On All Saints Day in 2007 I started a weekly Table Talk at Java Ranch, once a local coffee house.
The original plan was to hold two or three meetings to answer questions about election and predestination around a table over coffee. (My sermon on Trinitarian Salvation from Ephesians 1 had generated a variety of conversations.) Fourteen months later, the core of our congregation had explored the gracious work of the Triune God in the salvation of sinners, as well as God’s covenant relationship with his people, as revealed from Genesis to Revelation. In theological terms, we had explored the pactum salutis, historia salutis, and ordo salutis.
Cafea et Scriptura met from November 2007 to January 2010. The memories of studying for the conversations, sitting around the tables with friends, standing in the parking lot long after closing time, struggling to make the truth clear, fill my heart with joy and awe.
All in all, those Table Talk sessions were deeply formative. They were used by God to reform our congregation according to the gospel of God’s grace and conform us to the image of Christ.*
More than once I was accused of changing the theology of the church. In a sense, that accusation was true. Conforming to the word of God requires a change of heart, mind, and life. That change is simply called repentance. In another sense, that accusation was not true at all. After all, our church had no formal theology to change. We simply followed the oral tradition of speaking where the Bible speaks, and keeping silent where the Bible keeps silence. To misquote some true Reformers,
These things were not done secretly in a corner. I simply taught, preached, and blogged about God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And while I slept, or drank coffee with my friends, the Word did everything. It accomplished that which God purposed, and succeeded in the thing for which God sent it.
To God be the glory for his grace and goodness towards his people.
* Happily, some of those who gathered with us are still members of our congregation. A few have join other Reformed-type churches. Sadly, many others returned to places that do not adhere to the glorious and gracious truths we explored in our Table Talks.