Friday, May 04, 2007


Rumours aren't good things, but Michael Barber, co author with Brant Pitre of the superb blog, Singing in the Reign, report that president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Frank Beckwith, has become a Roman Catholic. Not that I have strong feelings either way, but of course as an evangelical I can't help but have slightly mixed feelings. Nevertheless, if this is true I entirely endorse Michael's statement: 'His example is clearly one of courage, intellectual integrity and spiritual sincerity'.

Let me make it absolutely clear: I'm not sure if this is true or not. But my prayers are nevertheless with Frank and his family, especially in light of the backlash against them this will cause.


At 5/04/2007 11:59 PM, Anonymous Pastor Bob Cornwall said...

You know there was a time when Evangelicals became Anglicans -- then they discovered (at least in the US) that Anglicans tend to be moderate to liberal. Now, evangelicals looking for structure and tradition are going to the apparently more Conservative Catholic Church. What I find interesting is that many of these converts become among the most conservative of Episcopalians and Catholics.

Of course I'm someone who has gradually and gently moved to the left. I used to find myself somewhere between the Christian Century and Christianity Today -- I must confess I'm not going to renew my CT subscription, replacing it with "The Progressive Christian"! So, we all do some moving around, I suppose.

At 5/05/2007 8:48 PM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I have known Francis (Frank) Beckwith for some time, though not very well. I am not surprised at this move. We used to debate church-state separation in meetings of Evangelicals for Social Action and in the email list (remember pre-blog email discussion lists?) of the Society of Christian Philosophers. I found the structure of Beckwith's thought be typical of conservative Catholics more than from his own, Reformed, tradition.

As for backlashes, he might undergo some. He might, for instance, be asked to step down from the presidency of ETS (though maybe not). But his job at Baylor should be safe enough.

Frank and I disagreed often on many issues (e.g., inerrancy, religious liberty and church-state separation, pacifism versus just war theory, the extent to which abortion should be opposed by law rather than other strategies, etc.), but I have always found him to be extremely fair. Unlike others I could name (but won't), I do not think this is a political or power-move. It is doubtless the culmination of a very sincere spiritual search.
And if this is where God is leading Frank, who are any of us to say otherwise?

At 5/06/2007 9:44 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Hi Bob,
"So, we all do some moving around, I suppose."
Yes, so true!

Hi Michael,
"And if this is where God is leading Frank, who are any of us to say otherwise?"
I agree. I suppose some will ask if it is really God doing the leading. After reading this, I am quite sure some will disagree!

John, thanks for that link!

At 5/06/2007 11:04 PM, Anonymous Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I know that for some evangelical Protestants, Frank Beckwith's return (he was a cradle Catholic) to Rome will be tantamount to apostasy. I think this is wrongheaded, despite the fact that I could never find a home in that part of the People of God. My paternal grandfather remarried after the death of his first wife (when my father was 19). His second wife, Grandma Ludie to me, is a Cajun Catholic. Eventually, my grandpa became an adult convert to Christianity--and was afraid of what his children would say (and was pleasantly surprised).
I have been employed by two Catholic universities and a Catholic seminary, for brief periods. So, I have none of these doubts about whether or not Catholics are Christians.
I will doubtless continue to disagree with Beckwith about many matters. But those who wish to persecute him (so to speak) about his return to Rome need to get a life.


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