Saturday, September 9, 2006

Upcoming conference: Christianity & History Forum for Scotland

There will be a meeting of the Christianity and History Forum for Scotland at Rutherford House, 17 Claremont Park, Edinburgh, on Saturday 14 October 2006. The programme will be as follows:

10.00 Arrival and Coffee
10.30 Dr Mark Elliott (St Mary’s College, St Andrews): ‘Church History as the History of the Interpretation of the Bible
Chris Ross (New College, Edinburgh): ‘Catholic Contemplation through a Puritan Grid
Tea and biscuits
Professor David Bebbington (Stirling): ‘Revivals: A Historical Overview

Each paper will be followed by discussion. Please bring your own lunch. There will be a conference fee of £3 (which will include coffee and tea), preferably payable in advance. Booking forms and conference fees should be sent to Dr E.V. Macleod, Department of History, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, if possible by Wednesday 11 October.

Please make the meeting known to others who might be interested in attending; extra booking forms can be found here (a GIF to print out).

Friday, September 8, 2006

Dr Alan Spence on John Owen

Alan Spence, whom I got to know at King’s College London, is a minister based at Ealing, London. In my early days of planning for a PhD proposal, one dissertation which helped steer me in the direction I’m now heading, and which I felt needed to be published and brought to public awareness is his 1989 dissertation, “Incarnation and Inspiration: John Owen and the Coherence of Christology”. It was pursued under the supervision of the late Prof. of Christian doctrine at Kings College London, Colin E. Gunton.

I’ve just received news from Alan that T&T Clark / Continuum will be publishing his dissertation, hopefully somewhere in the first quarter of 2007. This is marvelous news! It certainly is a great service to the public and especially to those who are fascinated by Owen’s theology. If, like me, you have a hunch that Owen makes significant contributions to the history of doctrine but isn’t quite sure what those contributions are, “Incarnation and Inspiration” is one work that clarifies much of these hunches in the area of Christology. Here’s the abstract:
Incarnation and Inspiration are concepts which can be used to characterise two quite different ways of thinking about Christ. Although the history of doctrine suggests that these are mutually exclusive it is argued here that John Owen successfully integrated them into one coherent christology. The underlying structure of his exposition was that of the incarnation understood as the Son's act of humility whereby he willingly assumed humanity into personal union with himself. But Owen argued that this humanity of Christ maintained its integrity in all its actions experiencing God always as man totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. By his doctrine of the Holy Spirit he found a way of holding together the two essential christological types outlined at Chalcedon but not successfully embraced in a coherent theological system.
You can browse through the entire dissertation at Alan’s personal blog. While you're there, do not miss his articles, "A unified theory of the atonement" and "John Owen and Trinitarian agency".

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Wanted: Moderate Ministers

My good friend Colin Adams (above left, the one with hair) and I are continuing our study of Richard Sibbes' The Bruised Reed, and enjoying it greatly. Chapter 5 is entitled "The Spirit of Mercy Should Move Us". In it Reverend Sibbes urges ministers to show the same patience and kindness toward the 'less-mature' that our Savior did. I'll let the Puritan speak for himself:
Where most holiness is, there is most moderation ... We see in Christ a marvellous temper of absolute holiness, with great moderation. What would have become of our salvation, if he had stood upon terms, and not stooped thus low unto us? We need not affect to be more holy than Christ. It is no flattery to do as he does, so long as it is to edification.
The Holy Spirit is content to dwell in smoky, offensive souls. Oh, that that Spirit would breathe into our spirits the same merciful disposition!
Not many heroes of the faith are known for their great moderation, but this indispensable quality is a hallmark of more mature servants of the church. May it be found in us!

NB - Colin would never toot his own horn, but that surely doesn't mean I can't boast on his behalf. He's a faithful, powerful, expository preacher of the Word! Hear for yourself (his latest sermon, on the respective prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Jesus' parable, Luke 18). To hear others go here and enter your preferred critera. Colin is the Assistant Pastor/Pastor of Student and Youth at Charlotte Baptist Church here in Edinburgh, Scotland. And in case you were wondering, he is quite moderate.

Monday, September 4, 2006

'They Know Puritans', Post 1: Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe

Dr. Hambrick-Stowe currently serves as Vice President of Academic Affairs, Professor of Christian History and Dean of Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. He is married to Elizabeth and has two grown children. After seminary (M.A., Graduate Theological Union), he and Elizabeth spent two years in Japan doing missionary work. Dr. Hambrick-Stowe received an M.Div. from the Pacific School of Religion and a Ph.D. from Boston University in American Studies. He has written seven books and numerous articles on church history, Christian faith, and the American religious experience.

Of interest to Puritanophiles will be his 1986 work, The Practice of Piety: Puritan Devotional Disciplines in Seventeenth Century New England, and for those with more literary interests, Early New England Meditative Poetry: Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor (1989). Recently he contributed a chapter to Kapic and Gleason's outstanding collection, The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, on John Cotton's Christ the Fountaine of Life (1651).

The Practice of Piety, named after the devotional classic by Puritan Lewis Bayly, is the pre-eminent introduction to New English Puritan spirituality, which of course means readers will learn a lot about English Puritans as well. Hambrick-Stowe's sympathetic treatment of early American piety includes some great illustrations and emblems (I've already posted one of these), and its especially moving final chapter describes the rapturous, semi-mystical encounters with the Almighty some New England Puritans experienced in the latter years of their earthly pilgrimage. I highly recommend The Practice of Piety to anyone seeking a more positive portrayal the oft-maligned New England Puritans. Thank you, Dr. Hambrick-Stowe.


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