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Evangelical Christians and World War One

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Category Articles
Date November 10, 2018

It is the centenary of the end of the First World War. Let us remind ourselves of that fearful period in British history of valiant courage, self-sacrifice, unimaginable suffering and death. What can we learn from it?

Five of the Causes that Triggered the War

1. Mutual Defence Alliances

Countries throughout Europe made mutual defence agreements that would suck them into battle. These treaties meant that if one country was attacked, allied countries were bound to defend them. The slogan to justify going to war were the oft repeated words, ‘We are under treaty obligations.’ Before World War 1, no less that five alliances existed:

So when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia moved to defend Serbia. Germany seeing Russia mobilising, declared war on Russia. France was then drawn in against Germany and Austria-Hungary. Germany attacked France through Belgium pulling Britain into war. Then Japan entered the war. Later, Italy and the United States would enter on the side of the allies.

2. Imperialism

Before the War, Africa and parts of Asia were points of contention among the European countries. Because of the raw materials these areas could provide, tensions around these areas ran high. The increasing competition and desire for greater empires led to an increase in confrontation that helped push the world into the war.

3. Militarism

As the world entered the 20th century, an arms race was well under way. By 1914, Germany had the greatest increase in military build up. In all of the Great Powers, military spending increased greatly in the years prior to the war and all of them except Britain had conscription. Over 85% of men of military age in France and 50% in Germany had served in the army or navy. France had the highest proportion of its population in the army.

Nation

Percentage Increase in
Military Spending 1890-1913

Size of Peacetime Army 1914

Britain

117

430,000

France

92

970,000

Russia

19

1,500,000

Germany

158

760,000

Austria Hungary

160

480,000

The armies of both France and Germany had more than doubled between 1870 and 1914. The rivalry between the powers led to a building up of weapons and an increase in mutual distrust.

Great Britain and Germany both greatly increased their navies in this time period. Further, in Germany and Russia in particular, the military establishment began to have a greater influence on public policy. This increase in militarism helped push the countries involved into the war.

4. Nationalism

Much of the origin of the war was based on the desire of the Slavic peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina to no longer be part of Austria-Hungary but instead be part of Serbia. In this way, nationalism led directly to the war. But more generally, nationalism in various countries throughout Europe contributed not only to the beginning but the extension of the war in Europe. Each country tried to prove their dominance and power.

5. Darwinism: The survival of the fittest philosophy used to justify the conflict.

Great Britain was shocked at the news of German barbarism, and such atrocities as the gassing of soldiers. How could such an advanced and cultured nation behave in this degrading fashion? The Kaiser and his generals had their headquarters in Northern France, and visiting them in 1915 was an American scientist, Professor Vernon Kellogg. He was a pacifist who had come to the war to help minister to the casualties. He met up with the German high command in the evenings and often heard from them their Darwinian creed of natural selection, that man has a brute ancestry. This was the gospel of German intellectuals. They believed that if the Germans won the war then that would show they were on the right side of the evolutionary process. If the Germans lost it would display the fact that they did not deserve to win the war and were on the wrong side in the evolutionary movement.

Such grotesque Darwinism motivated the German war machine and hearing this, Vernon Kellogg questioned his own pacifism. Those ideas, he concluded, could only be overcome by force and he reported his conversations with the German High Command to America and the world in a book entitled, Headquarters Night: a Record of Conversations and Experiences at the Head of the German Army in France. He then began his campaign for American intervention in the war. He was very influential with his contacts in Washington and so America did intervene in the war. On April 6, 1916, the USA declared war on Germany. Subsequently 100,000 American soldiers were to lose their lives in their country’s resistance to German militarism.

7. The Immediate Cause: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The immediate trigger of World War I that pulled in all these items (the alliances, imperialism, militarism, nationalism) was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary. In June 1914, a Serbian-nationalist terrorist group called the Black Hand sent groups to assassinate the Archduke. Their first attempt failed when a driver avoided a grenade thrown at their car. However, later that day a Serbian nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated him and his wife while they were in Sarajevo, Bosnia — which was part of Austria-Hungary. This was in protest to Austria-Hungary having control of this region. Serbia wanted to take over Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was this assassination that provoked Austria-Hungary declaring war on Serbia. When Russia began to mobilise due to its alliance with Serbia, Germany declared war on Russia. So the dominoes began to fall as the war expanded sucking in all those involved in the defence alliances. Europe drifted into a war that eventually resulted in 15 million dead and 20 million injured, staggering figures, hiding staggering pain and grief; new technology resulted in devastating new weaponry.

 Is the First World War to be Considered a Just War?

A just war is a war which is declared for right and noble reasons and fought in a certain way. A just war is not a war that is ‘good’ as such — it is a war that Christians feel to be necessary or ‘just’ in the circumstances, when all other solutions have been tried and have failed. It is a necessary evil and a last resort.

Most Christians would support a war if it were justified by just war standards. The Just War Theory was first developed by Thomas Aquinas. He was an influential medieval theologian who wrote on the theme of whether a war should be waged, whether it could be justified, and how should it be waged. A war is generally considered to be just by such criteria as the following eight:

  1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
  2. A war is just only if it is waged by a legitimate authority. Even just causes cannot be served by actions taken by individuals or groups who do not constitute an authority sanctioned by whatever the society and outsiders to the society deem legitimate.
  3. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defence against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause.
  4. Further, a just war can only be fought with ‘right’ intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury.
  5. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
  6. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
  7. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.
  8. The weapons used in war must discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. Civilians are never permissible targets of war, and every effort must be taken to avoid killing civilians. The deaths of civilians are justified only if they are unavoidable victims of a deliberate attack on a military target.

So there was in 1914 some difference of opinion about going to war with Germany. Christian opponents to Britain declaring war believed the war was partly caused by the haughty imperialism of both Britain and Germany. Again some believed that Germans were our kith and kin, that the British were a Germanic people, and again, that Germany was a Protestant nation, and we had much in common with Lutheran Germany compared to Roman Catholic France and Orthodox Russia. This was initially Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s conviction. He had studied for some years in Germany, loved the land and the evangelical Christians he knew there. He also loved England and was terribly torn over his duty to support the USA government in its declaration of war against Germany.

Some British men were totally pacifist by conviction. At his trial one said, ‘I’d rather be shot, sir, than shoot another man.’ There was a Christian family in a gospel church in Birkenhead with four sons. All four refused to fight. They even refused to serve on fishing trawlers to help supply food to the country, and they said they would not rescue men from a sinking ship. They were asked the classic question whether they would kill anyone who was attempting to kill their parents, or violate their sisters. They said they would not. They lost their appeal and were compelled either to sign up or to go to prison. But another Christian objected to military duties as he was a piano tuner and he believed that the explosion of shells would damage his hearing and he would be unemployed after the war. They heard his case sympathetically and he was discharged from any combative duty and he served in the medical corps.

That was the course of action taken by Professor J. Gresham Machen. He volunteered to work for the Red Cross and served near the battle front making cups of hot chocolate for the troops, playing the piano, selling stamps and writing letters home for the illiterate. The book of his letters written to his mother during those years has been published in recent years and it makes moving reading.

The most famous difference of opinion concerning whether the war was just or not took place between two of the giants of the Strict Baptists, members and officers in the same congregation. J. K. Popham was the editor of the Gospel Standard. He was the pastor of the famous Galeed church in Brighton (1914 incidentally was the year of the 100th anniversary, of Gadsby’s Hymnal). Popham believed the First World War was a just war, that the defence of the realm was a clear bounden duty of the government and the people. But one of his deacons, John Gosden who was a future editor of the Gospel Standard and a pastor at Maidstone did not believe that it was a just war. He refused to bear arms, serving instead in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a stretcher bearer. He showed such bravery in battle, when under heavy fire he went alone to tend to a young wounded soldier, so that he himself was wounded in the act. For that he was awarded the Military Medal. He used every opportunity of speaking of the Lord Jesus to the wounded and dying soldiers and that time as a stretcher-bearer was a period instrumental in confirming his call to become a pastor. Interestingly enough at the start of the Second World War he told his congregation that he had no difficulty in agreeing with the men joining up and fighting against Hitler. This was, in his estimation, a just war, unlike the First World War.

Ben Ramsbottom of Luton knew personally that generation of men who had passed through the war and become ministers. He describes them thus: ‘Men of varying abilities; men of different gifts; each one having his own line, but they were men of God, they were men of stature, they knew what they believed, they knew why they believed it, they had a testimony to bear, and the truth had been burnt home in their souls. Many of them had known what it was to serve in the trenches in the First World War. Many of them had known the severe depression after the First World War. These things had been sanctified to them.’

John Murray was just the same. He and two brothers fought in the war. Both his brothers were killed and he searched no man’s land looking for the body of his brother Tommy without success. John Murray was almost killed when a piece of shrapnel hit his head. He lost his eye and was invalided home. He was resolute in his conviction that it was a just war. Serving in France did not make him a pacifist. When America entered the Second World War students were exempt from conscription if they went to Seminary. He earnestly spoke to the new class at the beginning of the academic year, welcoming them but pointing out their duty to the powers that be, hoping that none were there simply to escape their responsibility of giving to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. This is what he said:

The reason why in the circumstances you are able to be here is that you are bona fide  aspirants for the gospel ministry. It may have appeared to you that theological study in the quiet of these halls and on this campus is remote from the most practical contribution which you could render in the exigencies of this present time.

Unless for some physical reason you are ineligible for military service I hope you have felt something of the urge to enlist in the services of your country in the present emergency. Indeed I hope you have felt the urge in a very potent way. I hope you have found it very difficult to take advantage of the opportunities and privileges that are now being given you when so many of your fellow-countrymen have to face the hardship and peril of the field of battle, and face these perils and endure so many hardships for the protection of the many privileges that are now yours. If perchance you have not weighed these considerations then I hardly think your decision for the course upon which you have embarked is worthy of your privilege and of the task that lies ahead of you.

What I mean simply is this, that I hope it has been hard for you to come here, and hard for the very reason that it offers you immunity from the hard, bitter and painful ordeal through which many of your fellow-countrymen of your age are being called upon to experience at this present time.  (Collected Writings of John Murray, Volume 1, pp.104-106, ‘Greeting to Entering Students, 1944’ Banner of Truth, 1976).

Professor John Murray had little sympathy with pacifism and scorned the attitude that judges all war as utterly futile. He served as a soldier as in everything he did to the glory of God. I remember him speaking of the soldiers’ advance, weapons firing at the enemy, and then the capture of German troops and the immediate and natural response of humane and caring treatment of these POW’s and seeking to honour God in both different attitudes.

The Difficulties of Being a Christian in the Army

1. Bad language. Constant swearing and blasphemy were a sad part of life in the forces.

2. Sabbath desecration and lack of access to public worship. Each day was the same as the next and there was no attempt to mark Sundays. Away from the trenches behind the lines there were field services and a large number of chaplains. The YMCA worked there in their huts and held services.

3. The difficulty of keeping up daily Bible reading and prayer. There was great difficulty in finding a place for quiet and prayer. Considerable courage was needed to kneel down in a dormitory of men and pray. Strangely it could be tough fellow soldiers who spoke a word to mockers and protected those men in their personal devotions.

4. The lack of other believers with whom they could enjoy fellowship. One wrote home these surprising and sad words, ‘Can you realise my position? Since last leaving home I have never to my knowledge seen, and certainly have not spoken to one of my own faith.’ Yet Reginald Honeysett, a future pastor, unexpectedly met a lad who also loved the Bible and the Lord’s Day. They became bosom friends until the young man was killed, but Reg subsequently met his sister and he married her. He became pastor in Abingdon; he loved the lines of the hymn, ‘Why was I made to hear thy voice and enter while there’s room.’ He said, ‘That fully describes my case.’

How often in the excellent book on the First World War and the Strict Baptists, With Mercy and with Judgement does Matthew Hyde (the new minister at Galeed, Brighton) quote the Christians writing home from the trenches having barely escaped with their lives from one particular bombing and shell fire. They are quoting to their parents and sweethearts those famous lines from the hymn, ‘Sovereign Ruler of the skies’, ‘Not a single shaft can hit, Till the God of love sees fit.’ Those lines must be quoted a dozen times in the book. That was their trust in a Sovereign Lord, as it was the trust of their praying families and congregations.

The Christians Back in Great Britain

1. Praying: There were particular Weeks of Prayer called for in all the churches of various denominations. The Archbishop of Canterbury called for the first Lord’s Day in 1916 to be set aside for prayer. He refused to call it a ‘day for humiliation and prayer’ believing that would be misunderstood. But King George V called for that, a day of humiliation and prayer, on the first Sunday in 1918. The Prime Minister, David Lloyd George attended one in the Strict Baptist Church in Tadworth. He arrived at 6.45 but the service had started at 6. It was a wet night and his house was a mile and a half away from the church. He apologised for his lateness, gave to the offering, lingered a long time and thanked the preacher. Of course he was raised in a Sandemanian Scottish Baptist church in North Wales.

But there were some joint inter-denominational services of thanksgiving organised, and some were led by sacramentalist ministers and liberal ministers who denied the gospel. It was felt by some evangelicals that the king would have been better advised not to have called for a day of thanksgiving to be the Sabbath. Others, though, could not sympathise with any criticism about this, and were delighted that such a day should have been called for by their Monarch.

2. Being Under Fire: Being in England did not mean that you were out of danger. There were bombing raids from Zeppelins and in one such raid on London the editor of the Christian magazine Zion’s Witness went to the window at the strange noise and a bomb blast killed him.

3. Christian Women Being Active: Women for the first time in numbers worked in factories, on the buses, making munitions (the famous Vickers machine guns), on the land, and, of course, as nurses. Christian women gathered creature comforts and sent them out to the front by the Red Cross. There were formed little organisations called the Particular Baptist War Work Society, and The Young Ladies Effort. They made something like shoe boxes, and each one contained two warm shirts, two pairs of socks, a belt, a scarf, a pair of mittens, a pocket handkerchief, a New Testament and a letter. Congregations were exhorted to write regularly to the boys at the front. They sent out denominational magazines, but the shortage of paper meant these shrank in size or appeared only alternate months.

In five years a Manchester Baptist church had sent out 591 pillows and cushions, 121 belts, 129 washers, 302 pairs of mitten, 702 New Testaments and books, 818 handkerchiefs, 790 food parcels, 1,270 shorts, 1,639 pairs of socks, 58 bed jackets, 398 woollen mufflers, 200 woollen bonnet, 58 surgical slippers, 11 woollen jackets, soap, stationery, and financial gifts to Serbian refugees.

4. Businesses were changing and some prospered: With sons at the front it was daughters who ran family businesses. With rationing there were additional burdens as materials were in short supply and there were rising costs. The evangelical Baptist James Tiptaft started a jewellery business in Birmingham. He was the nephew of the famous Anglican seceder William Tiptaft and the founder of the church in Abingdon. James preached for over forty years and in 1909 his son Norman entered the jewellery business and then during the first World War made items for the War Office, hundreds of cap badges, and accoutrements for the uniforms of British and Commonwealth forces. They also had to make munitions including armaments.

John Player was the famous tobacconist from Nottingham. He was the son of the John Dane Player the Strict Baptist pastor at Saffron Waldon. The tobacconist sat under the ministry of another editor of the Gospel Standard, Alfred Coughtry. Player’s both sons took up the business. Smoking was endemic in the trenches during the First World War with many men chain-smoking to calm their nerves. At its peak Players (later Imperial Tobacco) employed 7000 people and was producing 52 billion cigarettes a year — a billion a week, but in May 2016 the business in Nottingham closed and moved to Poland.

5. The country was grieving for the length of this terrible war: The nation was sick at heart and the congregations were heavy in spirit. Sunday school teachers, scholars, deacons and office bearers were suddenly cut down and a congregation mourned deeply and at length. The names of those killed were inscribed on tablets or framed and hung up in church buildings where they still are to be found to this day. I remember visiting the Calvinistic Methodist church in Pontardawe where Gareth Davies had such a distinguished ministry. I gazed at the large framed memorial listing the boys from the Sunday school who had been killed and I shook my head. There were scores and scores of names, from a single Welsh chapel in the Swansea valley. The killing went on and on for years. The Christian’s Pathway magazine published in each issue ‘Muster Rolls’ of those who had been killed in the past month whose family or church paid a fee to have them included. There were about 150 names a year; the average age was 18. Let us read J. K. Popham’s words on this dark period in 20th century British history:

What pen will be able to describe the extent, the depth of the woe created by the war in which we are parties? Lands drenched with blood of men; rivers reddened with human gore and choked with corpses; cities and villages heaps of blackened stones and charred timbers; the seas turned into graves for ships that floated as so many cities; widows and fatherless children numberless, whose hearts are throbbing with helpless, hopeless anguish; the financial world full of confusion, ruin and misery, the world’s wealth wasted in the combatants’ fierce attempts to annihilate each other. Oh woe! Enough to make the sun blush that ever he shone on men as vile as to make the fair creation groan in desolation! For a few miles of territory, for a day’s power over men a man will plunge the whole world into a black night of sorrow. (Gospel Standard, pp.5-6).

The End of the War

As Gary Sheffield, professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton, has written,

August 8, 1918 marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. At 4.20am Australian, British, Canadian and French infantry, supported by artillery of awesome power, and by tanks, aircraft and cavalry, attacked German defences near the French city of Amiens. By nightfall the Allies had advanced eight miles. By the standards of trench warfare, with gains measured in yards, this advance was remarkable. Erich Ludendorff, de facto German commander-in-chief, later called August 8, 1918 ‘the black day of the German army in the history of the war’.

Three weeks earlier, a powerful French-led counteroffensive (the Second Battle of the Marne) had halted a major German attack. Having decisively seized the initiative, at Amiens the Allies exercised it to devastating effect. The German army never recovered from the blow it received on August 8. From then until November 11, 1918 Germany was faced with a perfect storm. Relentless Allied attacks on the battlefields of France and Flanders inflicted defeat after defeat on the German army and drove it backwards. In the process German military morale was badly damaged, from Ludendorff’s down to the lowliest infantryman. Away from the Western Front, Germany’s allies surrendered or simply disintegrated. The German home front progressively collapsed in the face of the British naval blockade, which was starving the population, and the ineptitude of German authorities in distributing what food was available. By the second week of November German soldiers were surrendering in droves and revolution had broken out in German cities. Berlin decided to capitulate before things deteriorated any further. This defeat of German militarism by Great Britain and her allies was like the victories of Agincourt, and Drake’s overcoming the Spanish Armada preventing the invasion of England, and Waterloo, and Trafalgar, and Dunkirk, those events for which the nation could and did give thanks to God. The war had ended in victory for the Allies. What would have been far worse than even its multitude of horror and pain was for all that to have ended in defeat and occupation.

The Battle of Amiens was a crucial stepping stone to victory. On the day after the Armistice was signed, a Canadian soldier wrote: ‘How much has happened since on the morning of August 8th we were awakened out of our doze . . . [by] the big guns . . . How little we thought that in less than four months the victory would be won’.

Most of the British public today has probably never heard of the Battle of Amiens. This ignorance is rooted in the popular view of the First World War as a futile, senseless disaster. Crudely put, Sassoon’s poems and Blackadder have had more influence than any history book. The battle of Amiens, or any of the Allied victories of 1918, are being ignored, but now some balance has been restored to that picture.

The First World War, as contemporary Christians saw it then, and the vast majority of British men and women of 100 years ago, was an event for which they were prepared to endure sacrifice on a vast scale. In England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland most evangelical church-goers, like the rest of the country, thought the war was worth fighting, to defend their homes and the Empire against a dangerous enemy.

The country in 1914 was a democracy, albeit an incomplete one, governed on liberal principles. The government had far less powers than it has accrued by today, much to our disadvantage. There was enormous respect for parliamentary decisions. The powers that be are ordained of God, wrote the apostle and the people believed it. ‘We must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ They believed it was necessary that a brief just war had to be fought. For such a state to wage a total war, involving not just the armed forces but the whole of society, the consent of the masses was essential. By-and-large, in First World War Britain that consent was given. The gospel churches largely supported the war.

Today it is easy to say that our ancestors were wrong, that the vast loss of life was simply not worth the issues at stake. This is to use hindsight. Belgian refugees reaching Britain with terrible stories of the actions of German soldiers in their homeland reinforced determination to fight on. German shelling of English coastal towns, initiation of chemical warfare, Zeppelin raids on London — all these stoked hatred and fear of a ruthless enemy. In 1918, the harsh peace terms imposed by Germany on the Russian Bolshevik regime left little doubt as to the fate of Britain should it be defeated. After the final battle of Amiens, British soldiers were greeted by French and Belgian civilians as liberators from four years of harsh occupation.

There was an appalling cost in human life and that is not to be downplayed, but that cost is not to be blanketed in an aura of ‘futility’. Nor is there to be even a hint of triumphalism at the Allied victory. Let us hope that that will be true of the commemoration of the Armistice on November 11.

The last day of the war was November 11, 1918. The peace was signed at Versailles July 28, 1919, and many churches held thanksgiving services the next day. In Ramsgate for example, Francis Kirby is recorded as preaching from 2 Thessalonians 3:16, ‘Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.’  The King appointed the Sunday to be a day of National Thanksgiving and there was in most congregations worship, a reading of the king’s proclamation, and they ended with the national anthem. In the afternoon would be another similar service with men who had gone through the war speaking. Yet the recent murder of Tsar Nicholas II and his family brought solemn reflections about the future and soon the epidemic of Spanish Flu spread across Europe killing more people than those who had died in battle.

Slowly the soldiers returned home. Some had been hardened by the war — an outward religion would never stand the fire. A non-commissioned officer said to J. H. Gosden, ‘I was once a Strict Baptist, but God would not give me grace. Now he can keep it.’ Professor Kenneth Morgan, socialist historian and former principal of Aberystwyth has written a History of Wales. His fine parents lived opposite our Manse for many years. He wrote that after the First World War, ‘The new world was bringing new challenges, intellectual and cultural, to which the chapels were finding difficulty in responding. Puritanism, Sabbatarianism, the full rigours of a hell-fire fundamentalist creed barely reconstructed from the days of Daniel Rowland and George Whitefield, conveyed less and less to twentieth-century society. It jarred particularly on the generation of your Welshmen back from the trenches in France, or from service in the Dardanelles or Palestine.’

That simply was not the case. The watered down socialism or nationalism, the limited themes of the brotherhood of all men and the universal fatherhood of God were no magnet to men who had experienced the nearness of death, but where confessional Christianity was declared, the ruin of man by the fall, redemption through the Seed of the woman and regeneration by the Spirit of God, these themes drew men to saving faith in God. The soldiers who returned to Neath in 1919 and 1920 when Seth Joshua followed his brother Frank to the pastorate of the Neath Forward Movement lined up an hour before the service started to worship God while hundreds were turned away. The message they heard of man’s depravity made sense of the Gallipoli and the trenches and man’s only hope in new life by the indwelling Spirit. The same message brought the same response in Ulster from the messages of W. P. Nichols, and in Lowestoft in Pastor Brown’s preaching and up in Sunderland and Newcastle. A few years later, six miles from Neath in Port Talbot, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached the same message of the three Rs, Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration to the same humble response in hundreds of people

The religion of humanism and social help received its death blow in 1914-1918. But it has died a slow death. It will not die without taking as much historic Christianity with it, and is not annihilated yet.

Today almost every denominational theological college in Wales of every label, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and those of the Free Churches which for so long had taught their students those effete humanist ideas has now closed, the Baptist College in Cardiff (which today has five students) being the final seminary to close its doors next year. My father’s twin brother once studied in the Congregational College in Brecon in the late 1920s, and entered the ministry, and as a result of what he had been taught there did not preach on the apostle Paul for years because Uncle Bryn had been taught that Paul had misrepresented the simple message of the Carpenter from Galilee. The sole traditional seminary extant in Wales will soon be the evangelical one in Bridgend, the Union Seminary, the descendant of the much mocked Porth Bible Institute which became the South Wales Bible College ion Barry before moving to Bridgend.

A great book came out soon after the ending of the First World War. It revealed the fruit of the considered thinking of J. Gresham Machen’s studies in God-fearing Princeton, and then his observations from his time in modernist dominated Germany and finally living through his experiences at the front in France in the First Word War. It was his classic book Christianity and Liberalism which was first published in 1923 and is as amazingly relevant a century later to the situation all over the world today as it was when it first appeared.

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