Previous Years

2018 – Sovereign Grace O’er Sin Abounding

Tuesday 4th & Wednesday 5th December 2018
AMYRALDISM
PAUL WELLS ~ EMERITUS PROFESSOR OF THE FACULTÉ JEAN CALVIN, AIX-EN-PROVENCE, & EDITOR OF UNIO CUM CHRISTO

Moise Amyraut (1596-1664) was born in Bourgueil, France, and became a gifted scholar. He eventually took up residence in Saumur as both professor and pastor, following in that city such men as John Cameron and Jean Daillé. Here he developed his distinctive theology, altering Calvinistic doctrine as it concerned the nature, extent and purpose of Christ’s work of atonement. Paul Wells will consider the man but concentrate on his system.

ARTHUR W. PINK
GEOFF THOMAS ~ PASTRORAL ASSISTANT AT AMYAND PARK CHAPEL

W. Pink has long been recognised as a key figure in the 20th century recovery of Calvinistic doctrine. But who was he? Where did he live and work? How and what did he teach? Geoff Thomas will consider Pink’s life and labours with all its distinctive aspects, his strengths and his weaknesses. We will see how the Lord God used this man in the recovery of biblical truths about salvation, and learn lessons for our own efforts in defending and advancing such truth.

THE GREAT WAR AND MODERN CHRISTIANITY
PHIL ARTHUR ~ FORMER PASTOR OF GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, LANCASTER

What we now call the First World War was known at the time simply as ‘the Great War.’ The conflict had a striking impact on the life of the British nation, not just militarily, socially and economically, but also spiritually. Phil Arthur will look at the spiritual impact of the Great War in its context, including trends in society prior to the war, helping us to understand what was its immediate effect in the United Kingdom and its enduring legacy.

READING HERMAN BAVINCK
JAMES EGLINTON ~ MELDRUM LECTURER IN REFORMED THEOLOGY AT EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY

Something of a resurgence has taken place in publishing the works of Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), especially with the relatively recent translation into English of his four-volume Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, or Reformed Dogmatics. What are his particular qualities and distinct contributions? Ought we to be reading such a work for ourselves? What are the benefits that weshould look to obtain from engaging with one of the great Calvinist scholars of his day?

JOHN OWEN AND THE PERSON OF CHRIST
JEREMY WALKER ~ PASTOR OF MAIDENBOWER BAPTIST CHURCH, CRAWLEY

In 1679, only four years before his death in 1683, John Owen published his Christologia, subtitled “A Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ – God and Man.” It was a time of theological, ecclesiastical, political, and social turmoil. What possessed the mind and heart of such a prominent Christian as John Owen at this time? We will try to trace some of the features and emphases of Owen’s work on the person of Christ that will still bless us today.

“THE LIFE OF DAVD BRAINERD”: THE STORY, THE BOOK, THE IMPACT
NIGEL GRAHAM ~ PASTOR OF WARBOYS GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, CAMBRIDGESHIRE

When Jonathan Edwards recorded the life of his friend, David Brainerd, it was intended primarily as a personal testimony to a valued brother. However, the story of Brainerd’s life has resounded across the decades, spurring multitudes to greater consecration and providing a powerful example of a life lived for the glory of God. Nigel Graham will consider the character of the man, the origins of the book, and the force of Edwards’ testimony to a godly man.

2017 – God with us and for us

Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th December 2017
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE HUMAN HEART
STEPHEN CLARK ~ PASTOR OF FREESCHOOL COURT EVANGELICAL CHURCH, BRIDGEND

To understand the work of the Spirit in the heart of man is to start to become a true physician of the soul. But the work of the Holy Spirit is intertwined with the ministry of the Word of God. How, then, does the Holy Spirit work in and through the Word? Is he bound to the Scriptures in some way? If so, how? Such questions, and their answers, provide us with both challenges and comforts as we seek to be ministers of the Word and Spirit.

A CHILD OF LIGHT WALKING IN DARKNESS: THE FELT PRESENCE OF GOD
GUY DAVIES ~ PASTOR OF PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH & EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH, WILTSHIRE

What does it mean to know the presence of God with us? Should we expect it? Can we lose it? How can we regain it? Concentrating on key works of Thomas Goodwin and John Owen, this paper will look particularly at the loss and recovery of such a sense of divine sweetness, comparing and contrasting the convictions, explanations and applications of these two theologians of the Holy Spirit.

CALVIN – WORSHIP AND PREACHING
ANDREW YOUNG ~ MINISTER OF NAUNTON LANE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, CHELTENHAM

The way or ways in which we worship the Lord so as to honour and glorify him remains a topic of vigorous and often heated debate. This is no new thing. Andrew Young will consider Calvin’s approach to this topic, including his doctrine of worship, his approach to liturgy, and his preaching and teaching ministry. Such assessments should assist us to ask the right questions in the right spirit as we move toward answers grounded in something more than preference.

JACOB ARMINIUS (1560-1609)
PHIL ARTHUR ~ PASTOR OF GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH, LANCASTER

Theological labels are quick to apply, and provide us with easy targets. Particular theologians are relatively easy to demonise. Jacob Arminius has given his name to a theological system that is defended by supporters and assaulted by opponents with equal ardour. It is profitable for us to understand who Arminius was, what he believed, and how his name became connected to this system. Phil Arthur will introduce us to this man, and guide us through his life and thought.

THE SYNOD OF DORT (1618-1619)
BENEDICT BIRD ~ THM STUDENT AND GREEK & HEBREW TEACHER AT LONDON SEMINARY

In November 1618 the Dutch Reformed Church convened a synod at Dordrecht in the Netherlands. With representatives of Reformed churches from around Europe, the synod debated the tenets of the Remonstrants, who disputed the Calvinistic understanding of the plan of redemption. Politics and theology intertwined as they wrestled to address the controversy over Arminianism. This paper will help us understand this critical event and its relevance today.

WILLIAM WILLIAMS, PANTYCELYN (1717-1791)
MARK THOMAS ~ PASTOR OF BORRAS PARK EVANGELICAL CHURCH, WREXHAM

William Williams is best known among evangelicals as ‘the sweet singer of Wales’ on account of his hymnody, combining a rigorous commitment to truth and a profound experimental sense. However, he is also recognised as a towering figure in the literary and spiritual spheres of his native Wales. Mark Thomas will help us to understand the character and context of this man, and how the Lord used him during and after his lifetime.

2016 – Contending for the Truth

Tuesday 6th – Wednesday 7th December 2016
LUTHER AND THE 95 THESES
Ken Brownell – Pastor of East London Tabernacle

When Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg in 1517, the hammer blows echoed down through the history of the Western church. What were his assertions? What was he doing when he nailed them to that door? Why were they so significant then, and why did his seemingly innocuous actions have such continuing repercussions? Ken Brownell will help us to understand this momentous event in its context.

FROM WITTENBERG TO WORMS: LUTHER AFTER THE 95 THESES
Peter Beale – Retired Pastor

Too often we see Luther preserved in a single moment of time: such an historical snapshot can easily become a caricature. Peter Beale will therefore trace Luther’s development as a Christian man and theologian, giving us a more complete and full-orbed picture of the man as he progresses in his thought and practice. In providing a more complete portrait, we can move away from snapshots and caricatures toward careful consideration and genuine appreciation.

THE PURITAN DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE
James Mildred – Pastoral Intern at Grace Church, Yate

Repentance lies alongside faith at the heart of conversion and Christian life, but each has distinctive qualities and roles. The Puritan mainstream was profoundly concerned for both, but repentance is, perhaps, more often overlooked today. In this address, we will mine the Puritans for their wisdom concerning the nature and role of repentance in the salvation of sinners, both in entering in and continuing on the way of life.

THE IMPASSIBILITY OF GOD AND THE PRINCETON MEN
Ian Hamilton – Lecturer in Church History at Edinburgh Theological Seminary

In recent years theologians from across a broad spectrum have engaged afresh with the doctrine of God’s impassibility, especially on the issue of divine feeling and suffering. As some seek to cast fresh light on aspects of the divine nature, concerns about theological novelty have also arisen. In this address, Ian Hamilton will guide us through this issue, looking with us through the eyes of the Princeton theologians, in an attempt to provide some scriptural anchor points.

EVANGELICALISM IN ENGLAND AND WALES SINCE 1945
Geoff Thomas – Retired Pastor of Alfred Place Baptist Church, Aberystwyth

Geoff Thomas is well-placed to provide a survey of evangelical life in England and Wales since 1945, having lived and moved through it as observer and participant. His overview will provide insights into men, moments and movements that have had an abiding influence on evangelicalism today, helping both older and younger evangelicals to understand their times and to situate themselves in relation to the kingdom of God in this part of the world.

J. C. RYLE’S ABIDING RELEVANCE
Iain H. Murray – Presbyterian Minister

There can be few men who command more comprehensive esteem than J. C. Ryle, a man committed to the Church of England and a bold evangelical. A gracious figure marked by conviction, courage and clarity, he was a force to be reckoned with. Those same qualities have left him an enduring legacy among evangelicals of all stripes. Iain Murray will help us to recognise the value of knowing, understanding and learning from Bishop Ryle.

2015 – The Power of God for Salvation

Tuesday 8th – Wednesday 9th December 2015
SIN AND SANCTIFICATION IN JOHN OWEN
Sinclair Ferguson – Elder at St. Peter’s Free Church, Dundee

John Owen is one of the monumental figures of the seventeenth century. His profound scriptural sensitivity to sin and understanding of sanctification form some of the deepest currents of his work both as a theologian and as a pastor. This paper will explore these complementary and contradictory elements of Christian experience through the lens of Owen’s wrestling with the issues.

“ON THE SIDE OF GOD”: ANDREW FULLER’S PASTORAL THEOLOGY
Jeremy Walker – Pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, Crawley

Andrew Fuller is recognised as a theologian and for his friendship with and support of William Carey. However, these labours cannot be divorced from his principles and practices as a pastor and preacher. This was his primary calling. It informed and was expressed in everything else in which he was involved. This paper will draw together some of the convictions recorded, conclusions reached and counsels expressed by Andrew Fuller in the realm of pastoral theology.

THE ATONEMENT AND EVANGELISTIC PREACHING IN JOHN OWEN
David Pfeiffer – Minister of Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church

Apparent tensions between convictions about the definite extent of the atonement joined with commitments to the freeness of the gospel offer are perennial issues in Christ’s church. Few men have contended for the former more effectively than John Owen and his works breathe a lively and transparent concern that lost men should trust in the only Saviour of sinners. David Pfeiffer will help us to see these elements of Owen’s labour in healthy parallel.

ERASMUS AND THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT
Peter Hallihan – Retired from Pastoral Ministry; Editorial Consultant for TBS

Erasmus of Rotterdam (1469-1536) was the genius sometimes described as the prince of the humanists. Perhaps his most enduring contribution to learning and religion was his edition of the Greek New Testament of 1516, which became the basis of most vernacular translations of the Scriptures for the next three centuries. Peter Hallihan will give us insights into the man and his work, tracing some of his influences and influence.

JONATHAN EDWARDS AND THE RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS
Paul Helm – Formerly Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion, King’s College, London

The name of Jonathan Edwards, together with select elements of his theology, have become more prominent in the thinking and practice of Reformed evangelicals in recent years. Ready reference is made to well-known but not always well-understood works such as Edwards’ study of the religious affections. Paul Helm will take a fresh look at this book, emphasising its setting and its sources, helping us grasp the substance and application of Edwards’ work.

ISAAC WATTS AND THE GIFT OF PRAYER
Benedict Bird – ThM Student and Greek Teacher at London Theological Seminary

Best known for his hymnody, Isaac Watts was also an influential theologian. He considered prayer to be not only a duty but a precious privilege, and he wrote to assist the saints in learning to pray. He showed that prayer is a gift, but one that can be developed. Prayer is not always high on the agenda in the church of Christ, and not often developed to a high degree when it is. In his Guide to Prayer, Watts directs us still to cultivate “this holy skill of conversation with God.”

2014 – Authentic Calvinism?

Tuesday 2nd – Wednesday 3rd December 2014
HOLY WORLDLINESS?
Stephen Clark – Pastor of Freeschool Court Evangelical Church, Bridgend

The emphases of some believers have sometimes blinded them to the fact that the God of salvation is also the God of creation and the God of providence; others possess a more holistic appreciation of life as God’s children in God’s world. Stephen Clark will illustrate the problem of this dualism, and its remedies, by considering the lives, friendships and marriages of certain Christians, in which such tensions and reconciliations are often clearly revealed.

THOMAS CHARLES OF BALA
Adrian Brake – Pastor of Bryngolwg Free Mission

Converted as a young man under the preaching of Daniel Rowland, Thomas Charles faced stiff opposition because of his heritage in and commitment to evangelical truth. Renowned as a preacher and as a promoter of the Bible in Welsh, he became one of the architects of Calvinistic Methodism as it broke away from the Anglican church. In his day the rushing stream of experiential Calvinism was slowing and deepening, and Adrian Brake will trace its course.

THE INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON OF CALVINISTIC METHODISM
Andrew Davies – Preacher & Retired Pastor

That expression of experiential religion sometimes called Calvinistic Methodism was not restricted to one part of the United Kingdom or to the United Kingdom alone. Whether we consider the various parts of the UK, what were then the American colonies, or even further afield, we find a variety of individuals in a variety of places, all preaching the same gospel and cultivating the same earnest and devotional spirituality. This paper will survey that movement.

LAW AND GRACE
Mark Jones – Pastor of Faith Vancouver (PCA)

A storm of theological conviction, personal experience and social unrest swept over the seventeenth century and created a battlefield on which men wrestled with profoundly different perspectives on grace and its relationship to law. Some more radical and other more nuanced approaches were the topic of seemingly-endless and often-fiery contention. Mark Jones will survey the scene and offer some insights into the antinomian disputes of the time.

RICHARD BAXTER AND HIS LEGACY
Robert Strivens – Principal of London Theological Seminary

Few stand as prominently among the Puritans as Richard Baxter, yet few so embody the tensions of the seventeenth century. As a pastor and evangelist, he is lauded; as an author, he is voluminous, profitable, and provocative; ecclesiastically, he stands apart from many of his contemporaries; soteriologically, his neonomianism – informed by his civil war experiences – breeds a warranted suspicion. Robert Strivens will help us assess the man and his ministry.

JOHN KNOX: AN INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN
Andrew Young – Minister of Naunton Lane Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Cheltenham

Scotland, France, England, Switzerland, Germany, and eventually Scotland again: John Knox’s Christian pilgrimage was as much physical as spiritual. Andrew Young will trace the spirit and the travels of a man often known more by distant reputation than by intimate acquaintance – a preacher whose fear of the Lord robbed him of the fear of man, and whose Christian character, convictions and commitments still offer encouragements and challenges to modern believers.