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.

Gwyl Dewi Sant 01

This has probably never bothered anyone else but living on the very edge of the Welsh language as I do I have often wondered about how that man Meic Stevens could produce both erudite tomes of lingusitic excellence and be the original Welsh popstar. My wife said to me the other day that he is coming to the school and so I thought now is the time to get this sorted out. A little research showed (not for the first time) how dumb I can be. Meic Stephens (b 1938) and the author of "Golygydd The Oxford Companion to the Literature of Wales", etc, is one person and Meic Stevens (b 1948) and "the Welsh Dylan" is someone else. Now it all makes more sense. Just to complicate it slightly Meic Stephens, the academic not the singer, is father to Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens.
Well, I thought it was interesting.

Childhood Songs 7 Huna, Blentyn

As part of our St David's Day celebrations here we are featuring one of the few Welsh songs I remember learning as a child. In my last year in Junior School we had a singing lesson every week with Mrs Richards and this lullaby is one of the songs we learned. Great tune.

Huna, blentyn, ar fy mynwes,
Clyd a chynnes ydyw hon;
Breichiau mam sy'n dynn amdanat,
Cariad mam sy dan fy mron.
Ni chaiff dim amharu'th gyntun,
Ni wna undyn â thi gam;
Huna'n dawel, annwyl blentyn,
Huna'n fwyn ar fron dy fam.

Huna'n dawel heno, huna,
Huna'n fwyn, y tlws ei lun;
Pam yr wyt yn awr yn gwenu,
Gwenu'n dirion yn dy hun?
Ai angylion fry sy'n gwenu
Arnat ti yn gwenu'n llon?
Tithau'n gwenu'n ôl dan huno,
Huno'n dawel ar fy mron.

Paid ag ofni, dim ond deilen
Gura, gura ar y ddôr;
Paid ag ofni, ton fach unig
Sua, sua ar lan y môr;
Huna blentyn, nid oes yma
Ddim i roddi iti fraw;
Gwena'n dawel yn fy mynwes
Ar yr engyl gwynion draw.

Sleep, my child, upon my bosom,
It is snug and warm;
Your mother's arms wrapped tightly around you,
'Tis a mother's love lies in my breast.
Nothing shall disturb your slumber,
Nobody will do you harm;
Sleep in peace, dear child,
Gently sleep on your mother's breast.

Sleep in peace tonight, sleep,
Gently sleep, my beautiful;
Why do you now smile,
Smile so gently in your sleep?
Is it that the angels on high
smile upon you as you happily smile?
While you return the smile, still sleeping,
Sleeping in peace upon my breast.

Fear you not, 'tis but a leaf
Beating, beating at the door;
Fear you not a lone wave's
Murmur, murmuring on the seashore;
Sleep, my child, for there is nothing
Here to frighten you.
Smile in peace here on my bosom
At the white angels yonder.]

Van Gogh Vergeten 07

Oil on Canvas, Nuenen: April, 1885, Private collection, Switzerland

Mitchley Hill Evangelical

It was my privilege to head 20 miles south into stockbroker country yesterday to preach for the first time in Mitchely Hill Evangelical Church in Sanderstead.
An independent evangelical church with a nice sixties building, the fellowship started in the late fifties and has Brethren roots (I spotted an exclusive Brethren "fortification" nearby, there is also a Catholic Church, etc but this is the only evangelical witness for some way). Despite the roots, it has had ministers in the past and is seeking one at present. We were about 40 in the morning 20 in the evening, rather on the elderly side and generally white and middle class in make up, but trying to reach children and young people and all who will come in. That morning there were around 5 or 6 younger ones there and I took opportunity to speak to them before they went off for Sunday School.
I preached on the young girl in 2 Kings 5 in the morning and Romans 10:1-13 in the evening. The morning sermon on "A pointless life" was well appreciated as I think we all to get to feeling at some point we are wasting our time. (I think you can hear them on the mhec website or on our own chbc one). See our website here). I hardly know anyone in the congregation but inevitably there were a number of points of contact with at least some as we talked, I was very well looked after for the afternoon by Mr and Mrs West, the senior members of the church. Lovely day.

Lowest of the low

If you haven't quite caught on to where Baptists like myself stand in the pecking order, let me enlighten you with this quotation from the actress Margaret Rutherford commenting on the marriage of her adopted son/daughter who had a sex change in America and married a black chauffeure and mechanic.
''I am delighted that Gordon has become a woman, and I am delighted that Dawn is to marry a man of another race, and I am delighted that Dawn is to marry a man of a lower station, but I understand the man is a Baptist!''
A different culture, from the lower classes - no problem - but a Baptist! Preserve us!

Pessoa was wrong

I've been reading about Fernando Pessoa, who I'd never heard of before. Apparently he wrote these words:

If a man writes well only when he’s drunk, then I’ll tell him: Get drunk. And if he says that it’s bad for his liver, I’ll answer: What’s your liver? A dead thing that lives while you live, whereas the poems you write live forever.
— Fernando Pessoa

Surely it is wiser to say
If a man writes well only when he’s drunk, then I’ll tell him: don't write. And if he says that it’s bad for his creativity, I’ll answer: What’s your creativity? A living thing that lives while you live, whereas the poems you write will perish!


I like thought provoking films and last night we sat down and watched the Leonardo DiCaprio film Inception, which certainly comes into that category. The film examines the whole realm of the dream world and reality as opposed to non-reality. For the first 10 minutes or so you haven't got a clue what is going on but slowly the story unfolds and things are explained and most of it becomes clear although it cleverly leaves you hanging at the end. With good acting, very impressive sets and effects it is a fascinating film. The basic premises and some of the conclusions are complete poppycock, of course, but once you accept these, it makes for a very interesting set up. Throughout the film uses the word "subconscious" which is really a Freudian word and best avoided. We have an unconscious, there are things in our minds that we are not entirely aware. However, the idea that there is a world beneath our conscious world that somehow has a life of its own is incorrect. Ah well, good fun.

Bible Statistics 4

10 OT Books Most Referred to in the NT
Isaiah, referred to 419 times in 23 New Testament books
Psalms, 414 times in 23 books
Genesis, 260 times in 21 books
Exodus, 250 times in 19 books
Deuteronomy, 208 times in 21 books
Ezekiel, 141 times in 15 books
Daniel, 133 times in 17 books
Jeremiah, 125 times in 17 books
Leviticus, 107 times in 15 books
Numbers, 73 times in 4 books

10 NT Books Containing Material from the Greatest Number of OT Books
Revelation, material from 32 Old Testament Books
Luke, 31
John, 26
Acts, 25
Mark, 24
Romans, 23
Hebrews, 21
1 Corinthians, 18
James, 17
1 Peter, 15

10 Old Testament Verses Most Frequently Cited in the New Testament

Psalm 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. - quoted 18 times
Matt. 22:44, 26:64, Mark 12:36, 14:62, 16:19, Luke 20:42-43, 22:69, Acts 2:34-35, Rom. 8:34, 1 Cor. 15:25, Eph. 1:20, Col. 3:1, Heb.1:3, 13, 8:1, 10:12-13, 12:2

Ezekiel 1:26-28 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. - quoted 12 times
Rev. 4:2-3, 9-10; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16, 7:10, 15, 19:14, 21:5

Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. - quoted 11 times
Matt. 24:21, Mark 13:19, Phil. 4:3, Jude 9, Rev. 3:5, 7:14, 12:7, 13:8, 16:18, 17:18, 20:12

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. - quoted 11 times
Rev. 4:2, 9-10, 5:1, 7, 13, 6:16, 7:10, 15, 19:4, 21:5

2 Chronicles 18:18 Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the LORD; I saw the LORD sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.; Psalms 47:8 God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. ; and 1 Kings 22:19 And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. - each quoted 11 times
Rev. 4:2, 9-10, 5:1, 7, 13, 6:16, 7:10, 15, 19:4, 21:5

Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. - quoted 10 times
Matt. 3:17, 17:5, Mark 1:11, 9:7, Luke 1:49, Acts 13:33, Heb.1:5, 5:5

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. - quoted 10 times
Matt. 26:63, Mark 27:12, 14, Mark 14:60-61, 15:4-5, 1Cor. 5:7, 1 Peter 2:23, Rev. 5:6, 12, 13:8

Amos 3:13 Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, - quoted 10 times
Rev. 1:8, 4:8, 13, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 14, 19:6, 15, 21:22

Amos 4:13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name. - quoted 10 times
2 Cor. 6:18, Rev. 1:8, 4:8, 11:17, 15:3, 16:7, 14, 19:6, 15, 21:22

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. - quoted 10 times
Matt. 5:43, 19:19, 22:39, Mark 12.31, 33, Luke 10:27, Rom. 12:19, 13:19, Gal. 5:14, James 2:8

Bible Statistics 3

I assume these are more or less correct:
According to statistics from Wycliffe International, the Society of Gideons, and the International Bible Society, the number of new Bibles that are sold, given away, or otherwise distributed in the US is about 168,000 per day.

The Bible can be read aloud in 70 hours.

There are 8,674 different Hebrew words in the Bible, 5,624 different Greek words, and 12,143 different English words in the KJV.

Books: 66

Chapters: 1,189
Verses: 41,173
Words: 774,746
Written by Approximately 40 Authors
Written over a period of 1,600 years
Written over 40 generations
Written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic
Written on three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa
Written in different locations: wilderness, dungeon, palace, prison, in exile, at home
Written by men from all occupations: kings, peasants, doctors, fishermen, tax collectors, scholars, etc.
Written in different times: war, peace, poverty, prospeirty, freedom and slavery
Written in different moods: heights of joy to the depths of dispair
Written in harmonious agreement on a widely diverse range of subjects and doctrines

Most Mentioned Men in the Bible

David, mentioned 1118 times
Moses, 740
Aaron, 339
Saul, 338
Abraham, 306
Solomon, 295
Jacob, 270
Joseph, 208
Joshua, 197
Paul, 185
Peter, 166
Joab, 137
Jeremiah, 136
Samuel, 135
Isaac, 127
Jesus, of course, is mentioned more than anyone else in the Scriptures

Bible Statistics 2 10 shortest

10 Shortest Books in the Bible

l. 3 John --- 1 chapter, 14 verses, 299 words
2. 2 John --- 1 chapter, 13 verses, 303 words
3. Philemon --- 1 chapter, 25 verses, 445 words
4. Jude --- 1 chapter, 25 verses, 613 words
5. Obadiah --- 1 chapter, 21 verses, 670 words
6. Titus --- 3 chapters, 46 verses, 921 words
7. 2 Thessalonians ---3 chapters, 47 verses, 1042 words
8. Haggai --- 2 chapters, 38 verses, 1131 words
9. Nahum --- 3 chapters, 47 verses, 1285 words
10. Jonah --- 4 chapters, 48 verses, 1321 words

Bible Statistics 1 10 longest

10 Longest Books in the Bible

1. Psalms -- 150 chapters, 2461 verses, 43,743 words
2. Jeremiah -- 52 chapters, 1364 verses, 42,659 words
3. Exekiel -- 48 chapters, 1273 verses, 39,407 words
4. Genesis -- 50 chapters, 1533 verses, 38,267 words
5. Isaiah -- 66 chapters, 1292 verses, 37,044 words
6. Numbers -- 36 chapters, 1288 verses, 32,902 words
7. Exodus -- 40 chapters, 1213 verses, 32,602 words
8. Deuteronomy --34 chapters, 959 verses, 28,461 words
9. 2 Chronicles -- 36 chapters, 822 verses, 26,074 words
10. Luke -- 24 chapters, 1151 verses, 25,944 words
(see here)

A Special Time

This month's Evangelical Times (March) carries the second article in the series of three guest articles that I have done

A special time
Last month, this column highlighted society’s nervousness about the idea of specialisation and noted how a growing number of evangelicals are nervous about special days, times and people.
How strange that those who believe God has singled out one special planet, one particular species on it and one special people from among them to receive his blessing should think like that!
We considered the fact that the New Testament marks out the first day of the week as special. It is the Lord’s Day, a day to be kept to him. This month we address the question, whether it is right to think in terms of special times of worship.
Is it right to put a notice outside a church building announcing ‘worship services’? Should we speak of ‘coming together to worship’? Or is that, as some suggest, a concept more Jewish than Christian, and one that has no New Testament basis?

Worship services?
For some years, various evangelicals have been advocating the idea that it is wrong to think of those times when God’s people gather together as times of worship. Their arguments are similar to those against a special day.
People who are not keen on keeping the Lord’s Day special often assert that every day belongs to the Lord. Similarly, those who say that our meetings are not primarily for worship often assert that all of life is worship, not just certain hours in the week.
They may then go on to give the impression that there is little difference between going fishing or having a family meal on one hand, and corporate prayer and praise on the other. More often the idea is developed, with reference to Hebrews 10:25 and 1 Corinthians 14, that the main purpose of our meetings is encouragement and edification.
The character of Christian meetings thus significantly shifts from a vertical to a horizontal focus — meetings are seen to be chiefly for teaching, rather than worship.
Certainly Romans 12:1 urges believers to offer their bodies ‘as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God’ and Paul calls it ‘your spiritual act of worship’. There is no suggestion, however, that those who live such lives will not take time apart, especially on the Lord’s Day, to worship.
John 4:24 says that worship in the new age is to be ‘in spirit and in truth’. Surely this does not mean forbidding the church to have any set times and places for public worship? Rather it points out that worship occurs, not automatically when one is in a certain place or following a certain ritual, but when one offers honour to God in accord with his standards.

Yet, just as some cannot see how one day needs to be special, so there are those who cannot see why Christians need special times to worship. Well consider these points:
If all of life is worship, and there are no special times of worship, why does Acts 13:2 say of the disciples that it was ‘while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting’ that the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Barnabas and Saul?
If all of life is worship and there are no special times of worship, what do we make of Jesus’ statement that when two or three come together in his name, he is there with them (Matthew 18:19-20)?
If all of life is worship and there are no special times of worship, what does Paul mean when he speaks, in 1 Corinthians 5, about God’s people being ‘assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus’ and ‘the power of our Lord Jesus’ being present?
If all of life is worship and there are no special times of worship, what about prayer? We are told to pray continually, but New Testament believers, clearly, still set aside times for prayer (e.g. Matthew 18:19; Acts 12:5; 1 Corinthians 14:23-25).
At times they were praying together; at times they were not. Surely the same is true of sung praise and hearing God’s Word.

God’s glory
What we are saying is not new. It is what believers have practised in all ages. This is not because they have unwittingly imbibed the idea from Jerusalem or Rome, but because it is there in the New Testament.
Some today are nervous about calling their meetings ‘services’ or ‘acts of worship’. This undermines such meetings and detracts from God’s glory. Rather, we should be setting aside regular times for the precise purpose of worshipping Almighty God.

Oh for a human being!

I don't want to keep bringing these examples before people but sometimes they are so stupid it is unbelievable. So much for the intelligence of computers. Is there an explanation?


My dad liked a game of cards from time to time and we had an old home made cribbage board which I have featured here before in the house. I was familiar with it for years before I knew what it was for. The very word cribbage takes me to my dad, I guess.

My Joseph Jacket

When I was a young man I bought a many coloured jacket made by Grafton-Manquest from a shop in Newport called Clobber.
I saw Pete townshend wearing one once. I also bumped into a girl wearing trousers made from the same amterial on one occasion.
I loved that jacket and have kept it ever since, always hoping that some else could enjoy it as much as I did.
Well, here is one of my sons doing just that the other night at a school bands evening.

Ted Donnelly on Peter

On Monday I was with the twelve who met at the John Owen Centre for the Theological Study Group discussion on Ted Donnelly's book Peter Eye Witness of his Majesty. Our chairman was Austin Walker from Crawley. Numbers were slightly up on the norm due mainly to the presence of three LTS students, all on their first day of a three week placement. it was good to have them there. The book, which began as a series of messages to ministers and was published by Banner about 12 years ago is a little more popular in style than our usual fare but none the worse for that. ted looks at Peter as Disciple, Preacher and Pastor and makes  a number of important and useful points. We all agreed that it was a fine book that could be commended to someone preparing for ministry as a brief guide or someone in the ministry as a brief refresher. Also, it would be useful for someone not in the ministry to read in order to help them understand better the work of the pastor.
The following quotations may help give something of the flavour of the book:
On discipleship and the close connection between strength and weakness: "There is scarcely a gift that the devil cannot pervert" (31)
On preaching Christ doctrinally and the underestimate often made of Peter in this respect: "We expect him to be vigorous and earnest, but not particularly deep. If this has been our view, we are mistaken." (69) "We must preach Christ theologically" (71)
On bold preaching: "It is so very hard to be direct and, at the same time, gentle and loving." (77) "He must hammer home the nails of conviction" (78)
On faithfulness in the ministry: "all Christian service carries an inevitable price-tag" (106)
On the specialised nature of pastoral work: "it is a mistake to hand over a significant part of the work of the training of pastors to men who have never done the work for which they are preparing others" (114)
We prayed for Ted Donnelly at the end, thankful for his book and conscious of how unwell he is at present. We would love to hear him declare such truths once again.
(The current notice on the church website here reads: Pastor Donnelly became ill in November 2010 and had to spend a number of weeks in hospital. He is now able to attend morning worship services but it is anticipated that his recovery will be a slow process. Please continue to remember our pastor, his wife Lorna and their family in your prayers.)

The Circus

We went to the circus tonight, Zippo's in Brent Cross. My youngest son is 10 on Monday. We all sang happy birthday from the circus. Here he is with Norman Barrett in the ring.
The circus is a fascinating world. It's amazing that it has survived into the 21st century. The way everyone
gets involved in everyting is striking. No prima donnas really. Many of the acts were fairly ordinary I suppose but we finished with an amazing motor cage act, which really did look death defying. The boys loved it.

Trafalgar Square Again

We had an opportunity once again to preach in Trafalgar Square today. I preached near the end just before Gavin Childress, pictured. Sebastian Mani, our organiser, also preached as well as Ian Densham, Trevor Rimes and others. The wet weather dampened spirits a little but we were still able to give out tracts and preach. Who knows what God may do.

Criminal justice system

One of my sons and I had another chance to see the criminal justice system up close again yesterday. This is following he theft of an i-pod last bonfire night at Primrose Hill. The two suspects decided for trial and so we had to get ourselves down to Highbury Magistrates Court. Security is rightly tight and airport style. having got through that we were shown the court where the trial was to take place. We were then put into a private room with other witnesses (it was quite a crime spree that night). As it turned out the ring leader decided to plead guilty in the end and so my son didn't have to go into the court, which he was pleased about. I think the others did testify but we did not hang around to see that (in a youth court there is no access for the general public). This ring leader, despite hissize, turned out to be only 15. He owned up to more than one charge and asked for others to be taken into account. Of course, turning up and being willing to testify was important even though it didn't go that far. it's hard work catching criminals and presoecuting them but it is done fairly and efficiently and that is something to be thankful for. Let's just hope that this young man will learn his lesson and somehow make a freh start. I'm sure it won't be easy.

Calvin for Kids 03

In the course of preparation I came across this site here. What it has to say about Calvin is a little disturbing and misleading but no surprise.

In the mid A.D. 1500s another religious leader by the name of John Calvin began working to bring about reform in the Catholic Church. Like Huldrych Zwingli, Calvin lived in Switzerland, and wanted to set up a theocracy.
By A.D. 1541 (1) John Calvin had managed to set up his theocracy in Geneva. The city government forced all citizens to attend church several times a week, and had very strict rules about what people could and could not do.
John Calvin wrote a book, which he called The Institutes of The Christian Religion. This book became quite popular in his day, and would become very influential among future reformers. (2)
Calvin’s most important teaching was that mankind could not control or change anything (3) in this earth  (sic) life. Calvin believed that everything was controlled by god (sic), the past, the present, and the future. He called this doctrine predestination. (4) According to this doctrine, certain people were predestined to heaven, while others were predestined to hell. They believed that an individual could do nothing to change their predestination.
As they worked to insure that their people practiced the religious teachings that were required by law, they put many people to death for various crimes against the church, such as witchcraft, or being too Catholic.

1 That was the year they let him back in after kicking him out. On this see Michael Horton here.

2 First published in 1536, Calvin’s Institutes became an instant best-seller, and has been republished and translated nearly 100 times in dozens of languages.
3 Not how Calvin would have put it
4 Hardly a belief peculiar to Calvin

If you want a good children's book on Calvin try this one - After darkness light by Catherine MacKenzie

Calvin for Kids 02

I had some pics for them to look at too and some books (I discover I have about 70 books by or about Calvin in my study) and some souvenir soap from 2009! I carried on after this fashion
He worked very hard mainly at preaching and teaching the people but also rearranging things so that it was more like what we find in the Bible. Preaching was his main work but he also gave some time to writing.
As we have said, not everyone liked this and some people hated Calvin and called him names in the street and spoke against him. After a few years they managed to work it so that Calvin and Farel were kicked out of Geneva. They had to leave.
First they went to Basle nearby but then Calvin went to be a minister in Strasbourg, where he began to do the same sorts of things as he'd done in Geneva. Calvin would happily have spent the rest of his life in Strasbourg. He was very happy there. In the end, however, it was only 3 years before the people in Geneva were begging him to come back. A Roman Catholic cardinal called Sadoleto wrote a long letter to Geneva saying they really ought to give up on the Reformation and go back to the old ways. The people knew this was all wrong but they didn't know how to answer him so they looked for someone to help them. The only person they could find who could do it well was Calvin. So they asked him to write and even though they had thrown him out he did. He wrote a very good answer. The people in Geneva really wanted Calvin back but he wasn't keen. Eventually, however, in 1541 he came back.
You can imagine how it must have been that first Sunday when he came to preach. Everybody was wondering what he was going to say after they'd treated him so badly. But no, he simply carried on preaching from the place where he'd left off three years before!
And so for the rest of his life Calvin preached and taught there in Geneva. Calvin would preach not just on Sundays but in the week too. They also started a university where he taught. People from all over Europe came to Geneva, especially from France where you were not allowed to be a Protestant.
Calvin's books have all been translated into English and are still read today. His main writings are his Institutes - two books that try to explain bit by bit all that the Bible teaches. There are also commentaries on most books of the Bible. Many of the sermons he preached were written down and lots of these have also been published a books.
Of course, these days we have computers and so Calvin's writings have all been put on CD-Rom or you can read them online.
One thing I haven't told you is that Calvin was married. While he was in Strasbourg he married a woman called Idelette. She'd been married before (to a Baptist) and had two children but he had died. Sadly, she and Calvin weren't able to have children and after they had been married about 9 years she died giving birth. Calvin was very sad, of course, but he put his trust in God and found the strength to go on.
Calvin eventually died when he was 54 (a little older than me). He had been unwell all his life with different things but had worked every minute for the glory of God. He asked to be buried in an unmarked grave as he didn't want any fuss. Already his ideas had begun to go out all over Europe and even today his ideas are still remembered not just in Europe but in many parts of the world. The year before last was the 500th anniversary of his death and there were lots of celebrations. I was actually in Manila in the Philippines giving a lecture about Calvin.

Calvin for Kids 01

I'm just back from an afternoon in the local school. I took three different classes of year 6 pupils. They are doing a series on Heroes of the Faith and so I talked to them about Calvin. After introducing myself as a preacher I said something of this sort:

I want to introduce you today to one of my heroes. His name is John Calvin (or Jean Calvin as he would have said) and he too was a preacher.
What I want you to get from this talk is at least 3 things:
1. Calvin is an important man in history and it's good for you to know about him. He has had great influence especially in countries like Wales, Scotland, Holland, USA and even in South Korea.
2. I want to get you thinking about who your heroes might be. I want you to be willing to think a bit differently. My hero is not a likely one in some ways. Born 500 years ago, he didn't live in London. He was a rather thin, weak man who was often ill. He wasn't a Baptist. But he's still one of my heroes. May be your heroes won't be obvious ones.
3. Calvin's motto was coram deo which means “in the presence of God” and I want you to think about God and about the idea of living every moment aware of him.
Calvin was born in Noyon in France a little way north of Paris (it was the same year as Henry VIII became King of England). Calvin's father's name was Gerard and his mother name was Jeanne. When Calvin was only 4 his mother died and his father remarried so he and his two brothers grew up with only a memory of their real mother.
From the beginning Calvin was a bright boy and at first his father wanted him to do something in the church but then decided he wanted him to be a lawyer. Calvin went away to study in Paris when he was 14 then went on when he was a bit older to study elsewhere. He began to train as a lawyer as his father wanted but when he was about 22 his father died and he was free to do what he wanted. First he published a book and seemed to be heading for a career as a university professor but then something happened to change all that.
At this time a great movement was taking place called the Reformation. This movement was concerned with getting back to the Bible and rediscovering what it really said. They didn't just want to follow what the Pope and other religious leaders said but what the Bible said. These people were called Protestants (protesters against the old ways). Calvin was one of the people caught up in this movement.
He had a friend in Paris called Nicolas Cop. Cop made a speech in the university about getting back to the Bible. People didn't like it and Calvin and Cop had to run away. Calvin decided he wanted to spend his life writing books to help people study the Bible. In 1536 he brought out a little book designed to help people understand the Bible better. He wanted to spend all his time quietly somewhere out of the way writing books but God had other plans.
In 1536 he was travelling through what we now call Switzerland and had to stay overnight in a place called Geneva. In Geneva the people had decided that they wanted to follow the Reformation but not everyone was happy with this and so it was a difficult time. When one of the ministers, a man called William Farel heard that Calvin was staying there he immediately went to see him and told him that he had to come to Geneva and help them. Calvin explained that he just wanted to study quietly and write books but Farel told him that if he didn't come to Geneva he was really being selfish and disobeying God. So Calvin decided to become one of the ministers there.
So that's what happened Calvin, even though still only quite a young man (27), became one of the ministers there in Geneva.
(to be continued)

Childhood songs 6 Botany Bay

We didn't sing all the verses I'm sure. Another Singing Together number.

Farewell to old England forever,
Farewell to my rum culls as well,
Farewell to the well–known Old Bailey
Where I used for to cut such a swell.

Singing too-ral, li-ooral, li-addity,
Singing too-ral, li-ooral, li-ay,
Singing too-ral, li-ooral, li-addity,
And we're bound for Botany Bay.

There's the captain as is our commander,
There's the bo'sun and all the ship's crew,
There's the first– and the second–class passengers,
Knows what we poor convicts go through.

'Taint leaving old England we cares about,
'Taint cos we mis-spells what we knows,
But because all we light–fingered gentry
Hops around with a log on our toes.

These seven long years I've been serving now
And seven long more have to stay,
All for bashing a bloke down our alley
And taking his ticker away.

Oh had I the wings of a turtle–dove,
I'd soar on my pinions so high,
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,
And in her sweet presence I'd die.

Now all my young Dookies and Dutchesses,
Take warning from what I've to say:
Mind all is your own as you toucheses
Or you'll find us in Botany Bay.

Banner and Lloyd-Jones

The new Banner mag for March is just out. The cover draws attention to the fact that march 2011 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The issue contains and article on "The Influence of Dr Lloyd-Jones on My Life and Ministry" by Leo De Vos, "The Doctor in Spanish" by Jose de Segovia Barrón and an article based on an address by the Doctor on preaching, as well as one other article and News and Comment and Book Reviews.

"Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one of the men I admire most from the twentieth century, and the longer time goes on, my admiration for him increases. He had a more profound spiritual vision than anyone else I know."
Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC

"I have often reached for one of those volumes on that great chapter of Paul’s Epistle when feeling attacked by Satan. For the tempted believer there is no better help that I know of, than Ephesians 6 as expounded by ML-J!" Leo De Vos
"As a young pastor I started each new week by reading a sermon of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones. In those years I ‘heard’ him preach through Ephesians, Romans, the Sermon on the Mount, and his lectures on the Puritans. What a blessing it was! I always looked forward to such moments because it was like eating fresh and healthy bread for myself. My spiritual life was shaped in various ways through the Doctor’s ministry: I learned to be exegetically honest, I learned to respect church history, I experienced what it means that first the mind needs to be enlightened and that consequently the heart and the will will react. So my horizon was widened, my way to carefully examine the modern and contemporary way of thinking was sharpened, my love for God’s people grew, and my joy in the Lord and in his blessings in Jesus grew deeper, and changed the way I looked at the church and the world around me. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is one of the first ten people whom I would like to meet in heaven, and I will be so pleased if I can thank him personally for his faithful ministry which has, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so blessed and enriched my life and helped me in my ministry."
Rainer Klinner, Principal of Fritzlar Bible College, Chairman of the Ministers’ Assembly of the Church of God, Fritzlar, Germany


My dad was a great believer in halibut oil capsules. We were encouraged to take one a day, which we did for years as kids.  How much good it did, I don't know.

Van Gogh Vergeten 06

Drawing, Pencil on laid paper
Nuenen: December - May, 1884 - 85
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam


As a mere photo, this is useless. What I remember and what I cannot convey to you is the smell of camphorated ointment. For years we had a little grey cardbard box of it with a hand written label in the bathroom. I was no asthmatic but if I did go to bed with a chesty cold my dad would make sure I had a liberal dos of camphorated ointment on my chest. How well it worked I don't know but the smell was pleasant enough and the fact that he believed so much in it was enough for me. Aaah, I miss my dad.

Childhood Songs 5 Dashing White Sergeant

Now the fiddler's ready, let us all begin!
So step it out and step it in.
To the merry music of the violin
We'll dance the hours away.

Katey and Peggy and Patsy and Coll,
Callum and Peter and Flora and Moll,
Dance, Dance, Dance, Dance,
Dance the hours away together,
Dance till dawn be in the sky;
What care you and what care I?
Hearts a-beating, spirits high,
We'll dance, dance, dance.

Books on the KJV 02

As promised, here's another review of a book on the KJV. Published to coincide with the anniversary, this is one of the first out of the starting blocks. By Gordon Campbell, a Leicester based Renaissance studies professor, it is called The Bible: The Story of the King James Version, 1611-2011. It is a comprehensive history telling the story of the KJV from inception to current status. It's focus is on history and literature.
We begin with a brief history of English translation (Pre-reformation, Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Great, Geneva, Bishops, Douai-Rheims). Next is the chapter on the commissioning of the work, the gathering of scholars and the plan of action. Campbell has spent time looking at the annotated Bishop's Bible in the Bodleian Library that reveals something of the translators' approach. We then have a history of publication down the ages, 1769 being the key date for consolidation. he also gives soething of the history of subsequent translations, at least those that relate back to the KJV in some way (RV, RSV, etc). One is struck by what a complex thing it is to put out a translation of the Bible. By this stage it is not entirely clear what the original text might be but even from the beginning there were issues (as epitomised by the the contrasting so-called He Bible and She Bible that appeared right at the beginning). This is only truly disconcerting for the few who give the KJV reverence way above that which it should ever have been given. For the rest of us, it is interesting and shows that things are seldom quite what they might at first appear to be.
With plenty of illustrations this thorough, well written book, also gives the companies and later revisers and the KJV preliminaries in two useful appendices as well as an index and a list of books for further reading.

Currid on Calvin

Somehow I missed this volume last year - Hebrew teacher John Currid's Calvin and the Biblical Languages. A straightforward book of only about a hundred pages it neatly sets out the facts concerning Calvin and the biblical languages. The thesis is that though Calvin was not an outstanding scholar in Greek or Hebrew he did use the languages and encouraged others to use them. Indeed he did more than many to encourage the use of the bibklical languages. Currid's argument is that use of the original languages is really a Reformation principle and one that we neglect at our peril. He has a compelling case and I for one felt a little ashamed of my laziness in this area. Details here.


I happened on a programme tonight that kept me watching longer than I might have thought. It was BBC 4's Reggae Britannia. See more here. I enjoyed Ken Boothe's 1974 hit, a version of Bread's Everything I own. . (I always want to sing I would give anything I own, Give up my life, my mobile phone, I would give ev'rything I own, Just to have you back again).

13' 30" O Enwogrwydd

Eleri had her 13' 30" of fame or however long she was in shot in the Welsh version of Question time last night. She was careful not to say anything. They discussed Egypt, bankers and keeping the London Welsh Centre open.

Pawb a'i farn Llundain

Not so interesting to us monoglots but Dewi Llwyd presents the topical debate from Hammersmith, London tonight and my wife is planning to be in the audience. On the panel are Professor Sir Deian Hopkin, economist Dr Carol Bell, weather presenter Siân Lloyd (wrth gwrs) and financial advisor Darran Philips. It's on S4C tonight at 20:25.
(Everyone to his judgement I think it means)

Male female

This current ad neatly highlights something of the difference between men and women.

Bow those knees

Over on one of my other blogs here I have adverts. They have done their homework matching ads to me fairly well as you can see. The knee pain advert is particularly ingenious I reckon.

Here comes my baby

This is the Tremeloes singing the Cat Stevens number live in 1967. Great fun (though I miss the cow bell from the recorded version).


It was a tradition in our house to have a fry up or mixed grill on Satrudays. It was my dad's tradition. Our version featured egg, sausage, bacon, fat bread (as my dad called it ie fried white bread), black pudding, egg and beans (done in the frying pan after the bacon and sausage.

Past Diary Feb 01-03 1974

As I may have intimated the 1974 diary runs out once we hit February, where I make just three entries. As far as I can see I don't try diary writing again until January 1975. On February 1st I was still feeling unwell but able to go to school. I was still working through my list of vices and got to bad language. I note that I had given up swearing a year before but various euphemisms had begun to creep in and I was determined to quash them. We had a Mr Davies at YPF. I think that is a Richard Davies, uncle to the wonderful Irene, who gets another mention. Besides my regular reading from Matthew that day I was having a go again at 1 Samuel, conscious of my need to "gain a greater overall knowledge of the stories of the Bible".
I didn't go to Greek the next day as I was too ill. I did some Greek, though,  it says, and some homework, listening to Focus. That day I reached the final one on my list of vices - worldliness. Still struggling with that one, I'd say. An interesting note says that "I spent some of the afternoon and evening writing The continuing story of Adolf Hitler's moustache in my book". This was a short story that I think I had started sometime before and was keen to include in a book of writings that I was trying to assemble for myself. I think I have it somewhere. I also read a bit more of Whyte on prayer. It was a late Saturday night as usual.
Sunday's sermons appear to have been am: John 15:11 (could be 16:11, a version had appeared in the latest church magazine too I note) pm: Revelation 22:17. The Bible Class continued through John's Gospel covering 9:1-7. In the YPF we read two of Spurgeon's Sermons from newspapers. I prayed at the well attended prayer meeting before the evening service. I also read 1 Samuel 14-16 at home as well as my regular reading from Matthew (22:23-33). Despite all that I still felt I'd been rather worldly! Perhaps I had.


Next to a poster showing "his wife"
On Thespian Street!

Outside the theatre (Arad Goch translates Red/Brown Furrow)

We went up to see our eldest, Rhodri, taking the lead role in a production of Buchner's Woyzeck last Friday. An amateur production put on by the students, it was slightly strange in that you don't normally see that many women in a play but the boy done good and obviously has gifts in this area. In the same week he was made CU President so he keeps pretty busy.

As ithers see us

We didn't keep Burns night the other week here (we didn't even keep Dydd Santes Dwynwen if truth be told) but I am aware of the final verse of Burns poem "To a louse". Burns wrote it apparently on seeing a louse crawl across the fine bonnet of a lady in the pew in front. My recollection was prompted by a remark over on Refomation21 by Carl Trueman following the Affinity conference.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

("Then, there was Gary Brady, famous opponent of jeans*, surprisingly sporting smart trousers and a pair of moth eaten gym shoes, apparently in an unsuccessful attempt to fuse Reformed Baptist theology, Welsh mysticism, and an emergent ..."
[*I once remarked, obviously in Carl's presence, that jeans are a sign of teenage rebellion and so inappropriate for certain situations. I did notice that Brian Edwards wore jeans throughout so may be I have a point!])

Butterfly Ball

I remember being sat watching TV in the seventies when this came on. It had such an impact on me that I've never forgotten it although I forgot what it was called, confusing it for years with the Ugly Bug Ball. Good old Youtube.

Amazon humour

Someone at Amazon has a sense of humour (I was looking for the Eifion Evans book when I found this song by Blaenavon Male Voice and an unexpected cover).

Gatiss on Toplady

While at the Affinity Conference my attention was drawn to this relevant article by Lee Gatiss that appeared in the Gospel Magazine at the end of last year. See here.

THERE is great debate in parts of the Evangelical world at present over the inerrancy of the Bible. This was, of course, a matter of controversy several decades ago in the so-called “Battle for the Bible”. One might be forgiven for thinking, therefore, that the doctrine of the Bib1e’s utter trustworthiness had been adequately defined and defended already. Yet scholars unhappy at the traditional teaching, such as Peter Enns with his recent controversial book, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament, and another book by Andrew McGowan called The Divine Spiration of Scriptare: Challenging Evangelical Perspectives, have brought the subject back onto the agenda.
The esteemed former Editor of the Gospel Magazine, the Rev Augustus Montage Toplady, held to the traditional view of God’s Word. In his day, the word “unerring” was a far more common term than “inerrancy” or “inerrant” which, while not entirely unknown from as early as the 1650s, only seem to have entered common theological use among Protestants in the l9th century. Toplady often spoke warmly of “God’s unerring oracles”, asserting plainly that “the Bible is the unerring Word of God”. For him it was the rock of faith, “an authority which cannot err”, and “that unerring standard” by which all doctrines and practices were to be judged.
Moreover, Toplady did not downplay or ignore the human aspect of the Word, as advocates of inerrancy are often accused of doing. Instead, he recognized that God worked through the human writers of Scripture. At one point he speaks of, “The Holy Spirit, making the apostle’s pen the channel of unerring inspiration”,
adding that the epistles and the Gospels were “written under the unerring influence of the same Holy Spirit”. He also used the word “infallible”, more common in British Evangelical circles.
Where did Toplady learn this allegedly rationalistic and supposedly much later doctrine? He was certainly not the only Reformed Evangelical Anglican of the 18th century to hold to such a view of the Bible. George Whitefield speaks in one of his sermons of “the unerring rule of God’s most holy Word.” James Hervey, in
his Contemplation on the Starry Heavens, speaks of the Word of God as “this unerring directory”, and of its “infallible guidance”. John Newton writes in his letters of “the unerring Word of God”; eg Letters 20 and 32 in Letters, Sermons, and a Review of Ecclesiastical History (1780).
While researching Toplady for my book The True Profession of the Gospel: Augustus Toplady and Reclaiming our Reformed Foundations (Latimer Trust, 2010), I recently discovered another possible source of his view on the Bible. It turns out that some editions of the Book of Common Prayer; including those published in Dublin in I750, 1753, and 1757 (while Toplady was a student at Trinity College), spoke of God’s “unerring Word” in their version of the Psalms; eg at Psalm l.l9:8l, 114, and 144:

My soul with long expectance faints
to see thy saving grace;
Yet still on thy unerring word
my confidence I place.

My very eyes consume and fail
with waiting for thy word;
O when wilt thou thy kind relief
and promised aid afford.

My skin like shriveled parchment shows,
that long in smoke is set,
Yet no affliction me can force
thy statutes to forget.

Did young Augustus Toplady pick up this phrase, and this confidence in the unerring Word of God, from singing Psalms in church on a Sunday?
Readers of the Gospel Magazine will no doubt be aware, however, that the thirty-nine Articles themselves indicate the confidence we can have in God’s trustworthy Word. Article 21 reminds us of the non-inerrant nature of church authorities:
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together (forasmuch. as they be an assembly of men, whereof will be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God), they may err; and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of/ Scripture.
The last line of the Article is most interesting here, as it appears to simply assume that alongside erring and errant General Councils, the holy Scripture itself is alone to be considered as finally trustworthy. Naturally this is because it is “God’s Word written” as Article 20 so straightforwardly puts it, and yet the implication is that the Word itself is, by contrast to human authority, without error and cannot lead us astray. This view is also shared by the Homilies of the Church of England; see for example Homily 22 which describes the Bible as “His infallible Word.” So Toplady may have learned from other Evangelicals, from Anglican tradition
and Anglican formularies to speak of God’s Word as “unerring.” But ultimately, we must acknowledge that this is in line with the Bible’s own presentation of itself. “Every word of God is pure,” says Proverbs 30:5, “he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (KJV). The flawless, tested, genuine, refined Word of
God is utterly trustworthy. What Scripture says, God says (as Augustine famously put it), and when we believe and trust in the Word, God Himself will be our shield, and will vindicate that trust.
This no doubt was why, when he wrote in his Journal that he “burnt with zeal, for the glory of God, and for the spiritual welfare of my flock”, Toplady declared, “I wished to spend and be spent in the ministry of the Word, and had some gracious assurances from on high that God would make use of me to diffuse His gospel, and call in some of His chosen that are yet unconverted”.
Many seem to have dropped this vital adjective, “unerring,” in recent years, perhaps embarrassed by allegations of “fundamentalism” or obscurantism in the debates over inerrancy. Have we also lost confidence in the dependability of the Word of God to bring spiritual life and growth to God’s people? May we recover once again the joy and delight of the writer of Proverbs 30, the Reformers of the Church of England, and the Evangelicals of the l8th century in the unerring Word of our unerring God.

Affinity Panel

Greg, Stephen, Carl, Peter Milsom, Dan, Peter, Hywel
The very helpful conference came to an end with an opportunity to hear all the speakers answer questions. We discussed inerrancy and the current scene to some profit I trust. Good time. Foundations, we were told, is now to be a free online product. That's good too.

Kimyal New Testament

The Kimyal People Receive the New Testament from UFM Worldwide on Vimeo.
(We were shown this moving video in the final session here at Affinity).

Hodge Word and Spirit

Hywel Jones drew our attention to a letter of Charles Hodge (to a Dr Watt) preserved in the recently republished biography by Archibald Alexander.
Princeton, October 5th, 1865,

My Dear Sir : —
Wistar has handed me your letter relating to the question raised among your brethren concerning the Witness of the Spirit. As you request an immediate answer, it is impossible for me to do more than state in a few words the view which I have been led to take on the subject, without any attempt to sustain that view either historically or exegetically. I write for you alone, as I have no idea that anything I say will be worthy of the attention of your committee.
We must, of course, renounce all hope to understand the mode of the divine operation either in nature or in grace; as we have no idea how mind operates on matter, or matter on mind, we cannot understand how God produces the effects which in the Scriptures are attributed to his agency. The fact is all we can expect to know.
1. It seems to be plainly taught in the Bible, and to be the commonly received doctrine, that in the external world God operates constantly through, with, and without second causes. Whatever in the external world, as in plants and animals, is indicative of design is to be referred to the present agency of mind, ie, to God. Matter cannot produce life, much less an immaterial, intelligent substance. Such substances, however, are constantly produced under the providential agency of God. The human soul operates in like manner through, with and independently of the functions of the body. Every time we speak or write, this threefold mode of exercise is evinced.
2. It is no less plain from Scripture and universally believed in the Church that the Spirit of God operates immediately on the soul. In the regeneration of infants this must be assumed.
3. It seems also clear that in the dealings of the Spirit with the souls of believers there is a constant exercise of His power in connection with and independent of the truth. We know not how one spirit operates on another; how evil spirits controlled the thoughts and feelings of the demoniacs, and of course we cannot pretend to know how the Holy Spirit controls the action of our minds, how He
excites our affections or gives the truth a greater power over them at one time than at another. But He is more immediately present with our souls than the soul is with the body, and constantly controls them in a way consistent with the nature of mind and the laws of spiritual intercourse.
4. We are clearly taught that saving faith rests on the witness of the Spirit and with the truth. This is represented in Scripture as something different from the evidence which the word itself contains of its own truth. It is "an unction from the Holy One." It is "the demonstration of the Spirit." The Spirit produces in our minds the infallible conviction that the Bible is true. This conviction is not the product of a process of reasoning, nor a conclusion from the facts of our own consciousness. If it were it would not be infallible, and our faith after all would rest in something human and not in the power of God.
5. In like manner the Spirit witnesses to the believer that he is a child of God. The assurance of his adoption the Apostle refers to two sources; first, the conscious filial exercises of the soul towards God, and, secondly, the witness of the Spirit, who bears witness together (summarture) with our spirits that we are the sons of God. Although compound words are frequently used in the same sense with the simple forms, this is only to be assumed under the stress of the context.
When the context admits of the full and proper force of the word it should be retained; much more when that force is required by the connection. The passage simply teaches that the Spirit produces in the mind of a believer the assurance of his adoption: as in Rom 5:5, He is said to produce the assurance that we are the objects of God's love.
There is no real ground for the charge of enthusiasm or fanaticism against this view of the subject,
(1). Because it attributes to the Spirit nothing out of analogy with the constant operations of God in the external world and on the minds of men in his providence.
(2). Because it is consistent with the constant representations of the Scriptures relating to the intercourse of the soul with God. We not only address Him and reveal or rather express to Him our thoughts and feelings, but He manifests Himself to us. We not only aver our love to Him, but He also reveals His love to us. The soul of the believer lives, or should live, in constant fellowship or intercourse with the Father of our spirits. He is at no loss for means and modes of communiating with his children.
(3). When our Confession attributes saving faith to the witness of God not only by or through but with the truth, it does not teach that God makes any new revelations. The word is true. It declares itself objectively to the reason, the conscience, and the affections to be true, and God by His Spirit affirms it to be true. There is no new revelation there. Neither is there in the witness of the Spirit to the believer's adoption. He is a child of God. He has all the filial affections of a child. The Spirit produces assurance that what is true is true. The soul is not left to deductions from its own imperfectly nderstood or partially interpreted consciousness. God gives it a peace which passes understanding.
The fanatics at the Reformation and in all times have abused the doctrine of the inward teaching of the Spirit. So they abuse the doctrine that He witnesses to the adoption of believers. But in neither case have they any just reason for their perversions. And the Reformers as you know gave up their doctrines on neither point from fear that the truth would be abused.
I fear these few remarks will not be of much service to you, but I am not able to write more.
Your friend, very truly, Charles Hodge.