Free Will Baptists at ETS

Jackson Watts

This week the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society will hold its annual meeting in San Diego, California. The theme is “Christ in the Old Testament.” Seven Free Will Baptists will participate in the program, including five who will share some of their scholarly work. Below is a brief overview of the presenters, paper titles, and sections:

Baptist Studies: Phillip T. Morgan of Welch College will present, “Seventeenth-Century General Baptist Use of the Old Testament.

Pentateuch: Matthew McAffee of Welch College will present, “The Documentary Hypothesis Revisited: An Assessment of the Neo-Documentary Approach.”

Systematic Theology: Matthew Pinson of Welch College will present, “Are Arminians Synergists?”

Ethics: Matthew Steven Bracey of Welch College will present, “Edmund Burke and the Moral Imagination in Christian Ethics.”

New Testament (Luke – Acts): Jeff Cockrell of Welch College will present, “Showing the Good God to Pagans: Paul’s Apologia in Acts 17.”

Additionally, several brethren will moderator various sections:

Jesse Owens of Immanuel FWB and Welch College will moderate a Church History  section focused on Baptist Studies.

Zach Vickery of Tippett’s Chapel FWB will moderate a section on Septuagint Studies.

Jeff Cockrell will moderate a New Testament Section.

Matthew Bracey will moderate a section on 18th – 19th Century Church History.

Matthew McAffee will moderate an OT  Backgrounds section, especially as it relates to Ancient Near Eastern studies.

After the meeting, audio recordings of the presentations will be available to purchase for a small price at www.wordmp3.com.

Paul’s Address to the Ephesian Elders: A Review

Thomas Marberry

Danny Dwyer has been an important part of Free Will Baptist work for many years. He has served as senior pastor for churches in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and North Carolina, and taught Pastoral Theology and Biblical Studies at Southeastern Free Will Baptist College for 14 years.

This essay is a theological and pastoral analysis of one of the most well-known passages in the book of Acts, Paul’s address to the elders of the Ephesian church (20:17-38). Dwyer’s objective in his presentation was two-fold. First, he sought to analyze the content of this famous sermon to ensure that it is correctly interpreted. Second, he examined the lessons that modern pastors can learn from this important passage. The balance between interpretation and application which Dwyer maintains in this article is important. Biblical passages must be correctly interpreted; they must also be properly used in preaching and teaching. Preachers and teachers may correctly interpret a Scripture passage and still commit serious errors in applying the teachings of the passage to contemporary situations.

Dwyer argues that modern Christians should give serious attention to the sermons in Acts because they present essential Christian truths and make an important contribution to the progress of thought in the New Testament. He notes that speeches in ancient writings were often used to “embellish the character’s abilities and person.” Such was not the case with the sermons in Acts. The sermons in Acts were much briefer than those found in secular literature. They were also not designed to enhance the reputation of the speaker, but to convey a message.

Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders is one of ten sermons or sermon summaries recorded in Acts.  Dwyer notes that all of the sermons in Acts are brief and should probably be understood as summaries rather than as transcripts. Of these ten sermons, the address to the Ephesian elders is the only one that is addressed to an exclusively Christian audience. It contains none of the missionary or apologetic emphases that are found in the others sermons. Rather, it focuses the hearers’ attention on the responsibilities of pastors and other leaders in Christian communities.

In this sermon, Paul uses himself as an example which the Ephesian elders are to follow. He reminds these leaders that his ministry has been characterized by selflessness and sacrifice. He has not been concerned with the accumulation of wealth, power, or influence. His only concern has been to advance the cause of Christ. As Dwyer explained, “it is clear that Paul took his responsibility to proclaim the Gospel very seriously.” After this examination of his own ministry, Paul then gives a direct and personal challenge to the Ephesian elders. They must first take heed unto themselves and their ministries. They must exercise constant spiritual care and oversight over their flocks. Paul reminds these Christian leaders that they must faithfully preach the Word of God. As they preach the Word, they must be careful to interpret and apply it correctly. Dwyer reminds modern preachers and teachers that they are responsible beings. They are responsible to be the kind of leaders that can bring glory to God here on earth.

Commission Member’s Work Featured at the Gospel Coalition

by Theological Commission

One of our Commission members, Jackson Watts, is also an editor and regular contributor to the Helwys Society Forum. This website is a collaborative effort of several younger Free Will Baptists involved in various ministries. Watts’ most recent article, Reflections on Ph.D. Studies,  was featured in Trevin’s Seven, a weekly post from blogger Trevin Wax at the Gospel Coalition. This post highlights “seven of the best articles” Wax has read in the prior week. This also marks the fourth time a post from the Helwys Society Forum has been commended by Wax.

Watts’ article about his educational experience is timely given the significant number of Free Will Baptists who are either pursuing higher education, or considering it. For example, a recent Welch College survey of graduates in the last five years indicates that just over one-third of respondents have completed or are currently enrolled in graduate programs. Watts’ article gives some practical advice about how to think well about research doctoral work, and how to persevere with the help and support of others.

While the Gospel Coalition is largely the work of Calvinistic authors, Commission Chairman Matt Pinson has also had the opportunity to contribute to the site in the past. Dr. Jeff Robinson’s interview with him was featured in a 2016 post entitled, “Meet a Reformed Arminian.” Pinson has also written posts or reviewed books on three other occasions, all of which can be found here.

Free Will Baptists sometimes receive attention from outside our movement, and perhaps not always for the same reason. Ultimately it is the hope of the Commission that non-Arminians will at least acknowledge the biblical plausibility of our unique theology, and especially see its persuasive and compelling application to many subjects which all evangelical Christians care deeply about, even if they disagree on different aspects of soteriology and ecclesiology.

Symposium Livestream

Jackson Watts

The Commission for Theological Integrity is pleased to partner with Welch College to make this year’s symposium available through live streaming. Simply visit the Commission’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/commisionfortheologicalintegrity/) at the scheduled times and you’ll be able to view the event.

Thanks to our friends at Welch College for making this possible.

Updated: Symposium Program

by Jackson Watts

 

Monday Evening

 6:00 – 6:15       Welcome & Prayer: Matthew Pinson, W. Jackson Watts

6:15 – 7:05        Danny Dwyer: Paul’s Address to the Ephesian Elders: The Ministry Ethos of the Apostle Paul as a Model for Pastoral Leadership

 7:05 – 7:25       Refreshments and Discussion

7:30 – 8:20       Thomas Marberry: The Eschatology of Luke

Tuesday Morning

 9:00 – 9:05      Welcome and Prayer

9:05 – 9:55      Jeff Cockrell: Showing the Good God to Pagans: A Contextual Understanding of Paul’s Apologia in Acts 17

10:05 – 10:55       Eddie Moody: Denominations and Denominationalism: Is there a Future in a Changing Culture?       (presented in Welch College Chapel)

10:55 – 11:10       Refreshments and Discussion

11:15 – 12:05      W. Jackson Watts: Cultural Analysis and the Dynamics of Leading Change in the Church

Tuesday Afternoon

 12:05 – 1:45      Lunch at Area Restaurants

1:50 – 2:40       Matthew Steven Bracey: Conservatism and the Church

 2:40 – 2:55       Refreshments and Discussion

3:00 – 3:50       Robert Picirilli: The Infinite, Immutable God, Creation, and the Real, Changing World

3:50 – 3:55        Break

4:00 – 4:50      Christopher Talbot: Toward a Confessional-Practical Theology

4:50 – 6:20       Dinner at Area Restaurants

Tuesday Evening

 6:30 – 7:20       Ron Davis: The Church as Embassy: An Ecclesiology for the Modern World

7:20 – 7:35       Refreshments and Discussion

7:40 – 8:30       Matthew Pinson: Do We Need to Keep Having Associations?

 8:30 – 8:35       Closing Remarks & Announcements

For more information, please submit any questions to fwbtheology@gmail.com.

Preserving and Promoting Free Will Baptist Doctrine