The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

Westminster Conference ahoy!

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A reminder that the Westminster Conference is now only a month away, taking place this year on Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th December at the new venue of the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on Oxford Street. The brochure (see picture link or here) can be downloaded, filled in and sent off to the Secretary (no online booking at present, I am afraid). This year’s papers are as follows, God willing:

  • Christian liberty and the Westminster Assembly (Robert Letham). The Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) contains a ground-breaking declaration of Christian liberty. What forces thrust this to the forefront of its agenda? On what basis did the Assembly set it? How did it work out in practice? How does it relate to the gospel? Robert Letham’s address will seek answers to these questions, as well as considering what lessons can be learned for our own day.
  • The Covenanting experience (Knox Hyndman). Within a few years of taking the throne Charles II began subjecting the Scots to a twenty eight year period of persecution and terror. During this period it has been estimated that the authorities “killed, impoverished or banished” over eighteen thousand people. However, the response to this cruelty was not uniform and this address will consider the different reactions in the church and the subsequent effect on its life and witness.
  • Obadiah Holmes: pioneer of religious freedom (Stephen Rees). Obadiah Holmes left Lancashire in 1638, crossing the Atlantic in search of purity of worship and clear gospel preaching. In New England he found saving faith but also came to Baptist convictions and found himself at odds with church leaders and magistrates alike. He discovered that there were limits to the religious liberty permitted by the Puritan establishment. Holmes’ stand for freedom of conscience had greater consequences than anyone could have predicted.
  • The broad road from orthodoxy to heresy (Robert Strivens). Anti-trinitarian views gained considerable ground in Old Dissent during the first half of the 18th century. By the second half of that century significant numbers of congregations had lapsed into heresy. Why did this happen? What attempts were made to turn back the tide and why were they largely unsuccessful? What lessons are there for us in this story, faced as we are today with increasingly strong attacks on central evangelical doctrines?
  • Puritanism: where did it all go wrong? (Lewis Allen). Why, after they had made such strides in the churches and in national life, was there such a disintegration of Puritan principles? And what accounts for the doctrinal descent into Unitarianism in the first quarter of the 17th Century? This paper will give an overview of the period after 1662, considering the ‘downgrade’ of Puritan ideals during this time and giving salutary lessons for our day.
  • John Eliot: “Apostle to the Indians” (Hugh Collier). This remarkable man was one of the first to take the gospel to the Indians of North America. He learned their Algonquian language, and, as it had no written text, devised one. He then translated the whole bible into their tongue. He preached to them, cared for them and was loved by them. This was all on top of a 58 year pastorate! There is much for us to learn from this servant of God.

It would only be fair to point out that the penultimate paper does not lay the blame for the demise of Puritanism at the door of Lewis Allen. The rather unfortunate phrasing simply identifies Lewis as the man addressing the question.

Written by Jeremy Walker

Tuesday 8 November 2011 at 14:49

Posted in Miscellany

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