It was good to at the John Owen Centre today for the first of two days on Putting Theology into Practice. There were three speakers.
Colin Burcombe from Northern Ireland took us helpfully to Genesis 26 and the Patriarch Isaac as an example of a man of principle attracted to pragmatism who makes a principled withdrawal and a return to first principles.
Two nice quotations:
“The promise given to Isaac was searching; to refuse the immediate plenty of Egypt for mostly unseen and distant blessings demanded the kind of faith praise in Hebrews 11, verses 9 and 10 and proved Isaac a true son of his father, even though, like Abraham, he was to mar his obedience at once.” (Kidner)
". . . this account of Isaac's dealings with the Philistines portrays Isaac as very much walking in his father's footsteps. He receives similar promises, faces similar tests, fails similarly, but eventually triumphs in like fashion. Indeed, in certain respects he is given more in the promises and achieves more. He is promised 'all these lands [v. 4],' and by the end of the story he is securely settled in Beersheba and has a treaty with the Philistines in which they acknowledge his superiority." (Wenham)
Then came another speaker new to me Alistair Wilson from Scotland who looked at the Apostle Paul, looking mostly at 1 Corinthians and seeking to articulate where Paul was driven by principle and where he was pragmatic. As before, good discussion followed.
The final paper by Ian Hamilton (currently in Cambridge but set to return to Scotland next year) was more anecdotal, reflecting on the Church of Scotland and other developments in church history. He closed by saying
1. God's Word is not a systematic theology
2. Godly men have differed down the years
3. Principled pragmatists have often had a high view of the church
4. Always think the best of others
Some more quotations:
"... quietness and patience and persuasion are no less Christian virtues than is the heroic sacrifice of stipends on high principle." (Owen Chadwick)
“Among the chief evils of our time is that the churches are so divided, that human fellowship is scarcely now in any repute among us. Thus it is that [as] the members of the church [are] being severed, the body lies bleeding. If I could be of any service, I would not grudge to cross even ten seas on account of it.” (Calvin to Cranmer)
Some of us LTS alumni had a nice get together with the Principal and a short time of prayer after the day's proceedings.