In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. The following interview is with Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga. Dr. Caner remains in demand across the SBC as conference leader/speaker and preacher. The author of numerous books, Dr. Caner also travels internationally for academic purposes and for the sake of the Gospel. To learn more about Dr. Caner, go to www.emircaner.com.
1. How has the invitation to speak at the Conference impacted you?
As some know, my passion is the history of the Baptist and Free Church movements, a subject I have taught at three different SBC institutions over the course of 15 years; and, as such, I am thrilled to contribute to the ongoing conversation regarding our rich heritage.
Like Paul imploring the church in Corinth to “acknowledge such men” for they “refreshed my spirit and yours” (1 Cor. 16.18), so must we do likewise because we stand on the shoulders of giants, men and women who have invested their lives into sharing the Gospel, and it is imperative that we gain a deep appreciation of our forefathers.
In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. The following interview is with Dr. David L. Allen, who is Professor of Preaching, George W. Truett Chair of Ministry, Director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, and Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Allen is co-author of Whosoever Will: a Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism.
1. How has the invitation to speak at the conference impacted you?
I was delighted to be invited to speak by Dr. Vines since I am currently immersed in a writing project on an aspect of Calvinism. Any opportunity afforded me that aids my understanding of these important issues and that drives me to further study of the Word can only be beneficial.
The following interview is with Dr. Adam Harwood, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, Truett-McConnell College, Cleveland, Georgia.
1. How has the invitation to speak at the conference impacted you?
I am honored that Dr. Vines extended the invitation and have been praying, thinking, writing, and rewriting my presentation for several months.
2. How important is this conference in light of the current climate within the SBC?
In recent years, there have been other conferences on the topic of Calvinism in the SBC–including the John 3:16 Conference in 2008. Next month’s conference will provide an opportunity for Southern Baptists to hear theological viewpoints peaceably articulated in order to advance this important discussion within the SBC family.
In the weeks preceding this year’s John 3.16 Conference (see ad to right), SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference.
The following interview is with Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor of First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss., who is the author of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” (see May 30 post) and the Resolution on the Sinner’s Prayer, a heavily edited version of which passed at the SBC in New Orleans last year.
Ed.’s note: Readers may be interested to know that Dr. Hankins’ Sinner’s Prayer resolution was offered for consideration in five state Baptist conventions last fall, and it passed overwhelmingly. The state Baptist conventions of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana passed the resolution verbatim. The SBCT (Texas) passed an edited version as part of a resolution on evangelism.
Dr. Jerry Vines is Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. He holds a Th.D. from Luther Rice University and Seminary. A former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Dr. Vines inaugurated the first John 3.16 Conference in 2008. The SBC’s Baptist Press covered the event. (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=29318)
In the weeks preceding this year’s Conference, SBCToday will post interviews with each person scheduled to speak at the Conference. Our interview with Dr. Vines leads the way.
Interview with Dr. Jerry Vines
Q. What was the genesis of the (2008) conference?
A. The first John 3:16 Conference was held in order to offer a response to the 5 points of Calvinism, expressed by the acronym TULIP. It was done in a scholarly, positive, irenic setting. The Conference was extremely well attended and the lectures later became the best-selling book “Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism.”
Q. What is the conference’s purpose?
A. This Conference is part of an ongoing conversation relative to New Calvinism and expands the discussion to include other related subjects.
Q. What is the planned tone and demeanor of the Conference?
A. I have said constantly that there is surely a need for us to discuss these important matters. And, I believe it is important to do so in an irenic, loving, Christ-like manner. The original John 3:16 Conference certainly was that kind of Conference. I am confident the 2013 John 3:16 Conference will be the same. I hope to see people of goodwill, whether Calvinists or non-Calvinists, at the Conference.
Q. What criteria did you employ in selecting the conference speakers?
A. I prayerfully sought to have speakers who are irenic in tone, theologically well versed and evangelistic and missions minded.
Q. A LifeWay survey revealed that almost two-thirds of Southern Baptists have problems with encroaching Calvinism in the SBC. How deeply are you concerned about that, and what, in your opinion, are the ramifications if the encroachment goes unchecked?
A. New Calvinism is a continuing problem in our Southern Baptist Churches. Almost weekly through conversation, phone call, email, etc., I hear of our churches being adversely impacted by New Calvinism. If left unchecked, the result will be what Baptist churches experienced in the 1830s. Those that were 5-point Calvinists in their theology became what we call today Primitive Baptists. The lack of evangelism and the decline in membership of Primitive Baptist Churches is evident.
Q. Do you think the Calvinism debate within the SBC will split our Convention?
A. No. I don’t think it will because I do believe that, as Traditional and Calvinistic views are presented, Southern Baptist churches will solve the problem. One reason I believe that is because Southern Baptists overwhelmingly hold the view that Jesus died for all the sins of all the people of all the world.
Q. What do you hope that pastors, deacons, laypeople and students will gain from the conference?
A. This conference will be extremely helpful to those groups. Local church leadership and membership will be well served if they have an understanding of the essential theological viewpoints of New Calvinism. Students will be helped to see that there are scholarly responses to the views asserted by this theology.
Q. The conference already has gained its detractors — one even calling it “nauseating.” What response, if any, would you have to that?
A. Well, I am saddened anyone would call a gathering where Baptists can freely express their deeply held beliefs “nauseating.” But, it does demonstrate the truthfulness of what I have been saying for sometime now: There is a New Calvinism among us that is aggressive, hostile, and militant.
Q. I note that your topic is “For whose sins did Jesus die?” Would you share your main and subsequent texts for this sermon and give a teaser as well?
A. I’m going to attempt to let Scripture speak for itself in answering that question. I will use a number of Bible texts. And, I am happy to announce that an old friend, “Billy Baptist,” of “A Baptist and His Bible” fame, will be introduced again in the message.
“Billy Baptist” first appeared at the 1987 SBC in St. Louis, preaching a sermon titled: “A Baptist and His Bible.” Among other issues of that day, “Billy” rightly railed against the “higher critical” methodology that still influenced at least three SBC seminaries. With the exception of a small percentage of attendees, that gathering of Southern Baptists responded gleefully and convictionally with sustained applause and hearty amens. The mood in the room was positively electric. If the same spirited “Billy Baptist” who appeared in St. Louis shows up at North Metro Baptist Church, then a second, historic, sermon-of-a-lifetime is in store for those who have the wisdom to come hear “Billy” preach a sermon titled: “For Whose Sins did Jesus Die?”
The editor also recommends you go to
to view a video sample of “Billy’s” sermon in St. Louis. You may also wish to order the DVD at the link noted.