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.

GBA 2011 08

On our final morning we began with Michael Harley who spoke on "the man in the middle". Michael has been a gospel minister since 1959 and so has vast experience. He very warmly spoke to us of his conversion, his entry into the ministry and the ministry itself. Coming from an older time it was a fascinating introduction to  a world pretty much unknown to most of us. Invited to church by a friend he was converted in a large church where he also felt called to the ministry. After three years in London studying classics he went to Oxford, where he encountered liberalism in college and mostly small churches Sunday by Sunday.
Having come through that still evangelical he came to Reformed convictions and then began to move into systematic expository ministry (he began midweek with Isaiah!). He then spoke of many things about the ministry including the need for kindness to men in their first pastorates, a plea not to retire unless necessary and an explanation of his preference for the title pastor. 
He began in Aldeburgh where he met his wife then (not wanting to remain in her home church now she was the pastor's wife) moved on to Kenilworth. This church was split three ways (Liberal, Arminian, Reformed). Unity There was also a growing conviction that it was necessary to leave the Baptist Union. The sorrow was that the church would not leave too.
They ended up in London, where a new pastor had just come to the Metropolitan Tabernacle who had also left the BU at that time (where the Evangelical Times was then produced). It was a time of learning to trust the Lord, not only preaching but also working as a driver.
A London pastorate followed that. Without any detail he spoke of the need to deal with issues that exist in the church and not just pray. He also spoke of how the time sometimes comes when you feel it is right to move on. He shared too the way that the move was initially very difficult for their youngest. Nevertheless this cannot be the leading factor in seeking the Lord's guidance.
So warm and interesting then with plenty of lessons. What a blessing to hear.

2 comments:

Jonathan Hunt said...

He's my brother-in-law's father, a man of much wisdom and experience.

Gary Brady said...

Hadn't realised the connection. Joy to be there.
PS Great moment when Stuart O said there was a Baptist church in C London he'd be glad to see closed and suddenly realised someone could think he meant the Met Tab which he made quite clear was not the case at all!