August 5–8, the Memphis Baptist Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, of which Dr. G. L. Roper is the pastor, sponsored the first “International Sovereign Grace Bible Conference.” This meeting was unique and different from the national meetings that have been held since August 1969 in that the scope of this meeting transcended both national borders and denominational lines.
The conferences are held semi-annually in February or March and in August or September. There is no organized group, church, or denomination that sponsors the meetings; a given church offers to sponsor a speCific conference, the church acting as host and underwriter of the cost and the pastor serving as chairman of the conference committee.
The theme of the Memphis conference was “The Doctrines of Grace and The Sovereignty of God.” The speakers followed the general format of the “Five Points of Calvinism.” Speakers frequently quoted the Westminster Confessions, The Canons of Dort, Calvin, Luther, and various other great Reformed authors.
The speakers and the subjects of their lectures were as follows:
Dr. R. J. Rushdoony of Canoga Park, California – “Total Depravity” and “The Sovereignty of God in Education.”
Rev. John Reisinger of Clinton, Mississippi “Unconditional Election.”
Rev. E. W. Johnson of Pine Bluff, Arkansas “Arminianism Is a Hard Doctrine.”
Rev. T. R. Ingram of Houston, Texas – “Sovereignty of God in Creation.”Rev. Al Martin of Cedar Grove, New Jersey – “Effectual Calling” – “Perserverance,” and “Biblical Predestination.” Rev. Bill Clark of Marseille, France – “Sovereignty of God in Missouri.” Rev. Erroll Hulse of Sussex, England – “The Calvinism of Spurgeon.” Dr. Gregg Singer of Salisbury, N.C. – “The History of Calvinism in America.” Rev. Peter Connolly of Surrey, England – “The Sovereigny of God in Revival.” Dr. Ferrell Griswold of Birmingham, Alabama – “God’s Eternal Plan of Salvation.”
The speakers delivered two lectures each morning and two lectures each evening, a full day. The audiences filled the church and on a few occasions to such an extent that the gymnasium of the Christian School was opened to accommodate the crowd. Very striking was the fact that a large part of the audience was made up of young people and teen-agers, many of whom took copious notes.
The conference was a rewarding, inspiring spiritual experience. The zeal, enthusiasm and dedication displayed, by both speakers and hearers, for the precious heritage of scriptural truths and doctrines called Reformed and Calvinistic was indeed heartwarming. Often the question arose—why do we so seldom hear these truths emphasized? Why does it seem that this great spiritual heritage seems to be suppressed instead of being sounded out among us as a ringing testimony, to its primary importance.
Some of the speakers and many of the attendants testified to the fact that their knowledge and acceptance of the Reformation truths is of rather recent date. Have we lost our enthusiasm for our great heritage?
May God grant us an awakening and a renewed appreciation for His truth; truth for which our fathers were willing to suffer and die if need be.
Early spring of 1975 will be the date for the next Sovereign Grace Conference. It is scheduled to be held in Birmingham, Alabama – Dr. Ferrell Griswold’s church will act as host church.Sidney De Young, retired office at the Union Bank of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a member of the Board of Reformed Fellowship, Inc.