2014 School In Theology Report
The annual Free Church School in Theology met in Larbert from 15 to 18 September 2014, and included a good gathering of brethren from different countries and churches. The sessions were marked by a warm and prayerful spirit, especially with the solemn prospect of the independence referendum falling on the final day of the gathering. Many prayers were offered, and, we trust, heard, that the Lord would not bring a judgment upon the nation at this time.
The school heard a number of fine papers. Retired minister and School veteran Rev John J Murray discussed the Biblical teaching on heresy in the Church, and gave some useful counsel on how this threat may be countered.
Rev Trevor Kirkland, now minister of Ballyclare & Doagh Free Church (Continuing) in Northern Ireland, gave an excellent exegetical discussion of the ‘Baptism of the Spirit’, showing how the relevant passages in Acts can be misused by interpreters of Charismatic views, who treat them as “prescriptive rather than descriptive”. He brought out with helpful clarity the function of the baptism as a shared experience of the New Testament people of God, as a mark of those regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and rejected any notion of salvation apart from the inner working of the Spirit.
Rev James Macinnes addressed the theological themes of Hebrews, while Rev David Silversides gave a robust discussion of ‘The Theology of Worship’, expounding the importance of a strict application of the Regulative Principle.
Dr Donald John Maclean of Cambridge Presbyterian Church delivered a particularly striking address comparing the ministries of Calvin and Knox, and drawing out valuable lessons for present-day Christian service. It is remarkable that both these men required external compulsion to commit themselves to Christian ministry, and that both had to go through severe and very painful trials before the Lord granted blessing on their labours.
Free Church Seminary Old Testament lecturer Rev Gavin Beers gave another very detailed and thorough paper, dealing with the ‘Christophanies in the Old Testament’. He proved that the ‘Angel of the Lord’ must always be identified with the pre-incarnate Christ, and argued that the visible revelation of God always comes through the mediation of the Son, and brought out the Gospel teaching contained in the Christophanic revelations.