January 15, 2003

AAPC 2003

Category: Updates :: Permalink

At long last, I’m home again.

On January 2, I left Lethbridge and drove to Calgary, accompanied by my colleague and friend, Theo Lodder, pastor of the Canadian Reformed Church in Taber. He was catching a 6:30 AM flight to St. Louis and I a 6:40 flight to Texarkana, Arkansas.

I arrived in Texarkana on Friday afternoon and was picked up by Steve Ramsey, one of the elders of the CRE church there, who took me to the home of Tom and Dixie Lincoln (Tom is another elder). On Saturday, I went for a walk by the lake with Dixie and the Lincoln’s daughter Lydia, and then Steve took me on a tour of Texarkana. For lunch, we ate Texarkana’s best barbeque (Big Jake’s). Eventually we ended up at the home of another elder, Ben House, where we had catfish for supper and a good talk afterwards. Ben gave me a copy of his book of poems, Dirt Roads and Confederates.

On Sunday, I gave a talk on the social implications of the Trinity during the adult Sunday School hour, borrowing extensively from Ralph Allan Smith and Jeff Meyers (“I’m speaking, not as an expert, but as an enthusiast,” I said). I preached on Philippians 2:1-4. In the afternoon, there was a meeting at the Lincoln’s house for people who wanted to understand more about the Auburn Avenue controversy. Tom tells me that I started talking at about 9:30 that Sunday morning and finished at 11:30 that night. No wonder I had a bit of a sore throat!

On Monday, Jan. 6, Tom drove me down to Monroe, Louisiana, and dropped me off at Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, where I was booked to speak on Tuesday. But plans change. Steve Schlissel was supposed to speak first, with a response by R. C. Sproul, Jr., but R. C. had been delayed due to bad weather.

So, after the four presenters (Schlissel, Doug Wilson, Steve Wilkins, and I) and the three respondents who were present (Joey Pipa, Morton Smith, and Carl Robbins) had prayed together for the grace to be able to discuss our differences in a brotherly way and for unity in the truth, I gave the first talk (on “Covenant and Election”) and then Carl Robbins responded. Carl was very gracious and his critique of my talks (last year and this year) was helpful. After Carl’s talk, all seven of us assembled on the platform. I responded first, and then Carl spoke briefly, and eventually the discussion expanded to include the other men. That was the format for the rest of the conference: presenter, respondent, discussion, along with two question and answer periods.

Doug Wilson opened the second day of the conference with a talk on the distinction between the visible and invisible church, and Morton Smith responded. In the afternoon, Steve Schlissel spoke, largely about the dangers of imposing our theology on Scripture and missing what Scripture itself says, and then R. C. Sproul responded, largely about the need for brotherly love. In the evening, Steve Wilkins spoke about the efficacy of baptism, and Joey Pipa responded. On Wednesday morning, the eight of us had another chance to discuss our differences and a chance to summarize some of what we had been saying in the course of the conference.

The conference itself had several enjoyable moments and several which were highly disappointing. I encourage you to buy the tapes.

The talks, of course, are but a small part of the attraction of any conference. I go to conferences as much for the chance to visit people as to hear lectures. This year I made a lot of new friends and met some old friends, including people with whom I’ve exchanged e-mail or whose blogs I read. It was great to be able to visit (however briefly) with Robbie McBroom, B. J. Kennedy, Jim Jordan (who introduced me to single malt Glenlivet on Wednesday night: definitely something to sip slowly in small amounts), Duane and Sarah Garner (I hope you’re all feeling better soon!), Jon Amos, Jeff Meyers, Tommy Lee, Matt and Sora Colvin, Jessie Bates, Matt Harper (who doesn’t want to be drawn into the Reformed blogging world), John Owen Butler, and Barb.

After the conference was over I had a long nap, which, with the help of a couple Tylenols, managed to quell my headache. That evening I spent at the Wilkins’ house with Jim Jordan, Jeff Meyers, Doug Wilson, and a few others, where the conversation wasn’t limited to the recent conference but spread out to include such things as John Buchan, the Scottish Covenanters, and our evaluation of history (“If I’d been back there, I wouldn’t have sided with…. Or would I?”).

On Thursday, Robbie drove me out to Ruston, LA. As Jon Amos pointed out, Jeff Black commented recently that if you want to see where the Auburn Avenue stuff is heading, you should check out the website of John Knox PCA. Well, I was a living example of the truth of that statement this last week: I went from a URC in Canada to a CRE in Texarkana to Auburn Avenue, only to end up at John Knox, where I visited with the pastor, Jeff Steel, a friend for whom I’m very grateful.

My hosts, Volney and Betty Pierce, were very gracious. Volney makes a pretty good breakfast, though I can’t say that I’m a fan of grits yet. The waffles and bacon and eggs were good, though!

On Sunday I attended a glorious service at John Knox (the liturgical flagship of the PCA). That evening I preached at Auburn Avenue, wearing a robe to do so for the first time in my life. (The robe was borrowed from Rich Lusk: Thanks, Rich!)

On Monday, B. J. — who has a servant’s heart — drove me to the Shreveport airport, and I arrived back in Calgary that evening. I drove home to Lethbridge on Tuesday morning. It was snowing lightly, but it was also quite cold, so the snow was very light and powdery. The roads were in decent shape (one lane open, the other snow-covered), but the trucks swirl up so much snow that at times visibility was very poor.

Nevertheless, I’m home again, ready to start packing for my move to Grande Prairie. If you want my new snail-mail address, feel free to write to me and ask. I should be moving on Monday or Tuesday, depending in part on the weather.

Posted by John Barach @ 11:28 am | Discuss (0)

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