I got back this week from New Wine, our 9th time there I think, and by my reckoning I have now spent more than a year of my life under canvas). It was our first time camping with five children, so things were hectic, and the number of seminars we could get to was limited. Still, thanks to the onsite radio, I was able to catch the main talk most evenings, and a few seminars, in addition to the ones I got to in person. Here’s just a brief flavour of what I got to hear.
As usual, the morning Bible teaching was excellent, this year it was from Kenny Borthwick, who worked through John 17. I got to hear a couple of talks by Baroness Caroline Cox, an extraordinary woman of courage and compassion, and heard about the work that is being done by HART. I attended two seminars by authors of interesting books – Michael Ward on Planet Narnia, and William Donaldson on Word and Spirit in Leadership, a book I hope to read soon as part of some writing of my own I am doing on the subject of Word and Spirit. It was also nice to see Tope Koleoso from Jubilee Church, Enfield speaking at one of the sessions. His talk on demonstrations of the Spirit’s power from the Brighton Together on a Mission conference is well worth hearing.
I also got a chance to briefly meet up with Simon Ponsonby, who somehow managed to do nine talks during the week, mostly from his Romans series he is preaching through at St Aldates (well worth listening to if you get a chance). We had an interesting discussion on Romans 7. Simon is convinced that it refers to Paul’s experience as a believer. My take is that it represents the battle we experience trying to fight sin without relying on the power of the indwelling Spirit, which Paul seems to deliberately leave out of the picture, before introducing it in Romans 8.
Simon also takes a view on the law very similar to the “New Covenant Theology” position, in which it is argued that the OT law is completely abrogated for the Christian, and replaced with the law of Christ. This obviously rejects the common threefold distinction of “moral, civil and ceremonial” or other similar schemes for dividing the law up into the temporary and the perpetually binding, as well as dispensing (I think) of two of Calvin’s three uses of the law. It is a view I have some sympathy for (and still have the Wells and Zaspel book on my wishlist), without being 100% convinced yet. However, I still believe that there is “paradigmatic value” in all of the OT laws, since all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for us. To say that the law’s only function is to show our sin and need of a saviour, seems a little too weak to me. Maybe that is a topic for a separate blog post another day.
As usual, it was a privilege to mingle with a like-minded, but slightly different stream to newfrontiers and see what God is doing in and through them. Next up for us is the Together at Westpoint regional camping event, at which Terry Virgo is the guest speaker, which should also be good.