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.

Foundations Archive

You may be interested to know that the archive of the theological journal Foundations is now up on the Affinity website. See here. Would it be wrong to point out that I have six articles in these pages?

26 Exegesis The barren fig tree 
30 Infant salvation
34 What is the conscience?
36 A candle in the wind (more on conscience)
51/52 Shakespeare of the Puritans - aspects of piety in the preaching of Thomas Adams, Part 1/2

On this day Dudley Tyne

It was on this day in 1858 that episcopal minister Dudley Tyne, burdened for the salvation of husbands and fathers, spoke to a rally of 5,000 men in Philadelphia and said "I would rather this right arm were amputated at the trunk than that I should come short of my duty to you in delivering God's message". Over 1,000 men were reportedly converted. Two weeks later, Tyne lost his right arm in a farming accident, and he died soon after. His last words, "Stand up for Jesus, father, and tell my brethren of the ministry to stand up for Jesus," inspired George Duffield's hymn "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus".

Reading the Bible X

Upon this interesting subject we cannot now dwell, however: but we content ourselves by pointing it out and emphasizing the fact of Jesus as the suffering and glorified Messiah being the Hero, the Substance, and the great Expositor of revelation. It is when we look for him in the Word that it becomes luminous and delightful.
Joseph S Exell (on Luke 24)

10 Things that remind me of my grandparents

The final list then goes

1. Coal fires
2. Sterilised milk
3. Gollys off jam jars
4. Pigeons
5. Soldiers free with Daz
6. The trick biscuit
7. Devon toffees
8. Swan Lake pictures
9. Cake and biscuits
10. Hats

Novelists 9 James Hogg

James Hogg 1770–1835 was a Scottish poet and novelist who wrote in both Scots and English. He was a friend of many of the great writers of his day, including Walter Scott, who he later wrote an unauthorized biography of. He is best known today for his novel
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. I did start it once but never finished it I'm afraid.

Cassette 04 Mussorgsky Stravinsky

I think I bought this for Pictures at an Exhibition (Emerson Lake and Palmer were inevitably there first in my case, of course). Pictures was originally written for piano I later learned but Ravel scored it for orchestra, which seems much more natural somehow. The bonus was Stravinsky's Rite of Spring which is okay. Indeed, Russian ballet music tends generally to be attractive in my experience.


I thought we'd finish the series with some hats. People don't wear hats as much these days as they once did. When I look at the two hats above I immediately think Bampie, Grandad. My Grandad Brady was 6" 4' an inspector in a steelworks and wore the trilby, my Bampie Thomas a council workman was 5" 1' and wore the flat cap.

Reading the Bible W

The verities of our faith would remain historically proven true to us — so bountiful has God been in his fostering care — even had we no Bible; and through those verities, salvation, But to what uncertainties and doubts would we be the prey! — to what errors, constantly begetting worse errors, exposed! — to what refuges, all of them refuges of lies, driven! Look but at those who have lost the knowledge of this infallible guide: see them evincing man's most pressing need by inventing for themselves an infallible church, or even an infallible Pope. Revelation is but half revelation unless it be infallibly communicated; it is but half communicated unless it be infallibly recorded. The heathen in their blindness are our witnesses of what becomes of an unrecorded revelation. Let us bless God, then, for his inspired word! And may he grant that we may always cherish, love and venerate it, and conform all our life and thinking to it! So may we find safety for our feet, and peaceful security for our souls.
B B Warfield

Reading the Bible V

No sound judgement can be made unless it be in explicit conformity to God's express Word ... For in the Word of God we find an exact witness of the will of God in all he both approves and disapproves.
Pierre Viret

Reading the Bible U

The doctrine of the church is the entire and uncorrupted doctrine of the law and gospel concerning the true God, together with his will, works, and worship …. The doctrine of the church consists of two parts: the Law, and the Gospel; in which we have comprehended the sum and substance of the sacred Scriptures …. Therefore, the law and gospel are the chief and general divisions of the holy scriptures, and comprise the entire doctrine comprehended therein …. For the law is our schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ, constraining us to fly to him, and showing us what the righteousness is, which he has wrought out, and now offers unto us. But the gospel, professedly, treats of the person, office, and benefits of Christ. Therefore, we have, in the law and gospel, the whole of the Scriptures comprehending the doctrine revealed from heaven for out salvation …. The law prescribes and enjoins what is to be done, and forbids what ought to be avoided; whilst the gospel announces the free remission of sin, through and for the sake of Christ …. The law is known from nature; the gospel is divinely revealed …. The law promises life upon the condition of perfect obedience; the gospel, on the condition of faith in Christ and the commencement of new obedience.
Zacharius Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism


You may be interested to know that The Wanderer recently had Paul Levy and myself in the chair and the result can be seen over on his blog here.

Good day at the Evangelical Library

It was great today to be at the Evangelical Library with about fifty others for our study day on 1662 and nonconformity. People had come from a little distance in some cases, including even one man from Texas! 
Dr Garry Williams kicked us off with an excellent paper on the historical background. After a short break it was my turn to put some flesh on the bones, which I tackled by focusing on Thomas Manton, Joseph Alleine and Philip Henry. After lunch Dr Robert Oliver helpfully took us on through 1689 and beyond. We closed the day with a question time and discussion chaired by Robert Strivens.
It was a worthwhile day and it was good to be there. I am glad we were able to organise it. Big thanks to all who helped with drinks and registration. Dr Ian Densham kindly dealt with the recordings and these should be available in due time through the Evangelical Library.

Reading the Bible T

Let it not make thee despair, neither yet discourage thee, O reader, that it is forbidden thee in pain of life and goods, or that it is made breaking of the king's peace, or treason unto his highness to read the word of thy soul's health; but much rather be bold in the Lord and comfort thy soul, for as much as thou art sure, and hast an evident token through such persecution, that it is the true word of God; which word is ever hated of the world, neither was ever without persecution, (as thou seest in all the stories of the Bible, both of the New Testament and also of the Old,) neither can be, no more than the sun can be without his light. And forasmuch as contrary-wise, thou art sure that the Pope's doctrine is not of God, which, as thou seest, is so agreeable unto the world, and is so received of the world, or which rather so receiveth the world and the pleasures of the world, and seeketh nothing but the possessions of the world, and authority in the World, and to hear a rule in the world; and persecuteth the word of God, and with all wiliness driveth people from it, and with false and sophistical reasons maketh them afraid of it: yea curseth them and excommunicateth them, and bringeth them in belief that they be damned if they look on it; and that it is but doctrine to deceive men; and moveth the blind powers of the world to slay, with fire, water, and sword, all that cleave unto it: for the world loveth that which is his, and hateth that which is chosen out of the world to serve God in the Spirit, ....
William Tyndale From the preface to The Obedience of a Christian Man

TTRMOMG 09 Cake and biscuits

Among my strongest memories of my grandparents involve food. My Nana Brady in particular was one from making trifles and milk jellies and was always providing cake and biscuits to go with the cuppa. My favourites then were custard creams and what I believe is called Genoa cake. As a child I would always split the custard cream, lick off the "cream" (or scrape it with the back of my front teeth) and then eat the biscuits. Glace cherries were always extracted from the slab of cake and eaten last.

Cassette 03 Saint-Saens

Not sure when I got hold of this Camille Saint-Saens tape from the eighties. It contains the organ symphony (Peter Hurfiord and the Montreal with Charles Dutit) and the Carnival of the Animals (Dutoit again with the London Sinfonietta and Roge and Ortiz) which is such great fun (I think I first had it on a cassette for children). I must have been aware of the third symphony before the film Babe (1995) which uses the Scott Fitgerald, Yvonne Keeley song (If I had words) based on it but may be not. I saw it performed at the Royal Albert Hall recently. The Danse Macabre I have known longest via the Dutch band Ekseption.

Whitefield in Hampstead

I was looking at a map on* Hampstead Heath the other day and noticed Preachers hill marked on it. Apparently a grove stood near Hampstead with a large green and an old village tree. In 1739 (Thursday May 17) George Whitfield preached there. Hence Preacher's Hill. Preachers Hill is situated off East Heath Road, opposite the top of Pryors Field.
 'Preached, after several invitations thither, at Hampstead Heath, about five miles from London. The audience was of the politer sort, and I preached very near the horse course, which gave me occasion to speak home to the souls concerning our spiritual race. Most were attentive, but some mocked. Thus the Word of God is either a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death. God's Spirit bloweth when, and where it listeth.'
His visit is said to have led to the founding of a Congregationalist church.
* sic

Julian the Apostate

I was reading the other day about Julian the Apostate, Roman Emperor 361 to 363. He was called the Apostate because he attempted to take the Roman empire back from Constantinian Christianity to paganism. His reign was cut short by his death during the Battle of Ctesiphon in Persia in June of 363. I had heard that rumour, probably started by Christians, that he died with the words "You have won, Galilaean" on his lips. More interesting I think is the fact that he died (from a spear wound) because he had not worn any armour, either through confidence of a victory or through haste or forgetfulness. That's an illustration I'll be using.

TTRMOMG 08 Swan Lake

I've never seen the ballet Swan Lake performed but I remember three pictures my Nana Brady had similar to the one above. Like the snow globes with London scenes they fascinated me as a kid

Cassette 02 Satie

This Satie Piano Collection by Peter Dickinson is part of the Boots Classical Collection and came out in 1990. Not sure how I became aware of Satie. To be honest, apart from the gymnopedies and one or two others, I'm not really a fan. This one contains 13 tracks and lasts 77' 13"

Cassette 01 Rodrigo

Things happen slowly here so I'm just getting round to sorting through my classical cassettes (yes, remember those?) and replacing them with mp3s. This first is John Williams doing the ubiquitous Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez and Fantasia para un gentil hombre. I first saw a Rodrigo album at my Auntie Mavis's in the late sixties. I must have bought this in the late eighties early nineties. Still worth a lesson.

Conference Next Tuesday

This is a brief reminder that there is a conference on 1662 and nonconformity next Tuesday at the Evangelical Library. The speakers are Drs Garry Williams, Robert Oliver and myself. The Study Day costs £25 (£30 on the day) and starts at 10 am. Bring your own lunch. Hot drinks provided. There are a limited number of spaces remaining.

Novelists 8 Fanny Burney

Fanny (Frances) Burney 1752-1840 wrote four novels the best known of which was Camilla. Read and enjoyed by Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf called her "the mother of English fiction." A best-seller and a celebrity in her own day, Burney was also diarist. Her recollections of George III and Samuel Johnson are full of interest.

Reading the Bible S

The more you read the Bible, and the more you meditate upon it, the more you will be astonished with it. He who is but a casual reader of the Bible, does not know the height, the depth, the length and breadth of the mighty meanings contained in its pages. There are certain times when I discover a new vein of thought, and I put my hand to my head and say in astonishment, "Oh, it is wonderful I never saw this before in the Scriptures." You will find the Scriptures enlarge as you enter them; the more you study them the less you will appear to know of them, for they widen out as we approach them.
C H Spurgeon at the beginning of a sermon on Christ our Passover

Y Gamp Lawn!

Grand Slam!

So we won against France 16-9 and achieved the third grand slam in eight years.

Merv the Swerve

There was a time when I could name the Welsh rugby team with ease. Those were the days when Mervyn Davies was at Number 8 (at the very back of the scrum). His death strikes a loud chord then and conjures a host of memories. A recent report says:
The flags around the Millennium Stadium have been lowered in honour of Mervyn Davies, the former British Lion and Wales rugby hero who has died aged 65. Number eight Davies, known as "Merv the Swerve", led Wales to the 1976 Five Nations Grand Slam. First Minister Carwyn Jones called him a "giant in all senses". The Welsh Rugby Union said players will wear black armbands and a minute's silence will be held before Saturday's Wales v France match. A video tribute to Davies' career will also be screened ahead of Wales' Six Nations match in Cardiff in which they chase their third slam in eight years. Standing 6ft 3in tall, Davies, who died on Thursday, has been described as a "giant of the game" who won two Grand Slams with Wales and three Triple Crowns. He went on the Lions tours to New Zealand in 1971 and to South Africa in 1974, playing in eight Tests. Davies was handed the captaincy of Wales in 1975 and skippered the side to the Five Nations Championship in the same year, and the Grand Slam the following season. He died following a long battle against cancer.

Reading the Bible R

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the grand instrument by which souls are first converted to God. That mighty change is generally begun by some text or doctrine of the Word, brought home to a man’s conscience. In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by the thousands. It has made drunkards become sober - immoral people become pure  - thieves become honest and violent-tempered people become meek. It has wholly altered the course of men’s lives. It has caused their old things to pass away, and made all their ways new. It has taught worldly people to seek first the kingdom of God. It has taught lovers of pleasure to become lovers of God. It has taught the stream of men’s affections to run upwards instead of running downwards. It has made men think of heaven, instead of always thinking of earth, and live by faith, instead of living by sight. It has done all this in every part of the world.
J C Ryle, Practical Religion

Reading the Bible Q

Our Saviour's works, moreover, were always present: for they were real, consisting of those who had been healed of their diseases, those who had been raised from the dead; who were not only seen whilst they were being healed and raised up, but were afterwards constantly present. Nor did they remain only during the sojourn of the Saviour on earth, but also a considerable time after His departure; and, indeed, some of them have survived even down to our own times.
The only surviving quotation from Quadratus of Athens, from his Apology

Reading the Bible P

The doctrine of plenary inspiration holds that the original documents of the Bible were written by men, who, though permitted to exercise of their own personalities and literary talents, yet wrote under the control and guidance of the Spirit of God, the result being in every word of the original documents a perfect and errorless recording of the exact message which God desired to give to man.
Rene Pache The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible

The One Talent

My father-in-law spotted this Sunday School prize from my home church in a second hand bookshop somewhere. The book is "The one talent" by Margaret S Comrie. The book was presented to a local boy William Reuben Jones in 1909-1910. He would have been about ten. I'm not sure who he was or where he lived. The book is signed by the Sunday School superintendent Philip Hill (1883-1970 I believe, an iron worker who lived in Pontnewydd) and F Critchley, who I cannot identify further.

The Holy Grail

While I was a way in Aber I read a nice little hardback on The Holy Grail by Giles Morgan. It's a great little book looking at pre-Christian and Christian sources, Glastonbury, Arthur, the Templars, the Cathars, etc, and moving onto the Pre-Raphaelites, Tennyson, Monty Python and the Lord of the Rings adn not missing the Who's Baba O'Riley. A concise and useful survey. I was surprised by my own ignorance at certain points and was glad to become better informed. More here.

Aber CU

I spent several hours on trains last Friday and Saturday travelling to and from Aberystwyth, The main purpose of my visit was to speak at the Friday night Christian Union meeting. It also meant, however, that I was able to  catch up with my son Rhodri and his wife Sibyl, who live round the corner from my parents-in-law Geoff and Iola, where I stayed. Ironically, Rhodri was unable to be at the CU as he was busy with the (even more) ironically named Spread the Word project in the theatre.
Anyway I went along with Sibyl to the Real Food group meeting with about 10 of her fellow scientists in a house on Vaenor Street. From there we went on to the main meeting in St Paul's Methodist Centre, where over  a hundred were present. We began with songs containing a series of orthodox but (it seemed to me) rather banal sentiments. This was followed by the inevitable announcements and an enthusiastic promotion by a former student of CAP. The Scripture passage was read then I was briefly interviewed (I'd forgotten this element and was ill prepared to say anything funny I'm afraid) before launching into my message on the given passage - Luke 19:11-27. They seemed to listen well and I enjoyed talking with people after, especially one student who appears to have been converted recently.
I don't do much student work and so I am thrown by how young they all look, the diversity of their backgrounds, the subjects they study, their ambitions, their seriousness and silliness Despite some quibbles I may have, UCCF is a great movement really and I really benefited from the CU when I was a student all those years ago. It is probably the best way to reach out to unconverted students. It's a reminder to pray for these gifted people and their witness.

Prayer Videos

We have featured prayer videos here from time to time. There is a list of such items here I see.

Reading the Bible O

Do you then, my son, diligently apply yourself to the reading of the sacred Scriptures. Apply yourself, I say. For we who read the things of God need much application, lest we should say or think anything too rashly about them. And applying yourself thus to the study of the things of God, with faithful prejudgments such as are well pleasing to God, knock at its locked door, and it will be opened to you by the porter, of whom Jesus says, To him the porter opens. And applying yourself thus to the divine study, seek aright, and with unwavering trust in God, the meaning of the holy Scriptures, which so many have missed. Be not satisfied with knocking and seeking; for prayer is of all things indispensable to the knowledge of the things of God. For to this the Saviour exhorted, and said not only, Knock, and it shall be opened to you; and seek, and you shall find, but also, Ask, and it shall be given unto you. Origen (Letter to Gregory)

Buddy Holly Raw Talent

Reading the Bible N

I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end and, when we have finished it once, to begin it again. We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in the second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second : provided we pray to him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with his spiritual ointment. The course of reading today will prepare some lights for what we shall read tomorrow, and throw a farther light upon what we read yesterday. Experience only can prove the advantage of this method, if steadily persevered in. To make a few efforts and then give over, is like making a few steps and then standing still, which would do little towards completing a long journey. But, though a person walked slowly, and but a little way in a day, if he walked every day, and with his face always in the same direction, year after year, he might in time encompass the globe. By thus travelling patiently and steadily through the Scripture, and repeating our progress, we should increase in knowledge to the end of life.
John Newton (On reading the Bible in Collected Works)

Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus 2012

Enjoy St David's Day wherever you are, whatever your mood.
Hwyl a fflag!