Today started earlier than normal with a special session at 7:30 AM, entitled “God: Abounding in Love, Punishing the Guilty.” It began with Dr Don Carson laying out a detailed picture of the problem of universalism and a biblical case against it, followed by a panel of four pastors (including Kevin DeYoung & Tim Keller) answering questions on the subject. This special session was called in response to current events, namely the book “Love Wins” by Rob Bell which denigrates the traditional view of the reality of hell, and promotes a form of “universalism.” Dr Carson’s main points were helpful in approaching this dangerous view of universalism. In his conclusion he said that Bell’s handling of the doctrine of the atonement is deeply manipulative — and even blasphemous. I urge you to check out the audio of this address (if/when available here
This issue is of great importance for the future of Christianity in America. *Just today TIME magazine put this issue on its cover (click cover for magazine site).
SESSION 8 – Mike Bullmore (a pastor from Wisconsin!) spoke from Zephaniah on “God’s Great HEart of Love Toward His Own.” A fine exposition, clearly connecting the OT with the NT, and point to Christ. (listen here).
SESSION 9 – featured Don Carson speaking on “Getting Excited About Melchizedek” with texts from Psalm 110, Genesis and Hebrews [note his high aim with that title!]. This was, perhaps, the strongest message on the theme of the conference — Preaching Jesus and the Gosel from the Old Testament. Listen here.
In between sessions I was able to pack and store my suitcase, and walk through the exhibits and book store one more time! I also ran into an old dear friend (the former IVCF staff from my college campus) Cam Anderson. After 30 years with InterVarsity, Cam is now director of CIVA, Christians in the Visual Arts. We had a nice time catching up — and thanking God for blessings past and present. I also ran in to another former intern at BBC, Brent Nelson, (a guy with a golden voice) who now pastors a large church in Michigan.
As I ponder a final assessment of this conference, I know already I can say the following:
• it was a vibrant gathering of a great number of believers that brought an increased sense of hope in God’s work in this present day
• much was learned about important passages in the Bible
• sound doctrine and the gospel are what I crave to hear preached
• the variety of ministry styles observed here was instructive
• there are far more good books available today than I’ll be able to read
• that there are myriads of wonderful songs for singing God’s praises
• that some of the sweetest blessings to my soul come from contact with old (and new) friends who clearly walk with Christ
• and that I cannot thank God enough for such seasons of reflection, refreshing & rejoicing!