FBFI Annual '09: Some Final Reflections

Attending the FBFI fellowship reminded me of many relationships I have been blessed with over the last several years of ministry (and things I have learned from the people I havePastors Tim Barr of Adrian, MN and Ken Endean of Scarborough, ME known). I was able to connect with people from my college experience at Faith like Dave Witcher, who had a display for Baptist Church Planters. I saw Brad and Sarah Calhoun, who served as missionaries in Quebec with Baptist Mid-Missions. Brad now pastors in North Carolina, but provided a memorable service opportunity for a group from the church I served with in Iowa back in 2002. I was able to renew acquaintances with several familiar faces from the years I was in New England, including pastors Ken Endean (from Scarborough, ME) and Chuck Phelps and missionaries Jack and Jennifer Mitchell of Grace Dental Mission. Fleshing out some of the online relationships is always a delight, too. I was reminded as I saw some of these familiar faces this week how God has used people in my life whose conclusions on issues might not always mirror my own.

 
 
With that being said, It seemed evident to me that the platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship this year focused at least as much on highlighting differences within in the membership as it did on promoting principles that united them. The Wednesday AM messages of Hartog and Bauder both seemed to demonstrate a concerted effort by both men to unite those in attendance around truths of Scripture anyone there should have been able to affirm and appreciate. Hartog’s message on “The Gospel of God” was rigidly anchored to the text (1 Thessalonians 2). Bauder’s message referred to several passages in Romans while including more sustained anecdotes and illustrations than did Hartog, but in the end spent time defining and developing theological terms that everyone there able to affirm the doctrinal principles of the FBFI would also be able to support. In other words, both Hartog and Bauder seemed to make it their mission to unite their hearers around the theme of “the glorious gospel of Christ.”
 
In comparison, the messages by Phelps and Minnick seemed intent on rearticulating points that clearly create some measure of controversy within the membership. Phelps plainly acknowledged his awareness of this fact early on in his message Tuesday evening, noting that Wayne Van Gelderen gave a workshophe had likely made several there uncomfortable by raising the topic of Calvinism. Minnick’s lengthy contribution on Wednesday evening seemed in some ways, at least, an intentional response and reaction to what Phelps had said Tuesday, particularly when Phelps had described Lordship Salvation as a “pothole” to be avoided. While both messages certainly fell within the parameters of the theme of “the glorious gospel of Christ,” they seemed to do so in a way that demonstrated awareness that what they were saying would not be appreciated and affirmed by the membership, nor would it be reasonable to expect that their words should be, given the parameters of the doctrinal statement.
 
Luke McCarnan, Pastors Todd Mitchell of Granite Falls, MN and Bob Bixby of Rockford, ILNow, I want to be clear that I believe controversy has its proper place. I certainly understand that the FBFI intentionally includes many whose conclusions on issues differ from others in the membership. I would even affirm that I personally would identify with the conclusions reached by one of these men I mentioned over the other. Apparently though, some feel strongly that these controversial issues deserved to be developed in this particular venue. Why? Is there is a concerted effort to redefine the boundaries of the FBFI to the exclusion of one set of ideas and the elevation of another? It does strike me that a defining value of historic Fundamentalism and its organizations such as the FBFI is a concerted effort to emphasize and develop those things that unite them as Fundamentalists, though there are certainly issues that divide them at certain points. It is interesting to me that the two men who seemed to understand that best are relative newcomers to the fellowship (if indeed Hartog even is a member- I am not sure).
 
SI's Matt OlmsteadAt one point, I counted myself among the membership of the FBFI before my membership lapsed a year or two ago. While there were certainly visible elements one could admire and appreciate within the boundaries of its Annual Fellowship this week, the overall impression I received was that I was looking at an organization whose membership and leadership no longer remembered who it was or what it was supposed to be accomplishing and promoting. Factions within the membership (including the board) grow more apparent. The evident lack of consensus amongst the panelists on how to engage the Conservatives Evangelicals in the Thursday symposium (much less on how exactly Fundamentalists differ from them in regards to worldliness) served to develop this impression of instability even further. Based on what I saw, though I love and appreciate many of the individuals who identify as members of the FBFI, I did not leave the Annual Fellowship with the impression that I ought to renew my membership post haste.

 

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There are 14 Comments

Greg Linscott's picture

I added a few pictures to the main post.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Todd Wood's picture

I would like to hear Bauder sometime live. I missed him when he came to Utah.

And Hartog. Does he write? Is there much access online to his teaching, Greg? I hear that he specializes in the writings of the early disciples and patristic fathers. Or is that a brother? I wonder if Hartog has been out West?

And I still like fellowshiping with FBF brothers out here in the West. There are some really fine men out here who love God and His Gospel.

Cheers,
et

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks Greg, for covering the event for us! Found your reports interesting and helpful.

Note to readers in general: if you're interested in "Liveblogging" other conferences, PM me or send me an email. In particular, the MACP in Detroit is coming up, GARBC next week and ACCC in the fall. We'd love to have a presence and some reporting at each of these.
And if you agree to do it, I can promise you double what I get paid.... nah, triple. Biggrin

jball's picture

Thanks for keeping us updated Greg.

JG's picture

If there is disagreement on a topic, and it isn't going away, sometimes the best protection of unity is to let it be aired.

If a person believes that their view is unwelcome, they are likely to be unhappy, and leave. If they feel that their view, while not held by all, is allowed to be expressed even from the national platform, then they are left with a confidence that the difference is not a hindrance to membership, and to fellowship built around the places where there are not differences.

Unity is not necessarily unanimity. To acknowledge that, yes, we don't all agree on this point, but still, here we are fellowshipping together, is often to take a very big step towards unity of spirit. After recent events, to just ignore the differences would give the impression of sweeping things under the rug.

Perhaps Phelps and Minnick did what was necessary to affirm that both views are welcome in the FBFI.

Greg Linscott's picture

Quote:
Perhaps Phelps and Minnick did what was necessary to affirm that both views are welcome in the FBFI.

If that was the intent, then it could have been handled much better. As it stands, someone who shared the values of one or the other could be left sensing that they had a place with the one delivering the message, but it was unclear that the one who had the opposing view thought there were grounds for unity with them. I mean, if a foundational principle of your understanding of Scripture is described as a "pothole" to be avoided, or if someone spends 82 minutes demonstrating that the Scriptural conclusion contradicts the one you hold to, you might feel that there is a place for you in the FBFI- but it may not be as clear to you how the other guy is supposed to fit in. In other words, there was nothing said by the ones affirming their own positions to affirm the unity they shared with those who concluded differently.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Becky Petersen's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps Phelps and Minnick did what was necessary to affirm that both views are welcome in the FBFI.

If that was the intent, then it could have been handled much better. As it stands, someone who shared the values of one or the other could be left sensing that they had a place with the one delivering the message, but it was unclear that the one who had the opposing view thought there were grounds for unity with them. I mean, if a foundational principle of your understanding of Scripture is described as a "pothole" to be avoided, or if someone spends 82 minutes demonstrating that the Scriptural conclusion contradicts the one you hold to, you might feel that there is a place for you in the FBFI- but it may not be as clear to you how the other guy is supposed to fit in. In other words, there was nothing said by the ones affirming their own positions to affirm the unity they shared with those who concluded differently.

So what did Pastor Minnick say in his sermon? Is it referenced or blogged about somewhere? I'm sorry for asking but I've been somewhat unclear where things are since the redoing of SI. It seems like the FBF conference was "blogged about" as it was going on, but I'm unsure where. I saw the article about Phelps'' message, but that is it. (oh and the controversy about one of the side sessions...) but not the main sermons and just "twitters" of the panel discussion.

Maybe it is just me, but I fail to see the helpfulness of "twittering"--it feels like overhearing parts and bits of conversations, which could easily leave a person MORE confused than if they never heard any of it. Maybe it's my age...at 47, I'm just too old to "get the appeal" of such snippets of conversation. I was more intrigued by reading the twitters than actually informed. I'd rather read a whole review or listen to it in order to get the entire picture. Is Twitter (I'm asking in general) appealing to the idea that "everyone else lives a more exciting life than I do"?

(I have to admit.--.I've signed up for a Twitter account, but haven't twittered yet, as I fail to see why anyone would be interested in what I'm doing at the moment. Laundry, making strawberry jam, fixing dinner, weeding the garden and cleaning the house are really not worthy of writing about--better yet, not worth wasting someone else's time in reading them--esp. minute by minute as if they are important that you know about it.)

Greg Linscott's picture

Minnick's sermon can be listened to here- http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=618091445477 That should give you full context. Essentially, Minnick lays out an argument that definitely concludes on a Calvinistic perspective. I would even go so far as to say that it offers a conclusion that would lead one to look favorably at a "Lordship" position.

Becky, if you go back in the Twitter feed, I did try to cover all the messages I attended that way (except Phelps, where I didn't have an outlet and my battery ran out on my laptop). Subsequent conversations did not leave adequate time to reflect and write down, and to be honest, I didn't want to distract or disrupt the flow of the evnt while it was taking place, because it was already evident that some were rattled by what had preceded the meeting over the internet. FWIW, my intent with these specific instances of "Tweeting" (which, by the way, is the first time I've done it) was to try to capture notable snippets over the course of the message. My hopes were this might prompt some to listen to the entire message, as I don't think you can do justice to a message with "Tweets," any more than you can reading notes someone else has intermittently jotted down while listening to a sermon you never listened to yourself. I tried to be as objective as I could be in my reporting, especially while there, though I do think that it is difficult for someone's biases never to show through. I wanted to try to get as complete a picture as I could before indulging in any kind of "editorializing."

With that being said, there were things I overlooked for SI purposes that I could have addressed- the mens' luncheon on Wednesday, for example. I imagine that my assessment would have been at best distracting to the overall big picture of the week, as previous conversations involving revivalist music techniques (and flamboyant displays that go beyond enthusiastic and into acrobatic) take on a life of their own.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Becky Petersen's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:
Minnick's sermon can be listened to here- http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=618091445477 That should give you full context. Essentially, Minnick lays out an argument that definitely concludes on a Calvinistic perspective. I would even go so far as to say that it offers a conclusion that would lead one to look favorably at a "Lordship" position.

Becky, if you go back in the Twitter feed, I did try to cover all the messages I attended that way (except Phelps, where I didn't have an outlet and my battery ran out on my laptop). .

Thank you, Greg, for both the link and the explanation about twitter. My question about Twitter was more general than just this conference. I just remember feeling frustrated. I guess the next thing they need is live feed, huh? I really liked BJU's graduation ceremony live. It was great to see my niece graduate from thousands of miles away.

If your purpose of the tweeting was to get us to want to hear more, then you succeeded at least with me. I am curious about it, but to be honest, I wanted to hear it before I read any twittering. Wink My question about Twitter, is far more general than this conference. I've read of people Twittering about what they eat for breakfast, etc. But my question about be, who wants to read it?

Maybe it is just that I've not mastered this new layout for SI. I've not seen other articles by you about the sessions at FBF and I've tried to keep an eye out for the headlines of new threads. Where are they? (I read your link about twittering the panel discussion and probably one other one, one about Phelps's sermon and the controversial one about dispensationalism.) If the other sessions were covered, where are they? Do they each have their own thread? I've really felt lost with this new SI--seems like I don't know where anything is supposed to be. No doubt it is my fault. With time, I'll absorb it all....

Becky Petersen's picture

I do not want to get into the discussion about Lordship salvation, but it is obvious to me that salvation results in a changed life. If there is no change, there is no reason to believe there is salvation. If that is "Lordship salvation", then, so be it.--that seems to be what the Bible teaches.

Matthew_Black's picture

Becky,

You are right, and A. W. Tozer concurs with you...

"The Lord will not save those whom He cannot command. He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on a half-Christ. We take Him for what He is--the anointed Saviour and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of all lords! He would not be Who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives" [A. W. Tozer, I Call It Heresy! (Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publica¬tions, 1974), 18-19 ].

He said on p. 19 again ever in an even clearer statment: "The Scriptures do not teach that the Person of Jesus Christ nor any of the important offices which God has given Him can be divided or ignored according to the whims of men. Therefore, I must be frank in my feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles—the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior and we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!"

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good!" Ps. 34:8

Matthew S. Black, Pastor, Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, Illinois

http://www.livinghopechurch.net