Heather Tomlinson takes a look back at what's been taught at this year's conference.
This is the last missive from this year's Keswick Convention. We hope you've enjoyed the blogs. The hope is to get a wider audience for some of the teaching that takes place at Keswick, so if you've enjoyed the series, please let us know on @KeswickC. We've also made audio recordings from some of the main talks available for free on the website.
We hope the teaching will build your faith. Being part of a three week event in itself has been encouraging, over and above sitting in numerous talks and typing very fast for these blogs! There are a number of ways that my faith has been strengthened.
Hearing other people's stories
When John wrote in Revelation 12:11 that Satan would be beaten through Jesus' blood and 'the power of our testimony' I don't think he was kidding. I love hearing stories of how people came to Christ, how people's faith and relationship with God has deepened, how people have got through suffering with the love of Christ, how people have grown in love for Christ and therefore gone to serve the suffering, and so on. It's a great privilege to be a journalist, where you're able to interview a lot of people about their testimony. I love it. This year we put a shout out in a 'Young Adults' group, asking for people who had come to Christ as adults, but who didn't have a Christian background, to come forward. About 10% of that group offered their testimony - which is a pretty good haul, and encouraging that God is actively working in all generations to draw people to him. Some of their stories are here.
There's nothing like a bit of difficulty to re-activate a jaded prayer life. I've been lucky enough to attend a variety of Christian events on behalf of Christianity magazine, but this year is the first time I've worked for one directly. My 'day' job is as a freelance journalist and writer, so I'd normally just tootle along to these events and make demands for interviews or information. I never realised just how much work is involved. There is an army of staff and volunteers behind the scenes, working flat out. So it's been a challenge, but there's nothing like it for making you depend on God all the more.
The power of apologetics
I love John Lennox, and enjoyed interviewing him for September's Christianity magazine. I love hearing any scientist explain their faith in Jesus and how they relate their faith to science, because I've got a science background myself. I know there is no contradiction between the two, and I like my brain to be stretched.
But John really knocked our socks off with his exposition of Genesis 1-3 in week 2 of this year's Convention. It was full of insights and ideas I'd not come across before, although I've read most of his books. Most interesting was the reaction of the audience. Despite some of it being quite intellectual and high level stuff, the audience were lapping it up. I heard numerous people saying how it had built their faith, and how they'd loved their mind being stretched. People were queuing to get in. It seems that Christians actually like a challenge - we don't have to dumb down. And in today's sceptical and cynical culture, there is a real hunger from Christians to relate their faith to the real world. I think apologetics should now be a central part of discipleship and evangelism, not just an add-on.
I think what you can really notice in John's style, is firstly that's he's got a living faith, that he's spent a lifetime in a job outside of the Christian 'scene', and that he's thought independently about his faith and how it relates to the world. He hasn't just accepted whatever he's told. His faith seems to have benefited from this. There are summaries of John's talks on this blog and the audio is also available for free on the Keswick Ministries website.
The Keswick Convention next year has an apologetics focus as well as the traditional Bible teaching, and is also aiming to attract people without Christian faith to its third week. Hopefully it'll be building Christians' faith as well as leading people to faith - for people at the event or those reading and listening from home. It's a free event that relies on donations - so if you've got any friends who are interested in the Christian faith but who haven't yet made the leap, please do tell them about Keswick in the third week (26 July -1st August). An incentive is the gorgeous surroundings of the Lake District. There's more information on www.keswickministries.org or see this video.