Showdown at the Westminster Conference Corral
I had an early morning meeting in town today and so dropped into the first session of the Westminster Conference, Lee Gatiss the new chief of the Church Society and as he made many mentions of 'a lecturer at a CAMBRIDGE College', 'tutor to 'students at CAMBRIDGE' was speaking. I like Lee, he's a real Anglican, he's spiky, good fun and enjoys the banter but my respect went through the roof for him today. The Westminster Conference is the great meeting place of self conscious dissenters but Lee came and presented an apologia for being Anglican. As he began by asking people to raise their hands (raising hands at the Westminster conference!!!) if they were Baptist, Presbyterian or Anglican I could feel myself asking 'surely he is not is he?' and he surely did, he went for it. In sporting parlance he came out swinging. For bravery it was fantastic and he came out to bat for Anglicanism. His title was 1662 so what?, he contended that the great ejection was a disaster and sinful but what wasn't the end of the story as far as Anglicanism was concerned, good people remained in it and it was not simplistic. It was a good and lively paper with lots to chew on. I didn't agree with everything but I loved that the conference invited an Anglican and he graciously stood his ground. As you can imagine in the home of Non Conformist dissenters there wasn't overwhelming appreciation. Jeremy Walker stood up and announced himself 'My name is Jeremy Walker a dissenting baptist', now I promised Robert Strivens (who is a very good man indeed, he's doing a good job at LTS and I like the fella) that I would be kind in my report of the conference but I think it is safe to say that the discussion after Lee's paper was a disaster. One loony toon after another got up to make their points. The Westminster Conference is a good thing, when it comes to historical theology it serves us well and we need to support it but the discussions need to be binned or lots of the audience be told not to speak under any circumstances. The chairman should be allowed to tell people to can it without offence being taken. Gary Brady is writing up reports here, day 2 is on tomorrow if you're around in Central London
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