Thursday, 25 April 2013


Fanny Jones (1805-77) was the equally-amazing wife of the amazing Welsh preacher, John Jones, Talsarn (1796-1857).

'As Welsh people we are under a great debt to this woman, ...we can never measure the work she did in being an instrument to give ‘the People’s Preacher’ to the people...In her self denial, Wales heard a message from Heaven - her efforts facilitated the way for Wales to be drenched by the irresistible eloquence of the ‘hero from Talysarn’ (O. Llew. Owain of Talysarn, Cofiant Mrs Fanny Jones, tr. Marian G. Clifford).

Fanny's story is not only touchingly-inspirational. She remains a challenge to women of all ages and eras. She is also a Christian rebuke to modern feminist ideas of womanhood. She would even have taught Margaret Thatcher a few things! Between them, John & Fanny Jones provide wonderful role models. They are a glorious antidote to apostate institutional religion and the bankrupt warring political factions of our secular times.

As the attached extract (from an ongoing project on her life*) shows, Fanny Jones helps us to live life and also to face death. 

There's much more about her to come...  WATCH THIS SPACE!

Yours faithfully,

Dr Alan C. Clifford

* included in a forthcoming biography on her husband.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Church of Scotland Faces Exodus Over Gay Clergy

Church of Scotland faces exodus over gay clergy

Church of Scotland leaders are set to make a decision over the appointment of openly gay ministers. Picture: Getty Church of Scotland leaders are set to make a decision over the appointment of openly gay ministers. Picture: Getty

UP TO 50 congregations may leave the Church of Scotland if the General Assembly votes next month to allow the ordination of openly gay ministers.

Two congregations and a number of ministers have already left over the issue.
Now the Kirk is braced for a potential haemorrhage of evangelical members if the proposal is passed, in protest at what they consider is a breach with biblical teachings.
Sources within the more fundamentalist Free Kirk have revealed that representatives of 50 congregations around Scotland have held initial discussions about splitting from the Church of Scotland in advance of the debate and vote on gay ordination in May.
Although the Church of Scotland has more than 1,400 congregations, such an exodus would represent the biggest split in its ranks since the 19th-century schism which led to the Free Kirk’s formation.
If such an exodus were to go ahead, the Free Kirk would almost double in size. The source said: “Representatives from the Free Church have spoken to many different ministers, elders and members in the Church of Scotland who are mulling over their options – amounting to some 50 congregations.
“Obviously, a lot hinges on what happens at the General Assembly, and the current vibe is that it does not look good at all for the evangelical ­position.”
The debate was sparked by the Rev Scott Rennie, an openly gay minister who was appointed to Queen’s Cross Church in Aberdeen in 2009. Two years ago the General Assembly put off a formal decision on the issue by setting up a Theological Commission. Although the seven-strong commission, drawn from both traditionalist and revisionist sides of the debate, reported last week, it declined to put forward a recommended option in its 92-page report on Same-sex Relationships and the Ministry.
Instead it offered contrasting interpretations by both sides and guidelines depending on how the General ­Assembly might vote.
The report goes on to recognise that a new schism is possible if the ordination of gay ministers is allowed. “If the revisionist trajectory is upheld,” it warns, “many Christians will feel that the Church has called ‘good’ what the Bible calls ‘sin’ and will feel the need to leave the Church.”
The congregation of St George’s Tron in Glasgow elected to leave the Kirk in December, followed in February by Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen.
The Rev Paul Gibson, min­ister of Perth Free Church, who joined the Free Kirk last October, said: “I think evan­gelicals will feel the report simply demonstrates what has been known for a long time – ­namely that within the Kirk are not two Christian ­perspectives but, in fact, two distinct religions, both of which are incompatible with the other. One is called Christianity and submits to the Bible as the word of God and the other is called ‘liberalism’ and does not.”
A Free Church of Scotland spokesman said “It is our hope and prayer that if there are those brothers and sisters who feel they cannot stay in the Church of Scotland, that, ­rather than form yet another Presbyterian church in Scotland, they will join with those of us who have every sympathy with them and support their stance. A working group from the Free Church has spoken to a range of parties and our aim is to work with fellow Christians wherever we find them.”
A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “We regret and are saddened that any ministers or individuals feel they are obliged to, or feel the need to, leave over this issue but no-one knows how the General Assembly will vote or what it will decide until the day of the debate.”

I think the really important point here is that within the larger theologically mixed denominations there is not one religion but two (at least); one is biblical Christianity and the other is theological liberalism.  We must be clear that liberalism is a totally different religion from Christianity and these are incompatible within the same church structure, and liberalism ought never to be accorded any descriptor that aligns it in any way with the Christian faith.
The sister churches of the Church of Scotland are the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the United Reformed Church  the Presbyterian Church of Wales, and many others within the ecumenical movement world-wide.  If these churches have not as yet proceeded down this road, because they tolerate liberalism as a valid expression of biblical faith, they are on the same road that will lead many to perdition.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Philip Doddridge of Northampton - Alan C. Clifford

The Good Doctor: Philip Doddridge of Northampton
A Tercentenary Tribute
319pp pbk £9.95
ISBN 0 9526716 3 8
Alan C. Clifford

As a pastor, preacher, theologian, educator, author, hymn writer, philanthropist and patriot, Philip Doddridge (1702-51) was a remarkable English Christian by any standard. His faithful, fragrant and far-reaching testimony to Christ made him unique in his day. This tribute introduces us to an attractive personality whose remarkable achievements merit renewed attention. At a time of confusion and uncertainty in church and society, the author believes that a rediscovery of Doddridge’s contribution is long overdue.

‘A deeply interesting work about a fascinating Christian. ... the book is excellently presented, lavishly illustrated and good value for money’ (English Churchman).

‘Among other biographers ... Alan Clifford’s book is now clearly indispensable. It is also warm, readable and challenging’ (News of Hymnody).

‘Lovers of Doddridge, Northampton, hymns, revival and the history of English Dissent, cannot afford to ignore this book’ (Evangelicals Now).

Dr Clifford has ... done us a real service with the publication of his book in the 300th anniversary of Doddridge’s birth. The book is well written and attractively produced. The narrative is interesting and informative’ (The Banner of Truth).

‘Doddridge’s life and ministry are set out in a very readable way, and Dr Clifford’s enthusiasm for his subject comes through on every page. ... [a] most valuable and stimulating tribute to one of the greatest stars in the Congregational firmament’ (Congregational Concern).
‘A scholarly and well presented book ... comprising a very useful appendix ... This book will make a valuable addition to any library and comes highly recommended’ (Our Inheritance).

‘[In] this enlightening biography ... our hearts warm to a man whose consuming desire was to win souls for Christ and whose strength and life were devoted to the glorifying of God’ (Peace & Truth).

This book is available from me at £9.95 plus P & P.  Please make cheque payable to J E Hazlett Lynch.  Please order via email:  jehlynch [at]

Ministers - Get Your Priorities Right!

When a minister is very tired, his work can be the means of stirring up their soul. For me, there were three activities – writing the updates on my wife's condition, preparing the conference paper for the Amyraldian Association Annual Conference 2013, and the sermon for the following Sunday morning. What a profound joy it is to dwell in the presence of God! What an indescribable privilege it is to enter into communion with the living and true God. Oh, how many God-given years I’ve squandered instead of seeking deep personal communion with God. How seldom I had as a priority to seek to meet with God. God had called me and set me apart to the Christian ministry and to the Gospel. This requires a man to live close to Christ, and forsaking every other occupation.   

While I sought to have this as a priority, far too much of my time was taken up with nonsense, with dealing with trivialities, with denominational responsibilities that did nothing to forward the Kingdom of God. It almost seems that the purpose of the church is to keep ministers off their knees before God. Sadly, all too many ministers just adore being on this church committee and that committee. They covet being ‘big men’ within their own church structures. They love the position, the power, and the prestige being a minister gives.  

These men (and now, women!) have to concentrate upon being good churchmen rather than being Gospel men. Being a good churchman in any denomination is the greatest safeguard against being thrown out of the church, because for these men the priority is to keep the church before their eyes, knowing only too well that if they become Gospel men first and foremost, they are in great danger of being removed from the Christian ministry.  

God has mercifully delivered me from all that, and has brought both my wife and me into “a closer walk with God.” If Christians and ministers are not entering into such a closer walk with the Lord, they are very ineffective witnesses to Christ. Oh, to be assured in our hearts that God really does love us, even us. To be assured that we really are the adopted children of God is beyond price.  

How true it is to be a Christian than a minister. Why? Because a minister can go to hell, but a Christian never.

My dear praying friends, strive for this above all else. Strive to be conformed to the image of Christ. Strive to be more and more like Christ. Stay close to the Saviour Who died to take away your sins and the sins of the whole world. Abandon yourself to our beautiful Saviour. See in Him the altogether lovely One, and give yourself to Him completely.