Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No, I Haven't Given Up Blogging

I'm just out of town this week and, though I brought my laptop with me, my temporary residence doesn't have wireless access as I had assumed. A friend kindly let me make use of his computer to check email and compose this but I'm doubtful that my schedule will allow me to do more than this for the remainder of my stay. It's kind of nice not being in front of the computer as much as I usually am anyway, so I'm not complaining. Lord willing, I'll be home Thursday evening and should be back to my regular schedule of irregular posting soon afterwards so please check back. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

ETS Statement Regarding Beckwith's Resignation

Today the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Theological Society released the following statement regarding Frank Beckwith's resignation and withdrawal from membership (HT: Christianity Today Liveblog):

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 Beckwith has voluntarily withdrawn his membership from the Society as well.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.

C. Hassell Bullock, President-Elect
(Wheaton College)

Bruce A. Ware, Vice-President
(The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Edwin M. Yamauchi, At-large member
(Miami University)

Craig A. Blaising, At-large member
(Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Gregory K. Beale, At-large member
(Wheaton College)

David M. Howard, Jr., At-large member
(Bethel Seminary)

James A. Borland, Secretary-Treasurer
(Liberty University)

Andreas J. Köstenberger, JETS Editor
(Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary)
UPDATE: Frank Beckwith:
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.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beckwith Resigns as ETS Member

Frank Beckwith explains his decision to resign as a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, days after resigning as its president:
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 deeplydesire 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.

STR on Beckwith's Return to Roman Catholicism

Stand to Reason's President, Greg Koukl, (who coauthored Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air with Francis Beckwith) and Director of Operations, Melinda Penner, respond to Beckwith's recent conversion to Roman Catholicism.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

ETS President Converts to Catholicism

Evangelical Theological Society president and Associate Professor of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, Francis Beckwith, has converted to Roman Catholicism (HT: Russell Moore). Dr. Moore is no doubt correct when he forecasts that this development is bound to lead to further discussion about evangelical identity and the ETS. James White of Alpha & Omega Ministries has written a thoughtful and thorough response to the news, a portion of which follows:
I would like to very seriously propose that any person who, while in the leadership of such an organization, chooses to abandon the faith he professed when elected, and embrace a faith substantially different (which clearly the founders of the ETS intended to exclude the views of Roman Catholicism), should by any meaningful ethical standard step down from his position. The very fact that he was elected as one standing in a particular theological spectrum who, then, abandons that position in a substantive, directly relevant way, would be enough to bring a moral imperative to bear upon him. I do not believe such a person has the right to overthrow the intentions of the founders of the organization just to make a point or promote his new religious ideologies. There are, of course, many Catholic biblical societies such a person could join.
UPDATE: Francis Beckwith has resigned as president of ETS and explains his reason for doing so here. (HT: Justin Taylor)

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Christianity and Technological Surrealism

Lauren Winner's review of James Houston's Joyful Exiles: Life in Christ on the Dangerous Edge of Things concludes with the following excerpt from the book:
It is the supremacy of the technologically surreal to which organized Christianity has succumbed. Take, for example, the recent film The Passion of the Christ. People wept over its celluloid presentation as they never would have done in reading the Gospel narrative because it was so much more vivid to the senses. Was their response then hyper-real or real? Is the Sunday service more impressive when the PowerPoint presentation eclipses the preacher's sermon? Or does the message become more and more implausible with each technique used to market it? Does personal communication become muffled and withdrawn when the hearer is distracted by the medium?