Beckwith, who until May 5 was President of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), resigned his position after disclosing his return to the Roman Catholic Church.
Frank describes his transition as follows:
During the last week of March 2007, after much prayer, counsel and consideration, my wife and I decided to seek full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. My wife, a baptized Presbyterian, is going through the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). This will culminate with her receiving the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. For me, because I had received the sacraments of Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation all before the age of 14, I need only go to confession, request forgiveness for my sins, ask to be received back into the Church, and receive absolution.Although the ETS board had yet to ask Frank to step down, he concluded it was in the best interest of the organization to resign his post now rather than wait for his term to expire.
Let me be clear that the LTI site is not a theological blog (we deal primarily with bioethics), so I will limit my thoughts to these three points:
(1) Frank remains my friend and colleague and I look forward to our continued work fighting to protect innocent human life. Though I am not clear on the theological reasons for his move (he's yet to fully explain them), his contribution to the arena of Christian worldview and apologetics is enormous and I don't expect that to change. No one, for example, has done more to put the pro-life view on solid intellectual footing than Frank. I hope my fellow evangelicals will treat him charitably even as they carefully examine (as they should) the theological reasons for his shift.
(2) As for myself, I'm strongly committed to the five Solas of the Protestant Reformation:
Scripture aloneSince I was asked earlier today to comment specifically on justification by faith alone (in light of Frank's move), here's what I affirm. Justification is a legal declaration by God the Father whereby my sins are pardoned and Christ’s righteousness is applied to my account. Justified sinners are not made righteous with an infusion of holiness; they’re declared righteous solely because of the sin-bearing work of Christ on their behalf. Justification is about my status before God: I am no longer condemned because Jesus, as my substitute, both paid the penalty for sin and lived the life of perfect obedience God requires. Put differently, justification is a matter of imputation: My guilt is imputed to Christ; His righteousness is imputed to me. William Hendrickson explains:
Justification by faith alone
For the glory of God alone
“Justification is that act of God the Father whereby he counts our sins to be Christ’s and Christ’s righteousness to be ours (2 Cor. 5:21). It is the opposite of condemnation (Romans 8:33). It implies deliverance from the curse of God because that curse was placed on Christ (Gal. 3:11-13). It means forgiveness full and free” (Romans 4:6-8) .Who, then, can bring a charge against God’s elect? Paul’s answer is clear: No one can. For it is God who justifies (Romans 4:5; 8:33). It is His gift, completely undeserved, so that no one can boast. In short, we can’t add to our justification. It’s already a finished work.
(See, for example, Romans 3: 26,28; 4:5; 8:30, 33. For the sources used in the above parapgraphs, see Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999, pp. 968-973; James R. White, The God Who Justifies, Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001, pp. 31, 63-123; Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000, pp. 722-732; John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to fight for Joy,Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004; William Hendrickson, The New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Grand Rpaids: Baker, 1989, p. 98.)
(3) As I've repeatedly stressed on this blog, Evangelical Christians committed to sound doctrine must distinguish themselves theologically from those who reject fundamental truths of the Protestant Reformation. Theological unity must never come at the expense of those truths. However, cultural reform efforts like the pro-life movement are not primarily about doctrine, but social justice. To work, they must be broad and inclusive. Historically, for example, social reform efforts designed to abolish slavery and establish civil rights for all Americans were led by large ecumenical coalitions that, despite their theological differences, committed themselves to one goal: establishing a more just society. The same is true of abortion. While rejecting religious pluralism (the belief that all religions are equally valid), we must work closely with those who oppose the destruction of innocent human life, regardless of their religious persuasion. Thus, even if I disagree with Frank's theology (and I probably will), there is absolutely no reason for me or any other evangelical to stop working with him to promote social justice in the culture.
That's all I have to say for now. If you want more evangelical responses to Beckwith's decision, you can check out Frank's blog, this piece by Carl Trueman, and postings at Triablogue.
Update 5/7: Stand to Reason also has a post here.
HT: Justin Taylor, James White