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.

Nothing gold can stay

Autumn's acoming and I came across this Robert Frost poem the other day

Nature's first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Dr Lloyd-Jones Memorial Lecture 2010

It was a privilege to hear Stuart Olyott last night at the John Owen Centre for the 2010 Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones lecture. Mr Olyott began with a tribute and a statement of his personal indebtedness to Dr Lloyd-Jones mentioning hearing him on spiritual warfare in 1964 at the last Campbell Morgan lecture and on that famous occasion in 1966 when Lloyd-Jones called on evangelicals to unite.
His topic was "preaching that gets through" and essentially this did. He began with a story of an overseas student seeing the sea for the first time. he only saw a bit of a vast ocean, of course, but was well pleased. That was the aim of Mr Olyott's address. He had three points
1. A True or False Quiz
1. Words are powerful things? T Eg God, the serpent, promise, prophecy, prayer and praise, preaching, Hitler, Churchill, etc.
2. Words are units of writing that are the smallest meaningful elements in language that may be written or not written? F Words are units of speech ....
3. Words are powerless to raise the spiritually dead unless they are accompanied by the Spirit? T Words cannot regenerate. They can do many wonderful things but alone they cannot save.
4. As we use words, there are ways of getting through or not getting through, and these are appointed by God? T Efficient and inefficient modes exist. Eg Lincoln's Gettysburg address. Why? Construction of the human soul. It is the way God made us.
5. These ways of getting through can be learned? T Hence books on homiletics
6. However, the Holy Spirit is no more likely to use effective ways than ineffective ways? F God uses means and he will use the most likely ways. if this is not so why make any effort at all?
7. Our study then can be limited to what is to be preached and how it is to be preached? F
2. Aristotle and Paul
Aristotle (BC 384-322) noticed three characteristics of effective speech – ethos, pathos, logos.
1. Ethos – some form of credibility makes people willing to listen. If you don't know the speaker there are little clues to his qualifications – looking the part, authority, expertise, etc. If you are reasonably convinced someone has something to say you are more likely to listen. Ethical appeal.
2. Pathos – he is sympathetic to the audience and he is marked by feeling for his subject and his audience. Emotional appeal.
3. Logos – there is content. He takes a position. He argues his case. Logical appeal.
All very fine but there is a problem. 1 Corinthians 1:17, 2:1, etc.
Paul was interested in ethos, pathos and logos, however, as is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 2, etc.
4. Dunamis – the extra thing. By way of example he mentioned the 500 converted in 1630 through John Livingstone preaching at Kirk o' Shotts. He wrote
“There is sometimes somewhat in preaching that cannot be ascribed either to the matter or expression, and cannot be described what it is, or from whence it cometh, but with a sweet violence, it pierceth into the heart and affections, and comes immediately from the Lord. But if there be any way to attain to any such thing, it is by a heavenly disposition of the speaker.”
In what ways does Paul accept and reject Greek rhetoric?
Ethos was important to Paul. He appealed to his integrity – which is what pleases God. He was concerned not to bolster his reputation but to please God. This explains 2 Corinthians 2, etc.
Pathos was important to Paul – not to manipulate people but due to deep sincerity. His humanness is evident – in greetings and benedictions, in his Philippian dilemma (better to die or live), etc.
Logos was important to Paul – not the Greek idea but making things clear, answering objections. Hence Romans, Ephesians, etc, etc.
Dunamis was important to Paul - though not to the Greeks. Hence his prayers, his conviction that only God could give the increase. Unction is in God's gift.
There was no real preaching until Pentecost. The disciples saw so much before that - miracles, the resurrection, etc. Did it make them preachers? It was only when the Spirit came that they were able to preach effectively. Think of Stephen – ethos, pathos, logos but the key was that he was filled with the Spirit. Who will be determined to seek God for that blessing?
3. Upside down thinking
Mr Olyott's final point used a rhetorical device which he introduced as a way of helping people to think more clearly. He spoke of the Peppeti family, whose restaurant was going down the tubes. The owner sat them all down and instead of asking what they could do to save it asked how they could ruin it. Make it a mess, don't open when people are hungry, ignore the people, serve bad food, etc.
And so we had the question what can a preacher do to make sure he does not get through?
Ethos – keep your distance from people. No self references, no connection. You won't need to live a holy life this way or pray, etc.
Pathos – show no feeling. Don't feel for the subject or the people. Avoid the impression that you want to do people any good. Don't sympathise or use stories, etc. Forget people have imaginations. No applications. Long words. Never get worked up. No grief, no joy, no humanness.
Logos – Don't work too hard. Why bother with good exegesis, with order, with helping them to think. Put no emphasis on certain things, certainly not the gospel. Keep it abstract. Make it an indigestible lump. Forget the judgement - which will be stricter for preachers.
Dunamis – ignore this element. It's such a mystical idea why think about it anyway? Praying is not the thing today even though it was in the past. Think of the time it takes to pray anyway. Too much else to do.
Is this what Paul did? Did Jesus do that?

Marrow of Modern Divinity

Over the last month or two I have been reading a famous 17th century book The marrow of modern divinity by Edward Fisher. It is the book chosen for the latest meeting of the Theological Study Group at the John Owen Centre. I was leading so I had to make sure I got a good handle on it. Most of us used the handsome new edition produced by Christian Focus. A hardback, wide margin book it includes the two parts of the marrow, introductory materials, an appendix and Thomas Boston's later extensive notes, which have really become part of the book. All that extra material made it a longer book than I had realised at first (376 large pages).
The significance of the book lies partly in its historical role in Scotland in the early 18th century but it is an abiding presentation of covenant theology and a careful attempt to chart a course between the twin dangers of legalism and anti-nomianism. This is it does with little subtlety but nevertheless accurately by setting up a four-way conversation (and something similar in Part 2 which chiefly expounds the 10 commandments). Evangelista is the sound minister. He speaks to Nomista, Antinomista and Neophytus. Its basic plea is to recognise that there is such a thing as the law of works, which we are all under by nature and that is set out in the Ten Commandments, the law of faith (the gospel) and the law of Christ, which is the rule of life for believers and that is again set out in the ten commandments. It also advocates what is usually called the free offer of the gospel, an idea still alien to some. One might want to quibble with some of the exegesis and one or two other things but the book is basically sound and a great help pastorally to all who have struggled with such issues.


I was up at LTS this last Monday. I was kindly invited to preach to the students at the beginning of their new year of study. They were all there with the principal, vice-principal and a few others. I preached on Ecclesiastes 10:10 and you can find the sermon here. We do wish them well in their studies.
I had also been in LTS the week before at the annual meeting where those of us involved in the seminary mentoring scheme gather to swap notes (Chris Bennett, Mostyn Roberts, Chris Hawthrone, Andrew Murray, etc, etc). The current assignments have not been made yet. I was also involved just before that in a successful interview for a late applicant. NB They have Stuart Olyott preaching there on September 27 and Dr Grant Gordon is there on October 11. It's all going on.
PS Do you like the logo complete with its own subliminal message?


It was good to be preaching in Banbury in Oxfordshire once again on Sunday. It was the evangelical church's 26th anniversary. The present pastor is David Cooke who I know through the Evangelical Library (he is our treasurer). It was lovely to spend time with him and his family. The former pastor, Robert Strivens, and his wife, are now members with us following the move to work at the LTS.  The church meets in a school lecture theatre, which has its advantages and disadvantages. They have a baptism this Saturday and it was good to meet the two candidates. I had met the young woman's brother at the John Owen Centre for the first time last month so that was nice. She is hoping to work with Caring for life as a TJFer. I preached from Acts 16 and Titus 2. It seemed to go across okay, although I felt there could have been more of Christ in it perhaps.
PS I should have mentioned too that my eldest son and the son of one of our deacons preached in Childs Hill while I was away - and very acceptably too. The messages are currently on our church website.


Heard this on the radio the other day (I think it was this)


I was going to mention how in Paris I asked for an Americano and they brought me one of these
That's a cocktail (see more here). What I wanted was one of these (see more here)

Just showing my ignorance I guess.

Church Planting

It's been pretty busy, as ever. Last week I was chairing a new committee to oversee the church planting work in Cranford, West London, led by Robin Asgher. Until recently the FIEC has dealt with paying Robin and similar details but that has to change and soon the work will be under a new trust. Meanwhile the opportunities abound for work among Asians in that part of London.
At the end of last week I was chairing a public meeting in connection with the London Inreach Project, led by Andrew Murray and Derek Sewell in Soho and Covent Garden. I had to be at the trustees committee first and was then present at the early afternoon meeting where Andrew spoke along with Barry King, our evening preacher. Barry, always a compelling speaker, spoke about the Grace Baptist Partnership in the first afternoon meeting and then preached on small things from Proverbs 30 in the later meeting. Around 50 must have gathered through the day. Church planting is far from easy work but it is inching along and in some cases doing something more than that.
The LIP meeting was in Orange Street behind Trafalgar Square. I was also at a meeting yesterday in connection with the outreach in Trafalgar Square. I am trying to stand back from this a little at present due to too many other commitments, there is to be preaching in the square on October 2, however, so do come along if you can.

John Toshack

I hear that 62 year old John Toshack is about to retire as Wales manager.
I have seldom watched professional football live but I remember my dad taking me to see Toshack play for Cardiff City at Ninian Park against Bury. (It was April 7 1969 the wonderful internet reveals. Cardiff won 2-0). Toshack at 20 was in his prime and looked to me like an American football player. What a player!
They used to sing "Johny, Johnny Toshack, na na na na na na."

Six in one day

One of the things about blogging is that you tend only to blog unusual things rather than usual ones. I should really be regularly blogging about Sunday and Wednesday meetings but I don't.
One odd thing today was that I saw six members of the congregation (excluding my own family). It's true that I saw two at a morning prayer meeting we had arranged but the others were more random - two in a car heading somewhere, one off to the shops and another just at random in Golders Green. It wouldn't be remarkable in a village but here in London it is fairly unusual, sadly. Eleri took a seventh shopping but I didn't see him.

3 chord trick Akkerman

The trick here is apparently to spot which three chords are not used

P's March

Another of my youtube videos

AHOCIA 100 Objects 16

Yes, the series still lives though I can't see us making a hundred at this rate.


Last week it was my great privilege to get along to the John Owen Centre and enjoy an introduction to Francis Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology. Jeff Jue of Westminster led the sessions and very well too. Sadly, there were only three of us. Ralph is based at WEST and is actually doing the ThM course. Duncan and I were just auditing. Turretin's three volume work has been available in English for some years now and is a very impressive piece of post-Reformation scholasticism well worth investing some time in. It was great to have this week of navigating at least some of the loci. Giovanni's cooking is always a bonus.

My Boys

It's back to school time and so my third son and my youngest (having now recovered from a recent bout of scarlet fever) headed off this morning not too reluctantly. Number 4 started back last week but has gone down with something so he's home again today. Dylan is supposed to be on work experience but that didn't work out so he's not back until Wednesday. His band (Them getaways) did a gig last week at The Water Rats in King's Cross alongside The Milk and other bands. They actually got paid this time. As for Rhodri, he's off to UCCF Forum this week with Sibyl. Looks a mixed bag.

French Cruelty

I was rather distressed to see on the recent trip to Paris cases of cruelty to garden gnomes. They look happy enough but such incarceration cannot be right. This shot was taken in a street near Notre Dame. I plan to take things up with the French Ambassador.

Bradstreet Meditations 6 (Final)

XLI. A Wise father will not lay a burden on a child of seven yeares old, which he knows is enough for one of twice his strength, much less will our heavenly father (who knows our mould) lay such afflictions upon his weak children as would crush them to the dust, but according to the strength he will proportion the load, as God hath his little children so he hath his strong men, such as are come to a full stature in Christ; and many times he imposes waighty burdens on their shoulders, and yet they go upright under them, but it matters not whether the load be more or less if God afford his help.

XLII. I have seen an end of all perfection (sayd the royall prophet); but he never sayd, I have seen an end of all sinning: what he did say, may be easily sayd by many; but what he did not say, cannot truly be uttered by any.

XLIII. Fire hath its force abated by water, not by wind; and anger must be alayed by cold words, and not by blustering threats.

XLIV. A sharp appetite and a thorough concoction, is a signe of an healthfull body; so a quick reception, and a deliberate cogitation, argues a sound mind.

XLV. We often se stones hang with drops, not from any innate moisture, but from a thick ayer about them; so may we sometime se marble- hearted sinners seem full of contrition; but it is not from any dew of grace within, but from some black Clouds that impends them, which produces these sweating effects.

XLVI. The words of the wise, sath Solomon, are as nailes and as goads both used for contrary ends—the one holds fast, the other puts forward; such should be the precepts of the wise masters of assemblys to their hearers, not only to bid them hold fast the form of sound Doctrin, but also, so to run that they might obtain.

XLVII. A shadow in the parching sun, and a shelter in the blustering storme, are of all seasons the most welcome; so a faithfull friend in time of adversity, is of all other most comfortable.

XLVIII. There is nothing admits of more admiration, then God's various dispensation of his gifts among the sons of men, betwixt whom he hath put so vast a disproportion that they scarcely seem made of the same lump, or sprung out of the loynes of one Adam; some set in the highest dignity that mortality is capable of; and some again so base, that they are viler then the earth; some so wise and learned, that they seem like Angells among men; and some again so ignorant and Sotish, that they are more like beasts then men: some pious saints; some incarnate Devils; some exceeding beautyfull; and some extreamly deformed; some so strong and healthfull that their bones are full of marrow; and their breasts of milk; and some again so weak and feeble, that, while they live, they are accounted among the dead—and no other reason can be given of all this, but so it pleased him, whose will is the perfect rule of righteousness.

XLIX. The treasures of this world may well be compared to huskes, for they have no kernell in them, and they that feed upon them, may soon stuffe their throats, but cannot fill their bellys; they may be choaked by them, but cannot be satisfied with them.

L. Sometimes the sun is only shadowed by a cloud that wee cannot se his luster, although we may walk by his light, but when he is set we are in darkness till he arise again; so God doth sometime vaile his face but for a moment, that we cannot behold the light of his Countenance as at some other time, yet he affords so much light as may direct our way, that we may go forward to the Citty of habitation, but when he seems to set and be quite gone out of sight, then must we needs walk in darkness and se no light, yet then must we trust in the Lord, and stay upon our God, and when the morning (which is the appointed time) is come, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings.

LI. The eyes and the eares are the inlets or doores of the soule, through which innumerable objects enter, yet is not that spacious roome filled, neither doth it ever say it is enough, but like the daughters of the horsleach, crys, give, give! and which is most strang, the more it receives, the more empty it finds itself, and sees an impossibility, ever to be filled, but by Him in whom all fullness dwells.

LII. Had not the wisest of men taught us this lesson, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit, yet our owne experience would soon have speld it out; for what do we obtain of all these things, but it is with labour and vexation? When we injoy them it is with vanity and vexation; and, if we loose them, then they are lesse then vanity and more then vexation.: so that we have good cause often to repeat that sentence, vanity of vanityes, vanity of vanityes, all is vanity.

LIII. He that is to saile into a farre country, although the ship, cabbin and provision, be all convenient and comfortable for him, yet he hath no desire to make that his place of residence, but longs to put in at that port where his bussines lyes; a Christian is sailing through this world unto his heavenly country, and heere he hath many conveniences and comforts; but he must beware of desire(ing) to make this the place of his abode, lest he meet with such tossings that may cause him to long for shore before he sees land. We must, therefore, be beer as strangers and pilgrims, that we may plainly declare that we seek a citty above, and wait all the dayes of our appointed time till our chang shall come.

LIV. He that never felt what it was to be sick or wounded, doth not much care for the company of the physitian or chirurgian; but if he perceive a malady that threatens him with death, he will gladly entertaine him, whom he slighted before: so he that never felt the sicknes of sin, nor the wounds of a guilty conscience, cares not how far he keeps from him that hath skill to cure it; but when he findes his diseases to disrest him, and that he must needs perish if he have no remedy, will unfeignedly bid him welcome that brings a plaister for his sore, or a cordiall for his fainting.

LV. We read of ten lepers that were cleansed, but of one that returned thanks: we are more ready to receive mercys than we are to acknowledg them: men can use great importunity when they are in distresses, and show great ingratitude after their successes; but he that ordereth his conversation aright, will glorifie him that heard him in the day of his trouble.

LVI. The remembrances of former deliverances is a great support in present distresses: he that delivered me, sath David, from the paw of the Lion and the paw of the Beare, will deliver mee from this uncircumcised Philistin; and he that hath delivered mee, saith Paul, will deliver mee: God is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever; we are the same that stand in need of him, to-day as well as yesterday, and so shall forever.

LVII. Great receipts call for great returnes; the more that any man is intrusted withall, the larger his accounts stands upon God's score: it therefore behoves every man so to improve his talents, that when his great Master shall call him to reckoning he may receive his owne with advantage.

LVIII. Sin and shame ever goe together. He that would be freed from the last, must be sure to shun the company of the first.

LIX. God doth many times both reward and punish for the same action: as we see in Jehu, he is rewarded with a kingdome to the fourth generation, for takeing veangence on the house of Ahab; and yet a little while (saith God), and I will avenge the blood of Jezevel upon the house of Jehu: he was rewarded for the matter, and yet punished for the manner, which should warn him, that doth any speciall service for God, to fixe his eye on the command, and not on his own ends, lest he meet with Jehu's reward, which will end in punishment.

LX. He that would be content with a mean condition, must not cast his eye upon one that is in a far better estate than himself, but let him look upon him that is lower than he is, and, if he see that such a one beares poverty comfortably, it will help to quiet him; but if that will not do, let him look on his owne unworthynes, and that will make him say with Jacob, I am lesse then the least of thy mercys.

Iconic Paris

Took this on the recent trip south