Patterson keynotes conference
on rearticulating fundamentals
___By Marv Knox
___DALLAS--Christians buffeted by a hostile and rapidly changing world must hold fast to the basic elements of their faith, Paige Patterson urged at a conference designed to articulate the fundamentals of the faith for the 21st century.
___Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was the lead speaker at the Issues 2000 Conference, Feb. 25 in Dallas. The conference was sponsored by Kregel Publications of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Tyndale Seminary in Fort Worth.
___It paralleled a conference of prominent U.S. evangelical Christians in the early 20th century. At that time, they battled the "modernist" movement, seeking to stem the encroachment of modern scientific thought upon religion. Participants in that early conference penned a series of theological position papers called "The Fundamentals," which provided the name for the modern Fundamentalist movement.
___The Dallas meeting featured a series of presentations compiled into a book, "The Fundamentals for the 21st Century."
___Patterson opened the meeting, explaining the rationale for such an effort. He cited three reasons "why the church today must return to an underscoring of the great fundamentals of the faith." They are:
___ The vulnerability of the flock. "As we see the approach of the end times, impostors will grow worse and worse," Patterson predicted, expressing concern for "the flock," or members of the church.
___As an example, he cited surveys that have indicated the greatest segment of converts to the Mormon church come from Southern Baptist congregations. "The very fact that claim is made is an indictment upon Southern Baptists," he said.
___"I urge you: Have compassion on the vulnerability of your flock," he told the gathering of about 250 evangelicals, many of them pastors. "Unless we get back to Bible preaching, they will be vulnerable."
___ The kind of world we live in. The church today exists in "an age of syncretism," in which people blend parts of various religions to form their own unique faith, based solely upon what appeals to them, Patterson observed. It disavows absolute truth in favor of popular or individual preferences.
___To illustrate, he described his appearance on a recent television talk show, in which a Jewish rabbi complained to the host: "It's like the Holocaust. They (Southern Baptists) are praying for us."
___The host downplayed the claim, and the rabbi also charged, "That man (pointing to Patterson) believes we're going to hell."
___The host asked Patterson if the charge were true, and Patterson told him: "I can't rewrite the Bible. Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by me.' Either Jesus is the greatest liar in the whole history of the Earth and ought to be discarded, or he was telling the absolute truth, and all who don't believe in him will go to hell."
___The host railed and called Patterson "narrow-minded and bigoted," Patterson reported.
___"It's narrow-minded and bigoted unless it's true," he declared. "I love people enough to tell them the truth."
___ The shallowness of the evangelical pulpit today and the shallowness of praise and worship. "This is not about style," Patterson said of praise and worship. "Maybe some of what we've done in church is dated in style."
___But he lamented the weak theology expressed in many songs used in praise and worship services today. "If we don't do better, we will raise a generation of theological illiterates," he warned, noting the hymnbook traditionally has been the second-most important doctrinal book for most laypeople, following only the Bible.
___Addressing himself to pastors and theologians, he urged, "Why don't you quit writing books and write some good songs, that can be put to music and teach good theology?"
___Patterson also decried "15-minute sermonettes, delivered by pastorettes for Christianettes."
___The church today needs preachers who will explicate the word of God, verse by verse explaining the truth of the Bible, he said, calling for strong expository preaching.
___"The greatest enemy of expository preaching across the last 50 years has been expository preachers," Patterson claimed. "A boring preacher or teacher should be confined to a cell somewhere for the rest of his life so he can do no more damage to the gospel."
___Such preachers and teachers "walk into the pulpit or the classroom so full of the facts but not full of God."
___"Study, study, study--and then wait for God," he advised preachers and teachers. He urged them to ask God regarding his word: "Make it live in my bones. Make it a fire they cannot resist."
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