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.

To be published April 01

Brilliant new book out now. Published on Cilla.
Quite the best thing I've ever done. Out tomorrow.

Trafalgar Square Opportunity

It was great to be a part again of the team preaching and witnessing in Trafalgar Square today. The weather was good with only a brief shower near the end. A great opportunity, we pray that some will have been reached.

Blog of the week 6

Yet another blog I have is here. The Psalms and hymns blog now has over 70 entries. These original verses are mostly metrical versions of the psalms but there are other things like verse forms of thw children's catechism. The Psalms are something I've worked on for years. I have nearly 50 up so far and hope to do all 150 eventually. They are not sung reguarly anywhere at present. Being a rather self-indulgent blog I have also put some of my pictures there as decoration. I did most of these years ago and I guess their standard is probably similar to that of the poetry. Here's an example psalm

Psalm 1

St Petersburg

Bless'd is the man who does not walk
Where wicked men would guide his feet,
Or stand in sinners’ ways to talk,
Or sit upon the mockers’ seat.
The Lord's own law is his delight,
His meditation day and night.

He's like a very fruitful tree
That grows where water streams are seen.
As seasons change, its fruit we see
And all its leaves are ever green.
In all to which he puts his mind
Prosperity he’s bound to find!

Not so the wicked! They are all
Like chaff the wind blows far away.
The wicked at the judgement fall,
Lost sinners with the Just can’t stay.
The Lord the righteous' ways he knows;
The wicked’s way he overthrows!

Flickr Foto Series 22



Our kids are back in school today which seems a little strange after the holiday weekend. Eleri's sister and family were here from Saturday afternoon. They went yesterday but before that we took a bus into town and did Trafalgar Square and 1700-1900 in the National Gallery (Van Gogh, Monet, etc). See here and here. It has snowed more than once over the weekend here but it all came to nothing.
Sunday was good with quite large congregations morning and evening including various visitors. It was good to look at the resurrection once again.
Last Friday we headed down to Wiltshire, where Eleri's other sister lives. We met up with them and Eleri's parents and the other sister and family. We are 17 all told and so careful arrangements were necessary. Eight of us slept in one home, six in another and two of our boys stayed with a friend down that way. We also met up in a village hall in North Bradley and had our Saturday lunch on a barge at the Lock Inn (see here) some of us sampling their famous boatman's breakfast. Good stuff.
Previous to that, of course, I was in these lectures on the atonement from Garry Williams. We spent a great deal of time looking at chapters in Owen and Edwards but also looked at Socinus and the Amyraldians as well as one or two other things. At the end Garry went over the important paper he gave at the EA Symposium in 2005 against Joel Green. You can read it here.
Meanwhile the proofs for my new book on regeneration came so I have been busy sorting that out. More here.

Mawr oedd Crist

Mawr oedd Crist yn nhragwyddoldeb
Mawr yn gwisgo natur dyn;
Mawr yn marw ar Galfaria,
Mawr yn maeddu angau’i hun;
Hynod fawr yw yn awr,
Brenin nef a daear lawr.

Mawr oedd Iesu yn yr arfaeth,
Mawr yn y cyfamod hedd;
Mawr ym Methlem a Chalfaria,
Mawr yn dod i lan o’r bedd:
Mawr iawn fydd Ef ryw ddydd
Pan ddatguddir pethau cudd.

Mawr yw Iesu yn ei Berson;
Mawr fel Duw, a mawr fel dyn;
Mawr ei degwch a’i hawddgarwch, Gwyn a gwridog’ teg ei lun:
Mawr yw Ef yn y nef
Ar ei orsedd gadarn gref.

This is the latest hymn in its original Welsh version if it's of any use to anyone. Mawr simply means big or here great. Marw means death. Calfaria is Calvary and is mutated in two ways here. Methlem = Bethlehem. So we begin great in eternity, great wearing man's nature, etc.

James Blunt

The programme can't be recommended but this segment (I think) is hilarious

Flickr Foto Series 20

Through the window

Hymn of the week 24

Mighty Christ from time eternal,
Mighty, He man's nature takes,
Mighty, when on Calv'ry dying
Mighty, death itself He breaks.
See His might,
King of heaven and earth by right!

Mighty was He in heaven's purpose,
Mighty, in the pledge to save,
Mighty, from His birth to Calv'ry,
Mighty, bursting from the grave.
Still will He
Mighty be
When things hidden now we see.

Great my Jesus in His Person,
Great as God and man is He,
Great His comeliness and beauty,

White and ruddy, fair to see.
Great that sight,

Sovereign Might,
Throned secure on heaven's height!

Translated from the Welsh of Titus Lewis and an anonymous writer (verse 2) by Graham Harrison.

Real Crisps

I bought a packet of real crisps the other day and was pleased to read the legend 'made in Wales' on them. They are apparently made in Newport - home of all things good!

River still running

The busyness continues. This week I am auditing lectures at the John Owen Centre on the atonement from Garry Williams of Oak Hill. We started today on the Fathers and Calvin. Very interesting. There's one other auditor and 8 MTh-ers.
Yesterday was very full, of course. I preached to quite a large multi-national congregation in the morning on the end of Mark 2/beginning of Mark 3 and to a much smaller one on most of Hebrews 2 in the evening. So the Sabbath and Christ's work of redemption.
On Saturday we had one of our periodic clean ups at the chapel. A few of our Korean friends were helping so we were in double figures. We made some definite progress. It was nice to have chips together at lunch time and some went on to play football later - though not me as I was busy preparing for Sunday. I saw a bit of the England game and then settled down to watch the main feature just before 5 pm. Well, you know the result! Eleri was out for the evening with friends so I did some minimalist baby sitting for the youngest ones. Gwion had been out for a sleepover with a school friend. The two older boys went to bed early - whacked out because they are now doing a double paper round each. Rhodri the eldest was out elsewhere. He'd had his RADA audition in the morning.
Friday had been very busy too. I was lecturing at EMF Welwyn in the morning - on the JWs and the Mormons. I dashed from there to a committee meeting for Grace Publications. I missed most of the session with the new man at Evangelical Press (our distributors) but was in for the rest and gladly received my complimentary copy of the new biography of William Carey by John Appleby I can plod. From there it was on home and then out for the children's meeting and then the young people's meeting. We had just under 20 for the first then over 20 for the next. We are looking at the life of Elijah and it was Naboth's vineyard tonight. I had to leave a little early as Eleri and I were off to a quiz night at friends to raise funds for the Welsh School [no website at present]. (We raised over £150). I was in the winning team. I think knowing not only that Far from the madding crowd was by Thomas Hardy but also that the line is from Gray's Elegy written in a Country Church Yard clinched a closely fought contest.
The snag with busyness is that prayer can so easily be squeezed out. What care is needed.

Six nations victory

St Patrick's Day

Horslips do the High Reel

Grand slam


We did it!!!

Wales France

Wales v France
Date: Saturday, 15 March
Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
BBC Coverage: Live on BBC One, BBC Sport website (UK users only), Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

Wales need only stop France winning by more than 19 points to claim the Six Nations title, but all thoughts are on a home win and Grand Slam in Cardiff.
Coach Warren Gatland has transformed Wales since their World Cup nightmare so that they start as favourites.
His selection tinkering has continued, James Hook in for Stephen Jones at 10.
France have strengthened with six changes and could yet steal the title, dashing Welsh dreams under the closed roof of the Millennium Stadium.
Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and David Skrela provide extra direction at half-back, Julien Bonnaire and Thierry Dusautoir beef up the pack, while Vincent Clerc and Damien Traille return to a backline that has the panache to pile on the points.
Should France win by exactly 19 points the title will be decided on try count.
Both teams are currently on 11 tries, and if that remains equal the championship could be shared.
But Wales are bursting with confidence after securing the Triple Crown in Dublin, and are eager to claim their second Grand Slam in four years.
Gatland has enjoyed a remarkable first season in charge
"To win the championship on points difference would be something of a hollow victory," said Gatland.
"We have already achieved something in this campaign that can't be taken away from us with the Triple Crown, but we have an opportunity now to push on and do something a little bit special in front of our home crowd.
"We are confident, we have worked hard and if we continue in the same vein in which we started this campaign we believe we can come away with a deserved victory."
Wales have not beaten France at the Millennium Stadium since the inception of the Six Nations though, losing their last four championship encounters with Les Bleus in the Welsh capital.
"Winning the match against Wales is the most important thing, then we will see what happens," said hooker Dimitri Szarzewski, who played for France in their last Millennium Stadium match, the 20-18 World Cup quarter-final win over New Zealand.
"But we can't make any mistakes if that is going to happen. We will have to see how the match develops and if there is the possibility of winning by 20 points, all the better.
"We are pleased with where we are compared to the start of the tournament.
"But now we need to make an even bigger step up against the Welsh. There is going to be a lot of intensity, having seen the importance of this match."
Amongst the sub-plots on Saturday, Wales lock Ian Gough will be winning his 50th cap, and he will be joined on that milestone by Duncan Jones if the prop comes off the bench.
Wing Shane Williams - tied with Vincent Clerc as the tournament's leading try-scorer with five - will be looking to add to his 40 Wales tries to move clear of Gareth Thomas as his country's all-time leading try-scorer.
But the focus of the entire country will be on Wales' attempt to secure their 10th Grand Slam, 100 years after they won their first.
Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Mark Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Tom Shanklin (Cardiff Blues), Gavin Henson (Ospreys), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Huw Bennett (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys), Martyn Williams (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys, capt).
Replacements: Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Llanelli Scarlets), Ian Evans (Ospreys), Gareth Delve (Gloucester), Dwayne Peel (Llanelli Scarlets), Stephen Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), Sonny Parker (Ospreys).
France: Anthony Floch (Clermont); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), Yannick Jauzion (Toulouse), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Julien Malzieu (Clermont); David Skrela (Stade Français), Jean-Baptiste Elissalde (Toulouse); Fabien Barcella (Auch), Dimitri Szarzewski (Stade Français), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Lionel Nallet (Castres, capt), Jerome Thion (Biarritz), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse), Fulgence Ouedraogo (Montpellier), Julien Bonnaire (Clermont).
Replacements: William Servat Toulouse), Jean-Baptiste Poux (Toulouse), Arnaud Mela (Albi), Elvis Vermeulen (Clermont), Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz), Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Cedric Heymans (Toulouse).
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Evangelist sought

Are you: ► enthusiastic about evangelism?
► gifted for work with young people?
► keen to be involved in local church life?

The London Inreach Project, a Reformed Baptist church planting work, hopes to appoint someone to join their team in Covent Garden and Soho for 2 years from August 2008. This would be an excellent opportunity to gain experience of gospel work in a challenging environment.
To discuss the possibilities, please contact: Gary Brady (LIP Chairman)

Please Mr Postman

I'm enjoying the Beatles second album With the Beatles at present. It includes this track. They really were quite a phenomenon.

Flickr Foto Series 19

Bread Roll Jack

9.2 Preparations for the Temple

Previous chapter
Anticipating God’s kingdom - work for his kingdom
In verses 7 and 8 we read how "When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, Praise be to the LORD today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation. So Hiram sent word to Solomon: I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want."
The arrangement was that Hiram would provide ‘the cedar and pine logs’. His men would ‘haul them down from Lebanon to the sea’, then ‘float them in rafts by sea to’ a place chosen by Solomon (Joppa), where they could be separated and distributed as desired. In return Solomon was to provide ‘food for’ Hiram’s ‘royal household (twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths of pressed olive oil)’ annually.
What do we make of Hiram’s ‘Praise be to the LORD today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation’? It is even stronger in 2 Chronicles 2:11, 12 "Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you their king. Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who made heaven and earth! He has given King David a wise son, endowed with intelligence and discernment, who will build a temple for the LORD and a palace for himself."
What did it signify? Was Hiram a converted man? We cannot answer that question. However, whether this was a merely formal statement or one that Hiram felt from the heart, we certainly have a wonderful picture that anticipates the Kingdom of God in the era to come, the era we are in today. The way that the Gentile King Hiram directly contributed to the Temple anticipates the bringing in of the Gentiles as part of God’s House in the New Testament era.
This is something that the Old Testament anticipates elsewhere. For example, in the Psalms
22:28 Dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
24:1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
72:11 All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.
Also 2:10-12 Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
When we read the Old Testament we may think of it as an exclusively Jewish book but a more discerning read reveals that it is full of hints about the way the gospel was going to come to the wider world – Abraham himself was a Gentile at first, of course. Remember too his memorable meeting with the Gentile Melchizedek. Think of Job and perhaps Jethro and certainly Rahab of Jericho and Ruth the Moabitess and Uriah the Hittite. Here we have Hiram and later the Queen of Sheba. Later there are Jonah’s Ninevite, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Cyrus and others.
What we are saying is that in the same way that the coming of those Gentile wise men to Jesus in Bethlehem anticipated the gathering in of the Gentiles so this event, some 950 years before that one, does the same thing. Jesus, the one greater Solomon who is building his own house and advancing his own kingdom, does so partly by using the resources of Gentiles who give praise to the Lord and especially through the ‘wise son’ whom he has appointed to rule over his people.
We must never think of the church as a cosy little group just for insiders. Our doors must always be open to outsiders of all sorts. Indeed we should be praying that more and more will be gathered in. Already, especially in the last hundred years or so, vast numbers have come to the Lord in Africa and in the Far East of Asia. Pray that we will see many more turning to the Lord in the days ahead. His kingdom has a glorious future. Do not doubt it.

Exhibiting God’s wisdom - seek his wisdom
The third thing to learn from the preparations for building the Temple as described here is the way it exhibits God’s wisdom in Solomon’s person. In verses 9-11 there are several references to giving (easily missed in the NIV) - Hiram says that Solomon is to provide (give) ‘food for’ his ‘royal household’. Hiram himself ‘kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and pine logs he wanted (ie gave to him). Solomon gave Hiram ‘twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths of pressed olive oil.’
Then in the first part of verse 12 we are reminded that the Lord had been doing his own giving or supplying or providing. ‘The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him’. It was this wisdom that led not only to there being ‘peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, the two of them’ making ‘a treaty’ (or covenant) but also to the use of forced labour and other labour arrangements. In 13-18 we read that
King Solomon conscripted labourers from all Israel – thirty men. He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labour.
Some commentators get rather nervous about this – it does not sound very nice. However, as we have noted before, rather than looking for the seeds of decay here we are best to read the text as it stands and see that it was the wisdom that God gave him that led Solomon to act as he did. They were different times to our own and in those days this was the only way to get things done. There is no suggestion that these people were mistreated in any way. Indeed the arrangement was quite generous. The one difficult factor is that they had no choice in the matter. We do not read that any of them were unhappy about that.
In all sorts of areas – coal mining and deep sea fishing come most readily to mind alongside construction and steel manufacture – men, and sometimes women, have risked their lives and at times lost them, in order to take projects forward. No doubt at times the risks have been unacceptable. However, it is an ivory-towered piety that supposes that certain tasks can be completed without such means as forced labour or risk to life and limb. Since 1989 unions in America have sought to set aside April 28th as ‘Workers Memorial Day’, a fitting way of acknowledging the injuries and deaths sustained by workers in the course of their everyday activities. It may not be a comforting thought to think that the bridge I am driving over or the food on my plate has been provided at the risk of the lives and limbs of others. However, that is often the reality.
Solomon also had 70,000 (unskilled) carriers and 80,000 (skilled) stonecutters in the hills. These 150,000, we learn from 2 Chronicles, were drawn from the more than 153,000 ‘aliens who were in Israel’. We read here in 1 Kings 5:16 that there were also 3300 ‘foremen who supervised the project and directed the workmen’. (In 2 Chron it says 3600. It sounds like each tribe provided 300 foremen – perhaps the 300 foremen from one tribe acted in a slightly different way to the others). It goes on
At the king’s command they removed from the quarry large blocks of quality stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and the men of Gebal (ie Byblos also up in Lebanon, north of Tyre) cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.
From 2 Chronicles 2:13 we learn that Solomon requested one particular person to lead the work and was provided with a man called Huram-Abi, "a man of great skill, whose mother was from Dan and whose father was from Tyre, a man trained to work in gold and silver, bronze and iron, stone and wood, and with purple and blue and crimson yarn and fine linen, a man experienced in all kinds of engraving."
He could ‘execute any design given to him’. Sometimes God raises up such omni-competent polymaths like this one for the good of his people. One thinks, in a slightly different way, of someone like Calvin, a reformer, preacher, pastor, commentator and systematic theologian, or the 19th Century pastor, theologian, journalist and eventual Dutch prime-minister Abraham Kuyper. Such men are rare.
It was a massive project and it was only through the wisdom that God had given him that Solomon was able to complete it. One thing that is not immediately obvious here is that Solomon is dealing with a vassal king, one who owed him allegiance. (This comes out in 1 Kings 9:19). In his wisdom Solomon chooses to deal with Hiram as a sort of equal, although it is clear who is in charge.
We think again of Christ’s founding of his church and all the provision he has made by his life and death. Again this is due to the wisdom of God. How we need to know God’s wisdom every day of our lives. Let us look to the Lord always. Let us look to him for material provision, for skilful workers, for wise strategies. Understand what life in the kingdom is like. It involves skill and hard work but it must all be under God’s direction. We need both skilled and unskilled workers in the kingdom to take it forward by God’s grace. Pray the Lord of the harvest for such labourers. What a vision of activity is conjured up here. Pray for something similar today.

Bloggy Special 22

Not sure what it tastes like

Anghenfil Naw

Blog of the week 5

I also have a blog on the Great Ejection 1662. There are only 38 posts on it at present but it does bring together most of what's on the web at present and I hope to add to it in due time. There's quite a lot of info on it all told ona subject that nonconformists certainly should be more aware of. Among the people caught up in it are some of the greatest names in Puritan history. Do look here.

In 1962 Martyn Lloyd-Jones gave an address at Westminster Chapel’s Puritan Conference to commemorate the tercentennial of this event. You can read that address in his book, The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors. It is the chapter titled, “Puritan Perplexities—Some Lessons from 1640-1662.” Lloyd-Jones considered the Great Ejection a watershed event on an almost equal footing with the Reformation itself. I would like to give a summary of his points as to the causes of this tragedy and its lessons.
CausesThe mixing of politics and religion. From the time of the English Reformation many prominent Anglicans also held public office and had influence with the King, like the hated Archbishop Laud. The Puritans had grievances with Laud and his party, and so did others whose motives were not motivated by religion as were the Puritans’. These disenfranchised parties banded together in an unscriptural alliance to fight a common enemy. “To mix politics with religion in the church is always a danger” (Lloyd-Jones, p. 61).Divisions among the Puritans. “This is what makes the story a real tragedy. Fundamentally these men were all agreed about doctrine” (Lloyd-Jones, p. 61). But they had endless disagreements over other matters, especially church government. Among the various groups of Puritans, Lloyd-Jones faulted the Presbyterians the most for this divisive spirit because “they were the most intransigent” (p. 62). Ironically, the Presbyterians “were always ready to make agreements with the king,” but they tended to fight those with whom they were in agreement on the essential matters of the Christian faith.The idea of a State-Church. “The Presbyterians believed in a State Church quite as much as the Anglicans” (p. 63). They inherited this position and continued to fight for their version of it rather than inquiring what the New Testament said about the nature of the church as it relates to the government. “The Presbyterians believed, quite as much as the Anglicans, that people should be compelled by Act of Parliament and the power of the State to submit to their particular view of the Church” (p. 65). While other groups simply wanted toleration to worship freely, the Anglicans and Presbyterians were fighting for supremacy, and the Anglicans won in 1662.Lessons
The thing of supreme importance is “the gospel of salvation which is also ‘the gospel of the glory of God’” (p. 67). That is what all believers are agreed upon—a right view of the gospel.“Coupled with that, there was their emphasis upon the necessity of having able and good ministers, and the primacy and the centrality of preaching” (pp. 67-68).Our view of the church should be in line with the New Testament. How should doctrine and practice be determined? Our faith should stand squarely on the Scriptures.Our divisions should be over the fundamental things of the faith, not things of lesser importance. That’s been a hot one for the last sixty years. Lloyd-Jones is arguing against a divisive spirit that won’t budge on non-essential matters. But to the intransigent there are no “non-essential” matters. Everything is seen in black and white; anything else is compromise.We must fight this battle “in a spiritual manner, and not with carnal weapons” (p. 70). Many Presbyterians actually allied themselves with those who hated everything they stood for to gain political advantage. Some Puritans, like John Owen, stood against such carnality, and so should we. If we view party success as more important than the glory of God and the purity of the Church, “our cause is already lost” (p. 71).“The ultimate lesson to be learned from this period is this: ‘The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own’” (p. 72). “If we see what the Truth is, well then, I say, we must hold to it and fight for it, and to refuse to compromise about it, whatever it may cost us” (p. 72).Like Tim I do commend the Lloyd-Jones volume. He closes with Lloyd-Jones' own closing words: “We thank God for the memory of these men, who, having seen the position clearly, acted upon it at all costs. May God give us grace to follow in their train!”

After the fire

Yes, After the fire. I remember seeing the perform in Lampeter one time. Being a fan of popular music I always liked the idea of finding "Christian music" I'd like. The trouble with the following lyrics fine as they are is that the brash way things are put is relly out of keeping with the New Testament approach. This is not an uncomon fault when trying to work in this idiom. There are worse songs than this.

Time and tide they wait for no-one, disbelieve it if you dare
Turn around and they will be gone, and you will still be standing there
Check it out
Check it out, come on you know it's right
God is right, check it out

People say I'm like a river, cause I'm never standing still
I don't care I'm gonna live forever, cause the Bible says I will
Check it out

Check it out, come on you know it's right
God is right, check it out

People say that I'm a dreamer, And I don't know what it's all about
But time will tell who's got the answers, one day we will all all find out
Check it out

Check it out, come on you know it's right
God is right, check it out

Time and tide they wait for no-one, disbelieve it if you dare
Turn around and they will be gone, and you will still be standing there
Check it out

Check it out, come on you know it's right
God is right, check it out

Like a river

"People say I'm like a river - cos I'm never standing still". That's a line from an old ATF hit. No-one's ever said I'm like a river but I do feel like one sometimes. Life is so busy at times. Today (Thursday) hasn't been so bad but yesterday I had three meetings - two in old people's homes that I take fortnightly plus our regular midweek meeting in the church, where we looked at the first commandment from Deuteronomy 5. Work with old people is not easy especially the second lot where there is little sign of comprehension. There are some encouragements though. The other week a lady from Monserrat prayed beautifully when asked. Then this week a Jewish man asked why it is called Good Friday and I directed him to Isaiah 53 which he seemed not to know. In between the two meetings I was reading the Raymond Franz book I have mentioned. I saw two JWs on the corner so I showed them what I was reading - although they didn't want to know. Just then a Jewish lady turned up. She's always giving me things. She had a load of kosher soap in her car, which she said could be used in the church. I didn't even know soap could be kosher!
The day before (Tuesday) had been quite busy too. I'd forgotten that I'd arranged to meet the LIP church planters down in Covent Garden. I remembered in time to get there late. We have a regular pastoral meeting where we can discuss things. Then in the evening we had a rather poorly attended Christianity Explored meeting and a better attended planning meeting for the Holiday Bible Club we hope to have in April.
The day before (Monday) I was down at the Evangelical Library to hear Professor Helm's talk on Packer's "Fundamentalism" and the Word of God. I discovered that I do have a copy but unread. It first came out in 1958 and I guess I was advised to get a copy (mine was printed in the USA in 1977) by someone in the previous generation. It is a stout defence of Reformed theology which was very much under attack at the time in connection with the Billy Graham meetings. Professor Helm felt that Packer probably hadn't shifted in his theology but certainly has in his tactics and approach. We had a decent number there. It's me next month on Baxter's Call to the unconverted. Anyway must dash, I'm taking a church member to hospital now. He's in for a day or two.

Raymond Franz

I think I've mentioned that I'm lecturing at EMF Welwyn on Cults and similar subjects. that is why I've been looking at the Jehovah's Witness movement and have recently read Crisis of conscience by Ray Franz a former member of the governing body. The book came out some years ago now but it is still full of interest as it's by someone who knows the organisation from the inside and who has also taken the trouble to speak temperately and backing up his claims with well documented facts. Franz does not appear to have become a Christian in the proper sense. There is no retraction of his ant-trinitarianism or anything like that but he does reject the movement itself, believing that what God's Word says is what matters not belonging to some organisation. I notice he has another book out. What he has to say is full of interest. Of course, few JWs will read it because he has been disfellowshipped. It is frightening to think how willing people are to place themselves under false human teachers.

The Appeal John Grisham

One unmentioned penchant is the novels of John Grisham. Some years ago we stayed in a house that had a collection of novels by John Grisham and I read The Testament partly for its religious content (Grisham has a Southern Baptist background). I enjoyed it and being obsessive I went on to read most of his other novels. I'm slightly behind at present (I've missed the factual one and the non-legal Playing for Pizza one but have read the others). I recently read his latest novel The Appeal which is written in his usual easy undemanding style but raises interesting issues regarding Christians and involvement in politics. it traces the machinations that lead to changes on the Mississippi Supreme Court so that an evangelical Christian comes to power. Grisham's own liberal Baptist agenda intrudes a little but it is a thought provoking piece and good fun. The final line is very good - "now that he had three billion, he really wanted six." For more on Grisham see here. The line "His extended vacation from hard-hitting fiction is over" sounds about right for me. More here.

Baxter on flesh-pleasing

I'm doing some work on Baxter at present and found this here.

The signs of a flesh-pleaser or sensualist are these:

1. When a man in his desire to please his appetite, does not do it with a view to a higher end, that is to say to the preparing himself for the service of God; but does it only for the delight itself. (Of course no one does every action consciously with a view to the service of God. Nevertheless, the general manner or habit of a life spent in the service of God is absent for the flesh-pleaser.)

2. When he looks more eagerly and industriously after the prosperity of his body than of his soul.

3. When he will not refrain from his pleasures, when God forbids them, or when they hurt his soul, or when the necessities of his soul call him away from them. But he must have his delight whatever it costs him, and is so set upon it, that he cannot deny it to himself.

4. When the pleasures of his flesh exceed his delights in God, and his holy word and ways, and the expectations of endless pleasure. And this not only in the passion, but in the estimation, choice, and action. When he had rather be at a play, or feast, or other entertainment, or getting good bargains or profits in the world, than to live in the life of faith and love, which would be a holy and heavenly way of living.

5. When men set their minds to scheme and study to make provision for the pleasures of the flesh; and this is first and sweetest in their thoughts.

6. When they had rather talk, or hear, or read of fleshly pleasures, than of spiritual and heavenly delights.

7. When they love the company of merry sensualists, better than the communion of saints, in which they may be exercised in the praises of their Maker.

8. When they consider that the best place to live and work is where they have the pleasure of the flesh. They would rather be where they have things easy, and lack nothing for the body, rather than where they have far better help and provision for the soul, though the flesh be pinched for it.

9. When he will be more eager to spend money to please his flesh than to please God.

10. When he will believe or like no doctrine but "easy-believism," and hate mortification as too strict "legalism." By these, and similar signs, sensuality may easily be known; indeed, by the main bent of the life.


Oh, yes! Oh yes!! The Triple Crown!!!
It's like being a boy in the seventies again.

Flickr Foto Series 17

Palm Tree Top

Anghenfil Wyth

Stuart Burgess

It was my privilege to be at the Westminster Fellowship last Monday and to hear Stuart Burgess. Dr Burgess is Professor of Design in nature at Bristol University and a leading light in the intelligent design movement. He is the author of three books on the subject and a number of DVD presentations. (See here and here and here). His classical argument is that from the knee joint in man. See the article here.

On this occasion he spoke less about the argument and more about the movement but that was interesting and useful in itself. He was particularly concerned about how to go about responding to the various attacks that have come his way. What a battle is going on.

Through Western Eyes

Sorry it's been a bit quiet. I've been busy preparing lectures to give at the EMF School in Welwyn. (More here). I began last Friday with a lecture on Roman Catholicism where we looked at five obvious areas of doctrine where we believe Rome is in error. Next week, before the break it's the JWs and Mormons but this week we are looking at Eastern Orthodoxy. I'm rather less familiar with this and so I've been reading hard on the web and in Robert Letham's latest book Through western eyes. Letham's book is a popular one but he is looking at things from quite theological even academic perspective. He is quite sympathetic and like others who have looked into this (eg Nick Needham) believes there are things to be learned from them. he also usefully removes some of the confusion that exists. He is not blind to the genuine problems, however, and deals with these.
The book is in three parts - history, theology (5 chapters each) and evaluation (2 chapters). The theology section deals with Prayers and icons, Scripture and tradition, Church and sacraments, the Trinity and Salvation.
Letham writes in an attractive style and apart from a tendency to get a little over-excited when bemoaning evangelical failures is quite enjoyable. He provocatively questions whether the right of private interpretation is a Reformaion doctrine.
The book is of special interest to those who want a Reformed perspective on Orthodoxy but is full of interest for anyone who wants to look at subjects like the Trinity from an unusual angle.

Lunch Time Lecture

This is a reminder of the lunch-time lecture on March 10th at Evangelical Library from Professor Helm on Jim Packer's Fundamentalism and the Word of God. Do come along if you can.

Tamaid Cymraeg

Something Welsh for St David's Day. This is Cerys Matthews singing a folk song - a favourite of mine. It's about a little tinker boy wandering around working. The chorus is a Wenglish mixture.

Bachgen bach o dincer
Yn crwydro hyd y wlad,
Cario'i dwls yn dacle',
'neud ei waith yn rhad;
Yn ei law 'roedd haearn,
Ac ar ei gefn 'roedd bocs,
Pwt o getyn yn ei geg
A than ei drwyn 'roedd locs.

Potsiar peipar twigar owns agen
Potsiar o the peipar
O the knickerbocker line.
La di da di da di
Hock it on the chen,
The potsiar o ddy peipar
O ddy knickerbocker line.

Holi hwn ac arall
Ple'r aeth y tincer mwyn,
Gyda'i becyn ar ei gefn,
A chetyn dan ei drwyn.
Bachgen bach o dincer
Ni welir trwy'r wlad;
Mae'n golled ar ei ôl
I 'neud ei waith yn rhad.