The Westminster Conference began today. The opening paper was on 1662 and all that and the speaker was Lee Gatiss, perhaps controversially, an Anglican. Being an Anglican he was a little afraid that we would be bored and so we began with 15 minutes of introduction that included some audience participation as we were examined on a range of beliefs such as what we thought about keeping pistols ready at home or the Queen as head of the church. The serious point behind this apparent frivolity was to demonstrate that things have changed a great deal since 1662 and few of us hold to a range of views quite acceptable in days gone by. We then had half an hour on 1662 itself, which included what I thought was a controversial attempt to get the numbers of the ejected as low as 900 and to claim that even these were not all Puritans. The rest of the time was spent defending Anglicanism - quite understandable from an Anglican I guess.
Dr Robert Oliver chaired and some good points were made from the floor, especially Iain Murray's about the need to recognise spiritual movements and political movements, which sometimes coalesce but inevitably oppose each other. We were probably far too gentle with Lee I guess whose view seems to be that 1662 was a massive mistake but the Anglican church hasn't been all bad since and indeed has improved in some ways. Certainly there was no sign that 1662 gives him any pause to consider leaving.