David Dockery identified himself as the “lead off hitter for the Akin-Amyrauldian-quasi-Arminian team” as he began his talk on the historical record of Baptists and Calvinism. Using 1 Thesalonians 5:21 (Test all things; hold fast what is good) as his guide, he led us through a very helpful birds-eye-view of history, from Calvin to Baptist beginnings to Southern Baptist origins to the recent conservative resurgence.
David’s presentation was marked by his characteristically irenic spirit and careful treatment of the material. I would take exception to a couple of his historical assessments (such as describing Shubal Stearns as a kind of Arminian) but could not help but be encouraged by his winsome treatment of the subject. His talk would make a very good introduction for anyone intersted in knowing about the Calvinistic influence on Baptist life.
Tom Nettles approached his subject differently by noting the conserving power of Calvinism on the essential doctrines of the faith. Using Baptist leaders from our history he argued that Calvinism inherently encourages and maintains orthodox views of Scripture, Trinity, substitutionary atonement, regenerate church members, Christ-centered preaching, religious liberty, missions and evangelism and one other that I am too tired to recall.
It was a very creative way to demonstrate that where you have a Baptist Calvinist, you have an strong ally for biblical Christianity. The quotes–especially the ones from Basil Manly–are worth having.
These two presentations very helpfully complemented each other.
Voddie Baucham called me tonight from his sickbed in Houston where he is battling the flu. Pray for him and for Don Whitney, who will preach in his place tomorrow night. Be sure to check out Ed Stetzer’s blog for more consistent updates. I doubt that I will be able to give another until after the conference.