A Look at the EFCA’s 2021 Theology Conference on the Psalms

This post is a summary of the EFCA’s 2021 Theology Conference which took place on February 3, and 4. This conference was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and dealt with the Psalms. This brief post looks at the speakers and ties in the talks from the conference. This blog hopes that those who participated in it enjoyed it. 

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Blessed is the man[a]
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

This is a post I planned to do earlier this month, especially as this blog has written about other EFCA Theology Conferences in its recent history. It was on my agenda to do a summary and then the Miller & Martin report involving Ravi Zacharias dropped. That threw my planned writing schedule into chaos, but I want to do a quick write up during a lull in the Zacharias story.  In this write up please note this will be a summary of the event and the speakers. I lack the theological training to offer specific commentary on the Psalms and will defer to those experts who do have the training. Its important to be clear and for me to know my limitations. 

The EFCA theology conference this year was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. It moved online and was virtual. The topic of the conference is to look at the Psalms. The suffering and hardship that came about from the pandemic is what the conference addressed as many Psalms deal with crying out to the Lord, wanting to be heard, or ask questions during hardship. You can see the conference notebook below.


Greg Strand did the opening, but the conference had several speakers. This is a look at the speakers and what they addressed. 

Scott Manetsch – Psalms and Christian Worship

Scott Manetsch is the Chair of the Church History and the History of Christian Thought Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Scott has been on staff at Trinity since 2000. He did his B.A work at the University of Michigan, and his M.A. and M.Div. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and did his Ph.D. at the University of Arizona. Manetsch is a member of the , Calvin Studies Society, Sixteenth Century Studies Society and the American Society of Church History. Scott has written, “Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609”  and “Reformation Commentary on Scripture: 1 Corinthians” He is currently editing, “Theodore Beza at 500: New Perspectives on an Old Reformer.

James Hamilton – The Psalms, Christ, and the Christian Scriptures

James Hamilton is the Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Hamilton earned his B. A., at the University of Arkansas; Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary; and Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The SBTS professor is an accomplished author of many books to include, “God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology“, “What Is Biblical Theology?: A Guide to the Bible’s Story, Symbolism, and Patterns” , “With the Clouds of Heaven: The Book of Daniel in Biblical Theology” , “Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches” , “God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology” , “God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (Nac Studies in Bible & Theology Book 1)” , “Work and Our Labor in the Lord”  and Song of Songs: A Biblical–Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation.”  In addition he has co-written, edited or contributed to, “Exalting Jesus in Ezra-Nehemiah (Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary)” ,  “In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture” , “God and the Gay Christian?: A Response to Matthew Vines” , “God’s Glory Revealed in Christ: Essays on Biblical Theology in Honor of Thomas R. Schreiner.” , “ESV Expository Commentary (Volume 12): Hebrews–Revelation” , “For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper” , “One God in Three Persons: Unity of Essence, Distinction of Persons, Implications for Life” and  “Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective.” 

Walter Kim – Psalms and Christian Living

Walter Kim is the lead pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church at Charlottesville, Virginia. Before coming to Charlottesville he was at Park Street Church in Boston. Walter earned his B.A from Northwestern, M.Div from Regent College, and his PhD from Harvard College. Today he is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and serves on the board of Christianity Today. 

Mark Vroegop – Psalms and Lament

Mark Vroegop is the lead pastor and elder at College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and earned his MDiv from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He is a blogger who writes frequently. In addition there are a couple of books that he has published as well. “Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament, and “Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation.”  Last Mark is also a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

Donald Whitney – The Psalms and Christian Prayer

Donald Whitney is a Professor of Biblical Spirituality at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the Associate Dean of the School of Theology. His B.A. is from Arkansas State University, M Div, from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, D Min from Trinity Evangelical School, and a PhD from University of Free State. Donald came to Southern Seminary from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Whitney is an accomplished author and has written, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” , “Praying the Bible” , “Family Worship: : In the Bible, In History, and In Your Home” , “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life Study Guide” , “Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” , “How Can I Be Sure I’m a Christian?: The Satisfying Certainty of Eternal Life” , “Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed” , “Spiritual Disciplines within the Church: Participating Fully in the Body of Christ” ,and “Finding God in Solitude: The Personal Piety of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) and Its Influence on His Pastoral Ministry.”  Whitney also contributed toA God Entranced Vision of All Things: The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards.

Robert Smith Jr. – The Psalms and Christian Preaching

Robert Smith Jr. holds the Charles T. Carter Baptist Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School where he teaches Christian Preaching. Beeson is affiliated with Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. His A.S. is from God’s Bible College, his B.S. from Cincinnati Bible College and his MDiv and PhD from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Robert Smith Jr has written, “Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life.” 

Closing Thoughts

There is not a lot to really say on this post, as its intended to be a summary of the event and those who spoke at the event. This is a different theology conference, but for an awkward year that has been weird because of the COVID-19 pandemic its refreshing. Its not controversial and very vanilla in my view. It doesn’t get into many controversial or hot button issues and that for a change is nice. It will be interesting to see what happens next year in the EFCA Theology Conference. To those who attended virtually this blog hopes they enjoyed it. 

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