We have some questions for those headed to Louisville for T4G. Just how accurate is the conference name “Together for the Gospel”?  Why would we even ask such a question?  Here’s why… 

What percentage of the speakers and attendees are “reformed”?  Would it be accurate to say one hundred percent? 
Would someone who is a committed Christian but less than a five-pointer feel comfortable at T4G?
How many women attend T4G?  After all, at least half the population is made up of women .How many women are there in our churches? Do they have any input beyond flower arrangements?
How many other than Reformed Baptists attend T4G?  What is the breakdown between denominations represented at the conference (Southern Baptist, PCA, SGM, etc.)?
Oh and why is the conference always held in Louisville?  Interestingly, someone commented that T4G is a reunion of sorts.  That puts a whole different spin on Together for the Gospel.  Could it be that a good number of T4G attendees are SBTS alumni who are getting together with their seminary buddies to renew friendships every other year?
From all outward appearances, Together for the Gospel is a select group of pastor-types with an extremely narrow theology, which we call “Neo-Calvinism”, which is NOT the same theology as traditional Calvinism.   
Quite frankly, we find the slogan Together for the Gospel to be an arrogant concept. It implies that those who don’t abide by the Calvinista theology are somehow not interpreting or perhaps not contending for the Gospel correctly.
Is this just another forum for larger than the Gospel personalities? Is there ever an attempt to invite obscure people who are contending for the Gospel to speak? In fact, are the only ones speaking just the same old, same old? And if so, why?
Perhaps Jeff, a recent commenter on our blog can shed some light here. Jeff, who says he is a pastor, plans to attend T4G. At first he contended commendably for Dever, Piper and others who speak at T4G. However, when the comments on TWW did not support his way of thinking, he wrote the following,

Some anonymous, obscure, bitter-sounding bloggers have said that Mahaney and Sovereign Grace pastors are mean.”

First of all, whoever is writing the playbook for insulting one's Christian brethren, should, at least, demonstrate a working knowledge of the English language by coming up with some synonyms for the word, “bitter.” It's getting boring and definitely elicits a large “yawn” from us. Perhaps you could use my personal favorite – "mordant" – which sounds rather Tolkienesque. TWW would be delighted to write the new “insult” book for pastors.
As for anonymous, well, it's quite easy to find out our identity if you know Internet basics. Plus, Jeff is probably a nickname; so is Dee.
However, Jeff's description “obscure” says it all. TWW believe there is a fair amount of arrogance in the Calvinista world. We have C.J. Mahaney parading around his humility by name-dropping all of his best friends. You know the drill – Mohler, Dever, Grudem, Piper, Keller, and on and on. Mahaney declares himself the “worst sinner in the world”, vying for some sort of bizarre adulation for the depths of his humbleness and how closely he resemble a real apostle, Paul.
Is this how a pastor like Jeff views those who do not bear the name of his idols – "obscure"? Our guess is this is how Jeff views the members of his congregation. Here is how I responded to him.

      “This morning in church, I spent some time contemplating your “obscure” comment. Obviously, it is meant to be derogatory. Yet the Lord that you serve often sought out the “obscure.” You know, the little guy-tax collector, prostitute, fishermen, the nobodies. Jesus chose to come out of Bethlehem, a no place. In fact, Jesus, for most of His life, was another obscure nobody, wasn’t He? Perhaps you feel that notoriety is the key to proven worth????

I embrace my obscurity and readily admit that I am a “nobody” in this world. But, praise God, I am somebody to Jesus and He died for me so obviously He cares about the little guy. I think, in heaven, you may see far more “nobodies” than “somebodies.” You might even be surprised to find out that some of these obscure nobodies are honored above the latest “it” guys.

I know some of these obscure nobodies. One is a guy in prison who has come to a startling faith in the Lord and serves Him faithfully. Another is a man and his wife who live amongst the poor in their community and give their lives and possessions to them. What about the obscure women who work in pregnacy support centers saving the lives of the unborn? How about the obscure missionaries who labor for years among people who do not seem to care about the Gospel? Think about the obscure members of the great clouds of witnesses who, in every age, stood for the Gospel and paid dearly for it.

But don’t worry. They won’t spoil the T4G conference for you. Your speakers are “somebodies” with plenty of dough, lots of “cool” friends”(Calvinistas only, of course) and many adoring fans to buy their books…
So, for all the Jeffs out there in T4G land, think about it. Think about the obscure little three year old girl molested by a fifteen year old boy who was a member of her family's Sovereign Grace Church. The perp purportedly went right back to working with children at church. Think about the overwhelming number of claims by obscure people of spiritual abuse in SGM when you hear Mahaney cackle and tell all sorts of stories having to do with sports. And maybe, instead of getting Mahaney and Mohler to autograph your shiny new ESV (is that one of the FREE books?), you might actually seek out an obscure lost person and give the Bible to him, autographs and all.           



  1. GIVE me OBSCURE any day. Like most of the Apostles were nobodies in the Jewish realm. Even Paul lost his “position” when he was dramatically changed on the road to Damascus. Sent him to the Gentiles! How is that for a drastic change!

    Give me the quiet nobody saints who toil in the REAL world everyday not insulated in church office ivory towers (yes, even in small churches) or are speaking before thousands who give them ovations and follow them around and hang on every word like little puppy dogs.

    WE must decrease and HE must increase.

  2. As I stated before, I did not go to T4G this year. Had planned to, but the cost (and schedule) kept me away.

    Based on what little bit I know, I’ll take a crack at the questions.

    I believe that the name is accurate. From what I can tell, all of these men believe the Gospel. That, according to my pastor and friends, is the topic of the conference. No “How to …” sessions that are so popular at lots of Christian conferences.

    I cannot say that all speakers are 100% reformed, or “Truly Reformed”, I think is the phrase. I believe 3.5 to 4 points, but my reformed friends say that according to R.C. Sproul, I am not really reformed. O.K., then.

    Of the people I know who attend, not all are 5 pointers. They enjoy the conference just as much as the 5 pointers. None of my friends call themselves “Reformed” or advocate doing that. So, I guess my friends are not really leaders?

    I don’t know how many women attend T4G. None speak. I think that there are lots of meetings and conferences like that in the church around the world.

    I don’t know about denominational breakdown. I would be surprised if this was a big PCA hangout. Maybe it is. I live in a very strong PCA town. To my knowledge, they don’t talk about this conference.

    I don’t know why the conference is held in Louisville. One of the speakers lives there. Louisville is rather centrally located. I could see it go to D.C. some day. But it would be more expensive.

    I wonder if T4G is becoming to the SBC what the FBC Jax pastor’s conference used to be – a warm up to the convention. Probably not. My friends who attend say that no SBC stuff is mentioned, EVER. If it were, they probably would stop going.

    I think it is fair to say that these guys do not believe that liberal churches and theologians preach the Gospel, and they probably think that there are lots of conservatives who believe the Gospel, but in teaching and practice emphasize the role of men and women in coming to Christ, or de-emphasize the helpless state of man and how God had to do it all to bring us to himself and imputed righteousness.

    I believe it is these issues and the desire of many people to attend a conference that is about theology that draws people. It’s not about denomination business, hot-button issues, controversies etc.

    That’s my stab at it.

    I would like to see someone who attended the conference this year write a comment or post. That would be interesting.

  3. Lydia

    We are glad that you join us in “obscurity for Christ”. Hmmm, what a great title for a conference O4C. All conference speakers would be someone most have not heard of.

  4. Anonymous,

    In this open forum we encourage comments from those who attend T4G. Dee and I welcome differing viewpoints here at TWW, unlike the T4G leaders who are ALL reformed (if I am incorrect about this, please let me know). That’s why “Together for the Gospel” is a misnomer. Their togetherness is leaving an awful lot of Christians out of the loop.

    A far more accurate name for the conference would be NCT4G (New Calvinists Together for the Gospel). Apparently, some bloggers have renamed T4G as T4C (Together for Calvinism) as Amanda has already pointed out.

    I know that Arminians have held similar events like the John 3:16 Conference at First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia in 2008. I have the same opinion about them. This ridiculous debate is distracting us from fulfilling the Great Commission (in my ever to be humble opinion) and it must stop!

  5. Dee,

    Love the conference name O4C!

    Wanna consider changing the name of our blog?

    Here’s a suggestion: “The Obscure Blog” (TOB)

  6. Deb,

    I am not as concerned about the differences between people at T4G and the John 3:16 people.

    I believe that despite some of the rhetoric one hears from time to time, that the folks at John 3:16 believe the people at T4G believe in John 3:16. And I believe that the people at T4G believe that the folks at the John 3:16 conference believe the Gospel.

    I know folks who will speak at both conferences. They like and respect me, and I them.

    The debate between these camps is very civil.

  7. “The debate between these camps is very civil”

    Not really. It is a volcano that is ready to erupt any time now. The lines are being drawn in the SBC over it. It is the first question pulpit committees are asking. Everyone has fake smiles plastered over their faces.

    I was kind of hoping Mohler would be working for FOTF by now. The reason Mohler dropped out of running for the SBC Prez is because he realized he could not win because of his Calvinism. (And he ALWAYS wins) It was not his operation. He was out speaking almost immediately and in time to run. but that was his excuse.

    What some do not understand is that the average person in the pews is just now starting to realize what Calvinism is and what it means in general terms. Most do not pay attention to this but now some seminaries are churning out tons of young hot head Calvinistas and it is becoming more obvious to the pew sitter what is going on.

  8. Oh, and the problem is that those who are really starting to get angry about slipping Calvinism in the backdoor are the 60-80 year olds. NO problem until you remember they are the loyal “tithers”.

  9. Like what has and is happening at Coral Ridge, right? Yep, these “golden” members have voted with their feet and their wallets.

  10. “I would be surprised if this was a big PCA hangout. Maybe it is. I live in a very strong PCA town. To my knowledge, they don’t talk about this conference.”

    I’m a member of a PCA church and haven’t heard a word about T4G from anyone there. I get the sense that T4G (and other favorites of the “New Calvinists”) have a much stronger following among Baptists and other Calvinistic baptistic groups (e.g., SGM, Bible churches, etc.).

  11. Dee:

    I don’t know about the communion issue. So, it just shows how out of the loop I am. I obviously don’t run with every person in each group. I would be surprised if Mohler or Dever would not take communion at Johnny Hunt’s church (I just picked that because that is where the John 3:16 conference was held).

    I know some reformed people who are way out. And I know some non-reformed Baptists who can’t stand “Calvinists.” So, there are people in both camps who are out there. The unstable people in the reformed camp are usually concerned with being perfectly reformed. They are not tolerant. The unstable people in the other camp are usually ill-informed (at least that’s my experience). They have heard of “Calvinism”, but really don’t understand it well. The believe it is not evangelistic. The reformed guys usually say – Spurgeon and D. James Kennedy.

    At any rate, I have met people in both camps that could start a fight over nothing. But I have not seen the leaders throwing mud.

    Lydia pointed out, correctly, the age issue. Younger people coming out of seminary are much more likely to be called or to call themselves reformed.

    I was at the Convention last year in Louisville. Mohler would have easily won an election there. I think even Wade Burleson commented on his blog how influential Southern was in the region and at that Convention. It was pretty obvious. I believe he said that he did not run because of the colon surgery he had (his 3rd, which I think is rare for a man his age).

    It will be interesting to see if the momentum of Louisville will carry through to Orlando. I think it will, but in a much smaller way.

  12. C,

    You have blessed me by providing the above link. I just finished reading the post and am amazed by Michael Spencer’s tremendous insight. What a gift his blog has been to the Christian world. May his family and friends find peace and comfort in his absence, and I look forward to meeting him in heaven.

  13. More food for thought…I received an email from the ASA – here is an excerpt: …I would like to alert you to a post written by Jennifer Wiseman today on the ASA Voices blog about the recent resignation of Dr. Bruce Waltke from the Reformed Theological Seminary. I would encourage you to read the post, see what other ASA members have to say, and submit your own comments

    Here is the link:

  14. “I was at the Convention last year in Louisville. Mohler would have easily won an election there”

    I was there, too, and totally disagree with that assessment. So did Mohler. It was not his time yet…he figured that out.

    “believe he said that he did not run because of the colon surgery he had (his 3rd, which I think is rare for a man his age).”

    That is what he said but it certainly did not hurt his other prolific speaking engagements. Influential does not translate to the numbers needed to win. AS a matter of fact, to continue running while having the surgery probably would have garnered a few more sympathy votes.

    You are leaving out an important piece of the equation which was gaining momentum when Mohler announced he would not run because of surgery. The fact than an EMPLOYEE of the SBC could be it’s president. This did not set well with MANY.

  15. C
    You are truly one of us!!!!! We know about this development and plan a post on it in the next two weeks. We will let ASA know about our planned post. See, you have found folks who are like minded!

  16. C
    His book’s date of publication has been moved up to June. What do you think about discussing this book in a group?

  17. I definitely would like to read his book. Although I must admit, reading through his blog has made me a bit cynical and skeptical. Maybe its just me.

  18. Lydia,

    We have a disagreement about whether Mohler would have won an election. That cannot be known, even though we have beliefs about it.

    I have not claimed to know Mohler’s internal thought processes, as you have. Do you have some personal connection to him beyond what thousands of other people have?

    Do you know if any past SBC employees or seminary presidents have been SBC President?

    At any rate, if your logic holds, Mohler will never run or win. If he can’t win in his home town, he can’t win anywhere, I suppose.

  19. I have not claimed to know Mohler’s internal thought processes. It is quite simple: when actions do not match words…look at actions and ignore the words.

    Sort of like how we learned to read Bill Clinton.

    But you gotta be close enough to see the actions. (wink)

  20. Anonymous
    Read our upcoming post that will be posted today to educate yourself about just who is “unstable.”

  21. Lydia,

    Also, meant to ask, did you vote for or against the GCR task force recommendation last year?

    Are you going to Orlando?

    How do you plan to vote with respect to the GCR proposal?

  22. “reading through his blog has made me a bit cynical and skeptical”

    Can you expand on this? I’m curious as to what makes you lean this way.

    His blog covers a lot of area in pushing his main thesis. AND he has changed some of his thinking over time. So if you read some posts from over 4 or 5 years ago you’ll find a Calinist who didn’t exist in the last few years. And there are other things like this.

  23. The last thing we need is a GCR task force. What folly! What we need is to fall on our faces in repentance. Enmasse.

    The SBC is spiritually dead. It seems to only produce little followers of men anymore.

  24. That means you voted “no” in Louisville.

    Mohler made the motion to form that task force. It was overwhelmingly received – probably 95% voting in favor.

    Were you a messenger from your church? Did your church send other messengers? Did they vote the same as you?

    Are you going to Orlando? Even though you don’t like the idea of the task force, do you disagree with it’s recommendations? If you are going, will you vote no?

  25. Why are you focused on the GCR and Orlando? It is just another program designed to get more money.

  26. Lydia,

    I am not focused on it.

    You said that you attended the convention in Louisville. The GCR was the most important item of business on the agenda. I know you think the GCR is a waste of time and designed to get more money. But we still had to vote on it.

    I was interested to know how you voted, and how you will vote this year, if you are going to the convention.

    You are usually free with your opinions, so I did not think this would be offensive or intrusive.

    The answer is shorter than the responses you have already typed to avoid answering. Why the hesitancy? Are you with the CIA or something?

    There are only a few options:

    1 – I am not going this year.

    2 – I am going, and I plan to vote for the GCR (even though I think it is a waste of time)

    3 – I am going, and I plan to vote against the GCR because it is a waste of time.

    4 – I am going, but I will not be in the hall when the GCR comes up because it is such a big waste of time. I will get a first place in line to have Mark Dever sign his book for me!

    Are you an SBC employee and are afraid of someone finding out your opinion because it could affect your job or something?

  27. “I am not focused on it.”

    Most surely you are for some very strange reason I cannot fathom.

    “You said that you attended the convention in Louisville”

    And you said you attended. I did not see the need to grill you on your opinions on the GCR. I am not sure why that has become the focus at this point. Your whole line of questioning has become strange except that perhaps some of your idols have been attacked?

    “Are you an SBC employee and are afraid of someone finding out your opinion because it could affect your job or something?”

    Ah, so that is it. You want to find out if I am an SBC emp. I was wondering why the focus changed to me instead of the topic. I am a nobody. A nothing. I am like a piece of lint the celebrities would flick off their shirt.

    Since you post as “anonymous”, I found this amusing:

    “The answer is shorter than the responses you have already typed to avoid answering. Why the hesitancy? Are you with the CIA or something?”

    The bottomline is that I could care less about the GCR. It is silly. It is another bureaucratic solution to a spiritual problem. If folks think what the GCR recommends is the most important thing in Christendom, they have deeper problems.

  28. Lydia,

    Sounds to me like you protest too much.

    You writing makes it clear that you are mad about the GCR (not just that you think it’s silly).

    You said you were at the Convention in Louisville. And you have said about 1000 times that the GCR is “silly.”

    So, you voted against the GCR. So what.

    You can’t bring yourself to admit that voted against the GCR because the GCR was so overwhelmingly approved by the messengers – on the motion of Al Mohler, no less.

    No one likes to be on the losing side of an issue, especially on an issue that was so overwhelmingly approved by the messengers.

    But it’s no mark against you for voting against the GCR.

    I don’t really care that much about the GCR either. The debate about it is interesting. I think that churches are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of the GCR.

    But I don’t have any problem saying that I was in Louisville and vote for the GCR.

    You should have the confidence to say that you voted against the GCR. No one will think less of you for tha

  29. Lydia said:
    “The bottomline is that I could care less about the GCR”

    I think you meant to say “I COULDN’T CARE LESS…”

    Just trying to lighten things up a bit.

    Here’s my opinion about the Great Commission Resurgence. Until hearts change drastically in the SBC, especially among the leadership, it doesn’t matter what kind of strategies like the GCR are implemented.

  30. Mad about the GCR? seriously? It is simply business as usual. The task force is made up of the usual suspects in Baptist life. I expected nothing else. Sad maybe…but certainly not mad. (It really was about money, anyway)

    I think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. You brought up the GCR and I gave my opinion which is meaningless. After all, 95% think it is great, so there must be something wrong with me. Mohler made the motion so it must be a good thing. I know the drill. Most beliefs in “Christendom” are now based on numbers and what the celebrities say.

    For someone who does not care for the GCR, you sure do focus on it a lot. And it sure would be foolish to take votes and discussions about such things personally. if it were not easy to fool lots of folks, there would be no SGM’s and fewer mega churches.

  31. Anonymous

    I left the SBC last year after spending about 9 years in a reformed Baptist church.I don’t get the GCR.Jesus gave the Great Commission on HIs way to “sit at the right hand of the Father.” Anytime someone gives his parting words, especially as they die, or in Jesus’ case, return Home, we should pay close attention.

    In the 30 years of my Christian walk, I, and the churches I attended, always stressed the Great Commission. What is the big deal of re-stressing the Great Commission? What am I missing here?Is it that the SBC is hemorrhaging members and is trying to save the “fort?”

    I am back in a Bible church, and let me assure you, that once again the Great Commission is stressed. So, what’s the deal?

  32. Lydia
    I am not sure what is going on with this conversation. Why do you think anonymous is so insistent on this question? Is he digging for your identity?
    I repeat the question to you. Is there something going on with this question beyond simple discussion of beliefs?

  33. Anonymous
    I am obviously an outsider to this conversation. Why are you so insistent on how or if Lydia voted for the GCR. I think all of it is rather silly. All Christian have been mandated to follow the Great Commission. So, if there is need for a Resurgence, I am wondering what in the world has the SBC been focusing on for the last number of years????

  34. Yes, it is rather strange. Note this sentence:

    “You writing makes it clear that you are mad about the GCR (not just that you think it’s silly).”


    Personally, I think folks get caught up in the plans of mere men and cannot think beyond religio/political strategies.

    And who wants to think something they have sold out to is meaningless when it comes to the big picture.

    Actually, I think I know who “anonymous” is from other blogs. There is a person who follows me around that tries to “change the subject” quite a bit. This is a person that if Mohler said jump, this person would ask how high. So, if Mohler made the motion it must be right. (Some folks cannot fathom that Mohler is one of the most politically astute and worldly strategists out there)