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2018 Symposium Program and Additional Details

by Theological Commission

Randall University

October 22-23, 2018

 Monday Evening

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

6:15 – 7:05        Jeff Blair – Cultivating a Culture of Wisdom in the  Local Church 

7:05 – 7:20       Refreshments and Discussion

7:25 – 8:15        Christopher Talbot – Practicing Theology in Youth Ministry

Tuesday Morning

 9:00 – 9:05      Welcome and Prayer

9:05 – 9:55       Cory Thompson – The Lord’s Supper as Meaningful and Open

9:55 – 10:10      Refreshments and Discussion

10:15 – 11:05      Thomas Marberry –The Lucan Concept of Perseverance

11:05 – 11:15       Break

11:15 – 12:05      Matthew Steven Bracey – The Institutional Good of Marriage and the Family

Tuesday Afternoon

12:05 – 2:00      Lunch at Randall University Campus

2:05 – 2:55       Phillip Morgan – Thomism to Augustinianism: Free Will Baptist Bible College and the Hybrid Christian Education Model

2:55 – 3:10        Refreshments and Discussion

3:15 – 4:05        Derek Cominskie – Was This What Watts Would Have Wanted? : An Analysis of Isaac Watt’s Rationale and Method for Reforming English Metrical Psalmody with Application for Contemporary Trends.

4:05 – 6:30       Dinner at Area Restaurants

Tuesday Evening

6:30 – 7:20       Matthew McAffee – Creation and the Role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8: What Can We Learn?

7:20 – 7:35       Refreshments and Discussion

7:40 – 8:30       Ronald Callaway – Post Tenebras Lux

8:30 – 8:35       Closing Remarks & Announcements

This event is completely free, and no advance registration is required. You simply need to make a reservation at either Holiday Inn Express or Spring Hill Suites in Moore. Dining options are available in the area, but Randall University has generously planned to provide lunch on Tuesday on campus for any Symposium attendee.

The event will be held in the Mabee Auditorium, located in the Barber Center. This is the main campus building on the front part of the campus, visible from I-35.

For more questions, just email fwbtheology@gmail.com. 

2018 Symposium Information

Jackson Watts

October is coming, which means that this year’s Theological Symposium program is coming together quickly. I’ve been encouraged to have had the opportunity discuss this event with many prospective presenters and attendees over the last few months. I think those who make the trip will be rewarded richly by attending.  How often do we get to attend a conference with such a range of rich content, and for free?

While our official program of presenters and paper titles won’t be released until later this week, I want to provide attendees and prospective attendees some information about lodging.

Those wishing to attend and stay overnight will want to consider lodging arrangements at one of two hotels in the Moore area. First, there is the Holiday Inn Express. Second, Spring Hill Suites.  Both are very affordable, clean, convenient hotels near the site of our two-day, one night event.

For any additional questions about our event, feel free to email our Commission at fwbtheology@gmail.com, or you may phone me directly at 636-222-2784. Thanks for your interest in theological scholarship.

Nothing New Under the Sun

Matthew Pinson

When it comes to the big questions, as Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun. I am often reminded of this when I attend debates between Christians and skeptics of various varieties. For example, several years ago I heard Craig Evans debate Bart Ehrman, the famous evangelical-turned-skeptic who teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After hearing Ehrman’s arguments (and later reading them in some of his books and articles), I was really surprised that that was all he had.

Most of his criticisms of the Bible would do more to bring doubts to a child in a Sunday school room than a person who had taken a freshman course in biblical interpretation at a Christian college. I was struck particularly by how many of his concerns were reiterations of things that the church fathers themselves were dealing with 1,700+ years ago. Here I was braced for some new, groundbreaking scientific argument or an argument made possible because of computer technology or some new archaeological discovery. But what I heard was just more rehashing of much of what skeptics of Christianity have been saying for hundreds, yea thousands, of years.

This memory came back to my mind recently when I was reading Carl F. H. Henry’s wonderful little book from the 1940s, Giving a Reason for Our Hope (Boston: W. A. Wilde, 1949). It’s a wonderful little volume on apologetics that is still relevant for today. In answering the question, “The Modern naturalistic version is that God is simply an imagination of ours, so how can we answer that?” Henry replies:

“The arguments which the modern naturalists use against belief in God are not new; strictly speaking, nothing essential has been added to the argument as it existed many centuries ago, in ancient Greek times. The arguments were all in existence when Christianity came into the world. It is not because a man is modern, but because he is a naturalist, that he says God is a figment of the imagination” (16).

This is so true. In the major intellectual questions about Christianity, there is nothing new under the sun. Reading this also brought to my mind not just our contemporary intellectual context, but also our contemporary cultural context. Many evangelical Protestants have developed a “fear of man” and are too intimidated by the rapid cultural changes in our technological, secularizing society.

It seems that we think what we are facing is unique to our time, and thus we have to use methods in our church growth practices that have never before been tried in the history of Christianity. (And it’s not that the apostles and saints and martyrs throughout history couldn’t have tried them, that they didn’t have the resources to try them. It’s just that they chose not to.)

I don’t want to downplay the acute difficulties and unique qualities of modernity and postmodernity. But I think that we need more to see ourselves in a missionary situation to a pagan culture, like the church fathers and missionaries of the Christian tradition, rather than seeing ourselves as being comfortable in a Christian culture and still thinking we can spread the gospel like we used to in that culture. Yet, in the big questions, there is nothing new under the sun. We are not experiencing anything that the early church did not experience, or that various traditional missionaries to pagan cultures did not experience.

I think it’s helpful for us to look at the church fathers, especially prior to the mammoth changes in the fourth century when the church began accommodating pagan culture more and speaking a prophetic word to it less. When we look at the early church, we see it engaging a pagan culture that is similar in profound ways to our own, and we find that they had almost all the resources at their disposal that we currently have. Yet they based their ministry of the gospel on the all-sufficient word, not the methods and gimmicks the secular culture used to draw a crowd.

Every age and society has its unique qualities. Yet because humanity is made in God’s image and is fallen and finite, we find that there is nothing new under the sun. The Holy Scripture that God breathed out more than twenty centuries ago gives us—just as it gave the saints and martyrs who went before us—everything necessary for life and godliness, for building Christ’s church, for extending the kingdom, and for defending the rationality of the Christian gospel in a complex marketplace of ideas.

Convention Round-Up

by Jackson Watts

Last week our National Association met in Little Rock for its 82nd annual meeting. The Commission for Theological Integrity held a seminar, and also elected a new Commission member.

Convention attendees are offered dozens of opportunities to take in seminars. However, long before seminars were common on the National program, the Theological Commission sponsored an annual theological trends seminar on Monday afternoon. This year that tradition was continued by Dr. Andrew Ball. Ball is professor of philosophy at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Alabama. He presented a seminar on Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Theological Perspective. Those who attended had a number of meaningful questions and comments as this issue encroaches more and more on the life of God’s people.  Soon we will be providing a follow-up resource on this topic here on the blog, so check back soon  for more on this.

In the past year the Commission lost one of its members, Reverend Randy Corn, due to resignation. He had to resign due to health reasons, but we deeply appreciate the contributions he made during his time on our Commission.

At the Convention Dr. Thomas Marberry was elected to fulfill Brother Corn’s unexpired term, ending in 2019. Marberry is pastor of First FWB Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and distinguished professor of New Testament at Randall University. Previously, he served as vice president for academic affairs at Randall. Marberry earned a B.A. from Baylor University, a M.Div. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in the New Testament studies from Baylor University. He has taught Greek, theology, and church history for almost four decades, and has written extensively. He has published two Randall House Bible Commentaries–Galatians and 1,2,3 John, and is currently completing a commentary on the book of Luke. Dr. Marberry has been a presenter at the Theological Symposium many times, and has contributed to Integrity: A Journal of Christian Thought. We welcome him to our Commission!

We Must Reform in Order to Conserve: Part 2

by Matthew Pinson

I am—we all are—under a great temptation to discard the Great Tradition of the Christian Church, and our own heritage of Free Will Baptist faith and practice, replacing it with the latest flavor of the month from the non-denominational movement, again, hoping that something will work, something will stick. We are desperate.

But Scripture and the saints and martyrs of our Christian past call us to go back and retrieve scriptural faith and practice that has been eclipsed—to be reformers, not revolutionaries, to put into practice Burke’s maxim that “we must reform in order to conserve.” Only in this way can we know that we have something that will last, that will work, not just in the short run, but in the long run. Only in this way can we have a deposit of truth and life that we can pass down unscathed to our children and their children and their children’s children.

We must resist the temptation to lose our nerve, to be intimidated by a challenging culture, and throw arbitrary extra-biblical attempted solutions at the predicament in which we find ourselves—when we have no idea whether these solutions will work or what their unintended consequences will be. Instead, we must rely on those “permanent things” that we know will conserve the church and its faith and practice and allow us to pass on what we have received to future generations.

So, finally, let me pass on to the readers of this blog the quotation from Scruton’s Conservatism that brought these thoughts fresh to my mind. In the context of his discussion of Edmund Burke’s defense of the “reform” of the American Revolution and his distaste for the “revolution” of the French Revolution, Scruton says:

“Burke rejected the liberal idea of the social contract, as a deal agreed among living people. Society, he argued, does not contain the living only; it is an association between the dead, the living, and the unborn. Its binding principle is not contract but something more akin to trusteeship. It is a shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil but ours to safeguard for our dependents. There is a line of obligation that connects us to those who gave us what we have; and our concern for the future is an extension of that line. We take the future of our community into account not by fictitious cost-benefit calculations, but more concretely, by seeing ourselves as inheriting benefits and passing them on. Concern for future generations is a non-specific outgrowth of gratitude. It does not calculate, because it shouldn’t and can’t.”{1}

Our temptation as low-church evangelicals, in our intimidation by the cultural change all around us, is to agree with principles like these in the political and social and moral realms, but not to carry this same conservative—conservationist—impulse into our religious and church lives. I think we have a lot to learn from thinkers like Edmund Burke and his modern interpreters like Scruton. At least it gives us food for thought.

_______________

[1] Scruton, Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition (New York: All Points, 2018), 45.