Teaching Seminars

When visiting India for the first time and whilst teaching at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Dehra Dun in 2004 the students themselves came to me and invited me to teach the great biblical doctrines of our faith as summarised in the historic Protestant confessions of the faith. such as the Westminster Confession and the accompanying Westminster Standards, and the Belgic Confession with its Heidelberg Catechism and the Five Points of Calvinism known as the Three Forms of Unity.

Teaching on Reformed Preaching and Preachers which was more of a workshop than a seminar with the evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim.. Pastor Prem Sharma a PTS graduate was translating on this occasion

Teaching on Reformed Preaching and Preachers which was more of a workshop than a seminar with the evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim.. Pastor Prem Sharma a PTS graduate was translating on this occasion

  One of the greatest needs in the churches of India is doctrinal clarity. The philosophies of Hinduism are sophisticated and extensive and to minimise the Christian doctrines of the faith in such a society leads to confusion and disunity. The modern history of Christianity in India is a story of a church racked with ecumenism and liberalism where the definitions of Christian theology have been lost for pragmatic reasons such as superficial ecumenical unity that have been driven by political considerations rather than Biblical holiness.

Their invitation became something of a ‘Macedonian call’ (Acts 16-10) sincerely requesting, “Could you come where we are going and assist us in teaching the leadership of our churches; our pastors, elders, deacons and evangelists these glorious truths that ‘was once delivered unto the saints’” (Jude 3). In the past 10 years at the invitation of the churches in many parts of India we have responded to their invitation to teach in Biblical and theological subjects that they need clarification, help and encouragement in sometimes very difficult and controversial subjects.

These churches host and finance these seminars, which have become a feature in our work. Over the years the topics that have been requested are intensely relevant to the current situation and penetrating where mere intellectualism would not suffice. Remembering that these topics are decided by the governing bodies of these churches, which operate at a congregational level and not in the ‘ivory towers’ of seminary training. Examples of these topics are as follows:

    1. Christ in the Old Testament – a series of fifteen lectures
    2. Calvin on the Bible – A series of 15 lectures of a historical and theological and topical nature
    3. Church Polity – A biblical, theological and historical study of biblical ecclesiology
    4. Covenant Theology – A biblical and theological study on the Covenants of Christ – 10 studies
    5. Doctrines of grace – a theological and historical development of the five points of Calvinism – 10 studies
    6. Eschatology – as a theological topic
    7. Our Biblical Response to the Charismatic Movement
    8. Doctrinal purity
    9. Evangelism – A series of Seminar Lectures on Church-based Evangelism
    10. Sovereignty God and Election – A series of studies on the question of God’s sovereignty and our responsibility
    11. The Themes and Characters of the Book of Revelation – A summary of my work under the title The Quest for Millennial Hope
    12. Redemption Accomplished and Applied – A Summary of John Murray’s work under the same title
    13. The Biblical Understanding of Christian Worship – A series of Lectures Exploring the notion of ‘the regulative of the principles of worship’ in contrast with the charismatic phenomenon
    14. Reformed Preaching and Preachers – an inspirational series of studies on the practice of preaching and the preachers life
    15. The Redemptive Themes of the Old Testament Ceremonial Year – a biblical and theological study of the ceremonial seasons of the Jewish year
    16. The Sacraments – Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
    17. Christology – the person and work of Christ and the Trinity
Pastors attending the Christian Workers Retreat belonging to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim, Gangtok.

Pastors attending the Christian Workers Retreat belonging to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim, Gangtok.

 To fulfil this Macedonian call we set up a circuit of ministry in much the same way as the ancient Judge Samuel did in Israel. When the people of God were dangerously ignorant of their biblical heritage and the word of God was ‘rear’ in Israel. Samuel set about to bring reformation within Israel by going from tribe to tribe and teaching the law of God and the biblical precepts of the Scriptures to the elders who were able to also teach others the same things (1 Samuel 7:16-17).  It was said at the end of Samuel’s life that the word of God was large in the heart of Israel. My students at the Presbyterian Theological Seminary suggested that I could spend anything from one week to 6 weeks in a particular area and then move on to another area that would benefit from the teaching. As a result my visits to India turned out to be two Seasons of Ministry each year and I would be charged to teach regularly on predetermined subjects and ‘committing these to faithful men who are able to teach others also’ (2 Timothy 2:2).