when I wish you could have been here

“Here” is the annual meeting of the Western Canada Baptist Fellowship, a group of good men with whom I join in hearty fellowship… but haven’t officially joined the organization! One these days…

The speaker for our conference this year was Mark Minnick, pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, my former homiletics professor and my preaching model for my own ministry.

The meeting was timely in light of recent events and personal correspondence. But I have to say that the meeting was also an especial blessing and encouragement for me in the ministry as well as for all those who attended.

Besides the content of the meetings, I am tremendously encouraged by the presence of so many solid fundamentalist ministries here in Alberta and across Western Canada. I grew up here. I was ordained here. Thirty years ago you could count all of the fundamentalists in Alberta on one hand, practically. Now there is a growing fellowship of increasingly strong churches. The Lord truly is blessing, though the growth is nowhere near as rapid as we would like. But when I compare the 30 year span, the growth is REAL.

Now, why would I wish you could have been here.

One: for pastor Minnick’s two evening messages covering Ephesians. I have never heard a more encouraging set of messages for men in ministries of any size, but especially in the small ministries we have here in Western Canada. What a privilege it is to serve the King, and to bring glory to His name … and to the Father’s name as well.

Hopefully I will be able to post copies of the messages or at least links soon. Stay tuned.

Two: for the open discussion of current issues facing fundamentalism we held this afternoon. Our session ran about two hours, no one was bored (contrary to predictions of some!!) and I think a good deal was accomplished. A few notes [more may follow later]…

I suppose that I should say that these notes are not quotations of anyone, but my notes on what pastor Minnick or others said. No one is accountable for what I post here but me!

Regarding the questions of young men [‘young fundies’ – my term]: “Young guys think their questions are new. They aren’t new. Everyone of us who entered the ministry 20 or 30 years ago asked the same questions.” [This is something I have repeatedly said myself.]

One thing changing now is that there are a small group of conservative evangelicals who:

  • acknowledge our existence
  • are interested in knowing more about us
  • realize that their formerly held stereotypes of us are not accurate
  • are now open to conversation about what makes us tick

The question for today: “How do we relate to them? How are we to lead our younger men?”

These conservative evangelicals are critiquing evangelicalism and are moving in a different direction than formerly … towards a more fundamentalist approach. Ironically, some fundamentalists are moving away from fundamentalism and meeting conservative evangelicals (moving the opposite direction) and are assuming ‘we’re the same’. In fact, they are moving in opposite directions.

One term noted is ‘historic fundamentalism’, a term coined and used by some of these ‘conservative evangelicals’ who acknowledge they are different from fundamentalists. This one is particularly ironic in that some so-called fundamentalists are attempting to use the term for themselves. I don’t think they really know what the term means (or they really aren’t fundamentalists). [See “A Christian Fundamentalist Travel Guide” in the Mar/Apr 08 9marks ejournal — pdf file.]

One last point before I close for tonight. A question was asked…

“Are Conservative Evangelicals at a point where we can bridge the divide between them and Fundamentalists?”


No. There is still a gulf. Conservative evangelicals are now at the point of the new evangelicals who made the breach in the 1950s. They are conservative theologically (comparable with Henry and others) but are unwilling to make breaks with men clearly in error. [J. I. Packer offered as an example.]

Remember, these are my notes and my interpretations of what was said. Please don’t let me put words in anyone’s mouth!

But my overall assessment was one of encouragement. Our young men participated and asked thoughtful and excellent questions. I hope they thought they received a respectful response from the older men. I really appreciate the young guys we have coming on in the ministry here. I also really appreciate pastor Minnick’s willingness to be ‘grilled’ and to clearly enunciate that there still is a divide that must be resolved before real productive cooperation can be achieved. This is something I have seen and repeatedly said in various fora. There are still significant differences between fundamentalists and evangelicals, even the conservative evangelicals.

Well, I have to hit the sack. I will be “up with the chickens”, as my wife likes to say, in order to make it back to Lotus Land for our own ministry this Sunday. That’ll mean another 15 or so messages for me on the road tomorrow. Our folks don’t know how fired up I’ll be!



  1. Did anyone ask if Dr. Minnick has read the online responses to his interview with Dever? Did anyone ask him about his answer to Dever’s final question?

  2. Hi Andy

    The answer to both questions is Yes. I am working on that part of the notes. Well, I should say that the answer to the first question is “some of them”. He has read some of my critiques and graciously spent some time with me privately as well as the public forum. I have to say that I am quite happy with his openness and his responses, although I would probably have done some things slightly differently. … There is more to come. Hopefully in the next few days.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Don,

    I have heard Minnick in person and on audio. I heard him now years ago at the Holiness Conference at Menominee Falls. I enjoy listening to his preaching. It is the type of preaching I like to listen to and really the kind of preaching I do, despite the fact that I started preaching a long time before I heard him.

    I have some of my own favorite preachers, who preach expositionally, from independent Baptist churches with whom I fellowsip. Four of them are Gary Webb from Carrboro, NC, Thomas Smith in St. Clair, MO, James Love in Cincinnati, OH, and Bobby Mitchell in New Brunswick, Maine. All five of us come from completely different backgrounds. Those are four that immediately come to mind, but there are others. Dave Mallinak in Ogden, UT, Thomas Corkish preaches expositionally in SLC, UT, BJ Nordgren in Chicago, Jeff Voetglin teaches expositionally in his young adult SS class at Fairhaven. I can name a lot more.

    I’ll look forward to hearing your report on the separation issue.

  4. Hi Kent

    Gary Webb rings a bell… did he go to BJU? I have preached for Tom Corkish once, I really enjoyed the ministry there. He is a fine guy and has built a strong work. I have a friend living there who attends his church now, I believe. And of course I have corresponded with some of these others online.

    It is a blessing to have so many men to draw from as examples for our own works.

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3