When you are a kid and it's been a while since an aunty or something last saw you, they often remark, 'Look how much you've grown.' Well, at yesterday's LTS Alumni Gathering I experienced the grown-up equivalent. Only it wasn't, 'Look how much you've grown.' I haven't, at least upwards. It was, 'Didn't you used to have hair?' Thanks, mate.
I attended the London Theological Seminary
in 1988-90. Back then I was young, free and single. And I had hair. Honest. Lots of it. Blond, curly. Now I'm a balding old bloke with a wife and two teenage children, aged 16 and 18. To think that back in '88 I was one of the youngest ever students at the Seminary, at the tender age of 22.
A lot has changed at LTS since then. In my time (at least to start with) all members of the faculty were Welsh, bar a token American. They still have several Welsh lecturers and an American (different one), but for some reason quite a few Englishmen now teach at the college. Strange that, for a London-based Seminary. Political correctness gone mad, that's what it is.
Anyway, about the day. I travelled up and back by train and was able to get a bit of reading done. Recently a friend recommended Imagine Church: Releasing Whole-Life Disciples
by Neil Hudson. It's a bit lightweight really and is rather pragmatic in its approach. But the big thing about the gathered church equipping the people of God to live as the scattered church is good. I'm about 28% through the Kindle edition and will post a review when I'm done. A bit (make that a lot) more theologically satisfying was Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life
by Joel R. Beeke & Mark Jones. Again, I have the Kindle version and just as well, as the hardback is a whopping, man-bag-busting 1000 pager. Handy things, e-readers. I read the chapters on the Trinity. Beeke/Jones' treatment of John Owen's Communion with God
was especially rich and deep. Great stuff. Still, 6 chapters in and I'm only 10% through the work. William Perkins on Predestination
I arrived at the Seminary in good time for lunch and it was great to renew fellowship with old friends. I meet up with some LTS old boys at conferences and stuff, but one fellow-student from the class of 1988-90 I hadn't seen for over twenty years. It was him (you know who you are) who said the thing about my hair. And he wants me to plug his book on my blog? The cheek of it.
After lunch (a very tasty lasagne, cooked by the Seminary's very own bona fide Italian cook), there was a 'Tour of LTS', which in fact consisted of having a right to roam round the old place. A lot has been done to to upgrade premises since my day. The facilities are now very modern and high-tech. Back in 88-90, in-lecture graphics consisted of Mr. Harrison's chalk-drawn illustrations of the angelic order, and that was about it.
Then Bill James spoke on 'Pastoral issues today' or 'Ministering in a secular society' - from 1 Peter. It was a powerful, thought-provoking and challenging message, full of redemptive-historical insights and helpful application of the text to today's world. The church is a holy people, set apart from the world, but not in the same sense as OT Israel. The church is an alien people, not belonging in this world, but looking for the eternal city. The church is a scattered people, living in the world to reach the world for Christ. God's people face the pressure to compromise with the world and compartmentalise their lives. But the Bible calls for whole-life Christian living and preachers must apply the Word to every area of the believer's life, church, home, work, society etc. As the people of God do good in the world, non-believers will sit up and take notice, 1 Peter 2:11-12. I don't know if the good folks at LTS are planning to put this message on the website, but they should and if they do, I'd recommend you give it a listen.
I don't think I've mentioned this before, but the Seminary now has an online journal, Preachers and Pastors
, which is well worth a look. If you are aspiring to the preaching-pastoral ministry are are looking for training for a lifetime of service, I'd certainly advise you to check out the London Theological Seminary
I'm too mean to offer any prizes for this, but I wonder if more recent pals can pick me out in the LTS Class Photo below. Click to enlarge, if you dare.