Affinity – a network of conservative evangelical churches – held its biannual conference in March on the theme ‘The Undiscovered Country – aspects of biblical eschatology’.
Paper 1 was by Rupert Bentley-Taylor, who surveyed New Testament teaching on our ‘hope’. His talk was a warm-hearted appeal and rooted in biblical exposition. He stressed that we are to be ‘alive to the last days’.
Paper 2 was by Paul Yeulett. He addressed what happens when we die and whether we should call this the ‘intermediate state’. He introduced Calvin’s first book, Psychopannychia, in which the Reformer disputed the ideas of soul sleep and soul death. Yeulett also compared the views of Herman Bavinck and Louis Berkoff, and considered the Hebrew word sheol.
Paper 3 was by Michael Horton. He contrasted Origen’s teaching with Irenaeus and spoke of Christ’s ascension: ‘The ascension highlights the paradox of our Lord’s real absence in the flesh and his real presence in saving action in the power of the Spirit.’
Paper 4 was by Gareth Burke and addressed the challenging words of Romans 11:26, ‘All Israel will be saved.’ Gareth contended that ‘Israel’ here refers to ‘a significant, notable, and definite turning among the Jews to the Lord for salvation’ which will take place just prior to the return of Christ.
Paper 5 was by Paul Mallard and entitled ‘The business of Heaven’. With special reference to pastoral application, Paul referred to Richard Baxter’s The Saints’ Everlasting Rest. Pastors were recommended to spend thirty minutes a day in contemplation of heaven in order to season their ministry with an eternal perspective.