Proposed Constitution Amendment of the ETS Doctrinal Basis

Two ETS members submitted to the Secretary-Treasurer an eleven point proposal to amend the ETS doctrinal basis. As the ETS Constitution requires, the Executive Committee reviewed the proposed amendment. The Executive Committee's unanimous decision was to recommend postponing this proposal until such a time as the Society would decide that it wanted to change from a doctrinal basis to what it considers the proposal to be--a statement of faith. The Executive Committee's judgment was:

"The Evangelical Theological Society from its founding in 1949 to the present has chosen to work from a doctrinal basis rather than from a doctrinal statement or confession of faith. The Executive Committee considers any changes to be departure from this original intent of the Society. Therefore, before the question of creating a doctrinal statement should be considered, the membership should have ample opportunity to discuss the basic issue: 'Should the ETS replace its doctrinal basis with a statement of faith?' Consequently, we propose a special session at the ETS 2008 Annual Meeting to discuss and consider this prior issue."

However, the proponents of the amendment determined not to delay, and the proposal was entered into the record to be voted upon at the 60th Annual Meeting in Providence, RI. A change in the Society's doctrinal basis requires an 80% majority vote. The proposal would change the doctrinal basis into the following eleven points.

ARTICLE III. Doctrinal Basis

  1. God is a Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each an uncreated person, one in essence, equal in power and glory.
  2. God is sovereign in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgment.
  3. The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. It is the supreme authority in all matters of belief and behavior.
  4. Since the fall, the whole of humankind is sinful and guilty, so that everyone is subject to God's wrath and condemnation.
  5. The Lord Jesus Christ, God's incarnate Son, is fully God; he was born of a virgin; his humanity is real and sinless; he died on the cross, was raised bodily from death and is now reigning over heaven and earth.
  6. Sinful human beings are redeemed from the guilt, penalty and power of sin only through the sacrificial death once and for all time of their representative and substitute, Jesus Christ, the only mediator between them and God.
  7. Those who believe in Christ are pardoned all their sins and accepted in God's sight only because of the righteousness of Christ credited them; this justification is God's act of undeserved mercy, received solely by trust in him and not by their own efforts.
  8. The Holy Spirit alone makes the work of Christ effective to individual sinners, enabling them to turn to God from their sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.
  9. The Holy Spirit lives in all those he has regenerated. He makes them increasingly Christ-like in character and behavior and gives them power for their witness in the world.
  10. The one holy universal church is the Body of Christ, to which all true believers belong.
  11. The Lord Jesus Christ will return in person, to judge everyone, to execute God's just condemnation on those who have not repented and to receive the redeemed to eternal glory.

Again, the ETS Executive Committee opposes this preemptive change.  We suggest that discussion by the Society as a whole should precede such a proposal (1)  to determine if the Society wants to move away from its historic use of a doctrinal basis to a formal confession of faith, and if so, then (2) to deliberate on what points would be appropriate to include.  Nevertheless, this proposal will be voted either up or down at the ETS 60th Annual Meeting in November, 2008.


James A. Borland


Secretary-Treasurer, ETS