Contending for the faith – part 3

2008 Autumn Lectures

‘…contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’
Jude 1:3 (NIV)

C.S. Lewis said: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

The Christians that we hear about in these lectures were deeply courageous in the face of immense challenges, opposition and persecution. These men stand in history as examples of what it is to live a life of consistent devotion to our Lord, despite public hostility and personal suffering.

In an age where Christian belief is often derided and mocked, we can look to those who have gone before and remember that we can not only stand firm but, by the grace of God, endeavour to change hearts and minds. In so doing we answer Jude’s instruction to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”.

1. Oliver Cromwell

By Revd J Philip Arthur

From modest gentleman farmer to great soldier and statesman, Oliver Cromwell consistently trusted in God’s mercy and providence in spite of the political tumult of his times. He often cuts an ambivalent figure in British history, suffering from popular misrepresentations of the Puritans as gloomy killjoys. However, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones has celebrated the period of his Protectorate as “one of the most glorious” in English history. After Cromwell, Parliament gained a status it had never had before.

2. Samuel Rutherford

By Revd Prof Robert McCollum

The great Scottish Covenanter and brilliant university teacher, Samuel Rutherford, was born into an age when the king answered to no-one – ‘The king is law’ (Rex Lex). But Rutherford believed the opposite. He wrote a book called ‘Lex Rex’, translated as ‘The law is king’. The notion that the monarch was subject to a greater authority – God – was so radical that, had he not first died of illness, Rutherford’s courageous stand would have seen him martyred for treason.

3. Charles Spurgeon

By Tim Curnow

One of Victorian Britain’s most prominent evangelical preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon believed firmly that the Bible applied to all of life and to the nation. His life and teaching reflects a conviction that Christians should be an influence for good in the way society is governed. Tim Curnow offers an important insight into the work and influence of a man who sought to “draw politics up into the light and power of Christ”.

4. Thomas Cranmer

By Revd Gordon Murray

Archbishop Cranmer’s reforms in the Church of England led Christianity in this country in a direction that we still benefit from today. He came into office at a time of great uncertainty, but managed to push the Church towards embracing the great doctrines of the reformation. Gordon Murray shows that while Cranmer’s work had a profound impact in many areas, his ultimate concern was the proclamation of justification by faith alone.

5. Thomas Chalmers

By Revd William Macleod

As well as being a formidable preacher and church leader, Thomas Chalmers also orchestrated many social initiatives especially in regard to education and poverty. He believed that the Church should be fully involved in the nation’s life, but he also sought to guard the gospel. So he insisted on the rights of a church to appoint a believing minister, rather than have one imposed upon them by a land owner. The Government refused this right and so Chalmers led the Disruption of 1843 where one third of the ministers left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland.