Gospel Coalition 2011

Shedding Some Light on Conservative Evangelicalism

I grew up in Winston Salem, NC, a city of roughly 230,000. Not large, but by North Carolina standards, in the top five. Over the years, I’ve bumped into people from rural towns who have noted, sometimes with genuine deference, “Oh, you’re from the big city.” This makes me chuckle considering Winston would probably fit inside of Donald Trump’s living room. Our worldview is potently molded to our experiences such that it affects our perception of objective data and propositional truth.

If your experience of the Christian faith has been primarily independent, fundamentalist, traditional and conservative, operating in small to medium-sized churches, then your perception of evangelicalism may be similar to a small town resident visiting a large city. Bigger doesn’t mean better, but it is certainly different with diverse and multiple choices. This is not to denigrate traditional conservatives (whom I have affectionately nicknamed Tracons) or small towns. It is to illustrate perceptual distinctions. Why write about this? Let me explain.

Our church staff and elders attended the Gospel Coalition 2011 conference in Chicago this past week. What we experienced was simple, but profound, gracious, yet powerful. The subject matter, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, was well crafted and delivered from many regions of the older testament by gifted pastors and leaders. Some of you may have read the updates. While writing the updates and ruminating on the spectrum of participants and contributors at SharperIron, I considered the many articles and comments deliberating the topics of conservative evangelicals, culture, cooperation, fences, separation, etc. It occurred to me that “small town/large city” perceptions exist that skew an appreciation of the believers some have termed “fundagelicals.”

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Final Reflections from The Gospel Coalition Conference

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Gospel Coalition Conference. The event was organized well and the layout of the convention center was easy to follow. I wish I had had more time to take in some of the extra panel discussions sprinkled throughout and the post-conference event. Apparently an extra session was called Thursday morning, where D.A. Carson addressed the Rob Bell issue, speaking on what universalism is and why it isn’t a confessionally Christian position. [Download the audio here.]

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Day Two

The conference cranked back into session this morning with more folk (6-7k my rough estimate) and a plethora of more free literature from the numerous exhibitors at the conference. (Yesterday i thought it was limited, but they have been releasing in waves apparently.)  While attenders have to wade through some "Christianized Commercialism", there are benefits.  My backpack is literally full of free books, videos and journals, not including the bag full I received yesterday. Our staff is literally considering shipping the books home because we only packed small carry-ons.  Very nice perk of this event.

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Gospel Coalition - Day One

Day one of the Gospel Coalition for 2011 has been very long, but profitable. As I've been up for 17 hours with a two hour drive and two hour flight in the mix, I will have to be brief. I had the privilege of being at the 2009 event and this by far is bigger with a much better venue - McCormick Place in Chicagoland.  As is the tradition at TGC, an attendee receives free bibles and books. There were fewer goodies this year, but the participants have also increased. No one has stated a number, but i would wager greater than 6,000 folk are in attendance.  There's a solid representation from multiple demographics though the heaviest concentration appears to be 25-40 year olds.  

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