Here is the schedule for the 2006 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference, as announced by the President of the Pastors’ Conference, Bryant Wright. You will note the peculiar way that the breakout session featuring Drs. Mohler and Patterson is titled: “Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election.” I think I can figure out the intent, but it sure seems like a convoluted way to promote this session.
Here’s what I think it means: How can someone with a view of unconditional election be serious about or involved in reaching people for Jesus Christ, and how can someone who believes conditional election (or maybe universal election–I am not sure what Dr. Patterson’s views are) be serious about or involved in reaching people for Jesus Christ? Maybe even more importantly, how can brothers who disagree on the doctrine of election cooperate in reaching people for Jesus Christ?
This latter question is worth discussing publicly. I say that not because I think that “unconditional electionists” and “conditional or universal electionists” (to avoid the “C” word) cannot or should not cooperate in the work of evangelism. I think that they most certainly can and should. I think it will be valuable if two respected leaders can graciously disagree with each other doctrinally about election in a public forum and then go on and explain how their disagreement does not necessarily mean that they cannot cooperate in the work of evangelism.
George Whitefield and John Wesley did it–until Wesley began to attack unconditional election publicly and in print as unbiblical and caricature it. That misrepresentation of God’s truth, as Whitefield saw it, caused Whitefield to rise to the defense of Scripture’s teaching. His famous letter to Wesley on the this issue is a wonderful example of how we should disagree with brothers over such matters.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and G. Campbell Morgan did it for the first few years of the former’s and the last few years of the latter’s ministries at Westiminster Chapel. Neither attacked the other’s views or misrepresented what his colleague believed. And, despite their differences theologically, they were in perfect agreement on the evangelical essentials and both stood against perversions of the Gospel.
I would love to see this kind of spirit permeate the 21st century SBC. Perhaps this breakout session by Mohler and Patterson will point the way forward.
1. Sunday Evening, June 11- Blended worship service in the Greensboro Coliseum
2. Monday Morning, June 12 – Breakout sessions at the convention hotel (Sheraton Four Seasons). We will have three one-hour blocks of breakout sessions, with several options offered during each block:
Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election: Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Reaching Today’s World Through Multi-Campus Churches: Ronnie Floyd, First Baptist Church, Springdale, AR
Reaching Today’s World Through Global Outreach: Steve Stroope, Lake Pointe Church, Rockwall, TX; Paul Jimenez, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today’s World Through Breakout Churches: Thom Rainer, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, TN
Reaching Today’s World Through Church Discipline – Are You Kidding?: Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; Art Wilder, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today’s World Through Men’s Ministries: Robert Lewis, Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, AR
Reaching Today’s World Through Women’s Ministries: Marsha Crowe, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today’s World In and Around Small Towns: Darrell Henry, Oakwood Baptist Church, Chickamauga, GA
Reaching Today’s World Through Apologetics: Phillip Roberts, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO; William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA
Reaching Today’s World By Confronting the DaVinci Code: Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY
3. Monday Afternoon, June 12 – Completely contemporary worship service in the Guilford Ballroom of the convention hotel (Sheraton Four Seasons)
4. Monday Evening, June 12 – Traditional worship service in the Greensboro Coliseum
Although the list of speakers is not complete nor the schedule finalized, we are happy to announce that the following will be preaching in the worship services on Sunday or Monday:
Tony Evans, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX
Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA
Dick Lincoln, Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, SC
Erwin McManus, Mosaic, Los Angeles, CA
Nelson Searcy, The Journey, New York, New York
Ed Young (Sr.), Second Baptist Church, Houston, TX