Posts Tagged ‘Westminster Conference’
The Westminster Conference will take place later this year, God willing, in central London at Regent Hall on Oxford Street. As usual, there are two days of lectures and discussion, Tuesday 8th and Wednesday 9th December. The outline for the two days is below, and the brochure can be downloaded to obtain the booking form. More information can be found at the conference website.
Sin and sanctification in John Owen (Sinclair Ferguson ~ Elder at St. Peter’s Free Church, Dundee). John Owen is one of the monumental figures of the seventeenth century. His profound scriptural sensitivity to sin and understanding of sanctification form some of the deepest currents of his work both as a theologian and as a pastor. This paper will explore these complementary and contradictory elements of Christian experience through the lens of Owen’s wrestling with the issues.
“On the side of God”: Andrew Fuller’s pastoral theology (Jeremy Walker ~ Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley). Andrew Fuller is recognised as a theologian and for his friendship with and support of William Carey. However, these labours cannot be divorced from his principles and practices as a pastor and a preacher. This was his primary calling. It informed and was expressed in everything else in which he was involved. This paper will draw together some of the convictions recorded, conclusions reached and counsels expressed by Andrew Fuller in the realm of pastoral theology.
The atonement and evangelistic preaching in John Owen (David Pfeiffer ~ Minister of Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church). Apparent tensions between convictions about the definite extent of the atonement joined with commitments to the freeness of the gospel offer are perennial issues in Christ’s church. Few men have contended for the former more effectively than John Owen and his works breathe a lively and transparent concern that lost men should trust in the only Saviour of sinners. David Pfeiffer will help us to see these elements of Owen’s labour in healthy parallel.
Erasmus and the Greek New Testament (Peter Hallihan ~ retired from pastoral ministry; Editorial Consultant for TBS). Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469–1536) was the genius sometimes described as the prince of the humanists. Perhaps his most enduring contribution to learning and religion was his edition of the Greek New Testament of 1516, which became the basis of most vernacular translations of the Scriptures for the next three centuries. Peter Hallihan will give us insights into the man and his work, tracing some of his influences and influence.
Jonathan Edwards and the religious affections (Paul Helm ~ formerly Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King’s College, London). The name of Jonathan Edwards, together with select elements of his theology, have become more prominent in the thinking and practice of Reformed evangelicals in recent years. Ready reference is made to well-known but not always well-understood works such as Edwards’ study of the religious affections. Paul Helm will take a fresh look at this book, emphasising its setting and its sources, helping us grasp the substance and application of Edwards’ work.
Isaac Watts and the gift of prayer (Benedict Bird ~ ThM Student and Greek Teacher at London Theological Seminary). Best known for his hymnody, Isaac Watts was also an influential theologian. He considered prayer to be not only a duty but a precious privilege, and he wrote to assist the saints in learning to pray. He showed that prayer is a gift, but one that can be developed. Prayer is not always high on the agenda in the church of Christ, and not often developed to a high degree when it is. In his Guide to Prayer, Watts directs us still to cultivate “this holy skill of conversation with God.”
About 120 people gathered during Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the long-running Westminster Conference. A mix of regulars and newer and younger faces enjoyed a couple of days of theological and historical cogitation.
The first day opened with Stephen Clark’s paper on holy worldliness. Focusing on George Whitefield and Howell Harris as cases in point, he explored the sometimes unhealthy dualism that sometimes dehumanised them, especially with regard to their romantic relationships. Comically painful and painfully comical at times, the paper demanded that we be properly grounded in the real world, recognising both our God-given humanity and its present fallen nature.
Then Adrian Brake gave us an excellent window into the life of Thomas Charles of Bala. Regularly seizing up and clutching to his bosom Charles’ biblical dictionary (in reality, a phenomenally instructive Bible teaching tool), he kept us properly entertained with an overview of this man of God who laboured to preach the gospel by all legitimate means, and had a great impact on his countrymen, as well as many others. Especially moving were the descriptions of real hunger for the Word of God written.
The day closed with Andrew Davies’ survey of the finest elements of Calvinistic Methodism, helping us to see the spread and influence of the movement, and its common ground with the most vibrant expressions of biblical Christianity in many other times and places.
The second day opened with Mark Jones on law and grace. Mark gave a finely nuanced paper on the subject, helping us to fine tune our understanding of antinomianism in its historic and present expressions. The discussion turned helpfully to some of the more blunt modern forms of these errors and their dangers, with the need for pastors to understand the sometimes fine distinctions in these matters, preaching a full gospel to the whole man.
Robert Strivens followed with a paper on Richard Baxter, giving a sense of his life and focusing on a couple of his more accessible works. Interesting questions were then raised about whether or not we afforded more room to historic figures like Baxter than we do to modern authors like N. T. Wright, and if it was right to do so, given the errors of both in the crucial matter of justification.
The day and the conference closed with Andy Young’s paper on John Knox as an international Christian. In a well-structured paper, Andy traced the life and influence and concerns of Knox with an earnestness which Knox himself might have commended. It was a good end to a generally good conference.
Next year’s conference will take place on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd December, God willing. All will be welcome, and further details will follow in due course. Proposed papers should be on the following topics:
- Erasmus and the Greek New Testament
- Isaac Watts and “the gift of prayer“
- Sin and sanctification in the thought of John Owen
- The atonement and evangelistic preaching in John Owen
- Andrew Fuller as a pastoral theologian
- Jonathan Edwards and the religious affections
The brochure is available and booking is open for the Westminster Conference 2014. The conference runs from Tuesday 2nd through Wednesday 3rd December, and features six papers, as follows:
- Holy worldliness? by Stephen Clark
- Thomas Charles of Bala by Adrian Brake
- The International Phenomenon of Calvinistic Methodism by Andrew Davies
- Law and Grace by Mark Jones
- Richard Baxter and his Legacy by Robert Strivens
- John Knox: An International Christian by Andy Young
The conference is being hosted at the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on Oxford Street, London. More details, including all the information required for booking, are in the brochure. I hope that many will be able to attend, and that it will prove again to be a stimulating and profitable couple of days.
The conference this coming winter takes place on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th December at Regent Hall on Oxford Street. Six papers are given, with discussion to follow. This year, the topics are: Do we have the Right Gospels? by Peter Williams, Warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge; C. S. Lewis: Clarity and Confusion by Andrew Wheeler of Lake Road Chapel, Keswick; Henry Havelock by yours truly; Evangelistic preaching: Lessons from the Past by Gary Benfold of Moordown Baptist Church, Bournemouth; Edward Irving: Confusion and Clarity by Nick Tucker of Oak Hill College; and, Isaac Ambrose by Gary Brady of Childs Hill Baptist Church, London.
Please download the brochure for further information and booking details. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing on the conference; I hope that many will join us there.
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.
A friend sends word that Charlesworth Baptist Chapel, Derbyshire, is hosting a four day conference from 10-13 October called Roots that Refresh. Jim Renihan is coming in from California to use his historical knowledge (he is Dean of the Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies, Escondido, California, and author of Edification and Beauty: the Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705) to teach about Baptist church life today (more from Stephen Rees here). Jim will then be going on to the God’s Glory, Our Joy conference (Fri 14 and Sat 15 Oct) where he will be preaching alongside Andrew Swanson and John Hall, God willing.
Don’t forget, either, that the next Westminster Conference is not so far away. Due to take place on Tue 06 and Wed 07 Dec at the Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on Oxford Street, and the brochure for this year should be coming soon. Papers on “Christian Liberty and the Westminster Assembly” by Robert Letham, “The Covenanting Experience” by Knox Hyndman, a study of Obadiah Holmes by Stephen Rees, “The Broad Road from Orthodoxy to Heresy” by Robert Strivens, a look at the decline of Puritanism by Lewis Allen, and a biography of John Eliot by Hugh Collier, all under the general title of Freedom, Courage and Truth, make this an appetising line-up.
God willing, the Westminster Conference for 2010 – “Standing firm: still Protestant?” – will take place later this year on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th December at the Whitefield Memorial Church in Tottenham Court Road, London. The brochure will be mailed out shortly, but you can download a pdf copy here (or click the picture) which can be printed out and used for bookings.
The planned schedule for the conference is as follows:
Tuesday 7th December
- The English Reformation today: revise, reverse or revert? (Garry Williams)
- Puritan attitudes toward Rome revisited (Guy Davies)
- The 1611 English Bible: an unlikely masterpiece (David Gregson)
Wednesday 8th December
- Repentance and sola fide: various Reformed approaches (Sam Waldron)
- Doomed from the start? The Edinburgh Conference of 1910 (Daniel Webber)
- Andrew Bonar (Malcolm MacLean)