Name: Francis J. Beckwith
Why you should know him: Dr. Beckwith is a prolific writer and speaker who is quickly moving to the front ranks of influential evangelical thinkers. (Note: See update at the end of this post.)
Position: Associate Director of the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies and Associate Professor of Church-State Studies at Baylor University; Associate Editor of the Journal of Church & State; Member of Princeton’s James Madison Society
Previous: A 2002-03 Research Fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics at Princeton University; Faculty member Trinity International University (1997-2002), Whittier College (1996-97), and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (1989-96).
M.A., Ph.D. in Philosophy, Fordham University
Master of Juridical Studies, Washington University School of Law in St. Louis
Area of expertise/interest: Bioethics; Legal, religious and moral philosophy; Intelligent Design; Constitutional Law Issues
Blog: Co-blogger at both Moteworthy and Right Reason
Books: (w/ W. L. Craig, J. P. Moreland) To Every One An Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (2004); Law, Darwinism, & Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design (2003); (w/ C. Mosser and P. Owen) The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement (2002); Do the Right Thing: Readings in Applied Ethics and Social Philosophy, 2/e (2002); (w/ G. P. Koukl) Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air (1998); (w/ L. P. Pojman) The Abortion Controversy 25 Years After Roe v. Wade: A Reader, 2/e (1998); (w/ T. Jones) Affirmative Action: Social Justice or Reverse Discrimination? (1997); and Politically Correct Death: Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (1993)
Published articles in: Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, San Diego Law Review, International Philosophical Quarterly, Nevada Law Journal, Public Affairs Quarterly, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, Social Theory & Practice, Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Ethics & Medicine: An International Journal of Bioethics, Journal of Church & State, Journal of Social Philosophy, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Logos, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, and Philosophia Christi.
Also contributed to a number of reference works including: Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (Routledge, forthcoming 2006); Encyclopedia of Civil Rights & Liberties (Garland, forthcoming 2005); Baker Dictionary of Cults (Baker, forthcoming 2005); Dictionary of Contemporary Religion in the Western World (InterVarsity, 2002); Encyclopedia of Religion in American Politics (Oryx, 1999); and Encyclopedia of Biblical and Christian Ethics, 2/e (Thomas Nelson, 1992).
Assessment: Dr. Beckwith is a prolific author who has written extensively on ethical, philosophical, and constitutional law issues from a Christian perspective. A former Republican Party convention delegate and candidate for the Nevada state senate (he lost by 500 votes in 1992), Beckwith now focuses on church-state issues and expanding religious liberty at Baylor’s J.M. Dawson Institute. In 2003, he published the the landmark work “Law, Darwinism & Public Education: The Establishment Clause and the Challenge of Intelligent Design” in which he provides a comprehensive defense of the constitutionality of teaching ID in the public schools. (Note: He defends the legality of teaching the theory even though he currently thinks that it’s not strong enough to warrant being taught as biological science). His book marks an important contribution in the effort to allow ID to be judged solely on its scientific merits rather than as an issue of religion in politics.
Like Nancy Pearcey, Beckwith is poised to make the transition from an academic who influences other thinkers to one of the most prominent and important intellectuals in evangelicalism.
UPDATE: On May 5, 2007, Beckwith resigned as President of the Evangelical Theological Society after announcing he was returning to the Roman Catholic Church.
Essays and Articles: (Full List)
“Roe v. Wade: Its Logic and Its Legacy.” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7.2 (Summer 2003): 4-28.
“Why I am Not a Relativist.” In Why I Am A Christian. Edited by Norman L. Geisler and Paul K. Hoffman. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001. Pp.15-29 (includes moral argument for God’s existence)
“Public Education, Religious Establishment, and the Challenge of Intelligent Design.” Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics, & Public Policy 17.2 (2003): 461-519.
(This post is #14 in the “Know Your Evangelicals” series. Coming next: Philip Yancey)