INTERVIEW – Bishop Wallace Benn at New Word Alive

Bishop Wallace BennWhile I was in Pwllheli at New Word Alive, I did an MP3 interview with Bishop Wallace Benn. I thought that I would share the full transcript here over the next few days.

Adrian
This is Adrian Warnock here, and right now I’m in the Refectory, so you can probably hear some of the hubbub as people finish their meals. I think I got the last dinner today, so it may die down as we continue here.

I’m here with the Bishop. I’m very grateful that he’s been able to join us. Would you like to introduce yourself a little bit for anyone who may not know who you are and what your role has been with this event.

Wallace Benn
I’m Wallace Benn. I’m the Bishop of Lewes—that’s the area of Bishop of East Sussex. I used to be Chairman of Word Alive, and I’m delighted to be involved in New Word Alive doing leadership seminars in the evening and some Bible teaching at the team event in the morning.

Adrian
I’ve just heard from Hugh Palmer his expression of what we want this week, and this conference, to be about. I’m just wondering what your own personal view of that would be in terms of—What are your hopes and dreams for moving forward? Are you going to carry on being involved in this, or what’s the deal for you?

Wallace Benn
Yes, I would love to carry on being involved. We’ll wait and see about that in terms of times and dates, etc., but I would love to be involved. I think the vision for New Word Alive is very much the same as the original vision for Word Alive, which was to have lively, relevant Bible teaching of a high quality for the whole family, including students, with lively modern worship, and to major on Bible teaching and the important doctrines of the Christian faith rather than some secondary issues that may divide the sects.

Adrian
For me, one of the excellent things about this week has been bringing people together from all sorts of different backgrounds. This is actually, believe it or not, and despite the fact that I’ve been a Christian for a long while, and I’ve met all kinds of different church leaders and interviewed them, you’re the first bishop I’ve ever actually met in the flesh in my entire Christian life. And I’ve never heard one preach either.

Wallace Benn
(Laughs) I don’t know whether that’s a singular mercy or a blessing!

Adrian
(Laughs) I don’t know either! I’ve met other people who I perhaps would not have met in another context because my background is actually Newfrontiers. I think that, for example, you’ve met Terry Virgo here for the first time as well?

Wallace Benn
Yes. Terry Virgo and I have been talking about doing something together. Where I’m based in Eastbourne, I work quite closely with some of the Newfrontiers leaders—Andy Johnson is a very good friend, and we’re working on something called “Bible by the Beach,” which is another different new project.

Adrian
It’s great, really, to see that. And someone said to me, Hugh Palmer, yourself, and guys like Terry and John Piper and Don Carson—they all are committed to the central tenets of the cross and the gospel, and in that sense the things that divide, if they do divide, are so much less important.

Wallace Benn
Absolutely! The original vision of Word Alive was to have a conference committed to a high view of the Bible and to the teaching of it in a high view way, and a high view of the cross, and the central truths of the Christian faith, and not to deviate from those things. It is wonderful to get together with like-minded brothers and sisters who share exactly the same kind of commitment. It’s a delight. It’s a new association to us.

Adrian
Yes, it is, it is!

Wallace Benn
I think there’s a lot of discovering of one another here. There are folks standing for the same things, who have the same passions.

Adrian
I think that’s right. I think it helps one to get rid of the caricatures. I mean, you’re not wearing a robe right now, Bishop!

Wallace Benn
No, no! (Laughter) Happily!

Adrian
Do you know what I mean? I know that’s a silly example, but seriously, I think we build up caricatures of each other, and of what we think other people stand for. And yet when you actually meet them in the flesh . . . I had a great chat with Tim Chester from Sheffield. His ecclesiology is obviously very different to mine, and I built up all kinds of images of what people who hold that kind of ecclesiology are obviously like. And then you meet someone like that, and you sit down and talk about the Bible, and you realize that actually here’s a guy who loves the Bible. For me, that’s the most important thing.

Wallace Benn
Absolutely! Absolutely.

Continued in part 2 . . .

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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