Friday, December 17, 2010

Westminster Conference Report #6

Malcolm MacLean on Andrew Bonar

This paper is available online, so I won't be providing a detailed report. But here are some notes on Bonar's preaching and prayer life that will hopefully serve as an aperitif that will whet your appetite for the main course. Go ahead, read the whole thing here. You will be humbled and challenged by Bonar's example of prayerful godliness and ministerial fruitfulness.


1. Verses not Books

Bonar was a very ordinary preacher with a peculiar preaching style. He was not an orator, but built up his churches by the preaching of the Word.

He preached from Bible verses, rather than working his way through Books of the Bible, seeking his texts from the Lord. He always preached Jesus. A sense of the presence of God accompanied his preaching.

His sermons would last 1/2 hour.

Bonar preached for conversions.

He prayed for more freedom and power in preaching.

His preaching was imaginative. His people got the point of his message, which was not soon forgotten.

2. Simplicity

Bonar used a straightforward style, preaching not to scratch heads, but pierce hearts.

3. Christian life

He emphasised holiness of life in his preaching, urging his congregation to follow biblical examples of godly living.

4. Enraptured with the Saviour

He preached Christ in every sermon.

Bonar's preaching made the Bible seem like a new book. Unseen things became real.

Prayer life

Bonar kept a diary in which he recorded his private prayers. He once spent three hours in prayer before first sermon. For him the Lord's day was a day of prayer. He regarded prayer as the Minister's chief work. In his private devotions he always read the Bible before prayer. He viewed prayer as a letter to Jesus.

Concluding thoughts on Westminster 2010

Having to give an address made attending the conference a little scary, but I enjoyed hearing the other papers, which were helpful and stimulating. Each paper (apart from the one on Bonar) was followed by a period of discussion. It was good to renew fellowship with old friends and also to speak with some people for the first time. I was encouraged to hear from a LTS student that one of the reasons he chose to study at the Seminary was reading my blog interview with the current Principal, Robert Strivens.

When attending conferences It has been my habit to make notes with pen and paper. A bit retro, I know. An old fashioned hack amongst the geeky laptop set. The trouble with that method is that even at the best of times, my handwriting is virtually illegible. Speed-writing to make fullish notes meant that I couldn't always make out what I had written, which rather defeated the object. But for Westminster I made notes on my X10 Mini-Pro mobile phone, which has a nifty slide-out QWERTY keyboard. I downloaded a 'Documents to Go' app, which enables me to create and edit Word documents. Now I can acutally make some sense of my notes. Cool, eh?  

Next year's Westminster Conference will be held on 6-7 December at Regent Hall, Oxford Street. The change of venue will be good as the PA and acoustics at the Whitefield Memorial Church were pretty poor, especially on the first day.  

2011 Papers:

1. Christian Liberty and the Westminster Assembly
2. The covenanting experience
3. Obadiah Holmes
4. Socinianism then and now
5. Puritanism - where did it all go wrong?
6. John Eliot

The 2010 papers will be published in the Spring. Audio recordings are available now. Order via the Westminster Conference website.


Ben said...

Thank you very much for providing these reports (though they've made me wish I'd been able to attend: maybe another year).

It's hors d'Ĺ“uvre, by the way.

Ben said...

... though research has shown (Google) that there are some people who spell it orderve. A bit too orthographically postmodern for me.

Exiled Preacher said...

It's "main course" now anyway.