We arrived today at 10:35 am EST in Louisville. Went to the hotel, got checked-in, then went to lunch at a sports grill right by the convention center. After that, we perused the book store they had setup (which is quite gigantic, a lot larger than I thought it would be).
In the first session at 2:30 pm, Ligon Duncan spoke on the necessity and inherent inability to avoid the integrating of both systematic and biblical theology into your teaching. As R.C. Sproul has said, and Ligon reemphasized in his sermon, the question is not whether you do or don’t do theology. Everyone does theology. The question is are you doing (and therefore teaching) good theology, or bad theology? Part of this was preaching to the choir in the convention, but still something that needs to be reiterated for sure in a day when people are so ready and willing to abandon any doctrinal or systematic proposition or theological statement. It was one of those “Amen!” sermons that I am so excited I was able to hear in person instead of merely over an mp3. So I’m in no way minimizing the importance of what was said, I just want to move on to what struck me the most today…
In the second session, Thabiti Anyabwile, a speaker who I have not had the opportunity/privilege of listening to until today, gave a really great sermon on the necessity of the church (in particular, though not exclusively) to abandon the idea of biological race as a way of distinguishing people of different ethnic backgrounds. I say not exclusively the church because this needs to be applied within the world in general. However, as it relates to the church, though in the sciences racial biology has been abandoned to a large degree, much of the culture still thinks in these terms. And unfortunately, to a large degree, this thinking has infiltrated the church. We need to be the first ones to reverse it and show the world how the Gospel comes into people from all kinds of different languages, skin colors, nations, backgrounds and unites all of us at such a fundamental, deep spiritual level, that all of the other aforementioned things are secondary in nature.
The Gospel itself is the ultimate diversity-uniter ever devised (by God). When we walk into a room as believers, our automatic default is to gravitate toward people who are like us because, as Thabiti said, we think in (rather fast) terms of “Look, someone like me, therefore safe, therefore I will find joy there,” when the Gospel itself calls us to look deeper into the bonds we have with other believers of different ethnic diversities and cultural backgrounds (in particular) and say instead, “A son of Adam, like me; a person created in the image of God, like me; a sinner, like me; a person ransomed by the blood of Christ, like me; therefore I can find solidarity in Christ; therefore there is safety, therefore there is joy being united to the Savior!” (Paraphrase) Some very awesome, profound things were said.
Then the question was raised afterward during the panel discussion by C.J. Mahaney and Mark Dever, how do we practically go about fundamentally changing the way we think so that we can do this very thing? And I thought Thabiti answered honestly: it’s simply going to take consistency and time and training ourselves to think and act in this manner (my paraphrase). In a nutshell: it’s going to be a long process to reverse ingrained cultural divisions that exist within the church. In addition it is going to take time to change other people’s wrong understanding of racial biology they have been taught.
If you want a more in-depth analysis and real-time blogging of what is going on at the conference, visit Tim Challies site @ www.challies.com .
More to come …