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.

Fore-edge painting on books

This brief video from Abebooks is interesting. Here are some examples of the phenomenon:

C S Lewis and the Olympics

I glanced recently at an article on the Olympics by John Piper (here) and I noticed that he has an aside about his great hero "The good Brit C. S. Lewis". He adds "(who’d be happy to see London host the games)". That struck me as a little odd so I looked up C S Lewis and sport on google and the first entry is a wikianswer to the question "What sport did CSL like?" The answer (which sounds right to me) is "C S Lewis did not like any sport very much. He was born without joints in his thumbs and was awkward when growing up, which meant that he had difficulty playing any sport and never got involved in them, either to play or as a fan."
I also noticed a journal article (abstract here) C S Lewis at the 2012 London Olympics a theological analysis of modern professional sport, in particular the modern Olympic Games which sets out to give a theological assessment "in light of some of C.S. Lewis’s writings on pride and humility."
They conclude "by suggesting that the modern professional sports institution and the Olympic movement, while possessing many positive and enriching attributes, requires “wholesale spiritual rehabilitation” due in-part to both individual and national pride. However, we also believe that the modern Olympic Games that are characterised by passionate international sports competition, has many positive and life-affirming attributes and that there is hope of a lasting “legacy”"

Isles of wonder Mike Oldfield

I did enjoy Mike Oldfield's music at the Olympic opening ceremony. There are no visuals with this video.

Pancake Boy

Plasticine Plate

One of my sons designed and made this recently

Lord's Day 29 July 2012

Yesterday we had the last in the series on Ultimate Realities, looking at Satan again and this time his binding by Christ from Matthew 12:29. Encouraging I hope. In the evening I took another passage about self-denial - Luke 14:25-33. Had some nice illustrations from the Tesla tower (made that too long I'm afraid) and the Battle of Leipzig. Challenging I hope. With the young people back from camp we were a better number though some are away on holiday, at camp and helping with the Olympics outreach. We sang some hymns we don't normally sing including Gordon T Booth's Hear the sound of angels singing, Plunket's Our Saviour has risen and Henry F Lyte's Jesus, I my cross have taken.

204 countries

It was a little tedious but fascinating nonetheless to see the teams of 204 countries parade in last Friday at the Olympic stadium. I was wondering if any countries were missing. Only 3 apparently - South Sudan, Kosovo (both pretty new countries) and,unsurprisingly Vatican City (although I hear the Pope is working on his pole vaulting). There are officially only 196 countries in the world, the other 11 are only territories (American Samoa, Aruba, Bermuda, etc) but have separate Olympic status. I noticed a few indepenednet athletes under the Olympic flag. Apparently Netherland Antilles is no longer a country.

Olympics Opening Ceremony

I haven't stayed up so late in ages but I did last night for the opening ceremony of the Olympics which was a total triumph. Highlights for me were Chariots of fire featuring Sir Simon Rattle and Mr Bean (Rowan Atkinson), the appearance of Mike Oldfield (I'd only been playing his album QE2 that afternoon) and the gobsmacking sequence with James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Her maj (I thought it particularly clever that you saw her back first and so you thought - yeah not her but then it was!). Also enjoyed Abide with me from Emeli Sande and The Arctic Monkeys doing Come Together and not forgetting JPR scoring a try for Wales. Paul McCartney at the end was inevitable and okay but poor song choice (Hey Jude - though what else I don't know) and the poor man can't sing any more (well, he is 70). How they missed any reference to Hackney born Marc Bolan I cannot imagine (this I see despite a campaign by some). Why U2 tracks were heard during the entry of the teams is mystifying. The entrance of 204 teams did become boring but it really is quite a thing to see and a reminder to pray for the nations of the world. I think it did make you proud to be British (not a phrase often on my lips) and it was good to see the Christian backbone to it all in Glastonbury Tor and Abide with me. I'm always wishing for more though and I do see the Olympic movement as a potential form of antichrist in that it in so many ways it presents an alternative way of salvation. I think Coubertin's thing about taking part not winning is fine enough but what does it oprofit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. Ultimatley if you don't win, you've lost.

The Third Man

Still trying to read some shorter classics. I picked up Graham Greene's The Third Man from the Library the other day. It also has the short story Fallen idol (also known as The Basement room) with it (online see here). See here. Both were made into films in the forties or fifties. I seem to remember seeing some of The Third Man once on TV with its haunting zither theme (by Anton Karas). The book itself is fine for what it is, the story of a small time racketeer. I presume it was written for film. It's very cinematic. It seems to capture a now gone world and the story of a few caught up in it.

UK Summer

The weather has broken now but my boys and their cousin were having great fun
while the sunshine lasted.

Lord's Day July 22 2012

Our numbers a little low yesterday, especially in the evening (only about 12 or 13) as 8 young people are away at camps or on beach mission. One deacon is just back from beach mission. This week the subject in the morning was Satan, always a difficult subject but one we need to be informed about. We looked at the opening chapters of Job and seven New Testament texts. The evening text was 1 Peter 2:24, 25 and was again prompted by my thoughts on self-denial. We carried on with our Bible verse learning with Galatians 2:20, another great text. We had a lovely lunch and then sat in the garden of another deacon's home in the afternoon.

Pray for Italy

One of our deacons is just back from an encouraging beach mission in Chefaloo, Sicily so this chimes in wells.

10 Great Welsh Olympic Athletes

1 Colin Jackson 110m hurdles –  1988 2nd, 1996 4th, 2000 4th, 1992 5th.
John Disley 3000m Steeplechase 1952 3rd 1956 6th
3 Venissa Head Shot 1984 6th Discus 1984 7th
4 Christian Malcolm 200m 2000 5th2008 5th
5 John Ainsworth Davies 400m 1920 5th
6 Lynn Davies Long Jump 1964 1st*
7 Steve Jones 10,000m 1984 8th
8 John Merriman 10,000m 1960 8th
9 Tom Richards Marathon 1948 2nd
10 Iwan Thomas 400m 1996 5th
More here
*I have his autograph somewhere

Castrol Mahler

I think it was this brilliant advert from the eighties that persuaded me I might like Mahler. This is from his seventh symphony not his fifth.

Cassette 08 Mahler

Just when you thought this series was dead in the water ... Sorry. If you try and get into classical music someone at some point will recommend Mahler to you. I dutiful bought this cheap edition of Mahler's fifth many years ago and didn't really fall in ,love with Mahler I'm afraid.

Novelists 14 James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper 1789-1851 was a prolific and popular writer whose historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature. He lived most of his life in Cooperstown, New York, established by his father. A life long Episcopalian, he attended Yale but dropped out after three years, discontented with college life. He then served in the US Navy as a Midshipman, something that informs many of his writings. He is best remembered as a novelist, his most famous work being The Last of the Mohicans which I confess I have never read.

Unusual words 06 Premial

Premial means serving to reward or rewarding.
I came across it in Smeaton on the atonement who uses it several times as in "the premial life which awaited man after a period of probation". Could find no literary references except one in essay on educatio by De Quincey but I came across this interesting blogpost here.

Beddome on what Jesus is doing now

Spotted this quotation (to late for my book) from Benjamin Beddome the other day.
It is from his sermon Christ the subject of prayer on Psalm 72:15 in Sermons, with a brief memoir of the author which is available online.

Christ is our advocate with the Father. His presenting his spotless sacrifice before the throne, is a powerful intercession. He also presents the prayers and supplications of the saints, without which, instead of being received with complacency, they must be rejected with abhorrence. But besides this, is there not a vocal intercession? The Scripture leads me to think that there is. Christ was that angel who pleaded for Judah and Jerusalem. "In the days of his flesh he prayed for Peter, that his faith might not fail" and he assured him, and the rest of the disciples, that he would perform the same office for them in heaven: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter." And as Job evidently speaks of Christ as a Redeemer in one place, so it is not at all improbable that he refers to him as an advocate in another: "O that one" says he, "might plead for a man with God as a man pleadeth for his neighbour." "It is," says Dr Owen, "no ways unbecoming the human nature of Christ, in its glorious exaltation, to pray to God; for this seems to be one condition of the advancement of his interest as mediator." "Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." I have made the two last remarks chiefly because some translate the words of my text,—"Prayer shall be made by him, or through him, continually."


Saw this face (with hands but no real body) peering at me the other day from a meal.

Pray for Iraq

Doolittle on the Lord's Supper

In his little book on the Lord's Supper the Puritan author Thomas Doolittle argues from 1 Corinthians that

1. It is a necessary duty, incumbent upon all adult believers, to partake of the Lord's supper (24)
2. It is the duty of Christ's disciples often to partake of the Lord's supper (25, 26)
3. Whensoever ye are to partake of the Lord's supper, you are to be painful (ie painstaking) and serious in making preparation for it (28)
4. A believer should eye the blood of Christ in the Lord's supper, in its several properties, virtue and efficacy, till suitable graces thereby are drawn forth into act and lively exercise (24, 25)
5. Such as are partakers of the ... supper, should inquire after participation, what benefit they have received thereby, whether they be the better or the worse by receiving (17)

Lord's Day July 15 2012

So another good day with the Lord's people in Childs Hill. We were a little down in numbers for various reasons. We looked again at angels and that was interesting. In the evening we took a break from Numbers to look at Luke 9:23-26. I have been thinking about the subject of self-denial recently and thought it might be good to tackle this seminal text. I'd hoped to say something fresh but I don't think there was anything new there. We had communion beforehand and I used some remarks from Thomas Doolittle to guide us, which I might post elsewhere. Oh yes, we also started on a Bible verse learning strand with 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Well ... all right

We haven't had any Buddy Holly here for a while so how about this stroke of genius?

Harrison on Engaging with Lloyd-Jones

The book of essays Engaging with Lloyd-Jones has been wanting a thorough review from a pro-Lloyd-Jones vantage point. One is now available by Graham Harrison. Originally given at the Wetsminster Fellowship it is available in a slightly modified form here. It is a thorough, fair, well informed, stimulating and trenchant piece.

Y Graddio

I should have said more on the graduation. It is the first one I have been to since my own. Mine was in the same place but the Great Hall has changed a lot since then. I remember that the late Cledwyn Hughes was guest of honour.
The thing itself was done well really in that it had about the right amount of pomp without trying our patience too much. To get through 200 graduands so quickly and yet appropriately was well done.
They are awarding several fellowships this week and on this first morning it was the turn of Michael Sheen and Alex Jones, both Welsh and both in the field of drama and TV (though Sheen is not a graduate and one of Aber graduate Jones's greatest achievements, it seems, was being on Strictly come dancing). Neither was present personally but they had seen video clips that were shown.
The sad thing is that in the declining culture that is ours there wasn't much to say that would be both helpful and not divisive. If you look carefully at the picture above you can see an open Bible but that book and its Author were kept almost completely out of things. The days of Thomas Chalmers Edwards are long gone sadly, although I was encouraged to learn that the present principal April McMahon is a professing Christian
I should say that we all had a nice meal after at the Glengower Hotel on the front before heading back to London.

Fuller on Scripture use

I came across this letter recently. It is a wise letter, especially in the light of recent discussion here.

Kettering, Jan. I7, 1792.
My Dear Friend,
In many of the workings of your mind, there is some similarity with those of my own, about twenty years ago. You seem to be fluctuating upon the surges of doubt and suspense. I did the same, for some time. I think that one cause of this, in me, was, my hopes and fears rose or fell, according as texts of Scripture occurred to my mind. For example: If such a passage as Isa. xli. 10, ('Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed, for I am thy God,' &c.) was impressed on my mind, I was all joy and transport, but if such a passage as Psa. 50: 16, ('What hast thou to do, to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth?') was suggested, I was all dejection, and, perhaps, durst not go upon my knees to pray. I used to think, that when any passage of Scripture was impressed with weight upon my mind, it was no other than the voice of God, speaking to me by those words, so that, though the passage, as it stood in the Bible, might be addressed to some other person or case, yet when it was impressed on my heart, I was led to consider it as an address from God to me. Yea, in this manner I used to imagine that God revealed future events to me. If I were praying for the conversion of any person in particular, and such a passage as this were impressed on my mind at the time—'In her month they shall find her,'—(Jer. ii. 24.) I concluded, that God would, sometime, convert that person: or, if such a passage as this—'Pray not thou for this people,' etc. (Jer. vii. 16.) I should have concluded that they would not have been converted, and so have left oft" praying for them.
After a while, I began to suspect, whether this way of taking comfort, or of casting it away, or of judging of future events, and regulating my conduct accordingly, were either of them just or solid. And, in a little time, I perceived, that I had no reason given me in Scripture, to expect the knowledge of my own state, or of the state of others, or of any future events, by such means. I knew that the prophets and apostles had extraordinary revelations made to them, being divinely inspired to write the Holy Scriptures t but, vision and prophecy being now sealed up, (Dan. Ix. 24.) and a woe being denounced upon the man that should add or diminish, (Rev. xxii. 18.) I concluded that we ought not to look for any new revelation of the mind of God, but to rest satisfied with what has been revealed already, in his word.
I do not, however, reject all impressions of Scripture passages; provided it be nothing but Scripture truth that is thereby opened to the mind, and impressed on the heart Some of the best times of my life have been through the means of a passage of Scripture. I remember, about twenty-two years ago, walking alone, in an agony of despair, my guilt appeared too great to he forgiven, and my propensities too strong to be overcome. I felt as if there were no hope for me, and that I must even go on and perish for ever! Here I paused "What! (thought I,) give up all hope, and plunge myself into the gulf of destruction!—How can I bear the thought?" My heart was ready to burst with anguish. 1 then thought of Job's resolution— 'Though he slay me, yet will 1 trust in him.' 'And why (thought I,) may I not venture on Christ as a lost sinner, as well as Job did upon his God?' I wept I prayed I rolled my guilty and lost soul upon the Lord Jesus. Hope kindled in my breast. The tears of repentance flowed plenteously. My soul cleaved to Christ, as the helper of the helpless, and seemed united to him as by an indissoluble bond. My load of guilt was removed, and my evil propensities seemed to be slain. From this time, I reckon I first began to be a Christian.
Indeed, I did not formerly suspect that I had been carried away by a supposed new revelation; but, seeing my impressions came in the words of Scripture, thought it was only the old revelation applied afresh, by the Spirit of God. But, upon examination, I found myself mistaken; for, though the words of Scripture were the means of the impression, yet the meaning of those words, as they stood in the Bible, was lost in the application. For instance: The meaning of Isa. xli. 10. as it stands in the Bible, compared with ver. 9. is, that the true servants of God have no reason to be dismayed, for that God will strengthen, help, and uphold them in all their afflictions: but, when that passage occurred to my mind, I concluded that God had thereby revealed to me, that he was my God, and would uphold me, &c. But this was making it a new revelation, as much as if the impression had not been in the words of Scripture; because the meaning which it had before, and that which I put upon it, were totally distinct. It is a very different thing for God to promise to be the God of his servants, and his promising to be my God, or your God. It is very true, if I can prove myself to be a servant of God, borne down with fear and dismay, on account of the enemies of my soul, which I have to encounter, (as was the case with the children of Jacob there addressed,) then I should have just cause to conclude the promise to be mine; but if not, it is not the impression of such a promise that will prove my interest in it.
Again: The meaning of Psa. 50: 16. is, that wicked men (such as are described from ver. 17—22.) have no right to engage in teaching God's word; but it does not follow, from thence, that, because, that passage was impressed upon my mind in going to prayer, I was a wicked man, and had no right to draw near to God, and take his name into my mouth. To suppose that God then revealed to me that I ought not to take his name into my Tips, was making it a new revelation, and so adding to Scripture: for, except I bore the character j there described, the passage speaks no such thins.
Again: The meaning of Jer. ii. 24, is, that, let sinners be ever so set upon their lusts, there will come a time when they will be | tamed and taken, either by the grace or the judgements of God.Now such a passage as this being impressed on my mind, while I was praying for the conversion of one that was unconverted, could afford me no just ground to conclude that God would ever convert such a person rather than another; for, supposing the passage to contain a promise that the persons there spoken of should some time be stopped by the power of divine grace, it would not follow that this should be the case with the person for whose conversion 1 was concerned.
Once more: Such a passage as Jer. vii. 16, being impressed upon my mind, afforded me no just ground to conclude, that they on whose behalf I was engaged in prayer would never be converted; much less could it justify me in ceasing to pray for them; because, though there might be a particular reason why Jeremiah should not pray for those people, yet it did not follow, that the people for whom I prayed were in a similar situation, or that the same reason existed in the one case as in the other.
I could record many more such examples. All I say, is, when the truth contained in any passage of Scripture is opened to the mind, and impressed upon the heart, this is Christian experience—this is the work of the Spirit; but it is not his work to make any new revelation to the soul, of things not provable from Scripture, which is the ease when he is supposed to reveal to us that we are the children of God, by suggesting some passage of Scripture to our minds, which expresses so much of some other person or persons, there spoken of.
I have known many ill consequences arise from a dependence on such kind of impressions. Christians have been thereby led into error and misconduct When they have been at a loss about the path of duty in any particular case, they have had such a passage as this suggested to them—'This is the way, walk ye in it,'—and have concluded that that way which they were thinking of at the time such a passage occurred to their minds, must be the way of duty, and so have followed it, but which has often proved to be the wrong way. From the same cause, I have known Christians thrown into the utmost confusion about their state. A young person was under a heavy affliction. She had this passage, (if I remember right,) at that time impressed upon her mind— "Set thine house in order, for thou shalt surely die"—from whence she concluded she should not recover. A few days after, these words occurred to her—' This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.' From hence, she must naturally conclude that they could not both be true, nor both come from God : consequently, she must be thrown into confusion about the other parts of her experience, and question whether all was not deception.
But this is not the worst. I have known great numbers of persons, whose conduct gave full proof that they were unconverted men, who nevertheless lived in hope of being saved at last, merely because some text of Scripture had been, at some part of their lives, impressed upon their minds. Indeed, I question if you could find one person in twenty, among those who nave been accustomed to hear the gospel, but who could tell you that some passage of Scripture had been impressed upon their minds, and had given them comfort, at some period or other in their lives. It is thus that multitudes go down to hell with a lie in their right hand!
Do not be alarmed, my friend, as if all your experience would thus be undermined. Though you may have rested pretty much on such evidence, I trust you have much better to rest upon. For my own part, I have not been much in doubt, as to my soul's state, forthese sixteen or eighteen years. The evidence on which I draw the favourable conclusion, is. a consciousness that 1 am on the Lord's side; that I love his character, his government, his gospel, his laws, is people; that, the more I know of them, the more I love them: and these are things to which God has promised salvation, all through the Bible.
There have been manv Scripture promises, as I said before, that have been sweet to my soul; but I am not used to make those promises mine any more than others. If I love Christ in sincerity, all the promises in the Bible, which relate to spiritual and eternal blessings, are mine; and it is upon the ground of what is promised in those which have never been particularly impressed upon the mind, that 1 build my hopes, as much as upon those that have: for I do not reckon a promise ever the more true, or ever the more made to me, because I have felt it To make this plain:—A child is heir to an extensive orchard; when the fruit is ripe, he walks into it; he tastes of one tree, and another; some of the trees he likes better than others, because the fruit tastes sweeter; he calls that his tree, whereas they are all his, only all do not taste equally sweet, at the same time, to his palate; perhaps, as he grows up, his taste may change a little, and then some which he thought light of will be preferred.
I acknowledge, that to rest our hopes upon such evidence as I propose, that is, upon a consciousness of our being the subjects of those dispositions to which the Scriptures promise salvation, is not the way to be always happy. If we indulge in secret sin, or live in the neglect of known duty, or sink into a spirit of conformity to the world, or a spirit of Laodicean lukewarmness, or be careless as to a close walk with God, or attend on ordinances without desire after communion with him;—in either of these cases, we shall, in a great degree, lose our consciousness of love to God, and consequently live in fear and bondage. Indeed, it is better that we should live so than to go about to persuade ourselves that all is well, and so settle upon our lees, in ungrounded security. Though after all, it is not desirable to live in such bondage; and the way to be delivered from it, is, to abound in those means which tend to cherish our love to God, for perfect love will cast out fear.
I think the above remarks may be of use to you, and contain an answer to your request, respecting my sermon on Mark ix. 2.—' Sun, be of good cheer,' &c
I am your affectionate pastor,

Family Occasion 02

Today we have been in Aberystwyth for my oldest son's graduation. He got a first in Drama and Theatre Studies. It's  his wife Sibyl tomorrow but we need to be back. Well done both!

Family Occasion 01

Last Saturday we were in Cardiff to help my youngest sister-in-law celebrate a significant birthday. The whole family went to a Cosmo restaurant for lunch first then the three girls and their parents went to see Wonderful Town at the Millennium Centre. All great fun.

Lord's Day July 8 2012

Carried on with my series on Ultimate Realities yesterday, looking at angels from Revelation 4. I felt a bit sluggish and thought I could have tried to say more. We finally finished looking at the 118 questions of the Baptist Catechism.
Once a month we have tea together before the evening meeting so that was on yesterday. We have decided to try and highlight some books for sale once a month too so (having stocked up at Met tab and at the Library lecture on Monday) I did that and sold 3 books - Joel Beeke's little book on prayer, the EP bitesize biography of Schaeffer by Mostyn Roberts and an old copy of Spurgeon's Letters. (Couldn't shift Calhoun on Princeton).
We were quite few by the evening but I looked at the last bit of Numbers 15 on stoning Sabbath breakers and wearing tassels and was quite lively. We sang I need Thee Oh I need Thee which we very rarely sing.

Taming of the shrew

In the hectic week that was the last week I somehow managed to get down to the Globe again to stand in glorious sunshine watching Taming of the Shrew, which tells of the subjugation of a high spirited and feisty young woman by a rather odd man called Petruchio. I remember seeing a TV version of this with John Cleese once and enjoying it. This production was very much played for laughs with lots of good jokes and hi jinks, though the decision that Petruchio should be virtually naked for a while was not appreciated or necessary. Typically of Shakespeare it is a play that is fun to watch but when you ask what it is about it is difficult to be sure exactly. What point is being made here? It's beyond me.
Footnotes include meeting one of my son's best friends and whom I know from church there on a school trip (they are studying it next year) and a short chat with a Dutch girl from Utrecht as I lunched outside the theatre before going in. A neuro-scientist hoping to do doctoral research next year she had to admit that she had never read the Bible. (She had also never heard of Jan Akkerman and Thijs Van Leer, which I could forgive, but Abraham Kuyper?!!). There must be many such young people in Europe. Ian Hamilton said on Monday that he has met many students in Cambridge who (outside their own narrow field) have never read a book. 

Last Week 4 Met Tab 02

[Pic Rapper Nelly who said in 2008 During the day I wear jeans, a vest and Converse trainers, but I’m happy to wear a tie and I’ll do the formal thing when it’s called for – I’ve even got an Armani tux]
The Met Tab Summer School is famed for its negativity and we had it in good measure this time. I didn't hear Peter Master's warnings against contemporary music worship styles on the Wednesday night but I did hear the first of Chris Hand's papers on Hip Hop and Rap and the reading of Dr Ted Williams's papers on the new Calvinism.
  • Chris began with a potted history of Hip Hop leading up to the current existence of Christian rap performers. I was interested to learn that break dancing referred to dancing during the instrumental break in a song. I thought most of what he said made sense although I think he tended to see Hip Hop as a much more unified movement than it is. My sons wear their trousers low but they are hardly big rap fans. He also seemed to think there was something semi-sacred about the shirt and tie that rather escaped me. The statement that "different types of music have a moral value - good or bad" is simply incorrect and needs to be nuanced much more carefully. Obviously, the way music is played and presented can have moral content but surely not the notes themselves. I would be surprised if there were more than a handful of people present with any inclination to Hip Hop. I have tried to listen to the Calvinist Hip Hoppers. As Chris himself admitted the content is sound. I just don't like Hip Hop or rap I guess. Why anyone would want to introduce it into worship I cannot really see.    
  • Ted Williams was present but having had heart surgery recently someone else read the paper itself. This was a very useful hatchet job on the new Calvinists who we are always hearing about but sometimes find it difficult to get the dirt on. Four men were denounced in varying degrees - Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler. There were no big surprises but it was nice to have things documented.
  1. Keller is a theistic evolutionist who sadly more or less ducked a question on hell by Martin Bashir. See hereHe has a rather ecumenical approach. 
  2. John Piper is a Blaise Pascal and C S Lewis fan and friendly toward Rick Warren. His presentation of truths has a distorting effect. He claims that God spoke audibly to him with new revelation in 2007.
  3. Al Mohler is rather ecumenical too being a big fan of Billy Graham.
  4. Mark Driscoll I won't bother to pass on as it seems to me very difficult to defend such a man who comes over as rather immature.
The negative note does need to be sounded. Perhaps it should be done with more humility. The experience is rather depressing and enervating, nevertheless. Most people I talk to don't exactly agree with what is said but we are generally sympathetic and so feel rather caught. I have no time for Mark Driscoll but the others seem to me to have some merits despite their glaring inconsistencies. Keeping a balance is not easy.

Last Week 3 Met Tab 01

On Tuesday afternoon I was at the Metropolitan Tabernacle for the beginning of their Summer School of Theology. As well attended as ever, the line up of speakers was quite familiar. I missed Jack Seaton but was in my seat in time for John Thackway on the Spirit's work in times of trouble and distress, followed by Peter Masters on the indwelling Spirit. The room was too full to squeeze into to hear the news from China but I stayed for Joel Beeke who is always worth listening to. This time he spoke on cultivating holiness and on the Love of God.
On the subsequent days, I also caught Dr Beeke on living submissively and fighting unbelief. I had to miss Roland Burrows and the subsequent papers from Mr Thackway and Dr Masters but I did hear Chris Buss's messages on the tongue and on sensitivity and usefulness. I am not sure what the problem was but it was difficult to get much from these addresses beyond what one might have found by reading the passages quoted. Part of the problem may be is the skilful way the addresses are described on the programme. They rarely seem to satisfy the appetite that has been whetted. We will keep the other addresses heard for another post.

Last Week 2 Evangelical Library

On Monday evening it was my great privilege to be at the Evangelical Library to hear Ian Hamilton speaking on the theology of Old Princeton. It was an excellent lecture, popular in the best sense and gave a real flavour of the stature of the Princeton giants - Hodge, Warfield, Alexander, etc. The only disappointment was the relatively poor turn out, which as more like twenty than the forty we might have expected. This was probably due to the lecture being given in July rather than the June date it normally gets. I'm sure I also over-estimate the familiarity of the Christian public with these things and in the publicity I should have put a bigger emphasis on the fact that this is a bi-centennial year for Princeton and the fact that it was until 1929 the home of Reformed theology. The recording can be obtained from the Library and will hopefully appear in print form in due time.   

Last Week 1 Westminster Fellowship

Last week was so busy there was no time to write up. We kicked off with a Westminster Fellowship down at the chapel. There's not normally one in July these days but things have been a little different this year so there was an opportunity to hear Gordon Cooke from New Inn, near Pontypool, on Jeremiah Burroughs. It was chiefly a summary of Burroughs' book Gospel Worship with some additional material from his Gospel Fear, followed by discussion. We're quite a conservative lot so we were mainly in agreement with Burroughs but it was a worthwhile time. I notice that a new biography on Burroughs is now out. See here.

Carey 2013

The programme for next January's Carey Conference can be seen here.

And what do you do?

It is sometimes difficult to know what to say in answer to the question what I do. I prefer Christian minister to minister of religion. I just received an email recommending I link up with a fellow minister who is described as an Independent Religious Institution Professional. Now I know what to answer.

Lord's Day July 1 2012

Preached on hell again yesterday morning - from Luke 16 this time. It's not at all easy. I felt physically sick at one point. Decent number despite our recent losses and several away.
Numbers 15:1-31 in the evening. Much smaller congregation. Found this sermon by Charles Simeon helpful in preparation. It's sermon 159 on page 74.
Completely forgot my reading glasses both times but managed.