Wednesday, April 26, 2006

T4G Night 1

Or should I say, "Lansdale Leadership Conference South"? Enough said.

The first night was great. No big surprise there. Dever's first message was from 1 Corinthians 4 on the role of the pastor in the ministry of the Word. I'm not going to regurgitate it because Tim Challies has a typically thorough summary—far better than I could begin to do. The guy's just amazing.

One of the best moments in the first night was during Mark Dever's introduction to the conference as a whole in which he describes what we are together for and what we are not together for. Would that we had more thinking like this. Challies recorded Dever's summary this way:
Dever explained that these men are not together on what to wear, on what pulpit to use or on what songs to sing or on what music to play. Mark suggested that if any Sovereign Grace guys are present, they be given access to the aisle seat so they can move around a little bit. They are not together on applause or on "amen's." The Sovereign Grace folk will surely be vocal in letting you know their agreement, Baptists will mumble a polite "amen," whereas Presbyterians believe that silence is consent.
The panel discussion after the message was simply fascinating. The structure of this conference is such that just about every session is followed immediately by a conversation between Dever, Mohler, Duncan, and Mahaney, and also sometimes including MacArthur, Piper, or Sproul. This first discussion focused on each man's explanation of his role in ministry and the relationship of that ministry to the local church. I hope to summarize and post some of the salient quotes tomorrow. We'll see. The schedule is crazy.

For the time being, I'll simply say that I cannot comprehend how anyone could not be grateful to God for gifting these men in such a way that they provide leadership not only to their own churches, but also to thousands of others. I'm still getting introduced to Duncan and working to grasp the distinct flavor of his ministry, but the other three have had tremendous impact on me. Mohler became the president of SBTS at the age of 33 when it was in need of a complete overhaul and rebuilding. That battle for the faith has been well-documented.

Dever, having finished his PhD at Cambridge and been presented with attractive and prestigious academic offers, accepted the pastorate of a dying church in what was then a dangerous neighborhood, committing himself even in the very early years to be there permanently. Mahaney's spirit convicts me every time I hear him speak. God took him from being an LSD addict to a big-time Jesus movement conference speaker to realizing from reading his Bible that God's plan is the local church, not conferences. So of course he planted a church that has directly or indirectly given birth to a hundred more.

One more thing. I have been in places with groups of people with whom I have had more “in common.” I have never been in a place with a group of people that is most passionate about the same things I am most passionate about. Better yet, most of them are far more passionate than I am about things I know I need to be more passionate about. Singing "In Christ Alone" with all 3,000+ of them stirred my heart to thoughts of what heaven might be like.

P.S. Wishing you were here. All the other fundamentalists are.

8 comments:

Keith said...

"I have never been in a place with a group of people that is most passionate about the same things I am most passionate about. Better yet, most of them are far more passionate than I am about things I know I need to be more passionate about."

Just one example of the irrelevance of fundamentalism. With statements like these, I can't figure out why you guys feel the need to hang on to the fundamentalist name and sub-culture.

Glad you're enjoying the conference. Wish I could be there. You've gotta learn more about Duncan he's the most solid of the bunch because, you know, Presbyterianism is Biblical Christianity.

Robert C said...

I have never been in a place with a group of people that is most passionate about the same things I am most passionate about. Better yet, most of them are far more passionate than I am about things I know I need to be more passionate about.

So why are you still one of "them"...

Brandon said...

Ben,

Yes. True. I wish I were there. I can't wait to hear reports from the upcoming days.

Ben said...

Keith wrote:
"With statements like these, I can't figure out why you guys feel the need to hang on to the fundamentalist name and sub-culture."

Seems kind of ironic that you would say something like this when you believe so firmly in the obligation to redeem culture.

Keith said...

Culture, not politico-eclesiastical subcultural movements (smiley)

Redeem culture by euthanizing fundamentalism again (smiley)

My question remains -- why not just become one of the T4G crowd and abandon fundamentalism?

Keith said...

P.S.

I think Duncan, at least, would agree with my stance on redeeming culture.

Ben said...

Keith wrote:
"My question remains -- why not just become one of the T4G crowd and abandon fundamentalism?"

Why does this need to be an either-or? I think I pretty much already am in the T4G crowd, if there is such a thing, and I haven't abandoned fundamentalism. I'm a both-and kind of guy.

By the way, I don't think the dozens of other fundamentalists who were at T4G have abandoned fundamentalism either.

Keith said...

I'm not being clear. Let me try asking this one more time, then I'll shut up.

What is gained by the name/idea/movement of fundamentalism? Of course you can try to be a part of as many movements and conferences as you want. But what is gained from fundamentalism that doesn't exist, in better form, outside of movement fundamentalism?

As to whether you and the other fundies at T4G haven't abandoned fundamentalism, I guess that depends on the attitude of your attendance and your definition of fundamentalism.

Will any fundy leaders openly admit to attending and offer praise -- without a laundry list making clear where they have grave concerns?

In the past, the fundy leaders wouldn't allow one to remain a fundy in good standing AND have anything to do with Macarthur, the SBC, the PCA, or the charismatics. THEY wouldn't allow both-and.

Maybe they will now, but if so, what's the point of fundamentalism?