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Where Reason Fails (2006 Westminster Conference papers)

By Stanley Jebb
February 2008 | Review by Dennis Hill
  • Publisher: The Westminster Conference
  • Pages: 136
  • Price: £5.00
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Book Review

This annual conference in London, dating back to the early 50s, originally under the leadership of Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer, focuses on theology and history with special reference to the Puritans.

Robert Letham dealt with ‘John Owen’s doctrine of the Trinity and its significance for today’, making two main points – firstly, Owen focused on the three persons, something missing in much of western theology and, secondly, that the doctrine of the Trinity has great importance in our interaction with Islam.

Gordon Murray’s paper, ‘Thomas Cranmer and the Anglican enigma’, is a fair and balanced account of a good man who failed at a critical moment but who then confounded his enemies and honoured his Saviour as few ever have.

Stanley Jebb’s historical analysis of ‘The Azusa Street phenomenon’ is also even-handed, with a helpful and mostly negative assessment at the end that contains lessons for today.

Garry Williams’ paper, ‘The Puritan doctrine of the atonement’, takes the theology of John Owen as more or less representative of Puritan thought – though he says there was no single uniform Puritan doctrine of the atonement. Williams sets out seven features that he sees as important aspects of that doctrine at its best.

Kenneth Brownell’s ‘When is a war a just war?’ is a timely historical and theological analysis of this controversial issue. The paper is a call to serious thinking on this issue in our day of Islamic Jihad, Iraq, etc.

Phil Arthur’s ‘William Tyndale – the man who gave England her Bible’ is a brief survey of this moving and inspirational story. Tyndale endured great loss and suffering for love of Christ and his gospel, for the word of God, and for the people of England.

A set of papers well worth reading and a conference well worth attending.

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