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Profs seek change in ETS statement


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Citing insufficiencies with the current doctrinal basis of the Evangelical Theological Society, two Baptist college professors are spearheading an effort to amend it.

“We’re trying to get a solidly evangelical statement to give us a clearer identity,” said Ray Van Neste, professor of Christian studies at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., in a Sept. 17 news release. Joining in the effort is Denny Burk, professor of New Testament at Criswell College in Dallas.

ETS is an organization of scholars, teachers, pastors, students and others dedicated to the oral exchange and written expression of theological thought and research, according to its website.

The current ETS doctrinal basis reads, “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.”

Van Neste and Burk are proposing that the society adopt the doctrinal basis of the United Kingdom’s Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, with the current ETS basis added to it. Van Neste described the UCCF document as “a much more complete document” that addresses such theological concepts as the humanity of Christ, the virgin birth and Christ’s return.

“This is a document that has been working for some time for a diverse group of evangelicals,” Van Neste said.


Van Neste began the effort with a paper he presented in 2001, but noted there is now new momentum for amending the ETS doctrinal statement.

Union University President David S. Dockery offered his support for the proposed amendment.

“I commend Dr. Van Neste and Dr. Burk for their efforts to provide a more full-orbed confession for the Evangelical Theological Society,” Dockery said. “When the society was formed, there was an assumption that a commitment to inerrancy brought with it a commitment to other orthodox and evangelical doctrinal distinctives. But that may not be the case anymore.”

Dockery added that the amendment “will help safeguard the mission of the society in the 21st century.”

An article by Van Neste and Burk outlining their proposal will appear in the Criswell Theological Review this fall. More information about the proposed amendment is available at www.amendets.com.
Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University.