PROVIDENCE, R.I. (BP)–Bruce Ware became the first faculty member from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to serve as president of the Evangelical Theological Society during the organization’s Nov. 19-21 annual meeting in Providence, R.I.
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege to serve in a role of leadership in such a wonderful organization as ETS,” said Ware, who has served as professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary since 1998.
“The Lord has blessed [ETS] and I believe continues to do so. I am very delighted to have Southern’s profile made a bit more noticeable through this and that’s a tremendous thing.”
In 2006, Ware was elected ETS vice president by a unanimous vote during the organization’s 58th annual meeting in Washington, D.C. After that one-year term and one year as president-elect, Ware began his term as ETS president during the 60th annual meeting at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.
Ware joined ETS in 1984 during his first year of teaching at Bethel Seminary and in the years since has been on the front lines of upholding biblical truth within evangelicalism. In 2000 he authored “God’s Lesser Glory,” a work defending the historic orthodox doctrine of God in the face of attacks by open theism — a position which argues, among other things, that God does not know perfectly what will happen in the future.
In 2004, Ware wrote a companion volume titled “God’s Greater Glory” in which he positively asserted the classical doctrine of God from Scripture and church history. In 2003, ETS members narrowly voted to retain the membership of two of open theism’s most prominent scholars, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders.
While ETS currently is not embroiled in conflict, Ware said the vote on Pinnock and Sanders was a sobering reminder of the need for accountability among evangelical scholars. To join ETS, prospective members must affirm a brief doctrinal statement upholding the inerrancy of Scripture and the Trinity.
“ETS went on record in a very clear way that we will watch carefully these movements that appear to be at odds with inerrancy and will call them on it,” Ware said. “I think it was a helpful warning that everything will not be tolerated. On the other hand, we tolerate a lot and I think that is the point of the organization: to tolerate any viable position that can argue from an inerrant Bible. ETS is intentionally a big tent.”
Ware also has been active in the gender debate within evangelicalism and has staunchly argued in favor of the complementary roles of men and women in the church and home as set forth in Scripture. In his 2005 book, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance,” Ware demonstrated the significance of the roles played by each person of the Godhead in redemption as a model for gender roles in the home and church over against egalitarian arguments to the contrary.
Ware is part of an SBTS contingent of faculty members and Ph.D. students who will present scholarly papers at the 2009 annual meeting in New Orleans. Peter Gentry, professor of Old Testament interpretation, will deliver one of four plenary addresses.
“If Southern does not have the most representatives, it is clearly in the top two or three with both faculty and doctoral students represented in reading papers,” Ware said. “I am just so pleased that one of the plenary speakers — those are addresses to the entire ETS gathering of roughly 1,500 — is Dr. Gentry. It’s a great honor to Southern also to have Peter be in that position.”
Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.