First Published: April 19, 2001
Let me catch you up on some of my goings and comings of recent days. The first weekend in April (April 6-7), I had the privilege of speaking at the Southern Baptist Founder’s Collegiate Conference held at RTS, here in Jackson. It was the first time they’ve done a collegiate conference.
Now you may be wondering, what in the world is the Founders Conference and what in the world is a presbyterian preacher doing at one! Both are good questions. Let me explain.
First, the conference is sponsored by Founders Ministries, the purpose of which is to promote both doctrine and devotion expressed in the “doctrines of grace” and their experimental [experiential] application to the local church, particularly in the areas of worship and witness. Their motive in doing so is to provide encouragement to Southern Baptists through historical, biblical, theological, practical, and ecumenical studies that will glorify God, honor His gospel, and strengthen His churches.
As you may know, within the churches associated in the Southern Baptist Convention, there has been over the last 15-20 years an undeniable resurgence of interest the Reformed faith or what is commonly called the “doctrines of grace,” – the belief that salvation is sovereignly and graciously given by God to sinners. A conviction arose among many Southern Baptist ministers that the energy generated by this divine renewal should be conserved and guided. In light of that conviction, the first Southern Baptist Founders Conference was held in 1983. It has met annually since then. Interest in the doctrines of grace continues to grow among Southern Baptists.
Second, why would I be involved? Well, for one thing because we share in common with these dear friends in Christ: a high view of the Scriptures, a high view of the church, and a wholehearted commitment to God’s sovereignty in salvation. We should, as presbyterians, wish to give them every encouragement possible as the herald the doctrines of grace to a new generation of Southern Baptists. For another, it is in the best interests of the whole of evangelical Christianity that the Southern Baptist churches (collectively the largest of America’s Protestant “denominations”) be spiritually and theologically vital. Anything that fosters that end is good for all of us. I am glad to play a small role of encouragement.