Bio-ethics Philosopher and Evangelical President Francis Beckwith Joins Catholic Church

By Peter J. Smith

  May 16, 2007 ( – Noted Christian bio-ethics philosopher and President of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), Francis Beckwith, has rejoined the Catholic Church causing a stir of controversy in Evangelical and Catholic circles.

  Beckwith returned to the Catholic Church in a quiet ceremony April 29, and subsequently resigned his presidency and membership in ETS on May 5 citing a desire to avoid any cause for harmful divisiveness saying he still considers himself “evangelical, but no longer a Protestant.”

  An official response from ETS said members “have come to appreciate him as a scholar and a friend” and thanked him for service to the society.

“We are grateful for Dr. Beckwith’s past association with ETS, and we pray that God will continue to use his considerable gifts,” the statement read.

  In an interview with the Washington Post, Beckwith revealed that over the past year he found himself making "Catholic-type arguments" about natural law and truth with fellow theologians and was influenced in his conversion to the Catholic faith by Benedict XVI’s book “Truth and Tolerance.”

  Beckwith told the Post his decision reflects how dramatically the divisions have narrowed between evangelicals and Catholics in recent decades, which he attributes to their alliance on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and school vouchers.

  Although the switch has generated controversy, Beckwith has received support from Christian colleagues in the bio-ethics field, who re-affirm Beckwith’s crucial contributions in defense of life and family.

  Scott Klusendorf, President of Life Training Institute (LTI), supported Beckwith saying, “Frank remains my friend and colleague and I look forward to our continued work fighting to protect innocent human life.”

“No one, for example, has done more to put the pro-life view on solid intellectual footing than Frank,” Klusendorf, a committed Evangelical posted on the LTI blog. “I hope my fellow evangelicals will treat him charitably even as they carefully examine (as they should) the theological reasons for his shift.”

  Beckwith has published forceful arguments for the pro-life position against the underpinning rationale of abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, euthanasia, and same-sex “marriage” and remains a tenured professor at Baylor University where he joins the Philosophy Department in June. Beckwith is a fellow at the Center for Bioethics and a fellow with the Human Dignity and the Discovery Institute, which promotes the theory of Intelligent Design.

  Among Beckwith’s works are such books as Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007); To Every One An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (InterVarsity Press, 2004); Law, Darwinism, & Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003).

  Related news of interest:

  Beckwith’s Interview with Christianity Today  

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