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NLC in Lansdale, PA 2008 #1

Someone asked me today if I was going to live-blog the conference.

No. Not that disciplined and not that sure anyone would want to read my impressions anyway. A few of my readers may find my impressions interesting and useful. The nice thing about a blog is that one doesn’t have to worry about a constituency. If you don’t like my opinion, go somewhere else. I don’t even check the numbers to see if I’m getting hits or not!

I must say honestly that I struggle with prejudice whenever I go to a fundamentalist conference. I tossed this back and forth in my mind and decided to come because Jess was coming. So any critique I might have should be suspect. I’m going to look for a big bang for my buck.

C.S. Lewis said that we are often most passionate in our distaste for what once captivated us. This is what makes a former-anything an unreliable critic. I don’t consider myself a former fundamentalist (I think I am fundamentalist), but I do consider myself a former whatever some people are here. I emphasize “some.” There are many like-minded here.

Kevin Bauder preached an excellent exposition of 2 Corinthians 3 entitled “The Glory of the Holy Spirit.” He essentially decimated standardism as has been brow-beaten into the psyche of many fundamentalists. “If you want to make a miserable, stunted congregation engage in hard preaching,” he said. He wasn’t talking about biblical exposition. He was talking about screaming at people to do things like tithe, to abhor pants on women, and to obey man-made rules. “Even the laws that God made couldn’t make people holy. Do you think that we can make up laws that will make people holy?” And later: “When we preach nothing but rules we are withholding Christ from people.”

He did issue a caveat: To say that we don’t make standards a rule of life does not justify adopting a critical spirit toward standards. The Ten Commandments, after all, are still relevant. But the bottom line is a message that many fundamentalists my age wanted to hear fifteen years ago: “You must make the Holy Spirit the rule of life.” Not standards.

Excellent. Perhaps the most moving part for me was Bauder’s explanation that this kind of preaching encouraged transparency in the preacher. “If the Spirit is changing us we can afford to be transparent.”

The relevance of this message is obvious to fundamentalists who grew up under the pulpit-pounding, chest-beating rule-mongering of legalistic preachers who secreted themselves, not physically but relationally, away from the common joe who actually tried to live by the standards that were promoted either directly or indirectly by the minister and his band of fellow separatists. Preaching grace and making the Holy Spirit the rule of life means that you have the freedom to be yourself.

It is the Holy Spirit that unites me to many here. While I do no share the same angst of soul that one brother I overheard is dealing with because so many churches have gone to using power point, I do share a yearning to please our One Lord. In fact, sometimes I miss the angst. At least I never want to lose the yearning.

But another part of me says, “O, good grief!”

I’m wired to analyze, and I’m just itching to give my analysis of some of the workshops and so forth. I would like to critique without sacrificing my very real sense of appreciation for the men, the speakers, and the conference. I hope that any analysis is not demeaning or perceived as such. I look around and I see brothers, but (or, therefore) I think that thoughts ought to be analyzed for the sake of better thinking, and if I am ever going to have a long-term relationship with this group of fundamentalists I hope that my kind can say a word or two. Even if it is only by blog.

The workshops will be available on MP3. You ought to order them. I would like to interact with them if God allows.

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6 Responses

  1. Thanks for the a sampling of good quotes from Dr. Bauder’s session. I would have liked to go, but I am currently taking language school classes in south Texas. My dad is at the conference. Do you remember him from those days in Fairmont, MN?

    I enjoy reading your blog and your thoughts on ministry.

    Press On Hermano!

  2. Hey Bob, will be reading your play-by-play with great expectations. You should have come to SGI instead, though, brother!

  3. I’m going to look for a big bang for my buck.

    Bob,

    What kind of a “bang” do you have in mind? Quality of preaching, or more the “amenities”… I’m curious as to what you mean here.

  4. David,

    I did see your dad. It was good to catch up with him.

    Pearson,

    I thought I was too old for SGI.

    Greg,

    The “bang” I’m interested in is quality preaching and workshops. So far, except for one workshop it has been fantastic.

  5. “The “bang” I’m interested in is quality preaching and workshops. So far, except for one workshop it has been fantastic”

    That reminds me of this blog. Except for this one (unnamed) person who makes odd, weird comments, this is a pretty good blog.

  6. Hey Bob,
    You are never to old to come to SGI. We are perpetual students of missions anyhow.

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