By Michael McEwen
Attendance above 900 provided a fertile ground for the speakers to teach and guide the attendees toward a healthy engagement of the Scriptures and culture. Bruce Ashford, Dean of the College at Southeastern and Associate Professor of Theology and Culture, cordially welcomed the conference participants to a weekend designated to studying the Scriptures and their counsel for the arts, the sciences, the university, the government, and business sector.
Commencing the conference, Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern, spoke on the authority of Christ and the authority of the Bible. He said, “A high view of Jesus is a high view of the Bible.”
Akin then considered some of the implications of renouncing the inerrancy of the Bible. In rejecting the Scriptures’ inerrant attribute, said Akin, we are necessarily calling Jesus a liar and denying his divinity.
“If he is Lord, then he is to have absolute authority over our lives,” Akin exclaimed.
Akin said that Matthew 5:17-18 affirms two realities: “Jesus believed the Old Testament Scriptures pointed to him and he believed they were perfect in every detail.”
Concluding his message, Akin said, “If at any point in your life you say that the Bible has errors, you have made two conclusions: first, Jesus was wrong, and second, you are smarter than Jesus. Neither, I submit, is wise to consider.”
Drawing from the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, taught on the importance of God’s justification as opposed to humanity’s self-justification.
Employing Jesus’ interaction with the expert in the law from Luke 10, where the lawyer asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” Carson noted that the lawyer-theologian wrongfully emphasized the performance of the law in providing eternal life.
Carson said that the teacher of the law has asked the wrong question because in light of the Gospel of Luke (and the entire Scriptures), eternal life is inherited as a gift from God alone. Thus, there is an antinomy between God’s justification and our self-justification.
“The ground of our salvation is God himself,” Carson said. “The means of that salvation is faith itself. There is no genuinely saved person unless he has taken up his own cross.”
On Saturday morning of the conference, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL., Tullian Tchividjian addressed how easily it is to misinterpret the Bible, which can cause the church to miss Jesus completely. Tchividjian said, “We can study the Bible, read the Bible, have our quiet time, and completely miss the whole point of the Bible.”
Teaching from Luke’s account of the travelers going to Emmaus. He said, “The travelers in chapter twenty-four are essentially saying, ‘The guy we were trusting in has just been crucified. Our hopes have been dashed.’ To which the risen Jesus responds, ‘Have you not been reading your Bible? You knew all of the Old Testament, but you missed me.’”
Similarly, said Tchividjian, the same type of interpretation is practiced today. “We observe the Bible as merely timeless, moral principles. We read the Bible as if it is all about us. My work. My performance. My life. God becomes a supporting actor in our story. It becomes the self-help manual for ourselves, and we totally miss Jesus.”
Tony Merida, lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh and Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern, read and expounded Colossians 1:15-20 as it relates to the proclamation of Christ.
“If you want to begin to understand the Bible,” said Merida, “you must read it, and read it and read it. You are to be saturated in the Scriptures and you are to be consumed with the Word.”
Merida instructed the conference attendees to teach the entire storyline of the Bible when proclaiming Christ. “The mystery Paul is talking about is God’s unfolding plan of the whole world. It begins with Israel, continues to unfold with the inclusion of the Gentiles, and looks forward to the hope of glory in the future with the second coming of Christ.”
In the proclamation of Christ, Merida said, “you are to devote your life to the ministering of the Word. None of the saints were lazy, and yes, you should expect to be exhausted from Christ-centered proclamation. But remember this: Although the work is laborious, God’s strength is limitless.”
Throughout the 20/20 weekend, the conference participants were challenged to the truism: If Christ is Lord, he is Lord over all of Creation. In accepting a high view of the Scriptures, each of the speakers taught that the Bible not only reveals truths about God, but they disclose the truth that touches every dimension in life.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.