Former President Weighs in on the ETS Doctrinal Statement

Dr. David Howard is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and in Friday’s Wall Street Journal he weighed in on the resignation of Dr. Francis Beckwith. Howard thinks that Beckwith’s resignation was entirely appropriate, given Beckwith’s return to the Roman Catholic church. He writes:

His resignation was appropriate, since the ETS affirms that “the Bible alone . . . is the Word of God written.” The phrase “the Bible alone” in the ETS context refers to the 66 books in the Old and New Testaments of the Protestant canon and thus rules out Mr. Beckwith’s continued membership, given that the Roman Catholic Church accepts additional books in the canon, commonly referred to as deuterocanonical or apocryphal books. Mr. Beckwith maintains that he can still sign the ETS statement with full integrity because it does not enumerate the 66 books, but he voluntarily withdrew his membership in the interests of avoiding a rancorous debate in the society.

Dr. Howard is correct. The founders who drafted the ETS doctrinal basis did intend “Bible” as a reference to the Protestant canon of scripture, not the Catholic one. It is no doubt due to Dr. Beckwith’s charity and conscientiousness that the ETS has avoided a divisive debate on this point. Nevertheless, one wonders what might happen if a more cantankerous member should try to press the point. Would the ETS statement be sufficient to stave off that fight? Would the membership of ETS acknowledge what was the clear intention of the authors of the doctrinal basis?

I think it may be time to consider whether or not the doctrinal basis might be amended so as to elucidate more clearly the founder’s intention that the ETS be constituted as an evangelical society. In my view, it is time for members of the ETS to give serious consideration to Ray Van Neste’s 2001 proposal. I shall have much more to say on this topic at a later time.

The New Breed of Evangelicals

The New York Times has an article today about the “new breed” of evangelicals. Predictably, the article suggests that:

The new breed of evangelical leaders — often to the dismay of those who came before them — are more likely to speak out about more liberal causes like AIDS, Darfur, poverty and global warming than controversial social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

I think this line represents as much wishful thinking as it does reporting. The rest of the article bears out the fact that the life-issue still remains at the top of the list of policy priorities for evangelicals. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, no matter what Rick Warren and Bill Hybels do.

Rev. James Lipscomb: I Wish You Could Have Known Him

The persons pictured to the right are me and my college Greek professor, Rev. James W. Lipscomb. The picture was taken by Mrs. Lipscomb as he and I were reading the Greek New Testament together on his back porch in Ruston, Louisiana in 1994. The picture brings back fond memories of a man who had many stories to tell. To give you an idea of the cloth from which Rev. Lipscomb was cut, he was a classmate of Francis Schaeffer in both college and seminary.

I just received word yesterday that Rev. Lipscomb passed away (obituary). He was 92 years old. It would be impossible for me to overstate how important Rev. Lipscomb was to me in my formation as a Christian and as a scholar. In the preface to my book, I wrote this about him: Continue Reading →

Al Mohler on “Larry King Live”

Dr. Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, appeared on “Larry King Live” last night to discuss religion and the 2008 Presidential race. He was among a panel of guests that included Jim Wallis, David Kuo, Barry Lynn, and David Gergen.

The conversation was very illuminating not for what we learned from those representing the secular left (Barry Lynn and David Gergen), but for what we learned from those representing the religious left (Jim Wallis and David Kuo). Continue Reading →

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