It is good to be in Swanwick once again with familiar faces and some new ones. I drove up with my son and his family and a South African LTS student we know. There were three sessions on this first day and things were not quite as planned. We began with a paper on the Anabaptist leader Menno Simons by Ray Trainer. This was an excellent introduction to Simons who was a radical Baptist pioneer. Ray gently led us through the situation (explaining the difference between magisterial and radical reformers) Menno's life (in which he rejected transubstantiation, infant baptism and the violent end of Anabaptist thought and was constantly fleeing his persecutors with his wife and family) what he believed and taught (including a personal faith, the sufficiency of Scripture, orthodox Christology and the importance of the church as a community) and the relevance of all this (the importance of Christ and the local churches).
We then had a demanding session on the hermeneutics of Revelation from Greg Beale that argued for symbolism at the heart of the book in light of it OT allusions, denoting judgement and yet hope for a remnant.
After food, the women had their own track with Jane McNabb while we men listened to John Hawley stirring us up to give ourselves (especially ministers) to some form of open air work. It was all very striking, including slide of John talking to Richard Dawkins in the street in Oxford, which he told us all about.