suppose they gave a war and nobody came

This sixties anti-war slogan (a dim memory of my childhood) seems to fit the mood of the horde wanting to storm the gates of the FBFI at the recent national conference.

They were out for war and are doing their best to find one, somewhere, in the supposed continuing indiscretions of their chief whipping boys. In spite of that, my assessment is that the men leading the conference and speaking at the main sessions came with a different agenda in mind, that of peace, not war. No one took up the challenges of the last month to any great degree, the previously stated position of the FBFI was upheld, several Biblical messages in keeping with the theme were presented, and it seems, at last, that a careful conversation has commenced, something I have desired for a long period of time.

Here is my quick assessment of the main speakers:

  • Phelps – he seems to be the lightning rod these days. He is willing to take on the notion that we must define our fellowship by soteriology, and for that he is pilloried. His message finely addressed where we ought to focus our attention. Some don’t agree with his interpretations completely. Can we be a little less insecure, please? Just because a speaker disagrees with your theology doesn’t mean the sky is falling. (And no, I probably wouldn’t have closed the service the way he did, but can we not allow even a little soul liberty?)
  • Hartog – good solid message, sticking to the theme of the conference and avoiding any controversy.
  • Bauder – another pretty good message (although I have not quite finished listening to it). Did catch one ‘oops moment’, I think, when he referred to “our Romanist friends’ … did he mean to say it that way? He, too, avoided controversy.
  • Minnick – I have seen some say Minnick rebuked Phelps. Really? Seems pretty much an oblique rebuke if it was such. You really have to be looking for controversy to see it in that sermon. But Minnick did address some of the unwise actions of the FBF critics in his introduction. Why is no one talking about that?
  • Symposium – a good start. Maybe too long in defining terms, or too short a session. We need to have more on this line next year, to flesh out the FBF position more clearly. I thought most panel members acquitted themselves well. I’ll want to listen to this again and give some detailed analysis.

All in all, I think the conference went well and our men did a good job keeping the meeting from becoming the battle that some were itching for. The ongoing criticisms from the fiercest critics show how disappointed they were that there was no war. In the end, the FBFI has been shown to be a faithful fundamentalist group, well able to withstand the errors of its own and weather the criticisms of its enemies.

I think the FBF will continue to provide the ‘rallying point’ it seeks to be for Separatist Baptist Fundamentalism. That’s exactly what I want it to be and I am proud to be associated with it.



  1. Darren Hammermeister says:

    Hi Don,

    I have been lurking for a while in the background of many blogs and was content to stay there. I am still hesitant to give my two cents worth.

    Reading your entry I was surprised to find a rather positive note regarding the national FBF meeting. I am assuming that you were not there, you are simply commenting upon the sermons to which you listened.

    However, should not the quality of a meeting be determined with broader criteria than the messages preached? I ask that because I have spoken to some who were in personal attendance in the meetings and they were shocked and disheartened by the meetings – completely different response than what you are giving. There was some concern about the messages preached (I will leave that for the time being), but also great concern over the music and the manner in which it was delivered. It sounds like there was a lot of theatrics going on in the song service leading up to the sermons. I would imagine that any judgment of meetings must consider the song service as well, since this sets the tone of the meetings.

    I have been reading Religious Affections and on one particular post Scott Aniol and others suggested that the music is really what sets the tone for meetings such as Advance and Resolved. The suggestion was that if they offered conservative sacred music few would show up, regardless of how good the messages were. Another suggestion was that the music overrides the messages if the music “lowers” the listener to a certain level, the messages will not raise the listeners to a higher level – the listener will merely be satisfied with the lower level of the music.

    Should our analysis of the National FBF conference not also take into consideration the music and how it was delivered? As I said, I was not there, I participated in neither the song service nor did I listen to the sermons. I may listen to a select few sermons from the conference. However, based upon some first-hand reports of what took place in the services and what certain preachers said, I think I would have been greatly tempted to walk out.

    • Hi Darren

      I wasn’t at the meetings, so I can’t comment on the music. However, I think Scott is overly critical due to some of his positions with respect to music. We just finished reading his book in our reading group and were quite disappointed by it. He is very dogmatic with very little Scriptural support (often with no support). So his conclusions are essentially left to stand as his opinion only. Scott adopts what I call a “high church” approach to Christian worship. I like a lot of what he has to say and share some similarity in conclusions, but I think he goes too far. His book suffers right from the start by speaking of the Scriptures as the ‘ultimate’ authority, not the ‘only’ authority. Thus he thinks it is sufficient to bolster his conclusions merely with the view of ‘experts’ in some cases, including himself.

      So… knowing the song leader as a former classmate, I acknowledge that he could have said some of the things attributed to him, but I take Scott’s criticisms with a heavy dose of salt, given his prejudices. Furthermore, I would count Scott in the crowd of those predisposed to be looking for something to criticize.

      In any case, my son was at the meetings and said nothing about the music aspect of it. I’ll ask him what he thought next chance I get. He is at camp this week so it won’t be for a few days.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  2. I wish someone would explain to me (in small words because I confuse easily) why the only “acceptable” model for worship today is Middle Ages Europe rather than Hebrew. The worship described (prescribed?) in the Psalms wouldn’t pass the Aniol test I suspect.

    That’s not the style I like personally. I prefer hymns (good ones) over choruses and Bach over Crosby. I once had the uncomfortable experience of being in a church service where they praised God with “timbrel and dance.” I didn’t like it. But…I do recognize that there is a much firmer Bible basis for that style than there is for my personal taste.

  3. Darren Hammermeister says:

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for your response. Just a note of clarification. I kept some of my sources anonymous in my post, and simply mentioned Scott because of comments made on his blog with respect to music and song leading and how that sets the tone for the meetings. I did not intend in any way to suggest that one of my sources commenting on the FBF meeting was Scott.

    Have a great Lord’s day,

    For His glory,


    • Hi Darren

      I’m pretty sure I know who one of your sources was! And I didn’t think it was Scott.

      And my argument here is not to say that we shouldn’t criticize just because it was the FBF meeting, etc. But I’ll wait till I hear more before reacting. If I am right about the source, there is a common link between them which makes the criticism somewhat less forceful in my mind. But I’ll check with others to get their reaction.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3