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Alistair Begg on the Keswick Convention

August Letter from Alistair Begg

Dear Friend,

Few if any of you will have heard of Canon Thomas Harford-Battersby. (Don’t Google, I’m going to explain!) He was once the vicar of St John’s Church in Keswick, a market town in the Lake District of England. He, along with his friend Robert Wilson, began the first Keswick Convention in 1875.

In the early days, the convention’s emphasis was on the “higher life” that was experienced in a crisis of consecration. In 1965, the late John Stott taught Romans 5–8 at Keswick, and his exposition of chapter 6 was largely responsible for shifting the emphasis of the convention to a progressive view of sanctification. This important change has either been overlooked or misunderstood here in America, where I am frequently asked why I would be speaking at a conference which promoted the Higher Life view.

Since I was thirteen in 1965, the only experience I have had of the convention is in the post-Stott era. The banner which greets one on arrival provides the watchword: ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. Evangelical Christians from all kinds of churches gather to be encouraged to take seriously what the Bible says about living lives shaped by the Gospel at home and abroad. There is a strong emphasis on world mission, and it was at Keswick, while listening to Hudson Taylor (founder of the China Inland Mission), that Amy Carmichael decided to dedicate her life to missions.

The first time I was invited to speak at Keswick was in the eighties, and by the time you are reading this, I will have enjoyed the privilege and huge responsibility of giving five expositions on 2 Timothy at this year’s convention.

Let me encourage you, if you are ever visiting the UK during the summer, to consider attending Keswick at least for a day. You will be joining thousands of conference attendees swelling the population as you enjoy the beauty of the surrounding area. Famous former residents of the region include William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter! If you attend, however, be sure to bring an umbrella, because the lush greenery is evidence of the substantial rainfall. Locals joke that if you can’t see the mountains, it is because it’s raining—and if you can see them, it’s about to rain!

Talking of visits, it is a real treat to welcome visitors to Parkside and to Truth For Life. Many of you have been supporting our endeavors for a long time, and it is a genuine delight to meet you and be able to thank you in person. If you can’t make it to Cleveland, you may want to consider joining me on a cruise at the end of August 2023. I’ll be teaching the Bible on a nine-day trip across the Mediterranean Sea hosted by my friends at Salem Media Group. We’ll stop at many beautiful places, including Naples, Greece, and Venice, and will enjoy a great time of Christian fellowship. You’ll find all the details online at deeperfaithcruise.com.

With my love in the Lord Jesus,

Alistair

 

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Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.
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