Editorial -- By: Andreas J. Köstenberger

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 47:1 (Mar 2004)
Article: Editorial
Author: Andreas J. Köstenberger


Andreas J. Köstenberger

Where do the ETS and its Journal stand the year after the membership challenge of Clark Pinnock and John Sanders? The answer to this question cannot be given in a single sentence, and probably not in a single editorial. Nevertheless, it may be helpful to take stock and sketch the implications of last November’s vote for the various parties concerned and to survey the road that lies ahead.

The two members whose membership challenges were not sustained by the Society, one assumes, are relieved, though in one case the vote was so close as to hardly constitute a sweeping exoneration (one of those challenging the membership called it a “chastening vote”).

There is presumably satisfaction among those who had argued throughout the entire process that expulsion from the Society was a punishment that did not fit the crime, because the case was entirely too circumstantial to be proved “beyond reasonable doubt” and in any case the nature of the Society ought not to be construed so tightly as to expel people who themselves affirm inerrancy.

Those who pressed the case in the end seemed satisfied that protocol had been followed and the Society’s constitution had been upheld. Members of the Society were charged to continue to put a supreme value on inerrancy and thus honor the founders’ legacy.

Those on the executive committee, one surmises, are relieved that the demands on their time required by this issue are over and they can go back to their scholarly work. They may also feel satisfaction that the fact-finding procedure was (as far as can be known) sincere and did not amount to the rubber-stamp process feared by some.

Those on the committee who authored the minority report contending that the inerrancy clause in the ETS doctrinal statement was not sufficiently specific to exclude John Sanders can be pleased that a sufficient number of members apparently followed their recommendation to vote against, and thus help defeat, the challenge to his membership.

Those on the committee who wrote the majority report in the Sanders case (as well as others among the about 63% who voted in favor of expulsion) can take a certain degree of solace in Russ Bush’s motion at the closing business session of the Society. The former ETS president asked the committee to revisit the ETS doctrinal base to see if any changes are needed in light of the fact that the current statement apparently proved inadequate with regard to the meaning of inerrancy in John Sanders’s case.

Among ETS members, some (though not many) expressed anger at the Society’s lack of doctrinal fidelity (in their view) and resigned their membership. They will no dou...

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