In 325 AD, the Council of Nicea was faced with the responsibility of determining the accuracy or inaccuracy of the Arian teachings concerning Christ. They ruled it a heresy. The arguments presented by Athanasius were primarily drawn from Scripture—as were, oddly, the mistaken arguments presented by Arius. The debate itself demonstrates something that has been shown again and again—that the very nature of theological development is that doctrines are tested in the crucible of crisis. It is not that councils or tradition decides what is true, but that crises force us to the Word, where we find clear answers to all of our questions. Out of Nicea arose a clearer understanding of what the Sonship of Christ means, and what it does not mean. And that discussion set the stage for the later clear definition of the Trinity.
Between 1910 and 1915, 64 authors wrote 94 essays defending the faith against the onslaught of Modernism. This series, The Fundamentals, was a series of articles, a series of addresses, and finally, a 12-volume book series. On your own bookshelves most of you who are serious students of the Word will find books that outline the doctrines of the Faith.
Abraham Lincoln observed, the “dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.” The history of Theology, particularly the Modernist onslaught of the late 1800s and early 1900s was anything but quiet, but we would be foolish to think that we are in a quiet period, and that the lists of doctrines so thoroughly defined at that time to combat the forces of Theological Liberalism are well-defined enough to face all the challenges of today.
The Standpoint Conference Team has become alarmed in recent years at some of the notions that have begun to gain traction among conservative Bible students—even, sometimes, among the most conservative. Postmodernism, anti-intellectualism, multi-culturalism, and many other forces press against our doctrines and practice in new ways today, forcing us to sharpen our understanding of what the Scriptures say on certain key issues. We propose three conferences over the next few years to begin to explore some of the issues that alarm us. The first of these will be at Heather Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN from March 22-24, 2012. We admit that we are behind in finalizing our schedule and promoting our event. In order to make up for this, we are not only inviting you to attend in person, but opening the door to attending by Web Conference (including the ability to participate in discussions) at a very reasonable price.
Phil Johnson of Grace To You and Pyromaniacs fame will lead us off with an exploration of what it means to guard the boundaries of the Faith instead of merely the center—with particular attention to this year’s Elephant Room controversy. Other topics to be addressed this year include: the New Universalism (think of Love Wins by Rob Bell); The Gay Theologians; the many eschatologies out there and how we determine the limits of what is orthodox; gender in theology and practice; the nature of worship in the context of a worship service; and the drift toward a mechanical hermeneutic that ignores the fact that “God Spoke.”
The Standpoint Team encourages you to go to www.standpointconference.com and register.
Mike Durning has been the pastor at Mt. Pleasant Bible Church in Goodells, MI for more than 15 years. He attended Hyles-Anderson College, Midwestern Baptist Bible College and Bob Jones University over 8 years and somehow emerged with a mere bachelor’s degree. He lives in Goodells with his wife Terri and adult son, Ryan, and about 12 chickens that have wandered into his yard and like it better than the neighbor’s yard. Mike is flattered if you call him a “young fundamentalist,” since he is 46 and is prone to self-deception on such issues. If you see someone on the street who looks like the picture of Mike, but with gray hair, it probably is Mike.