In an attempt to be brief and succinct, I will try to give a cliff note version the recent John 3:16 Conference as I understand it from those who attended and the blogs I have read. First the live-blogging posts:
Andrew Lindsey (Challies.com) and John Mark (Sweet Tea & Theology)
1. John 3:16 Conference (Lindsey)
2. Registration, Schedule, and Books (Lindsey)
3. Johnny Hunt Opening Message (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
4. Jerry Vines on John 3:16 (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
5. Paige Patterson on Total Depravity (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
6. Attendance and Mood (Lindsey)
7. Richard Land on Unconditional Election (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
8. David Allen on Limited Atonement (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
9. Steve Lemke on Irresistible Grace (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
10. Ken Keathley on Perseverance of the Saints (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
11. Charles Stanley on John 3:16 (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
12. Question and Answer Session (Lindsey) :: (John Mark)
10 Noteworthy Items from the Conference
2. Paige Patterson affirmed original sin but denied original guilt. As I understand it, this view was popularized by W.T. Conner. I’m intrigued to know how many Southern Baptists would hold to this and what are the benefits of such a theological position.
4. David Allen concluded that a move toward “five point” Calvinism was “a move away from the gospel.” The crowd responded with a standing ovation.
5. David Allen’s handout which he mentions in his message can be downloaded here (PDF).
6. Steve Lemke holds that repentance and faith precede regeneration.
7. Steve Lemke defines a “hyper-Calvinist” as someone who is “more Calvinistic than you are.”
8. Ken Keathley asserted that Tom Schreiner and A.B. Caneday teach salvation by works, according to the Council of Trent (Roman Catholicism).
9. Richard Land argued that Romans 9-11 have nothing to do with eternal salvation.
10. Keathley, a classical Molinist (and indeterminist), presented the case that determinism is to a bad theological position to hold.
10 Observations from a Distance
1. The speakers apparently have real theological differences among each other. One might expect this when having a conference when you are united around what you are against rather than what you are for.
2. While most of the seminaries were represented as vendors, Southern Seminary was not.
3. Earlier in May, I had requested for Founders Ministries to be a vendor. The request was rejected without justification.
4. The purpose of this conference was intended to be a “majoritarian response to the ‘Building Bridges’ and ‘Together for the Gospel’ conferences” (according to Lemke).
5. If there ever was a place and time that Southern Baptists would have discovered a counter-resurgence of non-Calvinists among younger Southern Baptists, this conference would have been it. However, live-blogging revealed that it was more comparable to the SBC Annual Meeting than Together for the Gospel. In other words, Vines and Co. are without generational succession.
6. Conference audio is $50 and video is $60 $69. These incredibly steep prices for resources will discourage many from purchasing them. This philosophy of marketing is quite contrary to the free resources provided at Reformed conferences.
7. The closed door approach to the conference was also quite interesting. In the day of live-blogging, live-streaming, immediate file-sharing (whether audio or PDF), this conference did not seem to adopt the whosoever will spirit of John 3:16.
8. I am encouraged by the approach and disposition of now president Johnny Hunt regarding his Calvinist brethren. However, he will have a lot on his hands when his fellow non-Calvinists are lobbing grenades and fostering a fight rather than seeking gospel consensus (after all, “five point” Calvinism is a move away from the gospel [Allen] and contrary to the Great Commission [Lemke]).
9. Commentary from non-Southern Baptists, such as Justin Taylor, James Grant, Michael Spencer, and dozens of others commenting on the blogs, reveal that the John 3:16 conference is a disappointing if not embarrassing attempt to debunk the doctrines of grace and one-up the Building Bridges Conference.
10. One has to wonder when Southern Seminary and the astute scholarship represented among the faculty will finally chime in. Schreiner, Ware, Mohler, Nettles, and others are being thrown under the bus with no response from Lexington Road. The absence of SBTS from Baptist life and issues is curious to say the least.
I guess that’s a wrap. Any other notable observations or commentary? Feel free to comment below.