Francis Beckwith knows what it's like to be in the middle of controversy. In fact, he thinks he's a magnet for it. Beckwith, who is a philosophy and church-studies professor at Baylor University, triggered a debate when he resigned as president of the Evangelical Theological Society after converting to Catholicism.
Now Beckwith happens to be a visiting fellow at the University of Notre Dame, where a new debate is focused on the university's invitation to President Obama to speak at commencement.
"My wife says I'm like the Forrest Gump for controversy," he said. "But on campus, more people are concerned about whether the Fighting Irish would beat Kentucky." Beckwith spoke with Christianity Today about what the discussion means for Catholic and evangelical higher education institutions. (See also responses from Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw and Union University president David Dockery.)
Since the President will speak at several commencement ceremonies during his term, why did his invitation to speak at Notre Dame create such a stir?
There's nothing wrong with inviting speakers to campus who disagree with the university. I don't think that's the issue here. Here, you have a combination of a commencement address and an honorary doctorate. The honorary doctorate is more troubling than the commencement address because to give him an honorary doctorate in law is to say that he's accomplished something in the field of law that the University of Notre Dame wants to honor. In the past three weeks, we've seen a number of different events, one of which was the change in policy on embryonic stem cell research. The problem is, the areas in which he's been involved with legislation on the issue of abortion have been contrary to Catholic ...