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The Dr. G. R. Beasley-Murray Memorial Lectures 2002-2012

An excellent example of Baptist theology in honour of one of its most revered theologians - and one which should be at the centre of current conversations

TruthThatNeverDiesTruth That Never Dies: The Dr. G. R. Beasley-Memorial Lectures 2002-2012
Nigel Wright (ed.)
Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2014
Reviewed by Andy Goodliff

This set of eleven lectures offers an excellent example of Baptist theology in honour of one of its most revered theologians, George Beasley-Murray.

Beasley-Murray was a former principal of Spurgeon’s College and in response, under the auspices of the then principal Nigel Wright, the College arranged this set of lectures to reflect on Beasley-Murray’s work for the present day.

First delivered at the Baptist Assembly between 2002 and 2012, and some subsequently published in the Baptist Quarterly and elsewhere, it is good to see all the lectures gathered together in one volume.
The lectures include Anthony Cross on baptism, arguing that Beasley-Murray was right then and still today to argue for the importance of baptism as an evangelical sacrament.

David Coffey looks back on his tenure as General Secretary of the Baptist Union (1991-2006) and the move to see the Union as a missionary body.

John Colwell provides a discussion of Baptists and catholicity and confessionalism, discussing the Declaration of Principle, and Beasley-Murray’s call for a new confession of faith.

Stephen Holmes explores the relevancy of preaching. Ruth Gouldbourne asks what it means to be an incompetent minister. Brian Stanley assesses the place of mission in Baptist life.

Nigel Wright takes the infamous incident of the Michael Taylor address at the Baptist Assembly in 1971 to reflect on the importance of faithfulness and freedom in denominational life.
This kind of project, which reflects on the past – in this case the work of George Beasley-Murray – with an eye to the present remains a vital activity sorely needed amongst Baptists. If it was possible, this is the book and others like it, should be at the centre of conversations among local ministers, within associations and the wider Union. Too often as Baptists we pay lip-service both to the past and to the task of theology.

Gouldbourne’s chapter anticipates much of the current Baptist Union Ignite report and would be a helpful means of reflecting on the issues.

Wright’s chapter could be helpful in the current discussion on how we handle our differences on gay and lesbian relationships, with its emphasis on faithfulness and freedom.

Coffey’s chapter and Stanley’s chapter could be a place to ask if we are missionary Union and what it might mean to be one.

This book could be a resource to our current conversations as Baptists and in this way I hope it gets widely read. I also hope it might stimulate Spurgeon’s and the other colleges to invest in this kind of public lectures in the future.

Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea

This review was originally published in Regent’s Reviews, based at Regent’s Park College, Oxford. Regent’s Reviews is published every April and October and can be read at: http://www.rpc.ox.ac.uk/regents-reviews/

Baptist Times, 06/05/2016
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