. That is why his place in Beckwith’s story is so ironic.

Correction: Amend ETS on Wednesday Not Thursday!

In my previous post in which I set forth the schedule for the Amendment debate, I posted the wrong date! The discussion and floor debate are scheduled for Wednesday evening, not Thursday evening. The corrected schedule is below. Please spread the word. Thanks.

11/19 – Wednesday

5:20-6:00pm – Van Neste, Burk, and Executive Committee discuss the proposal followed by a Q & A with audience. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom E

8:30-9:30pm – Business Meeting: Discussion of the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom

11/21 – Friday

8:30-9:00am – Business Meeting: Vote on the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom A

Beckwith’s Book and the ETS Amendment

Francis Beckwith’s new book Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic has just been released. The new book traces his journey back to Roman Catholicism, and the last chapter deals directly with his membership in the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Beckwith was the President of the ETS when he decided to return to the Roman Catholic Church. Beckwith said then and he contends now that he can still sign the ETS’s doctrinal statement in good conscience. He writes,

“On May 5, 2007, I resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and two days later I resigned my membership, one I held for over twenty years. . . I did not believe that the ETS doctrinal statement was inconsistent with my Catholic beliefs. . . I still believe the ETS doctrinal statement is broad enough to allow Catholic members” (pp. 118-19). Continue Reading →

Help Us Amend the ETS

I am co-sponsoring with Ray Van Neste a proposal to amend the doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Next week the Society will meet in Providence, Rhode Island where our proposal will finally come to a vote. I am writing this blog post to get the word out to our friends who are planning on supporting the amendment. If you support our amendment and have a blog, I’m asking you to link this post to help us spread the word.

The process to amend ETS’s constitution is a slow one. The founders were wise to make it that way. Ray and I began this effort in the Spring of 2007 just after Francis Beckwith stepped down from the presidency of ETS. But the impetus for our effort actually goes back a bit further than that.

In 2001, the Society deliberated about what might be the appropriate doctrinal “boundaries” for the ETS. Many papers were presented on this theme, some of which were subsequently published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (45.1 and 45:2). In light of the open theism controversy, it was a timely conversation. But the Society took no action or had any serious discussions to bolster its evangelical identity by revisiting its doctrinal basis. In short, nothing changed.

So Ray and I are trying to get this issue back on the agenda again for serious discussion. That is going to happen at this meeting. In advance of the vote on Friday morning, there will be two sessions of discussion and debate about our proposal. We would like all of our supporters to be at the debate sessions, but we really need you to turn out for the vote on Friday Morning. Here’s the schedule for the three events, and I’m asking you to include these sessions in your schedule next week. These meetings are listed on pages 19 and 30 of the ETS Program Schedule.

11/19 – Wednesday

5:20-6:00pm – Van Neste, Burk, and Executive Committee discuss the proposal followed by a Q & A with audience. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom E

8:30-9:30pm – Business Meeting: Discussion of the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom

11/21 – Friday

8:30-9:00am – Business Meeting: Vote on the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom A

Here’s the gist of what we’ll be debating. The current doctrinal basis of the ETS consists merely of an affirmation of inerrancy and of the Trinity. We propose to expand this basis to include the doctrinal basis of the U.K.’s Tyndale Fellowship. The Tyndale fellowship unites around evangelical truths a broad group of Christian scholars from varying denominational and theological perspectives (Calvinists, Wesleyans, Baptists, Anglicans, etc). The members of the Tyndale fellowship agree to the statement of belief used by the U.K.’s Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF).

If you want to get acquainted with the rationale for our amendment, there are three items that you need to read:

1.    Our website:

2.    Our 2007 article in Criswell Theological Review: “Inerrancy Is Not Enough”

3.    Van Neste’s 2004 article in SBJT: “The Glaring Inadequacy of the ETS Doctrinal Statement”

If you are a member and are interested in signing up to support our amendment, please visit here. Thanks for your help.

Carl Trueman on Growing Up (or not)

Carl Trueman is a great writer. His latest article at the Reformation 21 website is a must-read (HT: Justin Taylor). Here’s the conclusion:

“You are, of course, what you worship, as Psalm 115 reminds us, and thus, as long as we idolize our children and the culture of youth, we can expect to – well, be just like them: pouting, irresponsible, hormonal, unpleasant and, frankly, as creepy as those sixteenth century portraits of little children with adult faces. Trapped in Neverland with no hope of escape.”

A Resolution on Protecting Human Life

This week Southern Baptists in Kentucky passed a resolution on protecting human life (HT: Philip Bethancourt). Russell Moore was instrumental in bringing this resolution to pass, and there is much to commend in it. I particularly like the fact that it does not go along with the “abortion-is-one-issue-among-many” approach that we saw some “evangelicals” take in the recent election. It encourages treating the abortion issue as a priority. I have printed the full resolution below, but here are some of the highlights: Continue Reading →

James Kushiner on the Election of Barack Obama

There’s been a lot of discussion about the future of the pro-life cause in light of the election of Barack Obama. The most pointed remarks I’ve read come from Touchstone‘s James Kushiner:

‘The irony about the election of our first black president, an irony which I wish did not exist, is that while blacks have risen from the indignities and injustice of slavery in which their bodies were sold and consumed as property, and have endured segregation and second-class citizen status and racial discrimination, and have now one of their own elected to the highest office in the land, this very president-elect, Barack Obama, will increase the death toll among black human beings if he fulfills his promise to enact a Freedom of Choice Act, which will serve as a firewall around Roe v. Wade, the Dred Scott decision of our times. Continue Reading →

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