Reported by Matt Olmstead
Upon picking up my registration materials: a plastic bag full of conference “stuff” and my pin-type name tag (I prefer lanyards), I began to look around at the crowd. I noticed the usual attire— that being men in coats and ties…
After finding out that the only hotspot on campus is far away from the auditorium, I sat down and examined the contents of the plastic bag. It included: (1) a conference booklet, nicely spiral bound; (2) The May/June copy of Frontline magazine titled “Separatist, Baptist Fundamentalism;” and (3) various advertising materials.
The booklet is professionally printed and formatted well. The notes pages for the sessions and workshops are basic, with the name of the speaker and lines only. The resolutions are printed in the booklet. They are titled as follows:
Regarding the Definition of the Gospel
Regarding Fundamentalism and Culture
Regarding Limited Participation
Regarding Separatist Baptist Fundamentalism
Regarding Personal Holiness
I’m sure the content of the resolutions will be posted individually later.
As I was typing in the last few moments the board members descended from their meeting on their way to dinner.
Reported by Greg Linscott
Two preaching sessions were scheduled for this evening. However, itinerant evangelist Will Galkin was unable to be here due to the waning health of his father-in-law, Dr. Ralph Roland. Prayer is requested for the family as this servant of the Lord nears death. Dr. Chuck Phelps, recently of Maranatha Baptist Bible College, was the sole speaker for the evening.
Notable service preliminaries included exchanging “rocks” (a fist bump) rather than the typical Fundamentalist “howdy time” handshakes. The music presented was prepared well, with the song selections, theatrical song-leading, and the rousing style of delivery typical of what one would expect of a Fundamentalist conference. The corresponding children’s program for the week is themed “When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Fundamentalist.”
Phelps’ message was entitled “Living In The Grip of the Glorious Gospel.” The primary text referenced was John 6. In his introduction, Chuck listed several of what he termed growing “potholes” in the road traveled by today’s fundamentalists. Included were…
- Easy Believism- Pencostal-influenced Arminianism was raised as a significant factor here, as were the pragmatic methods of Billy Graham. This methodology resulted in “syncretism over separatism” and produced the “worldly evangelicals.”
- Lordship Salvation- This was painted as an (over)reaction to Easy Believism. Phelps provided this quote from John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe:
“Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing (note: Phelps’ emphasis). Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.” Phelps reminded his Christian listeners that their only commission was to tell the lost to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The final pothole cited by Chuck was NeoCalvinism. A article recently published in Time listing NeoCalvinism was cited by the speaker, as was an awareness that raising the issue was already offending some in the audience. The fact that Time had commented on the article, however, meant “We have to talk about it in 2009.”
This led into Phelps’ main points, which he took from John 6.
- Salvation is a Gift- giving was demonstrated to be emphasized throughout the chapter (such as vs. 27).
- Salvation Received By Faith- there is no ordo salutis in John 6, only that one must believe. An anecdote of “Jesus died for all mankind” being understood by a neighbor as “Jesus died for Old Man Kleine” was shared.
- Salvation Is Eternally Secure
- Substitutionary Work of the Savior.
The last two points were not elaborated on as much (likely due to time). The content was an articulation of the position many would typically associate with the membership of the FBF. Noticeably absent in this message was any mention of the significance of repentance in salvation.
The message ended with an observation that the problem we face is not one of dissection (implied were Calvinists are guilty of over analysis and lack of action) but of distribution. Phelps confessed that over the last two years while serving at MBBC, he had only personally led one soul to Christ. He subsequently invited people to stand if they had led someone personally that week… the last two weeks, month, and so on. An invitation was extended targeted to those who were convicted of their own gospel ineffectiveness in leading souls personally to Christ.
FBFI President John Vaughn expressed appreciation for the message and testified of his own sense of conviction from it. In his concluding remarks, he noted that though the FBFI board had not resolved all of the business before them, the board had agreed to the following statement:
“We are together with the gospel only with those who are separated unto the gospel.”