ETS Executive Committee on Beckwith

The executive committee of the ETS has just released a statement concerning the resignation of Dr. Francis Beckwith. The executive committee says that Roman Catholic theology is incompatible with the doctrinal basis of the ETS. Here are the relevant lines:

The Executive Committee recognizes Dr. Beckwith’s resignation as President and subsequent withdrawal from membership as appropriate in light of the purpose and doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society and in light of the requirements of wholehearted confessional agreement with the Roman Catholic Church.

The work of the Evangelical Theological Society as a scholarly forum proceeds on the basis that “the Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs.” This affirmation, together with the statement on the Trinity, forms the basis for membership in the ETS to which all members annually subscribe in writing. Confessional Catholicism, as defined by the Roman Catholic Church’s declarations from the Council of Trent to Vatican II, sets forth a more expansive view of verbal, infallible revelation.

Specifically, it posits a larger canon of Scripture than that recognized by evangelical Protestants, including in its canon several writings from the Apocrypha. It also extends the quality of infallibility to certain expressions of church dogma issued by the Magisterium (the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church), as well as certain pronouncements of the pope, which are delivered ex cathedra, such as doctrines about the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary.

You can read the rest of it here: “ETS on Beckwith” – Christianity Today Liveblog.

The executive committee interprets the ETS doctrinal basis so as to exclude Roman Catholics, yet Dr. Beckwith has said that as a Roman Catholic he can sign ETS’s doctrinal basis in good conscience (source). At the very least, I think this discrepancy shows that Ray Van Neste was correct in 2001 when he contended that the ETS’s doctrinal statement is too skimpy. It needs to be more explicitly evangelical. This is an issue that the ETS must take up, and I will have much more to say on this point later.

Recent Coverage:
“Prominent evangelical returns to Catholic roots” – by Sam Hodges (Dallas Morning News)

Francis Beckwith Resigns His ETS Membership

Dr. Francis Beckwith resigned from the presidency of ETS over the weekend. He announces today that he is resigning his membership as well. He writes:

Although I firmly believe that I can sign the ETS doctrinal statement in good conscience, my high-profile presence in ETS will likely result in the sort of public conflict that occurred during the debate over the openness view of God and the attempt on the part of some members to oust believers in that view.  Because, as I noted in my prior posting on this matter, that I deeply desire a public conversation among Christians about the relationship between Evangelicalism and the Great Tradition, a public debate about my membership status, with all the rancor and stress that typically goes with such disputes, would preempt and poison that important conversation. For this reason, I am resigning as a member of ETS.

Read the rest of the announcement here: “My Resignation from the Evangelical Theological Society.”

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Herod’s Tomb Discovered

This post is for the bibliophiles and theologues who read this blog. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz
announces that archeologists have discovered Herod the Great’s tomb.

Herod the Great was the Jewish king when Jesus was born. His reign was more or less a police state in which many lived in fear. Matthew’s Gospel says that he ordered the execution of all the male babies in Bethlehem when he heard that “the King of the Jews” had been born there (Matthew 2:1-18). Herod became famous for his building projects, and his work on the temple in Jerusalem made it almost into a new temple.

This is a significant find not only for the disciplines of archeology and history, but also for the disciplines of biblical studies.

“Researcher: We have found Herod’s Tomb” – by Amiram Barkat (Haaretz)

Pro-Choice Non-Sequitur

Madeleine Berenson tells the story of her courageous decision to choose life 27 years ago when she had an unplanned pregnancy while she was unwed. When she informed the lecherous father that she was pregnant, he replied “I want to wash my hands clean of this whole thing. I’ll support abortion or adoption. That’s it.” Nevertheless, she had her baby and kept him.

Now her son is 27 years old and has a Ph.D. and she couldn’t be happier about choosing life. Yet her reflections on her own journey and on the abortion issue are a bit surprising. I would argue that they are a bit of a non-sequitur as well. She writes: Continue Reading →

Romney Reaches to the Christian Right

There are probably many Americans who do not understand why Mitt Romney has to “reach out” to the “Christian right” in his bid to become President of the United States. I’m sure there are many who would think Romney the Mormon would go with the Christian right like peas and carrots. After all, Mormons and Evangelicals both have conservative stances on social issues, in particular issues affecting the family. But matters are just not that simple.

Evangelical Christians who know what Mormonism is do not consider Mormonism to be a Christian denomination, but a cult. On top of that, just a few short years ago this particular Mormon ran for the governor of Massachusetts as a pro-abortion candidate. It was only when he decided to run for President that he changed positions on abortion and became pro-life. For these reasons, photo ops like the one above can look strange indeed.

But in the debate last week, Romney assured the “Christian right” that his conversion to the pro-life cause was as authentic as Ronald Reagan’s. I hope that he’s telling the truth, but I haven’t drunk the Romney Kool-aid yet.

“Romney Reaches to the Christian Right” – Washington Post

President of Evangelical Theological Society Becomes Roman Catholic

Dr. Francis Beckwith announced his return to the Roman Catholic Church today. He also announced the he has resigned from the presidency of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). I did not post about this news yesterday when I heard about it because I suspected that Dr. Beckwith had not authorized the bloggers who were writing about it to make the announcement for him. It turns out that I was right.

But now that the cat’s out of the bag, Dr. Beckwith has posted his own explanation of his recent conversion and how he intended to phase out quietly from his leadership position in the ETS. Here’s the link: “My Return to the Catholic Church.”

Responses Worth Reading:

“Thoughts on the Return to Rome of Professor Beckwith” – by Carl Trueman

“ETS President Converts to Catholicism” – by Russell Moore

Why Remember the Martyrs?

In an attempt to raise awareness about the Turkish martyrs, I sent their story to a religion writer at the Dallas Morning News. He posted links to reports about them on the Dallas Morning News religion blog: “The killing of Christians in Turkey.”

Unfortunately, one of the other religion writers at the Dallas Morning News got rankled by my concern for the martyrs. His frustration with me is posted here: “With all due respect to Professor Burk.” This reporter’s main problem with my efforts is that he thinks I am paying too little attention to all the suffering in the world. The murder of three Christians is not such a big story in light of the wars and genocides that occur daily around the globe.

Continue Reading →

In the Presence of Martyrs: A Reflection from Turkey

Dr. Mark Wilson of the Seven Churches Network attended the funeral of recently martyred Necati Aydin. He offers these reflections on the service.
(HT: Ben Witherington)

In the Presence of Martyrs: A Reflection from Turkey

Recently Dindy [Mark’s wife] and I attended a funeral here in Izmir. I have attended many funerals, but this was my first in Turkey. And it was also the first time I attended the funeral of a martyr. I have been teaching and writing about martyrs and martyrdom for many years. We live in biblical Smyrna noted as the place where Polycarp was martyred in the second century. But such martyrdoms are personally and historically distant.
Continue Reading →

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