Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.
We were quite a select group last night, as I thought we might be. I did thinking of doing a one off but I wanted to get on with Philippians so I just pressed on with the first five verses. You can never predict who will be there on any given Wednesday so it makes sense. Starting off on one of Paul's letters is always slightly difficult as he says similar things in most of them. There are lessons to learn, however. Perhaps the most obvious one was the need to see ourselves as Christ's servants - as Paul clearly did. A good prayer time followed - lots to pray about, as ever.
Numbers were rather down yesterday as it is the beginning of half term week here. We pressed on with 1 Corinthians, however, beginning on 1 Corinthians 14, which is difficult but full of good practical advice with regard to worship. In the evening, when we were down to about 15, I began a short series on the parable of the sower focusing on the seed on the path that gets eaten up by the birds.
Another Saturday, another induction. We were over at our neighbours Highgate Rd Chapel in Kentish Town this afternoon for the induction of George Platt. The induction was led by Robert Strivens and Chris Bennett preached. There was a good number there and a nice spread to follow. Tim Collier led the meeting and Andrew Hill the former pastor was among those taking part.
I decided this year to skip the delegates meeting and try some of the sessions so I started by listening to Andrzje and Monika Kampcenski talking about the work in Legionowo, Poland then Graham and Sally Jones of Kisumu, Kenya. I finished off with Maciek (see above) and Mary Stolarski giving a brief history of the literature work and introducing Kester Putman who is to carry on the work. I had to leave at that point and so missed the other sessions but it was good to hear what I did and to meet various people albeit briefly. I haven't been able to attend GBM's annual meetings for awhile so it was good to be there again.
I was very pleased to see these two new volumes on the church fathers. I read the one on Patrick first and was very impressed. He is not an obvious choice for such a series but he deserves a place and this study by Michael Haykin is brief, to the point and popular, yet scholarly too (c 300 footnotes in a hundred pages). There is scant reliable material on Patrick and this is a great contribution.
All this made me positive about reading the volume on Basil of Caesarea by Marvin Jones. The book is quite a bit longer which seemed a shame but I cracked on and for the first seventy or so pages was happy enough despite one or two quirks. As I got into the second half of the book, however, it became less and less readable and in the end a great disappointment. Let me give you some random examples of the Jones style.
Page 135 "There is no doubt that Basil was the first to speak of God in terms that clarified his existence. ... Basil died 1 January 379 and, therefore, never witnessed his contribution to the issue of the Trinity".
Page 149 "The account of humanity's creation within the cosmology, and the ultimate concept of humanity's destiny within the cosmology, is the central theme that occupies Basil's theme".
These are just examples. May be such slips can be overlooked in an undergraduate essay but I paid good money for this product and find it unacceptable. Who is responsible? Clearly Christian Focus need to employ a proof reader or a stylist or something. Michael Haykin is said to be series editor. Paige Patterson, Jason Duesing, Steven McKinnon and Mike Ovey commend the book. I suggest they read the latter chapters and think again.
As we were going to be in Edinburgh, I decided to try the first Rebus novel by Ian Rankin Knots and crosses. The Edinburgh setting is not crucial but there was some pleasure in picking up on the few geographical references. The book is deservedly considered a decent one. No doubt a knowledge of the whole series would add to the pleasure. Like most such novels it deal with some fairly sordid details. Perhaps the most interesting element is the idea that Rebus is some sort of backslidden Christian. It would be interesting to see how that plays out in other novels.
Robert Erskine Childers DSC (1870–1922), universally known as Erskine Childers, was the author of the influential novel The Riddle of the Sands a novel I have not read but am always intending to get round to. It has never gone out of print and is often cited in top novel lists. They say it was the first spy novel. An Irish nationalist he smuggled guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht Asgard. He was executed by the authorities of the nascent Irish Free State during the Irish Civil War. He was the son of British Orientalist scholar Robert Caesar Childers; the cousin of Hugh Childers and Robert Barton; and the father of the fourth President of Ireland, Erskine Hamilton Childers.
These jackets first appeared in the 1930s. Harrington is a nickname. This style of jacket earned it because it was worn by the character Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal) in the 1960s prime time soap opera Peyton Place.
We had a good turn out last night and a good time of prayer again as we covered the last section of our little series on Spiritual Growth. Our final point (via Joel Beeke and Colossians 1) was that to grow spiritually we need to be increasingly thankful. This is not an obvious point but it is true. The more thankful we are, the more we love God and serve him. We are thankful for having been delivered the way we have.
I took books to Scotland, of course, but I also brought some new ones home. We found this very quaint bookshop in Edinburgh that had a second hand section so I bought a little volume for Bible Classes on the Holy Spirit by Dr R S Candlish. The bookshop is near the Elephant Café where J K Rowling sat and worked once upon a time. I's not far from the statue of Greyfriars Bobby.
I also bought a Scots English dictionary in The Works. At Waverley Station they had free copies of a little book on Walter Scott. I bought the volume by Bonar on Milne of Perth in a Christian Bookshop in Perth itself. I remember Jonathan Watson giving a paper on the man at Banner a few years ago. I had a fruitless search for Bonar's grave while in Edinburgh.