- It stands for the kind of biblical theology that has moved me most over the
years. It is Reformational, endorsing the great ‘alones' of the Reformation -
Christ alone the ground of our salvation, the Scriptures alone as the authority
for what we are to believe, grace alone as our only approach the Holy One, faith
alone as the only means of connecting with Christ’s willingness to save us, the
glory of God alone as the only worthy end of our existence.
- It is Puritan in its approach to the ministry. The preaching must be
pastoral and the chief work of the pastor must be through his preaching. It
addresses all the classes of people who are there in any congregation, the
unconverted, the careless, the inquiring, the backsliding, and the hungering
believer. It deals with distinctions between perseverance and preservation,
unbelief and doubts, the prodigal and the backslider. It encourages both the
ministry that heals the broken hearted and ministry that slays the
- It is evangelical in its warmth. It loves the Great Awakening of the 18th
century, Edwards in America, Harris and Rowland in Wales, the Erskines in
Scotland and Whitefield in England and everywhere else. It encourages warm
devotional thoughts of revivals of religion and earnest prayer that God may
revive us in these days and preaching that best serves that end.
- It is scholarly in its attention to exegesis and theology. One founding
presence for years was Professor John Murray. I am daily reading his commentary
on Romans once again and it is magnificent. The Conference reveres the Princeton
tradition in which he stood at Westminster Seminary. It reveres the early years
of New College, Edinburgh with Chalmers, Cunningham and Bannerman and the kind
of students the teaching of those men produced.
- It is truly ecumenical; some years the balance of speakers is overwhelmingly
Baptist while in another year they are overwhelmingly Presbyterian, but there is
often a combination of them both. Then there is the sprinkling of the Dutch
Reformed brethren (who incidentally pray quietly at the end of their meals
- It combines an emphasis on piety, history and the doctrines of grace. The
papers reflect those strands of true Christianity. History has in fact come
alive at the Leicester Conference. Some of the high spots have been Iain
Murray’s biographical talks.
- The messages have been the bonus. The best part of the conference is to
spend three days with one another, talking at meal times or over coffee or going
for a walk in the afternoon to Wigton or Oadby, meeting new friends, speaking to
men from Asia and Africa. There are men whom I love to see. To be with them is a
benediction. I am not always stirred by their preaching, but I am invariably
moved seeing them and talking to them again.
- There is the matter of the religious affections. By the Thursday of the
Leicester Conference I am quite moved by the occasion. I often have a lump in my
throat and I am touched by hearing the most simple truths. I suppose those holy
feelings are what I think of most as the ethos of ‘the Banner
- There is the book room and the bargains and the banter. 'You haven’t read
the books on your shelves at home, what justification do you have for buying
more? Does your wife know you are buying those books?'
- The report session is the most mind-expanding occasion as men from the four corners of the globe share their battles and blessings. They come to Leicester still bearing the sword and the trowel. Their ministries are not theoretical but on the cutting edge of kingdom expansion.
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.
I hope to be at Leicester for the ministers conference, My father-in-law will be there too. He gives 10 reasons for attending here.