The 2020 EFCA Theology Pre-Conference Deals with Abuse in the Evangelical Church. Plus a Look at the Main Theology Conference

The EFCA Theology Conference began at Trinity International University this morning. It was preceded by a pre-conference that looked at spiritual abuse. This post is a write up of an annual event inside the EFCA. 

“The world is run by those willing to sit until the end of meetings.”

Hugh Park 

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
    will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Proverbs 21:21 ESV

The EFCA Pre-Conference and the annual EFCA Theology Conference started this morning at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois in the Chicago suburbs. 


2020 EFCA Theology Pre-Conference

This year the 2020 pre-conference deals with the topic of spiritual abuse. On February 5, 2020  from 8:30 to 1:00 the topic of spiritual abuse will be covered.  What led to the event according to what Greg Strand has written is the ongoing abuse issue in the Catholic church, Willow Creek Community Church and problems inside the Southern Baptist Convention.  Greg discussed the pre-conference in, “ Abuse in the Church: A Gospel-Grounded and Godly-Guided Response.”

During the past couple of years, the reports of sexual abuse by pastors and leaders in the church have been grievous beyond words. With the Roman Catholic church, it goes back many years, and yet there are ongoing revelations of more abuse. More recently, reports of abusive behavior from Bill Hybels and Willow Creek have been revealed. Added to this are the reports of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). And these are the ones about which we have heard. Consider the many abuse situations that have not been revealed, the many about whom we have not heard, the many abused who suffer in silence.

While we grieve that abuse has happened in the EFCA in the past (our grief is for both the occurrences and the victims), we are aware of no extensive revelations such as those noted above. Even though we are not the size of a sister denomination like the SBC, it is likely we would have a similar percentage of abusive situations affecting our own churches, affecting precious individuals in our churches.

The numbers of abuse victims are staggering. One is too many. Abuse betrays the gospel we affirm and proclaim. Abuse dishonors the Lord we love. Abuse destroys the well-being and dignity of the innocent victim. Although women are abused more often than men, men are not immune. Statistics reflect the reality that one in four women and one out of six men are sexually abused in their lifetime, while eight in 10 women and four out of 10 men have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. For many, it happened/happens during childhood.

For those so abused, we engage in responsive care, seeking to listen and love. We are also committed to preventative care, so that means we must say something about structure, that we want leaders and churches to be safe places where people are loved, cared for, protected and can flourish.

Consider the statistics and what that means in your own local church. Remember those statistics are not just numbers but people, those who have personally been either sexually abused or sexually harassed. With the love of Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit and the power of the gospel, we eagerly long to love and care for the abused, and to walk with them to get the help and healing they need in and through Christ.

Mike Sloan from Grace is the speaker. The pre-conference schedule is as follows. 

Part 1: Leaders Who Face Abuse in the Church

  • Abuse as a systemic issue
  • Why is abuse such a particularly egregious sin?
  • The prevalence of abuse and basic dynamics
  • Jesus, the Church and abuse

Part 2: Leaders Who Shift Church Culture on Abuse

  • Reframing power in the Church
  • Confronting denial and myths
  • Church dynamics that work against prevention
  • The gaps in our policies

Part 3: Leaders who Prevent and Respond Well to Abuse

  • How abuse prevention actually works
  • Reporting abuse
  • Trauma-informed care for victims
  • Holding abusers accountable

2020 EFCA Theology Conference  

The main theology conference starts in the afternoon of February 5, 2020. It deals with doctrinal issues such as salvation, the doctrine of the church, humanity, and scripture. You can check out the schedule and notebook below for the conference. 




In trying to get the EFCA to participate in this year’s theology conference Greg Strand wrote, “Why You Should Attend the 2020 EFCA Theology Conference” at the national EFCA blog. Here are the speakers for the 2020 EFCA Theology conference. 

  1. Doctrine of Humanity – Dr. Gregg Allison is the lead pastor at Sojourn Church East and a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he teaches Christian Theology. Gregg is going to teach what it means to be created in the image of God. Gregg attended college at Northern Illinois University and then went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School to pick up his PhD. Allison spent about 18 years with Campus Crusade for Christ. You can listen to his thought on the para church here. He has published articles at The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God and Ligonier Ministries and was on The Resurgence which was affiliated with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Seattle. Gregg Allison has published quite a few books which includes, “Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine” , “50 Core Truths of the Christian Faith: A Guide to Understanding and Teaching Theology” , “Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church” , “Raising the Dust: “How-To” Equip Deacons to Serve the Church” , “The Baker Compact Dictionary of Theological Terms” , “MultiChurch: Exploring the Future of Multisite” , “Roman Catholic Theology and Practice: An Evangelical Assessment” , “The Unfinished Reformation: What Unites and Divides Catholics and Protestants After 500 Years”  and “Building on the Foundations of Evangelical Theology: Essays in Honor of John S. Feinberg.” He has also contributed to “Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique.” 
  2. The Doctrine of Hell – D.A. Carson teaches part time as the research professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He came on board in 1978.  D. A Carson is from Montreal, Canada, but grew up in Drummondville. He earned a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics in 1967 from McGill University. He then attended Heritage Baptist College and Heritage Theological Seminary. In 1975 Carson obtained his Ph.D. in the New Testament from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He served as a pastor of Richmond Baptist Church in Richmond, British Columbia from 1970 until 1972. Upon the completion of his doctoral studies he served at Northwest Baptist Theological College in Vancouver, British Columbia. Afterward in 1978 he joined the staff of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Trinity is the flagship seminary of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA), which this blog writes about. Carson helped co-found The Gospel Coalition with Tim Keller in 2005. Carson is the president of the organization. Carson is an accomplished researcher and writer. He was written or edited at least sixty books from 1977 until 2012. His first work was the “New Testament Commentary Survey.” His most recent work, which was published in 2015, “The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures.” Carson has written a number of books, here are some of his works which are deeply loved by the Neo-Calvinist community. “An Introduction to the New Testament“,”The Intolerance of Tolerance“,”Telling the Truth” and “How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil.” You can see a comprehensive listing of Carson’s work right here. Carson is deeply adored by the Neo-Calvinist camp. You can see how much John Piper appreciates him in this post right here. That article was re-written and published by Justin Taylor who also publishes in The Gospel Coalition. 
  3. The Doctrine of the Scriptures – Graham Cole is the Dean of Trinity Evangelical School (TEDS) today and is also the professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology. Graham is an ordained Anglican minister. He served in two Australian parishes where he lectured on Christian Thought at Moore Theological College. He also lectured at the University of Sydney. In 1992 he went to the University of Melbourne where he became the Principal of Ridley College. In 2002 until 2011 he was a professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at TEDS. In 2011 he became the Anglican Professor of Divinity at the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2015 he moved back to Trinity and became the Dean. Graham has published a number of books to include “He Who Gives Life: The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Foundations of Evangelical Theology)“,”The God Who Became Human: A Biblical Theology of Incarnation (New Studies in Biblical Theology)“, “God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom (New Studies in Biblical Theology)” and “Engaging with the Holy Spirit: Real Questions, Practical Answers.”
  4. Doctrine of Christ – Harold Netland has been with Trinity Evangelical Divinity School since 1993. He is a Professor on the Philosophy of Religion and Intercultural Studies. He obtained his B.A. from Biola University and his Masters and PhD from Claremont Graduate School in Southern California. Harold has a long relationship with the EFCA and has taught in Japan. Harold wrote, “Christianity and Religious Diversity: Clarifying Christian Commitments in a Globalizing Age” , “Dissonant Voices: Religious Pluralism & the Question of Truth and  “Encountering Religious Pluralism: The Challenge to Christian Faith Mission.” In addition he co-wrote the following books, “Globalizing Theology: Belief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity” , “A Trinitarian Theology of Religions: An Evangelical Proposal” , “Buddhism: A Christian Exploration and Appraisal” , “Spirituality Without God: Buddhist Enlightenment and Christian Salvation”  and “Handbook of Religion: A Christian Engagement with Traditions, Teachings, and Practices.” 
  5. Doctrine of God – Fred Sanders is a professor with Biola University. He earned his B.A. from Murray State University, his Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and his PhD from Graduate Theological Union. Fred has written, “The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything” , “How God Used R.A. Torrey: A Short Biography as Told Through His Sermons” , “The Image of the Immanent Trinity: Rahner’s Rule and the Theological Interpretation of Scripture”  and “Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love” In addition Fred wrote some of the following books with other individuals. “Theology and California” , “The Triune God (New Studies in Dogmatics)” , “The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics (Los Angeles Theology Conference Series)” , “Locating Atonement: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics (Los Angeles Theology Conference Series)” , ” Christology, Ancient and Modern: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics (Los Angeles Theology Conference Series)” and “Advancing Trinitarian Theology: Explorations in Constructive Dogmatics (Los Angeles Theology Conference Series)” 
  6. Doctrine of Salvation – Steve Wellum is a professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also edits the Southern Baptist Theological Journal as well. Stephen earned his Bachelors as Roberts Wesleyan College and his Masters and PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has co-published a number of books to include, “Progressive Covenantalism: Charting a Course between Dispensational and Covenantal Theologies” and “Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants” 
  7. The Doctrine of the Church – Jonathan Leeman and Thabiti Anyabwile are both well known personalities in 9 Marks. Thabiti Anyabwile is one of the pastors at Anacostia River Church in SE Washington, D.C. Thabiti comes from Lexington, North Carolina and Mark Dever has had a great deal of influence over him. Before coming to Washington, D.C. he was the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Grand Cayman. He is very much influenced by some social justice issues as well, for example he has talked about why reparations for slavery should take place. Thabiti has published a number of articles in differing organizations to include Desiring God,  9 Marks  and The Gospel Coalition where he is also a council member.  He blogs at The Front Porch. In addition to blogging he has written a number of books that include, “Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons“, “What Is a Healthy Church Member?” , “The Faithful Preacher” , “The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity” , “Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus Death and Resurrection”  and “The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence.”  In addition he has also contributed to, “The Gospel as Center: Renewing Our Faith and Reforming Our Ministry Practices” , “Thinking. Loving. Doing.” , “Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God” and “For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper.” This blog has written about Thabiti Anyabwile in the context of the Sovereign Grace Ministry scandal and child sex abuse cover up by C.J. Mahaney. You can read that in, “Is CJ Mahaney the “Bill Cosby of Neo-Calvinism?” The Mahaney Conversation that Thabiti Anyabwile Needs to Have.” Then I also addressed what Anyabwile wrote when Donald Trump referred to a number of nations in Africa and Central America as “shitholes.” You can read about that in, “Thabiti Anyabwile Address the President’s Comments on Haiti, El Salvador and Africa: While Neo-Calvinism has Many Issues the Movement Addresses Racism Well.” Jonathan Leeman was at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church and now he is an elder at Cheverly Baptist Church and is the editor of 9 Marks. He also publishes quite a bit at The Gospel Coalition as well.  Leeman is a very prolific writer and you can see what he was written over the past two decades here

For the next couple of days this blog will camp out here at this EFCA theology conference and raise a couple of issues. The goal of this post is to do a summary of what is being presented and who is speaking. 


One thought on “The 2020 EFCA Theology Pre-Conference Deals with Abuse in the Evangelical Church. Plus a Look at the Main Theology Conference

  1. Pingback: Does Greg Strand Realize the Lost Art of Admitting Error? Or Will Tribalism Rule the Day in the EFCA? | Wondering Eagle

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