Said At Southern Day

Our new blog had a major "launch party" today to celebrate our stable design theme.

Said At Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Posted By Tony Kummer

Said At - Is now open

ON the third try I think I've found a design that I can work with and build upon at the new site. Stop by and let me know what you think. All new content will be appearing at Said At

Said At Southern - Take Two

Day 2 - design #2

I've reworked the site based on feedback. It is much cleaner. The only big drawback is a two column theme. What do you think?

Moving To Wordpress

For the last month we've been plotting our move to WordPress and the domain.

Now that finals are over, we're ready to make that happen.

This new design will allow many improvements to our site. If you have comments or suggestions please leave them at the new site on any post.

Please update your bookmarks and blogrolls.

Our feedburner feed has been updated and will point you to the right place.

"Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth"

"Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth" is an attention-getting title.

It is also the name of a conference to be held at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC in late October. The conference is co-sponsored by 9Marks Ministries and Matthias Media. Speakers at the event include Tony Payne, Phillip Jensen, and Mark Dever. From a cursory glance at the schedule, the conference looks to be thought-provoking. Confusion reigns in the current day over the appropriateness of church growth. This conference should stimulate much thought and discussion.

Early-bird registration clocks in at 80 bucks. Seminarians will want to jump on this price, as the conference should fill up quickly. Having been a member of CHBC, I know firsthand that the church building does not hold a great deal of room. As the profile of 9Marks grows, events like this only attract more and more attention and hopefully, more faithful growth of the church.

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- posted by Owen Strachan

Timmy Live At The True Church Conference

Said At Southern editor Timmy Brister is live blogging the "True Church Conference" at First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The theme of the conference is "The Miracle of Conversion." He shared a preview of the conference here. The conference is now underway.
Normally I post a weekly "best of Said At Southern." This weekend I urge you to read all the posts from True Church. In place of our weekend post I'll link each of his posts here as they appear:

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Comments are open. Be sure to review our User Expectations.

- posted by Tony Kummer

Do You Teach The Sabbath?

Pulpit Magazine (John MacArthur's people) posted an article this morning arguing that Christians are not bound to keep a Sabbath. They wrote:

We believe the Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances are ceremonial, not moral, aspects of the law. As such, they are no longer in force, but have passed away along with the sacrificial system, the Levitical priesthood, and all other aspects of Moses’ law that prefigured Christ.
A few months back Timmy Brister posted several articles on this topic. He presented the historic Baptist position that believers are still bound by the fourth commandment. In his corner were Joel Beeke, Jonathan Edwards and J. L. Dagg. He quoted Dagg:
As the whole decalogue binds us, so does this commandment. No man has a right to separate it from the rest, and claim exemption from its obligation. Christians, therefore, must observe the sabbath; and, as a day which God has hallowed, it is specially appropriate for the public worship of God (ibid.).
So what do you practice? What do you teach you church? Is the Sabbath a moral or ceremonial law?

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- posted by Tony Kummer

Dr. Mohler Speaks - Everyone Listens

On Wednesday, Dr. Molher held an open forum to discuss the state of Southern Seminary.

Leading up to this even many people were wondering what was going to be said. There was no lack of speculation. I vainly imagined it was a press conference to promote Said At Southern. I kept wondering why someone from the administration hadn't called. But no news can be good news.

It turns out that Dr. Mohler was going public with the most recent update he had given at the Spring Seminary Trustee meeting. Once again Dr. Mohler has demonstrated his leadership quality. He understands the importance of sharing the vision of SBTS in a very public way. I was encouraged by the reports. God is doing something remarkable at our Seminary and I am thankful to be a student.

Will has posted a summary of Dr. Mohler's comments.

Timmy traced Dr. Mohler's vision back to James Boyce and forward into a future where every Southern Baptist Churches is a mini-SBTS. The comments on Timmy's blog are very active so be sure to share your thought there as well.

Here are some more numbers from the presentation:

  • 1 out of every 4 seminary students in the SBC are studying through Southern
  • Of the 4,156 students at SBTS - there are 1,589 in the School of Theology, 890 in the Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Mission and Church Growth, and 1,108 in Boyce College (there are other schools as well).
  • The tuition at other theological institutions (Fuller, RTS, Trinity, etc) is at least 3x more than Southerns.
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- posted by Tony Kummer

Little People In Little Places: The Average Size Of SBC Churches

There has been some talk recently about the average size of Southern Baptist Churches. Some have said that we are a large convention of mostly small churches. Others noted that by total membership most Southern Baptists belong to larger churches.

So who's right? And does it even matter? Les Puryear has been posting on these issues. I've turned his numbers into these charts so we can ask the same questions.

Distribution of churches according to church size the SBC is comprised as follows:
1-99 members = 7,744 churches (21%)
100-199 members = 8,461 churches (23%)
200-299 members = 5,899 churches (16%)
300-499 members = 6,493 churches (18%)
500-749 members = 3,566 churches (10%)
750-999 members = 1,716 churches (4%)
1,000-1,999 members = 2,191 churches (6%)
2,000+ members = 835 churches (2%)

However, if we look at the distribution of churches according to the number of people within each church size range the SBC is comprised as follows:

1-99 members = 7,744 churches = 387,200 people (2.29%)
100-199 members = 8,461 churches = 1,269,150 people(7.50%)
200-299 members = 5,899 churches = 1,474,750 people (8.72%)
300-499 members = 6,493 churches = 2,597,200 people (15.35%)
500-749 members = 3,566 churches = 2,228,750 people (13.17%)
750-999 members = 1,716 churches = 1,501,500 people (8.87%)
1,000-1,999 members = 2,191 churches = 3,286,500 people (19.42%)
2,000+ members = 835 churches = 4,175,000 people (24.67%)

What do you think of all this? Is the gap between small and big churches a problem? Should our convention be run by churches or membership?

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Comments are open. Be sure to review our User Expectations.

- posted by Tony Kummer

Semester Retrospective Spring 2007 - Your Opinion Needed

We're all frantic about finishing the papers and preparing for finals. Here's your chance to slow down and reflect on what God has been doing this semester in your life.

Said at Southern is taking open nomination for our first ever “Semester Retrospective." Please leave your nominations in the comments. Multiple nominations are ok. We'll need everyone's help to get a decent run of comments on this - I'm even granting a temporary indulgence of the weird blogger word verification, so comments will be easier!

  1. Professor: Who was your favorite professor this semester? Only nominate professors you actually had this Semester.

  2. Chapel: What was your favorite SBTS chapel message this semester?

  3. Buzz: What created the loudest buzz this semester? This can be a theological topic or an event.

  4. Epiphany: What was your biggest “ah-ha” moment this semester? Did you learn something that will change your life or impact forever change your ministry?

  5. Classes: What was your most demanding & least demanding classes this semester?

  6. Books: What was your favorite book(s) you read this semester?

  7. In Sum: How would you characterize this semester for future students. Complete the sentence, “That was the semester that _____________________________.” I’m looking for campus wide significance here.
Don't miss the results - you can subscribe to our feed or get Said At Southern updates via email.

Comments are open. But first be sure to review our User Expectations.

- posted by Tony Kummer

T4G Registration Opening Tuesday, May 1st

Mark Dever wrote:

We have moved the event a few blocks down in order to double the number of people we can accommodate. A word to the wise, register soon AND book your hotel rooms or make other arrangements to stay soon. . . The conference otherwise should be very similar to last time--bare but packed schedule, larger book store, heartfelt singing, lots of speaking and panel discussions, no break out sessions.

One new thing--Thabiti Anyabwile agreeing to speak.
Read Dever's whole letter here.
- posted by Tony Kummer

Power In Pulpit Now Free Online

Steve Weaver (SBTS alumni) has pointed out that the latest Power In The Pulpit conference is now available. Free downloads - thank you Dr. Mohler, Dr. Shaddix, Dr. York.

Steve writes:

The audio from this year’s “Power in the Pulpit” conference held at SBTS is now available online for MP3 download. I attended this conference along with three preachers from our church and we were all greatly blessed. Each session is excellent. Preachers, download and listen to them all!

The audio of conferences from previous years can be obtained by clicking here.

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- posted by Tony Kummer

SBTS Alumni named as New President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College

The KBC is reporting that Donnie Fox has been elected as the new president of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky. According to the story, "He also holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville."

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- posted by Tony Kummer

7 Posts For the Weekend

Here are my top seven posts from 4/20/2007 - 4/26/2007. If I've missed your favorite post - just let me know in the comments. These are in no particular order. You can see all my "Well Said . . . " picks here.

  1. "Laden With the Power to Devalue Human Life" -- The... from Albert Mohler's Blog. Dr. Mohler addresses the Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortion.
  2. An Open Letter to Morris Chapman on Biblical Eldership
    from Provocations & Pantings. Another well written 'provocation' by Timmy reminds us of the historic baptist understanding of elders.
  3. MUSIC AND THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD In the modern e... from Ron's Blog. How does the music ministry of your church relate to God's Word? Here is an important issue that is often a casualty of the worship wars.
  4. The Authority of the King: Jesus and Divorce (Exposition... from Pastor Steve Weaver's Blog. Steve's sermon is a great example of how SBTS alumni don't shrink from unpopular texts when preaching.
  5. Reading Books Instead of Blogs from consumed. Owen reminds us we give us when we read too many blogs.
  6. Mockingbird: The Postlogue from Off The Wire. Matt finishes his Derek Webb review. If you're interested in doing cultural analysis on music check out his whole series on Mockingbird.
  7. “Should the Water Divide Us? Baptism, Church Membership, and the Glory of Christ” notes on a lecture by Dr. Greg Wills,... from Strange BaptistFire. Andrew provided another excellent live blog from Southern Seminary.
Thanks for your links to Said At Southern:

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Comments are open. Be sure to review our User Expectations.

- posted by Tony Kummer

Said At Southern User Expectations

The Said At Southern team has written this list of expectations to define how our blog works.

You can think of this as a user agreement or blogger covenant. Either way - we want to clarify how our blog works, who gets linked, how we moderate comments and how you can participate in this project.

Said At Southern User Expectations

  1. We insist that all participants maintain their personal blogs in a way that honors Christ. We want to only write in a way that is appropriate for Christian witnesses. "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29 ESV
  2. We insist that all participants clearly identify their real name on comments and on their personal blogs. We want you to avoid anonymous opinions. We do not encourage bloggers to have an autonomous virtual identity. For example I use "Tony Kummer" or "T. Kummer." It is not acceptable to use initials only or an assumed nickname "Super Seminary Smarty" unless your blogger profile or personal blog clearly states your real identity.
  3. We insist that all participants be willing to receive and give correction when these expectations are not met. As believers in Christ we are responsible to confront one anther when our blogs do not honor Christ.
  4. We insist that all participants avoid useless conversations. There are many topics and opinions that are out of bounds for Christians. “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:23 ESV
  5. We invite all participants to fully support and contribute to Said at Southern. We have structured our blog to allow multiple levels of participation
    • Open Comments: We encourage humble, relevant and thoughtful comments by anyone who reads this blog. This extends beyond the SBTS blogging community. We want to interact with readers from diverse backgrounds.
    • Linked Bloggers: This is the entry level of participation. These blogs get linked from the aggregator boxes. We request that all linked bloggers reciprocate by linking us on their blogs.
    • Contributing Bloggers: In addition to linking Said At Southern, these bloggers contribute via comments and backlinked posts. On our sidebar we will display the last several posts from our contributing bloggers. They are invited to submit guest posts for Said At Southern.
    • Featured Bloggers: At its core Said At Southern is an echo-chamber for what SBTS bloggers are saying. On our sidebar we will display the last several posts from our featured bloggers. Our design is to give better exposure to better content. This group of students, faculty and alumni are increasingly important voices in the blogosphere. Inclusion in the "Featured Bloggers" category is by the discretion of the Said At Southern team.
If you have suggestions on how we can improve these expectations please contribute them to the comment section.

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Comments are open.
- posted by Tony Kummer

The Blog in Our Eyes

Nathan Busenitz over at the Pulpit Live blog as started a series entitled "The Blog in Our Eyes" in which he addresses how Christians should approach blogging. I found this appropriate to highlight which is also consonant with what Tony had posted earlier. Let's pray that our blogs and our lives reflect the character of God, edify one another, and ultimately brings glory to Jesus, by whom and for whom are all things.

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Comments are open.

- posted by Timmy Brister, April 25, 2007

Watch 2008 T4G Video

In case you haven't seen it, the guys behind Together for the Gospel who recently were on campus have provided an hour long video (!) of a recent conversation about their reflections on the '06 conference and the messages in particular. To watch the video, click here.

By the way, any of you planning on going to the 2008 Conference? Registration is suppose to open soon . . .

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Comments are open.

- posted by Timmy Brister, April 24, 2007

Is Tom Nettles Leaving Southern?

Tom Ascol is reporting on the Founder's Ministry blog that SBTS professor Tom Nettles may be moving to Florida to serve as his associate pastor. He writes:

Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky will visit Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral on May 4-6 in view of a call to become the Associate Pastor. While this news may come as a shock to many people, those who know Tom well will not be surprised. He represents what is best in our seminaries and has consistently carried out his classroom responsibilities with a sense that he is a servant of the local church.
For anyone who has not had Dr. Nettles for a class - this will be hard news. You can read the full story at the Founder's blog.

Here is Dr. Nettles bio from the Seminary website:

Thomas Nettles - Professor of Historical Theology


  • B.A., Mississippi College
  • M.Div., Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Bio: Dr. Nettles is widely regarded as one of the foremost Baptist historians in America. He came to Southern Seminary from the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he was Professor of Church History and Chair of the Department of Church History. He previously taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Along with numerous journal articles and scholarly papers, Dr. Nettles is the author or editor of nine books. Among his books are By His Grace and For His Glory and Baptists and the Bible, the highly influential volume which he co-authored with Dr. Russ Bush; and Why I Am a Baptist, co-edited with Russell D. Moore.

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- posted by Tony Kummer, April 23, 2007

Letting a Gift Be a Gift: Seminarians and Pregnancy

This blog touches on a topic that is quite relevant to a seminary community stuffed full of young married couples possessing a robust theology of the family. It is important that we possess such theology, for we live in an anti-child age, in which couples forestall marriage, swear off pregnancy, and ultimately produce far fewer children than in generations past. This is a troubling change, and it is right that we deliver the Word to those who will not deliver from the womb.

But I wonder whether we young folks who are able to make a theoretical case for marriage sometimes falter in putting such a case into practice. In the busyness of seminary life, and the assumption of financial debt that often comes with marriage, and the various and weighty pressures incumbent upon young couples (church, school, work), I wonder if our approach toward children slowly, quietly shifts such that children become a weight rather than a gift. The Bible's perspective on this matter could not be clearer: children are a gift (Psalm 127:3). The issue is settled with one solitary sentence. Children are always a gift. They are a gift whether you've been married for a week, a month, a year, or ten years. They are a gift whether you're indebted, doing fine, doing swimmingly, or nothing's doing. They are a gift whether you expected them, planned them, adopted them, or had no idea they were coming. In all situations, and to all couples, the Bible's word is this: "the fruit of the womb is a reward" (Ps. 127:3). We should thus receive every child as a miraculous present, one whose blessings take a lifetime to fully appear.

With my point clearly stated, I should point out a few things I'm expressly not saying. I'm not advocating the Catholic view that every marital act must potentially produce children; I'm not saying that certain forms of birth control are not acceptable; I'm not saying that couples should not make tentative plans regarding children. I'm also not saying that unplanned pregnancies are not challenging and do not necessitate some time for adjustment. I am saying, however, that the Bible's simple but unmistakably clear word on children should stamp our familial theology and direct our attitude toward children--whenever (and, importantly, if) God chooses to give them to us. When all is said and done, we future pastors will display love for the Word not simply by preaching it, but by receiving every child the Lord gives us as a living embodiment of His kindness.

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- posted by Owen Strachan, April 23, 2007

Baptism Forum Available Online

The Baptism Forum held this past week at here at Southern is now available to download. I shared my thoughts here and would be interested in discussing this. Said At Southern covered the event here. Be sure to check out Dr. Nettles’ explanation of 1 Peter 3:21. Also, you might want to be looking into a future presentation by Dr. Greg Wills on “Should the Water Divide Us? Baptism, Church Membership, and the Glory of Christ.”

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Comments are open.

- posted by Timmy Brister, April 22, 2007

How Old Are Most Southern Baptist Pastors?

Here is an interesting chart from LifeWay Research showing the average age of Southern Baptist Pastors. I was surprised to see that over half of all SBC senior pastors are 50+.

It seems that the guys being trained now won't be the real majority of senior pastors for several more years.

Do these numbers surprise you?

What significance does this have on the churches?

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Comments are open.

- posted by Tony Kummer, April 21, 2007

Former SBTS Professor Expanding His Leadership

Joe Thorn is reporting that Ed Stetzer (a former SBTS professor) has been selelcted to head a new LifeWay, NAMB And IMB collaborative research effort. Marty Duren at SBC Outpost praises this as a sign that Rainer understands how SBC entities can work together.

Read about it here from LifeWay.

There seems to be a trend of SBTS talent making its way to LifeWay. Thom Rainer, Brad Waggoner, Tom Hellams are all former SBTS guys. This is a good thing for our convention.

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Comments are open.

- posted by Tony Kummer, April 20, 2007

Top 10 Posts For The Weekend - plus 7 extra

What a week. I'm featuring 17 posts with the sincere promise that I will be more discerning next week. But as I reviewed my "Well Said . . ." file I realized this was a special week.

The blogosphere exploded with stories and comments about the Virginia Tech shootings. We're still seeing and feeling the magnitude of this event. I am so pleased that the God-centered bloggers were prepared to give an answer for their hope. I tracked 31 posts dealing with VT. You can browse them with my google reader if you like. Here are the highlights:

Top 5 posts about the VT tragedy

  1. Virginia Tech - Our Home for Six Years from Power of Change

  2. Virginia Tech: A Biblical Response from The Silent Holocron

  3. Therapy or Theology? Responding to the Massacre. from Denny Burk

  4. On Faith -- Facing the Reality of Evil from Albert Mohler's Blog

  5. Living in an Unseen Storm: Christians and the Disturbed from consumed
That news rightly dominated the first half of the week. But Wednesday blogging was returning to normal. Here are a few more posts we linked that deserve your attention. If I've left out your greatest blogging achievement - leave a message in the comments.

12 More Posts For The Weekend
These are in no set order. If we've left out a post that changed your life just leave a comment to that effect.

New backlinks to Said at Southern found at Technorati this week:
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Comments are open. We still need a catchy phrase for our blogspotting.

- posted by Tony Kummer, April 20, 2007

Quite the Contrary: SBTS and a God-centered Ministry

From The Towers:

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has reached an all-time high in enrollment and is continuing to draw scores of ministers desiring to prepare for ministry in the local church, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told trustees at the annual spring meeting Tuesday.

Seminary enrollment this semester grew to more than 4,200 students, Mohler said, the vast majority of whom are preparing to serve as pastors of local Southern Baptist churches. Enrollment has doubled since 1995.

Mohler said the increased enrollment has come by God’s grace because the school has sought to attract students during a time when theological institutions in America are turning out “professional ministers” and not pastor-theologians. Many eminaries are going away from training pastors in the classical theological disciplines and, instead, are preparing them to meet the felt needs of a therapeutic culture, he said.

Read the whole thing. Praise God for what he is doing here at Southern.

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- posted by Timmy Brister, April 19, 2007

Broadus on Jesus

John A. Broadus was one of the most eminent Southern Baptists of the nineteenth century. He was also the first professor of preaching here at Southern as one of the original four founders of this great institution. While doing a little research today, I came across a great piece by Broadus entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" provided by fellow blogger and friend Don Elbourne. Here is how the preface begins:

These lectures were delivered in March, 1890, at the instance of Eugene Levering, Esq., of Baltimore, in the Hall which he has recently erected and given to the Johns Hopkins University, for the use of the Young Men's Christian Association of that institution; and the President of the Y. M. C. A. specially requested their publication. They were not designed as class-room lectures, since many not connected with the University were invited to attend.

The subject treated seems to possess an ever deepening interest at the present time. The personal character of Jesus is now widely perceived to be an important guarantee of his teachings and works. This character is presented by the first lecture in a way that to some may appear lacking in devout warmth; but the object was to gain the concurrence of every person who will calmly survey the historical facts, and thus to lay a foundation for what would follow. It is hoped that the second lecture will tend to rectify certain erroneous but quite prevalent views of the Saviour's teaching; and that the third lecture may be found to have some argumentative force in regard to his mission and claims. The little volume is the fruit of life-time studies, and has been prepared with the author's best exertions, and a great desire to promote "the knowledge of Jesus, the most excellent of the sciences."

J. A. B.

May, 1890.

Check out this hidden treasure from one whose life and legacy should not only be fresh on our minds but also modeled in the lives we live.

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Comments are open.

- posted by Timmy Brister, April 19, 2007

Coordinated Hands of God and Men: Providence in the Reformed Tradition by Dr. Bruce Ware

The final session of Resurence's Spring Conference is now available on line. Here are the notes for Dr. Ware's message, "Coordinated Hands of God and Men: Providence in the Reformed Tradition." You can download the message by clicking here (also download the MP4 and watch here). Also, the Q&A with Dr. Ware can also be downloaded by clicking here.

Now that these messages and outlines are up, do you have any thoughts of Dr. Ware's presentation? Have you given much time in your studies of God's providence? What think ye of compatibilist middle knowledge?

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Comments are open.

- posted by Timmy Brister, April 18, 2007

Baptism: A Panel Discussion – triple live blog from Said At Southern

We're pleased to three angles on the same event by SBTS students. The occasion was Baptism: A Panel Discussion at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. First you will find my notes from the event. Below that you will find Andrew Lindsey's excellent notes on the same panel discussion. These were originally posted on Strange Baptist Fire and he has graciously allowed us to carry them here too. Third, we are displaying several photos taken by Said at Southern's own photo journalist Timmy Brister. Be sure to visit his Flickr page to see his 2,200+ photo portfolio. His photo blogs consistently excellent and this event was no different.

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Live Blogging By Tony Kummer

It is APRIL 18, 2007. Said at Southern is live in HERITAGE HALL at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Today we are covering a panel discussion by Drs. Moore, Nettles, Wellum, and Wills on the topic of Baptism. The Boyce Society is sponsoring this event, audio from previous Boyce Society events is available. The J. P. Boyce society is an official student organization. Here is their description from the SBTS student handbook:

J. P. Boyce Society - Members are committed to the study of Baptist and heritage, and traditional Southern Baptist beliefs. The society is also dedicated to the propagation of the Abstract of Principles, the oldest confession of faith within the Southern Baptist Convention.
The notes below are a summary of the conversation. Very little word-for-word quoting was possible. If you were at the conference and can offer any corrections please leave them in a comment.

9:50 I’ve arrived in Heritage Hall and found a seat in the second row in the far right wing of the seats. To my left is my pastor and to my right is Timmy.

9:59 The 200 chairs set up in heritage hall are completely filled, mostly by students. Several more are filling the back of the room.

10:03 The panelists are taking their seats

10:05 A short word of introduction and a prayer is offered.

10:09 Discussion begins. Dr. Moore is asked about Wayne Grudem’s definition of baptism and the tendency of some evangelical leaders to downplay of essential nature of baptism as a major doctrine.

Dr. Moore responds: We must ask, “What is baptism?” We don’t have the freedom to redefine or baptism. Those who broaden the definition of baptism are disagreeing with many years of church history. We don’t have that freedom. Many churches have treated baptism as a peripheral issue. We don’t teach the necessity, meaning or gravity of baptism. It will take time for churches to correct this via patient teaching.

Dr. Wills is asked how soon after giving evidence of conversion should a person be baptized?

Dr. Wills responds: The scriptures give us the measure of the evidence of conversion. What constitutes credible evidence? 1) Conviction of sin. 2) The person’s testimony that God has forgiven them. The whole congregation is responsible to insist on this evidence. Membership committees and pastoral interviews can be helpful in this matter. But we must not allow any undue delay. The New Testament does not allow for delay.

What about children coming for baptism? We should not insist on any definite age lines. The same credible evidence must be present. Be aware that parents may be pressuring their children. Faithfulness in such cases will take courage. Affirm their desire to follow Christ but put them off until credible evidence. Basil Manly tells gives an illustration of an older man who said, “I can’t speak for Christ but I can die for him.” We don’t want to give children or anyone else a false confidence that they have peace with God when they don’t. In such we would put ourselves and them in great peril.

Dr. Nettles: This question process assumes this person has been under the doctrinal teaching of the church. When the Gospel was preached what did you believe? Knowing the context of the church is helpful.

Dr. Wills: In 18th century churches the whole congregation would often publicly question candidates for baptism.

Moore: There cannot be an institutionalization of this process. Rather the congregation must have an assurance that this person is converted. This may depend on context and the person’s maturity. No arbitrary rules should be set. In the book of Acts it was much easier to assume those who came for baptism were genuine convert because of the context of persecution, the fear of the Lord and the community dynamic.

10:22 Dr. Nettles is asked about 1 Peter 3:21. “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

Dr. Nettles responds: The salvation language of the Bible is used in three ways. 1) Some issues of salvation directly affect the moral nature of man. They are the effectual operation of salvation. 2) Another is the means that change of our perceptions of God. For example passages that say “the Word of God saves you.” Hearing of the Gospel would also fit this category. 3) A final category of language refers to things that symbolize salvation. In teaching us they are positive ceremonies, they are not effectually connected with the change that occurs in our relation ship with God. For example, In Leviticus “the priest shall make an atonement and he shall be forgiven” speaks of a reality that transcends this. This is the way we should take baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The cup is not his blood but such a powerful symbol that it Jesus can say, “this is my blood.” The issue in 1 Peter 3:21 is a pledge of a good conscience toward God. It is given by God as a powerful convincing symbol of our union with God and Christ’s victory over sin.

Dr. Moore is asked if baptism is simply symbolic or is there other benefits?

Dr. Moore responds: Nothing is merely symbolic in that it does not offer spiritual help. Its effect is in speaking truth and pressing on our conscience those things Christ has done. So Baptism operates in the same way that the Word does. It is a continual calling to mind our utter dependence on Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. This is the sanctifying effect of the truth remembered.

There is a connection here with positive church discipline. Baptism is a part of marking out the boundaries of the church. We are proclaiming this person has been united with Christ. Can churches err? Yes, but when the church gathers under the Word it has this authority to proclaim this union with Christ. This is a great benefit to the church, the individual and the world.

10: 34 Dr. Wellum is asked about the relationship between the Old and New covenants.

Dr. Wellum responds: Obviously this is a huge question. Baptism is a test case in how one understands how the whole bible relates together. At the heart of the pedo-baptism view is this strong Covental argument.

It is crucial that we place the covenants in their own context. We need to look at the context then relate each covenant to Christ. For example the structure of the covenant is no longer mediated, we now have a regenerate community, and baptism signifies the reality of a faith unity with Christ. The Abrahamic covenant has a national and physical component. The true seed is Christ. pedo-Baptists are not covenantal enough. They do not preserve the differences in the covenants. If you understand Old Testament it already anticipates what the New Testament presents.

Dr. Nettles: This is the way New Covenant is presented in the New Testament. Circumcision is fulfilled in regeneration. Philippians 3 says we are the true circumcision and spells out all the things that accompany regeneration. This is a direct apostolic statement about how the Old Testament types are fulfillment.

10:44 Dr. Wellum: There are many functions of circumcision in the OT. Much of the significance is the way it anticipates Christ.

10:45 Q&A Time
Q: What are your convictions on women baptizing women, especially in great commission contexts such as the mission field?

Dr. Wills responds: (Nettles brushed brow in relief and all present laugh at his gesture.) The administration of ordnances relates to the teaching offices of the local church. Ordnances express in symbolic form the essential truths of the Gospel. Since the office of elders is restricted to men. It would be a grave disorder for a female non-elder to baptize someone.

Dr. Moore: I agree. Baptism is not my individual’s proclamation, but the authority of the church is expressed in this ordinance. This case is a symptom of a larger problem of not seeing baptism as an ordinance of the church.

Q: Can a person be baptized as a follower of Christ but does not want membership in the local church?

Dr. Nettles responds: This gets to the same issue, is baptism an ordinance of the church? Does it speak to the unity, witness, and interdependent nature of the church?

Q: The Abstract of Principles spells these issues out clearly. How can we move toward this theology in our practice?

Dr. Wills responds: The bigger problem is that we are inviting unsaved people to the Lord’s Table. We have a promiscuous table. We don’t warn anyone that they are not invited. I have to assume these pastors have not read the discussion on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians. We’ve got to cut that out. We need to make it very clear for whom it is prepared, who Jesus has invited, and fully warned those who are not to come.

Q: Is Baptism a prerequisite to the Lord’s Table?

Dr. Moore responds: The Lord’s Table is part of the disciple of the church. This marks out the visible community of the people of God.

Q: Should communion be open to believers of who hold other doctrines about Baptism or eternal security?

Dr. Nettles responds: Much of the church’s purity is depends on what is going on in the church from week to week. If the people don’t understand the evidence of regeneration then they are hardly ready for the positive church discipline that comes from the Lord’s Table. We should ask:
1. Is the Lord’s Supper connected specifically and only to the discipline of a local congregation? Then other Baptists should be excluded because they are not members of our fellowship.
2. Is the Lord’s Supper connected to a disciplined church? Then we can extend our table to those who are in the discipline of another church.

Dr. Moore: We don’t have many disciplined churches. We are living in a day when that has been confused.

Q: What about alien emersion, from a church that teaches the benefits of baptism can be lost?

Dr. Wills responds: The administrator does matter. That informs what that baptism means. It is more than getting wet.

Dr. Nettles: It depends on the witness of the church. For example, if a church practices both pedo and believers baptism then anyone baptized there has not been baptized in a scriptural way. Although I would like all churches to affirm the 2nd London Baptist Confession - I cannot support that all of those doctrines are required of a church.

We should ask, “What is baptism as relates to eternal security? Does this church see baptism as a repeatable act?” The most interesting issue: the whole issue is about whether baptism is a church ordinance at all. Differing views of baptism are not baptism

Dr. Moore: Some say this is Landmarkism? This is not such in a historic sense. But we say that this is what we believe Jesus commands. Quoting Dr. Wills from chapel, “The whole issue of the mode of immersion is as irrelevant as the mode of circumcision.” Any other mode is not Baptism.

Dr. Wills: These are practical maters that pastors can not defer their opinion like eschatology.

Dr. Nettles jokes: Maybe this is the Tribulation? This is the 7-year seminary experience? Is anyone on the 7-year plan?

The event is now concluded and the participants have been dismissed.

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- posted by Tony Kummer, April 18, 2007

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Below that you will find Andrew Lindsey's excellent notes. These were originally posted on Strange Baptist Fire and he has graciously allowed us to carry them here too.

Liveblogging the Baptism Panel Discussion at SBTS

Today I attended a panel discussion concerning baptism here at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The panelists for the discussion were: Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology; Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology; Dr. Stephen Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology; and Dr. Greg Wills, Professor of Church History. The panelists were asked a series of questions by both the moderator and the audience. Below is my summary of the questions and the panelists’ responses. Unless something is in quotation marks, it should not be taken as a direct quote. I’ve tried to give as accurate a representation of the questions and answers as possible given my limited typing speed, but this is, at best, a ‘thumbnail sketch’ of the discussion. Rather than promoting an examination of what each panelist believes concerning the questions, this post is meant to be a discussion starter on these issues for readers of SBF.

(Question concerning Baptist churches allowing members of paedo-baptist communions w/o baptism.)

M: If baptism is immersion, then we have no right to change the Great Commission [go and make disciples, baptizing, etc.]. Baptists need more positive teaching about what baptism is and means.

(Question concerning how quickly a person should be baptized after a profession of faith.)

Wi: The Lord holds the entire congregation accountable in this area. Members must give credible evidence of faith, but baptism should also be administered without undue delay. Scripture gives no age as minimum for baptism, and we still must await credible evidence, realizing different children will have greater understanding at different ages. One thing we don’t want to do is give false peace. There can be no response if there is no understanding of the Gospel. We should not be afraid of questioning a person’s testimony.

M: We should have no artificial time delay, such as a “baptism class” automatically followed by baptism. Some people may need more counseling than such a class before they are baptized, others may give credible evidence before such a class and be ready for baptism before they understand the ordinance as well as they will.

(Question regarding the biblical salvific language associated with baptism.)

N: Baptism symbolizes salvation and is thus intricately connected with what salvation is, but such symbols can be changed, as seen in the OT sacrificial system. These symbols do not directly effectuate salvation as does God’s mercy and His work of regeneration, as we read about in Titus 3. Baptism is a “powerful, convincing symbol of our union with Christ.” Baptism is spoken of as “saving us” in an analogous way to how the animal sacrifices were spoken of as bringing forgiveness.

M: Baptism is part of the discipline of the church, marking off who belongs in the Church, although in an imperfect manner, especially if discipline is done unbiblically.

(Question: How does baptism relate to the New Covenant and the Old Covenant?)

We: Even though the covenant theme is a crucial bridge between the Old and New Testaments, classical [paedo-baptist] covenant theology tends to “flatten out” the covenants, not recognizing the difference between the Old and New Covenants. The nature of the Old Covenant community as mixed between believers and unbelievers should not be carried into the New Covenant community. “My criticism [of paedo-baptist covenant theologians] is that they’re not covenantal enough.”

N: This is the way that the New Covenant’s specifically dealt with in the New Testament. Circumcision, biblically speaking, is fulfilled in regeneration.

We: Circumcision serves multiple functions in the Old Covenant as well. Circumcision points forward specifically to New Covenant realities in such a way that it cannot simply be imported and into the New Covenant and baptism substituted for it.

(Question: What do you think of women baptizing women in regards to the Great Commission- that we should all be making disciples, baptizing, etc.- especially in mission field situations.)

Wi: Baptism is a corollary to the teaching office, symbolizing the word taught, so elders should perform baptism.

M: We should not individualize, to an unbiblical extent, the ordinance of baptism– baptism brings people into the church, so an officer of the church should perform baptisms.

(Question: Can we baptize someone without them becoming a minister of the local church?)

N: Baptism as an ordinance of Christ is meant to achieve unity for the body, not only as a personal expression of the faith.

(Question: What is the relationship between baptism and the Lord’s Supper?)

Wi: Baptism is a prerequisite of the Lord’s Supper.

M: This is the model we find in Acts and is necessary for church discipline. This doesn’t mean that we need policemen at every pew, but the pastor or whoever administers the Lord’s Supper should make this view explicit.

(Question regarding closed vs. close communion- i.e., should only members of the local congregation be encouraged to partake in the Lord’s Supper, or should it be open to members of all congregations of ‘like faith and practice’.)

N: The Lord’s Table must be prefaced by teaching on what the Lord’s Supper means and how it should be conducted. The only question is whether this should be conducted only with members of a local congregation or with other baptized members of disciplined congregations.

M: This is especially an issue where churches accept letters of recommendation just as paperwork, and do not understand the ordinances.

(Question regarding “alien baptism”- i.e., should Baptists accept baptisms performed by other denominations.)

Wi: Historically Baptists have rejected alien baptism.

N: It depends on the witness of the church. What is the church witnessing to in baptism? If it was taken to be equivalent to circumcision it would be invalid, but if it is a testimony to the work of Christ on our behalf it would be valid.

M: It would also depend on whether a congregation believed baptism to be salvific. (Quoting Dr. Wills): The question of mode in baptism is as irrelevant as the mode of circumcision in the Old Covenant.

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Handwriting On The Wall – Do declining Baptisms signal the doom of the SBC?

"We must be honest and realistic – we are not waiting on God, God is waiting on us.” - Bobby WelchThe numbers are in.
Despite the bus tours, prayer meetings and impassioned pleas - our Southern Baptist Churches continued to decline in the all important baptism statistic.

Baptist Press is careful to balance this disappointment with a positive spin. Current SBC president Frank Page reflected positively on the "Everyone Can" initiative. But our former convention president Bobby Welch was pulling no punches. In his own words:
This year's report of a decline in baptisms in the face of an all-out effort by so many sounds the most urgent cry Southern Baptists will ever hear, and it comes from the handwriting that is now on our wall -– and it is this: BACK TO THE FIELDS!
What is causing this decline? I have my own theories but I would like to hear from you. How should we as pastors and future church leaders respond to these trends?

Be sure to read the whole article Handwriting On The Wall by Bobby Welch at Baptist Press. There are several more quotes worthy of discussion. He remains certain that Southern Baptist can turn things around. But he warns us:
“Any and all distractions that take us off this course now are forcing the SBC beyond the point from which there is no return. Someone said to me, "I shudder to think where we would be this year in baptisms if we had not had such an all-out 'sounding of the alarm' as the 'Everyone Can' initiative over the last year did." While that initiative did encourage a lot of people to do their best, it was still only an alarm. There must be a unified acceleration for Great Commission evangelism-discipleship convention-wide. We must be honest and realistic -– we are not waiting on God, God is waiting on us.”
This paragraph is certain to cause some discussion among more theologically oriented Southern Baptists. What do you think? How should we be ‘sounding the alarm’ in our churches?

Comments are open.

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- posted by Tony Kummer, April 17, 2007