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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)


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.

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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.
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Another Clarification from Turkey

Dr. Darrell Bock of Dallas Theological Seminary has a report out of Turkey from persons that he says were very close to the events on the ground. This new letter is sent to correct some of the exaggerations that have circulated since the story of the martyrdoms broke. I cannot authenticate or verify the veracity of the letter. The name of the sender has been removed for security reasons. Here it is in its entirety:

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Update from the Protestant Church at Smyrna

As I noted in my previous post, Smyrna (a.k.a. “Izmir”) was the hometown of one of the three martyrs from Turkey, Necati Aydin. The Protestant Church of Smyrna sent out a widely circulated letter describing the martyrdom of the three Christians in Malatya. The church has recently sent out another letter correcting inaccuracies in the first letter and reporting that at least three people have come to faith as a result of the testimony of the three men. Here is the letter in its entirety (HT: Peter Head):
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Men of Whom the World Was Not Worthy (Part 2)

The three martyrs were buried in Turkey: Tilman Geske (46), Ugur Yuksel (32), and Necati Aydin (36). Necati (right) was the one reading the Bible when their martyrdom began. Reports say that he was stabbed multiple times during his three hour torture before his throat was finally cut. Necati was married and a father of two preschool aged children.

The letter from the Protestant Church in Turkey offers this description of Necati’s funeral: Continue Reading →


Voice of the Martyrs Revises Letter

I noticed last night a change on the Voice of the Martyrs website. The “graphic description” of the martyrdom of the three Turkish Christians had been removed from the “Letter to the Global Church from the Protestant Church of Smyrna.” From the beginning I was wondering how much of the story contained in this letter could be substantiated. That is why I contacted a religion reporter from The Dallas Morning News yesterday to see if the details could be confirmed. He wrote me back saying that he would look into the story.

I had already sought to find independent confirmation of the details of the “graphic description.” Several news outlets published descriptions of the killings before that letter was posted on the Voice of the Martyrs website on April 26. I posted links to the following descriptions in my original post.

[Warning: Graphic descriptions follow.]

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