Message from the Executive Committee

Dear Fellow ETS Members,

The goal of this short communication from the Executive Committee of the Evangelical Theological Society is to
• clarify the impact of the resolutions adopted at Annual Meetings, including the most recent one
• reaffirm the Society’s foundational convictions
• express our commitment to review, renew, and refine our processes

Clarify the Impact of Resolutions Adopted at Annual Meetings
There have been a number of questions about the resolutions that were adopted at the 2015 Annual Business Meeting. Many of these relate to the content and meaning of the resolutions themselves, but the most urgent questions concern the impact of the resolutions—must members affirm them? Will they be used for screening membership? Do they have binding force, or indeed any force at all?

The short answer is “no.” The resolutions are non-binding. They have no bearing on membership. The resolutions are, in effect, an expression of a spontaneous vote by those members in attendance at the business meeting. The passing of resolutions in Atlanta did not change the Society’s constitution, by-laws, or doctrinal basis, and will have no on-going impact on the Society’s election of officers or governance.

Reaffirm the Society’s Foundational Convictions
Part of the angst felt by some over resolutions affirmed in Atlanta is that the resolutions were felt to be out of step with the Society’s historic culture. The Society was founded on a very specific, focused, and limited doctrinal basis. It was not a wide-ranging and comprehensive statement but rather a statement about the Bible’s truth and authority which allowed for a wide array of theological positions to come together for academic discussion. Although there have been some expansions over the course of time, the Society reaffirmed, as recently as 2008, the doctrinal basis in lieu of a fuller statement which would multiply the points of affirmation required for participation in the Society.

In addition to the preference for a limited and focused doctrinal basis, the Society, as an academic group, has developed and maintained a culture of discussion and dialogue. Even where there are long-running disagreements, varying viewpoints, and alternative proposals, the academic process of presentation, dialogue, critique, refinement, and publication has continued to serve the evangelical cause and is in line with our purpose to foster conservative biblical scholarship.

We believe that non-binding resolutions may not necessarily further the academic process in effective ways. Nor do they contribute to the furtherance of biblical scholarship as productively as the regular processes of the annual meeting, where ideas are presented and discussed, and then discussion continues through the scholarship of the individual members and the academy at large.

Commit to Review, Renew, and Refine Our Processes
One effect of the process of voting on the resolutions was to highlight that some of our institutional processes do not reflect the realities of today’s Society. With a membership of over 4,500 and an Annual Meeting attendance of over 2,800, the current business meeting structure is in need of change. Our membership is more distributed geographically, has a greater diversity of theological perspectives, and enjoys the ease of today’s electronic communication platforms.

We need to think through our business processes and ensure that we have the proper time and space to allow for discussion prior to votes. We need to ensure that our processes protect our core cultural values including the doctrinal basis, and the commitment to scholarly exchange. In coming meetings the Executive​ Committee is committed to exploring avenues of improvement in these areas.

Thank you for your patience and graciousness as we work through the issues raised at the 2015 meeting. We welcome your suggestions and input. Members may send feedback directly to the executive committee via this online form.

The ETS Executive Committee
Daniel B. Wallace, President
Sam Storms, President-Elect
David S. Dockery, Vice-President
Gregg R. Allison, Secretary
Paul R. House, Past President (2012)
Robert W. Yarbrough, Past President (2013)
Thomas R. Schreiner, Past President (2014)
Scott B. Rae, Past President (2015)