27 June 2007

Founders Conference, Day 2 session 1

by Frank Turk

We're about to hear Tom Nettles on Baptist history, and sadly for you I'm the one taking notes today. In spite of being young and charming, Timmy Brister is liveblogging the event "for real", so if I miss anything, you can check my work via his fine effort.

We started the day singing from the Baptist hymnal, which always makes me happy. #197 Rejoice the Lord is King. They also sang a new hymn, and I'll note its title when I can find it.


Tom Nettles is ill and will not be present today; they are requesting prayers for Dr. Nettles and his illness.

More worship in song – from the conference packet (How Sweet and Awful is the Place).

Dr. Tom Ascol is presenting for Dr. Nettles. Topic: Founders Ministries theology and the current Southern Baptist Convention. Ps 44 is the Scripture context.

This is the 25th Founders Conference, so this talk is on where we have been and where we are. This is in a context of where the SBC is today. From the beginning, Founders is non-denominational.

Founders Ministries theology and the current Southern Baptist Convention

By His Grace and For His Glory (2006 updated), Tom Nettles

Ready for Reformation, Tom Nettles

Timmy Brister got a plug for his blog.

The context in which Founders arose:
[1] The historical basis for a historical Baptist declaration of the Gospel
[2] 1982: first conference, advocating that SBC roots are Calvinistic – evangelical Calvinism
[3] The lack of theological concensus in the SBC in 1982-83
The consensus broke down in the 1920's
* Theological liberalism: E. Y. Mullins' emphasis on experience over authority of the Bible. He was wary of sola Scriptura and confessional substance and advocated experiential theology. Magnified Sole Competancy. "Every tub must sit on its own bottom". This was the soil for neo-orthodoxy.
* Pragmatism: Unprincipled Pragmatism. 1920's --The 75 million campaign – a drive to raise $75 million with an evangelistic emphasis for missionaries. Designed to increase support for missions, education. "When the Millions Come Pouring In". "Week of Victory": $92 million pledged, many pledged exaggerated and never materialized. Confidence in cooperative agencies diminished; SBC was in severe crisis because it borrowed money on the pledges. Cash flow became the #1 priority; doctrinal emphasis declined. Disunity stifles cash flow, so reproach to error declined. Pragmitism was the watchword for the next 30 years.
o Thru the 70's, neo-orthodoxy was on the rise in the SBC; historicity of the Bible; inerrancy/infallibility; Christian Life commission endorsed Roe v. Wade.
o SBC needed reformation; Conservative resurgence lead by Paige Patterson worked to reform SBC life. A formal, public commitment to the authority of God's word.

Founder's Ministries began in this context because inerrancy is not enough. Our very lives must be ruled and governed by Scripture. If Scripture is not our law, Christ is not our king. We cannot afford to ignore them.

Healthy Christianity must be doctrinal. Biblical Christianity is a doctrinal Christianity.

The impact of Boice's systematic on the Founders movement.

Main concerns:
1. Loss of theological foundations in the SBC. Theological malaise in the 1970's. No required course in hermeneutics; lack of theological training; emphasis on practical techniques. There was no commitment institutionally to confessional Christianity.
a. Cf. Al Mohler's address on E. Y. Mullins v. Dr. Dilday's response.
i. The SBC 2000 is "trending" toward Calvinism (he said)
1. Inclusion of stricter definition of foreknowledge
2. Inclusion of "all-knowing" as an attribute of God the Father
ii. Bible teaches that God chooses to limit himself
2. The authority of Scripture
a. Sole competency
b. Priesthood of the believer (singular)
c. Historical Baptist theology and confessions
d. Reformed theological matrix
i. Critique of Land vis a vis the Reformed "package deal"

The conferences began for Founders based on these concerns.

[Please forgive the soft outline – Dr. Ascol is frankly machine-ginning us with facts and dates.]

Regenerate Memberships
False evangelism
Bureaucratic inertia
Suppressing Criticism
Suspicion of Theology and Doctrines of Grace

Nettles' argument: the formal principle of reformation is recovered (authority of Scripture); the end of every controversy comes when we know what the Bible says. But there must be a material principle of seeking what Scripture says – reading an inerrant Bible and understanding it is the key to reformation.

Hopeful signs:
[1] Re-theologizing of SBC
Open discussion with passion
[2] Denominational leaders cannot get away with brash statements and factless declarations
[3] Rules of Engagement have changed
-- recent examples in TX and FL
[4] More people who are not Calvinists are speaking out against mischaracterizations
-- Akin's call to responsibility v. opposing Calvinism
-- contra Bill Harrell's denunciation of evangelical Calvinism
-- The Caner/White non-debate
-- Public statements which are foolish are being refuted (TeamPyro and Timmy and Joe were mentioned)
[5] Baptist Identity Conference and LifeWay-sponsored Calvinism in SBC
[6] Blog discussions
[7] Public identification of Calvinists as part of the resurgence bloc of reformers
[8] the boundaries of cooperation as a public discussion

If the center of our unity is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the boundaries of cooperation are easily defined. The recovery of the Gospel is the essential aspect of further reformation.

Christ Jesus vs. mere doctrine (Spurgeon): dwell much upon the person of Jesus Christ

The SBC is not the end of our effort, and it is not what we should "want": we should want the Gospel to be delivered to people. [EDIT: Dr. Ascol was clear that it is a good thing, and a useful thing, and does much good for the sake of Christ, but that it is not a necessary thing. Sorry to have been unclear on this.] Call the local church to repent: do not abandon it. Cf. the letters from Christ to the churches in Rev.


Even So... said...

Was Dr. Ascol actually wearing a tie?

Sewing said...

You guys got a mention? Excellent. I have to say, Ascol's writing, what you guys are doing here, and so on, has taught me a lot very quickly about the evangelical commitment of honest-to-goodness, Biblical, Pauline-Augstinian Calvinism, and how it's different from both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism.

Frank wrote: "Dr. Ascol is frankly machine-ginning us with facts and dates." ...He's plying you with gin!? It's a scandal!