Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Trumpet Call: 500 Years of Gospel Freedom

Mark your calendar now for the 2017 Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference to be held March 14-16 next year. The conference will commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation under the theme “Trumpet Call: 500 years of Gospel Freedom.” Planned lectures include:

  • Luther’s Providential God (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • Luther’s Preaching on the Parables (Dr. Robert Kolb)
  • The Law as Friend and Foe in the Theology of Luther (Dr. Michael Whiting)
  • Luther on Life without Dichotomy (Dr. James McGoldrick)
  • The “Solas” of the Reformation (Dr. Michael Morales, Rev. Cliff Blair, Dr. Joseph Pipa, Dr. Joel Beeke, and Rev. Carl Robbins)

"The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers was a fundamental belief of all the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, but none gave it greater emphasis than Martin Luther," according to Dr. McGoldrick, Greenville Seminary's professor of church history. 

In an introductory summary of a 1984 article on "Luther on Life without Dichotomy," Dr. McGoldrick said, "The great German father of the Reformation regarded this doctrine as the basis for a proper understanding of the Christian life. His teaching on this subject stressed the wholeness of the believer's life as a priest before God regardless of his occupation. Luther believed that this doctrine demolished the sacred/secular dichotomy of the medieval church, a false dichotomy which undermined the entire biblical teaching about salvation and its implications for the Christian in the discharge of his social responsibilities. The true Christian life, in Luther's understanding, is the life of service rendered eagerly to one's neighbors, for true faith is always active in love."

As a believer liberated through faith in Christ, Luther never ceased to extol the unity and wholeness of the Christian priesthood, Dr. McGoldrick wrote.

"He contended that all of God's people belong to a single sacred estate in which all have equal access to the Father through Christ. Every form of honest toil performed for God's glory is therefore a divine calling. Luther spoke at times about a weltlicher Beruf (worldly calling), but he meant thereby a place in the world where one could fulfill his divinely ordained vocation. In Luther's understanding, one should serve gladly in the station where God has placed him, and that is to be determined mainly by the gifts of providence. To some God has granted the gifts for the gospel ministry; to others he has imparted talents for ruling principalities, mending shoes, or raising potatoes," he said.

Other conference speakers include:
  • Luther expert Dr. Robert Kolb, emeritus missions professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Mission Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Luther scholar Dr. Michael Whiting, author of Luther in English, in which he argues that scholars have often oversimplified Luther's theology of Law and Gospel and have thus wrongly diminished his very significant, even principal, influence upon first-generation evangelicals William Tyndale, John Frith, and Robert Barnes during the English Reformation.
  • Dr. Michael Morales, professor of biblical studies at Greenville Seminary.
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa, Jr., president of Greenville Seminary.
  • Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Seminary
  • Rev. Cliff Blair, GPTS alumnus; pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, N.C.; and faculty member of Greyfriars Classical Academy, Matthews, N.C.
  • Rev. Carl Robbins, pastor of Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, S.C.
Watch this newsletter and the GPTS web site for more details and registration opportunities in early November.

Here's what previous conference-goer Fred Sloan had to say about his family's experience:
In 2003, my wife and I with two of our children attended the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Spring Conference on worship. We had previously come to the doctrines of grace as taught in the Westminster Standards, but we still looked at worship from an Arminian, man-centered point-of-view. What a breath of fresh air to hear so clearly the Regulative Principle of Worship. We have been blessed with this understanding ever since. May God bless you in all your work! We thank God for all you do.