Dr. Francis Beckwith Returns To Full Communion With The Church [Akin]


Dr. Francis Beckwith, the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, as become Catholic. Dr. Beckwith was raised Catholic but became an Evangelical Protestant in youth. After a review of Catholic theology and its basis, however, he has been reconciled with the Church.

I recently learned of Dr. Beckwith’s intention to pursue reconciliation. Apparently my own humble writings were of use to him in his journey, and he was kind enough to say so. In view of the sensitivity of the situation, however, I of course agreed to refrain from making the matter publicly known. He also was kind enough to let me know just before he went to the sacrament of reconciliation.

Last night I received a note from Dr. Beckwith indicating that the matter had become public, and so I would like to offer warm felicitations regarding his return to full communion with the Church.

The source through which the matter was made public happened to be James White’s blog, and as you can imagine, Mr. White is not happy.

In particular Mr. White raises the question of what Dr. Beckwith will do given his present status as head of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Prior to his reconciliation, Dr. Beckwith shared his thoughts on that matter with me, and though I will let him speak for himself on the subject, I will say that he intends to handle the matter in a gracious and frank manner and has already taken steps in that direction.

On his blog, Mr. White questions whether Dr. Beckwith could remain a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, writing as follows:Let’s ponder the hypothetical situation of a President of the Evangelical Theological Society converting to Roman Catholicism in the midst of his tenure. In 1998 I attended the national meeting of the ETS in Orlando, Florida. At one of the sessions some of the founding members were being asked questions about why they did certain things, why they wrote the statement of faith as they did, etc. A woman asked a question of the panel. “Why did you write ‘the Bible alone’ in the statement of faith?” The ETS statement of faith is very, very short. It reads:[INDENT]"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."Roger Nicole rose, slowly, and made his way to the podium. He looked out at the lady and said, “Because we didn’t want any Roman Catholics in the group.” He then turned around and went back to his seat. While most sat in stunned silence, I and a friend with me broke into wild applause. The brevity of the response, and Nicole’s dead-pan look, was classic. Most looked at us like we were nuts, but we appreciated what he said. Here, one of the founding members made it clear that the ETS was founded as a Protestant organization and that primary to their own self-understanding was a belief in sola scriptura.[/INDENT]Mr. White is correct about the text of the ETS statement of faith or “doctrinal foundation.” It’s found online here.

While the ultimate interpretation of this statement is up to the ETS itself, I would point out two things:

  1. The statement of a single founder, such as Dr. Nicole, regarding the interpretation of such a statement is analogous to that of a single founding father regarding the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, it is not of itself conclusive, however enthusiastically Mr. White and his friend might receive it.

  2. If the founders of the ETS intended to exclude Catholics from the organization, they did not frame their doctrinal foundation in a way that would, in fact, block Catholics from being able to agree to it.

The Bible and the Bible alone is the word of God written (as opposed to the Word of God Incarnate, the word of God in nature, or the word of God handed on through the Church in parallel to Scripture). Only Scripture is divinely inspired such that every assertion of the sacred authors is asserted by the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the Bible is inerrant in the autographs. And, of course, God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

There is thus nothing in the ETS doctrinal foundation that a Catholic could not agree to in good conscience and it is not an effective instrument for excluding Catholics from membership.
This situation will, of course, be very sensitive for members of the Evangelical Theological Society and its leadership, as well as for Dr. Beckwith and his family, and I ask readers to keep the matter in prayer.

At the hour I write, Dr. Beckwith has not posted on Right Reason, a blog in which he participates, regarding his return to full communion, and I do not know if he will do so, but I invite my readers to watch that blog for possible updates and to offer their felicitations to Dr. Beckwith in the combox below.






I find’ Mr. White’s arguments below obtuse:

Of course, folks like yours truly will ask all the boring questions, like, “How do you escape the circularity of the Roman claims regarding papal infallibility?” or “How can Rome’s claims, built as they were historically, upon such a wide variety of fraudulent documents, stand today in light of her own history?” And more to the point, “Do you really believe you can approach the Mass 20,000 times in your life and still die impure, and that this re-presentation is the same sacrifice as the perfect work you once professed to embrace?” Of course, those are the tough questions, which lead folks back to the inspired Scriptures, and that is the last place The Coming Home Network wants to go.

It’s almost like he’s never read both side of the arguments.



Don’t confuse him with the facts. :confused:

Kotton :stuck_out_tongue:



This is really interesting. I will be watching what happens to Dr. Beckwith. We are going to have one test case after another of the proposition (which some of us believe firmly) that one can be evangelical and Catholic (and indeed that Catholicism is the natural home of evangelicalism).




Is this the same Dr. White who got slaughtered in debate with Patrick Madrid?




And be careful with the use of “Dr.”…Mr. White’s degree is from a non-accredited distance learning organization.



From Mr. White’s web-site

Roger Nicole rose, slowly, and made his way to the podium. He looked out at the lady and said, “Because we didn’t want any Roman Catholics in the group.” He then turned around and went back to his seat. While most sat in stunned silence, I and a friend with me broke into wild applause.

Great he turned it into a Junior High pep rally :rolleyes:

Comments like this make him and his web-stie very unwelcoming to me as a Catholic… and who is he trying to reach.

BTW Great story. It is always powerful and inspirational when a fallen away Catholic comes back to the faith.

God bless



That and the fact that he doesn’t allow comments on his site…wonder what he’s afraid of? :wink:



Maybe I missed it, but I gather from Mr White’s comments that Dr. Beckwith wants to keep his position with the ETS.

Is this correct?



You know what I think?

I think Mr. White is the perfect argument AGAINST Sola Scriptura.

I mean, if he mis-interprets Catholic Teaching so often, then how can he trust himself to interpret the Bible???



A personal friend of mine, Fr. Peter Hocken, was for some time the secretary (and possibly president, also) of the Society for Pentecostal Studies.

Go figure.



Interesting. I don’t know Fr. Hocken, but I do know a number of other people involved in the SPS. My wife is a member of the WTS (Wesleyan Theological Society) which every few years has a joint meeting with the SPS. I attended one meeting (not with the SPS) a few years ago, and we plan to attend the joint meeting at Duke next year.

The WTS has at least one (Byzantine) Catholic and one Orthodox member.




I liked this comment about Francis Beckwith so much, I had to share it.

[quote=Pirate]Meh. I have this theory that a large plurality of evangelicals who become Roman Catholics think they’re becoming Lutherans. I mean, a lot of them think they’re getting a historic liturgy, ancient practice, and an evangelical understanding of grace with a sacramental package providing assurance. But what they’re really getting is [censored] Marty Haugen rites, medieval novelty, and dogmatic doubt. I mean, you almost never see evangelicals swimming the Tiber because they’re really excited about being able to get indulgences, sacrificing Masses to get their grandmas out of purgatory, or doubting whether they’re in the state of grace…



Sour grapes.



Dr Beckwith knowing and understanding that he was the President of a Protestant organization was morally obligated to resign before he convert back to the Catholic Church and he should do so now.



Post of the Year!

It’s been happening in South America especially.




I imagining he was busy getting his ducks in a row before White announced for the world his intimate decision.




What about it do you like so much?

Just curious…



The post is only for one year. And as was pointed out on Akin’s blog, the statement of the ETS on Scripture does not necessarily exclude a Catholic view. If Beckwith honestly thinks he can affirm the statement, he is not obliged to resign. It is up to the ETS to interpret its own statement.

A lot of us believe that evangelicalism and Catholicism need to be united for the good of both parties (though the need is more dire, in the long term, for evangelicals). If evangelicals decide that Catholics can’t be among their number, that’s their loss. But they need to be given the chance to make the choice.




As Randy said, sour grapes. But I don’t think as a Lutheran you should be so happy about the comment regarding Dr. Beckwith; the writer is actually mirroring the complaints of many Catholics (among whom you can count the present Holy Father) that the manner in which the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in some parishes is so banal - especially with the platitudinous drivel that passes for liturgical music - as to make the believer a true martyr for the faith in struggling to enter into the Sacrifice of the Mass. That is a compliment to Lutheranism?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.