Saturday, May 05, 2007

ETS President (reportedly) becomes Catholic

That is right, you heard me, you are not dreaming, this is not a drill! Reports are streaming in all over the blogosphere that Francis Beckwith has become Catholic! (HT Michael Barber). All the more amazing is that he is president of ETS! This could facilitate the quickest heresy trial in the history of ETS since Norman Geisler said, "This Gundry bloke, do we chuck him out or what?" But I would have to ask on what grounds can Beckwith be removed from office. As long as he adheres to the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy and the Trinity, he's technically in the ball-park. As a Catholic I think he can do that. This raises in my mind the doctrinal problem with ETS. It elevates, out of all proportion in my mind, the weight and significance of a doctrine of Scripture in comparison to other theological doctrines essential to Protestantism/Evangelicalism. I think ETS would be wiser to adopt the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship statement of faith. I will definitely be at the next ETS just to see what happens!


Eric Rowe said...

Don't you think you should wait and see what actually happens before you start criticizing the course of action that you predict ETS is going to take?

I have a feeling that there will be some members who would want him to step down and others who would not. But it's at least possible that they will try to work it out amicably. At least give them a chance.

Danny Zacharias said...

How would the UCCF statement exclude catholics?

Eric Rowe said...

Dr. Beckwith has already made a lengthy post about his conversion on his own blog, . There he announces that he has decided to step down as ETS president, effective today. Every word of his post is very irenic toward the leadership of ETS.

Any of those who might have been licking their chops, looking forward to a big fight at ETS this year will fortunately be disappointed.

Michael F. Bird said...

Me think you doth protest too much! I'm not imputing false motives to ETS (I am a member afterall), but I know that if Francis did stay there would be a call for blood. Some of us recall (or know) what happened to Bob Gundry and that left a bitter taste in our mouths. Quite frankly, when they allowed the Open Theists to remain in ETS they should have written Bob a letter of apology.

Michael F. Bird said...

Francis resigning is an unfortunate but wise move. It will certainly avoid any needless controversy which ETS has had all too much of in recent days.

abcaneday said...


You said, "Quite frankly, when they allowed the Open Theists to remain in ETS they should have written Bob [Gundry] a letter of apology."

You are right. Instead, Norman Geisler tendered his resignation of membership in the society. He did so rather impulsively, in my opinion, while at the conference, immediately following the vote that failed to expel Pinnock and Sanders.

As I recall, Gundry resigned his membership rather than subject the society to increased turmoil. Gundry was a gentleman from beginning to end of his case. Not necessarily so in the case of the open theists. After putting the society through the ordeal of a trial, Sanders and Pinnock did not even retain membership in the society, at least according to the published membership list in the subsequent year, and in the case of Sanders, years. The year after the society took its vote, neither Pinnock nor Sanders attended the ETS annual meeting. Sanders has not attended any annual meeting since the vote was taken. Of course, there may be other mitigating factors, but absence from membership and absence from annual meetings is not a particularly generous way to respond after subjecting the national society to a rather excruciating and painful ordeal. This, of course, is one member's view.

I appreciate the greater generosity that one finds with membership in IBR. What is curious to me, as I have often expressed, is that IBR has a much fuller doctrinal affirmation than the puny affirmation we make as members of ETS. Nevertheless, generosity in the IBR greatly exceeds that in the ETS. Maybe it has less to do with doctrinal affirmations and more to do with the demeanor of members. ;)

Eric Rowe said...

"Maybe it has less to do with doctrinal affirmations and more to do with the demeanor of members. ;)"

I think it does have to do with doctrinal affirmations. But it's not quantity of affirmations. It's content. The bit about inerrancy narrows down options more than the fuller (or Fuller?) statement of IBR does.

Eric Rowe said...

The executive committee of ETS has published this letter in response to Beckwith's conversion:

They are clear about thoroughgoing commitment to certain confessions of Roman Catholicism does not comport with the doctrinal position of ETS.

But their tone is entirely friendly toward Dr. Beckwith personally.