I had the privilege of attending this year’s Westminster Conference at Regent’s Hall Oxford Street, London, with about 100 others. The conference title was ‘The power of God for salvation’. Six papers on various themes were delivered.
Jeremy Walker, pastor of Maidenbower Baptist Church, began with a well conveyed paper on the pastoral theology of Andrew Fuller, outlining to us both man and ministry. Mr Fuller believed the character of a minister mattered more than his gifts, and that his personal devotion to God was of first importance — a point that still needs stressing.
Because of Sinclair Ferguson’s ill health, the next paper was brought by Crawford Gribben, professor of early modern British history at Queen’s University, Belfast. He spoke on ‘John Owen and eschatology’. He had read John Owen’s works right through chronologically and was able to document the development of Owen’s thought.
David Pfeiffer, pastor of Cheltenham Evangelical Free Church, preached to us on the way John Owen squared ‘definite atonement’ with the free offer of the gospel. This was helpful in untying the difficult knots between the two emphases.
The next day saw Peter Hallihan, retired pastor and editorial consultant for TBS, speak about Erasmus, since the 500th anniversary of his edition of the Greek New Testament is in 2016. He gave us a good insight into Erasmus’ life and how he collated an accurate Greek New Testament.
Then it was the turn of Paul Helm, formerly professor of the history and philosophy of religion at Kings College London. He analysed Jonathan Edwards’ well known treatise on the religious affections. This was a philosophical paper but nonetheless stimulated good discussion.
To close the conference, Benedict Bird, ThM student and Greek teacher at London Theological Seminary, gave us a well-structured treatment of Isaac Watts’ book, The gift of prayer. O that we would apply such lessons in our private and public prayer lives!
The conference’s ministry was excellent, its discussion edifying and fellowship uplifting.