I have been exposed for the amateur blogger that I am by sitting next to Timmy Brister, Steve McKoy, Joe Thorn, Tim Ellsworth, Art Rogers and Steve Weaver the last two days. In the time that it takes me to figure out how to get blogger to load properly and prepare for a new post, they have already posted and responded to comments on their blogs. Check them out for good summaries and reflections on the conference.
Today, Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary spoke on "What Contemporary Baptists Can Learn from Anabaptsts." It was very good. He listed 6 things:
1. A redeemed disciplined church
Contemporary Baptists, he said, fail at 2 levels:
1. Lack of care with new converts
2. Lack of church discipline
He acknowledged our miserable statistics and problem with unregenerate church members and called for working to find a way "to make church membership meaningful."
2. The witness of baptism as a profession of faith
The one being baptized has yielded himself to the authority of Christ and submitted himself to the church. Baptism is not only into Christ but also into His body.
3. The Bible as the source of authority
Experience seems to have more authority in many churches today than Scripture
4. The church looks different from the world
Worldliness has so crept into our churches that there is not much difference between them and society at large.
5. The Lord's supper as a fellowship trust
Contemporary Southern Baptists have failed to grasp this importance of the LS as the fellowship of the Lord's body.
6. Courage of conviction
We must recover the anabaptist vision of suffering in following Christ.
I was greatly encouraged by this talk. Dr. Patterson said things that Founders Ministries has been promoting for years.
Russ Moore, Dean of Theology and VP of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, spoke on T. T. Eaton." Dr. Moore was very engaging. Dr. Moore made some far-ranging applications of Eaton's role in the Whitsitt controversy at Southern Seminary to the controversies plaguing contemporary SBC life.
David Dockery, President of Union University spoke on, "The Southern Baptist Convention since 1979." Dr. Dockery gave a very helpful overview of Southern Baptist history before outlining his analysis of what has happened the last 28 years. It was very insightful and, as always, spoken with a great, irenic spirit. He made a point that we must be willing to focus on primary issues--Gospel issues--and not try to demand uniformity on tertiary issues.
Greg Thornbury, Dean of the Chrstian Studies Department at Union spoke on, "The Angry Young Men of the SBC." Dr. Thornbury wins the prize for most creative title. He explained how it originated and put several quotes from the comment sections of various Southern Baptist blogs. They were not identified, but I recognized two of them from this blog, including an excerpt from Ergun Caner's famous contributions here exactly one year ago.
I will post my reflections later. Overall, I have been greatly encouraged by this meeting and think that Union University has done Southern Baptists a great service by hosting it.