The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

The sweet-dropper

with 6 comments

I had a great day yesterday. I headed off to Richmond, dropping off some things and picking up others with the aim of eventually meeting up with Paul Levy, pastor of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing. It was great to spend an hour or so with Paul catching up with him on life and work. Paul knows almost everyone, it seems, and is, by his own admission, the world’s least discreet man. Actually, what that means is that he is refreshingly and cheerfully honest and straightforward, dismissing me blithely as “one of those mad Independents who actually believes what he says” when the discussion touched on ecclesiology, and giving a forthright opinion on anyone and anything mentioned. Paul blogs with the same bracing lack of forethought and disregard for consequence – with the added bonus of watching a man twirl a nonchalant moustache and pirouette away with cavalier insouciance whenever accosted by the forces of grammar, spelling and punctuation – at Reformation21. He is worth following. I should also point out that – while I cannot say that Paul doesn’t want to look like this – the picture is not of Paul, but of Richard Sibbes, which brings me to my point.

The main reason for heading to Richmond is because Paul had invited me to hear Mike Reeves (Head of Theology at UCCF). I had only read some of Mike’s books (see review), which I thoroughly enjoyed while being slightly peturbed at a couple of points. I was therefore keen to hear Mike in person to get a better sense of his particular approach and emphases. What a joy that was! Mike was speaking at a West London Ministry Afternoon on “The Love of Christ.” Expecting something helpful if slightly generic, I pitched up only to discover that Mike intended to introduce us to a book by Richard Sibbes. Sibbes was highly-regarded among his contemporaries for his gracious and wise counsel, receiving the nickname “the sweet-dropper” for his ability to leave behind a little gospel honey wherever he went and to whomever he spoke.

We learned that the Banner of Truth is shortly to publish a volume of Sibbes entitled The Love of Christ (a Puritan Paperback), a title a little more accessible and less open to misinterpretation than the original, Bowels Opened, which is found in volume two of the excellent Works of Richard Sibbes. Taking this as his starting point, Mike gave us a helpful introduction to Sibbes on the Song of Solomon, pointing us back toward a more Christocentric reading, and inviting much helpful discussion along the way. Apart from the moment when a large spider ran up Mike’s shirt and clustered round him, which was marginally distracting for the hearers and a tad disconcerting for the spider-clad gent, it held our attention and gripped our hearts. I would thoroughly recommend getting The Love of Christ when it is available, and then diving into Sibbes en masse, as it were.

The day ended well, and I headed home, wondering if Levy would succeed in his avowed attempt to turn Reeves away from the errors of Anglicanism, and hoping that both of them would see the light and complete their reformations by becoming Baptists.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 29 September 2011 at 09:16

6 Responses

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  1. “…hoping that both of them would see the light and complete their reformations by becoming Baptists.” Hebrews 9:10


    Thursday 29 September 2011 at 14:15

    • Not immediately sure whether I am being rebuked or commended – I think (based on the notion that the time of reformation has come) commended, but then I would, wouldn’t I!

      Jeremy Walker

      Thursday 29 September 2011 at 15:57

  2. latter, of course


    Thursday 29 September 2011 at 17:18

    • I am not sure I got your last point. Unless it applies to UK only.
      Personally I have grown so much more since going to an Anglican (of North America)
      church and leaving an SBC church.

      peter d

      Saturday 1 October 2011 at 17:32

      • Mainly an historical jibe with more than a touch of sincerity, Peter. The Particular Bapists of the 17th century unashamedly considered themselves the third wave of the Reformation. The Continental Reformers had struck the first blows with regard to justification by faith; the Puritan movement had gone (far) beyond the half-way Reformation of Anglicanism (which – despite some outstandng men – because of circumstances peculiar to the UK, stalled in its application of the same foundational realities), pressing the principles of the Reformation into many additional spheres of faith and life; the Particular Baptists pressed them more fully into additional areas, not least the life of the church, especially with regard to its very nature.

        I know that the SBC is a mixed bag, containing some very fine men and some others who contend for error at various points. I know some principled and godly Anglicans, and – being a committed Nonconformist – I cannot readily understand why they remain within that tainted denomination. (I should also point out that I think that Reformed, Calvinistic, or Particular Baptists are pretty good in principle, though that doesn’t mean I know them all or get on with all the ones I do know!) I cannot speak to individual congregations, nor to particular experiences, but – in general – I am persuaded that in terms of pursuing and applying the Biblical principles that have led and do lead to the reformation of the church, the Reformed or Particular Baptist heritage of the 17th century was a further step in the right direction. By embracing it, we are on a good and right road.

        Thanks for dropping by, Peter, and I hope that I have answered your question, at least in essence.

        Jeremy Walker

        Tuesday 4 October 2011 at 20:07

  3. More Sibbes available here – I’ve edited some Bowels Opened and other related sermons by Sibbes.

    Dave Bish (@davebish)

    Tuesday 4 October 2011 at 15:08

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