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December - January 2023

Lighting the Darkness


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The following news items apply to (or affect) the Free Will Baptist denomination scattered across the nation and around the world.To read more about Free Will Baptists and the various departments that make up the national organization, visit

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2022 Theological Symposium Honors Picirilli

Gallatin, TN—The Commission for Theological Integrity hosted the annual Theological Symposium on the campus of Welch College October 3-4. This year’s presentations honored the legacy of Robert E. Picirilli (pictured below, left, with members of the commission), who was present for all sessions and presented a paper also. Arguably, the highlight of the symposium came when Picirilli participated in a final Q&A session. He discussed his early family life, his call to ministry, his experience as an author, and his reflections on the state of the denomination. This session, along with others, can still be viewed at the Commission’s Facebook page or website:

Picirilli was joined on the program by seven other presenters serving Free Will Baptist churches or schools.


First-time presenter Alejandro Johnson discussed how Picirilli understood important concepts such as faith, reason, truth, and revelation. Matthew McAffee focused on 2 Peter’s discussion of apostasy, engaging with a wide range of Picirilli’s works on the subject. Matt Honeycutt presented Picirilli’s work in the book of Galatians, and how this informed his views of legalism and the sufficiency of Christ. Jackson Watts presented Picirilli’s view of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, and the illegitimacy of tongues in the modern church. Kevin Hester tackled the complex topic of free will and election, a topic Picirilli has published at various times throughout his career, even as recently as this summer. Charles Cook changed gears a bit by focusing on an understudied part of Picirilli’s legacy, his time as moderator of the National Association. Finally, Jesse Owens explored Picirilli’s approach to the extent of the atonement.

Attendees represented several states, including a strong contingent from Oklahoma and Randall University as commission member Cory Thompson presided over his first symposium as program chairman. Approximately 125 people participated in the two-day event, with more viewers online. Former Program Chairman Jackson Watts remarked, “I can’t remember a symposium so well attended and enjoyed by so many.”

Next year’s symposium will be held October 2-3 in Moore, Oklahoma, on the campus of Randall University. For more information about the commission’s work, or to purchase a digital digest of this year’s papers, visit or contact Cory Thompson:


© 2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists