Theology conference to focus on the character of the church

By Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Apostle Paul spoke of the church as the “bride of Christ,” and, as any married man will tell you, no bride is perfect, but an upcoming theology conference hopes to focus on the holy character of the church and the good work it does in the world.
The theme for the third annual Mid-South Conference on Christ and Culture, to be held at the Link Centre May 21-22, will be “Beyond Your Church to His,” and, as the subtitle says, it’s aimed at recovering the glory of Christ’s bride.
Among the speakers slated for this year’s conference is the Rev. Richard Phillips, chair of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology and senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C.
On Friday, Phillips will speak on how Christians can be useful to Christ in the building of his church.
“Typically, we want to answer in a grandiose way, like saying that we’re going to Africa to do mission work,” said Phillips. On the other hand, in the third chapter of John’s gospel, John the Baptist becomes aware that Jesus is baptizing down river from him, and that he’s beginning to draw larger crowds. John simply accepts this as part of God’s plan, and doesn’t allow his ego to interfere.
“That’s a great picture of what it means to give ourselves to a cause,” said Phillips. “What is it about the gospel that allows us to do that?”
Like many Christians, Phillips said he’s saddened by the failings of the church and some of its leaders, but viewing Christianity from a strictly sociological perspective doesn’t do it justice.
“How does Christ see his church? Perhaps that’s what we should be asking,” said Phillips.
The members of Lawndale Presbyterian Church in Tupelo (PCA) started the conference in hopes of providing an annual opportunity to showcase academic theology along with fellowship and prayer.
“Just because we live in a rural area doesn’t mean we can’t have top theologians and solid, academic presentations,” said Brad Prewitt, a Lawndale member who’s helped organize the conference for the past three years.
The Rev. Bill Bradford, senior pastor at Lawndale Presbyterian, said the conference is not intended to promote his church or any particular denomination’s views, and that’s partly why the organizers have chosen the Link Centre as neutral location. Prewitt added that the theology will reflect the tenets of the Reformed church tradition, and that includes “putting the word front and center.”
Jonathan Leeman, author and director of communications for the online community 9Marks, will also be part of the lineup, and music will be provided by James Ward, director of music at New City Fellowship (PCA) in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Admission is free and all are welcome.

Contact Galen Holley at 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.

More information:
The 2010 Mid-South Conference on Christ and Culture
– May 21-22
– Link Centre, 1800 West Main Street, Tupelo
– Presentations will be Friday, noon- 9 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
– For more information visit ww.midsouththeology.org or call 844-6795.