Saturday, May 05, 2007

Pres of ETS joins the Roman Catholic Church

Francis Beckwith, Baylor University professor of church-state relations, has returned to the Roman Catholic Church. He recently has been restored to full communion, and his wife has been accepted as a catechumen. He gives his reasons and explains the timing of his announcement on his blog, linked above. James White has an interesting commentary on the announcement.

These are certainly curious days when the President of the Evangelical Theological Society resigns his position in order to return to full communion with the RCC.


YnottonY said...

I'm not only disturbed by Beckwith's decision, I am more disturbed by others who do not think the theological divide is that serious. The scriptural distinctives of the Reformation are no longer serious enough or something worth upholding, even to the point of death. In a desire to be "irenic" and scholarly (which is a virtue), we have also become cowardly (which is a vice) in the process. God help us :-(

On another blog, I wrote these words:

"I hope he (Beckwith) has adequately considered the fact that when he is kneeling down in the mass during the event of transubstantiation, he is to worship and adore the bread/host as if it were Christ himself standing before him. I also wonder if he has considered what seems to be entailed by the doctrine of concomitance. If the bread and the wine are both the BODY, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, then Christ has two bodies, at least. Moreover, if Christ is bodily present as the mass takes place all over the world, then I guess his body is ubiquitous. How does Trent, in that regard, comport with the Chalcedonian Formula? Hmm"

Arthur Sido said...

What I find disturbing is that a supposedly Evangelical Theological Society can have virtually no basis on which to define what makes one Evangelical.

Beckwith says: “Because I can in good conscience, as a Catholic, affirm the ETS doctrinal statement, I do not intend to resign as a member of ETS.” And that is a plausible claim when the ETS “Doctrinal Basis” says only this: “"The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory."

A society devoted to Evangelical theology that has no more firm a stance than to say that the Bible alone is the Word of God written? At least they sort of exclude mormons with that statement, but little else. In reading Beckwith’s explanation of his conversion, he made this doozy of a statement:

“I became convinced that the Early Church is more Catholic than Protestant and that the Catholic view of justification, correctly understood, is biblically and historically defensible. Even though I also believe that the Reformed view is biblically and historically defensible, I think the Catholic view has more explanatory power to account for both all the biblical texts on justification as well as the church’s historical understanding of salvation prior to the Reformation all the way back to the ancient church of the first few centuries.”

If both Romanist views of justification and Reformation views are biblically justifiable, then he must view the Bible as horribly muddled. Where are the Luther’s of this generation who will draw a clear line between the Biblical principles of the Reformation and the tradition bound, false views of Rome?

scripturesearcher said...

saddened but not surprised -

excect apostasy in every generation-

2 peter 2:20-22

scripturesearcher said...

this old baylor university graduate desires to correct the spelling of the first word in his second sentence -


2 peter 2:20-22

DJP said...

DISCLAIMER: my thoughts are my own, and do not reflect, well, anybody else's!

Four thoughts:

1. Will anyone print the headline, "Frank Beckwith — great writer and nice guy — apostatizes"?

2. If not, why not?

3. Why do people think Reformation 21 is such a great blog?

4. What is the difference between this and precisely the situation against which Hebrews warns in such terrifying terms?

G. Alford said...

In the famous words of Charlie Brown --- “Good Grief!”

Ok… someone help me with my memory here…Isn’t ETS the same group that could not even find the backbone to expel from its membership men who write and promote the absurd doctrine of “Open Theism”?

With this latest news the credibility of ETS continues to plummet like a milestone…

ETS should stand for the “Evangelical Tragedy Story”

Grace to all,

G. Alford said...

Spelling correction:

My last post should read “…plummet like a millstone”

However this may well turn out to be a milestone…

Grace to all,

farmboy said...

As Mr. Alford alludes to, for me, the ETS lost all credibility when they could not muster sufficient votes to expel the open theists John Sanders and Clark Pinnock from their membership.

Working with the ETS doctrinal statement, Roger Nicole had made the case that belief in open theism was incompatible with belief in inerrancy - which is part of the ETS doctrinal statement. Mr. Sanders replied that he believed in inerrancy, it's just that his definition differed from the accepted one. Mr. Sanders' theological gymnastics worked, as those who voted against Mr. Sanders' expulsion noted that the ETS doctrinal statement didn't define inerrancy.

Even though Mr. Beckwith has resigned as president of the ETS he still desires to retain his ETS membership. I respect Mr. Beckwith for resigning the presidency. With regard to retaining his ETS membership, however, I fear that Mr. Beckwith is playing the same game of theological gymnastics that Mr. Sanders previously played. After all, it's stating the obvious to note that the Evangelical Theological Society was started as an organization for evangelical protestants.

Regarding Mr. Beckwith's remarks on justification, I'm curious how the ETS is going to deal with the New Prespective on Paul and related understandings of justification. Along with breaking the news of Mr. Beckwith's return to Roman Catholicism, three years ago this summer James White engaged in a detailed review of Mark Sefrid's "Christ, Our Righteousness" where Mr. Sefrid critiqued the Reformational understanding of justification. Given that Mr. Sefrid was (and is) on the faculty of Southern Seminary it was interesting to watch how that episode played out.

Kyle A. Roberts said...


It's unfair to characterize the nature of the ETS discussion over open theism, with all of the energies put forth by some very intelligent, convictional and courageous people, as lacking "backbone." Courage cannot be defined as having the will to do what YOU would have done. That would be a very subjective, perspectival interpretation of others' motives, would it not? The discussion had much more to do with the implications of and definitions of inerrancy, on the one hand, and the academic (not ecclesiastical-denominational) nature and purpose of ETS, on the other, rather than with any question of "backbone." Besides, it seems that "wisdom" is a more prominent, desirable feature in Scripture than "backbone" (though I haven't done the word study to prove it). People on both sides of the aisle had courage and conviction behind their arguments. Negative polemics, such as what you've expressed here, does nothing to further positive, constructive discussion.

G. Alford said...


Thank you for your comment:

[Negative polemics, such as what you've expressed here, does nothing to further positive, constructive discussion.]

Brother, what in the world made you think I was trying to “further positive, constructive discussion” with a group of men who… (1st ) lack the collective “courage of conviction” to put those who are openly teaching the gross heresy of Open Theism out of their membership… or (2nd ) lack the personal “courage of conviction” to withdraw for a group who lacks the former?

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Rom.16:17)

It is not my comments that have permanently damaged the credibility of ETS… it is their own current and past actions, or lack thereof, that has damaged their credibility.

But in all fairness I guess I should not say their actions have damaged their credibility… for actions do not determine ones credibility, they only in reality expose one’s credibility for what it truly is… I think it was Jesus who said “You shall know them by their fruits”… But then he was not being very helpful in furthering positive, constructive discussion either.

Your defense of ETS in this is quite puzzling to me… Just what would ETS have to allow among its members (we now have Open Theists and Catholics) in order to draw your criticism?

Grace to all,

Kyle A. Roberts said...


Ok, then, nevermind. I can see that any further discussion would be pointless.

Kyle A. Roberts said...

In case anyone is interested, Francis Beckwith has also withdrawn his membership from ETS. You can read the official response of the ETS Executive Committee here: The response details his withdrawal as well as reasons why a Catholic could not in good conscience affirm the ETS doctrinal statement.

Dead Theologians said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dead Theologians said...

I guess I should not be surprised.
The RCC continues to lead people down the path to Hell.