Wow, what a day! What a joy to be together with brothers and sisters who love the Lord and are passionate about the gospel!
The day began with awaking from a good night’s sleep (thankfully) at 7 am. Our room was filled with blinding sunshine and my body clock was wondering what in the world was going on (why all this sun at 4 in the morning!). But I adapted, awoke, and got ready for the day.
We set out to hunt for a place for breakfast, but somehow ended up at the convention center where the conference is held. Since we were there, we decided to go through registration and get our ID badges and conference info. However, by the time we were done with this it was 10 am and we still hadn’t had breakfast. After a brisk walk down a block and over a block we solved that dilema as we found a great little cafeteria style place to eat.
After breakfast, I headed back to the hotel for some time to read and then went for lunch (at 11:30- I wasn’t even hungry!) at the Band of Bloggers meeting. What a great event! Over 100 Christian bloggers gathered to talk about Blogging and the Gospel, focusing on how to make our blogs Gospel saturated.
The time centered primarily around a Q & A time with some big names in the blogosphere: Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs, Tim Challies, Abraham Piper of DG blog, and Thabiti Anyabwile of purechurch. The hour plus was very insightful (I’ll post some of my thoughts on the Q & A time later) and we were not only blessed with lunch, but we were given 8 free books! (I’ve got a lot of reading to do!)
After lunch, it was time to head back to the convention center for the first session. Ligon Duncan spoke and it was outstanding! He addressed the issue of teaching doctrine and primarily centered in on the idea of the importance of systematic theology in the church (especially in preaching).
Dr. Duncan began by showing the importance of doctrine, citing such texts as John 17:13-17; Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Timothy 1:3-14, 6:2-4; Titus 1:1. A couple of highlights here were, first, the idea he gleaned from John 17:13 that “truth is for joy, doctrine is for delight.” To keep people from doctrine is to remove for them a source of joy. Doctrine, rightly understood, should be something we pursue for joy not something people avoid because it will hinder their life and keep them from delight. Second, Dr. Duncan pointed out that Jesus, in the great commission (Matthew 28), tells the disciples to teach “them to observe all that I commanded you.” This means that there is more to teach the followers of Christ than just the four spiritual laws! We have been entrusted with a body of truth that is to be communicated and then lived out.
This was only the beginning of Dr. Duncan’s address as he then went on to demonstrate the disdain which our modern culture has for theology (especially dogmatic theology), to reaffirm that the practice of systematics is biblical, and then concluded the message by showing the practical implications of doctrine for our lives.
And then things got really interesting! After each of the main session messages, the leaders of the conference (C. J. Mahaney, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and Mark Dever) have a panel discussion where they talk through the message and the thoughts or questions it raised. What a rich time that was! It went on for another 30 to 40 minutes!
It was fun to watch these men relate to one another; to joke with one another, to engage one another in theological discussion and to watch them sincerely ask one another’s opinion and help in working through the issue raised by the message. It was a reminder of how we should be gracious and fellowship with one another in dialogue about these things- never compromising the truth but discussing the truth with grace and humility.
Well, that was only half the day but it is after midnight here and I should probably get to bed. Another full and rich day tomorrow!
Amy, Anna, Rylie- I miss you very much! See you in a few short days!!!