ATC 2011

Reflections after the Encounter: Considering the Current Situation of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism


Why I Am Still a Fundamentalist
(And How I Am Not)

Perhaps it would be best to begin this document with a warning. This is going to be a long discussion. If you only read part of it, or if you only focus on a statement here or there, you are going to come away with a distorted impression. Consequently, I ask that you either read it carefully or not at all.

This past week, I participated in a conference on “Advancing the Church,” hosted by Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Over the years I have spoken many times at the National Leadership Conference held by the same institution. The difference this time was the involvement of Dr. Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Capitol Hill is Southern Baptist and Pastor Dever is one of the most prominent voices within conservative evangelicalism.

Also participating in the conference were Dr. David Doran (pastor of Inter City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan, and president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. Tim Jordan (pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania), and Dr. Sam Harbin (president of the host seminary). Several other fundamentalist leaders were present and participated in some of the closed-door conversations that took place with Pastor Dever.

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Was the Church Advanced at ATC?

(Disclaimer: I am a graduate of Calvary Baptist Seminary and have a deep appreciation for the school, its professors, and many of its alumni.  There is a definite bias in this regard.  I also have appreciated the pulpit ministry of Dr. Tim Jordan, although I was never a member at Calvary Baptist Church while in seminary.)

As I walked through the doors into a very familiar building, memories came rushing back.  This was the place I had spent 5 of the most intense years of my life.  I didn't say 5 of the best years, although much of my experience was very positive.  Seminary was, in another's words, "the best of times and the worst of times."  I never faced pressures in almost every aspect of my life, marriage, family, and ministry, as I did during this period.  That's probably true for most seminarians.  But here I was, back at "school." I could remember where "Chief" Jordan's files were stored in a large room over to my right, now a coatroom. The remodel of the church that occurred several years ago looked very nice.  Everything was modern and inviting.  I began to see faces that I recognized--some came with names, some didn't! It was the first of literally dozens of reunions that would take place over the next 3 days.

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Friday Morning: Mark Dever -- "Membership and Discipline"

[Note: When I return to Indianapolis, I will write a brief article, focusing on my personal reflections on the conference, probably on Saturday or Monday.]

This is the final message of the ATC Conference.


  • Where would you go in the Bible to demonstrate that the Christian life is not just about “Jesus and me”—though that is certainly there?
  • I think you can demonstrate this in almost every book in the NT.
  • In case people think you are proof-texting, use the book of James. [overview of James followed]
  • When we're talking about church membership, we're talking about formalizing our relationship with each other. Even in James, we have a unique expression of Christian love (5:14). The elders of what church? His church.  Plural elders, singular church--the pattern we see in the NT.
  • Two bits of theology we've made referenced to:
    • Almost always, the church mentioned in the NT is referencing a local church.
    • Matters dealing with the church are mentioned both explicitly and implictly.  Local church membership is taught implicitly in the NT. A way you can construct this with people is a membership triangle: pastor, me, other Christians.  Then start filling in with verses dealing with those interrelationships.
  • I'm assuming a good deal of agreement on this so we're going to spend the rest of our time in Q&A about these issues.

Highlights from Q&A:

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Friday Morning: Kevin Bauder -- "An Apostle's Reaction to Indifferentism: Counsel for Healthy Christianity"

Song: "Speak O Lord." (Gettys) When Tim Jordan introduced Kevin Bauder, he mentioned that at the end of this school year, Bauder will be stepping down from the presidency at Central Seminary and staying on at the seminary but focusing on research and writing. 

Text: 2 John 7-11


  • The idea of fundamentalism is concerned with the well-being of the church.
  • There is a particular aspect of the well-being of the church that I want to deal with.
  • Let me begin with a story.
    • Pastor in Grand Rapids is in the first couple weeks of his ministry.
    • A knock at his door.  Reps of the Grand Rapids Baptist Association want to give him an update.
    • A pastor in the association had preached a great message on the virgin birth at an association meeting.  He was vocally opposed by another pastor in attendance, stating that the virgin birth was contrary to reason and that he and his church were opposed to it.
    • The reps asked this new pastor where he stood on this issue.

Question 1: What’s going on here? (vv. 7-8)

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Friday Morning: Tim Jordan -- "The Power of Cross-Cultural Ministry in the Spiritual Advancement of the Preacher"

The session began by singing "As the Deer" followed by Tim's message.

Text: 1 Cor. 9


  • I want to finish what I started on Wednesday
  • The pastor is not the pillar and ground of the truth; the church is.
  • Paul was called to a cross-cultural and really gets his feet wet in Antioch.
  • He spends the rest of his life occasionally visiting home, but mostly away preaching and teaching the whole counsel of God all over the Roman empire.
  • We’re just going to survey and reference the text this morning; it will be highly applicational.


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