‘Old paths, new shoes’ was the title to this December’s Westminster conference. It was gratifying to see up to 300 people gather at the new venue of Whitefield Memorial Church (the American Church in London) in Tottenham Court Road. Interestingly, it was here that Augustus Toplady was buried and Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was ordained for the Christian ministry.
The conference was established in the 1950s for ‘theological and historical study, with special reference to the Puritans’. Since that inauguration, the conference aim has been faithfully discharged, and an imaginatively wide range of topics covered.
The 2008 papers were: ‘What can we learn from the Puritans?’ by Iain Murray; ‘The recovery of the Reformed vision’ by John J. Murray; ‘The life and legacy of E. F. Kevan’ by Paul Brown; ‘Tradition – the puritan and reformed perspective’ by Robert Godfrey; ‘Spiritual conflict’ by Jonathan Watson (with special reference to Thomas Brooks’ Puritan book Precious remedies against Satan’s devices); and ‘William Grimshaw’ by Faith Cook. Each 55 minute paper was followed by 45 minutes of discussion.
There was an excellence about each of the six studies, both in material researched and in presentation. Perhaps unusually, three, that is half, of the topics covered enormous sweeps of history. Slightly less generality in future might help make discussions easier to tie down and also to apply to the contemporary situation.
The discussions were well chaired nonetheless; and if only we were a better read and more theologically astute bunch of attendees, they would be even more useful! That said, the whole occasion is of enormous value and should be in the diary of every theological student and pastor (past conference papers: www.westminsterconference.org.uk).