The similar phrase 'Worldly Christianity' is one used by Bonhoeffer. 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.

Some fun items

For some good clean fun with a theological bent try these sites

Here and here and here

pointed out by friends on Geneva net.

Someone sent me these today (shortened version)

Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...) The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs - Alexander, the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar
(But see here)
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter "A"?
A. One thousand
Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All were invented by women.
Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
A. Honey
~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!
Don't delete the following just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers
in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

Hwy do I bheothr to prfooraed?


I'm also reading about David Brainerd in preparation for papers I have agreed to give next month. I found this interesting paragraph on p 95 of John Thornbury's biography.

On 20 February (1743) he recorded in his diary a conviction which not only typified his own outlook on the nature of true religion, but also reflected a particular slant on Puritanism that was beginning to grow in the minds of Edwards and some of his followers. He mentions preaching in the afternoon, at which time he ‘was able to speak closely against selfish religion; that loves Christ for his benefits, but not for himself. At the heart of Edwards’ theology was the persuasion that God, or the Supreme Being, as he was wont to be called, should be loved for his inherent loveliness of beauty. Indeed this is the distinguishing mark of true godliness. Everything else can be counterfeited. Even natural or unsaved people can have a sort of fondness for God as long as they think he is benefiting them. But only a genuinely regenerated person can have a deep and profound appreciation of God’s inherent glory. Brainerd, Bellamy, Hopkins and many others built on this concept and made it a fundamental part of their evangelistic ministries. ‘Selfish religion,’ that is, a piety rooted in a persuasion of God’s favour towards oneself, is suspect.

Like snow

I'm around halfway through Philip Eveson's commentary on Leviticus now. this paragraph on p 175 let in some shafts of light.

If the skin condition has covered the whole body and left the skin white all over, then the priest can pronounce the person clean (13:12-13). This has caused headaches to many people because they have understood ‘white’ to signify a leprous condition. The confusion has been caused by translators adding ‘white as’ when the word ‘snow’ is used of leprosy in Numbers 12:12 and 2 Kings 5:27. But the colour ‘white’ is not found in the original text of these verses. Sufferers from bad dandruff, when they comb their hair, find particles of dry skin on their clothes like flakes of snow. That is the point of the comparison. Both Miriam and Gehazi were leprous ‘like snow’, not in the sense that their skin became ‘white like snow’, but that it became ‘flaky like snow’. One of the two miraculous signs that God gave Moses was that his hand became leprous ‘like snow’, in the sense of ‘flaky like snow’, and then was restored again like the rest of his skin (Exod. 4:6-7).
The whiteness of the skin in the present passage is therefore not a sign of leprosy but of clean skin after a leprous skin disorder. It is like new white skin after scabs have peeled off.

Weekly Proverb 04

Hope deferred, heart's diseased; longing fulfilled, life's full
Prov 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life
This is a beautifully poignant observational proverb. The first part provides a balancing warning to the ‘Little by little’ principle of 13:11. The proverb itself is balanced with a contrast strikingly describing the sadness of disappointment and the joy of a longing fulfilled.
Christmas has come and Jack, an orphan who hoped against hope to get a real football this year, despite past disappointments, is holding back the tears. On the other side of town Ned, the same age, is jumping for joy after tearing the paper from the football kit he has plagued his parents for since September. In the same street lives Arthur. He has not had a visit from his son in Scotland for 20 years. There was a card saying he would come if he could, but he has not arrived. Arthur is sick at heart. At the local hospital Karl and Melanie hug each other weeping tears of joy as after 16 long years they have finally been blessed with a little girl, even though doctors had given up hope of them conceiving. And in church, Ted and Rachel have mixed feelings. Their hearts are sick because eldest son Tim, now at university, has made no profession of faith, yet they have found their teenage daughter Beth’s recent baptism like a tree of life.
The hope deferred is not necessarily one that will not be fulfilled but its drawn out nature makes the heart sick with longing. Abraham and Sarah knew most about the hope deferred but also the longing fulfilled with Isaac's miraculous birth. Christ eagerly desired to eat the Passover before the cross and eventually did.
If we are believers, we know that in the new Jerusalem, the tree of life is there for us. Meanwhile as we wait we are often sick at heart.

Mae Hen Wlad Fy nhadau

An untraditional 1:44 celebration for March 1. It arises because someone has been touting a recording supposed to be Jimi Hendrix doing it. This is better. I have a better version again in my collection by the late Tic Gwilym but can't find a way to share it. You can hear a snatch here.

Bloggy Special 03

Anne Steele

The Strict Baptist Historical Society Annual Lecture will take place on March 16 7 pm at Bethesda Baptist Church Kensington near Notting Hill Tube. The speaker is Sharon James who will speak on the hymn writer Anne Steele (1717-1778). Mrs James has an excellent book on this hymn writer and three other women called "In trouble and in joy". See here for the book, here for the SBHS.
Fellow hymn writer Benjamin Beddome took a shine to Miss Steele at one point Mrs James tells us. See here for details.
PS Anyone in the Westerleigh area, Robert Oliver, I note is speaking on Beddome this Saturday. Payment required. See here.

Hellenisti Ginoskeis;

Interesting new blog on koine Greek here

Francis Schaeffer

Today was the second of the three lunch time lectures being held at the Evangelical Library, London, this Spring. About 25 gathered in the Bob Sheehan Room to hear Pastor Sheehan's successor at Welwyn Evangelical Church, Hertfordshire, Pastor Mostyn Roberts. His subject was Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) and was a call not to forget that man's significant contribution from the sixties and seventies but to go back to him again for help in facing some of the challenges of the presnet day, movements such as the emergent church.
Mr Roberts began with a brief overview of Schaeffer's life - his conversion, marriage, brief spell at Westminster Seminary and his involvement in the various splits that took place among fundamentalists in America before his coming to Switzerland to work with Children for Christ. The book True Spirituality was commended to us, a book that grew out of a spiritual crisis he passed through in 1951 and 1952 that eventually led to the establishment of L'Abri and the work that Schaeffer subsequently became known for.
A fascinating section followed where our speaker described his unconverted days in the seventies studying French as a would be existentialist and discovering Schaeffer's Escape from reason, a book that proved important in his eventual conversion. In the eighties and then a lawyer he got to meet the great man himself following a bout of sickness when he picked up adn read He is there and he is not silent and decided to visit L'Abri (a visit that lasted an unexpected 10 days). The blow by blow account of the meeting was appreciated. 'No-one can be the Holy Spirit for you' was a phrase that stuck in Mr Roberts's mind from it. This was three years before Schaeffer's death from cancer. The conversation helped draw Mr Roberts in the direction of the Reformed faith.
The rest of the paper considered Schaeffer and his message for today. An Acts 17 style-evangelist and a man like the men of Issachar commended by the Chronicler, Schaeffer's chief principles were the Lordship of Christ over the totality of life and the centrality of the mind. Four sections considered him as evangelist, as pastor, as 'prophet' and as communicator.
The Schaeffer approach of 'taking the roof off' to expose people's inconsistent thinking and being confident in the unyielding nature of God's created reality was commended as was the idea of the need to bow twice (to God as Creator and to God as Saviour) though not uncritically. A conviction of despair needs to come usually before a conviction of guilt. Men need to see they are dead or lost as well as guilty. Quoting Jim Packer Mr Roberts urged us to accept Schaeffer's 'cartoons' rather than rejecting them because of some faulty details.
Some of the more superficial criticisms of Schaeffer were dismissed and we were encouraged to learn from an admittedly imperfect model.
There was plenty of time for discussion including some filling in of background detail. People seemed generally willing to take the critical but appreciative approach commended. Perhaps one thing that didn't help caheffer in his time was the desire to presnet him as a Christian philsopher. When we see him chiefly as an evangelist and pastor he stands out. His undoubted 'prophetic' insight and skilful communication served only to add to those qualities.
Francis Schaeffer links:
Wikipedia (Some 10 links are given there so I won't repeat them here). You might find this letter from Cornelius Van Til to Francis Schaeffer of interest.

The Bloggy Man 23

New Blog

With the Thomas Adams blog nearing completion, I've launched out on another new one. This one features the forgotten (heard that word before?) Baptist hymn writer Benjamin Beddome and is again composed largely following the Blue Peter method. Perhaps you might like to start here.

Swallowed up in victory

Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Exodus 7:12

Going into the presence of the great Pharaoh must have been something of an ordeal for Moses and Aaron. No doubt when God described what to do when Pharaoh said to them 'Perform a miracle', as he surely would, they were greatly relieved to know they would have an answer. Moses, in particular would have recalled how God had done the very same thing when he first called him out in the desert. He may have remembered running from the snake. In a similar way the Gospel promises give believers confidence when they go out in his name. We believe in miracles. We believe that God can turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. We believe he answers prayer and can transform situations. When we see such things happening, we are very encouraged as Moses and Aaron surely were when they saw Aaron's staff turn into a snake before their very eyes.
How very disappointed Moses and Aaron must have been then when instead of acceding to their every demand, Pharaoh reacted quite differently. He sent for his wise men and sorcerers, and soon Jannes and Jambres and the whole crew were proceeding, one by one, to do what appeared to be the very same thing with their staffs. Again we can identify. The world constantly apes the best that Christians can do. They steal our best ideas, mimic our profoundest thoughts, counterfeit all our experiences and copy our every action. It can get quite discouraging at times. But then we read these striking words - But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. It failed to soften Pharaoh's heart, of course. That particular struggle was only beginning. But it must have put heart into God's servants and when we hear of the power of Christ's kingdom to swallow up all before it, as we do from time to time, then it ought to give us heart too. God is at work and no jumped up magician or pundit, for all his tricks, has a hope against the advance of his church. The gates of hell cannot prevail for Christ will have his way.

Obscure LP

When I was a teenager in the seventies a hip thing to do was to walk around with an obscure LP under your arm. I have several obscure albums in my collection. This must be one of the obscurest. I can find no reference to it anywhere on the net. I bought my copy in Amsterdam in the early eighties. It's a great album. Below are the track listing and sleeve notes:
Side 1
1. SICILIANA 5 :14
(Johann Sebastian Bach)
THIJS VAN LEER, flute with Orchestra
Arranged & Conducted by ROGIER VAN OTTERLOO
2. PRELUDE 5:00
from ‘Prelude, Fugue et Variation’, Op. 18 (César Franck - Arr: Louis van Dyke)
Louis van Dyke, piano - Jacques Schols, bass - John Engels, drums
3. ALLA BREVE 5:25
from Sonata in G minor (“Sonatas and Pieces for Flute and Continuo”)
(Georg Philipp Telemann-Arr.: Chris Hinze & Henk Alkema)
CHRIS HINZE, flute with Henk Alkema, piano & spinet Harro
Ruysenaars, ‘cello - Rob Langereis, bass - Peter Ypma, drums
4. VALSE 6:19
(based on a theme by Johann Sebastian Bach - Arr: Louis van Dyke)
Louis van Dyke, piano - Jacques Schols, bass - John Engels, drums
Side 2
1. LARGO 4:39
from Concerto in C Major for 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, 2 Violins,
Strings and Harpsichord F XII No. 17
(Antonio Vivaldi Arr. & Adap: Chris Hinze)
CHRIS HINZE. flute with Hutyra Ferenc, flute - Wouter Möller, ‘cello
- Henk Alkema, piano - Rob Langereis, bass - Peter Ypma, drums
2. PAVANE 4:35
(based on a theme by Gabriel Fauré - Arr.: Louis van Dyke)
Louis van Dyke, piano - Jacques Schols, bass - John Engels, drums
from Mass in B minor, BWV 232 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
THIJS VAN LEER, flute with Orchestra
Arranged & Conducted by ROGIER VAN OTTERLOO
4. SICILIANA 3: 58
from Sonata in A minor (“Sonatas and Pieces for Flute and Continuo’)
(Georg Philipp Teleman-Arr.: Chris Hinze & Henk Alkema)
CHRIS HINZE, flute with Henk Alkema, piano - Rob Langereis, bass - Peter Ypma, drums
5. AGNUS DEI 4:57
from Mass in B minor, BWV232 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
THIJS VAN LEER, flute with Orchestra
Arranged & Conducted by ROGIER VAN OTTERLOO
Voice: Letty de Jong

Great themes from some of the world’s most beloved classical masterpieces are expertly performed here by a group of prominent European artists: pianist Louis van Dyke, arranger-conductor Rogier van Otterloo, and flautists Chris Hinze and Thijs van Leer. Four musicians who happen to have a great deal in common. Although they have become highly successful in the popular and jazz fields they were all trained in classical music, taking their conservatory degrees. All have recorded extensively for CBS, and are winners of the coveted Edison award; the yearly Dutch prize for the best recording released in each musical category. Besides, all are leaders of their own group with which they have become popular all over Europe: Louis van Dyke with his own trio. Rogier van Otterloo with an orchestra which has accompanied several bestselling vocal recordings on CBS, Chris Hinze with his Combination, and, last but not least, Thijs van Leer with Focus.
This album, compiled especially for the sophisticated listener, presents seven choice selections from previously released CBS recordings. In addition, however, there are two tracks that were specially recorded for this release by Thijs van Leer. Both his interpretations of Bach’s ‘Siciliana’ and ‘Qui Tollis Peccata’ are in a vein similar to his excellent work on the ‘Introspection’ album, which, at the time of this writing, has almost earned him his first gold record as a soloist. In general, these unique translations of classical themes into contemporary music, without obscuring a single line of the original music, are characterized by a truly marvelous feeling for the material. As you listen you will rediscover these well-known melodies and appreciate the fresh manner in which they have been interpreted.

Produced by John J. Vis & Ruud Jacobs, Recording Engineer Luc Ludolph, Photography Kees de Jong. Frits van Swoll, Cover Design CBS Studio, Holland, Liner Notes Pete Venudor

Scooters, vacation, fall

Fellow blogger bloggers, do you find yourself thinking like this when you open blogger each time? Or is it just me?

PS I've ony just noticed their deliberate alphabetical mistake

The Bloggy Man 22

Mother Language Day

Today is my youngest son's birthday and so I just checked to see if February 21 marks anything else significant. It turns out that since November 17 1999 February 21 has been marked as International Mother Language Day, a UNESCO initiative building on Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh since 1952, when many Bengali-speaking people were massacred by the police and army in Dhaka (formerly Dacca). International Mother Language Day is observed yearly by UNESCO member states and at its headquarters to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
The Linguapax Award is presented annually today. UNESCO sets the theme for each International Mother Language Day and holds related events at its headquarters in Paris on or around this date each year.
My son's main language is Welsh. I put it that way because
Sometimes the term first language is used for the language that the speaker speaks best (his second language then being the language he speaks less well than his first language, etc).
Sometimes the terms first language, second language and third language are used to indicate various levels of skill in a language, so that it can be said that a person knows more than one language at first or second language level.
Sometimes the term native language is used to indicate a language that a person is as proficient in as a native inhabitant of that language's base country, or as proficient as the average person who speaks no other language but that language.
Sometimes the term mother tongue or mother language is used for the language that a person learnt at home (usually from his parents). Children growing up in bilingual homes can according to this definition have more than one mother tongue.
In the context of population censuses conducted on the Canadian population, Statistics Canada defines mother tongue as "the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census".

I think that as far as Welsh is concerned my other sons are becoming what one would call heritage speakers. A heritage speaker is someone who learned a certain language in childhood, but has subsequently used it only in a limited set of contexts (often only with family). While the heritage language would be considered a first language, the person often falls short of the full range of abilities one would expect from a native speaker. Children who immigrated before they began formal education in their native country, and children who are exposed to their immigrant parent or parents' native language at home are likely to become heritage speakers.

4.3 Solomon Gets Established

Previous Chapter
3. How to deal with treacherous strategists like Joab
The other plotter was Joab. In verses 28-35 we see how Solomon dealt with him. Joab was different again. No young pretender, he had served David for many years. However, Joab really only ever served himself. He was loyal to David because it suited him. When he no longer felt it appropriate he simply switched allegiance.
There are people like that today. How dangerous they are. They appear to serve the Lord but, in truth, it is only ever as far as it suits them.
Hearing about Adonijah, Joab (28) ‘fled to the tent of the LORD and took hold of the horns of the altar’. Solomon is told about it but is not fazed. He tells ‘Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Go, strike him down!’ (29). Benaiah is not sure about killing Joab at the altar itself but Solomon sees the issue clearly. This act will not pollute the altar. The pollution is coming from Joab. It is his actions that have stained the House of David and so to deal with it at the altar is quite appropriate. Surely the lesson for us is that such ruthlessness is a sacred responsibility. We need not be squeamish. Benaiah, we are told (35) then replaced Joab as head of the army. Zadok replaced Abiathar.

4. How to deal with volatile supporters like Shimei
The final case is that of Shimei, the man who had cursed David when Absalom rebelled but who had shown loyalty since David’s return. Solomon calls him in and says (36, 37)
Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.
Shimei saw that Solomon was being merciful and so he went for it. All was going well until (39) ‘three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maacah, king of Gath’. When Shimei heard (40) ‘he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slave’s and brought them back.’
What was he thinking? He surely had not forgotten. Perhaps he felt he was untouchable. Perhaps he was testing Solomon. Will the man of peace do anything? Solomon says (44, 45)
You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the LORD will repay you for your wrongdoing. But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the LORD for ever.
He then had Shimei killed. Again, it may seem severe but to have been weak at this point would have been highly detrimental. It is this ruthless streak that meant the final sentence of the chapter could be written – ‘The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.’
From time to time we have had mice in our house – field mice not rats, thankfully. They are lovely creatures but a hazard– to our health for example - and a nuisance. One even inserted itself into the back of our electric cooker and short-circuited it. We take the opinion then that we do not want them living with us and so (forgive me if it horrifies you) we kill them. We use traps. I once caught a mouse in a trap but it was not dead and I had to take a hammer to the poor creature. I put it in a plastic bag so I would not have to look. Horrible! Perhaps I should have just set it free. I had to do something. So it is with God’s kingdom. As distasteful as it may sometimes be, we must act.
This is, in part, the character of this book. It sometimes has to be negative. We need to be warned against certain things and certain people. Think of Tit 1:13, 14 where Paul says to Timothy 'Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.'
This is why church discipline is important. We welcome in members but we also believe that at times it is necessary to exclude some too. See 1 Co 5:5 'Hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.' Sometimes that is needed.
What about Jesus’s words in Mt 5:29, 30? 'If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.'
Similarly, we all need to mortify sin. Romans 8:12-14 'Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.'
It is difficult, messy, painful work but it must be done.

4.2 Solomon Gets Established

Solomon’s actions in establishing the kingdom
Verse 12 acts as a sort of turning point, ‘So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David’. The acts that we read about in 13-46 describe how ‘his rule was firmly established.’ We read about how Solomon dealt, firstly, with two men that David had not mentioned and then with two that he had. A little lesson here then is that we need to draw principles from what we learn and apply them. Solomon applied what David had taught him even where he had not mentioned the individuals concerned. So learn

1. How to deal with rebellious pretenders like Adonijah
In verses 13-25, which are full of detail about the careful way that people spoke to each other and treated each other in the court, we read how Adonijah ‘went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother.’ In verse 15 he says to her ‘As you know, … the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the LORD.'
He then requests that she ask Solomon to give him ‘Abishag the Shunammite’ as his wife. She was the woman who had been so close to David in his final days, of course. Bathsheba agrees to speak to Solomon but her son is very negative. Eager as he is to please his mother and show her all due respect, this is a bridge too far. 22 'Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him - after all, he is my older brother - yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!'
In light of what had been happening so recently, Solomon felt this request could only be considered in a negative light. If Adonijah had Abishag, he might then make another move on the throne. You may feel this is harsh. Perhaps he just took a fancy to Abishag. If so, he acted very foolishly. Bathsheba comes over here as naïve. As ruthless as he may seem, Solomon is the model for us – ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely’, he says (23) ‘if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request!’
24, 25 'And now, as surely as the LORD lives - he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised (this is the issue – not any petty vengeance) - Adonijah shall be put to death today! So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.'
It is all very nice to suppose that we can just let people believe and do what they like but beliefs and actions have consequences. We must recognise that.

2. How to deal with unfaithful schemers like Abiathar
This incident alerted Solomon to the fact that there was still an undercurrent of rebellion in his kingdom and so he deals next with Abiathar the priest. This is a priest not a would-be king and one who had been very loyal to David in the past. So Solomon says to him 'Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign LORD before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.'
This was a fulfilment of the prophecy spoken to Samuel and Eli so long before.
Such ruthlessness in establishing the kingdom does not mean that we take a one-size fits all approach. We must deal firmly, fairly and with resolution but also with wisdom and care. [Pic - Anathoth]

Gray's Notes 07

Darby got this straight from the mouth of Don Carson back in the mid-eighties. It grew out of a study of John the Baptist.

Bloggy Special 02

Weekly Proverb 03

Pacific Prudence and Big Blurter
12:23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly
An interesting double contrast proverb. A prudent man has knowledge but willingly keeps it to himself. The heart of fools, however, blurts out what it thinks is knowledge but is really folly. Cf 13:6, 15:2 where a fool exposes his folly and his mouth gushes folly. Wise and foolish differ in style not just content. One is a child emptying the toy box across the floor, the other a craftsman carefully selecting the right tool from his toolbox. Fools are eager to speak first and display their cleverness. They cannot wait to get their facts right or their understanding clear. ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’. Certainly fools are often loudest in proclaiming their folly. Wisdom recognises this and is careful to ignore the hullabaloo surrounding the big noises in this world’s clamour and seeks knowledge from the less publicity conscious.
The prudent willingly take time investigating, weighing things, considering the various angles, even though it means staying silent. Pearls are not for pigs or what is sacred for dogs. Some displays of knowledge are mere self-promotion and revealing certain things too early does more harm than good. Modern sex education is an obvious area where prudence and folly clash. Too many blurt it all out. ‘Nothing can justify speaking contrary to the truth. But we are not always obliged to tell the whole truth.’ (Bridges). Abraham’s dealings with Isaac, Joseph’s with his brothers in Egypt, Esther’s with her king are examples. Perhaps Joseph learned by experience not to blurt out knowledge as he had when younger. Think too how fools rush into print to say Christianity is finished, the Bible is wrong. The prudent willingly wait and have been proved right many times. So it will be to the end. Jesus himself showed such wisdom in his early attempts to secure silence regarding his Messiahship and in how he gradually revealed truth to his disciples. Cf Jn 16:12.

Bio 07 Amala & Kamala

I've started reading these Arthur Custance papers and came across a reference to the story of Amala and Kamala. They are among the best documented cases of feral children. The story is there in brief at Wikipedia, with other links. See here.
These were two young girls discovered living with wolves in 1920 near Midnapore, India. When rediscovered Kamala appears to have been about 7 or 8, Amala much younger, just an infant (18 months?). They were probably not sisters but were abducted by the wolves at different times. The two were first observed by missionary Joseph Singh, who worked at an orphanage in the area. He had observed two human-like figures living with wolves in an old termite mound. He captured them and took them back to his orphanage to care for them. Amala, the younger, died after only a year, but Kamala lived until 1929 when she died of typhoid fever. Singh later published his diaries recounting his experiences with the girls.
According to him, both exhibited wolf-like behaviours. Both had developed thick callouses on palms and knees from having walked on all fours. They were mostly nocturnal, had an aversion to sunshine and could see well in the dark. They also exhibited an acute sense of smell and an enhanced ability to hear. They enjoyed raw meat and would eat out of a bowl on the ground, much like dogs. In addition, they exhibited a hypersensitivity to touch and hated wearing clothes. In fact, they seemed to be insensitive to cold and heat. They showed few human emotions beyond fear.
Singh took on the difficult task of trying to integrate the two girls into human society. Kamala, the elder girl, was eventually house trained and became used to the company of other human beings. She was also eventually able to walk upright, although never proficiently (she would often revert to all fours when she needed to go somewhere quickly).
When they were found, Kamala and Amala were ignorant of human language. Both girls made high-pitched wailing noises, not unlike a wolf's howling. Amala began to show signs of progress towards human speech like a normal toddler before her early death, however, Kamala's progress was much slower. After several years in Singh's care, she had only learned about 40 words and had a poor grasp of grammar.

Family life

It's half term and we've just said goodbye to Eleri's sister and family as they continue their round trip from Cardiff via Wiltshire and London and back to Wales. They have three kids, a little younger than ours and the eight cousins get on really well. They've been bouncing on our new trampoline, watching videos, looking round Hamley's toyshop, etc. Yesterday Glyn and I went to hear Andrew Davies up at the john Owen Centre on preaching the cross. About 30 gathered. We were only able to be present for the morning session when Mr D gave a very full and well thought out paper on understanding the meaning of the cross. Inevitably he had to take cognisance of the various errors and heresies floating around at present. His emphasis, however, was on preserving the mystery of the cross and seeing penal substitution as the key model. He also had an interesting and helpful section on keeping the cross central in our systematic and biblical theology. The cross is good news and it must be preached as good news. It would have been good to sty for the more practical seminar that followed in the afternoon but though Glyn and I have generous, understanding wives one can only push these things so far.
I did take opportunity to get a copy of Philip Eveson's new book a commentary on Leviticus, which he kindly signed for me. The book is dedicated to all LTS students past and present so we should be reading it.
This morning has been very relaxing - pancakes for breakfast a couple of birthday celebrations and a lovely sandwich lunch. Family life is good.

One night with the king

This has been out in the States for some time. I think I am right in saying it is set for release on DVD here on March 01. This trailer for American Theaters (as they call them) lasts 1:34.


I remember back in the late seventies a speaker suggesting that the closest some Christians got to nature was an Argus poster. Argus were then producing the sort of inspirational posters parodied by site I found through Justin Taylor's Blog. See here and here. For Argus see here. I had a quick go myself. I'm sure you can do much better.

Richard Bernard

This post is simply to say that I have deleted all posts relating to Richard Bernard on this blog. They can now be found, along with many others, on the blogspot Richard Bernard Puritan.

The Bloggy Man 21

Pierre van der Linden

Today is the birthday of (arguably) the world's greatest drummer, Pierre Van Der Linden. I can't find anything featuring just him but this short clip (2:48) gives an idea of the man's prowess on the old skins. Hope to catch him playing next month in MK.

Korean New Year

We were being made aware today that it is Chinese New year, that is to say that it is the beginning of the Lunar Year. This fact is noted not just by the Chinese but by people throughout the east and beyond, including Koreans.

Since the beginning of the year a Yangmoory Church congregation has been meeting in our church on Sunday afternoons for Korean services. Although we are a Baptist church we are Reformed in our theology and as the church is committed to the Westminster Standards we were very happy to have them work alongside us like this. Today was an opportunity to join them as they welcomed in the new year. As a special kindness to us much of the afternoon was conducted in English, which we appreciated.

From 2-3 pm there was a service. Pastor Horace Shon preached appropriately from 2 Cor 5:16-19 on The new resolutions of the new man. The hymns (words and tunes) were conservative as we like them. (We sang one hymn to God save the Queen, which I guess is an American thing).

After the service there was a celebration as various departments and individuals presented items of song and dance. (I'd never seen Korean dance before - very graceful). It was a short but happy programme. We ended with an adapted version of the traditional Korean song Arirang arirang. I managed to say 'Happy new year' in Korean (after a fashion) which was appreciated.

We were then ushered into the back room for a truly magnificent spread of mostly Korean foods (Kimchi, spring rolls, beef bogoli, noodles, rice balls, etc). What a happy time.

I was glad that a number of our congregation were able to join the Korean friends. The church was packed. I am getting to know one or two, including two LTS students. I spoke to a young lady who is studying flower arranging and another who is one a leading Yo!Sushi chef. They do 117 varieties of sushi I learned. (Gim-bahp Koreans call it).

Being a pastor in London brings many benefits. One of them is to see how many people, of different nationalities God is calling to himself in these days. Pastor Horace Shon and his team are godly people. It is a blessing to know them. I'd recommend Horace's blog to you but it is all in Korean.
[Brief Wikipedia article here. Pics - Greetings (out of date I think) Pastor Horace]

Ministers' Fraternals 05

5. Strengths and weaknessesFinally, I want to say something about the strengths and weaknesses of a ministers’ fraternal. At the beginning I quoted Arturo G Azurdia III regarding the Whitefield fraternal. He also says ‘The challenges of Christian ministry are unique and consuming. Church leaders are expected to provide spiritual motivation, pastoral care, theological insight, evangelistic vision, and forward-looking leadership. But to this end ministers themselves need resources. They need practical tools and continuing education. They need collegial fellowship and intellectual stimulation. They need spiritual refreshment and personal encouragement.’
It was with the aim of providing such resources for church leaders and ministers that the Whitefield fraternals were begun.
In November, 1807 the Eclectic Society discussed the subject of the chief duties of Christian ministers to one another. Some of the duties they mention are to

Love one another
Maintain spiritual unity
Pray for one another
Guard against envy and mutual jealousy
Rejoice in one another’s success
Honour and defend one another, being jealous each for the other’s character
Admonish and exhort one another in love
Enlighten one another
Tenderly help any who are in trouble
Forgive one another
Think the best of one another rejecting prejudice and intolerance
Avoid emphasising minor differences and allow the right of private judgement
Avoid gossiping about one another
Avoid flattering one another

I would be willing to argue that most of these duties can best be promoted through the means of ministers’ fraternals.
On the other hand, it is right that we recognise the limitations of fraternals. In a series of articles for Rutherford House Dr Montagu Barker has been quite critical of fraternals. In an article on The Minister as a member of the fellowship he argues for pastor’s pastor’s pastors.
He says that for most ministers ‘Their sustenance has been the company of other clergy, with fraternals, retreats and conferences. How inadequate they prove; they are the very worst places for ministers to be pastored! Ministers meet and discuss their work, with banal generalities about recent encouragements. I myself have spoken to ministers’ fraternals and seen how little real sharing goes on.’
He continues ‘How can you say you are depressed and feel a failure, that the work is going badly and you feel responsible? How can you share that your home life is in chaos, with your wife having gone off you sexually, and the children acting up mercilessly? All you can share is vague generalities, and exaggerate the spiritual growth of the work.
‘Clergy do not care well for other clergy, doctors care very badly for other doctors and lawyers give terrible advice to fellow lawyers because they identify too closely with the other person. In medicine, we are well aware of this, if a little ashamed of ourselves. When I see a doctor as one of my patients, I have to remind myself that while in my clinic, he is just someone who has problems. I may meet him later in committees, and see many issues in him that I recognise in myself; yet I must regard him as a person who is depressed. I know that my heart is beating faster and my blood pressure rising, but if I make concessions simply because he is a doctor, I will eventually run into trouble. Some doctors find this easier than others; but we do not care well for our kith and kin because we identify in this way.’
In an article for the late Selwyn Hughes’ CWR organisation Allan Cox, in an article entitled ‘Ministerial survival kit’ argues in a similar way. ‘As I meet with other ministers and leaders I am continually struck by how all-consuming the job is. There are so many fraternals, ministers’ meetings and the like that it is so easy to slip into a nodding acquaintance or be business-like with each other. In truth, many of us are lonely. Although we may be accountable in an official sense, unofficially it is all too easy to have no one to whom we can turn with our personal struggles.’
Perhaps the FIEC struck the right balance when on their website they said that although most men find fraternals an adequate means of finding the support they need, others need more.
I suppose there are two factors at work here.
1. How helpful the fraternal that you attend is
2. The extent to which you take advantage of what is on offer
The voluntary principle is at the same time both the great strength and the great weakness of fraternals. The freedom is much appreciated but it means, as we know, that some never join one and others drift off and there is little that can be done to draw them back.
In conclusion, we would say then that the idea of a ministers’ fraternal is perfectly consequent with the Bible, one with much historical and contemporary backing and a potential means under God of great good. However, as with other things, it is not a panacea or an automatic means of blessing. A successful fraternal needs to keep itself under regular review and none if us should suppose that in and of itself a fraternal can prevent all the problems that we know can arise in the Christian ministry. It is only as we look to the Lord that disaster can be avoided and good promoted.

Ministers' Fraternals 04

Josiah Pratt
4. A brief history So, given that Scripture spells nothing out about ministers’ fraternals, where did the idea come from? Who first decided that this would be a good way of spurring one another on?
I would guess that, as with the whole idea of societies in general, the 18th Century is the place to look. From the end of the 17th Century right through into the 19th Century there was something of a craze for forming societies of all sorts. The Methodist revival was marked by the use of societies for prayer and mutual edification. Towards the end of the 18th Century, societies for ministers were beginning to be popular.
As early as 1714 the Baptists had a fraternal in London. This was despite the break down of the churches association and according to some authorities, coincided with an increasingly high view of the responsibility, privilege and dignity of ministers. It was reconstituted on strictly Calvinist lines in 1724 and became known as The Baptist Board, taking on several functions normally assumed by associations including giving advice to ministers and churches located both in and beyond London. The Northamptonshire Association of Particular Baptists began in 1763 and included a ministers’ fraternal. One of its meetings in 1787 is the one where Carey was famously put down regarding his crazy ideas about missions to the heathen. It was eventually the cradle, of course, for the Particular Mission to the heathen whose first missionary was Carey himself. In the same period, there was also a successful Baptist fraternal in the Bristol area.
Perhaps it was what he saw of this association when he was in Olney that led John Newton, at the age of 73 and then ministering in London, to form The Eclectic Society, a fraternal of ministers that has become more widely known through the Banner book The thought of the evangelical leaders which contains notes of their discussions in the years 1798-1814.
The society actually began in 1783 without a name. D Bruce Hindmarsh (in his biography of John Newton, p 312) describes it as ‘a regular, informal synod of evangelical ministers and leading laymen’. John H Pratt states that it was ‘for mutual religious intercourse and improvement, and for the investigation of religious truth.’ It first met at the Castle and Falcon Inn, Aldersgate, on January 16 and was attended by Newton and two fellow ministers, his later biographer Richard Cecil and Rev Henry Foster and one Eli Bates, esquire. It slowly increased to around a dozen and began to meet fortnightly in the vestry of St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row. Most were Anglican ministers but there were always one or two dissenters and ‘laymen’. It too was a cradle for mission, the Church Missionary Society in this case. Josiah Pratt whose notes are preserved in the Banner book became secretary also to the CMS.
The pattern was to meet for tea at four and then after a brief prayer to discuss a pre-arranged subject for around three hours. Hindmarsh interestingly says that it embodied Newton’s ideals – ‘A non-partisan group of evangelical believers, gathered in a spirit of friendship for ‘improving’ spiritual conversation.’ He quotes Newton himself, saying in a letter, ‘I am not fond either of assemblies, consistories, synods, councils, benches, or boards. ... [Ministers’] associations, in my judgement, should always be voluntary and free. Thus there are ten or a dozen of us in London, who frequently meet; we deliberate, ask, and give advice as occasions arise; but the sentiment of one, or even of the whole body is not binding on any.’
If we skip forward to the 20th and 21st Centuries, the fraternal best known to many Reformed people is The Westminster Fellowship. According to Iain Murray, this began as a quarterly Tuesday morning meeting at Westminster Chapel (not Mondays as ministers would be playing golf then!). Attendance was, as with the Eclectic Society, by invitation. Dr Lloyd-Jones had had a similar meeting when he was in Aberavon and, encouraged by Douglas Johnson, he began something on similar lines here in the capital. There were about a dozen at first but then in 1942 Oakhill Principal Alan Stibbs invited the Doctor to speak on the subject of original sin in a small IVF study group. This led to Stibbs, P E Hughes and others joining the Westminster Fellowship too.
From October 1942 Stibbs became secretary and they began to meet at 1.30-4.15 pm. The first half of the afternoon was given over to sharing. (The fellowship got the name ‘The confession’ due to that. It was also known as the black hole of Calcutta as it met in the downstairs parlour where no natural light entered.) The Doctor was keen to discuss things rather than hear papers and was insistent that it should be only for ministers not students or others.
By 1955 the fraternal had outgrown the parlour and was meeting in the Institute Hall (now the Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Hall) and by 1958 a ‘large group’ was gathering there. A tradition developed of an away day in June when the Doctor would speak in the morning and discussion would follow in the afternoon. Towards the end of the fifties these meetings began to be at Guessens in Welwyn (now EMF HQ). Murray says that over a hundred were present in 1959. He says that the standard of debate was often high with men like Ernest Kevan able to challenge the Doctor at times. He also remarks on the humour that was even then an essential part of the fellowship. In January 1960 the meeting day changed from Tuesday to Monday (to suit the ladies who made the tea and also met on Tuesdays). From 1963 the meetings also began to include morning sessions when speakers would usually address matters pertaining to church polity and evangelical unity.
On November 29, 1966 the Fellowship met for the last time in its initial form, the Doctor announcing at the end of the morning session ‘The present Westminster Fraternal must be considered as disbanded’ (Murray, p 532). The fraternal was reconstituted as a separatist grouping and continues to this day. Dr Lloyd-Jones continued to chair, even though latterly hampered by a measure of deafness, after his retirement from the Chapel, led discussion being the norm. Murray gives an example of debate on pp 703f of the biography. The Doctor chaired his last Westminster Fellowship in June 1980. Since that time it has been in the hands of a committee with various chairmen. Numbers have dwindled from over a hundred to a present attendance of around 20-40. It is now back downstairs again in the refurbished church parlour. Innovations include many more addresses and occasional preaching sessions. Its strength lies beyond what goes on in meetings and extends to the fellowship that it fosters beyond the four walls of the meeting place.
Some other fraternals are similar to the Westminster but many more meet over the lunch period to hear papers or to discuss.
(Just one more bit after this)

Ministers' Fraternals 03

3. A biblical case for ministers’ fraternals?There is, of course, no NT verse advocating that ministers of churches gather together every month or two and seek fellowship one with the other. The exact nature of church government has been an area for much contention over the years and until agreement can be obtained in those matters it is highly likely that there will be a consensus on the much more loosely structured idea of ministerial fraternals.
In the early period of the church’s history one sees little evidence of formal meetings for ministerial fellowship but one does get the impression from Paul’s letters of a great deal of interaction between Paul and the others – people like Peter, John, Barnabas, Luke, John Mark, Timothy, Titus, Apollos, Aquila and a host of others. Their fraternal attitude is summed up in the words of Peter in 1 Peter 5:1, 2 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow-elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be.Fraternals are not a matter of Law or of ecclesiastical church government but a matter of wisdom and perhaps the best place to turn in Scripture for guidance on this matter is to the Book of Proverbs, so full of good advice on all sorts of matters.
An obvious place to begin is in Proverbs 27. There we have two verses that touch on this topic. Firstly, verse 9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel. The simile is drawn from the enjoyment that perfume and incense give by means of their penetrating aroma, especially in a hot climate. One of the advantages of friendship or fraternity is that a friend and fellow can tell you your faults and passionately urge you in the right direction in a way that an enemy cannot and in a way that even a family member cannot do so well. This is a part of fraternity.
Secondly, verse 17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. This simile is from the kitchen and is drawn from knife sharpening, which is often done by means of rubbing the knife up and down another piece of metal. Presumably the point is that friendly debate can be tremendously stimulating as scholars and artists and others will testify. Peer criticism brings many advantages. Loners can be very dull and boring. They can often lack penetration in a way that the man who has debated with others does not. In friendship sometimes the sparks fly but that is part of it. Certainly this is part of the reason for fraternals.
Similar to these is Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. The simile highlights two properties of honey – its sweetness and healing properties. The pleasant words that are in mind are those that are both sweet to the soul and likely to heal the bones. We instinctively think of pleasant words as being sweet to the body rather than healing the soul but this form of expression means all aspects are covered. The right words can heal relationships and restore well-being. Interestingly the only other place that mentions a honeycomb is Psalm 19:11 where it illustrates the sweetness of God’s Word. Think of the way that in a fraternal ministers can do good to each other through Word centred conversation.
Other more general proverbs regarding speech are also, of course, relevant.
12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
15:23 A man finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word!
15:26 The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him.
25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
25:12 Like an ear-ring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear.
These fit in with similar general NT exhortations to holy speech and to fellowship among believers. Together all this serves to underline the wisdom of ministers, as those who fear the LORD, meeting together and talking with each other, with the hope that the LORD will listen and hear (Malachi 3:16). In Hebrews 10:24 the writer says And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds and immediately goes on to talk about the importance of meeting together. Surely a ministers’ fraternal is one way of obeying such a verse.
(Next a brief history)

Wanna blog it wid you

My 5 mins of fame is over. Guy has a new blogger interview here.

Ministers' Fraternals 02

2. Who convenes them?Fraternals can be convened by four or five different possible agencies.
An individual minister who invites likeminded friends to join him in fraternal. This seems to be the origin of the Westminster fellowship, although it has moved well beyond that. I have heard of others doing similar things here in London.

A group of ministers may agree to meet together. I currently belong to such a group of West London ministers. We first aranged to meet during a Banner of Truth Conference a few years back.
A local church that organises meetings for ministers to attend. A current example would be the Spurgeon fraternal organised buy the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

A denomination making use of its networking to organise fraternals in more than one place. I have attended an FIEC fraternal in the past. The EMW fraternals in Wales are well known and have been going for some time. I have also attended fraternals organised by the Association of Grace Baptist Churches (South East). Affinity also seeks to draw men together.

A separate organisation that serves as an umbrella chiefly for the ministers’ fraternal. This is the current status of the Westminister Fellowship. I believe the same is true of the Whitefield Fraternal that meets down in Sussex. I have also spoken at fraternals in Bedfordshire and Kent that seem to meet on this sort of basis.
(Next I hope to make a biblical case for fraternals)

Ministers' Fraternals 01

One might assume that there is an abundance of material on ministers' fraternals. In fact there is something of a paucity of material. Very little seems to have been written on this subject. The standard Reformed and evangelical books dealing with the Christian ministry and related subjects have nothing to say on the subject, it seems, and there do not appear to have been any articles on the topic in currently existing magazines aimed at ministers.
This seems a rather strange phenomenon as, since entering the Christian ministry, I have often been encouraged to belong to a ministers’ fraternal and have often heard older men speak of their benefits.
Over the years I have belonged to two or three of these bodies. Among the seniors and peers I most respect it is generally accepted that fraternals are a good thing and the only people I am aware of who reject that idea have either belonged to a large church or have joined themselves to what is only an alternative form of fraternal or have sadly run into some sort of moral or doctrinal trouble.
There is a widespread acceptance, then, at least in some circles, that fraternals are or can be a good thing but no-one seems to have established a biblical case for them, traced their history or gone into print at any length advocating their beneficial nature. Despite the non-existence of such materials I here endeavour to do something along those lines, trusting it will be of some use.
1. What is a ministers’ fraternal? The word fraternal, of course, refers to brotherliness and is the most widely used word to describe what we are considering. In Scotland, I believe, the fraternals started by Willie Still are known as the Crieff Brotherhood and here in London we have the Westminster Fellowship. In America a Whitefield Ministerial Fraternal exists. It has been described as ‘a fellowship of men in gospel ministry who meet regularly for the purpose of promoting the cause of reformation and revival in the local church.’ The sessions they organise have been shaped by three basic objectives
1. To stimulate a more complete comprehension of the gospel of grace
2. To promote a clearer vision regarding the ministries of Christ’s church
3. To rekindle a fresh devotion to faithful Christian ministry
The fraternal then has educational, clarificational and devotional ends. It seeks to increase comprehension, clarify vision and rekindle devotion.
All these, a fraternal should seek to provide.
People introducing the Founders Fraternals among Southern Baptists go into a little more detail but are quite similar in many ways. They are intended to promote

Personal holiness in the lives of those who pastor the churches
Sincere prayer for the pastors and the work of God in the region
Warm fellowship and lasting friendships among like-minded spiritual leaders
Understanding of the great biblical doctrines once espoused and proclaimed freely by our forebears (ie the doctrines of grace)
Encouragement in the proclamation of the gospel in the region and around the world
Interest in the lives of our early leaders and the lessons we can learn from them
Obedience to the standards and practices of church life prescribed by the Bible (ie expositional preaching, church discipline, Scriptural leadership patterns, Word-regulated worship, biblical evangelism, regenerate church membership, etc.)

We plan to look next at who convenes a fraternal.

The blog strikes again

Bloggy Special 01

Gray's Notes 06

Life is short

This is an advert I know but I just think it's so clever. It lasts 59 secs.

Bio 06 Arthur Custance

Born into comfortable circumstances in Norfolk, England, Arthur Custance spent his adult life in Canada. Unable to get into Oxford or Cambridge, he took up a government offer to move to Ontario in Canada, where he was promised 800 acres on which to build laboratories to bring improvements to farming. The promised land never materialised due to the financial crash of 1929. For three tough years he worked on farms and in the bush, acquiring basic skills that served him well throughout his life.
In 1931, the way opened to go to Toronto University. He was the first student to be awarded a scholarship established that year in Canada by the British Medical Society. At 22, with his life before him, however, it all seemed pointless, disconnected, purposeless. An indifferent student, he was always near the bottom of the class. Then, during his second year, he was converted. The experience so changed his thinking and his capacity for study that he began to take courses in all manner of subjects. He felt as though God had placed him in the hub of the wheel and now all the spokes connected.
In Spring, 1933, he was sent out by the Anglican Church as summer supply preacher to small communities in northern Saskatchewan, places where the effects of depression were severe. His ministry, and that of Lillian Misner (with the Canadian Sunday School Mission) was fruitful with several conversions. The two married and remained to teach the new converts.
That Winter he read the Bible through eight times and worked out his theology. Unable to find work, they returned to Ontario where he resumed studying. He became involved in the formation of the IVCF, spending summers in Muskoka, north of Toronto, building InterVarsity's famous Pioneer camp sites. Even in Toronto there was little work and at one particularly low point he had to join the bread lines.
However, he was able to continue his studies. He had switched courses, receiving an MA in Middle East Languages (Hebrew, Greek and Cuneiform) in 1941. His studies were then interrupted by the war. His application to the Royal Navy was denied but because of his metallurgic knowledge, he was appointed materials control at Otis Fensom (Hamilton, Ontario), a crown corporation manufacturing firing control instruments for the Bofors anti-aircraft gun.
At the end of the war he joined a group of consulting engineers, and later was design engineer for a Toronto lighting company. He designed the first fluorescent lighting for banks.
However, his continuing study of the Bible led to a deep interest in archaeology and anthropology, especially as related to human origins. Believing God's Word could sustain the keenest scrutiny, he returned to Toronto in 1951 to do a PhD in anthropology, the department's first applicant for such a degree. Three years later, having completed most of the work, he was asked whether he believed Adam and Eve were real people. He answered in the affirmative, with the consequence that he was not permitted to complete.
Now at a dead end he was for some time at a loss for direction. That Autumn he became a University Missioner, speaking at campuses in week-long campaigns. Then in Spring, 1955, on the Anthropology Department of Toronto University's recommendation from two years before, he became head of the human engineering laboratories in Ottawa run by the Defence Research Board of Canada. As his work became increasingly oriented towards physiology, he took some courses as a guest of the physiology department at the Medical School of Ottawa University. Subsequently, at the urging and approval of his department to complete his PhD, Ottawa University accepted work already done and with his thesis, 'Does Science Transcend Culture?', he was granted a PhD in education in 1959.
During the 15 years with the DRB, he worked briefly on the respirator mask programme, developed a mask-sizing meter and an anthropometric facial contour measuring device. He then pursued, until retirement, an active research programme into physiological stress under combat operations, using voluntary military personnel as subjects. He held several patents in the area of applied physiological instrumentation, including the Custance Sudorimeter, which permits exceedingly accurate measurement of levels of sweating (caused not only by heat stress but by emotional and mental as well). He presented numerous classified papers before scientific and military audiences, and his significant research in physiological heat stress resulted in a score of government reports as well as publishing in scientific journals. He was recognised as the authority on human thermoregulation.
Custance was a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, a member emeritus of the Canadian Physiological Society, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and, in 1971, was listed in American Men of Science.
At the same time, his biblical interests developed. From 1957-1972 he wrote and published The Doorway Papers. This was a collection of 62 monographs covering a broad spectrum of knowledge, dealing particularly with the interface between faith and science, as well as Christian experience and theology.
His interests and accomplishments were varied. A portrait artist, he designed and personally built several houses, including The Terraces on the St Lawrence River, Brockville, Ontario, where he enjoyed sailing and canoeing. In retirement (in 1970 at Brockville), he gave public lecture series on Explorations of the Christian Faith in the light of Science as well as holding a number of seminars on theological matters in his home. He taught a course in anthropology at the local Community College. At the same time he wrote six major books.
In addition to his research and writing and omnivorous reading, he carried on an active correspondence and his home saw a constant stream of visitors. Though he enjoyed music, art and literature, perhaps his greatest joy was spending evenings before the fire sharing his faith with others.
Having lived a full and active life, on October 22, 1985, Arthur Custance made the journey out of time into eternity and is now in the presence of his Lord and Saviour with whom he walked by faith over 50 years.
(Based on a fuller article by Evelyn White, the Curator of his writings)

A theology of sweat

It's wonderful when you stumble across something really interesting. Let me tell you how it happened. I was in the Evangelical Library here in London the other day. As I cast my eye over the new books I noticed that for some reason they had just received a copy of a 1962 pamphlet called The meaning of sweat as part of the curse by Arthur Custance. Well, a title like that who could resist? And it is a fascinating read. It begins with science and the different ways we sweat and animals do not heads to theology and what difference the fall has made in this respect and finishes with comments on three verses in the Bible about sweat. There is also a brief guide to the scientific literature including this classic line
Kuno, Yas, Human Perspiration, C. C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 1956, xvii and 416 pp. Probably the best work specifically on sweating.
I noted that this pamphlet was in a series of Doorway papers. Anyway the obvious thing to do is to check on the net and see if it is available to download. Now often with these things I am disappointed but this time the very opposite. I discover that in fact all the writings of the late Arthur Custance are available for download. A very helpful site can be found here and I plan to check it out over the next few days. It looks fascinating. I had heard the name Arthur Custance - by way of warning I seem to remember so no-one come back to me and say I've been recommending heresy. All I'm saying is that the site looks very interesting.

Hope you like bloggin'

In a shameless attempt to get me to plug his blog (;-)) Exiled Preacher Guy Davies has put an interview there with yours truly. Click here. It may explain one or two things. Thanks Guy.

Beware the blog

built to serve man ... it could think a thousand times faster! move a thousand times faster! kill a thousand times faster ... Then suddenly it became a Frankenstein of steel!

Great Tales

I'm currently coming towards the end of Robert Lacey's third volume from Great Tales from English History - The Battle of the Boyne to DNA. I discovered the first two volumes (Cheddar man to the Peasant's Revolt and Chaucer to the Glorious Revolution) by accident in our local discount bookstore. This third volume came out at the end of last year.
They really are great volumes. Each chapter is headed by a date and a neat illustration. Then comes a succinct, well told account of an incident from English history. There is some scholarship and useful disambiguation but the main thing is a story well told. Like most books today the standpoint is a humanist one but I would commend these books to almost anyone. Lacey has done for me what Rowland W Purton was doing all those years ago in Days of Glory.
As an example chapter let me cite England expects ... which features a telescope and an eye patch at the head. It begins with a character defining description of 15 year old Nelson chasing a polar bear. With the briefest historical background we move to victory at the Nile (1798) aged 39. 'Invincible Nelson' then begins his affair with Lady Hamilton to the disapprobation of many but countered by his skill at spin. Then follows a debunking of the story that he raised his telescope to his blind eye at Copenhagen (1801) a later legend. And so, with remarks on his continued popularity, to Cadiz and the famous message which began as 'Nelson confides that every man will do his duty'. England replaced Nelson at an anonymous suggestion and 'Expects' was replaced 'confides' as it used fewer flags. And so on to Cape Trafalgar and victory and death. The 'Kiss me Hardy' story is supported. The 'Kismet Hardy' explanation was merely an attempt to suppress an idea that embarrassed some Victorians.
You get the idea.
Click here to hear the author himself briefly commend Volume 1. Also here for Volume 2 and here for Volume 3. Watch Mr Lacey age before your very eyes! He also wrote The Year 1000 which is very good. His own web page is here.

Spot the mistake 04

And what might be wrong here? (And this time I have consulted the Hebrew to be sure).

Ar Ddydd Sant Ffolant

We keep this one too!

The Bloggy Man 20

4.1 Solomon Gets Established

In his commentary, American writer D Ralph Davis begins his analysis of 2 Kings 2 by telling the sad story of Officer Reinhold, a story from The Washington Times.
Officer Reinhold, as he was called
, sat in his patrol car at various locations in the Maryland village where he served as a deterrent to speeding motorists. Officer Reinhold was, however, a mere mannequin, dressed as a police patrolman and plonked behind the wheel of a departmental cruiser. After he had been sitting in the same location for two days (he was usually moved every 12 hours), someone smashed his car window and pilfered him. Ultimately police work cannot be done passively (i.e., with dummies); it takes, as people say today, a pro-active approach.
The point of the story is that, like police-work, the work of God’s kingdom cannot be approached passively. That indeed is the lesson of this chapter. As we move from 1 Kings 1 ro 1 Kings 2 we move from the succession to the establishment of that succession. There should be no difficulty in spotting that theme – it is repeated several times. See the following verses

12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.
24 As surely as the LORD lives - he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised
45, 46 King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure (established) before the LORD for ever. Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and killed him. The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.

Notice too that death is a rather prominent feature here. A certain ruthlessness is necessary in the work of the kingdom. Our subject then is establishing or securing a throne – how the kingdom can be made safe, which involves a certain measure of sanctified viciousness. We consider two things – David’s words and Solomon’s actions.
David’s words on establishing the kingdom
David is close to death and so he uses his last reserves of strength to speak to his successor, his son Solomon, and to exhort him. We read that ‘When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.’ Transitions like this are often given prominence in Scripture – Jacob to Joseph, Moses to Joshua, etc. That is a lesson in itself. Such changes are important.
David begins (2) ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth.’ All men die and after that comes judgement. Every day there are obituaries in the national newspapers and death announcements in the local ones. Death bears thinking about.
We can divide what David says into two parts.
1. His exhortations to obedience to establish the kingdom
He begins ‘So be strong, show yourself a man.’ Securing the kingdom calls for courage, for manliness; it cannot be done by wimps.
How is Solomon going to secure the kingdom? David goes on (3) ‘and observe what the LORD your God requires’.
And what does God require?
'Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses.'
All of the law is to be kept.
Why must it be kept? See the end of verse 3 and verse 4
'So that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'
As ever, obedience to the law and enjoyment of the promise are linked together. The promise to David and the Law of Moses go together. They are perfectly compatible. God’s promise to David cannot fail but there is no way that Solomon is going to enjoy God’s blessing if he fails to take seriously the Law of God.
So what will secure the kingdom? Not advantageous trade treaties or wise alliances with other nations or a well-equipped and mobile army. No, the great need is for obedience to the holy law of God. Is that not what the New Testament teaches too? Think of the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Who is the blessed man? The man who not only hears the message but also obeys it. The same lesson is in Jesus’ parable of the sower.
So here is a lesson for nations, churches, families and individuals. What will establish a church? It is not a matter of tailoring the services to fit the clientele or learning the best evangelism techniques. It does not depend on Alpha courses or star guest speakers or money raising events. No, the key thing, firstly, is obedience. How far are we conforming to what is laid down in God’s Word? Are we walking in God’s ways? Do we ‘keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law?’
On the individual level this is the first question too, surely. We cannot be saved by such means. God demands a perfect obedience and we cannot give that. We must look to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness. However, what is our aim? What are our aspirations? By what rule are we guided? Are we taking God’s Word seriously? Are we endeavouring to be conformed to the perfect image of Christ, the one who has kept the law in every way?
2. His exhortations to eliminate enemies and be kind to friends to establish the kingdom
That is not all that David has to say. He goes on to tell Solomon that there are enemies that have to be dealt with (and friends too). In fact he names three different individuals and tells Solomon what to do in each case.
What to do about treacherous ones like Joab
5 'Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me - what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood stained the belt round his waist and the sandals on his feet.'
He had also recently sided with Adonijah. Why David had not felt able to deal with Joab we cannot be sure but it is clear what Solomon must do. David says 'Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to the grave in peace.'
There are times then when we must act ruthlessly. David knew how treacherous Joab was, a law to himself. The kingdom was in jeopardy. He could not be allowed to live. Similarly, for the sake of the kingdom we need to develop a ruthless side that treats sin with contempt. We must not get sucked in by it. We must be willing to remove from fellowship those who are unworthy and take a firm stand against what is false. We will say more about this below.
What to do about loyal ones like Barzillai’s sons
On the other hand, says David (7) 'show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.' David does not forget Barzillai’s act of kindness and as ruthless as we need to be with some we must never so harden ourselves that we forget to show kindness to those who are worthy of it. It is shameful when faithful servants are forgotten and treated as though they were nobodies. We must not let that happen. Prov 27:10 ‘Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father.’
What to do about difficult cases like that of Shimei
Finally, David mentions ‘Shimei son of Gera, the Benjamite from Bahurim.’ David recalls how he called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the LORD: I will not put you to death by the sword. But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his grey head down to the grave in blood.
Again David urges ruthlessness. Shimei was loyal to Solomon at this present time and, as we shall see, Solomon tried to ignore David’s advice at first. David was right, however. He saw what a threat Shimei was. There are things in our lives, things in the life of the church, things that can seem so innocent. We need to be very wary indeed about such things. Take care. Some of us do not want to be so ruthless but at times that is the best policy.