I have received a couple of emails from individuals who desired more information about The Baptist Identity Conference, February 15-17, in Jackson, Tennessee.
I hope that the conference is well attended for a variety of reasons, and, if possible, I also plan to attend.
My prayer is that some of our Southern Baptist brothers will wake up and recognize that not all Baptists are alike. One seminary professor who seems to not be able to fully grasp the diversity within the SBC wrote yesterday on another blog, "I remain a Baptist and will not become a Calvinist, a Charismatic, or a Culture-chaser.
Though I love the professor's alliteration, I find his assumptions disheartening.
There are plenty of Southern Baptist Calvinists, Southern Baptist Charismatics, and Southern Baptist Culture-chasers. I assume the professor means contemporary churches or pastors when he uses the term 'culture-chasers.' Many of our youngest SBC pastors and church planters do church 'creatively,' seeking to engage culture. Their motto is 'Don't just go to church, be the church' and they wish to transform individuals through the power of the gospel, by taking the good news to the people where they are.
To even begin to say or imply that these churches, pastors or people are NOT Baptist is the problem we are facing in our convention. A handful of people in the SBC are attempting to narrow the parameters of cooperation and tighten the definition of what it means to be 'Southern Baptist.'
It won't work. Southern Baptists will not allow the narrowing to succeed. This Baptist Identity Conference can possibly be one of those places where Southern Baptists leaders will actually make statements that go a long way toward keeping our conservative, evangelical convention broad in cooperation. Of course, not everyone on the program will be of the same mind, but that is the beauty of this conference and the reaons it could well serve as a model for our convention as a whole. We are a diverse but cooperative, conservative people. We MUST resist that the demand for doctrinal conformity on tertiary issues must be adamantly and firmly resisted for the good of our convention and the future health of our cooperation.
Again, many Baptist Calvinists, Charismatics and 'Culture-chasers' are currently identified with the Southern Baptist Convention and they all cooperate in our missions and evangelistic efforts both financially and personally. any attempts to 'identify' them as something other than 'true' Southern Baptists, and either by inference, or direct action, remove them from leadership, cooperative missions ministry, or fellowship will be catastrophic for our convention.
Not everyone on the program will agree with what I am saying, nor are they open to Southern Baptists who think differently than them on tertiary issues. In fact, as Dr. Mohler has rightly said in his Crosswalk column, "The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided."
There is the potential for some great dialogue to occur at this conference. The cost is $50.00, which includes three meals, and I believe it could be well worth the fee.
Paige Patterson, of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will speak on “What Contemporary Baptists Can Learn from Anabaptists.”
Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, will speak on “The Future of Baptist Identity in a Post-Denominational World.”
Tom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, will speak on “Evangelism and Church Growth in the Southern Baptist Convention.”
David Dockery, president of Union University, will speak on “The Southern Baptist Convention since 1979.”
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, “The Role of the Cooperative Program in the 21st Century.”
Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, “T.T. Eaton: Drawing on 19th Century Baptist Models.”
Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., “The Future of the Traditional Church.”
Greg Thornbury, dean of the School of Christian Studies at Union University, “The Angry Young Men of the SBC.” (I have a call in to Dr. Thornbury about this topic and I should be able to visit with him sometime today. I intend to post on this subject matter at a later date).
Ed Stetzer, missiologist and research team director at the North American Mission Board, “Toward a Missional Convention.”
Mike Day, director of missions for the Mid-South Baptist Association in Memphis, Tenn., “The Future of Baptist Associations and State Conventions.”
Hope to see you in Jackson, Tennessee in February.
In His Grace,