Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Graduate Program in Philosophy and Co-Director of the Program on Philosophical Studies of Religion in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR).
With his appointment in Baylor’s Department of Philosophy, he also teaches courses in medical humanities, political science, religion, and church-state studies. From July 2003 through January 2007, he served as the Associate Director of Baylor’s J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies.
A graduate of Fordham University (Ph.D. and M.A. in philosophy), he also holds the Master of Juridical Studies (M.J.S.) degree from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, where he won a CALI Award for Academic Excellence in Reproductive Control Seminar.
His books include Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith (Cambridge University Press, 2015 ); (w/R. Sherlock) The Catholic Invitation to Latter-Day Saints (Ignatius Press, forthcoming); (w/ R. P. George, S. McWilliams) A Second Look at First Things: A Case for Conservative Politics (St. Augustine Press, 2013); Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft (InterVarsity Press, 2010); Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (Brazos Press, 2009), among many others.
Professor Beckwith has been quoted in a variety of publications including the New York Times, the Dallas Morning-News, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Christianity Today, World Magazine, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Los Angeles Times, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Washington Times, Touchstone Magazine, the National Catholic Register, Commonweal, Moody Magazine, Christian Research Journal, the Baptist Standard and the Salt Lake Tribune.
Industry Expertise (5)
Writing and Editing
Areas of Expertise (12)
Church and State Issues
Philosophical and Theological Ethics
Ethics & Values
Religion Politics & Culture
Book: Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics, and the Reasonableness of Faith
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015)
Book: Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft
(Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010)
Book: Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic
(Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009)
Book: Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
Book: Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1998)
Fordham University: Ph.D., Philosophy
Fordham University: M.A., Philosophy
Washington University School of Law: M.J.S.
Dr. Beckwith won a CALI Award for Academic Excellence in Reproductive Control Seminar.
Media Appearances (10)
Mattingly: Traditional Catholics watching Biden's actions
Herald and News online
Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies and associate of director of graduate studies, is quoted in this article about Catholic politicians and debates on controversial issues within the community.
Never Doubt Thomas: The Catholic Aquinas as Evangelical and Protestant
New Books Network online
AUDIO: Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies, associate director of graduate studies and author of “Never Doubt Thomas: The Catholic Aquinas as Evangelical and Protestant,” is interviewed about natural law theory and how it is connected to Thomas Aquinas, a medieval religious scholar.
Supreme Court: On the Phone: Dr. Francis Beckwith
VIDEO: Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and associate director of graduate studies in philosophy, was interviewed live from Washington, D.C., on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Dr. Beckwith is in D.C. for a Baylor-led graduate seminar on religion in public life for doctoral and law students from around the country.
Pope Francis on Trump: Who Is He to Judge?
Roll Call online
Opinion piece about Pope Francis’ questioning of whether presidential candidate Donald Trump is a Christian quotes Francis J. Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and author of “Taking Rites Seriously: Law, Politics and the Reasonableness of Faith.” Beckwith says that “although popes — and ecumenical councils — have always issued pronouncements as to what counts as correct Christian doctrine or practice, I can’t recall any popes, including recent ones, singling out individuals for the particular judgment of not being a Christian.’’
Papa Francesco e il modello di integrazione americano in crisi
Il Foglio online
Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences and graduate program director in philosophy, is quoted in the Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio about Pope Francis’s direction on immigration.
Pope Francis Speaks to Congress, Now in New York
VIDEO: Religion experts Michael Foley, Ph.D., associate professor of Patristics in the Great Texas Program in Baylor’s Honors College, and Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, discuss the meaning and influence behind Pope Francis’s remarks to congressional leaders Thursday in Washington.
Is Pope Francis an Evangelical, Charismatic Catholic?
The Catholic World Report print
Article examining Pope Francis’ roots and focus in his role includes an interview with Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and church-state studies and associate director of undergraduate studies in Baylor’s department of philosophy.
Part 1: Baylor Religion Experts Break Down Pope Visit
KCEN-TV Ch. 6 (Waco, Temple, Killeen/NBC) tv
VIDEO: Part 1: Religion experts Michael Foley, Ph.D., associate professor of Patristics in the Great Texas Program in Baylor’s Honors College, and Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, discuss initial thoughts and the purpose behind Pope Francis's first visit to America.
Part 2: Baylor Religion Experts Break Down Pope Visit
KCEN-TV Ch. 6 (Waco, Temple, Killeen/NBC)
VIDEO: Part 2: Religion experts Michael Foley, Ph.D., associate professor of Patristics in the Great Texas Program in Baylor’s Honors College, and Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, discuss initial thoughts and the purpose behind Pope Francis's first visit to America.
Part 3: Baylor Religion Experts Break Down Pope Visit
KCEN-TV Ch. 6 (Waco, Temple, Killeen/NBC) tv
VIDEO: Part 3: Religion experts Michael Foley, Ph.D., associate professor of Patristics in the Great Texas Program in Baylor’s Honors College, and Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., professor of philosophy in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, discuss initial thoughts and the purpose behind Pope Francis's first visit to America.
“Or We Can Be Philosophers: A Response to Barbara Forrest.”Synthese 192.S1 (December 2015): 3-25
This article is a response to Barbara Forrest’ 2011 Synthese article, “On the Non-Epistemology of Intelligent Design.” Forrest offers an account of my philosophical work that consists almost entirely of personal attacks, excursions into my religious pilgrimage, and misunderstandings and misrepresentations of my work as well as of certain philosophical issues. Not surprisingly, the Synthese editors include a disclaimer in the front matter of the special issue in which Forrest’s article was published. In my response, I address three topics: (1) My interest in Intelligent Design (ID) and public education and why as a Thomist I have grown more skeptical and explicitly critical of ID over the years, (2) the sorts of philosophical mistakes with which Forrest’s article is teeming, and (3) my Christian faith, religious exclusivism, and interfaith dialogue.
“Carl Henry’s Quandary”Journal of Christian Legal Thought 5.2 (Fall 2015): 21-24
In the private dispute between the young philosopher Richard Mouw and the seasoned theologian Carl F. H. Henry, I concur with the retrospective judgment of the President Emeritus of Fuller Seminary. Understanding the difficulty (not to mention the imprudence) of offering particular policy proposals as the only deliverances of Christian moral theology based on principles that are at a much higher level of generality, Henry exercised a wisdom that is far too uncommon today.
“Does Judith Jarvis Thomson Really Grant the Prolife View of Fetal Personhood in Her Defense of Abortion?: A Rawlsian Assessment”International Philosophical Quarterly 54.4 (December 2014)
In her ground-breaking 1971 article, “A Defense of Abortion,” Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that even if one grants to the prolifer her most important premise—that the fetus is a person—the prolifer’s conclusion, the intrinsic wrongness of abortion, does not follow. However, in her 1995 article, “Abortion: Whose Right?,” Thomson employs Rawlsian liberalism to argue that even though the prolifer’s view of fetal personhood is not unreasonable, the prochoice advocate is not unreasonable in rejecting it. Thus, because we should err on the side of liberty, the right to abortion is vindicated. In this article, I argue that Thomson’s latter reliance on Rawlsian thinking suggests a way of re-reading her earlier essay that casts doubt on whether she really grants the dominant prolife account of unborn human life.
“On Making the Case for Life: On St. Peter’s Counsel to Always Be Ready”National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.4 (Winter 2013): 601-609
In Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II writes that the culture of death is the consequence of society embracing a “positivist mentality.” Given both where the Church is culturally situated as well as her call for a New Evangelization, this article offers a critique of positivist mentality that attempts to draw out of its advocates the natural law that is “written in the heart.” This critique includes an analysis of the article “After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?” authored by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva and published in 2013 in the Journal of Medical Ethics. National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly 13.4 (Winter 2013): 601–609.
"Potentials and burdens: A reply to Giubilini and Minerva"Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (5):341-344 (2013)
This article responds to Giubilini and Minerva's article 'After birth abortion: why should the baby live?' published in the Journal of Medical Ethics. They argue for the permissibility of 'after-birth abortion', based on two conjoined considerations: (1) the fetus or newborn, though a 'potential person', is not an actual person, because it is not mature enough to appreciate its own interests, and (2) because we allow parents to terminate the life of a fetus when it is diagnosed with a deformity or fatal illness because of the burden it will place on the child, parent, family or society we should also allow parents to do the same to their newborn, since it is no more a person than the fetus. The author critiques this case by pointing out (a) the metaphysical ambiguity of potential personhood and (b) why the appeal to burdens is irrelevant or unnecessary.
“Philosophy, Grace, and Reconciliation: Reflections of a Catholic Revert”Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 17.3 (2014): 64-79
On April 28, 2007, I was received back into the Catholic Church. My reversion caused quite a stir, since it occurred while I was serving as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), an academic association of Protestant biblical scholars, theologians, philosophers, historians, and ministers that in 2007 had a membership over 4,300. On that evening I wrote the other members of the ETS executive committee, telling them of my reversion. Although I assured them that I could remain as ETS president since there was nothing in the society’s doctrinal basis with which a Catholic could not agree, it was naïve for me to believe that this was possible. Within a week I resigned, realizing that I could not remain as ETS president without causing a scandal. Several days later I resigned my membership as well.
"The Explanatory Power of the Substance View of Persons"Christian Bioethics 10 (1):33-54 (2004)
The purpose of this essay is to offer support for the substance view of persons, the philosophical anthropology defended by Patrick Lee in his essay. In order to accomplish this the author (1) presents a brief definition of the substance view; (2) argues that the substance view has more explanatory power in accounting for why we believe that human persons are intrinsically valuable even when they are not functioning as such (e.g., when one is temporarily comatose), why human persons remain identical to themselves over time, and why it follows from these points that the unborn are human persons; and (3) responds to two arguments that attempt to establish the claim that the early human being is not a unified substance until at least fourteen days after conception.
“Secular Bioethics and Its Challenge to the Catholic Citizen”Nova et Vetra English Edition 12.2 (2014): 471-481
An essay is presented on the book "Biomedicine and Beatitude: An Introduction to Catholic Bioethics" by Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco. It explores Austriaco's views on Catholic bioethics with regards to how secular bioethics is hard to sustain. It tackles the challenges that secular bioethics poses to Catholics and offers several examples of moral dilemmas associated with secular bioethics.