At 2 PM this afternoon, the ATC Conference hosted a panel with the following men on the platform together: Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Mark Dever, Kevin Bauder, and Sam Harbin. I have to be honest, for the first 38 minutes I was completely bored. It's not that the conversation was uninteresting, but the elephant in the room didn't emerge until that time. So here are a few notes from the panel session.
- First question to Dever: how did you get passionate about expository preaching? He relayed the story how 9 Marks came out of a letter written to a church in Boston. In SBC, he saw fights over inerrancy but not much opening of Bibles in pulpits.
- Doran and Jordan briefly commented on their use of expository or topical messages.
- Bauder commented on his struggle to find a church where the Bible was preached faithfully.
- Doran talked about the importance of form. Expository form (theme, main points, and subpoints coming from the text) sometimes drives people to make narrative sections say what they don’t. The form can actually intrude on the interpretation. This comes from our teaching students to go to the text looking for an outline before doing exegesis.
- The group talked about congregational input or feedback to sermons.
- Dever talked about internships at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.
- Finally! The conversation turned to separation. Jordan asked Bauder why he was here with Dever also being here. Bauder replied that he was impressed by the level of conversation at the former Leadership Conferences, dealing with important questions. He still believes that. Whether Dever is here or not is not the issue. The level of conversation is.
- Jordan asked Doran the same question. Doran had attended all the previous Leadership Conferences as well. This honestly wasn’t a new issue for Doran because he had already wrestled through that when Ed Welch was here 2 years ago. Doran thinks if you do not wrestle with the contemporary implications of what we believe, you will eventually walk away from what we believe. "I think I am committed to the same ecclesiastical separation principles as I always have been. But I have been forced to think through the applications differently...I have seen changes in the conservative resurgence that I hadn’t seen previously."
- Dever asked Doran what the changes were that he noticed through the conservative resurgence in the SBC. Doran mentioned that in 2005, Phil Johnson wrote "Dead Right" with the subsequent public conversation. Secondary separation was called valid but not used properly. Since the 60s, that has been a point of conflict in charting out evangelicalism. Others like Grudem, Carson, and Mohler also wrote about separation. These were changes from what we saw in the 70s. "I personally subscribe to Hart’s (?) notion that evangelicalism, and fundamentalism, is a myth in that they cannot be defined well...So to some people you (Dever) are a fundamentalist and to some a new-evangelical."
- Tim asked Dever why he would come. Dever replied that he makes a priority of speaking to pastors. He also wants to speak to constituencies he hasn’t before, to advance the 9 Marks. One humorous moment was when Dever mentioned that in 16 years of doing conferences, this was the first place where he has spoken where he had to give instructions to his interns about how to dress.
Bottom line: the hour was over faaaaaaar too early. This conversation should continue. I would love to see the guys get "into it" with regard to the relevant biblical texts and contemporary applications. Maybe tomorrow...