I haven't been able to report until now on the John Owen Centre conference on Noah, partly because I have been suffering with toothache (I actually missed Stephen Clark's Lloyd-Jones lecture on Noah and the future on the Monday night, though I hear it was good).
On day one we had Steffen Jenkins and Garry Williams looking at Noah in a biblical theological way. Steffen simply looked at the text in Genesis 6-9 and spoke of the context in Genesis 1-5, the ruin of creation while God remained steadfast in purpose (6:1-8), Noah the new Adam and Noah's new world the global foundation of all future salvation. Garry looked at the Noahic Covenant dissenting from VanDrunen (see elsewhere on this blog) and arguing that it is redemptive.
On day two we had Ian Hamilton on the faith of Noah, Mark Garcia in America (by the wonders of modern technology) on Noah, the church and the sacraments (on ravens, doves and rainbows) and Geoff Gobbett on Noah the preacher for preachers.
It was all very interesting and stimulating. I'm sure most of us are not as well thougt through as we ought to be on Noah and his covenant. Steffen Jenkins (a new name to me) was perhaps the most stimulating with his very thorough exegesis of the Scriptures in Genesis regarding Noah. Garry Williams and Mark Garcia were also very interesting. The conference as whole was a blessing and the discussion of a good standard. Around fifty were there. The recordings are worth looking out for.
Here are some quotations that struck me
Steffen Jenkins quoted Gordon Wenham saying "The call of Abraham is the answer to the problems of the world" (See Theological Interpretation of the Old Testament: A Book-by-Book Survey)
Ian Hamilton quoted Bavinck saying, in his Dogmatics (III) “common grace and special grace…flow in a single channel” and Calvin on Romans 4:20 " Let us also remember, that the condition of us all is the same with that of Abraham. All things around us are in opposition to the promises of God: He promises immortality; we are surrounded with mortality and corruption: He declares that he counts us just; we are covered with sins: He testifies that he is propitious and kind to us; outward judgements threaten his wrath. What then is to be done? We must with closed eyes pass by ourselves and all things connected with us, that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believing that God is true."
Geoff Gobbett quoted George Orwell (in the novel 1984) "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act." and Boris Johnson writing several years ago in response to a horrible crime
"Bourgeois Britain is going through a bit of a panic about the role of God in society, largely fuelled by nervousness of Islam. Attacks are made on faith schools, or on BA staff who wear the cross, and the idea seems to be that we can only voice reservations about one religion if we bash them all impartially.
That is why Richard Dawkins is having such a soaraway success with an atheist tract called The God Delusion, ...
Alert readers of this column will know that my own faith is a very feeble tinsel object. I sometimes think there might be some kind of celestial radio signal, but it is about as intelligible as Radio Tirana. ... My only thought, as I stare at the faces of Carty and Brown, is that, if we throw out religion, then we lose a useful tool in changing lives. You and I lead comfortable existences, full of pleasure and interest, and generally so heavily regulated that we do not face that many moral challenges. We may feel that we do not have much of a spiritual void to fill.
But look at these creeps, the shambles of "sperm fathers" and gang warfare and violence. It's not so much that they have been deprived of love, but that they have been deprived of authority of any kind, and our feminised paedophile-obsessed culture means there is less and less chance that they will find a male role model in the classroom.
However ludicrous it may seem, religion sets boundaries; it suggests to bad and loveless people that they are loved. It provides a framework.
Of course it would be nice if Carty and Brown were not recruited to some militant Islamic group; it would be nice if they turned to the good old milquetoast Church of England. But it doesn't really matter. We can't just string these people up. We can't flog them. We are forced to incarcerate and hope for the best.
Before we go all the way with Dawkins and chuck out religion, we should look at the savage and remorseless faces of Carty and Brown, and reflect that, if we are to have any hope of changing them for the better, then God is a useful card for society to keep up its sleeve." (See article here)