School in theology — and cake
The 60th Free Church School in Theology met from 3-6 September at Carronvale House in Larbert, bringing together ministers, divinity students and laymen from churches throughout the UK for discussion and fellowship.
The conference was opened by John J. Murray, who spoke on the Monday evening on ‘The Great Ejection of 1662’, commemorating the 350th anniversary of the ejection of the Covenanters from the Church of Scotland.
Mr Murray set the Ejection in its historical context as part of the campaign by Stuart kings to roll back the achievements of the Reformation in the Churches of England and Scotland, achievements that would largely be secured in the Revolution Settlement of 1690.
However, he did not neglect the human story of the Ejection: the courage required by the ministers to stand firmly behind their biblical principles and the suffering experienced in being turned out of their homes and livelihoods in the middle of winter.
Another highlight came the following morning from experienced missionary Tony Lambert of OMF, who spoke encouragingly of the wonderful advance of the gospel in China since 1980.
Dr Lambert stressed that there is no need to exaggerate the work of God in China, as the real story is marvellous enough without reliance on wild statistics. He spoke from extensive personal experience of the general orthodoxy and solidity of the Chinese church.
The other addresses included a fine paper on justification by Derek Petrie (RPC, Larne), focusing on its significance. David Silversides (RPC, Loughbrickland) had a sadder subject in challenging the ‘Contemporary wresting of Scripture’, especially the attempts by modern exegetes to undermine the Bible’s condemnation of sexual deviancy, and the use in modern translations of gender neutrality, sometimes with serious sacrifices of clarity in Bible translation.
Many agreed the highlight of the School was a striking paper by Malcolm Watts (Emmanuel, Salisbury) on ‘The destiny of creation’, an exposition of Romans 8:18-23. In this, Mr Watts built a robust case for considering the new earth anticipated in Scripture to be a renovation of the present world, on the basis of Christ’s finished work. The warm and encouraging application of this theme was stimulating and helpful for all.
Further papers were given by Allan Murray (FCC, Brora) and James Gracie (FCC, Edinburgh), with the conclusion of the conference being a warm and practical address on ‘Fighting the good fight’ by Maurice Roberts.
This conference celebrated the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the annual School in Theology in 1952, and the occasion was marked by the presentation of a ‘birthday cake’ from the staff at Carronvale House.
The 2013 School will be held from 2-5 September. Audio recordings are available from [email protected]