"The Road to Rochester" from last Friday) was, of course, much worse in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, almost everyone who had registered arrived in good order. A few a little late, perhaps, and some slight adjustments were needed for the schedule, but there were over 500 people who gathered in the large Windsor Hall of the Kahler Hotel Friday morning to hear Jerram Barrs give the first general session of the conference, "The Biblical Basis for True Spirituality."
It was a good start.
Barrs began with descriptions of the most popular ideas about spirituality (emotion-based, mystic and other-worldly, self-centered, detached from mundane life, etc.) and contrasted them with the practical, comprehensive concept taught in Scripture. Indeed, true spirituality is simply recovering the original shape of man, man made in the image of God and made to enjoy, love and serve God.
In the Bible's teaching of spirituality, the "I" doesn't disappear. Man is made to have a relationship with God -- loving, practical, fully cognitive, productive, and continual. Therefore, those teachings that demand the human self be extinguished, hidden, or drawn into some oversoul are not in accordance with the Bible...even if certain Scriptures themselves are distorted and taken out of context in order to perpetuate the idea.
But then, of course, there's sin. Sin destroyed our relationship with God. And, in the process, it ruined us too. True spirituality was lost. Until a person understands his tragic doom and turns to the glorious, supernatural, yet fully historic fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of man's sin and bring us back to God...to bring us back to authentic humanness...to recover for us true spirituality.
Barr's lecture was a superb beginning to the conference, though I'm sadly aware that my summary here is not at all doing it justice. So, for those of you who want more...in fact, for those discerning, eager folks who want the whole thing...please be aware that tapes of each of the conference sessions (both plenary sessions and elective seminars) will soon be available at a minimal cost from Sound Word Associates. And, yes, if you were only to order one tape, this opening talk from Jerram Barrs might just be the one.
Or, then again, would it be Bill Edgar's general session, or the one given by Dick Keyes, or Ellis Potter's talk on "Three Theories of Everything"? Or one of the workshop lectures?
I'll try to give you a little help throughout this week with a few more posts about the conference. And Claire will write up a couple too. Until then...