Baptist theologians from churches and seminaries around the country will be at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this weekend to take a closer look at Baptist perspectives on baptism, the Lord’s Supper and church discipline.

“These topics have nothing to do with your salvation directly,” Southwestern President Paige Patterson said of the subject matter of the conference. “But indirectly, it just may have a great deal to do with it, and I’m going to argue that it does. That’s why we’re having the Baptist Distinctives Conference this weekend.”

The conference begins at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, at The Smith Center for Leadership Development on the campus of Southwestern Seminary and is co-sponsored by Southwestern’s Center for Theological Research. It will continue through Saturday afternoon, with topics ranging from “Regaining Meaningful Church Membership” and “The Meaning of Baptism” to “The Priesthood of Believers” and “The Lord’s Supper: Its Participants and Relationship to Church Discipline.”

“In an age where the standard measuring success or failure is the number of members in a church, this conference brings a much-needed discussion on the integrity of the church rather than its size,” said Thomas White, the event organizer and Southwestern Seminary’s interim vice president for student services. “We desire to resurrect discussions of baptism, the Lord's Supper, and church discipline,  discussions which have been replaced by marketing schemes or trendy church growth techniques.”

The conference, he said, seeks to reaffirm the biblical roots of Baptist beliefs and practices, specifically when they pertain to the local church.

Speakers for the conference include Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin, Capitol Hill Baptist Church Pastor Mark Dever (Washington D.C.), Southwestern Assistant Dean for Theological Studies Malcolm Yarnell III, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Associate Professor of Theology Stanton Norman.

“Pastors, students and lay ministers are certainly encouraged to attend. Anyone concerned for the local church will be blessed by this conference,” said Adam Groza, assistant director at The Smith Center.

Groza said the conference is the second in a Baptist Distinctives series on the campus of Southwestern. The first conference, on the topic of religious liberty, took place last year.

“The purpose for this annual event is to affirm the biblical basis for our faith and practice,” Groza said. “By this, we hope to glorify God and strengthen the ministry of the local church.”

Other speakers include Southwestern Dean of the School of Theology David Allen, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Professor of Church History Gregory Will, Dean of The College at Southwestern Emir Caner, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Professor of Systematic Theology John Hammett, Southwestern Associate Professor of Historical Theology Jason Lee, and Southwestern Director of Leadership Development Thomas White.

Student registration cost is $25 and non-students are invited to attend for $75. For further information, call toll-free 1.877.474.4769, or log on to For more information regarding Southwestern’s emphasis on Baptist disctinctives, log on to the Web site for the Center for Theological Research,