Saturday, March 27, 2010

ETS and EPS, November 17-19, 2010

I am happy to report that I am slated to deliver two papers at the 62nd annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in Atlanta, Georgia (17-19 November 2010).  One is an invited paper for the Bioethics Study Group: "Recent Challenges to Fetal Personhood: A Critical Analysis." Here is the abstract:
Christians oppose embryonic stem-cell research, abortion, and embryo and fetal experimentation because they believe that the human being is a full-fledged member of thehuman community from the moment of conception. This view has been challenged for several decades, with some of us offering a variety of responses. However, during the past decade three philosophers have offered new and innovative arguments in order to establish the view that the unborn human being, during at least most of its gestation, is not a moral person.  In this paper I will critique the arguments of three of these philosophers: Dean Stretton, Jeff McMahon, and David Boonin. 
My other paper was accepted to be presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Philosophical Society (EPS), a group whose complete docket is part of the ETS meeting.  My paper is entitled: "Doting Thomists: Evangelicals, Thomas Aquinas, and Justification." Here is the abstract:
Over the past several decades a growing number of Evangelical philosophers and theologians have described their views, on a variety of issues and arguments, as Thomistic.  That is, they claim to be, on certain questions, followers of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Although these thinkers often claim to be Thomistic almost exclusively on questions in  philosophical theology, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology,  and apologetics, a few of them have gone so far as to claim that Thomas’  views on justification are either (1) consistent with, or not obviously opposed to, a Reformed perspective,  or (2) inconsistent with the doctrine of justification expounded by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent and the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Among the thinkers who embrace this understanding  of Thomas are Norman L. Geisler, R. C. Sproul, and John Gerstner.  In this paper, I argue that their reading of Thomas is mistaken and that in fact Thomas’ soteriology was integral to the Council of Trent’s expounding of the doctrine of justification and that the Catechism’s presentation of justification is thoroughly Thomistic.  I also argue that because Thomas was not writing in response to, or in the aftermath of, the Protestant Reformation, his work on justification is not driven by the issues over which Protestants and Catholics wrangle today. For this reason, these thinkers’ misreading of Thomas and his subsequent influence on the Catholic Church’s articulation of its soteriology is a hopeful sign that Evangelical Protestant friends of Thomas may also come to see that many who are in communion with Thomas’ Church are friends as well. 
The theme of this year's conference is "Justification by Faith," and its plenary speakers are the Rev. John Piper, Bishop N. T. Wright, and Professor Frank Thielman. So, my paper should fit right in.

I had attended, and delivered a paper at, every annual ETS meeting from 1988 until 2007 with the exception of 2000 (when I was in law school). So, I am really looking forward to seeing many of my dear friends.


RM said...


Are you going to post these papers any time soon?

Rinku Mathew

Tiber Jumper said...

This is amazing. May God use you mightily in these talks!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Beckwith,

I clicked on the link - the ETS announcement says:

"Unfortunately, Pastor Piper has had to withdraw from his involvement in this meeting in conjunction with an eight-month leave of absence that he will be taking from his ministry assignments. We are pleased to announce that Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner has accepted our invitation to serve as a plenary speaker."

Kind of a shame, since Piper and Wright seemed to be a good head-to-head match!

David Watkins

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I agree, David. It is indeed a shame. I am right now just about done with Wright's book-length response to Piper. What a debate it would have been!