Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2013, More Flat Whites
On the last day of the Evangelical Ministry Assembly 2013, we said tearful goodbyes to the (mostly) African brothers and sisters, classmates for the past year, heading back to their countries, never expecting to see them again in this lifetime. “See you in the new creation,” we said as we hugged and waved.
A good few days of talks from Vaughan Roberts on 1 Peter and from Mark Dever,
but the subject of some discussion as we sat drinking tea and watching the dying bonfire in our backgarden (after the firemen had left) was Garry Williams’ talk on Augustine. In his City of God, Augustine says:
- there are only two cities: the earthly city and the city of God;
- the earthly city is not to be identified with any specific city in this world – it is merely where unregenerate men are;
- the earthly city is satanic (in the sense that it , not in a trite horror movie sense);
- both the earthly city and the city of God are driven by love: the city of God is driven by love of God and desire for his glory, the earthly city is driven by love of self and desire for self-glory;
- the earthly city lives a life of disordered love, sin being loving a good God-created thing wrongly;
- the earthly city is necessarily divided amongst itself because everyone is driven by the desire for self-glory;
- the earthly city ends in eternal death.
The implication of this is:
- there is no neutral ground, so citizens of the city of God should expect grave conflict. Whoever said that the state is neutral? If you get one sinner on stage, you have one sinner. Add another and you have two sinners. Add several more and you have a collection of sinners – they don’t suddenly become neutral. So do not drop your guard and share the values of the world;
- don’t pin your hopes on the earthly empire, but have eschatological restlessness. Do not mourn the passing of “Christian Britain” or “Christian America”. Use the things of the earthly empire for other ends, with the right priority of loves (love for God rather than love for self, or indeed love for husband or wife or children).
But, where is this earthly city? It is not “out there”; it is in us. In this life, even within the regenerate, there are the warring remnants of the earthly city. We do not do things with pure motives. Augustine goes into great detail about his contemporary struggles in his Confessions. As the Vandals (the tribe) surrounded Augustine’s north African city and as the Roman empire fell, Augustine lay dying in bed. He requested no visitors. He had 4 psalms of repentance copied and hung the walls around him and spent his last days repenting. Remember we are not justified by the sinlessness of our ministry but by the blood of Jesus, so keep coming back to him in repentance.
In considering using the things of this earthly empire for city-of-God good, we wondered about the place of good coffee and coffee joints…
Association Coffee (12 Creechurch Ln City of London, EC3A 5AY).
Workshop Coffee (27 Clerkenwell Road London, Greater London EC1M 5RN). Cult of Done Espresso = 100% Thunguri AB (Lot #0202), Kenya.
Salvation Jane (Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard, 55 City Road, Shoreditch, EC1 Y1HQ). Someone’s very generous visiting parental bought us all lunch and coffees here.
Fernandez & Wells (Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA)
Look Mum No Hands! (49 Old Street, London EC1V 9HX).
Monmouth Coffee (2 Park Street, The Borough, London SE1 9AB) – not too fond of the dark roast tendencies here.
Jaguar Shoes (32-36 Kingsland Road, Shoreditch, London E2 8DA) – art, fashion, music, party space that doesn’t sell shoes.
Refreshment Room at The Deli Downstairs (211 Victoria Park Road, Victoria Park Village, London E9 7JN).