As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently had the privilege of attending a Pastors/Wives Fellowship in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania sponsored by BJU. In my first post on the conference, I made some general comments and introduced the speakers and topics. In my second post on the conference, I reviewed and commented on the first session by Dr. Bob Jones, III.
In today's post, I will review and comment on the second presentation of the day, "Certain Truths in Uncertain Times: Timothys and Pauls working together for the cause of the Gospel" by Nathan Crockett.
I don't believe I have ever heard or met Nathan before, but I believe one of his brothers came to our church (Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury) a couple of years ago as the leader of a BJU Ministry Team. I also had the privilege of hearing his father, Dr. Leigh Crockett of Grace Baptist Church of Anderson, Indiana, many years ago when I was a ministerial student at BJU. Some of you may remember Dr. Crockett was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a few years ago and was cured in such a way that it puzzled the doctors and he was interviewed on Good Morning America at the time - one news story on the situation can be found here.
I appreciated Nathan's workshop very much. His task, it seems, was to basically approach the Paul and Timothy scenario from that of a Timothy. (He is a fairly young man - I would guess no more than 30 at this point.) While he made some introductory comments about Understanding the Times in which we are living, the focus of the session was on the Paul and Timothy relationship.
Nathan was kind enough to send a copy of his entire notes - including the quotes he used and all the references, but I want to take most of my comments here from the notes that I took that day on the handout that was given.
As he began the initial part in regards to Understanding the Times, he made a comment that "Scripture gives examples of changing a method without changing the message" and he used the examples of Paul at Mars Hill and Jesus' approach to different people - Nicodemus (John 3) and the Samaritan woman (John 4).
In the area of Understanding the Times, he discussed understanding the world around us and dealt with a number of the characteristics of the day in which we live (such as Technology- driven, Consumed with the present, Pluralistic, Sensual, Fast-paced, etc.) and understanding the church today - including a consumer mentality in which the "church is full of window shoppers and church hoppers." He discussed some of the errors of the day in the church (both old and new errors) and how that we are seeing the same errors spilling over into Fundamental churches.
He then offered some "Biblical Solutions" towards the situation in the world and in the church - nothing ground-breaking, but true, nevertheless. The five things specifically mentioned were as follows:
1. Expect the world to be worldly
2. Offer people something distinctively different
3. Value eternal souls
4. Speak the truth in love
5. Trust God
After dealing with the times, he dealt with Pauls Understanding Timothys and then Timothys Understanding Pauls.
In the Pauls Understanding Timothys, he commented that he asked some of his other young friends training for ministry what they perceived to be the strengths and weakeness of the previous generations. He mentioned appreciation for many things (such as witnessing zeal, faithfulness, strong convictions, etc.) but focused on the perceived weaknesses - of which he listed the following.
1. Lack of mentoring
2. The rut of tradition
3. Unfair evaluation of certain evangelical ministries
4. Preaching concerns
* issue-oriented (rather than theologically-driven) preaching
* lack of expositional preaching
5. Unnecessary divisions
In addressing the Timothys understanding of Pauls, he encouraged the Timothys to understand five things.
1. The need for loyalty
2. The need for humility
3. The need for dialogue
4. A respect for tradition
5. A respect for age.
As I listened to Nathan, I was encouraged to hear his heart in this area and I think that he overall has gotten a lot of things right in his presentation. The nature of a presentation like this limits the ability to have lengthy discussions about each of these areas, however, I do believe that many of these things are worthy of a longer discussion - and the nature of blogging is that we can have that longer discussion - assuming that some of you folks would like to participate in the discussion.
Before anyone jumps on me (or Nathan) about the list of weaknesses, I would like to note three things. 1. This list is given as "perceived" weaknesses. Whether we would agree that these are truly weaknesses of the older generation, we can at least agree that many young men perceive these things in the older generation of Fundamentalism (no matter where we personally fall in that dynamic of old or young). 2. These are necessarily broad-brushed statements. Surely even those who brought them up to Nathan and Nathan would acknowledge that these things are not true of every one in the previous generation. When you paint with a broad-brush, you usually paint a lot of areas that should not be painted. 3. These are the observations of a number of young men - young men Nathan describes as "cream of the crop" type young guys committed to Fundamentalism - and not Nathan's observations alone. (In fact, some of these areas were not on Nathan's radar - for instance, he had the privilege of being mentored by his father, who was also his pastor and feels that he has received a lot of mentoring.)
While I have some quibbles with some of the things in Nathan's presentations (which I plan on bringing out in the follow-up posts), I appreciate Nathan's tack in this area much better than the bombastic and often bloated sounding criticism of the "older generation" of Fundamentalism offered by some of its critics - including some who still claim to love at least the "idea" of Fundamentalism.
Just my thoughts,