Scripture in the Early Church: An Overview of the 2017 Winter Conference

Posted On January 18, 2017

On Monday, Reformation Bible College (RBC) hosted its 2017 Winter Conference. This year’s theme was “Scripture in the Early Church.” For the opening session, attendees had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speak on preaching in the early church. Next RBC president Dr. Stephen Nichols taught on how Scripture shaped the life of Augustine. Both of these sessions highlighted the importance of biblical interpretation in the early church.

Michael Haykin Dr. Haykin observed, “Christianity is a bookish religion. Scripture is central to early Christianity; it is the soil from which the early Christian sprang.” He mentioned the social context of the early church and discussed the pivotal role sermons played in that period. This tied in nicely with Dr. Nichols’s session on the conversion and influence of Augustine. “From the beginning, it was the Word of God alone that had the ability to turn and shape Augustine’s life,” Dr. Nichols stated. “For Augustine, the goal of hermeneutics was faith, hope, and love.”

After a short bookstore break, three seminars were held by RBC professors. This gave conference attendees a taste of what it is like to be in a RBC classroom. They spoke on various topics from heresy and generosity to the relationship between the Reformation and the early church. In all three seminars, the person and work of Christ was key. Union with Christ is the context for generosity in the early church. As Dr. David Briones explained, “The way you become a generous person is by dwelling on the generosity of God in Jesus Christ.” Christology was also the subject of much controversy, as Dr. Keith Mathison highlighted in his presentation on heresies in the early church. Dr. John Tweeddale pointed out that the foundation and scope of Scripture is the person and work of Christ, and that both ancient church fathers and the Reformers interpreted Scripture in light of Christ.

Conference speaker Dr. Michael Kruger, president and professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, brought the main sessions to a close in his informative talk on God’s Word in the early church. Dr. Kruger addressed the question of the Biblical canon and the so-called lost gospels.

Winter Conference Panel Finally, all three conference speakers were joined by RBC’s chancellor, Dr. R.C. Sproul, for an engaging Questions and Answers segment. They discussed challenges facing the church today, the greatest contributions of the early church, and the practice of worship in the early church. Reflecting on what we can learn from the early church, Dr. Sproul stated, “The measuring rod for the faith of the Christian today has to be that of Scripture.” Throughout the conference, we were reminded that Scripture is the foundation upon which the Apostles, early church fathers, and Reformers stood, and it is the same foundation upon which the church continues to stand today.

— Karlie Bigham is a student at Reformation Bible College.