One of the main ways in which the Lord has been pleased to promote interest in the Reformed faith is through Ministerial Conferences. There have been a number of these held in recent weeks, and others, both large and small, are, D.V., being held in the future.
The most famous conference is arranged every year at College Hall, University of Leicester, by the Banner of Truth Trust. This year’s conference had a good American flavor, with a touch of Scot added to it. Our main speakers were the Rev. Albert Martin, of New Jersey, a Reformed Baptist; Rev. Dr. J.R. de Witt, of South Carolina, a Southern Presbyterian; and Rev. Donald MacLeod, M.A., of the Free Church of Scotland. The Rev. W.J. Grier, of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland was the Chairman for most sessions. Prof. John Murray was unable to be present at the conference and was greatly missed. The subjects covered were as follows:
“Preaching the Reformed Faith,” by Dr. de Witt;
“The Minister as Father and Husband,” by Rev. A. Martin;
“Sanctification,” by Rev. Donald MacLeod.
For good measure, the Rev. Iain Murray, B.A., read a paper on “Robert L. Dabney.” There were stimulating, times of discussion held, and rich fellowship in the, Gospel. There were over 160 ministers, missionaries, and students in residence, as well as a number of day visitors. Do continue to pray for the work of the Banner of Truth Trust, as it will be moving its main base from London to Scotland. Although, of course the Trust have very good reasons for their move, it will be a great loss to the Reformed cause in England, where the Trust has provided a center of interest for the Reformed Faith. The Trust is also purchasing the assets and taking direct oversight of the Carlisle, Pennsylvania office of Puritan Publications, thus extending its international work.
In addition to the main conference at Leicester, the English Reformed Fellowship has held a number of evening meetings; the latest one was held in April, and the subject was a discussion on “Church Membership and Baptism,” led by the Chairman (Rev. Murdo MacLeod, M.A.) and the secretary (Rev. Stanley R. Baxter) of the Fellowship. The next evening meeting will be held in June, and the Rev. Donald MacLeod of the Free Church of Scotland will speak on “The Doctrine of the Church.” At the Annual Conference, to be held at the Welsh Church, Chiltern Street, London on the 7th of October this year, the subject will be on “Mission” and two papers will be read by Rev. Paul D.L. Avis, “The Reformers and Mission” and the Rev. Stanley R. Baxter, “The Reformed Faith and Mission.”
In January of next year the Carey Conference will be held. This is a conference of Reformed Baptists in England; and they will, D.V., be meeting in Liverpool. Among other things they will be discussing the relationship of the Westminster Confession to the Baptist Confession of 1689. These Baptist brethren hold to a very strong Confessional position. Full details of this conference and the work of Reformed Baptists can be obtained from Pastor Errol Hulse.
There has been much heart searching among Evangelical brethren in membership of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland over the heretical views of one of their College Principals, the Rev. Michael Taylor. Dr. Taylor denied the essential Deity of our Lord at last year’s Union Assembly. One of the results of this has been that at a meeting held in the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle over 100 delegates gathered together to plan the formation of an Association of Evangelical Churches. This meeting decided upon a doctrinal basis, and passed a resolution convening a special assembly at which the new Association would be formed. Another resolution declaring the following aims was passed:
1) That the formation of this Association be for the purpose of affording its members one means of becoming better acquainted with each other so as to encourage one another in the faith and to stimulate brotherly love, practical aid, and zealous cooperation in the cause of Christ both in Britain and overseas;
2) That this Society disclaims all manner of superiority and superintendence over the Churches; or any authority of power, to impose anything upon their faith and practice; their sole intention is to be helpers together one of another in promoting the common cause of Evangelical Christianity and the interests of the member churches; and that in the light of this we agree that the “organization” of this Association be as loose and simple as possible. We further recognize that, whatever its formal constitution may be, only the continuing work of the Holy Spirit can enable it to remain faithful in practice to the doctrines and principles.
While many will be praying for these brethren, it is to be regretted that they do not seem willing to have adopted a Confessional basis, and that in practice this will be a mixture of Calvinistic and Arminian Evangelical Baptists. This being so, there would appear to be already present the germ that can in the future bring about the same position as is at present within the Baptist Union.
We value the prayers of all our friends as we continue to seek to commend the Reformed Faith to others.