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.
(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.
The seminary office says conference audio will probably post next week.
[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.
Highlights from Q&A:
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
Question 1: What’s going on here? (vv. 7-8)
The session began by singing "As the Deer" followed by Tim's message.
Text: 1 Cor. 9