What was the Reformation and why does it matter?

Last week, David Cook spoke at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate, on What was the Reformation and why does it matter?.

“The great pastoral effect of the Reformation is Assurance.”

Most encouraging. Watch on Vimeo.

Related: The English Reformers’ Teaching on Salvation. Talk by Donald Allister at the 1991 Church Society Conference.

Evangelical Christianity 150 Years Ago and Today

“Being an evangelical Christian in 2017 can be a fairly daunting prospect. There appear to be so many challenges in wider society and in the wider church. Surely standing up for the gospel of Jesus Christ and proclaiming it in the world is more difficult now than it was in the past!

Well, a little historical perspective can allow us re-evaluate our situation and encourage us by the inspiring examples of those who have gone before. It is for this reason I commend two recent books about nineteenth-century evangelicals.

The first little book is Allan Blanch’s A Pioneering Pastor: Thomas Sharpe of Norfolk Island and Bathurst.

Sharpe’s faithful evangelical ministry has been somewhat forgotten in our historical narrative of Christianity in colonial Australia. Sharpe was born 220 years ago in Yorkshire and was ordained in 1828 … for the specific purpose of Anglican ministry in Australia.

One of the wonderful features of Blanch’s biography is that he allows Sharpe to speak for himself through his journal. Blanch also provides important contextual background for the events — both ecclesiastical and social. This book is well-researched and easy to read.”

– At SydneyAnglicans.net, Dr. Ed Loane briefly reviews two new books – A Pioneering Pastor: Thomas Sharpe of Norfolk Island and Bathurst by ACL Emeritus Vice President Allan M. Blanch, and Bishop J.C. Ryle’s Autobiography, edited by Andrew Atherstone.

A Pioneering Pastor: Thomas Sharpe of Norfolk Island and Bathurst by Allan M. Blanch is available for $24.95 (including postage) from:

Strathalbyn Books
P.O. Box 970, Bathurst NSW 2795.

email: strathalbynbooks@gmail.com

Cheque or money order made out to Strathalbyn Books.

Click here to download an order form (PDF file).

An unexpected invitation from the German Government


“In the year of Reformation celebrations much is centred on Europe and especially Germany.

In June, our Principal was invited by the German government to join a ‘Dialogue with Germany’ in Berlin, Eisenach, Erfurt and Wittenberg on the relevance of the Reformation and how it is being celebrated in the land in which it all began. …”

– More interesting news from Moore College.

Photo: Mark Thompson outside the Wittenberg door.

Graham Cole back at Moore to celebrate the Reformation

Coming up later this month, Dr Graham Cole, former member of the Moore College faculty, will deliver a public lecture entitled: The legacy of the Reformation through the eyes of J.C. Ryle.

In the Marcus Loane Hall, Wednesday 19th July, 7:00pm – 9:00pm.

Graham studied at Moore College from 1973 to 1976 and was ordained in 1977. He served as Curate at St James Turramurra before returning to Moore to lecture in Christian thought from 1980 until 1992.

He subsequently served as Principal of Ridley College, Melbourne (1992–2001), Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago (2002–2011), Anglican Professor of Divinity and Beeson Divinity School, Alabama (2011–2015), and in 2015 he returned to Trinity to become its Dean.

– Details at the College website.

The Eternity waterfall after 40 years

Forty years ago, the Eternity plaque at the waterfall in Sydney Square was unveilled.

On Tuesday, 12th July 1977, The Sydney Morning Herald’s Column 8 wrote:

“TRUE to his words of last November, Ridley Smith, the Sydney Square architect, has immortalised the late Arthur Stace, ‘Mr Eternity’. You may recall that Column 8 campaigned unashamedly for a suitable memorial to Mr Stace, Sydney’s footpath evangelist for 20 vears until 1967. Ridley Smith promised it without strings.

TODAY, the memorial above will be officially unveilled (a small explanatory plaque is yet to come). Yesterday Column 8 had an informal peek. Mr Stace would be proud. There, set in aggregate near the Sydney Square waterfall, in letters almost 21cm (8 in) high, is the famous copperplate message. ‘Eternity’. The one-word sermon gleams in wrought aluminium. There’s no undue prominence. No garish presentation. Merely the simple ‘Eternity’ on the pebbles, as Arthur Stace would have wanted it.”

In 1994, journalist Alan Gill wrote, “The waterfall adjoins a modest cafeteria. [The Architect of St. Andrew’s House and Sydney Square, Ridley] Smith once told me that he hoped visitors would say ‘Meet you at Eternity’ as well as ‘Meet you in Eternity’.” (1)

Ridley Smith (pictured) was named for evangelist John G. Ridley, who was a friend of his father. In November 1932, Arthur Stace had been in the congregation at the Burton Street Tabernacle in Darlinghurst when John Ridley preached on the need to be ready for eternity. It was this sermon which inspired Stace to begin his 34 year campaign of writing that word on the streets of Sydney.

Arthur Stace died on 30 July 1967, fifty years ago this month.

Did the ‘small explanatory plaque’ mentioned by Column 8 ever appear? In 1994, Alan Gill wrote that some complained “the present inscription is ‘out of the way’ and doesn’t explain who Arthur Stace was. Other admirers of Arthur disagree. They believe the ‘odd’ location of the present tribute and the absence of an explanation are part of that blend of mystery and surprise that ‘Mr Eternity’ himself would appreciate.”

(Top photo showing the waterfall on the day of the unveilling, and the photo of Architect Ridley Smith in 2009, courtesy Ramon Williams, Worldwide Photos. Ramon adds, “Ridley Smith sprinkled water around the ‘Eternity’ replica so as to help photograph it.” While the pavement around the memorial has been replaced, “Eternity” on the pebbles remains, as seen in this 2014 photo.)

(1) Alan Gill, “Sydney’s Phantom Preacher”, The Catholic Weekly, 31 August 1994.

Why the Reformation still matters

Coming up this month: Graham Cole (former member of the Moore College faculty, now Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago) is giving a public lecture at Moore College on Wednesday 19th July,  7:00pm – 9:00pm.

His topic: The legacy of the Reformation through the eyes of J.C. Ryle.

How the Reformation rediscovered Happiness

“Imagine facing judgment day every week.

Near to where I grew up, in the Oxfordshire village of South Leigh, is the parish church of St. James the Great. Over the chancel arch is a medieval wall painting depicting the final judgment. …”

– At Desiring God, Tim Chester shares one way in which the Reformation was revolutionary.

Reformation 500 resources from Church Society

Check out these free resources from Church Society

1.) Reformation 500 Resources

“Church introductions, Sunday school material, school assemblies, youth groups and Light parties – we’ve got you covered! This comprehensive set of resources introduces key themes of the Reformation through three central figures:

Martin Luther: How can we be right with God?
William Tyndale: Why the Bible matters so much?
Thomas Cranmer: How can everyone hear the true gospel?

Experienced children’s and youth workers, Robin Barfield and Nathan Phillingham, have provided teaching material, introductions, games and crafts suitable for different ages and groups. There are also activity sheets by Chris Joyce. Leaders’ notes provide some background to the series and suggest further reading.

Church introductions give ways of introducing the key people and ideas of the Reformation to your whole congregation.

The Light Party materials include teaching, games and craft activities for a family party, suitable for either church or non-church families. These resources do not overlap with the Sunday school or other sets of resources, using different Reformers to tell other aspects of the story.”

Downloadable here.

2.) Reformation 500 Magazine

“In place of our usual summer edition of Crossway, Church Society are pleased to publish this special Reformation 500 magazine.

Containing articles by two Church Society Council members, Dr Andrea Ruddick and Dr Kirsty Birkett, the magazine provides a thorough introduction to the Reformation.

Andrea’s article explores the medieval background to the events of the 16th century, while Kirsty identifies key figures of the Reformation era and explains their contribution to its revolutionary events and teaching.”

Downloadable PDF file at this link.

Six of the earliest known tunes for Amazing Grace

“People often wonder what tune Amazing Grace was first sung to.

It was not written to any particular tune, but being in the Common Metre there would have been a wide choice of suitable tunes in use at the time.

Today the most familiar tune for the hymn is New Britain, which wasn’t matched to Amazing Grace until 1829, twenty-two years after John Newton’s death.

Amazing Grace was first published in 1779 in a hymnbook by Newton and Cowper called the Olney Hymns. It also appeared soon afterwards in a A Select Collection of Hymns compiled by the Countess of Huntingdon. Then in 1787, exactly 10 years after its first publication, and while Newton was the rector of St Mary Woolnoth in the heart of the city of London, Amazing Grace appeared in a Moravian hymn book called A Collection of Hymns for the use of the Protestant Church of the United Brethren. Above the hymn is the code ‘T14’, which stands for ‘Tune 14’. So what was Tune 14?…”

– Marylynn Rouse at The John Newton Project shares some resources:

“Following our recent event in Blackfriars, London, we’re delighted to be able to share a recording of 6 of the earliest tunes for Amazing Grace, sung by the English Chamber Choir, together with the musical score from their director Guy Protheroe and background notes to the tunes and the verses from the JNP. This will make a short concert, or can be spread over several Sundays or lunch-hours.”

This is the day — Presbyterians remember with thanksgiving

“10.00am, forty years ago, the words of Psalm 118 rang out in Scots’ Church Sydney: ‘This is the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.’

Today, Friday 23rd June 2017 – it’s forty years to the day when the Presbyterian Church of Australia was refreshed. And, it’s fair to ask: What became of that bold decision to remain as a Presbyterian church? What distinctives of the Christian faith do we offer? What does PCA stand for?

Permit this man’s reminiscing …”

– Presbyterian Moderator-General John Wilson considers the Presbyterian Church of Australia’s ‘refreshing’, over the last forty years.

Thomas Cranmer: Evangelising the Nation

“At the 2017 Church Society Conference, Revd Dr Peter Adam outlined Thomas Cranmer’s strategy for evangelising the nation, which could be summed up in one word: Bible.”

from Church Society, which has posted the audio files from its 2017 Conference, held last month.

Dr. Adam’s very enlightening and highly encouraging talks can be heard here –

Thomas Cranmer: Evangelising the Nation – Part 1.

Thomas Cranmer: Evangelising the Nation – Part 2.

Also from the Conference:

Reformation Epistemology – Dr Kirsty Birkett.

Martin Luther and the Freedom of the Christian – Dr Lee Gatiss.

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