It is good to be here in Swanwick, Derbyshire once again. We have had three strong papers to start us off. Dr Matthew Bingham gave us an excellent historical paper outlining in this first session why it was that the early Reformers were so wedded to the idea of paedobaptism and the idea of a national church. Paedobaptism was accepted nearly universally before the Reformation and the state idea of the church was widely accepted by most. The idea that England was a new Israel was a third element driving pre- and post-Reformation theology. What drove the Particular Baptists, it was suggested was not simply their reading of the Bible, which says nothing of infant baptism, but also their realisation that the idea of an internal and external covenant was an untenable position. The paper was very helpful.
We then had Ray Evans on leading a believer's church, looking at most obviously at Acts 2 and then less obviously at Acts 6. He added three other useful points - settling for either/or when it should be both/and (including reference to the way time is a tyrant); a diagram on the pastor as prophet, priest and king like and something on consulting members plus something on staff and members. See this page here for a very interesting insight.
We also had John Benton, like Ray a Carey stalwart, on freedom in the church, looking at Romans 14:1-15:13. After summarising the situation Paul is speaking of, he pointed out the six principles there (the Lordship of Christ, the way of love, the priority of the Spirit, the example of Christ, the necessity of writing and the goal of praise) and made these applications - Paul gives principles not a formula, we must avoid both legalism and licence, we must preach on self-denial and judgement and the importance of relationships, etc.