I was very encouraged by this year's convention. Here are a few of the reasons.
Alan Cross, senior pastor of Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and his articulate labors to publicize and encourage Dave's nomination and approval.
2. The Founders Breakfast was a huge success. The room was full of young men and various leaders. Tom Ascol said he could have sold another 50 tickets at the last minute, except for the fact that the hotel required him to close registration days before the event. Dr. Tom Nettles, professor of church history at SBTS, spoke at the breakfast. He did a wonderful job relating the history of the Baptists and concluded by reflecting on the current debate over Calvinism, outlining some of the practical and theological issues at stake. He convincingly showed that there is good historical reason to hope for the future of Southern Baptists! Also, during the convention, Founders Ministries released two new books. The first, Whomever He Wills: A Surprising Display of God's Sovereign Mercy, edited by Matthew Barrett and Tom Nettles (which includes a chapter I wrote) is a response to the critique of Calvinism in Whosoever Wills, edited by David Allen and Steve Lemke. The second book, Traditional Theology and the SBC by Tom Ascol, is an ebook response to the recent “Traditionalist” document that opposes Calvinism.
3. The dominating tone at the SBC was one of peace and unity around the gospel and the Baptist Faith and Message for the sake of missions. Danny Akin's SEBTS report set the right tone for discussion of salvation and cooperation. I greatly respect and appreciate Dr. Akin for his leadership and willingness to speak clearly and graciously to this important matter. Resolution 4, On Cooperation and the Doctrine of Salvation, passed unanimously as far as I could see and without anyone speaking against the motion. The resolution affirmed that the Baptist Faith and Message is a “consensus confession” but not a “comprehensive confession,” and that it “provides sufficient parameters for understanding the doctrine of salvation so that Southern Baptists may joyfully and enthusiastically partner together in obedience to the Great Commission.” Amen! Let's now pray that the efforts to silence and/or remove Calvinists from the SBC will cease so we can get on with the cooperative work of missions.
4. The SBC was attended by a large number of young men this year. In previous years, the SBC has been overwhelmingly made up of senior adults, but this year's attendance shows the growing interest of the next generation. That's a very good thing for our future as Southern Baptists. All the young men I encountered were gracious, theologically interested, and committed to missions. Previously in the SBC, most ministerial aspirants sought to pastor well-established Southern Baptist churches. Today, there are serious efforts to preach the gospel, make new disciples, and plant new churches for the advancement of Christ's kingdom. This is encouraging and bodes well for the future.
5. I very much enjoyed attending the B21 panel discussion moderated by Jonathan Akin among Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Fred Luter, JD Greer, David Platt, and Danny Akin. There was good and forthright discussion about important matters. I also enjoyed attending the SBTS Luncheon and sitting with a group of men training at the SBTS extension at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, AL. I was encouraged by their earnestness and sincerity in the gospel. Dr. Mohler spoke on improvements to the seminary and alluded briefly to the controversy over Calvinism. He affirmed the historic confession of Southern Seminary, saying "We're up for this," and there is no reason to fear.