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Conference – Jonathan Edwards Conference

August 2016 | by Roger Fay

On 9-10 June, in the comfortable surroundings of Radisson Blu hotel, Durham, 60 attendees were treated to a theological feast, focused on the New England theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), whose seminal ministry has helped mould Reformed evangelicalism for three centuries.

This conference followed an inaugural one held in Durham in 2014. The theme this time was ‘Jonathan Edwards for the church: the glory of God’. Attendees came from a variety of evangelical churches, especially Presbyterian. We are especially grateful to Gateshead Presbyterian Church and Rev. Dr William Schweitzer for their helpful input.

Rev. Dr Kevin Bidwell led morning devotions on both days and Rev. Andrew Kerr the evening worship. All the main speakers, several from the USA, were well qualified to speak to their subject. The talks were carefully researched and pastorally applied.

On Thursday, Rev. Iain H. Murray spoke on ‘Jonathan Edwards and preparation for revival’, highlighting Edwards’ call to repentance. Rev. Dr Gerald McDermott spoke on ‘Can reason tell us anything about God? Edwards against modern Protestant theology’. Dr Schweitzer’s subject was ‘A true sense of the glory of God: Jonathan Edwards and the beatific vision’; and Rev. Roy Mellor’s ‘The glory of God in the transformation of sinners’.

On Friday, Rev. Iain D. Campbell electrified us with a powerful and masterly analysis of Edwards’ Religious affections. His talk demonstrated clearly that, by ‘religious affections’, Edwards meant not mere emotionalism, but the deep spiritual motivations and appetites of the soul.

Dr Douglas Sweeney surveyed Edwards’ History of redemption. Dr Guy Waters took us to ‘Jonathan Edwards: the Gospel of John and the glory of God’, and Rev. Dr Michael Bräutigam to ‘Jonathan Edwards on the beauty of God’. This last address was an uplifting end to the conference. It left me longing to know more of Edwards’ vision of the glory of God in Christ.

We earnestly look forward to the next such conference, as and when the organisers are able to arrange it. (All talks downloadable from http://www.edwardsconference.org/media/2016-talks-sermons).

Roger Fay