SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
May 6, 1953
J. D. Grey
When Wendell Phillips visited Plymouth on one occasion, he stood on that famous Rock. It is said that a citizen of Plymouth approached him and boasted that their town was very fortunate in having the Rock within its borders. Wendell Phillips relied: “This Rock underlies all America, it only cropped out here.”
We, the messengers of the churches, are met here in far-famed and nobly hospitable Houston to transact business for the Lord. With paeans of praise and doxologies of joy, we have begun the ninety-sixth session of the Southern Baptist Convention. With gratitude to our gracious Heavenly Father we look back over the road of service this Convention has marched for one hundred and eight years. During these brief but significant days, we shall enjoy the “fellowship of kindred minds” and sing again the songs of Zion. Reports of our agencies and institutions will thrill our hearts. Numerous brethren will inspire us with a fresh insight into the Word of God as they focus our attention upon our blessed Lord. Led by the Spirit of God, we shall survey the past, evaluate the present, and face the future. Blessed by his Presence, we shall understand and feel again the spirit that is the Southern Baptist Convention.
On page 468 of the book By His Grace, For His Glory, Dr. Tom Nettles concludes: Calvinism should still occupy the place of universal adherence in Baptist life. To reject it is not theological progress, but decline, not theological wisdom, but folly; not theological erudition but fragmentation.
In the interest of fairness, I tried to include a Traditionalist quote implying that everyone should universally adhere to the Traditionalist position or else be guilty of theological decline, folly and fragmentation, but I was unable to find any such quote, primarily because there simply are not any to be found.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, and Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
Have you noticed that some theologians enjoy using the phrase, “On the other hand?”
I like my theologians to be “one-handed” and armed with a straightforward exegesis of the biblical text. I like my theologians to pull out of the text all that is duly and definitely there — no more and no less.
I have to “hand” it to him; John Calvin had a great theological and philosophical mind. He could pull out of scripture some simple and profound truths. Then he would say, “On the other hand,” and the philosophical side of Calvin would bring things out of the blue.
We shall look at Calvin’s treatment of the popular and well-loved John 3:16.
Most of us in our forties – what I call the Seinfeld Generation – remember the old Southern Baptist literature, much of which was shallower than an oasis in the midst of the Mohave Desert. The study was topical and usually began and ended with the question, “What does that passage mean to me.” For years we have longed for a curriculum that gave an in-depth, exegetical study of Scriptural passages that expounded authorial intent while also attaching a personal and contemporary application. We were tired of the scratch-n-sniff study strategy that had long defined much of Sunday School curriculum inside and outside our Convention.
When The Gospel Project was announced, many in my limited circle, including local pastors and trustees of Truett-McConnell College, began studying the material and giving positive reviews of the lessons. And there is much to be commended. It is quite refreshing to see quotes from theological giants like Martin Luther, the great Reformer who proclaimed once again, “The just shall live by faith.” Early Church Fathers are quoted repeatedly, something that makes this church historian very pleased. While these men are not known by many, they should be. Important theological questions engage the mind of the reader such as, “What about those who have never heard the Gospel?”