WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis.—Over the last century, many distributaries have branched off of the channel of Baptist separatism. The Midwest Congress of Baptist Fundamentalists, gathering Oct. 26 and 27 in Wisconsin Dells, provided an opportunity for representatives from some of those streams to be reminded of their common heritage and shared principles.
The theme for the meeting centered on the commonality of a shared dispensational hermeneutic. Bernie Augsburger, representative of the Illinois-Missouri Association of Regular Baptist Churches, presented messages on the church from Ephesians 3 and a defense of a pretribulational rapture from 2 Thessalonians 2. Kevin Bauder, research professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, stressed the importance of loving God as “the first fundamental” and the proper response that loving God will have on how we handle His truth.
Workshops pertinent to the topic were presented by a variety of leaders, including Brian Trainer of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary; Dave Marriott, pastor of Lakewood Baptist Church, Delafield Wisconsin; Jim Tillotson of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary; Bob Fuller Jr. of the Minnesota Baptist Association; and Milton Kornegay of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship Association.
However, several attendees testified that the benefits derived from the event transcended the topic. Panel discussions considering some controversial topics, while uncomfortable at times, left many glad that differences could be discussed without a perceived pressure to toe the party line. “Fellowship with people from other branches of fundamentalism” left many feeling richer for the experience. “It was so good seeing the different groups come together,” observed one pastor.
GARBC National Representative John Greening rejoiced publicly at the gathering of so many like-minded friends, but challenged those attending to consider how such a collective brain trust that shares common principles might advance the work of the Lord. “Can we build on this platform? Are there initiatives we could work on as cooperative ventures?” Greening challenged the audience. These are questions that many who came will give careful consideration in the days ahead.