English L'Abri

Lecture Schedule


Friday Night Lectures at English L'Abri
Spring 2018
The Manor House, Greatham

Dessert, Tea & Coffee 7:30 p.m.
Lecture 8:00 p.m.



19th    Surfing the Wave: Rapid Cultural Change and the Transgender Agenda
Transgender rights have gone from a minor issue to becoming the cultural battlefield of the past few years, with major gains made by the transgender lobby in terms of law, educational policy, media coverage and celebrity endorsement. How has the transgender lobby been so successful in changing public opinion and the voices against transgenderism so unsuccessful in holding back this cultural change?

Jim Paul, L’Abri Worker

26th     How to Read the Story of Jesus in Every Part of the Bible  
From Genesis to Revelation, God uses many threads—themes, narratives, characters, and symbols—to weave a single story. This lecture will introduce ‘Biblical theology,’ a way of reading the Bible that seeks to trace each thread as it develops throughout scripture to better understand God's work in Jesus, the one to whom all the threads lead. 

Andy Patton, L’Abri Worker



2nd    A Return to Virtue: Character Formation for Us and for Our Children
There is a renewed recognition in education, politics and business that character is crucial for the future of society and human flourishing. But what is character? Can it be educated into children? And what about us? This lecture will consider these questions with a look back to ancient wisdom and forward to the latest psychological research.

Tom Smiley, Psychologist

9th    On Thankfulness
This lecture will articulate a theological and philosophical definition of thankfulness, trying to find broader categories to think about a common concept in a more comprehensive way.

Josué Reichow, L’Abri Worker

16th     Come and Rest: An Invitation to the Exhausted
In a time of busy, workaholic, multitasking, tired people. is there a space for rest? This lecture will look at reasons why rest has become such a distant concept and will explore its powerful and transformative offer to our lives.

Lili Reichow, L’Abri Worker

23rd     Eating People is Wrong: A Description of Other-centred Love
This talk will explain what other-centred love looks like and how ‘the inferno of self-love’ works against it.  We will consider how Christ alone is the reference point for understanding the greatness of the highest love.

Andrew Fellows, Director of Christian Heritage, Cambridge



2nd      The Secularisation of Sex
Given the success of the sexual revolution, we are now witnessing the death of biblical teaching on sex and marriage. Drawing from his recent book A Better Story: God, Sex and Human Flourishing, Dr Harrison will ask whether traditional Christian teaching on sexuality is finished as a force for good.

Glynn Harrison, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Bristol

9th       Beyond Redemption? The Catholic Imagination of the Godfather Trilogy
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974) are widely regarded as two of the greatest films of the twentieth century. The Godfather: Part III (1990) is often dismissed as a pale failure. This lecture will explore how the trilogy as a whole reflects the work of a specifically Catholic imagination where the moral universe is viewed through the sacraments of the Church.

Andrew Jones, Vicar of Grace Church Hackney, London

16th    Understanding the Times: Some Trajectories for the Future
The culture is polarised—not just left and right but the centre and the periphery, the cosmopolitans and the provincials. This lecture will sketch some trajectories for where this might lead and consider what we should do about it.

Marsh Moyle

23rd     The Terrible Comfort of Good Friday
When asked what happened when Jesus was crucified, many Christians can give little more than short, pithy summaries: 'He was dying for our sins' or 'He was taking our punishment' or 'He was showing how much God loved us.' The Bible has more to say. As preparation for Good Friday, this lecture will explore the deep terror and unspeakable comfort of the brutal execution at the heart of Christian faith.

Phillip Johnston, L’Abri Worker

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22nd    Is Reality Socially Created?
Contemporary sociologists argue that the way we see the world is socially created within cultures. “Girls wear pink and boys wear blue,” for example, is not a universal law but something created within twentieth-century Western culture through discourse around what it means to be male and female. If reality is socially created, then it can be recreated. But is this true of all of reality? Can gender, religion, morality, and even our own humanness be shaped and reshaped as we choose?

Jim Paul, L’Abri Worker

29th     Life, Death, and the Meaning of Time: A Journey Through T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets
T. S. Eliot is among the greatest poets of the twentieth century. However, his masterpiece The Four Quartets, remains an evocative mystery to many readers. In The Four Quartets we see a Christian poet at the height of his maturity. It is a meditation on time, suffering, modernity, God, the human experience, and much more that rewards an evening's study and a lifetime's reading.

Andy Patton, L’Abri Worker


6th    Calvin and the Visual Arts: Pure Vision or Blind Spot?
The sixteenth-century reformer John Calvin is not generally know for his enthusiasm for the visual arts. Yet he widely praised the arts in general as good gifts of God's creation for the common good and enjoyment of all. In this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, this lecture will take a closer look at Calvin's comments on the arts in his Institutes of the Christian Religion and consider what may still be of value.

Adrienne Chaplin, Independent Scholar and Visiting Research Fellow, Kings College, London

13th    Modern Art and the Life of a Culture
In their recent book Modern Art and the Life of a Culture, Jonathan Anderson and William Dyrness offer a rereading of the history of modern art, including such important artists as Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Warhol, and others. In the book and this lecture, Anderson explores episodes in modern art history that are more shaped by religious contexts and theological concerns than they are usually given credit for, questioning the narrative Hans Rookmaaker offered in his influential book, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture (1970). 

Jonathan Anderson, Associate Professor of Art, Biola University, USA

20th     A Quiet Revolution: The Impact of the Reformation on Church Music
A look at how the theology of Martin Luther and John Calvin effected significant changes in the musical forms of the medieval church.

Judy Raines,  Musician

27th     What Does it Mean to Be Authentic?
Many voices in our culture extol the value of authenticity. But what does it mean to be authentic? Does it mean being real, genuine, not fake—completely honest? Or is our current use of the word closer to the Latin root author, i.e. to be your own author, true to yourself no matter what? This lecture will explore these definitions of authenticity as a way of approaching an even bigger question: Is God ‘I am’ or am I?

Edith Reitsema, L’Abri Worker

28th    FILM FESTIVAL: Living with Machines
This year’s film festival is a one-day event on Saturday, 28th October. For registration information and programme, email bookings[at]englishlabri.org.



3rd    Evangelicalism, Whiteness, and the Age of Trump
Drawing on research conducted in a small town in the American Midwest to explore some of the motivations and meanings attached to white evangelical support for Donald Trump, this lecture will reflect on the puzzling relationships between religion, race, and politics that have unfolded in the United States over the last eighteen months.

Jessamin Birdsall, PhD Candidate, Princeton University 

10th  What Has Wittenberg to Do with Florence? The Birth of Modern Times
After five centuries of history, the principles and beliefs of the Protestant Reformation and the Renaissance are still at work in our society. This lecture will look back to these movements to discern their similarities, tensions, and contribution to the birth of modernity.

Josué Reichow, L’Abri Worker

17th  Integrated Imagination: Fantasy in the Real World
Many Christians live with a hard divide between the sacred and the secular, a type of imaginational segregation that isolates Christianity from the rest of human experience. As a pastor’s kid who always loved fairy tales and fantasy novels, Andrew will share how story, art, and music were the breadcrumbs that led him to faith in Christ and to a sacramental view of a world ‘charged with the grandeur of God’ (G.M. Hopkins).

Andrew Peterson, Musician, Artist and Author of The Wingfeather Saga

24th        NO LECTURE


1st        Low-level Creeds and Worldview
Worldviews influence and shape our beliefs and the way we see the world, but what influences these  worldviews themselves? This lecture will explore how deeper engagement with low-level creeds—our  deeply held, often repeated, mantra-like confessions or beliefs—should be considered part of our  worldview discussions.

Tom Price,  Senior Tutor, The Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics




19th    ‘Those Human Nests’: Vincent van Gogh’s Search for Home
This lecture will discuss the life and work of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh as seen through the lens of his deep longing—expressed in his letters and art—for a place to call home.

Lindsey Patton, L’Abri Worker

26th     Baptism and the Body
Christians, even those who say much about ‘incarnational’ faith, can say surprisingly little about the way that God claims our bodies. This lecture will explore the intensely bodily character of baptism as a pledge and seal that anticipates future resurrection, adoption, and the redemption of our bodies.

Alastair Roberts, PhD, University of Durham


2nd      Smuggling Jesus Back into the Church: A Reformation Manifesto
When the integrity of Christianity becomes eroded and compromised, reformation is an inevitability. In light of the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, this talk will explore why the history of the church follows this pattern and imagines what reformation might look like today. 

Andrew Fellows, Director, Christian Heritage Cambridge

9th      Hollow Gods: Idolatry in Our Postmodern Society
The here and now usually determines the nature of our gods. What has taken place philosophically in our view of knowledge, freedom and language to mould us into our current idols? Serving the god of our times means self-worship. This lecture will point to the One who said, “Heaven and Earth shall move with the times, but My words shall not move with the times” (C.S. Lewis on Matthew 24:35).

Edith Reitsema, L’Abri Worker

16th    The Cloud of Knowing
The Bible mentions a cloud in many places. Sometimes it is referred to as a cloud of fire or a cloud of darkness. This lecture will explore how we can understand these various cloud events and how we can avoid some major and popular misunderstandings of them.

Ellis Potter,  Itinerant Missionary

23rd    How Technology Behaves: A Christian Response (Part 2)
Many today feel uncertain about how to respond to a changing technological landscape. Having previously outlined a few rules for what technology is and how it behaves, this lecture will explore what we should do about it and propose a response that avoids the double dangers of fear and utopianism.

Andy Patton, L’Abri Worker

30th    How Does the Bible Speak About God’s Action in the World?
The philosopher Alvin Plantinga recently wrote, “There is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.” Both Christianity and Judaism rely on Biblical passages to describe the way God acts in the world. This lecture will develop an approach to reading these texts that is generally in line with Plantinga’s insight.

Dr. C. John "Jack" Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary, USA



7th      Herman Dooyeweerd: A Christian Philosopher (Part 2)
Having previously explored the Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd's context, critique of modernity, and philosophical anthropology, this lecture will discuss his understanding of Western cultural development with a particular focus on his unique philosophy of history and concept of the religious ground motive.

Josué Reichow, L’Abri Worker 

14th    Let Justice Roll Down: Martin Luther King Jr.  and the Black Lives Matter Movement
This lecture will focus on the circumstances that gave rise to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as the American evangelical church’s response to both the racial climate of the USA and the Black Lives Matter movement. King’s correctives concerning the damaging silence of many Christians during the civil rights era will also be discussed when considering the need for a more robust gospel-centered response to racial injustices. 

Dr. Mary McCampbell, Assosciate Professor of Humanities, Lee University, USA

21st    Why Do People Want to Die? A Psychological Conversation About Suicide and Trauma
The modern world is desperate to live and to die. Medicine has never been more able to prolong and protect life, yet many are equally determined to end their lives. This lecture will explore the effects of psychological trauma on a person’s relationship to life and death, the place of shame in suicide and self-harm, and what can be done to help those who are suffering.

Tom Smiley, Psychologist 

28th   The Era of Choice
The present time is filled with an incredible amount of options in practically every aspect of life. Our job is to choose—to exercise our abilities to understand, analyse, and decide. This lecture will discuss how we arrived at a time of such abundant choice and explore the consequences of this reality for our daily lives.

Lili Reichow, L’Abri Worker



4th     How Should We Then Love? Ordering Desire in the Immanent Frame
Saint Augustine once wrote, 'For when we ask whether someone is a good man, we are not asking what he believes, or hopes, but what he loves.’ This lecture will explore the primacy of love in the Christian life by encouraging the cultivation of a love for God which deepens our enjoyment of God’s good gifts.

Phillip Johnston, L’Abri Worker