>In response to Doug Chaplin’s question, “Is this to keep the Catholics out?”, my former student, Joe Matos, wrote a response to my post on the proposed revision of the ETS doctrinal statement. He mentioned that the proposed revision of the ETS doctrinal statement is intended to strengthen the doctrinal statement of the association. Joe wrote:
The proposed amendment may be aimed to limit membership, but I don’t think it is in direct response to Beckwith.
Van Neste published an article in the Winter 2004 Southern Baptist Journal of Theology titled, “The Glaring Inadequacy of the ETS Doctrinal Statement.”
It should be noted (in light of the comment about Beckwith above and in a previous comment) that Van Neste concludes that Catholics (and Orthodox for that matter) could conceivably sign the current ETS statement. His paper goes so far as to say the the current ETS statement is broad enough in nature to have included heretical groups (like the docetists, who denied the incarnation) because the ETS statement affirms the deity of Christ (as would docetists) but it does not address the Jesus’ human nature, and Pelagius (who affirmed the Bible and the Trinity) because the ETS statement does not address the nature of the Atonement or Resurrection.
Joe also mentioned an article by Van Neste published in the Winter 2004 Southern Baptist Journal of Theology titled, “The Glaring Inadequacy of the ETS Doctrinal Statement.”
In that article, Van Neste wrote about the Roman Catholics:
I began this project with the hunch that a conservative Catholic could sign this statement. Catholics are clearly Trinitarian so there is no problem with the second sentence of the ETS statement. It has been suggested to me that the statement on Scripture, however, would exclude Catholics, because the statement upholds Sola Scriptura. However, this is not entirely clear. The statement only says, `The Bible alone . is the Word of God written.’ Catholics could easily consent to that. It does not say that the Bible is `the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behaviour’ as the UCCF statement does. The UCCF language places Scripture above tradition, reason and the Magisterium, but it is not found in the ETS statement (nor does the statement define the Bible as excluding the apocrypha). Since there is no discussion of the gospel, the key sticking point with Roman Catholicism, I believed there was no compelling reason why a Roman Catholic could not sign the ETS statement.
Read Van Neste’s article in its entirety by clicking here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary