A conference called – ‘A defence of Calvinism’
‘Helpful, challenging and God-glorifying’ was how Andrew Graham, a pastor from Wrexham, described this conference.
The initiative came from a man in his mid-twenties, training to work as a pastor in black townships in South Africa. Sandi Sonteya urged me until I decided to ‘test the water’ by e-mailing a number of young men who have embraced the five points of Calvinism and still have unanswered theological questions. The responses were immediate and positive.
From 5-7 December, fifteen men met at Bawtry Hall near Doncaster. They came from England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. Different men presented different topics; and each was followed by open and lively discussion.
Sergiy Kutovyy, who is training at WEST, addressed ‘the doctrines of grace’ using the famous TULIP acronym. This set the tone for many ensuing conversations. Other topics covered were: ‘A reformed understanding of the office of pastor’ by Ed Collier of Sheffield; ‘A reformed understanding of justification’ by Marius Wahrlich of Berlin; and ‘A reformed understanding of the family’ by Andrew Graham. Many of the delegates are still single and this last topic was heard with much interest.
Hendrik of Germany explained that ‘the conference was very helpful in gaining a deeper view of the doctrines of grace and their everyday practical meaning. Eye opening was the session on family, where personal aspects were considered’.
I led sessions on such topics as ‘What is Calvinism?’, ‘Calvinism and preaching’, ‘Calvinism and the church’, and ‘Lessons from Calvin and Spurgeon’.
Together we experienced a fresh cementing of ideas and renewed commitment to reformed and confessional church practice. This practice espouses the primacy of preaching, with an emphasis on justification by grace through faith, and unashamed belief in the five points of Calvinism.
Let us pray that these ‘mustard seeds’ would spring up and help produce a fresh reformation in Western Europe. Let us all renew our faith and hope in the living God.