>Friday at the Future of Denominationalism Conference – Union University (Part I)


Friday, October the 9th, 2009 Bonnie and I were privileged to attend the Future of Denominationalism conference at Union University on its final day.  The speakers for the morning were Nathan Finn (a professor at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Dr. R. Albert Mohler (President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary).  This blog will be the notes that I gleaned from these two impressive discourses on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. 


Nathan Finn discussed the idea of Baptists as Evangelicals.  He stated that we are ourselves evangelicals that sometimes must swim against the evangelical currents, but must remain in the evangelical river.  The major thrust of his discourse was the two non-negotiables that Southern Baptists should affirm and uphold as Evangelicals.  Those two foundations should be Catechesis and Narrative. 


  1. Catechesis:  We must labor to pass on a commitment to convictional integrity but we must also focus on a Christian way to read and study the Christian Scriptures.  We must have a robust view of the Gospel.  We must know it, teach it, and live it!  We must have a theological vision for ministry.  This theological vision for ministry involves:
    1. Gospel Instinct against heterodox beliefs and to avoid the truncated view of conversion.  We must get back to the life change (not easy believism).  Do we have more conviction in our denomination for culture wars or for gospel ministry?  We must restore our confessional convictions! 
    2. In our Catechesis, we should NOT pass on to the future some of the following things:

                                                              i.      Unhealthy likeness / affinity for theological diversity and parachurch organizations.

                                                            ii.      We must not pass on cultural captivity.

                                                          iii.      Ethno-centrism à Southern Baptists as white southerners. 

                                                          iv.      Denominational arrogance and elitism – as if God cannot evangelize the lost through any other mechanism.

                                                            v.       Atheological pragmatism – sacrificing the gospel ministry for what is pragmatic in regards to politics and mechanism of the denomination

                                                          vi.      Penchant of bricks, budgets, and bottoms over the conversion and discipleship of souls

  1. Narrative: We must as Southern Baptists also be focused and committed to passing on our stories.
    1. We must pass on the stories and lives of the giants of the faith in Baptist History
    2. We must uphold with pride that it was the Baptists who championed religious liberty over 100 years before Jefferson and the Constitutional Congress took up the call.
    3. We must also tell the grand story of Baptist involvement in mission over the centuries.
    4. We must tell the story of the great seminaries and colleges that we as Baptists have founded.
    5. We must tell of the likes of Smyth, Helwys, Mercer, Broadus, Boyce, Hobbs, Rogers, McCall, Mullins, Pressler, Manly, Carey, Fuller, Dagg, Mell, Judson, Wallace, Moon, Armstrong, and others.  [Blogger Interlude: how many of you can identify who I am talking about here?  If you can’t, this underscores the point that we need to educate our churches on the wonderful history of the Baptist movement.]


That was Nathan Finn’s speech.  Well done! 

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