Eighty of us met from 30 January to 1 February at High Leigh conference centre, to study six papers on ‘The forgotten Christ’. This theme reflected neglected truths concerning the person and work of our Lord.
The papers had been sent out for study in advance of the conference. Each was introduced by its author; then we separated into groups of ten to answer set questions. After thirty minutes we returned to share findings and engage the author in further discussion.
The papers were on – affirming Chalcedon; the inner or psychological life of Christ; his cry of dereliction; his ascension and heavenly ministry; the last Adam and life-giving Spirit; and, worthy is the Lamb. We came away from each session with a sense of awe and longing to know Christ better.
Andrew McGowan, principal of Highland Theological College, brought a historical paper on the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451). This formulated the relationship between the divine and human natures of Christ in response to heretical teachings.
Philip Eveson, principal of London Theological Seminary, delved into the wonder of the Son of God being like us in his development as a man. ‘Within the Godhead there is real humanity – with body, parts and passions’.
Paul Wells, principal of systematic theology at Faculte Libre de Theologie Reformee, France, studied Christ’s cry from the cross: ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ The inescapable reality behind this cry was the propitiatory work of the Saviour. How vast the comfort to think that the Son of God was abandoned by the Father, so that believers on Christ might never be!
Matthew Sleeman, lecturer in NT studies and NT Greek at Oak Hill College, lifted our eyes to Jesus Christ in heaven. Dick Gaffin, professor of biblical and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania, explained that by his resurrection Jesus Christ has become ‘a life-giving Spirit’ (1Corinthians 15:45), and so pours out the Holy Spirit upon his church, giving foretaste of blessings yet to come.
The final session was for many, I think, the cherry on the cake. Greg Beale, professor of biblical studies at Wheaton College, Illinois, focused on the glorified Christ’s words to the church at Laodicea as being ‘the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of our God’ (Revelation 3:14). By comparing Revelation 3:14 with Isaiah 65:16-17, we saw afresh Christ’s divinity.
In the time that remained conference speakers submitted themselves to further questions from the floor. This was no conference for ‘couch potatoes’! We were not spoon fed theology, but had to exercise our ‘little grey cells’ on an hourly basis! Make sure you get your hands on these studies when they are published