Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Congregational Studies Conference 2017

I was with my Congregational friends last Saturday and had a very nice time. I used to see the conference advertised and think about cming along but never made it until last year when Michael Haykin was speaking. Anyway this year Digby James its convenor asked me to speak on libraries (a reciprocation for my asking him to speak for the Evangelical Library perhaps). I spoke on Libraries and their value and enjoyed preparing and speaking.
The other speakers were Paul Lusk on pluralism today a very stimulating non-Christian Institute approach to this whole difficult matter on which Paul has recently published. It being the 300th anniversary of the birth of William Williams Pantycelyn we had a fine  message from young Nathan Munday who is currently doing a Welsh PhD on the sweet singer of Wales. Great stuff.
Digby also gave us a nice presentaiton on the fifty year history of the EFCC.
The papers will be printed in due time. I just sent mine off now.
Next one March 17 in Wesley's Chapel. This one was in the Dr Williams Library.

Pregnant Pachyderm Produces

I seem to be seeing new born elephants everywhere. This one arrived in Chester earlier this year.
The gestation period for an elephant is 22 months!

Midweek Meeting Wednesday March 22 2017

Wednesday was a bit disappointing. We were in double figures but only just and there were some missing. I decided to take a break from Leviticus a  think it is quite demanding. What I chose to do was something on Sola Scriptura, however, and I rather gabbled through that. When it came to the time of prayer we were a little slow to get going really. I think events in London that day had left us a little subdued. Life is often not straightforward.

This is a song

I was thinking about his song the other day. I found this acoustic demo. Nice.


I'm not usre how these malgorithms work but if you know anything of the story of Marc Bolan he died in a car crash) then you will recognise how tasteless this ad on Youtube is.

Comb your hair and curl it

I thought some of you might enjoy this. For most of us it will be better to listen than to look. Aah, the seventies, eh? Charles O'Connor's little guitar is a specially made electric mandolin. BTW I am, of course, rooting for the Welsh tonight not the Irish.

Lord's Day March 19 2017

This week has brought some twists and turns and so once again I find myself unable to report on the Lord's Day until now. Numbers were very good in the morning (pretty much out of Bibles once again) and once more a little low in the evening. We had at least one new lady in the morning and other newbies also came. One oddity was that I tried to help the Iranians by having one of them translate my sermon heads into Farsi which I then reproduced on the notice sheets. Imagine my consternation when nearly halfway into the service there were no Iranians in sight. Soon two turned up, both well able to cope with English. Apparently the recent Spring equinox marks the beginning of Iranian new year hence the no show. There were plenty of others present still from various places and I am hoping to gather some of them this week to discuss baptism and church membership.
In the morning, we tackled Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost, which I hope went well. In the evening we took a break from Matthew to take a one off text John 5:39, 40. This is one of the hundred texts of the Irish Church Missions mentioned here before, one that I think somehow I have missed until now. I'll probably put it on my preached sermons blog.

Anne Dutton

I took a trip into the countryside last Saturday. Although I live in England I am not very familiar with it apart from London. This trip took me deep into the Bedfordshhire and Cambridgeshire landscape, along roads and through villages that I don't recall ever having travelled before. I can't remember seeing so many thatched cottages in one afternoon. My target was the Baptist Chapel in Great Gransden, a lovely square 19th century building with a gallery and a large clock.
It is the church where Anne Dutton was a member and she was the focus of two lectures that afternoon, given by Professor Michael Haykin and David Gay. The church was packed with about 60 present. We were well looked after by the church. Dr Haykin gave us the background and took us through the life of Anne Dutton (she is one of the subjects in his new book of biographies of eight women). Mr Gay in his own idiosyncratic style gave us some highlights from her writings, matters such as assurance (he has written a book The Spirituality of Anne Dutton). Dutton was a prolific writer and there has been a new surge of interest in her over the recent past. Her writings are easy to come by if you look on the Internet and seem well worth investigating.
We have mentioned Dutton previously. See here.
Worth missing the rugby for, especially as Wales lost. (At least England have finally been stopped so missing out on the Triple Crown and Grand Slam).

10 British Buns

1. Bath bun (shown) - rich, round sweet roll that has a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and more crushed sugar sprinkled on top after baking
2. Chelsea bun – currant bun first created in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea, an establishment favoured by Hanoverian royalty which was demolished in 1839
3. Colston bun - named after Sir Edward Colston; made in the city of Bristol; composed of a yeast dough flavoured with dried fruit, candied peel and sweet spices
4. Hot cross bun - spiced sweet bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday in the UK, etc but now popular all year round
5. Iced bun – bread roll made to a sweet recipe with an icing sugar glaze covering the top
6. London bun - finger-shaped or elongated bun made of rich yeast dough flavored with either currants or caraway seeds and topped with white sugar icing
7. Saffron bun - rich, spiced, yeast-leavened sweet bun, flavoured with saffron and cinnamon or nutmeg, and contains currants, similar to a teacake
8. Sally Lunn bun – enriched yeast bread associated with the city of Bath
9. Currant bun - sweet bun that contains currants or raisins; towards the end of the seventeenth century the Reverend Samuel Wigley founded the Currant Bun Company in Southampton
10. Sticky bun - dessert or breakfast sweet roll that generally consists of rolled pieces of leavened dough, sometimes containing brown sugar or cinnamon, which are then compressed together to form a flat loaf corresponding to the size of the baking pan; they have been consumed since the Middle Ages, at which time cinnamon became more prominent

Something for St Patrick's Day

In honour of St Patrick's Day here are some Kerry Slides from the album Chieftains 5. The pictures include two slides in Tralee, County Kerry. Listen out for the singing. My great on one side was Irish or the son of an Irishman I guess, hence my surname.

Midweek Meeting March 15 2017

We were a little low in numbers last night as we came to the end of the opening section of Leviticus. We looked at a lot of verses but I think we got through it okay. We'll need to take a break soon, I'm sure. We had a good prayer session but I cut it a little short perhaps. We had started late as I arrived late owing to technical problems.

Baptist Anecdote

I came across this anecdote recently from 1824 in The New Evangelical Magazine, and Theological Review, Volume 10. A correspondent (Elimelech) includes it saying he had it from Benjamin Francis. (Apologies to any paedobaptist friends).
A poor woman, a member of a neighbouring Independent church, requested me to give her a Bible. I replied, “Yes, Mary, I have no objection to give you a Bible, but it must be on one condition.” “Well, Sir,” said she, “ and what is it?” “Why it is this, that you bring me one text from the New Testament that authorises Infant Baptism.” “Yes, Sir, that I will," was her reply; and she went away apparently very much pleased with the success of her application. The next day she came again, I said, “How do you do, Mary - have you got the text?” “Yes, Sir,” said she, “the best I could find.” She replied, with much seeming satisfaction, “It is in 1 Pet. ii. 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake Sir.” I do not recollect the close of this short dialogue, except that it contained a promise that the good woman should have the Bible.

The Beginning of Spring

I am currently enjoying the novels of Penelope Fitzgerald. Having read The Blue Flower and The Bookshop I recently picked up the appropriately titled The beginning of Spring which is set among expatriates living in early 19th century Russia. It is not particularly seasonal but it is very well written and even has something of a plot, something which is often in short supply in many novels I read these days. I guess the Spring thing or the ice thaw is acting as a device to underline the general drift of the novel. Worth a second read. Perhaps the two snippets below will give the flavour

“You can borrow my Blackbird, if you like,' said Ben. This was his new fountain pen, which troubled him. It was guaranteed not to leak, but writers and schoolchildren knew better. Ben wished to be relieved of the responsibility of the Blackbird, without losing his own dignity.”

"Birch Tree Thoughts was at the censor now, and since all poetry was suspect, would perhaps be more carefully read there than it ever would again."

Lord's Day March 12 2017

I arrived at church around twenty minutes before we began and already four people were sat in the congregation. At first I thought they were all strangers but it turned out that one was a lady who is not there every Sunday and she had brought a friend. There was also a new Nigerian lady and a new Korean lady. We were again a good number in the morning. I tried giving a translated sheet to the Iranians, using google, but that was not particularly successful (no verbs apparently). A former member in the country for a while turned up unannounced so that was encouraging. Someone who had left us has also decided to come back, it seems. With people asking about baptism, these continue to be mostly encouraging times. I preached on the opening verses of Acts 2. It is a lot easier now than in the past as I've thought about it so long and do not feel under pressure from the Charismatics at all. In the evening we looked at the closing verses of Matthew 12 about who is most closely related to Jesus.

A day in Brighton

Last Saturday I headed down to Brighton by train - not for a day out as such but to speak at the annual Sussex Conference on the subject of conscience. The conference, which has run for many years, took place in Ebenezer Reformed Baptist Church in the heart of Brighton and is organised by the pastor Tony Bickley with Howard Sayers from nearby Hailsham. About 20 attended from churches in Brighton and other places. It was good to meet people, some of whom I knew, others who were knew. My book was on sale and I think sales were good. I did have a little wander down to the pier with old friend David Mitchell and his mum who had come across from Portsmouth. It was quite a nice day despite a foggy start. I hope people enjoyed the day as much as I did.