The diversity among the Baptists gathered here at First Baptist Church Charleston is telling, resulting in different accounts of just what is going on here. Yet I continue to sense a definite Calvinistic bent, followed by fundamentalist and Landmarkist influences, to the overall program. Tom Nettles further confirmed this observation last night, interpreting the Philadelphia Confession as the vehicle for spreading the 1689 Second London Confession in American Baptist life of the 19th century both North and South, opposing the heresy of Arminianism. In fact, all three Southern Baptists participating in the plenary sessions are from the Calvinistic Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (two other Southern Baptists, breakout speakers, are not Calvinists, that I am aware of). In addition, the absence of Free Will Baptists at this gathering also is noteworthy.
Indeed, it is odd to see Primitive and Landmark publications (including the Trail of Blood) for sale alongside Judson Press. On the other hand, having the smaller Baptist groups represented here is refreshing. The gathering together of historians from across the theological spectrum of Baptists in North America, in and of itself, makes this meeting worthwhile. Should there be another meeting such as this, Free Will Baptists should be invited, and women historians need to be on the program (none are speaking here in the plenary sessions, and only two, that I am aware, are speaking in breakouts).
Few are blogging about this event, but their observations are noteworthy:
Tony Cartledge notes the disproportionately large number of Primitive Baptists at this meeting.
Southern Baptist Pastor Steve Weaver takes exception to Leonard and Brackney. A Calvinist, Weaver otherwise is excited about the Celebration meeting.
Perhaps others will weigh in after the Celebration concludes