Conferences

Jerry Tidwell: Missions and Evangelism – Awakenings and Their Influence on Southern Baptists and Evangelicals

Jerry Tidwell draws on the example of the Dead Sea which receives, but never gives.  The Dead Sea receives the good waters from Mount Hermon through the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, but stagnates and becomes a place of death.

Myths Surrounding the Great Awakenings

#1.  There is Agreement on the Number and Dates of the Awakenings.

The dates of the first two Awakenings are debated.

#2.  Removing Barriers of Offense to Unbelievers Will Lead to a Larger Church Membership.

#3.  The Awakenings were a Pushback Against Calvinism.

I have to confess that I have made the assumption that because of the number of conversions in the Great Awakening meant that it was a turn away from Calvinism.  This is not true.  The Calvinists were the most effective in resisting the

#4.  Prayer Meetings were the Catalyst for the Awakenings.

The greatest catalyst for the Awakenings was a realization of God’s sovereignty and holiness as opposed to man’s depravity.

Results of the Awakening:

#1.  The Awakenings led to an increased passion for missions and evangelism.

#2.  The Awakenings led Baptists to cooperate with other Evangelicals of the day.

#3.  The Awakening led to a greater recognition of the need of education for ministers.

#4.  The Awakenings led to anti-slavery rules and the preaching of the gospel to the Native Americans.

#5.  The Awakenings waned not because of persecution from secular society, but from the religious establishment of the day.

Whatever else we may say about our desire and need for an Awakening, it seems to be clear that God visited his people in this unusual way as a result of the Isaiah 6 principle.  Isaiah beheld the holiness of God and says not “Woe is them,” but “Woe is me.”   May we again become a body of believers where the life of Christ not only flows to us, but through us.


Michael Lindsay: Denominationalism and the Changing Religious Landscape in North America

Michael Lindsay is speaking on the changing religious landscape of America.  He provides a sociologist’s perspective on the future of denominationalism.

Institutions really matter.  Denominations can become vibrant expressions of Christianity.

Our finest moments as denominations occur in times of crisis.

If we are united together for a common purpose to get things done, we will be better able to adapt to the changing religious landscape.

Institutions supply rules, roles, records, and reward the right things.

Danny Akin: The Future of the Southern Baptist Convention

Southern Baptists are clearly at a crossroads.

These are unprecedented times.

  • At our most recent Convention, by a 95%+ vote, a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force was appointed by President Johnny Hunt.
  • A few months later, Geoff Hammond was forced to resign from the NAMB.
  • Then, Jerry Rankin announced his retirement from the IMB.
  • Morris Chapman announced his retirement from the Executive Committee.

Add to this the decline in baptism and we could become very pessimistic.

I’m not optimistic, but I’m hopeful.  Not because of my confidence in Southern Baptists, but because of my confidence in our God and his purposes.

God has a global purpose to have people from every nation around his throne.  The question is will Southern Baptists be involved in his purpose.

Akin is speaking for the fourth time in five years on the future of the SBC.  He will draw on these previous addresses (especially the Axioms for a Great Commission Resurgence speech), since little has changed.  He will be adding

Eight Observations:

  1. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we return to Jesus as our first love.
  2. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we remain committed to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God.
  3. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we pursue a genuinely Word-based ministry that is biblical in content and has a fire in its delivery.
  4. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we can affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 as a healthy and sufficient guide for building a theological consensus for partnership in the gospel, refusing to be sidetracked by theological agendas that distract us from our Lord’s Commission.
  5. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if our congregations begin to look as diverse as our communities and of the nations.
  6. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we have the courage to rethink our structure, clarify our mission, and provide a compelling vision for the future.
  7. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we raise up a generation of pastors who seem themselves as leading people to be missionaries regardless of vocation or location.
  8. Southern Baptists have an optimistic future, if we pledge ourselves to a renewed cooperation that is gospel centered and built around a biblical and theological core and not methodological consensus or agreement.

If we unite around the Great Commission our future is bright, but if we do not then we don’t deserve a future.

Article by Jim Smith of the Florida Baptist Witness on Danny Akin’s address.

Robert Smith: “The Church’s One Foundation”

This evening’s session is a community worship service highlighted with a message by Dr. Robert Smith from Acts 8:26-40 titled “The Church’s One Foundation.”

“Speak Lord, your servants are listening.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

We preach an inalterable, unchanging gospel in a changing world.

Our theology must be a theology of the feet and not just a theology of the seat.  Phillip went.

In Acts 8 we have a Kodak moment.  A glimpse of the kingdom. I better get ready to see in the kingdom of heaven who don’t look like me and don’t dress like me.

Too much preaching has become Christologically deficient.

Jesus Christ is still able to save.  Phillip preached Christ.

When the Samaritans heard the message about Christ and saw the accompanying signs, they believed.

When life breaks down, Christ breaks through!  Job – “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.”

God will put us in situations where there will be no explanation of the victory, but that God did it!

We are very close to becoming binarians.  We believe in God the Father and God the Son, but minimize the Holy Spirit.

You can’t understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit, no matter how many PhDs you have.

When the Ethiopian Eunuch believed he had a new position.  He previously couldn’t enter into the temple, but now he has access into the presence of God.  We were once all eunuchs, but we who were once strangers are not given access into the very presence of God.

Get the audio!

Ray Van Neste: The Oversight of Souls: Pastoral Ministry in Southern Baptist and Evangelical Life

Ray Van Neste speaks on the nature and future of pastoral ministry in Southern Baptist and Evangelical Life.  He draws on a number of Biblical passages, as well as writings of historical personages advocating the oversight of souls as true pastoral ministry.

Preaching is not the heart of pastoral ministry.  It is oversight.  We do not shepherd souls to preach, we preach as a means to shepherd souls.  Pastors must be involved in the lives of their people.

Careful oversight may not make us famous since people cannot download our oversight onto their I-Pods.

Drawing on John 10:11-15, Van Neste offers a model of pastoral ministry from the shepherding work of Christ.

  • The shepherd sacrifices himself for the sheep.
  • The shepherd knows the sheep.

In Hebrews 13:17, pastors are shown to have authority, but only as those who watch over souls.  No mention is made of drawing crowds and building buildings.  Watching implies protecting and a willingness to pursue those sheep who might go astray.

In 1 Peter 5:1 these same ideas are present.  Likewise in Acts 20:18-21, 28.

Some advise pastors not to get too close to their members.  This is not good advice, it is ungodly.  Rebuke ought not be delivered if its too easy.  It’s the wounds of a friend that are faithful, not the cool correction of a hired hand.

See also 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 7-12, 19-20.  Richard Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor is recommended as an exhortation to this kind of pastoral oversight.  Pastors must know their people in order to be able to minister to them.  Churches must not become so large as to prohibit the members knowing each other, or the pastors from knowing the members.

Duane Litfin: The Future of American Evangelicalism

Duane Litfin is now serving in his seventeenth year as Wheaton College’s seventh president. He holds an undergraduate degree in biblical studies and a master’s degree in theology. His two doctorates are from Purdue University (Ph.D., Communication) and Oxford University (D.Phil., New Testament). Dr. Litfin is the author of several books, most recently Conceiving the Christian College (Eerdmans, 2004), and his writings have appeared in numerous journals and periodicals.

Litfin’s topic is the future of American Evangelicalism. He plans to address denominationalism, then evangelicalism, before looking at Southern Baptists.

In the past thirty years we have seen the diaspora of Evangelicalism.  The movement from Fundamentalist to Evangelical during the 1940s and 1950s was not a doctrinal shift, but a less strident version of the same doctrines. But during the past few decades we have seen a sprawl of evangelicalism.  The movement is becoming increasingly diverse.  This movement cannot be policed like the SBC can.  The SBC had to do what it did and was right to do what it did.  But it cannot happen to Evangelicalism.  The diversification of thought within the Evangelical movement is inevitable and will increase.  The term is a fluid term and terms come and go.

For the SBC:

1.  Baptist polity is well-positioned for the decline of denominationalism.  SBC churches can maintain the strengths of a denomination without any of the weaknesses.

2.  This may be an opportunity for the SBC to be less insular.  Evangelicalism needs the voices from the SBC.

3.  Don’t put your dependence on Evangelicalism as a movement.  Don’t distance yourself from Evangelicalism, but don’t put too much weight on it.  Stay faithful to the truth and the SBC may be the means of keeping Evangelicalism relevant well into the future.

Timothy George: The Church, My Faith, and the Church’s Faith

Jude 3

The Faith. The Faith is the central content of the Christian kerygma.  This is what we proclaim to the world of what God is done in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  It is summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and later in the Nicene Creed. Though it is common to hear “No Creed but the Bible”, what is often meant is neither creed nor the Bible.  If the phrase means to reject creedalism, then it is appropriate.  Scripture always rules over any creeds.  Any creed should be able to be revised by the Bible.  Creeds imposed by the Civil authorities are to be rejected.

We must be careful to pass along the Faith and not to betray it.  Confessions of Faith are like guardrails to keep us on the road. We should not mistake the guardrails for the road.  But the guardrails are necessary.

My faith. There are two words in Latin for faith:  assensus and fiduciaAssensus is the Faith.  It is essential, but it is not enough.  It is the objective content of the gospel.  But more is needed for salvation.  One must possess fiducia which is the utter dependence upon God’s grace, apart from any merits of one’s self.  At conversion The Faith, becomes my faith.  As long as the Faith remains detached, as a mere system of doctrine, we are not yet regenerate.  Has the Faith become your faith?

The Church’s Faith. In the history of Christianity, the Faith and my faith taken independently of each other have resulted in some dangerous extremes.  The Faith without my faith leads to a dry rationalism.  My faith without the Faith becomes a sloppy sentimentalism.  The Church’s faith is rooted in the objectivity of God’s revelation of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Nothing will be more important in the future of Christianity, then the question of what is the church.  We must recover the confessions and catechisms of the church to see what they tell us of the Church’s faith.  The Church’s faith is meant to be sung as well as said.  It needs to be prayed as well as proclaimed.  We need to recover the great hymns of the Christian faith.  The Church’s faith is a public faith that cannot be kept to ourselves.

We must declare the Faith, which must become my faith, and which must come together to say to all the world that this is the Church’s faith.