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Reformed Spirituality

Greenville has been hosting these conferences for four or five years. This year's theme was Reformed spirituality. The presentations were drop-you-to-the-knees powerful and life changing.

  • Susan Burns,
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My dear brothers and sisters: you should have been there. I am drop dead serious. You should have been there. I wish all of you had cleared your calendars and made a point of being at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary's spring conference held March 12-14 in Taylors, South Carolina. The attendance was impressive, over 350. But if we had all been there, the church of Jesus Christ and His kingdom would be one step closer to revival and reformation. I try not to speak in hyperbole. But there are just sometimes when it is essential. And this is one of those times. What a glorious, marvelous, wonderful time!

The first indication I had of how excellent this conference was going to be was an email from my California Dad, Smoky Stover: "You are fortunate. I'm jealous!! The conference has a good theme and a good selection of speakers. If available, will you obtain for me an order blank for cassettes of the conference?" Smoky has high standards so when he makes a comment like that, my interest level peaks. The tapes are on the way Smoky!

Greenville has been hosting these conferences for four or five years. As I recall, the first took a strong Biblical stand on 6-day creation. This year's theme was Reformed spirituality. The speakers included Joseph Pipa, Joel Beeke, Ian Hamilton, John Carrick, William Dennison, and James McGoldrick. The messages included "Communion with God," "The Puritan Practice of Meditation," "Seeking God's Glory," "The Lord's Day," "Experimental Calvinism," and "John Calvin's Spirituality." The presentations were drop-you-to-the-knees powerful and life changing.

The speakers are clearly excellent scholars who researched their topics extensively. I can only imagine how much they had to read and study for these messages. In addition to the impeccable scholarship and intellectual clarity with which they spoke, there was the holy passion for their heavenly Father. I don't recall ever hearing so much love-speak toward God at one time. Their joy, love, and reverence toward God bathed the conference with a holy sweetness. Although the presentations were long by modern standards (about 45 minutes to an hour), you could have heard a pin drop as the audience — including many children — listened intently to what was being said.

The topics I found very helpful dealt with communion with God, the Lord's Day, and Christian meditation. Ian Hamilton explained what communion with God is and pointed out that we were created to enjoy God forever. He described God's great love for His children and how He also delights in communion with His children. Listening to him, I got began to understand what communion with God should look like, feel like, be like, and how to personally get myself involved in it. Joseph Pipa made a powerful and cogent argument for Lord's Day observance. He said that failure to observe the Lord's Day will result in a loss of piety and then orthodoxy in the church. It should be obvious to everyone, Christian and non-Christian, that Lord's Day observance is in disarray in the church today. Many have reduced it to the Lord's Hour, unless something more important comes up, at which point, it is cast aside altogether. Dr. Pipa gave clear instruction on how to reclaim Biblical Lord's Day observance in the lives of individuals and churches. His presentation was tender, not judgmental, and with an obvious loving desire to persuade his brothers and sisters to obey and honor God.

I have never heard Christian meditation defined or described. All of my reference for considering meditation is the secular foolishness of Transcendental Meditation or the varieties of it that float around in our culture of death. Using the Puritan writers, Joel Beeke defined what Christian meditation is. He explained how it is different from quiet times, why it is important in the life of the believer, and he gave very helpful suggestions in how to engage in Christian meditation.

Ian Hamilton discussed experimental Calvinism. A consistent application of his teaching would eventually erase the words "frozen chosen" from our vocabulary.

These are just very small summaries of these presentations. I know I am not doing them justice. And there were many other presentations. Also, the conference ended with a debate on redemptive-historical preaching. A friend who was there said it was very good.

This is just a tidbit of what you missed. I have not even touched on the fellowship and singing, or the glorious book tables. But you missed it. However, the opportunity is not completely lost for you. There are the tapes. Buy them. Now. Get these tapes, listen and re-listen to them. Share them with your family. They would be excellent for those of you who are having home church or Bible studies in your home. The momentum of revival and reformation that began in Taylors this week can move into your lives as well. The post-conference price for the tapes is $45.00 postpaid. You can send a check to Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, P. O. Box 690 Taylors, South Carolina 29687. You can call GPTS at 864/322-2717 to order the tapes or email Andy Wortman at [email protected]. Also be sure to visit their website at to keep up with the mighty work God is doing through the men of GPTS. As they say it is an uncommon school for uncommon times.

  • Susan Burns

Susan  is the managing editor of the the Faith for All of Life magazine and the Chalcedon Report (bi-monthly newsletter). Susan has worked for Chalcedon since 1997. She lives in Virginia and is rather fond of animals, especially her many cats.

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