April 29, 2009
At the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago last week, I was asked by Stephen Um (during a Panel discussion) and by many others (in private conversations): what is the difference between the Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel?
I tried to give a brief response to that during the panel discussion, but more could be said. I will say a few things about that here.
1. T4G is a biennial conference that grew out of a set of (now 8) Gospel friendships. Mark Dever, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney and I had all been friends for a number of years (Mark, Al and I have known one another since the 1980s, and Mark introduced Al and me to C.J.). Furthermore, Mark and C.J. had fraternal relationships with and deep appreciation for John Piper, Al had a close friendship with and profound respect for John MacArthur, and I had a good friendship with and had worked alongside R.C. Sproul – though all of us knew, appreciated and gladly worked with each of these brothers. Meanwhile, Thabiti Anyabwile was an elder at Mark’s church and now pastor in Grand Cayman. Mark introduced C.J. and me to him, and then to Al and John Piper. We all get together as often as we can. We so enjoy and spiritually profit from the rather unique fellowship we have (composed as it is of Calvinstic Baptists, Confessional Presbyterians, a Reformed Continuationist and a Reformed-Dispensational Independent who disagree about many things, but agree on many more and share a common concern for central Gospel issues), we thought that there might be a wider Gospel benefit in inviting others to join in on and in extending that friendship. From that root idea grew the T4G conferences.
1. The Gospel Coalition is a biennial conference that grew out of a collaboration that grew into a friendship between Don Carson and Tim Keller. Don was editing a book on worship in which Tim was participating and got to know Tim while visiting NY (having admired Tim’s ministry from afar for some time). The two of them started wondering how they could foster a “network of networks” that would be Gospel-driven, and robustly biblical and theological. They called together about 40 or so folks and began exploring how we could work together for the sake of the Gospel, and how this “network of networks” might speak prophetically to evangelicalism (and to the wider culture) from the center rather than from the margins of evangelicalism (as is so often done today), as well as resource and encourage church leaders, churches and families of churches.
more to follow . . .