Around 100 people from various churches and backgrounds attended the Westminster Conference in 2017. The theme was ‘God with us and for us’, and we were treated to six excellent papers, with historical richness and theological depth.
The first paper of the two-day conference (5-6 December) began with Stephen Clark speaking on ‘The Holy Spirit and the human heart’. He stressed that we should not separate the Holy Spirit from the Word of God; the Spirit works with the Word. These themes were considered for the regeneration of the sinner, sanctification of the saint, assurance and praise, prayer and guidance.
The session on ‘The felt presence of God’ by Guy Davies focused on two great Puritan theologians, Thomas Goodwin and John Owen, and how they viewed this sense being lost or recovered. Particular reference was made to Owen’s exposition of Psalm 130 and Goodwin’s A child of light walking in darkness, based on Isaiah 50:10.
The last paper of the first day, from Andy Young, was on ‘Calvin: worship and preaching’. Four matters concerning worship were highlighted: its importance, definition, order and theology. The reformation of worship from papal corruption was a key priority for Calvin.
Phil Arthur began the conference’s second day with a paper about Jacob Arminius: his life, context, and ministry, with its ensuing controversy over the doctrine of election. This informative paper gave much insight into Arminius’ life and thought.
2018 marks the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort, so a paper was delivered on this historic event by Benedict Bird. He described the events that led up to it, what happened at it, its decisions and sequel. He concluded with lessons we can learn, one being to be on the alert against error.
The final paper was given by Mark Thomas, on William Williams, Pantycelyn. Williams’ life, gifts and works were presented in a warm and engaging way. This man of God should not just be remembered for his hymns, but also for his preaching and writing ministry. It was a fitting end to a spiritually uplifting conference. 2018’s conference is set for 4-5 December.