Symposium Program Live Stream

by Theological Commission

The 20th annual Free Will Baptist Theological Symposium will be held next Monday and Tuesday on the campus of Welch College. Activities will take place in Memorial Auditorium.

Sessions will be Live-Streamed at our New Facebook Page. Click Here to Join the Live Streams 10/24/-10/25.  You can view on your mobile device, laptop, or desktop computer.



Symposium Program Now Available

by Theological Commission

The 20th annual Free Will Baptist Theological Symposium will be held next Monday and Tuesday on the campus of Welch College. Activities will take place in Memorial Auditorium. Below is this year’s program. We hope to have you with us for this special event, considering the theological legacy of F. Leroy Forlines.

Monday Evening

6:00-6:10     Welcome and Prayer

6:10-7:05     Leroy Forlines, The Abrahamic Covenant

7:05-7:25     Break

7:25-8:20     Richard Clark, The Influence of Leroy on a non-Free Will Baptist

Tuesday Morning

9:00-9:05    Welcome and Prayer

9:05-9:55     Ramón Zúñiga Barrón, Leroy Forlines’s Influence among Mexican Bible Institutes:  Upholding and Spreading Free Will Baptist Doctrine

9:50-10:00    Break

10:00-10:45    Welch Chapel, Matthew Steven  Bracey & W. Jackson Watts, Celebrating the Legacy of F. Leroy Forlines                   

10:45-11:05    Break

11:05-12:00    Matthew McAffee, The Old Testament  Text and Canon 

Tuesday Afternoon

12:00-1:40    Lunch at Area Restaurants or Cumberland Cafeteria

1:40-2:35      Andrew Harrison, The Role of Doctrine  in the Church: Revisiting Forlines’s “A Plea  for Unabridged Christianity

2:35-3:30   Daniel Webster, Culture and the Arts: A   Conversation with Leroy Forlines and the Early Church Fathers                                 

3:30-6:30     Dinner at Area Restaurants or Cumberland Cafeteria

Tuesday Evening

6:30-7:25   Jeff Cockrell,  Israel’s Identity and Salvation in Romans: A Discussion of the Forlinesean Hermeneutic  

7:25-7:45     Break

7:45-8:40    Panel Discussion: The Legacy of F. Leroy    Forlines and the State of Free Will Baptist Theology                     


*We encourage all attendees to please sign in at the registration table, even if you only attend one session. Also, the digest of papers will be available for purchase.


2016 Symposium Approaches

by Theological Commission

Welch College to Host 2016 Theological Symposium

 NASHVILLE, TN—The 2016 Theological Symposium will meet October 24-25 on the campus of Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, October 24, and will end around 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 25.

The symposium will be a time for presentation of papers and lively discussion of important theological issues. Papers will include an array of topics, though all will in some way relate to the broader symposium theme of the theological legacy of F. Leroy Forlines. Presenters will include pastors, professors, graduate students, and Free Will Baptist authors. On the heels of Randall House Academic’s release of a book honoring Forlines, the Commission hopes the impact of Forlines on multiple generations of Free Will Baptists, as well as a diverse arena of subjects, will be evident through the symposium.

Registration is free, but bound volumes of the papers will be available for purchase. For more information on the symposium, contact the Program Chair, Jackson Watts (

The symposium is an annual event sponsored by the Commission for Theological Integrity of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Special Thursday Post: Pinson Interview at The Gospel Coalition

by Theological Commission

Recently Commission Chairman Matt Pinson was featured in an interview at the Gospel Coalition, a well-known Reformed-evangelical organization known for their website, podcast, and national conference.

In this interview, Pinson is given a platform to further articulate the unique theology of Free Will Baptists. We encourage our readers to check it out here.


Legal and Religious Liberty Implications of the Supreme Court Decision on Same-sex Marriage (Part V of V)

by Matthew Steven Bracey

In part IV, having looked at religious liberty in parts II and III, we considered the separation of powers, federalism, and the rule of law. Here in part V, we’ll conclude by reviewing the topics of democracy and liberty.

Democracy and Liberty

We should also remember the importance of democracy and liberty. The founders sought to achieve the best balance between a democracy and a republic. So they established America as a democratic republic. Authority is exercised by representatives of the people.

The Constitution begins, “We the people.” Although America isn’t a direct democracy, it’s a representative democracy. And we have an important role to play. By protecting democracy, we preserve liberty. On the other hand, when democracy is attacked, liberty for all suffers.

As with previous topics, though, democracy is falling on hard times. We see this when government leaders assume control over some issue that properly belongs to the citizens. This is what happened, for example, with the Obergefell majority.

Chief Justice Roberts points out, “The Court’s accumulation of power does[n’t] occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people. And they know it.”[1] Or as Justice Scalia put it, “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court.”[2]

As with democracy, so goes liberty. Justice Scalia explained: “This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.”[3]

So, just as the Court’s majority didn’t actually appeal to law, it also didn’t actually appeal to liberty. It just said it did.

What should we think about liberty? What did it mean for the American founders? At the founding, liberty didn’t amount simply to a right for people to do as they please. Yet this is how it’s often interpreted today.

Instead, liberty had a nobler meaning. Founder James Wilson said this, “Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness.”[4]

This is an important statement. To understand what liberty is, we must understand it in relation to law. For many today, liberty is the freedom to pursue licentiousness, or immorality.

For Wilson and the founders though, true liberty is contrasted from immorality, which is bad for a well-ordered society. Liberty without law to temper it, or the freedom to pursue immorality in the name of liberty, isn’t actually liberty.

As Wilson put it, it’s just “licentiousness.” Instead, law protects liberty from becoming immorality. Liberty needs law to be truly liberty. On the other hand, law without any liberty is just oppression.

This is a much higher view of liberty, and it’s one we need to reclaim. As we find ourselves talking with others, mentoring people, and voting, let’s remember this:

Don’t let people guilt you, in the name of “liberty,” into believing that you have to let people live however they want. As if you can’t support laws and policies that makes immorality illegal.

Don’t feel bad about believing that abortion, marijuana, physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, and other topics should be illegal.

To believe that certain actions should be illegal doesn’t mean you don’t believe in liberty. It means you’re trying to keep liberty from becoming licentiousness. True liberty needs law to protect it from itself.


No, America isn’t perfect, nor is its government flawless. Yet it represents some of the best ideas of political theology and political philosophy from world history.

These are the very principles we’ve considered. We must not take these principles for granted. We need to recognize and reassert their importance for well-ordered societies.

We live in difficult times. Our culture chips away at this heritage to society’s own destruction. What do we do? We don’t regret the age we live in. We recognize that God has put us here for a reason. We don’t “hunker down” and wait for the storm to pass.

We go forth as light to a dark world, extending the influence of Christ in our spheres of influence (Matthew 5:16), including society. This means thinking about law and politics at the local, state, and national levels. It means recognizing the importance of the principles we’ve considered in this presentation. And it means thinking about what candidates and nominees believe about the role of these principles in government and society.

We regret the direction that certain cultural developments steer us in. But we take seriously our vocation as citizens. We commit ourselves to doing our part to contribute positively to American culture, society, and government. And we look to God ultimately for our identity and mission as He guides us for such a time as this.

Helpful Books

Bruce Ashford, One Nation Under God: A Christian Hope for American Politics (Nashville: B&H, 2015).

Hunter Baker, Political Thought: A Student’s Guide (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012).

Wayne A. Grudem, Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010).

Russell D. Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (Nashville: B&H, 2015).

Matthew Pinson, Matthew Steven Bracey, Matthew McAffee, and Michael A. Oliver, Sexuality, Gender, and the Church: A Christian Response in the New Cultural Landscape (Nashville: Welch College Press, 2016).

Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Westchester: Crossway, 1981).

Helpful Websites

 Acton Institute: For the Study of Religion and Liberty,

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,

The Colson Center for Christian Worldview,


[1] Obergefell, 576 U.S ___ (Roberts, dissenting), at 26.

[2] Obergefell, 576 U.S ___ (Scalia, dissenting), at 2.

[3] Id.

[4] Ibid.

Preserving and Promoting Free Will Baptist Doctrine