Wednesday, April 04, 2007

John Pugh XXVI: An Assessment

Clifton Street today is more empty than in John Pugh's day, but sinners still frequent it. The church is closed, but the dens of sin remain. So, what are we to make of John Pugh's life and work?

Pugh's work was marked by a boldness and willingness to go out on a limb for God. Unless such work is undertaken in faith and total trust in Christ, it will fail. We cannot work this up, but we can expect it.

Pugh's ministry was a learned ministry. Pugh knew his Bible and his Confession. He knew Christ, and could never know enough about Christ. Pugh knew the value of learning, provided it was put in the service of Christ.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of John Pugh's ministry in the Forward Movement was its building programme. Even sympathetic historians have criticised the building programme for having left the movement with a burden of debt, as well as a great deal of peoperty, in the form of large halls that were vulnerable to shifts in population and the decline in churchgoing that was to mark much of the twentieth century.

All of which is probably true, but in defence of Pugh, 'faint heart never won fair lady.' The act of building the halls, in faith, was blessed by God. Most of the halls, and all of the major ones in the Cardiff area, were built so large because that was necessary. There was no other way. The missions often started off with borrowed accomodation, in the way certain modern churches meet in community halls, but these became insufficient to their needs. Indeed, when Highfields took over Crwys Hall, a major restoration programme was undertaken, while Heath Church may shortly undertake a similar programme.
The Forward Movement was an act of faith, undertaken by Spirit-empowered men. If we are to fully understand John Pugh, then we must seek the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. When God begins to work again among the masses, may we see such men again. We may not see halls, but we shall see the name of Jesus exalted in this land again. John Pugh was a unique man, but we have the same God.



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