“It was an amicable split, but it was still a split,” says Canadian scholar John Stackhouse to describe a recent move among his fellow Canadian scholars to break away from their U.S. counterpart, the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), and form the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association (CETA).
Stackhouse, assistant professor of modern Christianity at the University of Manitoba, was selected CETA’s first president at the association’s first official meeting, held earlier this year in Kingston, Ontario. Formed in 1990, CETA’s membership consists for the most part of what used to be the Canadian region of ETS.
The groundwork for a Canadian evangelical theological society was laid in 1987, when an exploratory committee was formed. But even prior to that, it was the forced resignation of Robert Gundry from ETS in 1983 (CT, Feb. 3, 1984, p. 36) that helped pave the way for a distinctly Canadian body, Stackhouse said. Gundry was forced out of ETS because of his view that the gospel writers disregarded historical, factual accuracy to convey spiritual truth to their first-century readers.
The major issue behind the formation of CETA, according to Stackhouse, was the quest for a “distinctly Canadian agenda and disposition toward theological education and reflection.” He cited a “growing self-consciousness” among Canadian evangelicals, including scholars, in the decade of the nineteen eighties.
Stackhouse, who recently completed a book-length manuscript on Canadian evangelicalism in the twentieth century, said one of his key findings was that the “fundamentalist impulse” is much weaker in Canada than it is in the U.S. This, he added, affects both the selection of issues and the tone of theological discourse ...1
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