CRESTWOOD, Ky. (BP) — The Kentucky Baptist Convention will sponsor a conference on Calvinism in August featuring four well-known panelists from divergent viewpoints, and despite its regional sponsorship, the conference likely will get widespread attention throughout the Southern Baptist Convention.
The one-day conference, advertised as providing an “objective look at today’s most discussed theological issue,” will take place Saturday, Aug. 4, at Crestwood Baptist Church in Crestwood, Ky., and will be recorded and posted on the Kentucky Baptist Convention website for usage by those not in attendance. The conference has been titled “Calvinism: Concerned? Curious? Confused?”
— David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
— Steve Lemke, provost at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and director of its Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry.
— Frank Page, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
— Hershael York, associate dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, said he hopes the conference will have an impact beyond Kentucky.
“My primary goal is to be helpful to our pastors and churches in Kentucky, but my desire would be that the tone we are hoping to set here and the way we’re hoping to affect the conversation would spill over and spread beyond Kentucky,” he told Baptist Press.
In a statement that accompanied an email release, Chitwood said Calvinism “is arguably one of the most-discussed theological issues among Kentucky Baptists and Southern Baptists.”
“We wanted to provide a forum for an objective exploration of Reformed theology from a panel of speakers with diverse opinions on the topic,” he said in the statement. … Our goal for the event is a discussion that promotes clarity, charity and unity.”
Chitwood told Baptist Press he has had a desire to launch such a conference since he became executive director last year.
“We wanted to do something that will take us from talking at each other to talking with each other,” Chitwood said. “I have talked to each one [of the speakers] individually. The desire of each presenter and participant is to be helpful — to try to build bridges with regard to this issue.”
Only one of the speakers, York, identifies as a five-point Calvinist, Chitwood said.
The conference webpage said other goals of the conference are to:
— “Learn how others have arrived at their perspectives in good faith.
— “Be better prepared to answer questions from church members.
— “Explore ways Southern Baptists can move forward cooperatively despite theological differences.”
For more information about the conference, visit www.kybaptist.org/calvinism. The registration fee is $45, which includes lunch. It will begin at 9 a.m. local time and conclude at 3:30 p.m. Organizers hope to stream it live on the Internet.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).