Tuesday, May 8, 2007

ETS' Official Statement Re. Francis Beckwith's Resignation

This was forwarded by David Howard, of the ETS Executive Committee:

Statement of the ETS Executive Committee regarding

Dr. Frank Beckwith’s Resignation as ETS President

May 8, 2007

On May 5, 2007, Dr. Frank Beckwith resigned as President of the Evangelical Theological Society. This resignation has come as a result of his decision to be received into full communion in the Roman Catholic Church, which he did on April 29, 2007. Dr. Beckwith has informed the Executive Committee that this was a decision he came to “after much prayer, counsel, and consideration.” Subsequently, after further prayer and reflection, Dr. Beckwith has voluntarily withdrawn his membership from the Society as well.

The members of the Executive Committee wish Dr. Beckwith well in his ongoing professional work. We have come to appreciate him as a scholar and a friend. On behalf of the Society, we want to express our gratitude for his work organizing and coordinating the 2006 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., with the theme, “Evangelicals in the Public Square.” No one, perhaps, appreciates how much labor is involved in such a task, except those who have undertaken it in the past, as is the case with most of the members of the Executive Committee. And so, we thank Dr. Beckwith for his service to the Society.

At the same time, 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.

We recognize the right of Roman Catholic theologians to do their theological work on the basis of all the authorities they consider to be revelatory and infallible, even as we wholeheartedly affirm the distinctive contribution and convictional necessity of the work of the Evangelical Theological Society on the basis of the “Bible alone and the Bible in its entirety” as “the Word of God written and . . . inerrant.”

In recent years, Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have often labored together in common cause addressing some of the critical social and moral issues of our contemporary culture. We welcome this and fully expect it to continue. A number of publications have appeared comparing Evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism. Certainly, the two traditions share many common Christian doctrines. However there are important theological differences as well. We expect that the events of these days will bring a renewed discussion of these matters. We welcome and encourage this as well.

Finally, regarding the Presidency of ETS, Dr. Hassell Bullock, President-elect will also serve as acting President until the annual meeting at which time elections for the officers for 2008 will take place.

We are grateful for Dr. Beckwith's past association with ETS, and we pray that God will continue to use his considerable gifts.


Jon said...

Will you still be allowed to work at Bethel when you admit to your relationship with the RC Church?

It is interesting that in this article they refer to Beckwith as "friend" and "scholar", but don't seem to celebrate his Christian faith. If someone was resigning from service, it seems there would be some words on him as Christian brother and fellow disciple. Interesting.

Dr. Roberts, do you think it is possible to be an evangelical RC? Is this article correct, that to be in full communion as an RC means you can not affirm the doctrinal ETS creeds regarding Scripture and Trinity?

Kyle A. Roberts said...


Since the Executive Committee's statement will be seen as somehow represetational of ETS as a whole, no doubt they left room for individual members to make their own judgments on that. David Howard's personal stance is quite clear in his recent Wall Street Journal editorial: "For myself, I can say that I have lost a valued colleague in the ETS, but I remain his brother in Christ and wish him well in his new spiritual home."