Monday 7 May 2007

ETS president converts to Rome

Aaron notes that, in a fascinating turn of events, the current president of the conservative Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) has converted to the Roman Catholic Church. Francis Beckwith had planned to keep his conversion under wraps until the end of his term as ETS president. But unfortunately a talkative blogger broke the news. So now, in an attempt to minimise controversy, Beckwith has decided both to resign as president and to withdraw his membership from the ETS. (Ironically, however, he observes that “I can in good conscience, as a Catholic, affirm the ETS doctrinal statement.”)

On his blog, Beckwith discusses his conversion to Rome, as well as his resignation from the ETS. It’s depressing to see the rancour of some of the Protestant responses. Even a professional theologian (who ought to know better) adds a comment describing Beckwith’s conversion as “a sad day for all true sons and daughters of the Protestant Reformation, for all who lived and died for its truths” – as though the religious violence of the 16th and 17th centuries (“living and dying”) were the proper norm for a contemporary understanding of ecclesial differences – or as though our primary responsibility today were to honour the dark legacy of this violence!


T.B. Vick said...

Dr. Beckwith was my ethics professor when I was in seminary. The little bit I know him, I can't help but think that this was a decision bathed in deep thought and study. I have posted my thoughts on the issue at my blog ( I too was upset with some of the comments which were, to say the least, not charitable at all. I pray for Dr. Beckwith and his family in this transition.

olvlzl said...

My mother's Roman Catholic parish is being phased out through amalgamation with four other parishes, breaking a lot of hearts in the process. The new "parish" covers at least eight towns and a couple of hundred square miles. The new "parish" will be served by two priests, who might need to fill in at other parishes at any time. Of course, the reason is the refusal of the Vatican to take into account the needs of its members in order to preserve the non-married, male clergy (with those handful of ex-Episcopal priests already with wives that weren't seen as a problem by JPII).

I'm not a Catholic anymore but it saddens me to see the pain that this suicide of Catholicism has brought to so many people. A sacramental religion without priests is a dying religion.

Guy Davies said...

I'm saddened by the news. I think that the conversion of prominent Evangelicals to Roman Catholicsim should be the casue of some heart searching among Protestant Evangelicals. It is right that we respond to Beckwith's doctrinal concerns, but rather than recriminate, we need to reflect on our own shortcomings. (See blog for fuller response).

metalepsis said...

I loved your comments, it is so sad to see how many evangelicals often think 'truth' trumps love.

Anonymous said...

In all fairness Ben, i don't think Dr. Groothius was trying to say that the violence surrounding the Reformation was a good way to deal with ecclesial differences. I think that all he was trying to get at was that doctrines like justification by faith alone were very costly to gain, and i think that it saddens Groothius when someone turns away (at least in Groothius' mind) from those costly beliefs.

Saying something was costly doesn't imply that he was proud of how it had to be earned, or that it was a beautiful moment in church history. He is actually saying that the ugly cost of the beliefs shows how important they actually were to the Reformers, and Beckwith shouldn't take that lightly.

Now i'm not saying that i agree with Groothius, or that i appreciate all his comments, but i think that you have misconstrued him a bit concerning the sentence you quoted.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, Derek -- that's a very fair point.

danielMorris said...

i don't think that the statement "truth trumps love" even makes any sort of sense.

i understand your point, that people want to pursue/champion truth at the cost of being loving.

point taken.

but the truth, and wanting people to recognize the truth is loving. what are we to do? eph: speak the truth in love.

thanks for the challenge to be loving in speaking the truth, but the truth is the loving thing to share. why else would we preach the gospel that is so offensive?

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