An Overview of the Church Today

     Since my conversion fifty-three years ago, the churches have witnessed worldwide ups and downs, triumphs and defeats. However, the gospel has spread territorially, church planting has increased and there are far more Christians in the world today than ever before. I now receive letters from Continents and countries where spiritual blindness prevailed half a century ago. True, these churches are handicapped by modern apostate churches, the dumbing down of doctrine, the growth of para-church movements, big business and entertainment groups masquerading as Christianity. Thankfully, these are dud squibs and self-destructive. The new generation will soon be free to use the whole world as a basis for strenuous ploughing, sowing and… Full Article

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John Albert Bengel (1687-1752): The Father of Modern Biblical Scholarship

Bengel’s Life Bengel’s birth and upbringing      John Albert Bengel was born in Winnenden near Stuttgart on 24 July, 1687, the son of scholar-deacon Martin Albert Bengel. John’s father began to home-school John early but died of an epidemic fever when John was six. Then Louis XIV’s troops plundered and burnt down the Bengels’ home, destroying the Bengels’ valuable library. Concerning these hard times, John testified that at his father’s death, he received a firm conviction that his Heavenly Father would be his best parent and educator. He began to pray fervently, read the Scriptures and devotional books and sought to walk worthy of God so that he could later say, “My youth was a sea of mercies.” Happily, a friend of… Full Article

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Affirmation 2010: A Non-Starter

Sir.      Why is the EC promoting the para-church creed, Affirmation 2010, which seeks to ‘win the widest possible agreement’ in ‘various church bodies and constituencies’? This aim is doomed from the start as the twenty-four subscribers to date obviously represent different theologies and denominations and are dodging and dumbing down doctrinal issues. Their views of the Trinity, redemption, atonement, the gospel, law, justification,  sanctification and the Church alone can be ranked from sub to anti Reformed and several subscribers’ views of the Scriptures are Barthian and Liberal. They have found unity in signing the same document, but there the unity ends. Indeed, the separate publications of the subscribers show what… Full Article

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Where Olyott Got It Wrong

     Stuart Olyott caused such a stir with his slangy persiflage of Luther in his Where Luther Got It Wrong – and Why We Need to Know About It that the BOT magazine had to spend part of the following two issues striving to repair the damage. Olyott claims, without giving either source or context, that Luther’s position on the Word of God was the following:      ‘I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start… Full Article

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Where Luther Puts Olyott Right

     In the December 2009 issue of the BOT magazine, Stuart Olyott argues in his article Where Luther Got it Wrong – and Why We Need to Know About It that Luther believed in a mere ‘Word ministry’ which Olyott identifies as relying wholly on the Word of God for the conversion of sinners and neglecting other pastoral duties, in particular prayer and a trust in God’s immediate and direct action in conversion. He thus denies what he calls ‘mediate regeneration’ whereby God uses means, in this case the Scriptures, to awaken and regenerate sinners. As his title states, Olyott blames Luther for being the original force behind a Word Only ministry. Olyott gave a gabled rendering of Luther’s preaching without declaring his… Full Article

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Mottos on the Walls

     My mother Gladys Ella, née Hume, started going to Sunday and elementary school a year before the outbreak of the First World War in England. When I left home to do my apprenticeship in Sweden in the mid 1950s, Mum sent me a chain of letters, mostly from Memory Lane. Here is a letter she sent me on her earliest childhood entitled ‘Mottos on the Wall.’ Mum was brought up in a poverty-stricken home bereft of a father but could write the account given below in joyous remembrance. How different it was then to the grumpy groaning of modern society who have no Scriptural ‘Mottos on the Walls’:      How well I remember the Mottos once hanging on our bedroom walls. They were coloured and framed, depicting the seasons of the… Full Article

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Cotton Mather Vindicated: A New Look at the Salem Witch Trials

     In 1692, New England was in a tumult. Within a matter of weeks no less than 150 suspects had been charged with witchcraft and in the Massachusetts colony frightened men women and children believed that the devil was on the loose. The epicentre of this wave of evil which was to alienate children from their parents, churches from their pastors, servants from their masters and even wives from their husbands was the small community of Salem several hours ride on horseback from Boston.      Salem, though of very insignificant size, has received an over-proportioned importance in American ‘popular’ history as an example of how the Puritans strove to purge a town of its sin by burning its evil-doers. To a balanced Christian… Full Article

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William Cowper and Home-Schooling

A lone campaigner for educational reform      Public School expert Edward C. Mack said the poet William Cowper was a lone voice in campaigning for reform in eighteenth century English schools. This may surprise poetry lovers who have not yet discovered Cowper’s writings on education. Cowper’s most neglected long poem Tirocinium or a Review of Schools, for instance, deals in detail with educational reform. Parents thinking of home-schooling their children as a legal alternative might care to consult Cowper who denounced the school system of his day as barbaric and developed ideas of education most acceptable to Christian parents. First a few words about Cowper’s own education. Christian parents, the Bible and Pilgrim’s… Full Article

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The Troubles at Frankfurt

Lecture given at the Protestant Reformation Society, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, 2007 The Troubles at Frankfurt A Vindication of our Martyrs’ Legacy   The tiny enclave that rescued the Reformation in England      Readers of Asterix will be familiar with a tiny fortress, a mere dot on the map of the Roman Empire, which was to bring Rome to its knees. So much for fairy-tales. Solid fact are better than airy fiction. The real Frankfurt of 1553-59 was also a tiny bastion on the Roman Catholic map which because of its hospitality to the bulk of the Marian refugees, succeeded, by God’s grace, in providing the doctrinal and spiritual power which brought down a more dangerous Rome in Reformation England. Sadly… Full Article

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The Donatists and Their Relation to Church and State

The new search for historical roots      Nowadays, Christians are becoming increasingly interested in the history of their churches and in the search for giants of the faith in the past who might be used as models for their future. Perhaps never before has this longing to know more about the past so motivated the churches. Of course, there are great spiritual treasures to be found in church history and much to be learnt through past triumphs and failures. However, there is also a danger in this preoccupation with the past against which we must be warned. As our churches grow sadly less and less dependent on Scripture, we tend to look for historical roots for our support. So many once Bible-believing churches who scorned tradition… Full Article

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