Monday and Tuesday of this week saw about 60 men and one lady meet at Kensit Evangelical Church for the annual John Owen Centre Conference. This was the third in a series on biblical characters - Adam, Noah and now Abraham.
First off was Philip Eveson with a wide-ranging overview of Abraham in Genesis which helpfully set out the ground to be covered.
David Green then focused closely on the theme of 'seeing' in Abraham's story, suggesting that God's self-revelation rather than (or at least prior too) faith was the real theme in Abraham.
James Mulroney gave a rather technical paper on typology (Christological, tropological and homological) drawing on the Isaac narrative in Genesis 22.
Peter Law gave a helpful 'Martyn Lloyd-Jones' lecture in the evening on the 'Three Abrahamic Faiths' but it was rather narrowed down to two as he rather skated, as he admitted, over Judaism. Much of it was a useful summary of Dan Strange's new book on the theology of religions, 'For Their Rock is not as our Rock'.
On Tuesday, David Shaw gave an excellent paper on 'The Justified Abraham', focusing on N.T. Wright's interpretation of Romans 4, and giving us a helpful survey of Wright's current thinking.
Martin Salter for credobaptists and David Gibson for paedobaptists gave their respective takes on how their traditions see Abraham and come to divergent conclusions. This was interesting and well done - it is not an easy thing to debate like this. My conclusion was that though Gibson probably spoke better (and for twice as long as Salter - which says something in itself) a few well chosen questions began to chip away at the credibility of the paedobaptist superstructure.
Finally Robert Strivens mercifully gave us a straightforward biblical exposition of NT texts showing how Paul's missionary vision was informed by the Abrahamic covenant. Good stuff to go home on.
Next year's conference is on 'How pragmatism is ruining the church'(or similar). We return to Big Names with Melchizedek (probably) in 2016.