2014 Theological Symposium

This past Monday and Tuesday, over 130 students, professors, church leaders, and laymen converged on the Thigpen Theater of Welch College for the 2014 Free Will Baptist Theological Symposium. In gathering for this event, the attendees were giving attention to a range of scholarly papers, but especially ones related to the Symposium theme: “Evangelism in the Post-Christian West.” This year’s program included the following presentations:

  • Aaron Baldridge (GA): “A Renewed Ministry Model for New Priests: Implications of the Priesthood of Believers for the Ministry of Evangelism”
  • Jeff Cockrell (NC): “Provoking to Jealously: Paul’s Missionary Strategy”
  • Charles Cook (TN): “Twentieth-Century Evangelism: Exploring the Legacies of Lesslie Newbigin and Billy Graham”
  • Mark Coppenger (TN): “Evangelism in a Post-Christian World: Ten Lessons I Think I’ve Learned”
  • Greg Hollifield (TN): “Danger Ahead: Preaching and Teaching the Warning Passages of Hebrews, or, When the Plain Meaning of the Texts Contradicts Your Own Personal Theology”
  • Eddie Moody (NC): “Preparing Congregants to Survive, Thrive in, and Influence a Post-Christian Culture”
  • Phillip Morgan (TN): “Let them be hereticks, Turcks, Jewes, or what soever”: Thomas Helwys’s Seminal Argument for Universal Religious Freedom in England”
  • Jackson Watts (MO): “Hearing the Gospel: Reflections on the Hermeneutics of Evangelism”

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the conference theme, featuring panelists Dr. Mark Coppenger of Southern Seminary, International Missions Director Clint Morgan, Commission member and pastor Rodney Holloman, and Dr. Barry Raper of Welch College and pastor of Bethel Free Will Baptist Church. The panel discussion was moderated by Jackson Watts of the Theological Commission.

The audience listened intently to Dr. Coppenger's enthusiastic presentation.
The audience listened intently to Dr. Coppenger’s enthusiastic presentation.

Further Symposium content will be made available in the coming days, including conference papers. Presently the bound edition can be purchased by mail for the price of $25. All purchase requests can be made by emailing fwbtheology@gmail.com, or by making checks out to “Commission for Theological Integrity,” and mailing them to the attention of Matt Pinson at 3606 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN, 37205. Next year’s Symposium will be held on the campus of Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College in Moore, Oklahoma, on October 26-27. The Symposium theme will be announced soon.

Meet Your Commission Member: Rodney Holloman

My name is Rodney Holloman, and I am a native of North Carolina. I studied for the pastorate at Southeastern FWB College in Wendell, NC and received a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Pastoral Theology in 1992. After completing a Master of Arts in Biblical Exposition at Pensacola Christian College in 1996, God blessed me again by meeting the former Andrea Cook through a mutual friend. We have have been married since 1996 and have 2 children who thankfully look and act like their mother: Allison (15) and Reilly (11). I am currently pursuing a M. Div. and a D. Min. through Bob Jones University.

Since college graduation, I have been a youth pastor, associate pastor, or pastor for over 22 years. This includes serving on the faculty of Southeastern FWB College for 10 years in the Bible department teaching classes including Biblical Greek and Systematic Theology. Seven of these years I was privileged to serve as the chairman of the Bible and Pastoral Theology department. During this time I have also been privileged to be apart of 16 trips in the past 10 years overseas to visit FWB missionaries and encourage laymen and college-age students to consider full-time or short-term missions. I currently am an adjunct professor with the Cedars of Lebanon seminary in Pinar del Rio, Cuba as well as an adjunct professor with the Free Will Baptist Seminary in Barbacena, Brazil. Recently, I was honored to contribute a chapter in the Free Will Baptist Guide for New Believers.

Currently, I am serving as pastor of Hardin Valley FWB Church in Knoxville, TN.

A.W. Tozer famously said that the most important thing about a person is the first thing that comes to their mind when they think about God. As a Commission member, we have the awesome privilege and opportunity to help influence and encourage laymen and pastors to continue to rightly think about God, the Scriptures, and how to grapple with the errors that plagues our world and seek  to distort, discredit, and destroy Biblical truth.

Meet Your Commission Member: W. Jackson Watts

I’m pleased to serve as the youngest member of the Commission, elected in 2013. I come to the Commission through a family heritage of believers who made their living tilling the soil in the coastal area of South Carolina (“Puddin Swamp” to be exact). I began my life in the Southern Methodist Church, but my family eventually moved their membership to Horse Branch FWB Church in Turbeville where our family ties go back to the 1800s. I was pastored well there, and learned much about the Free Will Baptist family.

Shortly following the 2003 National Convention, a convergence of experiences led me to decide to attend Welch College (then FWBBC). I was called to preach just a few months into the semester, and went on to major in Biblical Studies/Pastoral Ministry (B.A.), and minor in English. My Welch years were formative in numerous ways; they also propelled me into my first pastoral role as a Christian Education pastor at Tippett’s Chapel FWB in Clayton, North Carolina.

During my four wonderful years at Tippett’s Chapel, I also graduated from both Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., Apologetics Concentration), and Duke University Divinity School (Th.M., Systematic Theology). My master’s thesis was entitled, “Modern Communication Technologies and Christian Social Experience: A Theological Appraisal,” under the direction of Dr. Norman Wirzba. I also met my future wife (Mckensie Tutor of Fuquay Varina) during this time, and she graciously agreed to let me take my first pastorate in Missouri while waiting for her to finish her teaching contract. We then married the following summer.

Since 2011, I have served as the pastor of Grace FWB Church in Arnold (outside St. Louis). Serving the Grace family is a high honor. I have continued doctoral studies at Concordia Seminary in Theology and Culture, and am now moving into the dissertation stage. My first book, Biblical Beliefs: Doctrines Believers Should Know, was published last year. I continue to write regularly for the Helwys Society Forum.

Serving on the Theological Commission is a privilege and joy. We have a wealth of insight and experience represented on the Commission presently, and my prayer is that during my tenure I might make some meaningful contribution to the spiritual health and vitality of the National Association of Free Will Baptists.

Meet Your Commission Member: J. Matthew Pinson

I am the fifth president of Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee, an office I’ve served in for thirteen years. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, I attended Welch in the 1980s and went on to graduate from the University of West Florida with a B.A. in humanities and M.A. in history.

I received my Master of Arts in Religion from Yale University, where I met my wife Melinda, a North Carolina native who was also a graduate student at Yale. We were married in the summer of 1994 and began a pastorate in South Georgia. While there, I engaged in doctoral studies in history at Florida State University, and Melinda managed a historic hotel and restaurant. We have two children: Anna (14) and Matthew (12).

After assuming the presidency of Welch College, I completed my doctorate in higher education leadership from Vanderbilt University. I am the author or editor of a several articles and books, including Perspectives on Christian Worship (B&H), Four Views on Eternal Security (Zondervan), and A Free Will Baptist Handbook (Randall House). I also blog regularly at Matthewpinson.com.

I currently serve as chairman of the Commission and have been a member since 1998. I enjoy serving on the Commission for Theological Integrity because of my love for the Free Will Baptist tradition and its theology.


Meet Your Commission Member: Kevin Hester

I am the chairman of the Department of Theological Studies at Welch College. I joined the faculty in 2003 and teach classes in church history, theology, philosophy, and New Testament. I hold a B. A. in Bible and Pastoral Training from Welch College (1993), an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary (1997, Historical Theology Emphasis), and the Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Saint Louis University (2002, Early and Medieval).

I have research interests in the development of Christian doctrine, especially in the areas of Trinitarian thought, Christology, and anthropology. I have published works on Gregory the Great (Eschatology and Pain in St. Gregory the Great, London: Paternoster, 2007) and Free Will Baptists and the Priesthood of All Believers (Nashville, TN: Free Will Baptist Historical Commission, 2010).

I joined the Commission for Theological Integrity in 2013 and I am delighted to serve my denomination through it. It unites two of the great loves of my life: theology and education. Free Will Baptists have a strong heritage of both and my desire is to continue to see Free Will Baptists flourish in the depth of their theological reflection and in the breadth of ministerial education (whether formal or informal). I am convinced that growth in these areas will lead to stronger, mission-focused churches committed to knowing Christ and making Him known.

I have served as an Assistant Pastor, Worship Minister, and Interim Pastor for a number of Free Will Baptist churches in Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri. I am presently a member of Cross Timbers Free Will Baptist Church (Nashville, TN) where I teach Sunday School, serve on the Christian Education Committee, and occasionally lead worship. I currently reside in Spring Hill, Tennessee with my wife Leslie Hampton Hester and four sons: Spencer, Seth, Justin, and Jackson. When I am not teaching, reading, or researching, I enjoy running with my wife, playing disc golf, and coaching Little League baseball.

Preserving and Promoting Free Will Baptist Doctrine