Don’t believe everything you hear

Baptist historiography took another hit recently when Jesse Fletcher, Chancellor of Hardin Simmons University in Abiline, Texas, addressed the Texas Baptist Historical Society, Nov. 10, 1997.

According to a Baptist Press Report, Fletcher told his audience that a “group of young theologians organized themselves in 1972 as the Founders Conference, dedicated to calling Southern Baptists back to Calvinism.” The original group, he said, included Thomas Ascol, Tom Nettles, R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Timothy George.

Dr. Fletcher was half right on the people and completely wrong on the date. Only Ascol and Nettles were among the seven people who met to establish the Founders Conference. The year was 1982. In 1972 Tom Ascol was 15 years old and Al Mohler was 11.

This and other minor mistakes are of little significance when compared to Fletcher’s statement that early American Baptists “tended toward a modified Calvinism or a general atonement framework.” This assertion cannot account for the stated theology of the Philadelphia Baptist Association and the Charleston Baptist Association, both of which adopted the Second London Confession of 1689, which is a clearly Calvinistic document. Given the fact that they were the two most influential associations in the South in early American life, one can hardly be convinced by any presentation which overlooks or dismisses their role in shaping early Southern Baptist theology.

The best book on this issue remains By His Grace and For His Glory by Dr. Tom Nettles. Nettles argues quite persuasively that there was a consensus of theological convictions among Southern Baptists for the first 75 years of their existence. No one has ever seriously attempted to refute his arguments.

1998 Founders YOUTH Conference

Pastor Jerry Marcellino of Laurel, Mississippi and Dr. Sam Tullock of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Wylie, Texas are the preachers for the 1998 Founders YOUTH Conference, scheduled to meet July 6-10 in Panama City, Florida. The theme this year is “The Authority of Scripture.” Cost is $200.00 per person. Registration deadline is April 15. For more information call Bill Ascol, (318) 798-7088.