A Seminary Student’s Thoughts on the John 3:16 Conference-Update

Update: Todd Burus shares a great letter written prior to the conference.
Read it:
Calvinism in the SBC- An Open Letter to Johnny Hunt and Jerry Vines

One of the people I was at the John 3:16 Conference with is a seminary student working towards an M.Div.  He attends an SBC seminary and was asked to give his thoughts on the conference for one of his classes.  He’s allowed me to post his brief thoughts below.

Note: Thanks to Peter for influencing me to make this clarification.  The paragraphs below are a brief overview of my friend’s initial thoughts that he shared with his class.  One of his assignments is to write a reflections paper and this is definitely not that.

Overall, I think the conference was a bad idea. I say this not only as a 5-point Calvinist, but as someone who tries to see the bigger picture. This conference was about tearing down a view that some disagreed with. It also seemed to be a lightning rod to audience members, who are hostile to reformed theology. This was demonstrated by the man who is the author of “Christianity vs the God of Calvin” and the man who said the Lord gave him a divine revelation that He has nothing to do with Calvinism.

While neither of those views were expressed by the speakers, it shows the hostility that the conference drew. I also spoke to someone at the breakfast who openly claimed to be Semi-Pelagian. It was shortly after that I broke fellowship and left the table. Since we have to turn in papers that address the speakers, I will not do that here. However I do want to say that of all the presenters, Paige Patterson was who I considered to be the best, and David Allen to be the worst, and Richard Land to not really address the issue at all.

I do however appreciate Dr. Allen’s response to the young man who claimed to have had a divine revelation, and that the convention would not take a stance against Calvinism because it was against autonomy as well as not in the best interest of the convention.

If anything, this conference has helped to stabilize my views of reformed theology, because the arguments were not coherent nor were they drawn from a systemic view of scripture, and the arguments were poorly made.

On a side note, I also think it speaks volumes that the conference costs $50 for audio and $70 for Video while Together 4 the Gospel, Desiring God, IX Marks and other Reformed outlets make their audio available for free. It almost appears that the reason behind the conference is not because Reformed Theology is destroying the convention, but that it is destroying the revenue generated during revivals.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Les Puryear November 13, 2008 at 10:33 am

Seminary student said, “On a side note, I also think it speaks volumes that the conference costs $50 for audio and $70 for Video while Together 4 the Gospel, Desiring God, IX Marks and other Reformed outlets make their audio available for free.”

Why give away something when a buck can be made on it? That’s the SBC way, don’t ya know. 🙂

2 Steve November 13, 2008 at 10:53 am

It’s all about nickels and noses in the SBC.

3 Greg Alford November 13, 2008 at 12:19 pm

JohnMark,

This is perhaps the best post I have read so far concerning the very divisive and discouraging event hosted by the President of the SBC…

Has anyone even questioned Dr. Hunt on the appropriateness of the President of the SBC hosting an event where the beliefs of “more than a few” Southern Baptist are so openly attacked?

I wonder how many Calvinist believe Dr. Hunt now when he speaks of “Unity in Diversity”? And before anyone comes back and says that I can’t hold Dr. Hunt responsible for everything that was said at this conference, let me say that “Yes I can”… Dr. Hunt is responsible for every single word that proceeds from “His Pulpit”.

Anyway JohnMark, thanks for putting up this post… I copied the title and put a post up on my blog linking to this one so the small handful of people who read my blog can be sure to come here and read this article. I also added you to my blog role… 🙂

Grace Always,

4 Todd Burus November 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Greg,
Though I guess I am a nobody in SBC life, I actually did do as you have wondered and questioned both Dr. Hunt and Dr. Vines about this issue in a letter I sent to them several weeks ago. I have as of yet not received any response from these men (that is not a shot at them, I’m sure they are busy), but if you are interested you can read the full text of the letter on my blog. Just search “Calvinism in the SBC- An Open Letter to Johnny Hunt and Jerry Vines.”

As with others, I think this above student has keen insight into what’s going on. Thanks for the post.

5 johnMark November 13, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Greg,

Thanks for the encouragement and the linking. I may have to return the linking favor.

Todd,

I have updated the post and added your open letter.

Mark

6 Todd Burus November 14, 2008 at 9:20 am

Mark,
Greg,
I just wanted to let you know that I woke up this morning to find that my blog had been deactivated because of copyright infringement, one would assume over the conference audio files. As you may have noticed I had already moved to take down these files and so this is a little irritating to me. I am disappointed that the powers that be behind the John 3.16 Conference would move to do such a thing without even having the integrity to contact me first. Please spread the word about this as you see fit. Thanks.

7 Todd Burus November 14, 2008 at 10:06 am

All,
It appears that I have regained my site, but I was right that it had come from someone accusing me of direct linking to the product being sold by Jerry Vines Ministries at $50 a piece. It’s unfortunate that personal gain and fear of accountability has taken us away from reaching out to contact our brothers before going to the authorities, which is the essence of 1 Corinthians 6.

8 johnMark November 14, 2008 at 10:34 am

Todd,

So were you guilty of copyright infringement? How is this resolved? Do you know who complained?

Mark

9 Todd Burus November 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

Mark,
The people at Wordpress, upon reviewing what was claimed and what was posted on the site, have told me that I am allowed to post the audio files. I am currently seeking counsel and peace upon whether I should do this or not, since it has caused so much derision already. I do not know who complained.

10 ABClay November 16, 2008 at 4:13 am

It almost appears that the reason behind the conference is not because Reformed Theology is destroying the convention, but that it is destroying the revenue generated during revivals.

Almost??? To a traveling “revivalist”, churches relying on the Gospel and the power of God to save people can make a honest man out of you. I don’t have any complaints about the price of the audio though. It keeps my “vineslines” subscription rate low.

On a side note, I just don’t get the respect that is given to certain pompous blowhards in the blog world who just can’t get over themselves.

For me, just give me Maxwell House or Folgers (no more than a dollar please).:-)

ABCLay

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