Last week I went to the Banner of Truth conference in Leicester. I was glad to meet up with old friends, including some Free Church ministers, and meet several new ones. The lectures were interesting and helpful (one motivation for going was the quality of the speakers -- Lindsay Brown, Sinclair Ferguson, Mark Johnston, Derek Thomas, Garry Williams). It was also an opportunity to purchase some books. Further it was good to sit and talk and learn from one another.
As with many conferences this year the main focus was on the life and ministry of John Calvin. I think all the delegates knew he was a great man of God, and no doubt he has contributed to their Christian understanding through his varied writings.
Most people who read theological literature will know about Calvin’s emphasis on the majesty of the sovereign God. Five other details from Calvin’s ministry challenged me as I listened to the various lectures.
First, there was his commitment to preaching the word of God in a regular, consecutive, expository way. Second, there was his determination to help the church of Christ throughout Europe and elsewhere (I found the lecture on his interest in mission fascinating). Third, there was his awareness to defend the truth of the gospel by courageous involvement in disputes and by careful analysis of the writings of his opponents (I found this lecture very moving). Fourth, there was his conviction that theology had to be accompanied by piety. Fifth, there was his pastoral heart, concerned for the spiritual state of his listeners/readers.
If all I remember eventually from the conference is these five details, I will be satisfied. But in the unlikely event of any of the speakers reading this blog, please be assured that at present I can recall a lot more of what was said.
Of course, attending a conference has its obligatory good intentions. Mine at the moment is to try and read Calvin’s commentaries over the next few months (I have consulted some of them already when preaching through Bible books). They have been looking down at me from my bookshelves for several years now. They are also on my computers. I have a plan on how to proceed (twenty or so pages a day), but as usual time will tell.