Greetings from Denver! I’m Brent Belford, a Bible professor from Northland International University, reporting on the FBFI Annual Fellowship. This year’s conference is being held at Tri-City Baptist Church in Westminster, Colorado.
I came to the conference at 3 pm for registration and was greeted by many wonderful and helpful workers. The registration process was easy to navigate and there were many staff prepared to help me in any way that they could. There were sessions going on in the auditorium that were designed to help chaplains learn how to better deal with Islam.
The evening sessions started at 6 pm. The theme of the conference is “the blessed hope.” I would guess that there were approximately 400-500 people in attendance with a large group from both Red Rocks and Tri-City Baptist churches. After some opening congregationals, Dr. John Vaughn started the conference with a quick survey of the history of the FBFI. It was actually quite enjoyable to hear him work his way through the history, but that might be because I teach a class on Fundamentalism!
The first session was preached by Dr. Les Heinze. He preached from Job 19:25-27 and the title of his sermon was “Hope in the Midst of Heartache.” This first sermon was a very rich exegesis of the text complimented by some very transparent and honest evaluations of Pastor Heinze’s own ministry situation. He humbly explained to us that this past year has been the most difficult year of his 25+ years of ministry at Red Rocks Baptist Church (formerly South Sheridan Baptist). He stated that there have been 4 criminal investigations within the past year there and that there have been substantial legal fees as well as a significant loss of members. Wow, and I thought that my year was a rough one! While many people might question starting off a conference in this way, I believe that God was honored by the clear exposition of this text. God used Pastor Heinze’s sermon in the lives of many of those who attended the conference!
The second session was preached by Craig Hartman. Brother Hartman started his session with a disclaimer that some claim that he is opinionated. He explained that he is a Jewish, New-Yorker, who has also been trained in law. He further commented that God had burdened his heart about some of the things that he has seen going on in Fundamentalism. His concerns were not very hard to determine as he clearly articulated them to his audience. First, he is concerned that some Fundamentalists seem to be saying that only the “Gospel” is important for separation. In response to this idea, Dr. Hartman says, “Just because something is less important, does not mean that it is not important!” His second concern is that some Fundamentalists are abandoning dispensationalism. This is an important tenet for brother Hartman because of his passion for Jewish ministries. He believes that if one begins to lose the distinction between Israel and the church then it will have a devastating impact upon his/her life. He also gave an interesting interpretation of John 14 by using his knowledge of Jewish background. At the end of the sermon, I found that I agreed with his positions on dispensationalism and eschatology, although I do not necessarily agree with his interpretation of John 14. You might want to check it out for yourself when the sermons are made available on the FBFI website.