Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
We had an excellent day at the Salvation Army's Regent Hall on Oxford Street. About 80 or 90 gathered to hear and discuss three varied papers. All three papers were very good and the discussion, always more difficult than hearing, was not bad.
First, Peter Williams of Tyndale House spoke on Are there four Gospels? This was a convincing, well researched and popularly styled paper well worth hearing (CD available) or reading when the printed version comes around. Dr Williams introduced us to the other so called Gospels and pointed out where they are quite different to our Gospels and fall short. He introduced us to the work of Peter Balla, which was from this book here I believe. Lots of good things there. Robert Strivens chaired.
Then we had Andrew Wheeler from Keswick on C S Lewis. Andrew is a long term reader of Lewis and he gave an excellent paper setting out Lewis's attitude to Scripture. He drew a distinction between his attitude to the Old and New Testaments. His thesis was that Lewis was basically conservative but because he took a literary approach to Scripture he sometimes made concessions to liberal views that he need not have. I chaired the discussion and I think it was okay when we weren't side-tracked on how often he met Lloyd-Jones.
Here I notice it says
In a footnote in D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981 by Iain Murray, Murray notes the following: "Lewis is said to have valued ML-J's appreciation and encouragement when the early edition of his Pilgrim's Regress was not selling well. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Lewis knew each other well, being contemporaries at Oxford. ML-J met the author again and they had a long conversation when they found both themselves on the same boat to Ireland in 1953. On the later occasion, to the question, 'When are you going to write another book?', Lewis replied, 'When I understand the meaning of prayer'."
The final session was Jeremy Walker on Henry Havelock, God's Soldier. Phil Arthur chaired. This was a helpful introduction to a little known man of God and a Baptist to boot. He ought to be better known.
It was rather unusual yesterday in that I wasn't preaching but sat listening. I have an assistant at present, Andrew Lolley, and we are trying to have him preach quite often. I led the communion service to begin the day but then he preached - on Genesis 3 in the morning and the final part of the beatitudes in the evening and got on well. We had decent congregations at both services and one or two visitors which was nice. You learn things by sitting from time to time, rather than preaching.
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894) was one of those names my mother expected you to know when I was a kid. A Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer his most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Others include The Black Arrow, The Master of Ballantrae, Catriona and The weir of Hermiston. A celebrity during his own lifetime, Stevenson ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. His works have been admired by many other writers. G K Chesterton said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins." Iain Murray rightly warns against him in The Undervcover Revolution.
So it's December tomorrow so I've started listening to my Christmas music. There are 400 tracks on my ipod so plenty of variety. First up today was the cynical Peace on earth by U2. Then we had some Enya, Bach and carols. One good moment was when a Beatles Christmas greeting came on. Another early one today was John Lennon's Happy Xmas (War is over). I always mishear the lyric "Another year over" as "Another year older" which may be a better lyric. I certainly find it a real challenge when it is paired with the line "what have you done?". The other thing misheard with this track is the opening whispers where I long thought John and Yoko were indulgently saying happy birthday to themselves but the whispered words are actually Yoko whispering "Happy Christmas, Kyoko" (Kyoko Chan Cox is Yoko's daughter with Anthony Cox) and John: "Happy Christmas, Julian" (his son with Cynthia).
I was in the local Library the other day and I saw the new P G Wodehouse homage by Sebastian Faulks and so I borrowed it. I'm not a massive Wodehouse fan but I've read a few of his things and enjoy them for what they are. Faulks has managed to produce a work that is in keeping with the tradition without being mere pastiche. What you get, however, is a rather weak Wodehouse plus a little bit of Faulks. I thought the war references (at least two to the Great War and one to the Crimea or Boer I forget which) most egregious. Something also happens to Jeeves that never happens, which is not such a good idea. Jeeves comes over nearest to the original. I find him an endlessly fascinating character, up there with Sherlock Holmes. So not a disaster and a stimulus to reading more Wodehouse. The most damning thing I can say about it is that I didn't laugh out loud once.