The snow won the day at Freed-Hardeman. The threat of snow evidently frightened many away as the numbers were probably halved by Open Forum time. Cold weather and snow are to be expected at the lectureship but perhaps some thought better of staying around.
Dr. James Gardner continued his discussion of God’s judgments in the present world. His assigned topic was: “Does the Secular Direction of America Invite God’s Judgment?” As he did Tuesday Gardner was careful in his definitions. He spent a great amount of time defining “secular” from its Latin roots to the present day usage. There is a great difference. The original meaning of the word reflected a good use while the present use is generally held to mean something anti-Christian. While not dogmatic Gardner suggests that some aspects of the present age are contemptible to God and will be judged at a point. But he further notes that as a nation the United States has been a greater force for good than any other nation.
Billy Smith did a great job with the topic “The Lord is in His Holy Temple.” The passage from Habakkuk comes at the end of a dialogue with God where the prophet asks God to explain why evil continues. The Lord replies that he is raising up the Chaldeans, a wicked nation, to attack and subdue Judah. Habakkuk does not understand but finally realizes that the Lord is in His Holy Temple. It is a picture of ultimate trust in spite of horrible days ahead.
Because of the snow the Freed-Hardeman Open Forum for day three was lightly attended. The discussions were tame as they have been all week. Questions seem to center around whether a woman could administer baptism and whether an elder could continue to serve if his wife dies.
On the question of women baptizing Dr. Ralph Gilmore asserted that the person administering baptism was largely irrelevant (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).The issue is the person being baptized and not the one administering the baptism.
As to elders who are widowed Gilmore argues that there is no de facto disqualification. However the elder, and his fellow elders, should consider whether there is a perception in the congregation that such service is problematic. If so, the elder should step down. It seemed, and this is my judgment, most agreed. Of course the Open Forum is just that – a forum – and not a decision-making body. It serves to create discussion and serious Bible study only. Freed-Hardeman is not and eldership and does not make decisions for the brotherhood. Every congregation is fully autonomous.
The lectures at Freed-Hardeman continue Thursday. It is likely the numbers will be down although the content remains excellent.