Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Westminster Conference musings


Well, it's all over and done with now. I'll probably post some more detailed reports over the next few days, but here are a few thoughts on the conference.

It's difficult to know how my paper on Puritan Attitudes to Rome went, but the discussion that followed was quite lively and afterwards people made some encouraging comments. It was good to get it out of the way on Tuesday afternoon so I could sit back and enjoy the rest of the conference.

The theme was Standing Firm: Still Protestant?, and the need to be clear on the issues that divide Evangelicals from Rome was emphasised in a number of papers. Daniel Webber highlighted Evangelical weakness in this area at the 1910 Edinburgh Missionary Conference, where Ango-Catholics were allowed undue influence over proceedings. Garry Williams' address on revisionist readings of the Reformation also brought the controversy with Rome into the picture. Sam Waldron gave a stimulating paper on sola fide and repentance.

But it wasn't all about the Reformation vs. Rome. David Gregson gave a delightful paper on the "unlikely masterpiece" that is the 1611 English Bible. The conference was brought to a fitting conclusion with Malcolm MacClean's heartwarming talk on Andrew Bonar.

Some might wonder whether concentration on the centuries old battle with Rome is relevant to contemporary Evangelical churches. But as the controversy is about getting the gospel right, it is doctrinal indifferentism to pretend that the sole authority of Scripture and justification by faith alone are no longer worth fighting for. We can do no other.

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