The first session was by Dr. Ken Endean, of International Baptist College and Seminary in Arizona. He preached on the classic holiness text of 1 Peter 1:13-17. This text is very simple to understand, and it was a good reminder to me. Are we pursuing holiness for the sake of victory or for the sake of living in fellowship with Christ? The wrong approach is to pursue it just for the sake of victory.
The second session mid-morning was from a local pastor, Steve Thomas. In demonstration of the fundamental ideal of the local church’s importance, he followed a pattern of preaching that involved (1) examining the text of Eph. 3:20-21, (2) drawing a doctrinal point, (3) answering objections, and (4) discussing the implications. The tone of this message was one of warning about what will happen if the proper role of a local church—that of worship toward God—is neglected by the coming generation. While an unusual approach to the issue, I will think about it more potentially.
After lunch, we had a general session that was a discussion of the Southern Baptist Convention by Dr. Larry Oats, one of my teachers at Maranatha and the author of The Church of the Fundamentalists reviewed by me early in this blog’s life. His discussion was enlightening as to several operational aspects of how the SBC works, and it concluded with repeating the concern that at best the group practices an incomplete obedience to the imperatives of separation in Rom. 16:15-17.
After that session, I attended a workshop seminar on dispensationalism by Dr. Matt Postiff, a pastor in Ann Arbor, MI. His presentation was excellent, and I agreed with him substantially in his presentation with his distinctive contributions to the conversation about this system. While I write about the topic frequently, He also gave me some good bits of further nuancing my positions. He helpfully explained how dispensationalism can be seen as a system of continuity because of the ultimate goal of history, the glory of God in the fulfilled kingdom. Another helpful idea he offered was that our present citizenship in the kingdom, implied by some NT passages in the epistles and Acts, in no way requires that the kingdom be a present reality.
Following this breakout session, there was a panel discussion of four “older generation” leaders and four “younger generation” leaders. At some times, not everyone had a lot to say but it was still good. One of the more meaningful discussions one of the younger guys had for me was a discussion of the criteria for church membership in the context of people who may not hold to exactly the same standards in certain areas. The pastor’s heart was wanted to enable a church to embrace those with a high view of Biblical authority as there are fewer and fewer churches holding that. As one who recently joined a church for the first time, due to challenges I faced in the process, the sensitivity and concerns expressed were good to hear from a pastor.
After this session, we had the dinner break and this led to the final evening service. Two pastors from the Greenville, SC, area preached. The first session was from Joshua Crockett, preaching on Preserving Our Heritage for the Next Generation. His key point was that we must follow the Godly examples and avoid the bad examples. Finally, the meeting concluded with Mark Minnick, preaching from Jude on Preserving the Gospel. His message was profound, and moving me to continue to deepen my faith and to cultivate a proper contention of the faith as a means to keep the gospel pure. He called for preachers to not only do application-centric preaching, but to preach what the text says and means. This is the foundation for preserving the gospel. Then, once taught, the preacher must warn and contend for the truth against error in proportion to the seriousness of the error. He concluded with an example of some neo-evangelicals (Iain Murray and John MacArthur) who are realizing their strategy failed while the fundamentalist’s strategy has succeeded. This alone makes me feel good that I am in the right direction.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that I had a couple good brief conversations with several pastors and professors I had read but never had a chance to meet in person. I am very glad to have come to this meeting. While there remain some questions in my mind about the future for this group and my place in it, I am thankful for what I got to see this week. May I continue to share it though informally as a church member and on this blog. Praise the Lord.