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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


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