I open the pages of this latest book in the 'Studies on the Westminster Assembly' Series with extended degrees of expectation and trepidation. Titled, 'God's Ambassadors – The Westminster Assembly and the Reformation of the English Pulpit, 1643-1653,' and written by Chad Van Dixhoorn, I know this little book of 215 pages should accomplish two necessary ends:
It will ...
- Spur me on,
- and Search me out.
In reverse order, I assume.
Van Dixhoorn traces how the Westminster Assembly (the last great Protestant synod) was obsessed with the need to purify the pulpit – to remove 'blind guides and scandalous ministers' from occupying the preaching office in the Church of England and replace them with men who were godly, trained and ordained.
I am confident this will be one of the most important books that I will read over the course of this 'Reformation Year.' To come into possession of this treatise on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation is to discover a sparkling jewel of many-faceted advice.
To date in my brief perusal, I have focused on these words (p.10):
"The Westminster Assembly's reformation of preaching had more to do with people than ideas. It is not impossible that the theology and practice of preaching took a new turn because of the assembly's writings, but the real story is not that people preached differently because of the Westminster Assembly but that different people were preaching. Preaching was reformed, in the main, by changing the preachers."
Pray for me that I may be changed as I read this volume. May our pulpits resonate with Christ-filled sermons, energised by the special working of God the Holy Spirit.