Responses to Conference on Baptist Spirituality

We have received overwhelmingly positive responses to last week's conference on Baptist Spirituality.  These responses have come from personal conversations, emails, and some have posted their reflections on the conference on the web.  I think Ian Clary was the first to post his thoughts on the conference here.  He especially enjoyed Kevin Smith's lecture on the distracted piety of African American Baptists and Greg Thornbury's paper on Baptist "Personal Las Vegas Moments".  Another highlight for Ian was SBTS convocation which he eloquently describes as follows:

Southern is celebrating their sesquicentennial this year, marking 150 years of their existence. Therefore convocation was especially poignant. I can’t tell you the feeling that surged through me when the massive congregation arose to sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and the whole faculty processed through the chapel. Looking over to see top evangelical theologians like Tom Schreiner, Stephen Wellum, Michael Haykin, Denny Burk, Bruce Ware, Tom Nettles, Brian Vickers, etc., being led by Albert Mohler and Russell Moore to their seats at the front gave me goosebumps. Being there really made you feel like you were a part of something big. When Dr. Mohler announced the signing of the Abstract of Principles – Southern’s faith statement – the gravitas and solemnity was everywhere in the air. Chip Stam and Brian Vickers signed the statement as new full-time faculty. With quill in hand, they signed the 150 year old document with pride.

By the way, Ian also presented at this conference in a well-attended and well-received breakout session on “Alexander Carson (1776-1844): Jonathan Edwards of the Nineteenth Century”.

Jeff Straub also provided his thoughts upon what he called "A Great Conference!" at Central Baptist Theological Seminary's Theology Central blog.  He writes about the Andrew Fuller Center the following kind words:

In recent times, much of the material by and about Baptists has come from writers inclined toward theological progressivism rather than confessional orthodoxy. I am happy to report that the AFCBS is trying to fill the void for a more confessional approach to Baptist identity.

The Andrew Fuller Center does seek to provide an alternative to moderate approaches to Baptist identity and we appreciate Jeff for recognizing these efforts.  Jeff also presented a well-received paper on the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Crawford Gribben is celebrating the conference by giving away one of the free books that we gave him.  He doesn't say much about the conference, but I know he enjoyed it.  :)  Meeting Crawford was one of the highlights of the conference for me and so many others that I've spoken to since then. His paper on “Irish Baptist Piety in the 17th Century” led off the conference. Several people have commented on both his friendliness and brilliance.  If you don't know Crawford, you can see the numerous books he has written or contributed to here.

Finally, Aaron Menikoff has posted his reflections on the conference on "Church Matters", the 9 Marks blog.  He highlights a number of the presentations, but especially Greg Thornbury's and Greg Wills'.  Of Dr. Wills paper, Aaron writes:

There were many other presentations, but the last one I want to mention comes from my former supervisor at Southern, Greg Wills. He lectured on what he called the "piety of humiliation." This, he said, should be a distinguishing mark of every pastor. Instead of trying to be relevant at all costs, we ought to aspire to be holy. And here's the rub: holiness doesn't win friends and influence people--if anything it tends to alienate. He put it this way, "The gospel seems to lose relevance in proportion to our contrivances to gain it [relevance]." Nice.

Dr. Wills' presentation on “Relevance, Severity, and Spiritual Power in Baptist Piety”was indeed a highlight of the conference for many, including me.  I listened to it again last night, along with my wife.  It is a powerful and challenging call to be willing to suffer reproach for the cause of Christ.  I highly recommend that you listen to it.

There were many other excellent presentations.  In fact, I did not hear one which I did not truly enjoy.   Most of the audio has been posted here.  There have been some technical difficulties with a few of the presentations which we're trying to work out.  If those are fixed we will post the missing sessions later.  A special event that ended the conference was the late night discussion by Drs. Haykin and Yarnell: “Reformed and Anabaptist: Strengths and Shortcomings of Two Traditions”.  Unfortunately, the first few minutes of Dr. Yarnell's first presentation is missing. It is hoped that this will be fixed as well, but until then the audio as we have it has been posted.  There is still over an hour of discussion for your listening pleasure.  You can access all the available audio of the conference here.

It's not too early to make plans to come to next year's conference.  The theme is "Baptists and the Cross:  Contemporary and Historical Perspectives" and will occur on August 30-31, 2009.  A tentative schedule is posted below:

Baptists and the Cross: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives August 30-31, 2010
Monday, August 30

  • 9:00 am Plenary session 1: Tom Schreiner (SBTS): “Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles, the Petrine Epistles, and Hebrews”
  • 10:25 am Plenary Session 2: Stephen Wellum (SBTS), “Baptism and Crucicentrism”
  • 11:45 am Plenary Session 3: D.W. Bebbington (University of Stirling and Baylor Univeristy), “English Baptist Crucicentrism from the 18th Century Onwards”
1:00-2:30 pm Lunch break
2:30-4:00 pm Parallel Sessions
6:00 pm Dinner
  • 8:00 pm Plenary Session 4: Glendon Thompson (Toronto Baptist Seminary),
  • “Preaching the Cross”

Tuesday, August 31

  • 8:30 am Plenary Session 5: Maurice Dowling (Irish Baptist College), “Spurgeon and the Cross”

10:00 am Chapel

  • 11:30 am Plenary Session 6: James Fuller (University of Indianapolis), “19th Century Southern Baptists and the Atoning Work of Christ”
12:45-2:30 pm Lunch
  • 2:30-3:40 pm Plenary Session 7: Danny Akin (SEBTS), “The Cross and Pastoral Ministry”

Make plans now to attend!

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research and Administrative Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.