The third Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics was held on September 22-23, 2010 at the Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA. There were approximately forty council members and nearly that many observers.
The council members present were not introduced to the observers although they did have nameplates at their tables. The council members sat at tables facing the speaker’s podium and the observers sat in (uncomfortable) chairs behind them. Casual observation revealed members (all male) from Faith Bible Baptist College and Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Grace College and Seminary, Friends of Israel, Grace School of Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Maranatha Baptist Bible College and Seminary, Tyndale Theological Seminary, Western Seminary, The Master’s Seminary, Word of Life Bible Institute, the Pre-Trib Research Center, Shasta Bible College, College of Biblical Studies and of course the host seminary. Several pastors were also on the council.
The theme was “Dispensationalism, Language, and Scripture.” Over the two days, ten papers were presented. Each presenter had thirty minutes to read his paper, and an hour of discussion followed each. Attendees were each given CDs containing .pdf files of the presentations. No hard copies of the papers were distributed. As the presenters read each paper, the text was projected on a screen behind them.
Papers averaged about twenty-five pages in length. Some presenters had to skip sections to stay within the time limit. Although they realized the difficulty of controling information in our digital age, two of the presenters asked that their material not be widely disseminated because of soon to be published books containing the information. The materials from the previous council meetings are available online (http://www.bbc.edu/council/), and I assume this years’ will eventually be also.
Dr. Mike Stallard, Dean of the seminary and a member of the steering committee, moderated the meeting. Dr. Stallard also presented two papers and read a paper from Dr. Mal Couch, who could not attend for health reasons. Dr. Stallard also gave each of the attendees a copy of his recently published commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. We were also given a CD containing files from the Barndollar Lecture Series, which occurred at the college the same week. The theme was the “History of the Doctrine of the Rapture,” and the speaker was Dr. Thomas Ice.
As I expected, this was a technical gathering. Most of the observers (excluding myself) had advanced degrees. Many had PhDs or were working on them. It is good for a pastor’s ego to occasionally be the dumbest guy in the room. Although some of the presentations and discussions were over my head, I enjoyed them and benefited from them. It was good to be exposed to the scholarly side of dispensationalism.