It’s only Monday.
So with an entire week of dispenational dialogue on the way, here are a few brief highlights from day one of the GARBC Conference in Elyria, Ohio:
First, the conference is well attended. As I stated during
the opening session, the crowd of 700 swelled to 800 within 15 minutes. This was the number of attendees in the auditorium only. A conservative estimate of total attendence for opening night would be 1,000—including exhibitors, youth, children, and staff.
Second, for those of you who are a bit unfamiliar with GARBC Conference history,
this is the first conference in years (at least 25 years) to be held in an association church. Usually, the GARBC rents a conference facility or indoor arena (i. e., Hilton Coliseum on the campus of Iowa State University). The people of First Baptist of Elyria (along with their pastoral and support staff) are welcoming us with open arms, and serving us well. This is a huge (read: humanly impossible) undertaking for a single local church; but if opening night is an indicator of things to come, their hospitality will be wonderfully refreshing to all who attend.
Third, if Bauder’s first session is any indication of the overall direction of the conference, dispenationalism will be discussed in a balanced and God-glorifying way. His opening address from Psalm 67 was classicly dispensational, but not overtly so. Bauder pointed us to this Psalm’s ultimate fulfillment—a future kingdom in which all “peoples” would praise and worship the Lord of Glory. Nothing was said about specific timing of specific eschatological events, and there was no demeaning of other eschatological positions. It seems Bauder rightly understood that those in attendence would agree that there was a future kingdom so he did not attempt to build a case for premillennialism or against the amil or post-mil positions.
Fourth, non-dispensational eschatological positions will be addressed beginning tomorrow. Renald Showers, of Friends of Israel and Israel, My Glory magazine, has published several works that emphasize a pre-tribulational rapture. I’ve taken a peek at tomorrow’s notes and Showers will be addressing replacement theology and other eschatological views. It’s interesting to note that a majority of classic dispensational literature majors on eschatology—sometimes so emphasizing the future in a way that inadvertantly de-emphasizes God’s past redemptive work. That is my opinion … and it may not accuratelly reflect the opinions or views of the SI administrative team!
Fifth, tweeting will keep me from becoming overly-critical of the subject matter. I love our association of churches. I love its leaders. I love its history. I love its stand for orthodox, Baptist Christianity. And while I may not agree with or appreciate all of our association’s emphases, I am thankful to be a part of a fellowship of churches that has room for me … and for the pre-tribulational, trichotomist, two-nature, 3 point Calvinist (2 point Arminian) sitting next to me.
Throughout this week, if I appear uncharitable or unkind toward those who are speaking or leading; if I sound frustrated or exasperated at what may be excesses in our assocation, please remember this: I am convinced that I minister in, am a part of, and am a friend of men and women in the greatest ecclesiastical association on earth—the GARBC!
May God keep me mindful of that as I report (and editorialize)!