Reflections on the 2013 MBA Men’s Fellowship, Part 1

by Greg Linscott

Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a fledgling discussion forum and group blog. I had already had some interaction as a participant on a few internet discussion sites, including a closed Baptist fundamentalist forum for youth ministers for a short-lived organization called Youth Imperative, and discussion on some other sites regarding Positive Action for Christ’s God-Focused youth worker’s conference. That site would be called Sharper Iron. It generated some early buzz, including discussion of Kevin Bauder’s “A Fundamentalism Worth Saving,” and site publisher Jason Janz’s “Young Fundamentalist Survey.” However, the item that really caused the biggest splash in those early days was the publication of a workshop Phil Johnson of Grace to You had presented at the 2005 Shepherds Conference, entitled “Dead Right: The Failure of Fundamentalism.” There was a tremendous amount of discussion, the most notable interaction taking place between Phil himself and David Doran, pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church and president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary in Allen Park, MI (link 1 link2).

Since those days, I have found it interesting to see how conversations in the “blogosphere” have influenced matters in the “real world.” On a local scale, one of our most active church members here in Marshall came to our church from a more charismatic congregation. One of the things that God used to lead him to our congregation was reading Phil Johnson’s blog, “Pyromaniac,” and determining that Phil’s general doctrinal positions lined up with what was taught at First Baptist. Speaking more broadly, I think many people who either read or were involved in the discussion began to slowly change their perceptions of those once thought to be on the “opposing side.” One of the most recent manifestations of that took place earlier this month, when Phil served as the keynote speaker for the 2013 Men’s Fellowship for the Minnesota Baptist Association, an event for which I serve as the president (which means I coordinate that event).

Let me say that from the beginning, this was not a decision made without controversy. There was some resistance within the MBA ranks- and there were some who communicated to me that the only reason they did not attend the event was because of their opposition to the choice of speaker. When I would ask these individual to elaborate, concerns generally came down to…

  1. Inconsistent Practice of Separation.
  2. Theological/Practical Concerns.
  3. Music.

In the days to come, I plan to elaborate on each of these points, explaining in greater detail the concerns that were communicated to me as I understand them.  I also plan to clarify my own reasoning behind extending the invitation in spite of these concerns.

Perhaps you’ll find it interesting…