Next week on the dates of November 16-18, 2011 I will be attending the 63rd annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in San Francisco. I
will be there delivering a paper as a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, whose sessions are part of the ETS program. (For those who may be attending, I will be delivering my paper, “Justificatory Liberalism and Same-Sex Marriage,” on Thursday November 17 at 9:20 am, in the same session as William Lane Craig and Michael Licona are delivering their papers). I have attended two ETS meeting since returning to the Catholic Church (2007, 2010). It is such a joy to visit with my Evangelical friends, with whom I am still very close. I continue to learn so much from them.
As most readers of this blog know, in May 2007 I resigned as the 57th president of the ETS a week after I was received back into the Catholic Church. (I resigned my ETS membership the next day). In my book, Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009), I devote the last chapter to my resignations and why I think the ETS statement of belief may be interpreted generously to allow Catholics to join the society. An adaption of that chapter (along with a snippet or two from other parts of the book) was published in 2009 in the Josephinum Journal of Theology 16.1 (2009): 125-138. Entitled, “Evangelical and Catholic,” here’s how it begins:
It was a spring Texas afternoon, a little hot, not too humid. I had arrived at St. Jerome’s Catholic Church. St. Jerome’s is located in Waco, Texas, the home of my employer, Baylor University – sometimes called “Jerusalem on the Brazos.” Although the church is only about three miles from my home in the adjacent town of Woodway, my arrival on that April 28, 2007 afternoon marked a turning point in a long spiritual pilgrimage that began in 1973 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I had come to church that Saturday to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, which to many is known as confession. This ordinarily would not be such a big deal, except that it was my first confession in more than 30 years. And at the completion of the sacrament I would be in full communion with the Catholic Church. My younger brother, James, emailed me earlier in the week and had jokingly asked if I needed help in recalling my sins. Of course, people become Catholic every day. But in my case, I knew that there would be ramifications: I was the president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), an academic society with nearly 4,500 members. I was also a fairly well known public intellectual who had gone through a very public tenure battle at Baylor University that had, fortunately, ended in my favor only seven months earlier.