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The Westminster Conference

The Westminster Conference meets for two days each year, usually in December. During the conference, six papers are presented, three on each day, examining the history, doctrine and practice of people, events and churches associated with the Puritans, their forebears and successors. The perspective is that of evangelical and reformed Biblical Christianity, focusing on central gospel themes such as grace, faith, atonement and justification and the outworking of the gospel in the lives of believers.

Details for the 2020 conference are as follows. Further information about booking, both online and by post, is on the Booking page.

Brochure 2020

CAPTIVE TO GOD’S WORD

Tuesday 1st December 2020

10.30am ~ LUTHER AND AUTHORITY
DAVID MCKAY ~ Pastor of Shaftesbury Square RPC, Belfast

Luther stands astride the history of the Reformation like a colossus. We all know, or think we know, his famous, “Here I stand …” But what governed his life and bound his heart? Who or what directed Luther’s steps? In some respects, he could be seen as a flamboyant rebel with a stiff neck. In others, he appears a humble subject with a bent knee. We need to see him in a milieu in which authority was very differently understood in comparison to our own day, and to learn how he wrestled with and submitted to authority, whether God’s or man’s.

1.30pm ~ BELLARMINE AGAINST THE REFORMERS
LEONARD O DE CHIRICO ~ Pastor of Breccia di Roma

If you read much Protestant and Reformed theology from the 16th and 17th centuries, especially of a more polemical kind, you are likely to come up against the name of Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621). Who was this man, and why was he such a significant interlocutor with the Reformers and their successors? Leonardo De Chirico will introduce the man, survey his works and his thought, and help us to understand how and why he became one of the most prominent and even respected opponents of the Protestant Reformation.

3.45pm ~ WHAT IS AN EVANGELICAL?
STEPHEN CLARK ~ Pastor of Freeschool Court Evangelical Church, Bridgend

It seems as if this is a perennial question. Generation by generation, words and their meanings are redefined and even undermined. So, is ‘evangelical’ still a useful label? What weight does it carry? What distinct nuances and emphases are required to define and defend an accurate and helpful sense of its meaning? What particular pressures apply in our generation? Stephen Clark will consider the way in which the word has been and is used, how and to whom it is applied, and stimulate our own sense of what it might mean to be an evangelical.

Wednesday 2nd December 2020

10.30am ~ THE MARROW CONTROVERSY
PHILIP HAINES ~ Pastor of Ely Presbyterian Church (Reformed), Cardiff

Perhaps to many today, the Marrow Controversy sends no signals, or even strange signals. Even should we begin to look into the matter, the debate—with its weighted arguments and fine distinctions—might seem like a splitting of hairs. But the issues at the heart of this controversy are by no means slight or insignificant. They strike at the very heart of what it means to be a preacher of the gospel, especially with regard to its free offer. This paper will give us a sense of what those issues are, how they should be understood, and their ongoing importance.

1.30pm ~ THE NEW BIRTH
ANDREW ROYCROFT ~ Pastor of Millisle Baptist Church, Northern Ireland

There is much confusion about what it really means to be a Christian. Lines are blurred and spiritual realities often abandoned for the sake of vague generalities. So what makes a person a Christian? What is the nature of the change by which we leave darkness and enter light? With particular reference to Stephen Charnock’s sweeping work on The New Birth, Andrew Roycroft will consider the nature of regeneration and the matter of true conversion, giving us reference points for questions upon which the health of the church much depends

3.45pm ~ BENJAMIN BEDDOME
GARY BRADY ~ Pastor of Childs Hill Baptist Church, London

There is merit in looking not only at giants of church history, but at lesser lights too. Gary Brady will share insights into Benjamin Beddome (1717–1795). A pastor’s child, raised in Warwickshire and Bristol, Beddome ministered for over fifty years in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire. Pastor, preacher and poet, he studied, sermonised, scribbled, and sang for over half a century in relative obscurity, all the while criss-crossing the country to preach. He knew times both of unusual blessing and of dearth, and saw many men enter the ministry.