Attending and Amending ETS

I will be flying out next Tuesday to Providence, Rhode Island to attend the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  Dr. Denny Burk, president of Boyce College, along with my friend Dr. Ray Van Neste, professor at Union University, have proposed an amendment to the constitution of ETS in regard to the doctrinal statement that needs to be affirmed for membership in the society.  Below is posted Dr. Burk’s recent post on this topic which is a plea for help.  Please help spread the word about this important measure that we will help maintain the integrity and credibility of this organization for years to come.

I am co-sponsoring with Ray Van Neste a proposal to amend the doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). Next week the Society will meet in Providence, Rhode Island where our proposal will finally come to a vote. I am writing this blog post to get the word out to our friends who are planning on supporting the amendment. If you support our amendment and have a blog, I’m asking you to link this post to help us spread the word.

The process to amend ETS’s constitution is a slow one. The founders were wise to make it that way. Ray and I began this effort in the Spring of 2007 just after Francis Beckwith stepped down from the presidency of ETS. But the impetus for our effort actually goes back a bit further than that.

In 2001, the Society deliberated about what might be the appropriate doctrinal “boundaries” for the ETS. Many papers were presented on this theme, some of which were subsequently published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (45.1 and 45:2). In light of the open theism controversy, it was a timely conversation. But the Society took no action or had any serious discussions to bolster its evangelical identity by revisiting its doctrinal basis. In short, nothing changed.

So Ray and I are trying to get this issue back on the agenda again for serious discussion. That is going to happen at this meeting. In advance of the vote on Friday morning, there will be two sessions of discussion and debate about our proposal. We would like all of our supporters to be at the debate sessions, but we really need you to turn out for the vote on Friday Morning. Here’s the schedule for the three events, and I’m asking you to include these sessions in your schedule next week. These meetings are listed on pages 19 and 30 of the ETS Program Schedule.

11/20 – Thursday

5:20-6:00pm – Van Neste, Burk, and Executive Committee discuss the proposal followed by a Q & A with audience. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom E

8:30-9:30pm – Business Meeting: Discussion of the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom

11/21 – Friday

8:30-9:00am – Business Meeting: Vote on the Amendment proposal. Rhode Island Convention Center Ballroom A

Here’s the gist of what we’ll be debating. The current doctrinal basis of the ETS consists merely of an affirmation of inerrancy and of the Trinity. We propose to expand this basis to include the doctrinal basis of the U.K.’s Tyndale Fellowship. The Tyndale fellowship unites around evangelical truths a broad group of Christian scholars from varying denominational and theological perspectives (Calvinists, Wesleyans, Baptists, Anglicans, etc). The members of the Tyndale fellowship agree to the statement of belief used by the U.K.’s Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF).

If you want to get acquainted with the rationale for our amendment, there are three items that you need to read:

1. Our website:

2. Our 2007 article in Criswell Theological Review: “Inerrancy Is Not Enough”

3. Van Neste’s 2004 article in SBJT: “The Glaring Inadequacy of the ETS Doctrinal Statement”

If you are a member and are interested in signing up to support our amendment, please visit here. Thanks for your help.

One comment

  1. I’ve always been confused over the ETS statement of faith. Most Evangelical Churches couldn’t get by with such a minimal statement. How could a scholarly group get by? I hope it gets expanded a bit!

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