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.

Continuity and Change

Continuity and Change is the title of Roger Hayden's 2006 book, subtitled "Evangelical Calvinism among eighteenth century Baptist ministers trained at Bristol Academy, 1690-1791. It is based on his 1991 PhD thesis. It is basically a history of Reformed Baptists between Benjamin Keach and William Carey with the focus on the Bristol Academy and the Western Association with Wales, the Midlands, London and the later Northampton Association in the background. Part of the argument is that London was not taking the lead at this time but Bristol and similar provincial cities.
The book is in three parts. First, we look at the rise of Evangelical Calvinism in the Baptist Associations (1-60). After giving some background (1-11), he covers the initial history of the western association, up to its re-formation in 1734 with an emphasis on ministerial education and what he calls "London's failure" (12-30). He also summarises the situation with the Welsh, Midland, Northern and Irish Baptist Associations (37-49).
The bulk of the book is on the Bristol Academy (61-178) looking, in turn, at its first three leaders - the pioneer Bernard Foskett (61-104) Hugh Evans (105-120) and the paternalistic Caleb Evans (121-142). This part (142-178) is completed with an interesting section on local church life (142-178) - covenant and baptism, confession and catechism and quite a bit on hymn singing (157-178).
The third section, Calvinist and missionary (179-204), steps back a little and looks at the more familiar story of the presence of hyper-Calvinism among Baptists (Hussey influenced Skepp, Brine, Gill) and its eventual demise (through Edwards influenced Sutcliff and Fuller). one would want to quibble with some of the statements here (about Beza and Perkins for example) but the basic thesis seems sound.
Of four appendices perhaps the most interesting is the list of Bristol students, 1720-1791 (222-249). Benjamin Beddome, a great interest of mine, is among them. Beddome is also mentioned on several other pages as are several of his relatives. The fine bibliography and index add to the value of this well researched and interesting book.
Any thesis however well reworked is not always the most gripping of reads. I was helped to keep going by the relation of one sad but surreal incident and what appears to be one glorious typo (not very many of those here at all).
The sad surrealism - around page 90 the story of John Reynolds who suffered an impaired voice soon after moving to London "having accidentally inhaled his shirt studs while dressing".
The typo - on page 98 we are told that the Trosnant School was founded by "John Griffiths, who was at the time manager of the local iron and trepanning works in Pontypool". Trepanning can refer to creating mine shafts but is most often used to describe brain surgery through the skull. The word should be "japanning".

AV Stamps

The Royal Mail is planning to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a series of special stamps.
The commemorative stamps, which are due to be produced next year, have been prompted by numerous requests from members of the general public.
The move has been welcomed by Mervyn Storey, MLA for North Antrim, who was one of those who petitioned.
Mr Storey said: “The Authorized or King James Version of the Bible, is the most influential piece of literature in the English Language.
“However the King James Version didn’t just influence our literature and language. It also had a beneficial influence upon political and constitutional affairs.”
He added: “Some time ago I wrote to the Royal Mail requesting that along with what others are doing the Royal Mail should mark this important anniversary with special commemorative stamps.
“I am glad that it has now responded positively to that request and confirmed that a set of commemorative stamps will be produced in November of this year.
“This is a very welcome decision and one that I know will be appreciated by many people.”
A spokesman for the Royal Mail confirmed the decision, saying: “Royal Mail can confirm that the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised King James Version of the Bible will be marked on a special stamp set to be issued during 2011.”
The stamps are due to be issued towards the end of 2011.
Work on the King James translation began in 1604, at the request of James I, and carried on until 1611.
A team of 47 of the best Bible scholars of the day worked on translating the text into English, and the King James translation became the version read by many English speaking nations.

Dove evolution

Saw this on the Christian Institute site (it won't play here but follow the link).

Fast food

A combination of circumstances this week conspired to launch me into a survey of local fast food outlets. The order was

Monday Brent Cross MacDonalds (wrap and mozarella dippers)

Tuesday Hendon Domino's Pizza delivered (shared Hawaian and Meat feast with boys)

Wednesday Childs Hill Coral Bay chippy (curry, chips, steak and kidney pie)

Thursday Golders Green KFC (Boneless banquet)

Friday Golders Green Subway (12" meatball marinara with salad)

I had a coke with each one I think. It's not a very cheap way to live and is probably not very healthy. I enjoyed the Subway best, probably, and the KFC worst (I probably made the wrong menu choice). The chippy works out cheapest, the pizza most expensive. Some people don't like fast food but I don't mind it and it's nice that there's a bit of variety.

Akkerman op luit

I'm a little slow sometimes but apparently Jan Akkerman is performing in public on his lute these days. He complains that keeping the thing in tune is hard work. It would be great to hear him live on lute. No video available any more I'm afraidd.

Origins of Hocus Pocus

The sadness of the uncut book

I made a second trip to the British Library this week to check out some volumes. One of the books was largely uncut and had to be sent back and dealt with. I think that is rather sad. It means that this book has been sat in the Library since 1882 or whatever (over a hundred years) and it has never been read. I suppose it is a little exciting too in that I'm reading it for the first time as old as it looked (it was Thomas Houston on the atonement and intercession).

Apparently when a book is bound, trimming is the final thing that is done (or not done). Withotu this the leaves of the bound book cannot be turned. A sheet folded in quarto will have folds at the spine and also across the top, so the top folds must be trimmed away before the leaves can be turned. A signature (a section that contains text) folded in octavo or greater may also require that the other two sides be trimmed. Deckle Edge or Uncut books are untrimmed or incompletely trimmed, and may be of special interest to book sellers.

An article here reveals that the Chinese call them 毛边本 (literally, "fuzzy-edged volume"). The term refers both to uncut volumes with deckle edges, and to unopened books, in which the pages have to be sliced open by the reader. They're not especially common, and for most readers who still enjoy reading dead trees once in a while, having to slice open every other page is just another hassle. For collectors, it's a different story as the article explains.

I guessed someone would be inspired to write a poem on the subject. This sonnet is by the African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar

Emblem of blasted hope and lost desire,
No finger ever traced thy yellow page
Save Time's. Thou hast not wrought to noble rage
The hearts thou wouldst have stirred. Not any fire
Save sad flames set to light a funeral pyre
Dost thou suggest. Nay, - impotent in age,
Unsought, thou holdst a corner of the stage
And ceasest even dumbly to aspire.

How different was the thought of him that writ.
What promised he to love of ease and wealth,
When men should read and kindle at his wit.
But here decay eats up the book by stealth,
While it, like some old maiden, solemnly,
Hugs its incongruous virginity!

Another wedding

Another weekend another wedding! This was the last of three in a row this summer (with one more to come) for us. This time we were just at the wedding itself and it was only up the road in Welwyn, where Luke Jenner has been the assistant to Mostyn Roberts since leaving LTS. He was assigned to us when in LTS. He was marrying Miriam, a member at Castlefields, Derby. Mostyn married them and the pastor from Derby, David Fielding, preached. It was a joy to be there and to meet various people we know and don't know from the various places where Luke and Miriam have connections (Welwyn, Derby, Halifax, London, Aber, etc).


I am currently trying to cut down on some of the things I do and so last FridayI attended my last Grace publications meeting. Above are the latest books. Double click or check here.

Green eye of the storm

Dylan's band "(We) Them Getaways" did their first gig the other night. This is Green Eye of the Storm. It's a start.

Local Shooting

Recent reports in The Hampstead and Highgate Express

July 08
Friends have paid tribute to an Albanian builder gunned down in cold blood on Hendon Way during rush hour.
Nezir Golaj, of Garth Road, Child's Hill was shot dead on Thursday morning in the middle of the A41 as he sat in his car at around 8.30am.
One friend, who asked to remain anonymous told the Ham&High: "Nezir was a respected member of the Albanian community. No one did more than him for the community. He was one of the best people. It is very upsetting."
Another said: "This murder has shocked friends, relatives, colleagues and the whole Albanian community in London."
Scotland Yard has opened a murder investigation with specialist detectives drafted in to look into the killing.
Police, paramedics and an air ambulance rushed to the scene and found Mr Golaj with multiple gun shot wounds. The A41 remained closed to traffic until the afternoon as forensic officers carried out a finger tip search of the scene.
Barnet Borough Commander Neil Basu moved to allay fears in the aftermath of the shooting.
Chief Supt Basu said: "I understand the community will be anxious about the recent fatal shooting in Child's Hill. I would firstly like to extend the sympathy of myself and my colleagues to the family of the victim and those who have been affected.
"Police strongly believe the parties involved in this incident were known to each other and this was not a random shooting. Police are not aware of any specific threat to the general public and such incidents remain rare in Barnet."Rest assured that many dedicated police officers will be working hard to ensure the safety of Barnet residents and to bring those responsible to justice."

July 12
A MAN has been charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder following a shooting in Childs Hill on Thursday.
Hajdar Kasumaj, 50, of Firs Lane, Palmers Green, is charged with the murder of Nezir Golaj, 45, in Hendon Way on Thursday, the murder of Osman Grbic, 58, in Milton Avenue, Newham, and the attempted murder of a 43-year-old man in Wightman Road, Haringey on Friday.
He is also charged with three counts of possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, possession of a silencer and unlicensed ammunition.
He is due to appear today at City of Westminster Magistrates Court.

Weddings 2

So another wedding last Saturday. It was in Malpas Road Evangelical Church where the daughter of the minister, who is married to my wife's cousin, was getting married to a young man based in Seven Oaks, Kent who she met at the Aberystwyth Christian Union. We went up on the Friday night to Cardiff and stayed with Eleri's sister.
The service was led by the minister, Meirion Thomas, and was largely in Welsh but with everything translated including the bilingual sermon on Revelation 19 from Steffan Jones (Aberystwyth). Even the groom spoke immaculate Welsh, despite wearing a kilt. There's the advantage of a missionary upbringing. One or two things in the service jarred with me but it was warm, evangelical and mainly God-centred. it was great to see two young people so keen to honour God.
A long but relaxed cake reception followed in the church buildings, closing with the cutting of the cake and speeches from the bride's father and the groom.
Guests for the main reception (160 of us) then took the short journey to Rougemont School where after an age taking photographs we finally sat down to eat. (I popped the kids in our party up to my sister's in Cwmbran just before). We had a lovely meal, another cake cutting and several speeches all audible and well done.
The final element was an electric ceilidh band Parsley Hay and dancing (which I brought the kids back for). The bride and groom left around 10.30 as did we.
So a long but very enjoyable day. A silvery undertone of sadness was also there for me as the church is right in the area where my mother grew up. It was slightly strange to meet one or two people (working very hard on the catering front mostly) who I don't keep up with but who I know from way back. As we were leaving, a couple spoke to me about the blog. It was gratifying to know that they pop in here from time to time. Nice to meet you!
Another wedding next Saturday but we will only attend part of that one. I'm sure weddings weren't as long when I was a boy.


It was Owain's school sportsday at week. He did well in the egg and spoon (unlike his parents) and his team was second. Blistering hot afternoon.


This picture was taken the other day - In England, curiously (Welsh Walls, Oswestry)

More on the Met Tab

I missed Wednesday but went again for some of Thursday. Again it was all fairly negative and even when one agreed with the drift of many arguments one felt uneasy about certain things. Speakers are not oblivious to the danger of being written off and were alert to the need to be nuanced but didn't quite get there for me. Few Christians would argue with John Thackway's points about the need for gracious moderation, modest deportment (plus wise abstention and healthy preventives which he had no time to elaborate). Sanctified tastes is much more of a minefield. Mendelssohn is okay apparently but not rock 'n' roll. (Here's one place to test this theory).
Anyway the whole thing left me feeling quite depressed. Chris Hand rightly pointed out the tragedy it is that John Piper has decided to give Rick Warren a platform and similar causes for concern. I also feel great sympathy for many of the points made. However, I can't entirely line up with the whole met tab package - AV, pews, no pre-19th century-style hymns, etc. I'm sure the positon I take is not unique but it does feel rather lonely sometimes.

Summer School of Theology

The Summer School of Theology is currently on at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. I was not able to be there for the Wednesday meetings but was present for part of Tuesday. I missed Jack Seaton and much of what John Thackway had to say. The final afternoon session was taken by Dr Masters himself. One of the concerns this year is to attack the new Calvinistic movement because of its questionable stand on Reformed worship and traditional views of worldliness. Dr Masters, as so often, was quite negative and his message turned into something of a rant.
My ears perked up when he mentioned blogs. He described two Reformed ministers discussing on their blogs which was the better performer, Elvis Presley or another. I would guess it is a reference to something that took place between Martin Downes and Gary Benfold. As far as Dr Masters is concerned we should have nothing to do with such things. One can see his point even if one does not agree on his idea of guilt by association. I suppose it is the public nature of blogs that has brought the subject into sharp relief and I must confess that I had to ask myself a few questions (as I am often doing when blogging). If someone tunes into this blog and finds a Marc Bolan video here, it is possible that they could assume that I am supportive of everything the man ever did. That, however, is not the case, anymore than if I feature Mozart of Tchaikovski. Indeed, if that were not the case it would be difficult to do much. Just because Dr Masters gives a platform to paedobaptist Joel Beeke I don't assume he has abandoned his Baptist position. If he watched England play soccer and cheered for them, I wouldn't assume he was condoning the antics of John Terry and others.
I am reluctant to say anything but having sat through it I thought I ought to make some response, however much less holy I would guess I am than Dr Masters.
Anyway the evening session was an excellent one - much more positive and in the end much more searching. Joel Beeke took us to the puritans on holiness and was teeming over with good and challenging things to say.
It was good to chat with him and others in the tea interval. It is amazing who you meet. It was good to bump into friends from India, Romania, Guernsey and the USA as well as your usual more UK types. Rhodri was with me and he bumped into people he knew too, which was nice. We also had chance to hear about the work in Baldock under Jonathan Northern, an attempt to repeat the Met Tab approach in a much more rural Hertfordshire setting.


We are not so often at weddings but this summer there are three or four. We're off to a family one in South Wales this week and last week the son of one of my deacons, Josef, was getting married to Emma in Meole Brace near Shrewsbury. I was reading and praying and the preacher was Paul Yeulett, Emma's pastor. It was also good to see Mark Stocker of Spring Road Evangelical, Southampton, there, where Josef has been studying enginneering for the last few years. For various reasons the service was conducted by Phil Cansdale, the vicar of Holy Trinity, Meole Brace.

One of the joy of the reception afterwards was seeing various people I knew and half knew. They were from various churches mostly in that broad Reformed evangelical stream, which I'm part of (Childs Hill Baptist, Shrewsbury Evangelical, Southampton, Wycliffe Independent Sheffield, Emmanuel in Cardiff, Durham Presbyterian, Alexandra Road Hemel, Hounslow West Evangelical, Milnrow Evangelical) though from other churches too. Josef and Emma first met on the CCIW camps in Tywyn.

June over so soon

June sort of slipped by rather quickly and I missed some things that I wanted to mention.

At the end of May I was preaching in Tollington Park Baptist, currently without a pastor and a little on the small side but with alovely new building and eager to lap up the word. An added bonus was having lunch and tea with a fellow Cwmbraner and her husband. She grew up in the same fellowship as me.

On June 1 I was up in Stapleford helping lay plans for the next Westminster Conference. Papers due (as already flagged up) are on Rewriting the Reformation, Puritan attitudes to Rome, the AV of 1611, Preaching repentance, Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910 and Andrew Bonar. That was half term week and most of the family were in Wales so I was more or less on my own, though Dylan was at home - a good excuse to send out for pizza. There were also committee meetings in connection with the Grace Assembly (next one May 24-26 2011, Swanwick, speakers include Stuart Olyott) and LIP (sorry to miss their recent baptism). I also spoke on parenting up at the Welwyn ladies coffee morning. The other things (such as the Evangelical Library Lecture, John Owen Centre TSG, LTS end of term and my trip to Bristol) I've mentioned. There has also been the regular preaching on Mark and Romans plus Titus midweek in Childs Hill as well as work with the elderly and children. The clubs are now over for the summer.

Good hair

Rhodri and I went to see the film Good hair the other day. This fascinating film is a documentary feature film starring the (usually foul mouthed - but not here) African American comedian Chris Rock. It all started when his daughter said she wished she had good hair.

The film is an exploration of the African American hair industry (20% of the population 80% of the money spent on hair products) with a hairdressers competition in Atlanta, Georgia as the central theme. From relaxing hair with dangerous chemicals through to the use of expensive weaves made from hair sacrificed to Hindu gods, the whole story is a weird and wonderful one. If you see this film you will never look at a black woman's hair in the same way!
A 12A, there has to be a brief warning but for the most part this film managed to be decent, very entertaining, quite funny and very much out of left field. Rock is desperate not to be judgmental but it is difficult.
PS Before anyone else comments, yes the irony of being there as a white male who is bald was not lost on me.

Bee Season

Eleri and I sat down to watch the 2005 film Bees Season the other night on DVD. Based on a novel by Myla Goldberg, it didn't do too well at the box office, I believe. I think that is understandable given the subject matter, although it was not without merit.

Richard Gere is the central figure a Cabbalistic Jewish father who lectures in the university on the subject. His daughter a feels untalented and neglected by him but is eager to catch his attention. She eventually does this through her ability to win spelling bees. Her father sees her gift as a possible route into mystical union with God, and pushes her hard in that direction, while she simply wants his love. Meanwhile the older son, who has been closer to his father drifts away from him to the point of an open rift, provoked chiefly by his secret alliance with an attractive young girl who is a devotee of Hinduism. The fourth member of the family is the French former Catholic mother who lost her parents in a tragic accident, played by Juliette Binoche. She is the most mysterious of the four. It eventually becomes apparent that she is suffering some sort of mental breakdown. In her case the desire to please her husband and fulfil his mystic dream is a factor but instead of it drawing him to her as she hopes, it only repels him.

So, an enjoyable film for me, touching on spelling (I couldn't resist attempting every one of the many words given to be spelled) and religion. Quite what the film is saying is difficult to be sure but it is certainly intense and disturbing and to me a reminder that religion itself is divisive rather than a force for cohesion. Bad teaching will have a deleterious effect in the end.
Great for provoking discussion.

Sneezing Bull

This is Focus Sneezing Bull featuring Philip Catherine