Statement of the ETS Executive Committee regardingUPDATE: Frank Beckwith:
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 Beckwith has voluntarily withdrawn his membership from the Society as well.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.
C. Hassell Bullock, President-Elect
Bruce A. Ware, Vice-President
(The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Edwin M. Yamauchi, At-large member
Craig A. Blaising, At-large member
(Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Gregory K. Beale, At-large member
David M. Howard, Jr., At-large member
James A. Borland, Secretary-Treasurer
Andreas J. Köstenberger, JETS Editor
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
My only quibble with the statement is that I do not believe it offers a sufficiently nuanced understanding of the Catholic doctrines of Scripture, revelation, and the Church, an understanding that I believe permits me to assent to the ETS doctrinal statement without mental reservation. But that is another discussion for another day.