The Anabaptist Conference will feature Rick Warren and Paige Patterson, just two of the religious figures scheduled to speak at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 30-31.
Speakers at the conference, focused on "Anabaptism and Contemporary Baptists," will draw connections between the 16th century Anabaptist movement and 21st century Baptist life and theology, thus asserting the spiritual kinship of the two movements.
During the Anabaptism Movement of the 16th Century, Protestant Christians of the Radical Reformation rejected infant baptism and only baptized believers – advocating social and economic reforms.
Both the contemporary Baptist movement and the Anabaptist movement rely heavily on the truth of Scripture, the importance of believer baptism, and the protection of religious liberties.
In addition to Warren, megachurch pastor and graduate from Southwestern Seminary, and Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, prominent speakers at the conference also include Malcolm Yarnell, associate professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary, Abraham Friesen, an expert on Reformation and Anabaptist history and history professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Emir Caner, President of Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga.
Newly established, this conference acts as part of the seminary's monthlong celebration honoring the Radical Reformers of the 16th Century, who sought to counteract the corruption of the Catholic Church with new sects of Protestantism.
The seminary celebrated Radical Reformation Day on Jan. 21, 2012. It honors the Jan. 21, 1525 anniversary, when George Blaurock, one of the founders of Anabaptism, requested to be baptized by his good friend Conrad Grebel, also a "father of the Anabaptists."
"It was that day the Free Church took flight," Patterson said in his January 2009 address, when he proclaimed Jan. 21 to be Radical Reformation Day at Southwestern Seminary.
This event, which is to take place at the Riley Center at Southwestern Seminary, is just the beginning of the seminary's active salute to the Radical Reformation.
The seminary is also planning on hosting a Radical Reformation Tour of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic beginning May 14. This tour will include expert leaders speaking on the theology of the radical reformers and the women of the Radical Reformation.
Evidently, Southwestern Seminary actively recognizes the deep connection between the Anabaptist movement and the visions of the current Baptist movement.
As Patterson wrote in his inaugural paper, originally presented to the Evangelical Theological Society in November 2009 and referenced at his Radical Reformation Day 2010 presentation:
"My plea is for contemporary Baptists to recognize indebtedness to all orthodox Christians, but to reject any form of ecumenism that compromises the witness of either the evangelical Anabaptists or the early English and American Baptists."