Category Archives: crawford gribben

Baptist Origins in Ireland

Crawford Gribben of Trinity College Dublin has posted a two-part article on Baptist origins in Ireland at his blog here and here. He argues that the Baptists there, although existent in small numbers, did not experience any revitalisation until men like Samuel Pearce and Andrew Fuller went on preaching expeditions there. The result of their efforts was what Gribben calls a “mini-revival.”

Of course, my interests are with the Baptist from Northern Ireland, Alexander Carson. Gribben says that in the beginning of the nineteenth-century, when Carson was pastoring in Tobermore, there were few churches in the North. By the end of the century, however, there was growth. Is this the result of the Pearce-Fuller excursions? Or is it Carson? Maybe it’s both? I’m interested to find out.


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New Fellow at Trinity

A friendly Glaswegian has informed me that Dr. Crawford Gribben was appointed a Fellow in the English department at Trinity College, Dublin. Congrats old boy, good show! For proof: Irish Times.

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Ussher Thesis Abstract

The Gospel Witness published a copy of my master of theology thesis abstract in their October edition, I reprint it here:

Whenever I have a conversation about James Ussher (1581-1656), the subject of my recent master of theology thesis, the question about his view of the earth’s age comes up. Ussher is famous for nominating October 23, 4004 BC as the date that God created the heavens and earth. While biblical genealogy was an important aspect of Ussher’s studies, it would be an over-simplification to think that his Annals of the World is his most important work. In the nineteenth-century Ussher’s Works were compiled into seventeen volumes that ranged across a large territory of scholarship including church government, Pelagianism, the Septuagint, and the veracity of the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. Ussher was a biblical-theologian as well as a master text-critic, philologist and patrologist.

It is this last aspect of Ussher studies that I worked on for my thesis. In particular, I studied a document that he published entitled Immanuel, or, The Mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God (1638). This short tract is a clear exposition of the person and work of Christ that is well-situated within the western theological tradition. My purpose was to trace the patristic language of Immanuel, evaluating how Ussher used key terminology that was crystallized at the Council of Chalcedon (451). In addition to this I also produced a critical edition of Immanuel comparing the eleven editions that had been published in Ussher’s lifetime.

This work was completed under the supervision of Michael Haykin, to whom I am profoundly thankful for all of the help that he offered. My readers were Dennis Ngien of Tyndale Seminary and Crawford Gribben of Trinity College Dublin. My experience both in terms of the research/writing and the defence was exceptional. I experienced great love and care from my brothers in Christ as I was challenged and encouraged in terms of the work I had done and the future course of continued education that I should take. Thank are also due to TBS for providing an environment where learning and piety are wed that makes academic studies profitable for both the academy and the church.

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Crawford Gribben at Westminster Seminary

Crawford Gribben recently spoke at chapel at Westminster Seminary in PA. His discussion is on the state of evangelicalism in Ireland. Awesome!

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The Irish Puritans Review

I had sent in a review of Crawford Gribben’s The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church (Evangelical Press, 2003) to the Discerning Reader in July and forgot to post it here. Click here if you’d like to check it out!

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Andrew Fuller Conference Audio

The Andrew Fuller Center has posted the audio from last week’s conference “Baptist Spirituality – Historical Perspectives.” As I’ve said in an earlier post, it was a great conference and I was glad to be a part of it. Now you can hear what it was like by downloading the mp3’s!

I hope that the audio for the sessions by Stephen Yuille and Aaron Menikoff will get posted soon – I missed both of them unfortunately (I was trying to catch my breath before I had to speak!). As well, Greg Thornbury’s isn’t posted and I assume that it wasn’t recorded because it was in the Broadus Chapel.

Lemme know what you think!

Monday, August 24

9:00 am Plenary Session 1: Crawford Gribben
“Irish Baptist Piety in the 17th Century” (MP3)

10:25 am Plenary Session 2: Robert Strivens
“Evangelical Spiritualities in Early 18th Century English Dissent: Philip Doddridge and John Gill” (MP3)

11:45 am Plenary Session 3: Gerald Priest
“A. C. Dixon: Exemplar of Fundamentalist Spirituality” (MP3)

2:30-5:00 pm Parallel Sessions
1. English Baptist Piety in the 17th and 18th Centuries (Chair: Paul Brewster)

2. Baptist Piety in 19th Century Great Britain (Chair: Michael Haykin)

3. Baptist Piety in 19th Century North America (Chair: Jeff Robinson)

8:15 pm Plenary Session 4: Greg Thornbury
“Baptist Spirituality and Theological Education” (Audio Not Available)

Tuesday, August 25

10:00 am SBTS Convocation:  R. Albert Mohler
“‘The Time is Near’ – The Emphatically Eschatological Essence of the Christian Ministry” (MP3)

11:40 am Plenary Session 5: Tom Nettles
“The Piety of James Petigru Boyce” (MP3)

2:30-3:30 pm Plenary Session 6: Greg Wills
“Relevance, Severity, and Spiritual Power in Baptist Piety” (MP3)

3:40-4:50 pm Plenary Session 7: Kevin Smith
“A Distracted Piety: African-American Baptists” (MP3)

“Amsterdam 400”: A Quatercentennial Celebration of Baptist Witness

6:45 pm “Spirituality of Historic Baptist Hymnody: A Hymn Sing” (MP3)

7:45 pm Plenary Session 8: Malcolm Yarnell
“ ‘We Believe with the Heart and with the Mouth Confess’: The Engaging Piety of John Smyth and the Early General Baptists” (MP3)

9:00 pm “Reformed and Anabaptist: Strengths and Shortcomings of Two Traditions” A Late Night Discussion between Drs. Yarnell and Haykin (MP3)


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Post-Conference Thoughts

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, housed at Southern Seminary, held their annual conference on August 24-25 in Louisville, KY. The conference was entitled “Baptist Spirituality – Historical Perspectives.” Keynote speakers included Greg Thornbury, Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Robert Strivens, Kevin Smith, etc. On the afternoon of the first day there were breakout sessions that included papers given by Stephen Yuille, Steve Weaver, Gordon Heath, Al Mickle, Aaron Menikoff, myself and others. All in all, the conference was excellent.

In order to save some jack, I drove down to Louisville in an RV with my good friend Greg McManus, pastor of Grace Community Church in London, ON. I would say getting to spend that time with Greg was one of the best parts of the trip. It was a twenty-hour round trip and we slept in the RV on the campus of Southern. The “rig” was awesome and had all of the comforts of home. Shower, microwave, oven, fridge/freezer, washroom, and it slept something like eight people. We bought groceries and ate most of our meals there. The weather was so nice in Louisville that we didn’t even need the airconditioning!

A number of highlights from the conference itself were: Kevin Smith’s paper called “A Distracted Piety: African American Baptists.” It was moving and quite informative. He traced the role of race and it’s relation to theological orthodoxy in the early African-American Baptist movement, showing that issues of race – while important – were subsurvient to doctrinal fidelity. The questions after the paper were also quite informative – if only from my observations as a Canadian. I was struck both from this lecture and Tom Nettles’ on J.P. Boyce that race was and still is an issue in the States. It is deeply entwined with their history, which of course includes the church’s history. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that Christians kept slaves. Dr. Smith did a great job at conveying the need for being Christians first and black, white, hispanic or whatever a distant second.

Greg Thornbury’s paper was also a major highlight for me. I had the delight of sitting next to Dr. Thornbury (dean of Union University) at the conference banquet. In fact, our whole table was great: Thornbury, Aaron Menikoff (and a friend), Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Greg McManus and myself. Greg, Crawford and I didn’t know any of them when we sat down. To see the interchange between Thornbury and Yarnell was extremely entertaining! It was also a delight to meet Aaron Menikoff whom I’d heard so much about. He’s an extremely nice guy.

Thornbury’s paper was on spirituality and theological education. He elucidated what he called “Personal Las Vegas” moments – or PLV’s. This is where a person moves from the Tupelo to the Vegas, using Elvis Presley as an example. Where one dawns the rhinestones in favour of the denim shirt. We all have these PLV’s, where we think something better of ourselves, when really we’ve just chumped out to a cliche. Thornbury applied this to institutions and people who have done this in baptist life, looking at Francis Wayland and his experiences in particular. It was well presented, humourous and indicting – to others and to myself. Thornbury is a scholar to watch.

The conference was timed to coincide with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s convocation. Southern is celebrating their sesquicentennial this year, marking 150 years of their existence. Therefore convocation was especially poignant. I can’t tell you the feeling that surged through me when the massive congregation arose to sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and the whole faculty processed through the chapel. Looking over to see top evangelical theologians like Tom Schreiner, Stephen Wellum, Michael Haykin, Denny Burk, Bruce Ware, Tom Nettles, Brian Vickers, etc., being led by Albert Mohler and Russell Moore to their seats at the front gave me goosebumps. Being there really made you feel like you were a part of something big. When Dr. Mohler announced the signing of the Abstract of Principles – Southern’s faith statement – the gravitas and solemnity was everywhere in the air. Chip Stam and Brian Vickers signed the statement as new full-time faculty. With quill in hand, they signed the 150 year old document with pride.

Dr. Mohler preached a great sermon from Revelation 1 on the eschatological nature of Christian ministry {here’s the video you can see Greg, Crawford and I at the bottom left of the screen}. He reminded us that Christ is sovereign over time, over kingdoms and over the church. And keeping this in perspective will only envigorate ministry and keep us in the faith. It was a great way to start the school year.

It was also a tremendous delight to spend time with Crawford Gribben. He’s a good friend and one who’s company I truly enjoy. I was glad that he and Greg to meet. I love it when I can introduce friends and the time spent hanging out with both of these men was fun; especially our breakfast at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville where my friend John Tucker joined us. This place was ciche to the core – very Americana. I had the biggest breakfast I’d ever seen in my life – complete with grits and biscuits. I couldn’t finish it because it was so big! But man was it good.

In terms of my own paper, I think that it went well. From what I gather, most people came to my session, which was encouraging. I chalk that up to people being attracted to the name of Jonathan Edwards in the title: “Alexander Carson (1776-1844): Jonathan Edwards of the Nineteenth Century.” The response from people afterwards was humbling and deeply encouraging. I got a charge out of presenting the paper, although the Q&A left something to be desired (thanks Crawford!). Many thanks to the Center for allowing me to present, it was my first time doing something like this and they made it a great experience!

Steve Weaver, who ran the conference, did an excellent job. I remember running those conferences when it was the Jonathan Edwards Centre for Reformed Spirituality. We did them on a much smaller scale, and that was tough! Steve ran a massive conference at a huge campus with lots of attendees. I was impressed. Dr. Haykin was a great host, both of the conference in general and my own break-out session. So congratulations to both of them for a job well done. Hopefully the conference audio will be available at the Fuller Center website and you can listen to all of the talks. I highly recommend the Smith paper and Thornbury’s.


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Andrew Fuller Center Conference

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is holding its annual conference next week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. This year’s topic is “Baptist Spirituality: Historical Perspectives.” The Center has just published the flyer for the conference, which you can download here. Key note speakers include Michael Haykin, Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Thomas Nettles and other notables. Not in the latter category (!) is myself, whose ugly mug you see there on the second page.

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Ussher and Me

I first heard of James Ussher in 2003 when Dr. Haykin gave me a copy of Crawford Gribben’s The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church. Dr. Haykin and I have a shared interest in things Irish, so it was a welcomed gift. I remember travelling to Grand Rapids with Dr. Haykin in the winter of ’03 and we stayed at Joel Beeke’s in-laws, where I read The Irish Puritans before bed. I also took advantage of Dr. Beeke’s library and read through some of Ussher’s Works at the old PRTS library. As well, a PRTS student named Terry Klaver had also read Crawford’s book and we had some good discussions. Afterwards, Terry sent me a PDF of Ussher’s Body of Divinity in the mail (now published by SGCB). If memory serves, Dr. Haykin and I also spent some time at the Calvin Seminary library where I read up on Irish church history.

In the late spring of 2004 I had the joy of going with Dr. Haykin to Britain. While in Ireland, I got to meet Crawford and his wife Pauline. Crawford was nothing but encouraging in the hopes of recruiting another Ussher fan. I was thrilled and this sealed the deal for me in terms of developing an interest in Ussher. I think touring Trinity College, Dublin with Crawford solidified things. Later he and I met up again where he gave me a DVD containing PDF’s of Ussher’s Works. I feel like so much has been handed to me. God is faithful.

In the summer of 2004, as a bachelor-party gift, Greg McManus gave me a copy of R. Buick Knox’s biography of Ussher entitled James Ussher: Archbishop of Armagh. Greg and I had for a few years shared a strong interest in things Puritan. Greg has maintained and developed his interest in John Owen. Early on I waffled between who to study. For a while, after being kicked in the ecclesial pants by The Reformed Pastor, I thought of Baxter. Afterwards, largely due to Greg’s interest in Owen, I thought of studying Thomas Goodwin. It wasn’t until reading Crawford’s book that Ussher became a serious topic.

After dialoging with Dr. Haykin about my future, and his strong suggestion that I don’t neglect the Fathers, I came into contact with Alan Ford through email. He teaches at Nottingham and is the author of the recent definitive biography of Ussher called James Ussher: Theology, History, and Politics in Early-Modern Ireland and England. Prof. Ford suggested looking at Ussher’s debates that he had with some Jesuits in Ireland over the early church Pelagian controversy. This then set me on a journey to study Augustine and Pelagianism, which I did my master of divinity thesis on. Dr. Haykin supervised and also had me read on Ignatius of Antioch, due to Ussher’s research on the authenticity of the Ignatian corpus.

This past year I began a master of theology in Puritan history. Having written papers on the English Reformation and Puritanism, I am now officially starting Ussher studies. It is 2009 and my interests in Ussher were started in 2003. It’s been six years before I could finally do some serious study on him!! But I’m thankful to finally get here. I just polished off Crawford’s biography for the second time – I appreciate it all the more now that I’ve read it after years of study. I am currently in the middle of Knox’s biography. After this I’ll turn to Ford, though I am currently reading his book The Protestant Reformation in Ireland 1590-1641.

This summer I will go through Ussher’s Works with an eye to his writings in ecclesiastical history, particularly patristics. My thesis, due in September, will be on Ussher as a patristic historian. This will hopefully get me prepared for a doctoral thesis on Ussher and the Pelagian controversy. All of this, of course, is in the Lord’s good timing.


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Crawford’s New Blog

Crawford Gribben, who teaches at Trinity College, Dublin, has a new blog that gives updates on his many projects. This is good to see. Update your blogroll!

NB: I reviewed Crawford’s book Rapture Fiction here a couple of years ago (though it says Challies did! It was me, I swear!).

{HT: Mark Jones}


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New Haykin Book – Extract

Here is an extract from a new book co-edited by Dr. Michael Haykin. It is a concerted effort to address David Bebbington’s “quadrilateral” and includes contributions by Ken Stewart (co-editor), Crawford Gribben, Paul Coffey, and others. This extract includes portions of Paul Helm’s chapter.
Currently the book is available in the UK and will be in North America soon(ish). It’s title is: The Emergence of Evangelicalism.


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Body of Divinity Reprinted

The great Irish Puritan James Ussher’s Body of Divinity has recently been reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Books and is available for purchase at their site. Of course, it has an introduction by the great Irish historian Crawford Gribben.
Ussher was a theological and intellectual giant who maintained that wonderful balance of scholarship and piety. He is a man well-worth studying and I recommend him to anyone interested in the Puritan period. I’m thankful that SGCB is making more of Ussher’s work available – maybe he will no longer be remembered as “that guy who dated the world.”
[HT: AOmin]


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Ussher on Solid Ground

Solid Ground Christian Books is finally publishing their reprint of James Ussher’s Body of Divinity. This has been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I do, however, have a facsimile of the original (tks., C G great intro). But this newer, fancier one’ll be cool.
For those who don’t know, in about a year and half’s time (DV), Ussher will become one of my closes friends – for at least three years.


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irish-reformation: Irish Christians: Alexander Carson

Many thanks to my friend (and one day supervisor, DV) Crawford Gribben for asking me to write a piece on Alexander Carson (1776-1844), a man who is fast becoming one of my heroes. Writing it has been a helpful exercise allowing me to become familiarised with Carson’s works. My hope is to do a master’s thesis on an aspect of Carson’s thought, which aspect I haven’t figured out yet! He wrote on numerous subjects that would be good to discuss. I should also give thanks to Dr. Haykin for a) taking me to Carson’s gravesite (pictured above); b) getting me unread copies of Carson’s Works from McMaster and b) encouraging me to study Carson.

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Rutherford and Ussher

The soon to be vacationing Darrin Brooker at Running Well has posted that great old story of the interaction between two eminent Puritans, James Ussher and Samuel Rutherford. From what I understood, this story was apocryphal (Crawford???) but it is a great read none-the-less, and communicates the excellent truth of charity and hospitality.


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Emerson on Ussher

I received a booklet on the Irish Puritan Archbishop James Ussher from my friend Crawford Gribben (he blogs at Anablepo and Irish Reformation). It’s written by N.D. Emerson who was a 19th century Irish historian. I checked him out on the internet and saw that he contributed to a history of the Irish church as well as wrote a biography of Saint Columba. This booklet on Ussher was published by SPCK.
The Ussher bio looks great, the problem is I have other stuff to read that I have to stick this on my shelf until the semester’s done. Thankfully I’m working on John Owen and the Spirit for systematics, so I’ve at least got my Puritan appetite whet.

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About a year and a half ago I had the outstanding opportunity to travel with Dr. Haykin and his PhD student Nigel Wheeler to Britain. We spent three weeks there, touring around doing research and attending conferences that Dr. Haykin spoke at. It was truly one of the greatest experiences of my life that to this day has had a profound influence on me.
We spent time in Cambridge, Bristol, Glasgow, Oxford and Belfast, with a myriad of cities, towns, villages and hamlets in between. We toured the sites of renowned figures from church history such as Thomas Cranmer, Jane Austen (in Bath), Benjamin Beddome, Anne Dutton, Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Andrew Bonar, James Ussher and many more. For a budding church historian, there couldn’t have been a more worthwhile trip to take.
Surely of the various highlights, of which there were many, included the time spent with
Dr. Crawford Gribben. Crawford, at the time, was a research fellow at Trinity College, Dublin. He has authored a number of books dealing significantly with British Renaissance/Reformation church history. One of his primary interests is in the life and thought of Archbishop James Ussher.
Before travelling to Britain, Dr. Haykin had mentioned that we might get to meet Crawford. I was keenly excited about this because I had just read his book The Irish Puritans: James Ussher and the Reformation of the Church. It sparked a great interest in my heart for the plight of the Irish church. I was thankful that I read The Irish Puritans while spending time with Dr. Haykin at
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. If anyone has seen Joel Beeke’s library, you wouldn’t be surprised that he had the complete works of Ussher. So as I read Crawford’s biography of Ussher at nights, I was reading Ussher’s works by day. Since that time I have had an interest in all things Ussher. I’ve read the standard biography of Ussher by R.B. Knox called James Ussher: Archbishop of Armagh, as well as Crawford’s PhD dissertation The Puritan Millennium: Literature & Theology 1550-1682. In it he had a chapter on Ussher.
Scholarly works on Ussher are few and far between, with only a handful of scholar’s who deal with him in particular (including Crawford). Every book that I have about the church in Ireland shockingly has little to say about this eminent theologian and prolific writer. My hope is that Ussher studies will continue to grow and that I can have a part of that if the Lord wills it.
Meeting Crawford, as I said, was a great highlight. Dr. Haykin, Nigel and I had spent the Lord’s Day at Great Victoria Street Baptist Church in downtown Belfast and were to meet Crawford after the service. At the time I believe he was attending a Reformed Presbyterian church if memory serves correct. He picked us up and drove us to his home in Ballyclare (I believe, there are so many towns with “Bally” at the beginning that it’s easy to confuse). I remember the drive through Belfast well as Crawford explained all of the various areas impacted by “the troubles.” It was an adrenaline rushed drive as we saw various sites of unspeakable violence. Crawford, with his phenomenal gift of story telling and ability to give you every interesting detail, made for an excellent guide.
We spent the afternoon at Crawford’s place, where his lovely wife Pauline prepared excellent food. Although I don’t remember the specific food that we ate, I do remember that it was not traditional Irish fare and that it was terrific. It was something exotic if I recall correctly. The fellowship was great as well. What a privelege to sit with two eminent church historians!
During the course of our time there Crawford suggested that we go with him to Dublin for the day on the following Tuesday. What a thrill! My father’s side of the family are of Irish descent and apparently there is a “Cleary’s” department store in Dublin that is owned by a distant relative. Being in Ireland seemed like such a homecoming, and having the opportunity to go to Dublin was an added bonus. Especially because Crawford worked at Trinity College and was going to give us a tour.
The trip down to Dublin was beautiful. We took a train along the coast of the Irish Sea, across beautiful terrain overlooking the ocean. All of the stereotypes of Ireland, with it’s rolling emerald green hills, are true. It was uncanny.
At the time Crawford was reading quite a bit about various millennial views and had some interesting things to say about the history of millennial interpretation throughout the ages. As Crawford’s book
Rapture Fiction and the Evangelical Crisis on the same subject is about to be published, I look forward to reading in print many of the things that Crawford shared with us.
Getting to see Trinity College was a thrill for me. James Ussher was an early graduate from there, and during the Puritan era it functioned much the same as Oxford and Cambridge in that it was a training ground for many excellent Reformed scholars. As well, the renowned
Book of Kells is housed there, one Irish codex among many others that are a sight to behold. Stupidly I tried to take a picture, only to have a security guard dive at me telling me to turn my camera off! I didn’t read the signs saying “no cameras.”
Although Crawford had to work, he did take some time to give us a tour. One building that sticks out in my mind was the one where Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, it was beautiful.
Dr. Haykin and I also took the time to tour around the immediate vicinity of Trinity College, including a walk down to Stephen’s Green, a beautiful park in the middle of Dublin.
It truly was a trip to remember and I’m very thankful to Crawford for taking the time to show us around.
Crawford is currently a lecturer in Renaissance literature and culture at the
University of Manchester. Looking at his curriculum vitae is scary considering how young he is. Especially as he is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, visiting lecturer at the University of Lausanne and visiting scholar at Westminster College, Cambridge. Any of his writings that I have read provide the reason why he has such stature as a scholar.
I have taken this time to remember my trip to Ireland and the short time spent with Crawford Gribben to communicate the reason for my excitement that Crawford has joined the blogosphere!
Irish-reformation is now alive and well, and Crawford already has some excellent posts, as well as some pictures (the one of Pauline awaiting Mr. Darcy is particularly telling). So if you have the opportunity, check out Crawford’s blog. Even better, add him to your blog roll. He is sure to stimulate the mind, engage the affections and offer a good dose of entertainment. If you like reading Carl Trueman’s blogging at Reformation 21, you will surely enjoy reading Irish-reformation. Of that I can be sure!

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