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.

Lord's Day June 25 2017


Sunday was interesting. For the morning I had had a request from a member of the congregation that we could mark his sixtieth birthday. (I know that in the 18th century Benjamin Beddome would preach funeral sermons in the regular meetings and was sometimes asked to preach on a certain text and willingly did). This man is especially pleased about reaching 60 because he has been quite unwell. He is Nigerian so he and his friends and family were expecting something a bit more Nigerian. There appears to be a particular fondness for taking the collection by the congregation going to the front instead of the stewads going to them (I know that to some good Reformed people both methods are anathema). Anyway, I felt I could stay within the regulative primciple and please the Nigerians. I think we managed it (though some still thought we were collecting for the man whose birthday it was!). I preached on Psalm 90:12, which you will find in due time on our church website and my Preached Sermons blog. There was a reception after but I could not attend as we had a guest at home (our German friend here again for the EMA) and the evening to prepare for. With all the Nigerian visitors (including one lady and her grandchildren who I don't think was part of the celebration crew) I nearly missed a Ghanaian lady I know not normally with us. I think she was there (as was the returning Portuguese lady) because a large charismatic church in Golders Green has recently moved on. We will see.
In the evening we had a baptism. We have known the lady being baptised, who is Turkish, for man years and it was great to see her coming to this point. We were a larger congregation than we might have been as we were visited by a large family we know en route home to West London. We had a nice little tea to follow. I preached on 2 Peter 3:21. Before the evening meeting I saw two people I know outside the church and invited them in. Both were keen but did not show up. It is easy to get discouraged. I fight it, of course. I failed yesterday but am doing better today.

Foundations 72



The new edition of the theological journal Foundations is now availabe online. See here. It contains five articles (mostly on the theme of church planting) adn 10 bokk revviews including this one by yours truly.

I shall not die, but live: facing death with gospel hope

Douglas Taylor, Banner of Truth, 2017, HB, 360pp, £13.00
We live in the age of the blog (or weblog). A popular form of website, all sorts of things, good and bad, get blogged on the worldwide web. When Douglas Taylor was told in 2011 that he had incurable cancer he began a blogYou can still access it today (http://worksworthdeclaring.blogspot.co.uk).
Douglas worked as an assistant editor for the Banner of Truth Trust from 1997 until 2011. Following his death in June 2014 his Banner colleagues felt it worth disseminating Douglas’s blogs in printed form and so have assembled a large number of them (about 250) with a brief foreword by Walter Chantry and a short autobiographical entry penned by Douglas himself in 2013.
This beautifully-produced hardback book would make an excellent present for any Christian, especially one facing something similar to the author. Each entry has a heading and date and is somewhere between 300 and 600 words. It is especially useful for someone unable to read for long.
You may get the flavour from these quotes. One entry begins with a reference to the “Diary of Kenneth MacRae”:
Mr MacRae is described, during his last illness, as dreading the night, with its sleeplessness and loneliness. “Oh, the night, the night”, he said wearily on one occasion. His wife Cathie tried to comfort him: “There are songs for the night, too, my dear. He will compass you about with songs of deliverance”. I can very much identify with this. During sleepless periods lately, I have dreaded the night too. I think Mrs MacRae must have had in mind such scriptures as Psalm 42:8: “In the night his song shall be with me.” Or perhaps Psalm 77:6, or Job 35:10…
He goes on to recommend songs of gratitude, confidence and praise for salvation for those in such a position.
Elsewhere he writes,
It would be interesting to know when the expression, “the intermediate state”, was introduced, and by whom. It certainly seems inadequate to express the ideas of paradise (Luke 23:43), of being with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23), of being absent from the body and present [or, “at home”] with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6), or of being received to glory (Psalm 73:25). Not to mention the very clear testimony of Calvin, of the Reformed confessions and the Shorter Catechism, and of some of the best Reformed writers, like Rutherford and Boston, which are far removed from the concept we are considering.
Gary Brady
Pastor, Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

London Seminary 40th


The London Seminary started in 1977. In 40 years, over 400 men have been trained for pastoral and preaching ministry, the bulk of whom are ministering today. They are all over the country, from Scotland to the south coast, from Wales to East Anglia and in nations the world over. Other ventures, such as the John Owen Centre and the newly announced Flourish course for women have also been alongside.
It was appropriate that at the seminary's annual service last Saturday the chairman (fresh back from Singapore) was former principal Philip Eveson. He took opportunity to remind us of the work's beginnings and represented the Board in giving a big thank you to our secretary for 39 of the 40 years, Brian Stevens. He also publicly thanked Robert and Sarah Strivens, helped by Board chairman Spencer Cunnah, on the Seminary's behalf.
Dr Strivens gave the annualreport, his last in his present capacity. We also heard from principal elect, Bill James, who begins in January reading and praying.
We also heard from six leaving students – Chris Durrant, John Kerr, Philip Lievesley, Pedro Real, Manuel Redondo and Chris Statter. Five are about to begin ministry – in Bournemouth, Gloucester, Frinton-on-sea, Brazil and Salford. Manuel hopes to do further study before returning to Spain.
It was a great opportunity to hear Al Mohler again. He preached on John 15:18-27 where Christ the General warns his untried soldiers what is ahead. Under the heading, What do you expect? he warned of what lies ahead and gave reasons to continue
1. Because we belong to Christ
2. Because we have the Holy Spirit alongside us
3. Because we have Christ praying for us, Christ who has overcome the world.
There was a good number there, perhaps more than usual. Tea and discussion on the lawn (se epic above from the Seminary Twitter accoount) is a tradition on this occasion and that was kept despite periodic attempts by the overcast skies to send rain.

Al Mohler at London Seminary


It was good to have the opportunity of hearing Al Mohler wiht the students at London Seminary this morning. Dr Mohler specialises in looking at the world as it is and encouraging a Christian approach to it all. He spoke for two 45 minute periods broken by coffee and then opened up for questions, soemthing he does regularly on Youtube and which he did well today, answering questions on Islam, hell and witness. His clarification on the term Post-Christian (not post a period when everyone was a Christian but post a time when everyone accepted certain Christian tenets) was helpful. He also made a helpful point regarding Islam that it is more a way of life than a belief system as such.
Dr Mohler could come over a s name dropper as he has read so widely adn met with all sorts of people. It would be a mistake to think like that. No, here is a fine mind honed by Scripture and careful thinking about what those who oppose the gospelsay.
He quoted himself at one point, "The culture says you have an alien problem to be solved by an inner solution. The gospel says you have an inner problem that will be solved only by an alien righteousness.” That is very helpful. I believe that the quotation is from a message given a conference adn preached as “Preaching with the Culture in View”. See Preaching the Cross, Together for the Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway 2007), p 81.a

Midweek Meeting June 21 2017


We were a good number midweek as we began on the teaching from Leviticus on infectious skin diseases. We tackled 13:1-46. I was eager not to be too long as I wanted to allow time for both prayer and a church members meeting. We did not do too badly althoiugh it was gone ten by the time we had finsihed everything. The reason for the members meeting was that we wish to baptise two people shortly and welcome two others already baptised into membership. (We did not absolutely insist on baptism by immersion but it is the norm here). We were all agreed on the way forward. It was a great privilege to hear these four testimonies. The way it works with us is that after speaking to the pastor candidates for membership are interviewed by two members either alone or with someone else who is applying. We seek to establish that they are converted and living the Christian life and how they might contribute to the life of the church. The first of the two baptisms will eb this Lord's Day, God willing.

10 Famous Argentinians


1. José de San Martín General
2. Ernesto "Che" Guevara revolutionary
3. Eva Peron first lady
4. Juan Manuel Fangio racing driver
5. Jorge Luis Borges writer
6. Diego Maradona footballer
7. Roberto de Vincenzo golfer
8. Guillermo Vilas tennis player
9. Lionel Messi footballer
10. Pope Francis

Westminster Conference papers 2016 published


The papers for the 2016 Conference last December are now available from the conference secretary, John Harris.
(Secretary the Westminster conference, 18 Nook Green Dewsbury West Yorkshire WF12 0BJ UK)

A week of mission

The above shows the team eating together one evening
There are arguments for and against a special week of mission in a local church. The chief argument against is that every week should be mission week and a special effort risks introducing an artificial and unsustainable note to the work that risks demeaning the regular efforts. On the other hand, a special effort can sometimes reach people otherwise unreached and, if visitors are invited in to help, can be a help to them as well as the church itself.
Missions have been rare here in Childs Hill. We have just had what must be the third or fourth in 34 years. As I begin to recover I thought I might briefly report.
We know Hicham from France well and he has led church missions and so we followed the pattern he is familiar with. This involved gathering a team to do formal evangelism chiefly Saturday to Thursday in the week June 10-15. Our team was a little on the small side - three full time and four more for the last two days plus two or three visitors on the Thursday with help from five or six members at various times, including me.
We started each day with breakfast in church followed by prayer and a short Bible study. We then spent 90 minute sessions morning and afternoon delivering leaflets and invites, door knocking or speaking to people in the streets of Golders Green, our nearest shopping centre. We ate lunch in the church and evening meal either there or in homes.
In the evenings we had excellent and well attended seminars on reaching Jews and Muslims on Monday and Tuesday; Wednesday was  our regular midweek meeting; and on Wednesday we had an evangelistic meeting with Mick Lockwood from Haworth.
on  the Wednesday morning the Mothers and Toddlers group had a bouncy castle and some of the team took opportunity to mingle. One young woman very helpfully gave a testimony.
We prepared 10,000 A3 leaflets containing testimonies, messages and information and gave away about half of these plus nearly a thousand postcards inviting people to hear Mick. We also had other literature to give away - Gospels, UQs, etc.
We were able to reconnect with several people we already know and some fresh faces. Some few came to meetings on the Thursday and Lord's Day. Some, such as the atheist who wrote to complain, and the people who saw us talking at length to the son of a rabbi, were not happy but generally speaking we did ourselves good. The feedback answered questions such as, say,  where most Jews and Muslims and Filipinos tend to be found, the fact there are Syrians in the area as well as Iranians and the fact some have little English.
It was a worthwhile effort. We are very grateful to the team who helped us and to Mick Lockwood and "Mr McH" in particular. Last time we had a mission we were unable to follow up the next year. I would hope that now we have a clear plan of approach we might try again next Junes or July.

10 Actresses having alliterative appellations

1. Barbara Bach
2. Brigitte Bardot
3. Claudia Cardinale
4. Courteney Cox
5, Doris Day
6. Diana Dors
7. Deanna Durbin
8. Farrah Fawcett
9. Keira Knightley
10. Marilyn Monroe

10 Popular singers with alliterative names

1. Big Bill Broonzy
2. Carlene Carter
3. Gloria Gaynor
4. Janis Joplin
5. Joe Jackson
6. Joan Jett
7. Kris Kross
8. Loretta Lynn
9. Shakin' Stevens
10. Tina Turner

10 Pop Bands with alliterative names

1. Adam and the Ants
2. Beach Boys
3. Bellamy Brothers
4. Culture Club
5. Counting Crows
6. Duran Duran
7. Foo Fighters
8. Franz Ferdinand
9. Sister Sledge
10. The Ting Tings

Lord's Day June 18 2017

It was hot yesterday, of course, but our building is not too bad. By the evening we had set up some fans.
As is most often the case we had a large morning congregation and a small evening one. In the morning we had at least two visitors responding to our leaflet distribution - one professing faith, one not. I was on Stephen's sermon in Acts 7, not the easiest place to start, perhaps. I did make a mistake in having such a long reading. I should have dropped the consecutive reading (the Witch of Endor) and taken Acts 7 in two bites. What I did in fact was to have us sing one verse of our third hymn after the reading and then prayed before the final two verses. Many people missing but some visitors and some of the missing had returned. We had communion in the evening. I read from 1 John 4. I preached on the parable of the net.

Reply to an irate atheist

We have had a mission this week delivering leaflets door to door and on the streets. One irate atheist wrote a long e-mail to me complaining. I wrote back with this e-mail.

Dear Sebastian (not his real name)
Thank you for your long letter. It is always good to get a response even if it is a negative one. You say that you received a ‘Come Take a Look’ leaflet through your door from our “organisation”. I should explain that we are just a little group of local people with plenty of links to others and getting some help this week but not part of some big organisation in the accepted sense.
I note your vehement objection but I do not see that we have been shameful or wasteful. Your use of the word “foist” is highly contentious. We simply offer leaflets. No-one is being forced to read them. You helpfully mention reasons for objecting to our ‘evangelising’. They turn out to be pretty flimsy as far as I can see.
The first point makes no sense. I can only assume there is a typo. Your second point shows a lamentable ignorance of British history. If you care to do a little research you will discover that Baptists were fiercely persecuted in earlier times. That came to an end in 1689 but we were still subjected to various disadvantages for our faith, including being effectively barred from the universities until the 19th century. Thankfully, we live in partly more enlightened times and we have the right to go on to the street and let people know what we believe. Long may that right continue.
I do know that the Golders Green area has a large Jewish population. Having said that, it is still only 15% in Barnet, meaning that 85% of the people we are likely to meet are not Jewish. We are not cynically or provocatively trying to foist Baptism on anyone. You would be surprised, perhaps, how slow we are in fact to baptise anyone. (By the by are you aware that the Jew themselves have miqvot all over the area where they happily get baptised on a regular basis?). Again, your ignorance is letting you down I fear. Have you ever come across Messianic Jews? These are Jews who have become Christians. True Christians tend to be more respectful to Jews than most.
The only person being provocative here is you with your suggestion that you are going to report me and the church to the council! Have you done that? I have not heard from anyone. Perhaps you have rethought it – why give them all that free publicity, eh? What exactly would be “appropriate action”?
If you are aware of any hungry or homeless people in the area, please let us know. Our resources are small but we have been able to help people in the past. Another point, you seem to think we are fundamentalist Christians. Now we certainly take a firm stand on the fundamentals but we probably fall short of the accepted definition. As for “bothering people with religion” we are with you on your apparent opposition to religion. It was religious people who were largely responsible for Jesus's death and religion has clearly been responsible for many ills in this world. No, we are not peddling religion. If that is the impression we have given then I am sorry. We are talking about a personal relationship with God himself, something he brings about not us.
As you are perhaps aware, atheism is not a philosophically tenable position. You do not know everything and so it may be that one thing you do not know is God. If you would care to take a look at one of the many books on the resurrection of Jesus you will find that it is a well established historical fact. The virgin birth is not susceptible to the same sort of demonstration and so it is a matter of faith. As for the immaculate conception we are totally agreed – utter nonsense.
You are rather dismissive of the Bible. I wonder if you have actually read it. I think you would be much less dismissive if you knew it better. I would be happy to provide you with a copy or even help you read through it if you wish. I am a graduate in English literature and have a history degree too and I can assure you that a knowledge of the Bible will open up real vistas if you have any interest in these areas. Your self-confessed failure to see how a book that was written some 2000 years ago (well over that in the case of the Old Testament) can be applicable in the modern world is most understandable. It amazes me too. However, once you see that the New Testament lays down principles applicable in any age and culture it all begins to open up.
Your antipathy to creationism is no surprise. There is nothing nonsensical about it. That adjective could be applied more appropriately to evolution. You say that science has disproved the young earth idea but that is only true if you accept the theory of uniformitarianism, which cannot be proved. As you probably know, the reliability of carbon dating and radio isotopes is hotly debated. Having said that, if the Bible is wrong on creation then that undermines the whole thing, as you say. Hey, that's something else we agree on!
Your advocacy of keeping religion private is the mantra of the day and I am well aware of the desire many have for our types to shut up. But then if you believe what we believe there is no way you can go private. Anyway, why should we be quiet when someone like Richard Dawkins grabs all the publicity he can get? Hardly fair. How about if you keep your atheism to yourself? You say that you believe that I have every right to follow a religion if I so choose but I believe I ought to let people know what I believe.
I love your list near the end of your letter - subservient, non-questioning, irrational, hypocritical, and utterly disconnected from the realities of modern life. I cannot think of anyone in the church who fits such a description. Okay, may be we are a bit hypocritical, sometimes.
I see that you have checked out the scientific evidence on whether prayers do anything at all. The evidence is pretty poor you are right. It is a very difficult thing to examine scientifically. Your idea of prayer as a selfish act is most interesting. I suppose that you are just thinking of one sort of prayer, supplication. There is also confession, praise and thanksgiving. As someone who tries to pray often I can assure you that feeling good is not the usual feeling that prayer produces. I agree that there are selfish prayers but everything in the Bible encourages the very opposite attitude.
Your conclusion that “religion, all religion, belongs in the dustbin of history” has often been said but so far has proved hollow.
If you let me have your address I will do all I can to avoid bothering you with further leaflets. As I said at the beginning we are not a large organisation so I cannot totally guarantee that it will not happen again. If it does, just bin it.
Gary

Midweek Meeting June 14 2017

We've had our mission this week so I've been extra busy. Let me just mention our regular midweek meeting. We were supplemented by members of the team and I wanted to allow plenty of time for prayer so seeing that the next chapter in Leviticus (12) was a short one I thought I'd press on even though it was purification rites in connection with child birth. Part of my thinking was that no-one in the room had heard a message on Leviticus 12 before and no-one was likely to hear one again any time soon. So we got through it just about. The only fly in the ointment for me was the fact that a Spanish lady who has come the last to or three weeks failed to show and we may have inadvertently caused the problem by leaving a door shut too long. I hope we see her again. It would be especially ironic if we unintentionally snubbed someone in the midst of making great attempt to reach others.